Image of the Month: Water Reflection

Reflection by Stephanie Hopkins

Reflection of the soul is like looking at a pond. You can only see what is when there is calm. – Andy Fox

This picture was taken in the beginning of April when a few of the trees were still waiting for its leaves to bloom-if you will. I’ve taken pictures of this particular scene during all four seasons throughout the years, and it never gets old. I’m always discovering something new, such as reflection, color, shades of nature or volume of water. Whenever I stroll down the path that takes me to the landscape, I am filled with peace and gratitude. -Stephanie Hopkins

March Image of the Month: Spring

Check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Weird Wednesday: An Exploration of Our Quirky World

Strange Traditions and Practices of the Victorians

We are delighted to welcome you to “Weird Wednesday,” a joint series, partnered with our friends at before the second sleep, that explores the quirky side of our universe.

We live in an extraordinary quirky world that often times we forget to pause in our busy lives to notice. During these times many cannot venture outside-another great reason to pick up a book-so we are bringing our explorations to you. Today, I’m exploring a bit about the strange traditions, and practices of the Victorians.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

During the Victorian era, how a person died was important to them. Especially one’s last words on this earth. Those words were thought to be believed because they were about to meet their maker. A “truth-detector” of the heart-if you will. This was a lesson for the living and for the love one’s gathered around the death bed. Afterall, why would the dying bear false witness? Those last moments were critical for the persons spiritual state. Still applies today, really.

It was important for the dying to be surrounded by their love ones in the last moments of their life. Imagine a soldier dying on the battle fields without that opportunity. How alone and scared they must have felt.  Many of the soldiers during the American Civil War were young boys crying out to their mothers.

In general, Victorians had a high mortality rate. Not only due to war but the spread of disease, living in poor conditions and lack of proper hygiene and sanitation, one might say. Also, arsenic and white lead were used in many Victorian papers as dyes which lead to widespread health issues for the workers in the industry and possibly for people in the homes.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

One of the remaining artifacts from Victorians is photographs of their dead. It may sound morbid to us in today’s society but it brought their love ones’ comfort and it gave them a sense of closeness to their deceased love ones. During the first half of the 19th century, photography was a new medium, and it was an exciting way to capture life’s moments. Alas, many did not have immediate access to photography or the money, so they had to make it count. Usually during that time, only people with means could afford such luxury. I can’t imagine the task of staging a deceased person’s body for such an event of taking a photo. Especially because child mortality rates were so high during the Victorian age. This led to the practice of post-mortem photography and I’ve come across a lot of this subject. Though sad, and at times seen as morbid, these photos were the only way to record a love one’s existence. However, I hear it was easier because in those times, a person had to remain very still due to the slow shutter speed of the cameras.

Did you know that the Victorians also made “death mask” to remember the dead? They took death very seriously if they wanted to be surrounded by such mementos. According to the 19th-century collector Laurence Hutton, a death mask “must, of necessity, be absolutely true to nature.” The Victorians were not the first to use this practice of remembering people. Ancient civilizations made mask as well. The Egyptian masks are a prime example.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

I don’t think I will go into how the Victorians made their mask, at the moment. My stomach can’t take it. Let’s take a quick look at other strange-like practices the Victorians did. You’ll notice that many of them are still done in today’s world.

One of my favorite things to do living in the South is to tour Victorian Homes, Plantations and Halls. I’ve learned about so much history and how people lived, through this experience. One of the things I’ve noticed is that you’ll see picture frames with hair. The hair is often arranged in a wreath style manner. The first time I ever saw one, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about this practice. This was another way to commemorate the deceased. Women would also keep clippings of their friend’s hair in scrapbooks and men would wear “watch fobs” made of their wives’ hair. Victorians made all sorts of decorative pieces often from their love ones.

Other examples:

Hats made from taxidermied birds and other animals.

Obsession with stuffing animals.

Hosting mummy unwrapping parties. Okay…

Made and sent strange Christmas cards. (Check out Pinterest for card images)

Body Snatching-In the name of science? This practice became so wide spread that relatives would watch over the graves of the recently deceased.

And so on…

Thank you for exploring this interesting time in history with me!

Stephanie Hopkins

Other Weird Wednesday Posts:  

Weird Wednesday: An Exploration of Our Quirky World

Weird Wednesday: Butterflies

Weird Wednesday: Facts of Daily Life in the 19th-Century England.

And check out Lisl’s  WW at before the Second Sleep!

