March 2010

Pottery Class: a bowl

We learned how to make a bowl by draping a sheet of clay over a form and then modifying it. I was hoping for one of the round forms, but I wound up with the one that looked like half of a log cake. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with it, and while I like some of it’s elements (the feet and the texture on the sides,) it doesn’t thrill me. Perhaps I’ll like it more once it’s glazed. At this point, I think it looks like a bathtub.

Steampunk Costume: Hoop Cage, Part 3

Brenda and I managed to get a lot done on the hoop cage in tonight’s three-hour session. The waistband is complete…

Brenda made the holes for the pop rivets while I finished turning the hoop casings…

Once the hoops were set, we started to pin them to the vertical strips. (Brenda used a pop rivet to close them and the ends were neatly tucked in and sewn together over top.) We managed to get the hoops pinned on. They will need to be adjusted before we permanently attach them with pop rivets and washers. That will be next time.

Steampunk Costume: Hoop Cage, Part 2

Brenda and I found a couple of hours on Saturday morning to continue working on the hoop cage. When I arrived at her place, she’d already taken the time to adjust things so that they hung better, and she marked and numbered everything (vertical strips top edge, strip number, and it has been pinned where the hoop will fit. and marks on the hops for each vertical strip.)

Brenda had a great idea to back the vertical silver grosgrain ribbons with a wider black ribbon…

While she put those together (leaving room for each hoop to slip through) and also covered the waistband, I got to work on the hoop casings. To begin the casings, I needed to join two long pieces of fabric at an angle. If I had just done a seam straight across, this would create a lot of bulk on the inside when I get turned and it could be pretty difficult to pass the hoop through it.

Once the pieces were sewn and pressed, it was time to sew them. The hoops that we have are 5/8″ wide so I needed to make sure that each casing had a bit of extra room.

We noticed that the fabric was fraying a bit so we took the time to serge the edges. This was the first time I’ve had an opportunity to use a serger and after a quick tutorial from Brenda, I was off to the races with it. She was right when she said I’d fall in love with it right away! The edges are so neat & tidy!!

Once that was done, I managed to get one of the casings turned, put the hoop in and pressed it. The next time we meet to work on this, we are hoping to be able to finish this portion of the costume. We have great plans for pop rivets and washers!!

Pottery Class Mug

I‘ve really been enjoying this hand-building pottery class (taught at the Saint John Arts Centre by Darren Emenau) that I’ve been taking, but it’s almost torture only being able to do things once a week. By the time we’ve had an hour of instruction, we only have two hours to build our items. Today we made mugs. I’m pretty happy with mine and I hope it turns out. I had planned to add some designs to it after I put it together, but once I got it done, I liked it the way it was. I guess we’re to expect about 13% shrinkage by the time it’s done, so it’ll be neat to see how it comes out.

Steampunk Costume: Hoop Cage, Part 1

Brenda and I decided the best way to get started was to start from the outside in. Build the support structure and the bigger pieces and then the details would follow. We started with the waistband. This is sturdy enough to support the skirt. We measured and cut it to size (plus some overlap) and put it on the dress form. From there, we added the following marks:

  • 3.5″ on either side of the front center so that we have 7″ of flat surface across the front of the skirt
  • side points
  • a point between each side point and the 3.5″ marks
  • center back point
  • 2 points equally spaced between each side point and the center back

Once we had the waistband marked, we cut some grosgrain ribbons to hang from each point. The ribbon is sturdy, has a great texture, and is a lovely silvery gray color. We used the measurement from my waist to the bend in my knee plus a couple of inches (to loop it at the bottom). We then taped each ribbon to each waistband point.

Brenda had gathered the green plastic strips that we will use for our hoops from a local company. It’s nice to be able to recycle these. All they needed was a quick wipe with a baby wipe to get the dust off and they were good to go.

We took a guess at the circumference that we wanted for the bottom hoop and marked out some measurements on it so that the vertical ribbons would flow well. We had to make sure that this would hang evenly. It will be important when we make this to make sure that the vertical strips are attached to the hoop. (Imagine if they all slid to one side while you were wearing the costuem or tying to get into it. We’d like to avoid that.)

From here, we attached a couple more hoops, making sure to measure things as we went so that it was all even.

After that I carefully climbed into it so we could get a good look at our start with the hoop cage. we agreed that we’d initially made the bottom hoop too small. We wanted a larger silhouette, so we made a new larger hoop (100″ circumference) and used that one on the bottom and then moved our original 80″ hoop up. When I’d tried it on, we were happy with most of it, although we now saw that our top hoop needs to be larger.The next time we meet to work on this, we will make our top hoop larger and we will add an extra partial loop around the hips (all the way around except along the front 7″.)

We also cut the fabric that will be covering our hoops. we are going to sew casings and enclose the green plastic in them.

Steampunk Costume Fabric

Brenda and I made a trip to Fabricville yesterday where we found some lovely fabrics for our costume. From top to bottom, the fabrics are as follows…

  • The top silver with black striped organza (0.5m of Iowa 53760) is for the airship that will be on top of the top hat.
  • The purple fabric (1m of Stapleton 64740) will be for the corset and will be underneath a black lace.
  • The purple and black fabric (5m of Stapleton 64740) is for the skirt.
  • The pewtery-striped fabric (1m of Liverpool 65040) will be for covering the hoops for the hoop skirt.
  • The grey-green fabric (1m of Velveteen 44525) is for the gauntlets and knee-high spats (and possibly a band on the top hat).
  • We found some great 18 mm buttons (Elan 15 2055 Y) which we will use on the spats and gauntlets.

Primo Compass

One of the things that I wanted to try was using polymer clay to make a design that could be made into a mold that we could use so that we have our own buttons for the costume. Except that I’m more of a 2-d artist, so sculpting things is a bit of a challenge. Here’s my first try at a 20mm diameter button concept. It’s a start, I suppose. I won’t bother doing this though if I can’t get something I’m actually happy with.

Steampunk Costume: Mood Board

Brenda & I used inspiring images and gathered some items and materials that we had on hand to get it started…

Steampunk Costume Concepts

Brenda McLeese and I have been talking about work-shopping a costume together for a couple of years, and now that we finally have a bit of spare time, we’ve gotten started. We agreed on a Steampunk costume (think Jules Verne alternate reality with airships and Victorian stylings and perhaps a touch of Goth). We wanted to create and build something that would be inspiring and that would give us an opportunity to practice some good quality craftsmanship. Not to mention, it is a great excuse to hang out!

We both did some research and pulled together many concepts and bits of inspiration, and then we narrowed it down to an outfit that will have a knee-length hoop skirt, 19th century under-bust corset, shirt, bolero, knee-high spats and matching gauntlets, a refurbished parasol and a fancy miniature top hat.