Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Personal: Becoming an Artist

I've never considered myself an 'artist'.  I've always been someone who is interested in art, and good at it (sort of), but since I've never tried to make money doing art I've never considered myself an artist.  I'm a writer--I make money doing that--and I used to be a singer (it's been so long I don't think my voice is very good anymore, but I did some paid gigs in dinner theater in college).  Never an artist though.

My goal as a person, in general, is to be able to make enough money to survive without having to work for The Man.  I feel like I spend a lot of time, emotional distress, and physical pain making not a lot of money for Old White Men who make a TON of money.  I decided this back in 2015 when I was having some really bad days at work and my boss told me I needed to "accept my place in life."  I was 32 years old, and I was working at Subway.

Well, needless to say I was not ready to accept his idea of 'my place.' I rage-quit later on that day and started selling random stuff from around my house on eBay the next day.  I also set up an Etsy shop and tried to sell handmade jewelry (also made from stuff already sitting around my house) but that didn't work out so well. I still have most of it sitting around my office actually.  My Etsy eventually transformed into a supply shop, and that's going pretty ok.

So for the last few years I've mostly been focusing on keeping my head above water and spending as little time possible lining The Man's pockets (yes, I do have to pay Etsy and eBay fees, which go straight to The Man, but I get to make most of my rules at least).  I have a part-time job at a grocery store now (way better than Subway), but I try to work there as little as possible.

Back in the fall the urge to create started slipping back into my mind.  My shops were doing well, selling craft supplies, vintage items, and anything else I could scrounge up. But I didn't feel like I was contributing to the world just moving items from one place to another.  I wanted to make stuff again.

I launched Rosie Lea's Oddity Boutique in November, just in time for Christmas. (I'm so smart!) I wanted to fill it with beautiful things I found interesting.  Since I was focusing on Christmas (and super-busy) I mostly made some ornaments, jewelry & gift type stuff, again working with what I already had laying around my house (a lot more expansive after three years selling online) and also things that could be done quickly. Now that Christmas is over and I have time to think (OMG, Christmas is crazy) I'm starting to make some really fun stuff.

I love working with vintage and antique junk and naturally sourced items best.  You're going to be seeing a lot of bones, insects, dried plant matter, old toys, broken junk, crystals, and stones. I'll use anything and everything in my work.  I've always enjoyed collage as a medium, so that's mostly the kind of stuff you're going to be seeing from me.  (Also I can't draw anymore--in high school I was so close to being good. I bought a sketchbook though, so we'll see what the future has in store.)

I look towards Steampunk, Vulture Culture, pagan culture, folklore, and history for inspiration. My stuff isn't going to be for a lot of people, but it makes me happy to spend my time poking around with broken dolls and dead stuff.  And glue. Lots of glue.

So! Here I am, a real artist attempting to sell art so I can avoid getting a normal job.  Visit Rosie Lea's Oddity Boutique if you're interested in buying some jewelry, art, dead stuff or crystals.  Use the coupon code " IREADTHEBLOG " for 10% off!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Buying Human Bones in the United States

It's completely legal to buy, sell, and own human bones in the United States.  This comes as a complete surprise to a lot of people, but its 100% true, with a few state exceptions:  Louisiana is the only state to completely outlaw owning human bones; New York, Georgia, & Tennesee have laws preventing human bones crossing state lines, but bones already in those states can change hands freely. The rest of the country is open season.

Where did these bones come from?  Illegal grave robbing? Bodies donated to science? Murder?

(public domain)
Well, the story of Burke & Hare, 19th-century English graverobbers turned murderers, is not a common one.  With all the natural deaths going on, murder for corpses isn't really worth the effort.  The human bones circulating the science and medical community as well as the collectors of the macabre come from a number of sources, but murder is not one of them.

Antique human skeletons and bones were commonly grave-robbed, in the United States most notably from all-black cemeteries, but poor people, in general, were prone to having their bodies end up dissected in a lab or educational setting. Of course, not all of these or I suspect even most of these bodies ended up as permanent classroom fixtures--most were eventually re-buried or cremated.  (In the late 90's the bones of at least 15 people were found buried under a London house owned by Ben Franklin--it is assumed an illegal anatomy school operated there.)  Another source for cadavers that might eventually end up as skeletons in a classroom were poorhouses and prisons, where unclaimed bodies had to be disposed of by the state.

(public domain)
This practice of unclaimed and stolen bodies being used for medical education has continued into the 20th century and even into the beginning of the 21st century, though the practice lessened in the United States in the 20th century.  Human bones began being imported from India around that time, up until 1987, when the Indian government stopped exportation.  After that human bones were imported from China to the United States up until 2008, when various practices were "cleaned up" prior to the Bejing Olympics.

