Friday, February 3, 2012

Mask, Beetle Wings and Inspiringly Fallible

So this weekend I’m going to a masquerade I’ve known about for oooooooooooohhhh, 'bout a month. Yeah – but did I start anything before this week? Nope. Heck, I didn’t even have any idea about a mask until Monday.
To make it worse, the theme is steampunk/pirate/formal. So of course I’m going to want to do a steampunk costume and mask.
But *nothing* irks me as much as the “Just glue some gears on it and call it steampunk”mindset.
And I almost did it anyway, til my guy talked me out of it (thanks, sweetie!).

To me, if the mask is going to be “steampunk” it shouldn’t have random clockwork on it or anything – it should *do* something clever. Like this kickass mask from Outland Armor.

Dude. Seriously Asskicking Clever.

So I’ll wear a bustled-ish outfit in my fave colors and the below mask I finished waaaaaaaaay too late last night instead.
Yes, the pics suck – and yes, I need to create a photo light box. I’ll get to it. Really. It could totally be part of a weekly project!
I have an idea about making it part of a storage shelf… We’ll see.
Anyway here’s the mask. Hopefully I’ll be able to get someone to take a pic of the whole ensem at the event.

Love this teeny brass rolo chain.  Beads are all from current overlarge bead collection.

I scavenged most of this side from a floral headband that was okay on me, but not spectacular.

The iridescent pokey bits are jewel beetle (sternocera aequisignata) elytra/forewings from Thailand (supposedly ethically harvested – I hope that’s true).

This article says the beetles are used as food and the elytra are a by-product. (plus there’s an amazing pic of a ceiling and chandelier done in them!!)

They’ve doubtless been used as human adornment for as long as people have liked shiny things, but the Victorian era saw some really beautiful uses for them – like this amazing Lady Macbeth dress.

People tend to sell earrings and necklaces made of them for big bucks, but you can buy them in bulk on ebay and make your own if you’re the crafty sort (they call them elytra or "wings" on ebay. The wing label causes my nerd self twitches as they're not *wings* - they aren't used to fly, dangit!).  I’ve had them forever in a jar labeled “fairy wings” (fairies can use them to fly - they're *magic*!) on my apothecary shelf, and true to form I’ve used very few of them as I wouldn’t want to *waste* them on a less than perfect project!
Yeah. Whatever. I have about 400 and think I have enough to experiment a bit. “Get crack-a-lackin” as my friend Julia says.

I want create a hanging cascade sort of like this but considerably longer as a hair adornment:

(photo from an ebay auction for jewel beetle wing earrings)
 Suuuuuuuuuuuuper drama!

Well, I think I’ve gone on long enough. With thanks to Des for sending me this, I'll now leave you with a video by a woman who created her own tardis. "Sillysparrowness" is clever, cute, inspiringly fallible – and has created a device I have no doubt I will make use of in the future: the “bag of shame.” As well as a character that I am very familiar with in my crafting “The Perfectionist”
As a bonus she swears in German. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm Baaaaaaa-aaaaaaaack!

know… I skipped a week. Perhaps I should have built into these uhhh… “rules” that if I had a show coming up where I had to create a costume – that perhaps I should get a week off for that.

We did an act for a burlesque style show and I had to make a white, tulle “bustle”, a choker, embellish the “corset” and rework some boots into spats.

None of the pieces followed the “no buying new stuff” rule.

I didn’t have any white tulle for the “bustle”, nor a long enough piece of white trim to embellish the tulle. As such, I bought it, plus the trims. One trim was an organza pleated ribbon that looked nice, the other, this terrific, cheap silver “rhinestone” trim that’s a faceted concavity that *looks* convex and it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuper sparkly. Hooray, Mill End!

The spats were a pair synthetic suede boots that I’ve owned for something like 15 years – and the heel *just* broke off one. They might count because I used some leftover “rhinestone” trim to flash ‘em up just a skosh.

The choker I suppose *might* loosely work with the rules as it was made of venise lace, diamond shaped spots, and some synthetic fabric for flower petals that I already had, plus left over from the creation of the bustle.

As for what I made this week. I created a “melted” fabric flower (sometimes called organza flowers) with Venice lace and silver and glass bead drops. I’ve had the drops for a while, they were parts of a necklace that I knew would look great on something else.

I’ve even gotten a start on next week! There’s a masquerade on Saturday, and I’m determined to only use things I have to create the costume for it. I’ve already repainted a mask that I bought a while ago (well, actually I bought 4 of them, cause they were super cheap), specifically for the purpose of repainting. It was red and cream and I want this costume to be in green, gold, and peacock. So here’s step one:

Over the course of the week, I’ll be further embellishing this with beads and jewel beetle elytra I already own. I believe I will also be making more melted flowers in the appropriate colors so I can cover my whole head in a hair garden of green, blue and gold.

