Queens of the Sea #2: Lai Choi San’s White Satin Robe

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Welcome to day two of the Queens of the Sea series, part of the Random Magic Pirates book tour! Here is the mini-bio for today’s pirate, provided again by Lyrika:

Lai Choi San
The Queen of Macau Pirates
The Jade Empress
The Enigmatic Empress

Lai Choi San was a 20th century Chinese pirate, who prowled the South
China Sea during the 1920s and into the 1930s.

She commanded a fleet of a dozen junks based in the South China
Sea. Finnish adventurer and freelance writer Aleko E. Lilius managed to find a way to
work among her crews, and he recounts his impression of the
cool-headed commander this way:

‘What a woman she was! Rather slender and short, her hair jet black,
with jade pins gleaming in the knot at the neck, her earrings and
bracelets of the same precious apple-green stone.

She was exquisitely dressed in a white satin robe fastened with green
jade buttons, and green silk slippers. She wore a few plain gold rings
on her left hand; her right hand was unadorned. Her face and dark eyes
were intelligent…and rather hard. She was probably not yet forty.

Every move she made and every word she spoke told plainly that she
expected to be obeyed, and as I had occasion to learn later, she was
(I Sailed with Chinese Pirates (1931), Aleko E. Lilius

Lai Cho San was also the inspiration for a 1930s comic strip,
Terry and the Pirates, featuring a
cold-blooded villainess, The Dragon Lady. The series, by artist Milton
, sparked a radio series (1937-1948) and a later TV series
in the early 1950s.

You can read more about Lai Choi San at In the Library of LadyViolet, as part of the Queens of the Sea series.

It was kind of Lilius to describe her outfit so well, wasn’t it? That made today’s overall design very easy to come up with, meaning that I could spend less time thinking about it and more time admiring pictures of 1920s-era vintage Chinese robes. I could have sworn that the word “necklaces” appeared in that description at some point, though. Oh well. I’m sure she had a least a couple of necklaces!

Imagine trying to keep a white satin outfit like that clean anywhere near a ship… Even if it’s not what she might have worn on duty, so to speak, it can’t have been easy. I imagine that’s one perk of what was no doubt a generally rough existence — she could task some poor underling with the duty of keeping her clothes immaculate. Although, given that she may have never existed at all, I suppose a fantasy character could keep all manner of delicate white clothing perfectly clean.

Don’t forget to enter my contests! Click here for the chance to win an original drawing, for those of you who can give me an address if you win, and click here for the chance to design a pirate outfit, open to everyone!

I wanted to clarify one thing about the first contest – it’s open to international visitors as well as domestic ones. And yes, all you have to do is post a comment to enter — although it is a little boring for me to watch the comments roll in, next time I do something like this, I will make people write something more imaginative! But I won’t change the rules on you mid-stream, this time.

Don’t forget: check out the tour schedule here! And for more information about Random Magic, here’s the trailer for the book.

Also, check out the Rum + Plunder treasure hunt for more pirate prizes!

Embroidered Robe and White Nightgown from Romeo et Juliette

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Yesterday, I saw an encore presentation of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2007 performance of Roméo et Juliette through the Live in HD series, which they broadcast to participating movie theaters. I love these, and I’ve gone to as many as I can since last year. It would probably be a great experience to go to one live, but as it is, you get an amazing view of the costumes this way!

Shakespeare in a language besides English loses a lot of charm for me, but add singing and it becomes enjoyable. (Aside from the ending, in which Romeo downs the poison, then Juliet wakes up about five seconds later; they have a fair few minutes to express mutual joy in song, and all the while I am thinking that it might not be very romantic to induce vomiting but it would at least be worth trying…) I hated Romeo’s powder-blue tight pants, but Juliet, as it should be, had lovely costumes; this robe and nightgown set was used heavily, particularly the nightgown, which she was wearing under everything after the first party scene. I don’t think my drawing does justice to it at all, but at least now Ivy and Grace have something to lounge in.

By the way, I regret that I can’t see the encore presentation of Carmen late in July, because I will be a little busy after flying cross-country with two whiny, neurotic cats the day before. The rest of you, though, should try to see it, because it’s fantastic! I love Carmen, and I did get to see this performance before so really I have nothing to complain about.

Black Masters Cap and Gown

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

I’m back, and with a shiny new Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language! I found it fascinating, met a lot of great people and now I’m tutoring and rating the TOEFL iBT writing section. Besides that, I’ve been moving to a great new apartment, cooking, reading, keeping my husband fed as he starts his own business and indulging my cats.

What I haven’t been doing is drawing paperdolls, and I think it’s high time that changed.

I graduated in December, and the color of the hood is just what mine was. The dress underneath is green, in honor of EMU’s colors, green and white. The wacky Masters gown sleeves are… sort of an approximation. (I can almost hear my mom telling me that the PhD gown sleeves are easier to draw.)

Anyways, I’ve missed doing paperdolls — I’ve spent far too much time thinking about doing them, and far too little time actually drawing them. I think I’m going to go back to the old Paperdoll Blog format — that is, paperdolls based on whatever I’m watching, reading, listening to or thinking about. I might shoot for one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m so out of practice, though… so we’ll see. ;)

White and Blue Angel Costume (based on a costume from Liana’s Paperdoll Boutique)

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

It’s a half hour before midnight and I’ve managed not to break my streak of two days in a row, although not for lack of trying. I started out so nicely this morning with an attempt to recreate my favorite dress from the Oscars, Penélope Cruz’s amazing pink concoction, which will be up here, eventually. But not today; my attempt at the bodice wasn’t quite the right color. Less of a sophisticated pale peachy-pink — more Totally Actress Barbie! pink. Brian said the pattern looked like muscles, or mummy wrappings, and I’ve known him long enough to take it as a compliment… So then I tried Reese Witherspoon’s dress. Twice.

Night came around, and I thought I’d give up and go with what I knew. So here’s a reproduction of one of my old Boutique outfits: a white angel costume with blue edges and absurdly annoying wings. Don’t ask how one is supposed to keep the halo anywhere near Sylvia’s head; the old one didn’t even have a halo, which makes this, at least in theory, an improvement.

I’ve spent a lot of time with my old Boutique outfits lately: a lot of them make me cringe, all these years later, but some of them weren’t half bad. I never did put them back up after I lost my University space, something my mom has often reminded me of, but if I’m feeling particularly uncreative I may redo some of the ones I like. If I’m feeling really uncreative, I may just put up a small set of Boutique outfits and call it a post of historical interest!