Funny Photos

Easily Amused

I have been collecting vintage photographs for some time now and anyone who has seen any of the Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez online presences would probably note I am fond of using old photographs to promote or enhance our brand.  I'm happy I can share two things I love simultaneously!

It is hard to pinpoint my reason for collecting these photographs.  I prefer casual, vernacular photography as I feel there is something more intimate, familiar and spontaneous is the snaps of ordinary folk.  My collection itself is somewhat haphazard.  Sometimes, I focus on one sort of photograph - Victorian photos of people taken from behind; handlebar moustaches; colour photography from the 1940s, but there is one particular group that I find gets a good reaction from others.  This group is made up of men, women and/or children at ease, fooling around, falling over, mugging for the camera, dressing up.  In other words, funny photos!

In an age where we probably overshare our lives, these photos still manage to capture something surprising in folk's everyday lives.  I love them and I hope you enjoy them too:

New Product Photos!

Merging Interests

I have long collected vintage photographs and I was keen to incorporate them into the Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez fold.  My friend Karena from Magic Jelly has kindly shared with me some of her vast knowledge of digital graphic programs to enable me to use some of my collection of photographs to promote my soaps.  With the keen eye of my partner, I have put together some images, which you will now find on my product listings at the store.  I am very pleased with the results and thank Karena and Stevie for their help!

Prints and Prints

Escaping from work

I noticed that the Flinders University Art Museum and City Gallery is now located in the State Library of South Australia, so I went to visit it during the week to see what was on offer.

Currently on show is an exhibition of South Australian political prints from the 1970s and 1980s called "Mother Nature is a Lesbian".   The period covered now seems like a golden age for South Australia, what with Don Dunstan and a healthy and visible culture of protesting for change.  Maybe I'm looking back through rose-coloured glasses, but there's something very appealing about those years from where I stand.

I loved the energy in the posters on display, all pre-digital era of course, and I snapped a couple of my favourites below.   I highly recommend a visit to this very conveniently located gallery.  The exhibition closes on 13 July 2014.

Pamela Harris, 'Memory Trace' 1983, serigraph.

Pamela Harris, 'Women' 1984, serigraph.

Ann Newmarch, 'Nationalize the Car Industry' C1975, serigraph.

Mandy Martin 'But for the 750,000 people in the world who depend on 

General Motors for their daily bread' 1975, serigraph.

Mandy Martin, 'Gallery 2' 1977, serigraph.

Also at the State Library of South Australia is a small exhibition of photographs and photographic equipment called "Moriendo Renascor: 19th Century Photography".  I would love to see more from the library's collection and I understand that the public may browse its collection.   This exhibition closes 31 July 2014. 

A modern print of a C1850 daguerreotype 'Actors', photographer unknown.

The photo above is an extract of a modern print of (I think) a glass plate negative C1879 showing the studios of an Adelaide based photographer, Captain Sweet, on Flinders Street.   

Of course, the name Captain Sweet alone is enough to pique anyone's interest, but what little I have seen of this photographer's work makes me want to learn a lot more!  I understand he photographed a lot of landscapes, but it is his portraits that caught my eye.  I have one in my own collection which is one of my favourites, a gentleman in dark glasses.   The subject is interesting, of course, because it is unusual to have a sitter wearing dark glasses, perhaps he is vision impaired, or perhaps it's a trick of the light turning his standard reading glasses dark.  I don't know.  But it is also the space, the jaunty position of the sitter and the quiet simplicity that I love.  

Vintage Perfume Ingredient Catalogue

Junk shop find

(Extracts from 'Perfumes', a catalogue published by the Societe Chimique des Usines du Rhone, probably in the early 1920s.  From my private collection.)

I love reading the 'Perfumes' catalogue.   It contains a descriptive list of a wide range of synthetic perfumes, their benefits over natural essential oils (usually cost and potency), a few recipes for perfumes and a series of photographs of the factories that produced the chemicals.   It's full of possibilities!

I've been thinking for some time about making my own perfumes.   I am ambivalent about synthetic perfumes like the ones listed in the catalogue.  On the one hand, I would prefer to avoid the use of synthetic chemicals as I generally prefer keeping things as natural as possible.  I certainly stick to natural ingredients in the soaps I make. But I'm also aware of the advantages of using alternatives to natural products, particularly where there might be a dwindling or limited supply (like rosewood essential oil). 

I've tried researching various essential oils to check whether the production of the oils are in any way  detrimental to either the environment or the people who live near the resource.  The more expensive oils seem to be obtained from specifically grown crops.  Otherwise, it might be wise if I'm concerned about a particular oil to at least try to source an organic version, or one that is locally produced.

In any event, I still find the catalogue inspiring; it's like looking in a well illustrated cook book that makes you rush out and buy far too many vegetables.  And here's something else I find inspiring - a Holga pic of begonias in glorious late summer colours:

As a second thought, below is an extract from 'Perfume' of a perfume recipe for 'Bouquet of Moss Rose':

Firstly, you need to make 'rose spirit' as follows;

"Grain spirit of 94% strength without odour or flavour is reduced to 70% strength by adding Rose water, and then dissolving Rhodinol in this alcohol in the following proportions:
Rhodinol I   20gr
Alcohol 70% 1 litre."