Sources:

This republic of Suffering (Death and the American Civil War) by Drew Gilpin Faust

Category:Post-mortem photography

and other independent research…

Image of the Month: By the Water’s Edge

Photo taken by Stephanie Hopkins

The Lonely Stark Tree

The lonely stark tree impelled its roots deep into the soil by the water’s edge

Its branches stretch towards the greenish-blue water beckoning for a taste of its sweet sparkling mineral

Longing for spring’s rebirth, the lonely stark tree’s dormancy endures the southern winter season with strong viability

Though frail looking, the lonely stark tree bends and sways with the wind in song of seasons to come

Hold tight, be strong, your time to shine draws near

by Stephanie Hopkins

See also Lisl’s Image of the Month ~I’m Just Gonna Leave This Right Here

Copy Right 2021

The partial poems I share at Layered Pages are date stamped and part of a collection of poems that are being compiled into publish works.

Copy Right 2021

Images and poems are subjected to copyright.

In order to use any images or any written content on Layered Pages platform, you must seek permission from Stephanie Hopkins

C

Art Captured Through the Lens of a Camera

Photo taken by WSM Photography

As I mentioned in a previous post, a photographer captures a moment in an instant and holds it without change. The photo captures an existence of different mediums such as landscape, portraits, buildings, and any other form you can think of. We see these images through a photographer’s eye. Such as an artist who captures images on canvas or a writer who captures them with words, a photographer’s photo is the same concept.

Today I am showcasing Photographer Scott Moore’s new print shop where you can purchase his notable photos. I do know some of the current photos in his shop are limited editions. If you are interested in them, you should make your purchase soon. I highly recommend his work. I have a print of his Milk Way Balance photo and it is outstanding quality. In fact, so much so when looking at the image, I can picture the movement of the night sky and imagine what the ancient rocks (Balance Rock) must have seen throughout history. If those towers could talk… I’m looking forward to having the photo framed to add to my night art collection. -Stephanie Hopkins

About the Photographer

Scott Moore brings 20+ years of architecture and design experience. This Experience has covering every aspect of architecture, from conceptual design through completed built projects. This experience and his knowledge of architecture is what make his approach to photography unique. While shooting architecture professionally for 9+ years, the shots taken are with an understanding of an architect’s vision of our built environment.

If you are interested in purchasing one of his prints, visit his Print Shop  

Instagram

WSM Photography Blog  

My 2017 Q&A With Photographer Scott Moore

WSM Photography Photo images are subjected to copyright. In order to use WSM’s photo images or any content on Layered Pages platform, please ask permission from Stephanie Hopkins or Scott Moore

Why I Chose to Combine Literature, Art and Photography at Layered Pages

Writers breathe life into characters with words and their book is their canvas. A writer’s art is to gather elements of life, places, time and situations and weave them to form stories. To design a story that draws a reader in and leaves an impression that has the reader emotionally invested is an art.

An Artist creates art through a canvas or sculpture to express mood, emotion and self-expression. Often times there is chaos in those mediums that expresses what many relate to in life or they trigger memories. When artists do this, they bring the essence of the human condition and their surroundings to life expressed through the different styles of their work and bring a powerful reality through their creations.

A Photographer captures a moment in an instant and holds it without change. The photo captures an existence of different mediums such as landscape, portraits, buildings, and any other form you can think of. We see these images through a photographer’s eye. Like an artist who captures images on canvas or a writer who captures them with words, a photographer’s photo is the same concept.

Each medium l have presented here is an expression and in its simplest form, each medium tells a story.  My passion at Layered Pages is to capture their essence and to give understanding to the craft so people will have a deeper understanding of these mediums and their importance to our society.

Stephanie Hopkins

Saturday Sunday: Weekend Vibes

tea cup image

Photo by Stephanie Hopkins

I want to thank you all for your support and visiting Layered Pages. Have a bless weekend. See you on Monday!

“We always have to choose to live our lives to the fullest.  No one is better or worse than anyone else.  We are different and beautiful.” ~ Mattie Stepanek

Cover Crush & Collage: The Camera Never Lies by David Rawlings

Tha Camera Never Lies

Book Collage by Stephanie Hopkins

I spotted this book on Facebook  and the title, colors of the background and the premise intrigued me. I have an older mix media art piece I created on Canvas that I thought would be perfect for a collage of this book. I took my image and the book cover and made digital art with them. I did sharpen and added a few little mediums to really make it pop. I think it turned out pretty cool.

