Monthly Archives: December 2016

January calendar – Masquerade

Kathleen has a Patreon account, for those interested and absorbed by her art.

Kathleen Jennings


The January calendar is here, brought to you by my wonderful patrons (if you’d like to help, or even get sketches, the calendar and extras early, you can join in at !).

January calendar illustration

This was a lot of fun. It is (in accordance with votes) masquerade-themed, appropriate for the turn of the year, and January (there’s also bonus mask-themed stationery for patrons at Duck level and above).

The little bat-lady excerpted above is based on one of my favourite vintage costumes. You’ll see reference to some other historical masquerade costumes and stories in it. Overall, however, I illustrated this with the W. B. Yeat’s poem “The Mask” in mind:

Take off that mask of burning gold, with emerald eyes.”


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Three Dresses from the Very Late Victorian and start of the Edwardian era; Understanding the Fashion Trends – Part Four

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I'm always a little surprised when I see very,very old photos like this one taken in 1908, and realize my grandma was already 8 years old by this time!: 1908 – those hats!

The Edwardian era saw the rise of ready-to-wear clothes, was the height of the Belle Époque, and saw the influence on fashion of the suffragettes and dress reform reach its conclusion. As the Edwardian era progressed, the fashion houses of Paris began to favour a new silhouette, with a thicker waist, flatter bust, and narrower hips. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the most fashionable skirts cleared the floor and approached the ankle; allowing women more freedom of movement to go with their increasing social freedoms. The overall silhouette narrowed and straightened, beginning a trend that would continue into the years leading up to the Great War.

As the silhouette changed, it began to resemble the styles supported by the Dress Reform movement. As bustles disappeared, the need for a sturdy corset to support the structure of the bustle also fell from favour. In the USA, Mary…

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Three Dresses from the mid-1800s; Understanding the Fashion Trends – Part Two

I am thinking of doing a blog on the dye wars of the 19th Century, because I just read an article about the pigment wars of the 21st century. This article does mention aniline dyes.

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“Let men be compelled to wear our dress for a while, and we should soon hear them advocating a change, as loudly as they now condemn it.” – Amelia Bloomer, Lily, March 1851

The middle of the 19th century was when the Rational Dress movement started, also known as dress reform. As fashions became more extreme, with crinolines, bustles, and tightly-laced corsets, many women – and suffragists in particular – were pushing for more sensible and comfortable fashions. As more women wanted to participate in active sports, dress reform became a political issue in the same way abolition of slavery and women’s rights were issues. Bloomers made their first appearance.

Evening gown circa 1840, of brocade silk and wool. Evening gown circa 1840, of brocade silk and wool.

It was the mid-1800s when skirts reached the peak of their fullness. Crinolines replaced petticoats, because the number of  petticoats required to maintain the fashionable silhouette would have been too…

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Why I like Australian Authors


You might think the easy answer is because I am Australian. But that is only a very small part of the complete answer. I don’t think there is another writing community in the entire world that is as supportive – for both successful writers, emerging writers, baby writers and wannabees  – as the Australian writing community. It isn’t a network of competing, parochial individuals, it is a proper community that opens its arms to anyone with a love of books and authors.

I personally know of many successful Australian authors who bend over backwards to be helpful and encouraging to the newbies. Of course, many writers hold courses or offer services for which you pay cash; writers need to eat and pay rent. And yet, I can’t think of the number of times some lovely person has given me advice or support just because they are kind and thoughtful: Jennifer Fallon, Angela Slatter, Michael Pryor, Ged Maybury, Richard Harland, Gillian Polack, Pamela Freeman, Jason Nahrung, Kylie Chan, Marianne de Pierres, Michael Gerard Bauer, Trent Jamieson, Scott Westerfeld, and the list could go on and on. There are just too many people to mention … isn’t that a lovely thought.

Australian authors write some of the most beautiful books, the best books, the books that linger in your heart and mind years after you have read them. The books you reread to visit with old friends. The books you read to make your heart beat faster and bring a chill to your spine. Books with memorable characters that make you laugh and cry. These authors, in any other country, would be too famous to mingle with us lesser mortals. (Have I mentioned I nearly had kittens the first time I met Jack Dann?) In Australia, they sit down and chat over a coffee.

Remember to appreciate Australian writers and authors. Respect them for the treasures they truly are. Buy their books, for yourself or as presents. Recommend their books to friends. Because that is exactly what they are doing!



Filed under Australian Author, Personal experience, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

The Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016


Finally! A new Doctor Who episode and it was everything I had hoped for. Be aware, SPOILERS SWEETIE! Please watch the episode before reading this review, or I can’t be held responsible to ruining some great moments.


The Christmas episodes are usually in a category by themselves, and The Return of Doctor Mysterio was no exception. I was particularly impressed with the way the writers linked this episode to The Husbands of River Song, and the perfection of the casting choices. And – again – London was in danger of an alien invasion and yet didn’t TURN UP on screen. Instead, the setting was New York.

For a comic book themed episode, New York is the perfect choice. It is an open secret that New York was and is the main inspiration of the Metropolis of the Superman comics. As well, it was the setting for the Watchmen graphic novel written by the famed comics writer, Alan Moore, illustrated by artist, Dave Gibbons, and given life by the colourist, John Higgins. Both these comics heavily influenced the look, the plot, and the story line of  The Return of Doctor Mysterio. 


The Ghost, who has Superman’s powers, but his costume resembles a modernistic Batman. In personality, he reminds me of Nite Owl from Watchmen, well meaning and trying to do the right thing. He does have the classic comic book characteristic of unrequited love for Lucy.

My favourite bits were the interaction between the Doctor and Nardole. Matt Lucas is a genius when it comes to making likeable characters out of unpromising material. Nardole, originally as a character, was rather sweet and clueless, but he has grown into a lovely person with a real fondness for the Doctor. His best line: Yes, yes, go save the planet. You always do that when the conversation turns serious. I may be misquoting this, but that is the general gist of Nardole’s comment. He isn’t clueless so much as single minded. As a companion, he is probably the best ever at understanding who the Doctor really is and what his motivations are.


Lucy, our intrepid girl reporter, is more than the vapid love interest – though she does end up in need of rescue. She is less a damsel, and much more a dragon lady. And she is a single mother, happy to leave her child with a male nanny.  She has the Doctor dancing to her tune by the middle of the episode. 

However, I also enjoyed the Doctor eating sushi while spying on the alien invaders. (As a big fan of sushi myself.) The humour in seeing the Doctor snacking it what should have been a serious and tense moment was physical humour at its best in Doctor Who. There were many moments of both physical humour and witty dialogue, as it should be in a Christmas episode.

This episode did a fine job of deconstructing the stereotype of the comic book superhero, as well as adding a wistful epilogue to the previous Christmas episode. My husband didn’t like this episode, but he didn’t read comic books as a child and doesn’t particularly enjoy graphic novels (Nobody is perfect). As a fan of both comics and Doctor Who, I enjoyed this episode both intellectually and it was satisfying emotionally. You can’t ask for more than that!

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This Year’s Steampunk Treasure


This wasn’t my only treasure. I also got a Doctor Who calendar and a Doctor Who TARDIS Teapot to go with my TARDIS lidded mug. I was spoilt (again).


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Seasons Greetings

Please keep in your thoughts all the people who will be working over the next few days, such as doctors, nurses and hospital staff, ambulance, fire and police, retail staff, and many others … so that you can enjoy your holiday. Please, even if you are feeling grumpy, refrain from taking out your temper on these people. They are already working twice as hard as usual, and are neglecting their own celebrations for your sakes. freaky-santa

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