This is the 'rose spirit'.  So, the recipe is:

"Rose Spirit.....................660cc
Extract of Orange flowers....240cc
Tincture of Ambergris........30cc
Tincture of Musk..............25cc
Tincture of Vanilla.............45cc
These ingredients are mixed, shaken and left for 15 days in a well closed bottle at a temperature of 25 degrees to 30 degrees C; it is then allowed to cool, filtered and put into bottles for sale."

I am pleased to say that Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez perfumes will be all-natural and vegan!

Gift Buying For Him

A selection 

It's coming up to that time of year again and the (sometimes) painful task of buying gifts is here!  I have noticed over the years that the people who are the least frazzled by gift buying seem to follow a few simple rules:

1. buy early;
2. buy thoughtful; and
3. buy small.

I think buying for men is particularly difficult for some people, but here at Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez, I have a few solutions for you:

Top Row
The Emperor's Chai  delicious cardamom
Mister X...               green and earthy vetiver
Lemon Meringue       lemony may chang

Middle Row
Smokey Joe             sophisticated smokey cade
Evening Star            aromatic star anise and basil
A Siberian Wood      a dry wood

Bottom Row
Spearmint Julep       fresh spearmint
St Clement's             zesty sweet orange and may chang
The Fez No. 1          the gin and tonic of soap, lemongrass, may chang, juniperberry and

Each soap is available from the Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez shop for $7.50, plus postage.  Each soap is hand crafted from all natural ingredients, vegan and without palm oil.  Packaged and labelled in a range of beautiful boxes, these soaps make a thoughtful (relaxed gift-buying person's number 2 rule) and small (relaxed gift-buying person's number 3 rule) gift for men.   Buy now and I can help you with relaxed gift-buying person's number 1 rule too!

My further advice is, if you have to buy a gift for a fellow like curly-locks below, I'd suggest Smokey Joe.  He looks the type.

Photo from Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez collection.

Blackbird, Fly

...super hyper mega fun.

The Blackbird, Fly is a twin lens reflex camera.   The viewfinder is on the top and you look down into it - one of the lens is for the viewfinder, the other to capture the image on film.  It's made of plastic and comes in a range of bright colours.   I haven't taken mine out for a spin for some time, so I might get some more film and experiment.   

Here are some snaps of some 60s architecture in my local area, taken with the Blackbird, Fly.

Mater Dei, Woodville Park and Ukraine Catholic Church, Woodville.

And some other brightly coloured snaps:

Mini Golf at Semaphore and Kingston Park beach.

Winter's Last Hurrah

...out on a rainy night

I was sitting at my desk sorting through some old photographs and there was a box of Smokey Joe sitting on a pile of books next to me.  The soft smokey scent of cade and vetiver reminded me of the smell of tobacco pipes, overcoats, old port and the sound of distant trains clickety clacking over the tracks on a cold, silent night.  Of course, I thought of this gentleman.  A found photo of a young man taken somewhere in Germany in the early 30s, it is so atmospheric with his face wonderfully lit by the dim street-lights.  Moody and melancholy.

Feel the mood with Al Bowly singing Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen:


Open for Business

Yes, That's Right

Finally, after some time, I have opened the shop!  You can buy soap, if you want it, right here!

Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez

I hope you love the design of the shop and the packaging as much as I do.  I have been lucky enough to have Magic Jelly design all of this and give a beautiful, nostalgic but modern feel to Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez.  

As you know, dear reader, Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez soaps are all natural, vegan and full to the brim with luxurious skin-loving oils.  But not only that, the essential oils used in the soaps will bring the world's flowers, spices, herbs and woods to the palm of your hand.

There will be some further tweaking to this blog too - I will have a button in the side column which will be your very own chauffeur on the glamorous road to soapsville, Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez!  So, you can read about it here and buy it with a twitch of a finger!

I have already received some orders from some wonderful people (they must be wonderful, such exquisite taste!) and I am finding out what people are favouring.   I have almost run out of The Emporer's Chai (so hurry!) and South Pacific is a winner, as is Love Lies Bleeding.  Spicy and floral.

In the pipeline, I have a surprise new scent.  For those with a sweet tooth and a longing for bright summer days, you are in for a treat - a candy-sweet scented soap, packed with olive oil, olive pomace, macadamia nut oil and shea oil.  It's a bright, happy and luxurious soap.

I have also just completed a batch of Lemon Meringue soap which will have you drooling!  A wonderful sweet lemony scent in a rich blend of apricot kernel oil and evening primrose oil.  No, you can't eat it, but you'll want to!

So, there is a lot lined up here at Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez.  Not just soap here on the blog; you'll have the usual found-photographs, flowers, melancholy musings, a bit of jazz music, graphics, design, art and what-not (do you like the word what-not?).  Have a look around.

Picture Diary

Where Have I Been?

During the week, I went for a lovely drive in the hills with a friend and we stopped by this beautiful creek just outside of Ashton.  The area was heady with the smell of dirt, aniseed and water - an evocative wintery smell.

This weekend I had breakfast by the sea at Largs Bay.  It was bracing and sunny.  Here are some snaps of the beach; the Largs Pier Hotel, St Albans Church and Queenies Store.