February for a good half of the globe is a miserable month. A month both wet and cold where the dream of shorts-weather seems both tantalisingly close and yet so very far away. It is at this time we turn our minds to love, as if carnal body heat will somehow shift this snow. Whether you are on the market for a Valentine’s Day gift or solely on the lookout for what’s new in the world of beautifully dark things, we’ve got you covered in this season’s Ephemera Guide.
We’ve featured the wondrous artwork of AJ Hawkins on the blog before, but aside from her phenomenal art projects like The Reclamation, AJ has opened an online shop called Kalma. I really like how this store is focused on intersectional Death Positivity, mixing death-awareness, eco-consciousness, and Feminist-empowerment into the very foundations of the brand. Kalma is where AJ’s graphics-centric work like tee-shirts and Spooky Spoonie stickers lives, but it also is where she curates unique treasures and curiosities from estates sales. As well as promoting other independent artists. Having just launched in January, Hawkins’ shop may be petite but its curated with an elegant eye, something that is woefully missing in the world of the Strange and Unusual. It’s the kind of place where you will find one-of-a-kind treasures and feel proud of where your dollars are going.
So why not gift your love with an anatomical painting of a human heart
MisfitMakes Illustrated Jewellery
So I was on Twitter, minding my own business, when I saw my girl Lucy Coleman Talbot (who you all should be following) sporting the most amazing pair of crying heart earrings. I was instantly obsessed, and she was kind enough to share that she got them at MisfitMakes.
Y’all, are you like me? Do you want nice things but you are also a garbage person who breaks everything and won’t shell out for silver or gold knowing you are going to smash that mess like She-Hulk? Then MisfitMakes is for you. These are laser cut acrylic pieces that are both sturdy and stylish without breaking the bank. They scream vintage tattoo flash, and their bright colours and large sizes make for amazing statement pieces. Especially if you are like me and wear all black 95% of the time and like to wear that one piece that pops.
Regardless of your feelings about the day of love, you need these heart earrings in your life.
Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom
If you haven’t guessed from this site, or the book club we’ve just started over on GoodReads, I love to read. I’m also a person that experiences life profoundly through my sense of smell. I get discouraged by how anosmic the world of literature can be, especially contemporary fiction. Oh, sure Proust nattered on about his madeleines and tea, but scent very rarely plays a significant role in novels. Which is why I was all aflutter when the recently released Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom came across my path. With a tag line like, “Where perfume is magic and secrets are deadly”, you should just shut up and take my money, ok!
This book is the debut YA novel by P.M Freestone, and it has already been translated into a half a dozen languages with a sequel slated for next year, not too shabby for being out for about two weeks. I have to admit my copy hasn’t arrived yet. However, I’m so excited from what I’ve seen so far that, for the first time on the blog, I am preemptively boosting this book. I know some of you may feel that unless I’ve read it cover to cover I can’t give it the Death/Scent seal of approval, fair enough, but something has stirred my long dead heart, so let’s just be excited together for once.
I know what some of you are saying, “Books and earrings and dead people’s photos, what about those of us that are broke this Valentine’s”. Fear not, my frugal friends, I have treasures for you too. If you are unaware of the writer, scholar, and magnificently bearded man known as Ivan Cenzi, allow me to rectify this.
The Death Postive world isn’t a monolith, but a series of circles forming Venn diagrams. There are lots of ways in which we overlap, and there are lots of ways in which we are different. For a whole gaggle of reasons too big to get into in this post, I get uncomfortable with a broad swath of the Venn diagram that could be labelled curiosities, oddities, and anatomical specimens. In short, I don’t like sensationalism that takes away the dead’s humanity, and I feel that that happens a lot in this region of the field. However, the shining example of how wonderful this element of the DP movement can be is Ivan’s work.
He has written a host of books, some of which may be discussing the use of the body in medical specimens that are more art than a learning tool, but he always approaches death in a way that fosters understanding, not just titillation. Cenzi has a deep sensitivity to the subject matters that he works on and a profound grasp on the history and context of these phenomena. You may start in a place of shock and horror, but he takes you by the hand and Virgil-like guides you on a journey of discovery and understanding.
You can find many amazing articles on his blog, Bizzarro Bazar, but even better you can check out BB’s new Youtube channel. Ivan’s videos are a visual feast, beautifully edited and animated, with loads of charm.
I will note that his videos are in Italian, but there are English subtitles. A bit of closed-caption reading is a small price to pay to be filled with wonder at our gloriously strange world for free.
Rose Overdose’s Rose Retreat
If you love perfume, the rose holds a particular place in your heart. Romantic and opulent, the rose is the perfect symbol of love or at least lust. No rose is more of a botanical siren, in my opinion than the Bulgarian Rosa Damascena. These lush blossoms are a delicate pink and need to be harvested with equal delicacy, in the morning before the noonday sun robs them of their richness. A richness we want to gobble up all for ourselves in the form of rose oil and absolute. To be in a rose garden in bloom as dawn peaks over the hills is a singular sensual experience that everyone should have at least once.
This year I will be joining the wonderful Silvia of Rose Overdose as a participant at her annual Rose Retreat. If you really want to splash out on a romantic gesture what could be more romantic then a week of rose yoga, rose dinners, rose distilling and rose harvesting surrounded by the charms of Bulgaria’s Rose Valley. Plus I’ll be there and willing to offer my services as a third wheel if your romantic plans don’t pan out as expected.
So Happy Valentine’s Day dearies may love, or climate change or a good space heater warm the cockles of your heart today. If you find something enchanting on the internet that I must check out before our summer Walpurgis Ephemera Guide, do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org xoxo-Nuri
This kind of goes without saying on a blog dedicated to death and smells but all recommendations are based on personal experience and were purchased. We do not accept paid recommendations.