The Indian and Chinese bones come from the same place most of those 19th century bones did-- grave robbed and taken from the unclaimed bodies of the poor or those who died without family within institutions such as prisons.

Indian and Chinese bones make up the bulk of the bones being circulated in the United States today.  Since no one is exporting human bones anymore and few American bodies donated to science end up as specimens (when donated cadavers have reached the point of uselessness to the teaching community currently they are cremated and usually returned to the families), the current market is the same bones being bought and sold over and over again. (Though some material is making it into the country illegally through black market bone dealers in India.)

Owning a human skull or skeleton is as easy as googling "buying human bones" picking a seller, and entering your paypal or credit card info.  There are a few independent websites, and one can sell human bones through Amazon as well.  It is against eBay and Etsy's TOS to sell human remains other than hair and teeth.  A skull will set you back $700 to $1500.  Whole skeletons run between $1500 and $6000.  You can buy a toe or hand/finger bone for the low price of $10 to $15 on most sites.

The ethics of owning human bones might be pretty iffy, but the legality of owning human bones is 100% in your favor.

Sources/Further Reading:

How Grave Robbers And Medical Students Helped Dehumanize 19th Century Blacks And The Poor (Forbes)

The Bone Room FAQ

Into the Heart of India's Underground Bone Trade (NPR)

Is Owning a Human Skull Legal (Odd Articulations)

Why Was Benjamin Franklin’s Basement Filled With Skeletons? (Smithsonian)

Burke & Hare (Wikipedia)

Monday, January 7, 2019

My Top 5 Lead Based Minerals

Getting our geology on today!  Who doesn't love shiny rocks? Very boring people, that's who.  I have a terrible cold today so I'm not into a lot of typing and research, so here's some pretty pictures instead.  (This is not in order of favorite to least favorite--I can't decide!)

1. Vanadinite

It's got hexagons, it's cherry red, and when it grows on white calcite it looks like bloody bones.  (Also comes in shades of brown and orange.)

(pic public domain)

2. Pyromorphite

When pyromorphite crystals are tiny they look like sparkly crystalized moss.

(Pic By Rob Lavinsky,

3. Galena

The most lead-iest of lead-based minerals. Also usually contains 1-2% silver.  So shiny, and very heavy.

(Pic By Rob Lavinsky,

4. Mimetite

Also available in pyromorphite-like crystalline form, I prefer this one in it's botryoidal shape. Looks like arsenic-laden cauliflower.  Delicious! (It's chemical makeup includes about 70% lead and 15% arsenic--all the poisons!)

(Pic By Rob Lavinsky,

 5. Anglesite

Anglesite is the most gemmy of the minerals I chose to put on this list, just to show how varied and awesome lead can be--here it gets paired with sulfur and oxygen and it goes making gorgeous clear crystals. (Also often yellow in color.)

(Pic By Parent Géry

I've got a bit of vanadinite up for sale right now in lots with some other crystals.  You can check them out here.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Folklore Friday: Sheela Na Gig

Every Friday I'm going to be tackling some aspect of world folklore. Be it art, a story, song, legend, religion, fashion, cultural practice, or whatever.  I'm not going to focus on any specific time period, but most of the stuff I'll be talking about will be at least 100 years old.

Kilpeck Sheela Na Gig
My first Folklore Friday is about this lovely lady, Sheela Na Gig.  The female figure, legs open, vulva agape or spread, is an aspect of European architecture from the Medieval period (5th to 15th centuries). Most are thought to have been carved in the 1100-1300s.  Most surviving Sheela Na Gigs are found in Ireland, but they can be seen throughout England, France & Spain and are thought to be primarily of Norman origin.

When I first discovered her I was enthralled. With her very Irish name (as a redhead I cannot help but feel a kinship to Ireland and Scotland, though I suspect my genetics are more English), her big eyes, and the lack of shame she clearly showed as she opened herself up to the world gave me such delight.

Experts cannot agree on why Sheela exists.  Most, but not all, of the carvings are found on churches--not a place one would expect to see such blatant and open sexuality. It has been long suggested that the figures are meant to ward off evil, specifically the evils of lust and feminine allure. One can imagine the male stoneworker creating her. She is not a beauty, not the shrinking, shy virginal creature that constitutes too many mens' ideals (both then and now).  Her face is a bit ugly, her actions lewd, but confident. The type of woman a man back then would be afraid of.

St Clements in the Hebrides
Another theory is that she is an older a pagan fertility symbol sneaked into the holy architecture. This theory is particularly popular among feminist interpreters of the figures, and one can see why.  Sheela is powerful, and not at all frightening.  "Get out of my way and make room for my vagina too!"  I like that.  In 1992 singer P.J. Harvey wrote a song about strong female sexuality featuring Sheela Na Gig. (Video: 1992 live performance)

Who knows who and what she really was a thousand years ago when people first began to carve her image all across Europe? Her origins may have been forgotten, but she still inspires awe and wonder, both positive and negative, in all who see her.