Which – is kinda silly, as the masquerade’s theme is Fire and Ice, but… whatcha gonna do without nearly enough red (though plenty of tangerine).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Planning?! We don' need no stinkin' PLANNING! ¡Vamanos!

So, yeah, that whole planning thing. Whatever.
I've been working on some costume elements for the first Vaudeville Vixens performance, but haven't been able to use any of the pieces for this project, as they've required some minimal purchases (white tulle, organza and trim) to complete.
It was sheer luck that I actually *did* complete something on time.
I dug out a bunch of elements I wanted to use for a choker for the costume - some of grandma's old mismatched/broken costume jewelry, a couple of cast bird skull pendants, organza and lace. Many of the elements I already owned, however, with the new organza and trim - I couldn't use it for my project (I'll probably append a pic of it to this post when I'm done anyway, just to show the finished product).
I was looking down at one of the jewelry pieces - a bachelor earring - when I realized that a teensie bird skull I have would look perfect attached to it. And then the what ifs hit and I attached that earring as a central pendent on another piece of grandma's - a rhinestone necklace.
When it was finished - I liked it, but the brightness of the rhinestones with the dark of the earring doesn't work as well I thought it would. Also, you really have to *look* to see the bird head against the pendent.

Also, perhaps I oughter start taking the photos with something other than my iphone...

Polly wanna rhinestone?

So, of course, the whole thing is completed, photos are taken, and I realize I really should have put rhinestones in the eye sockets. So, I'll be rooting around in the *other* cast off bin that I totally forgot I have to complete that - plus, I want to add a weeee bit of chain so I can actually wear the thing without having to lose 20 lbs. Luckily - I have all of that already, so I'll be able to stay within parameters!
(more pix to append to this)

Question - if I can find the right sized rhinestones in a color other than clear, should I use them instead? I was thinking red might be good for some pop.

This coming week - spats perhaps!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Inconvenient Truth

Proper planning prevents poor performance. That was (and may still be) a mantra of my ex-husband's. While true, I find it to be a bit sanctimonious sounding.

Instead, I'll go with what my fiance told me once about planning when I was way off on my timing while creating a meal: "Always have a solid plan in place when you're putting a dinner together - that way, when it doesn't work out, you can just say things didn't go according to plan."

So this week, there will be a plan - as to last week, though -

My hobby room was then and is still, an unmitigated disaster. However, I have promised that will be no obstacle! And indeed it wasn't, as I figured since I'd be at my parents' place Monday night after a meeting, and I could create my piece there. I started at 8:30 because well, that's when I got home, and besides, there was no waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay it'd take as long as the instructions say.
This is a photo of my project at 11:00 Monday night. At this point have already ripped it apart once and re-started. No, I didn't complete it before midnight. But it's already looking better. But what is *it*?

It is going to be a Slatt weave paracord rescue belt, using 550 black paracord. I scavenged the nicely heavy brass buckle from a belt that will someday be used for yet another project I've had the components for forever and never made. Here's a pic of someone else's finished belt.

I've always wanted to be able to make something to give to guys. Well, guys who aren't into steampunk, anyway. I think a rescue belt would be pretty spiff. The Slatt weave allows you to completely and quickly unwind the belt *et voila* 50-100 feet of sturdy paracord! Braid it to climb out of a window, make a rabbit snare when lost in the wilderness, tie off the limb that has to be sawed off because it's trapped between two boulders, or hand the whole mess to unruly children tell them they can use it to play "interrogate the spy" - every emergency situation that requires just a bit of rope!
I also want to be able to incorporate a fire striker and a small knife somehow. Still figuring that part out. There's a guy who made an altoids tin emergency kit into a buckle to do that, but that just seems too bulky.

Anyway, I'll finish the belt this week, and have this weekend's piece in mind - a collar/necklace of lace and bits for an upcoming performance costume. See - planning already!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

52 Weeks

So in that last post I mentioned briefly that there's this project I want to start. So first - the inspiration.
This morning I read the New Year's post for No Pants 2011. If for some reason you weren't following No Pants - here's the link:

This morning the author wrote about how something as simple as wearing anything but pants for a year changed her life. The final sentence challenged her readers to "Make a small change and stick with it and see how your entire life can shape around it…"

So I thought about that. Small change. A whole year. Well, it won't be every day, I can tell you that for nothing. What about once a week? Yeah, I could do once a week. What if I made something every week? What if I made something just to make it, and not obsess about making it - just *do* it? Then I thought about this glass heart I'd bought for my friend Chris. Super nifty - photos don't do it justice (at least mine don't) a foil red glass heart that had a sort of Mexican sacred heart feel to it. Then I thought about the cool heart and cross brass chain I picked up about out two months ago to hang the heart on so I could make a necklace. THEN I thought about how I hadn't actually created it. So I took 10 minutes and made this:

Nothing complex or spectacular. However, instead of the components sitting in a drawer or cubby or wherever, it can now be sitting in Chris's drawer or cubby or maybe even around her neck!
Made out of stuff I pulled from my hobby room - a clasp, jump rings - elements I already had.

