November 13, 2017

Lessons from an Instagram Hiatus (+ Bedhead)


My dear friend instagram, you are that friend I love and find inspiring some days, then totally anxiety inducing the next. I find myself 'tolerating' you, more often than not. But I just can't quit ya.

Instagram was one of the reasons I started my Bedhead project in the first place. When I post flattering photos of myself, I get on average about 50% more likes than posts of my artwork do. If it's me AND my artwork? Bonus!

So what happens when I feel I can't take a flattering photo because of x y or z about my face or my body or my outfit? What happens when all these other folks are looking faboo in every post they put up and I'm left here on my end feeling real frumpy? Well, that answers it. I feel frumpy.


While the bedhead project has helped me greatly in feeling better about myself, I decided to also try a whole month without Instagram. I did this for several reasons:

That frumpy feeling. It's no good, and the artistic or creative inspiration that instagram gives me isn't really worth that feeling.

• I spend way way way way way too much time on instagram. I tried imagining all the work I could get done or the creating I could do in the time I spend scrolling through photos of others' work and life.

I'm working on tackling some anxieties that cause me to fidget, all the time. I constantly need my hands and eyes to be stimulated and I found that instagram was an outlet for that behaviour. Probably a relatively healthy one, but I'm trying to work on mitigating the need for that stimulation altogether.

I managed to stay off instagram for the month of October! I did check it once when someone had told me they'd sent me a message, but otherwise I deleted the app and kept it off my phone altogether.


It's hard to tell if it was instagram alone, because of other efforts towards minimizing my stress and anxious behaviours, and I moved in with my boyfriend for a October as well (as a 'trial run'... exciting stuff for another post!), but my anxieties were at an all time low! Honestly, my appearance was rarely even on my radar beyond having fun with clothes and making myself presentable for work. It was very freeing. I also found myself knitting or reading or working on school work much more deeply and frequently, without little bubbles of distraction from my phone.

As soon as I put instagram back on my phone on November 1st, I spent way too long "catching up". The feeling of being sucked right back into the app was so apparent to me, that I deleted it again the same day! I started comparing myself to others again, mainly when it comes to appearances. I started day dreaming about cutting my hair or dying it or getting a nose piercing. I've caught myself online shopping and wanting more more more, flattering outfits, trendy outfits. Something new. I don't actually want to do these things, but here they are, new ideas in my head.

I've decided not to delete instagram again, though I have been feeling very close to it. I want to learn to find the self confidence and will power to use it wisely. To use it in a way that works towards my goals: sharing my art work with followers, and engaging with other artists on the platform. That's really what I want it to serve as. So, I started by unfollowing all the beautiful fashionistas I followed. Not because I don't still love their style, but because it is damaging to me to see their feeds day in and day out on my phone.

Do you have an instagram where you share your art? I would LOVE to follow you! My instagram for my art is @katiaengell_ , and my instagram for this blog is @house.of.ell if you'd like to follow back.

November 4, 2017

Window Shopping: Gold Statement Earrings


I went through a minimalist jewellery phase, where all I wanted were little studs in geometric shapes or cool designs. Always simple; understated. Somehow in the last six months or so, I've become absolutely enamoured with gold statement earrings! Earrings with cool shapes that are relatively simple in that they are for the most part, just gold. No gems, no tassels, no colours. Just engraved and/or uniquely shaped gold metal.

Here are a few of my favourites from some online window shopping. Some vintage, some handmade!

It's funny to reflect on my own "jewellery evolution". I also had a silver phase where I was soooo not into gold. I found it tacky and not good for me. I feel the exact opposite now! While I still like silver, I find I much prefer the warmth of gold.

How about you, are you more of a silver or gold kind of person?

October 23, 2017

Thrifty Outfit: Upcycled Denim Jacket


Wahoo! It has been way too long since I've done a thrifty outfit post. When I moved to Waterloo last year for school, my focus shifted completely. Not only was I super focused on school, I didn't really have a good set up for photos or somebody to help me out with them. Also, in my spare time, I was often at work or hopping on the bus from city to city to get to work or back to school. It was a pretty wild year, and outfit photos were just not a priority. I'd like to try and post more now that I'm more settled back in Toronto again.

You may recognize the bag in these photos from my last outfit post over a year ago. My friend Cassandra made it for me out of leftover scraps from her previous projects. And we've been at it again! A couple of months ago I sent Cass a photo of a jacket that I really loved from a store that I don't love so much and don't want to give my money to. I asked her if she could make something similar for me. Now, Cass is a woman of integrity, and she told me she could make something like it but didn't want to copy someone else's design. So we started brain storming, and thinking, and dreaming up an entirely unique jacket that still fit into the style that I was hoping for.

For this jacket, we gathered pre-loved denim that was going to be thrown out if not used, and turned it into something brand new and totally perfect!

Bag: Cassandra Moy | Jacket: Cassandra Moy | Sweater: Thrifted | Scarf: Garage Sale| Pants: Urban Outfitters | Earrings: Scotch and Rye (Arts Market)

Total Thrift Tally: 5/6! 


One of my favourite parts of this project is that each piece of denim tells a bit of a story:

 • We used a pair of my Grandfather's jeans that he must have purchased just before he passed away; they still had tags on them and a few mouse-eaten spots from being stored in my Grandma's barn for 24 years. My grandpa was a big guy (the jeans were sized 48!) so we had tons of material from this to work with! I never met my grandpa, he passed before I was born, so it's special to me to have his jeans included in this piece.


• About 6 years ago I was convinced I would start my own upcycled denim jacket business. My plan was to decorate existing jackets that had holes or stains in them, to make them fresh and usable again. Evidently, it never actually happened. I didn't get around to throwing out the jackets though - thank you past self!


• Cass's fella Elliott (who also took these photos!) donated some of his jeans that had ripped in un-patchable areas to the project. These sleeves were once jean legs, and Cass intentionally placed the creased, worn sections right where the elbows are.


Here's a before shot, which we only thought to take after already ripping up some of the seams:


The other amazing part about working with Cass was going to her studio and helping out with the stitch ripping. It was so special to be included in the process of this jacket on so many levels! This is the beauty of bespoke and of working with friends.

I'm so in love with the jacket - I'm wearing it right now, sort of in place of a sweater. It's that comfy, and perfect for the fall weather that is just starting to creep into Toronto now (it's been on and off like crazy!). I've also already received so many compliments on it, and people love the story of how I got it made!


Be sure to check out Cassandra's website, and Elliott's photography!


xo - k