 

 

 

The Camera Never LiesThe Camera Never Lies

by David Rawlings

Daniel, Kelly, and Milly appear to be the perfect family. But an old camera will expose secrets no one wants developed.

Daniel Whitely is a successful marriage counselor and bestselling author, yet his own marriage is in crisis and his daughter is drifting further away each day. To make matters worse, the deadline for his second book has come and gone, and he still hasn’t written a single word.

When Daniel inherits an old camera from his grandfather, he notices an inscription on the bottom: “No matter what you think you might see, the camera never lies.”

Daniel begins using the camera, but every time he develops his photos, they threaten to reveal secrets that could sabotage both his marriage and his career—exposing him as a fraud and destroying the life he has worked so hard to build.

He’s faced with a choice: keep his secrets and save his career or come clean and possibly save his family. Which will he choose? Which would you choose?

*****

Cover Crush banner

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated by Erin at Historical Fiction Reader 

Other book bloggers who participated in the great cover crushes series. 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.)

A New Year Of Layered Pages

Me2019 was an interesting year to say the least and I took a much-needed break from book reviewing among other things…I am slowly getting back in book reviewing but on a different scale altogether. I read 25 books in 2019 and hope to read the same amount for 2020! I have amazing mix media projects coming up for the year and I look forward to revealing them as the new year continues.

Today I want to share three highlight books I read in 2019.

Where the Crawdads SingHow long can you protect your heart?

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

***

I Was Anastasia

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918
Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.


Germany, February 17, 1920

A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

***

The Turn of the Key

Page-turning psychological thriller

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace, The Turn of the Key is a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

***

I am continuing to sell fashion on Poshmark and I’m working on additions to my business as well. Can’t wait to share more.

Follow my closet @artsycouture42 and use my code: ARTSYCOUTURE42 to get a free $10 credit when signing up for Poshmark! www.poshmark.

Happy New Year!

Stephanie

 

History Surrounds Us With Stuart S. Laing

It is always a pleasure to have Author and history enthusiast Stuart S. Laing visit Layered Pages. He talks with me about the images he captures of Edinburgh and gives us a glimpse of it’s fascinating history! 

Stuart, I have been enjoying the photos of Edinburgh you have been posting on social media. Even though I haven’t had the chance to visit the city, it is on my bucket list! When you find an image to photograph, what is going through your mind?

Stuart

Stuart S. Laing

Thank you, and I would love to give you a guided tour around town one day. As to taking photos I think it just comes down to being in the moment. I love the architecture of the Old Town, the history surrounding you, and the energy of the people both local and visitors from all corners of the world. Trying to capture just a hint of that is such fun. But I am strictly of the point and click school of photography.

The architecture is certainly breathtaking!  You really do have a great eye for imagery. Which I believe is part of your story telling in books. What do you characters have to say about that?

I think Robert Young would agree with you. He would point out that the more you can see, the more you can know. A shady character like Shug Nicholls would prefer people not go prying into what he and his old adversary, Sergeant MacIan of the Town Guard, get up too. What I try to achieve with words is to paint the reader into the scene so they can be there and feel the cobbled streets beneath their feet and catch a waft of the stink from open sewers or the sweet aroma of perfumed ladies as they pass by.

I notice you choose a black and white medium for your pictures. Is there a particular reason why?

I think the benefit of black and white is it brings an element of doubt into a picture, was it taken yesterday or 50 years ago? It’s my attempt to try to capture the timelessness of a city which seems to never change on the surface but in reality has been in constant motion as old buildings crumble and new ones rise. The thing which saves Edinburgh from the anonymity which besets so many city centres is the fact that in large the centre of town has managed to escape the concrete and glass monstrosities of so many other old cities.

Edinburgh 6What do you love most about Edinburgh?

The simple answer is everything. As I mentioned earlier it’s the history, the buildings, the noise and the hustle and bustle. I know that many locals decry events which fill the centre of town such as the

Festival Fringe which draws tens of thousands daily throughout August but I actually love the crowds. I think that many forget that until the development of the New Town from the 1760s onwards, Edinburgh was largely shoehorned into a space smaller than many modern city parks. It was this which led to Edinburgh Old Town being home to the first skyscrapers as builders went up rather than out. So, for me, seeing those crowds is simply an echo of the past when the Royal Mile was home to shops, coffeehouse, stalls, animals, horses and carts all competing for space. These days there is little risk of having a cow squash your foot under its hoof so people probably should count their blessings

Edinburgh IIHow often do you get a chance to visit the city?