Now in a month, I may see something online, or wake up in the middle of the night with a vision and email Chris and say - gimme the necklace back, I have an idea for making it sooooooooooo much cooler.

And I will.

But for now - it exists - I actually made it.

Then I thought again. I thought about this piece I'd read by Ira Glass about creativity and taste:
“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

So it's time to fight my way through. I have to make stuff. 1 piece a week for 52 weeks. Some of it will be absolute crap. Some will be okay. Maybe some will even be good. It doesn't matter if it's clothing or jewelry or... whatever. And I guess, it really doesn't matter if *I* think it's *all* crap.
And, of course, there will be rules:

1. I will make *at least* one piece by Monday of each week.

2. I must make the piece from stuff I already own. I can cannibalize old pieces, use new, whatever, but I have to use what's already in my hobby room.

If you've ever seen my hobby room - you'll know that's not too tough.

I have a lot of shit.

There will be no exceptions to this rule - no matter how much it hurts me. I will create with what I have. Period. End of story.

3. I will not obsess about what I make. I will make it and it will be good enough for that moment.
Then, if I see a way I could improve it, dream up a new plan, I can always change it later - but it will be *made*.

4. I'll post it here. Maybe not weekly. But it will be posted.

That's it. Some of it I'll keep, some I'll give away, maybe I'll even sell some - but I'm going to just make stuff.

So, here goes everything - the Entropy and the Ecstasy.

Well, Crap.

I just looked at my last post. A year ago. In a year, I did actually complete the Vivandière costume I set about creating at this time last year. That's pronounced: VEE-vahn-dyeh(r). I can't believe it took me this long to look it up!

So here we are, beginning of a new year and I plan this whole new project and... sigh... I planned to do this last year too. Not this project, but document a project. Vivian Dare (steampunk) Battlefield Bartender Extraordinaire!

Well, we see how that went.

In the past year though, I truly have mostly completed that project. I have detail work that needs to be done, but it's wearable, and actually has been to events.

What's left? A short jacket, some more braidwork on the bodice and possibly on the skirt, plus the steampunked out tonnelet (which I actually commissioned an artist to do, but he flaked on me), and the beer tap gun. Knowing me, I'll be working on this in August of this year, as the next big event is in October. :)

At the end of 2011 I decided to make some changes. I turned 40 in 2011. I'm the heaviest I've ever been and feeling it, and I'm in debt. I joined weight watchers and am working on a budget and a way to get out of debt. For two years I will be *deliberately* limiting travel (as opposed to saying "I want to do that" then flaking out because I don't have the money). The exceptions will be Tribal Fest with Asha and November vacation with my parents - I adore them, they're fun to travel with, they go to great places, and it's not quite so expensive because we stay in a timeshare that they own. In addition to limiting travel, I'll be eating out less because of the weight watchers program. It's a start. I'm not giving up my Starbucks green tea (nowaternosweetenerextraiceventepersonalcoldcup), though, dammit! No matter how hard I try, I can't get the same concentration of good tasting tea for the same price.
I also may be addicted.
There are worse things.
Like frappucinos. Gods are those things a g'fuckload of points!

So here I am in a new year and what the hell am I gonna do about it?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Okay, basically, unless something else comes up to stop me - I am soooooooooooooooooo making myself a Vivandiere Steampunk cossie!!!

What's a Vivandiere? Wikipedia says it best:

is a French name for women attached to military regiments as sutlers or canteen keepers. Their actual historic function of selling wine to the troops and working in canteens led to the adoption of the name 'cantinière' which came to supplant the original ‘vivandière' starting in 1793, but the use of both terms was common in French until the mid-19th century, and ‘vivandière' remained the term of choice in non-French-speaking countries like the USA/CSA, Spain, Italy, and Great Britain. Vivandières served in the French army up until the beginning of World War I, but the custom (and the name) spread to many other armies. Vivandières also served on both sides in the American Civil War, and in the armies of Spain, Italy, the German States, Switzerland, and various armies in South America, though little is known about the details in most of those cases as historians have not done extensive research on them.

How perfect for Steampunking out??? So excited...