Further Reading:


St Clemens Sheela Na Gig: by Nalderpf / Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year--New You?

This year I am attempting to use this blog as an actual blog.  Planned updates are for M-W-F.  This is going to be a cross between a business blog and a personal blog, with some random ramblings mixed with informative articles relative to my (and hopefully your) interests.  I made a list of stuff to talk about...if there's anything you wanna hear from me, @ me on twitter .

So. New Years.  Resolutions are kind of a joke among many people. 7 out of 10 people who join gyms in January quit by May. According to this Huffington Post Article, only 39% of people in their 20's achieve their resolutions, and only 15% of people in their 50's achieve theirs.  The article states that the reasons are because we make resolutions that are too big, and we resolve to do things we don't, in our hearts, actually feel strongly about.

I bought a new planner (I'll get to that in a minute) and it had some advice--to not make resolutions. Winter is a time for rest and reflection--spring is the season for rebirth.  That sounds good too, but people really like that January 1 starting date for becoming better people.

I think we should always strive to be better people. No one is perfect. Maybe you have bad habits, maybe you wish you were doing better on a personal or professional level. Maybe you just wish things were different. Great! Let's improve. Let's make things better. If you can't change something you should make peace with that something and move on, but if you can change something and you want to, I don't think one should wait for a specific date or moon phase or season to do it. Don't start on a Monday because its the beginning of the week. Start on Wednesday, start now!  (I had to fight myself to not start this blog on the 1st, but I wanted to stick to the M-W-F schedule.)

One thing the HuffPo article mentioned to help you achieve your goals was to start writing in a journal, and I've decided to do exactly that!  A few days ago someone posted on twitter about a planner/book of shadows/coloring book.  I had already made a spreadsheet to track my writing, weight loss, and business progress, but this looked more fun and exciting, so I bought it without thinking another moment.

How do ppl make their lives look perfect online? I have no idea.
I kind of love it.  In the morning I weigh myself and record how that went (2 days in, not much to show yet--I'm having a hard time with some health issues and I know weight loss will improve them).  In the evening I record my word count (working on a novel) and jot down a few notes about how the day went.  I don't color all of every page, but I do try to color some of it to help relax before sleep.

I don't need pages and pages of writing about my day. Just ew lines the planner gives me is perfect.  (I guess I could like, put my work schedule in there or something too...)

My goals are small. I don't want to overwhelm myself. It's mostly just about routine and forming good habits, and not slacking off at work that makes me happy just because its easier to mindlessly scroll through Twitter and Reddit.

So. My advice for the New Year is:
1) Don't overwhelm yourself.
2) Don't wait for "the right time" to start self-improvement.
3) Journal it out.

Here's a link to buy a copy of my journal:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Welcome to Rosie Lea's Curio Cabinet

Established in 2015, Rosie Lea's Curio Cabinet is an ever-evolving curated collection of stones and crystals, jewelry making supplies, handmade jewelry, pagan items, clothing (modern, vintage & costume), collectables and vintage curiosities.  The Curio Cabinet currently operates on Etsy, eBay, & mercari.  Occasional IRL shows too! Stay tuned for dates/locations (in Ohio).

I love boho, hipster, steampunk, hippie, rockabilly, pagan, and goth style. I love historical items, junk, toys, and I love making things with my hands. The Curio Cabinet reflects those loves, and a wide variety of items can be found here.

So much new stuff for the new year!  I launched Rosie Lea's Oddity Boutique at the beginning of December and it had a great first month.  Stay tuned for more creepy awesome things at the Oddity Boutique.

This coming year I plan on more products, more IRL shows, more art, more content (blog? me? maybe!).

Rosie Lea's Oddity Boutique (ETSY)
Jewelry and gifts that are weird and wonderful!  Taxidermy, animal bits, vintage and antique oddities, crystals.

Rosie Lea's Curio Cabinet (ETSY)
Jewelry and craft supplies. Bulk discounts available!  I strive to carry things other shops do not--look here for interesting bits and bobs for all your projects.

Rosie Lea's Witch Shop (EBAY)
Pagan/wiccan/witchy/alternative religion & lifestyle items. Some clothes and jewelry. Mostly new, some used items.

General Mercari
A little bit of everything.

General eBay
Even more little bits of everything.

This is me, Rosie Lea.

I love hiking, tea, cats, books, and thrifting.  I'm a lot of fun on Twitter and Facebook, so you should follow me there!  I also have a sorely under-visited Tumblr and an Instagram!