I try to get across as often as possible, and normally at least several times a year. Having a membership of Historic Scotland allows me unlimited entry to Edinburgh Castle which provides another excuse to pop over.

 

 

 

Edinburgh 7

Cowgate before the ‘improvements’ of the 1860s

What have you discovered on your adventures to be the most surprising?

Probably that despite all the changes Edinburgh has faced, urban planners, great fires, which destroyed a large area of the Royal Mile meaning that parts of the New Town are actually older than parts of the Old Town, is the fact that you can take the map of town drawn in the 1740s and use it to guide you through the streets, closes and wynds (alleyways) today. Even when regeneration meant the slum dwellings of the Cowgate were obliterated in the name of progress in the 1860s, the new homes and shops were all built on the footprint of what they replaced. It is still remarkably easy to walk from the Royal Mile to the south side of town following the exact same route you would have taken in the 15th, 16th, 17th or 18th century. That is what constantly inspires me to keep going back.

Edinburgh 4Describe Edinburgh to me from your mind.

Edinburgh, to me, is a strange combination of what you see and what you feel. When I stand on the cobbles by St Giles Cathedral in the very heart of town I don’t only see the beauty of the church before me but, in my mind, I also see the tall, grim walls of the old Tolbooth which once stood here, its location marked by brass markers set in the cobbles. It was here that William Burke, one half of the murderous duo with William Hare, met his end in 1829 on gallows built where the Tolbooth had once stood. It was from the Tolbooth that Captain Porteous of the Town Guard was seized by a mob who would lynch him in the Grassmarket. However it was also here where stalls once stood ran by women selling their wares such as home weaving and hand knitted clothes, fresh wild flowers and vegetables to the people of town. Nearby the famous poet Allan Ramsay operated the first circulating library which opened in 1725. That is what fascinates me about Edinburgh, the constant mixture between beauty and darkness. It was the city of Enlightenment when Scotland led the world in the advancement of science while at the same time huge crowds would gather in good humoured revelry to watch the public hangings in the street. The city itself presents visitors with its split personality. On one hand you have the cramped, towering tenements with the warren of narrow alleys running under and between them where every Close tells its own story and where you can get a taste of how the city once looked and felt, and occasionally smelled as you venture down them. Meanwhile only a short walk away you discover the elegance, charm and open, broad streets of the Georgian New Town where upmarket retailers and fashionistas can be found sipping artisan coffees in the streets where Robert Louis Stevenson grew up. That is what keeps drawing me back again and again. The dual nature of a city where everything changes and nothing does. If that doesn’t make sense you need to visit and spend a day just walking the streets and let some of fair Edina’s spirit work its way into your heart.

Stuart, thank you!

And thank you for allowing me to share my love of Auld Reekie with you. And remember that invite for a guided tour is always open.

Thank you, everyone for visiting Layered Pages today. Stay tuned for our follow up post about History Surrounds Us coming soon here at Layered Pages! -Stephanie

More About Stuart: 

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie.

He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spend most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him.
Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history he always find himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters.

He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.

Stuart’s Facebook Pages where you can find more images from him and information about his stories HERE.

****

(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie Hopkins)

 

 

 

Saturday Sunday: Book Collage & Lost Love

Book Art Nancys book

Author Nancy Bilyeau sent me a galley copy of her novella, The Ghost of Madison Avenue and the cover inspired me to create a mix media digital collage for the cover. I started reading the story Thursday night and I was so engrossed in the story, I read late into the night. What a perfect time to read this hauntingly good story.

My background choice for the collage comes from my own picture of a denim rag rug I sewed this week. The textures are digital stars and I felt they added a mysterious feel to the cover. Be sure to get your copy of this fabulous story on Amazon! My review coming soon! -Stephanie Hopkins

A Christmas Novella in Old New York

In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to New York City’s Morgan Library in December 1912, when two very different people haunted by lost love come together in an unexpected way.

Helen O’Neill, part of a tight-knit Irish-American family in the Bronx, is only too happy to report to work at the spectacular private library built on Madison Avenue by millionaire financier J. P. Morgan. The head librarian, the brilliant and beautiful Belle da Costa Greene, had hired Helen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after she witnessed Helen’s unusual talent with handling artifacts.

About Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the historical thrillers “The Blue” and “Dreamland” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry.” She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada.

In “The Blue,” Nancy drew on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied History at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to “Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.