September 30, 2016

Steampunk, Family-Style

What is it that's so appealing to me about running around in costume? I mean, I know that I really enjoy the immense amount of making that surrounds each of our outings to some dress-up thing. This makes sense to me - I'm a reasonably creative person who really loves doing stuff with my hands. But I'm hard-pressed to pinpoint why I, a pretty introverted person whose danger and excitement level is firmly set on "medium," want so much to put on crazy clothes and encounter a bunch of other people who share this particular drive.

Part of it is probably the same thing that's so appealing about craft and art fairs. I love seeing other people's work. Seeing beautifully handmade, carefully crafted things makes me feel better about the world in a very visceral way. So, of course, being surrounded by reams of people who also thought that celebrating Victorian futurism would be not only a great way to spend a weekend, but also a nice use of a few months' worth of free time, is life-affirming.

And the rest is probably the same reason why I keep this blog. It's fun to make things, but doing it in a vacuum isn't particularly rewarding. I want to have my work be seen by other people. Preferably people who get what I'm doing without me having to first give them a half-hour contextualized explanation from H.G. Wells to Wild Wild West.

Or maybe it's just because the kids look so cute in those hats.

What odd thing do you inexplicably enjoy?

September 29, 2016

Steampunk American Girl Doll

Oh, I'm sorry - did you think that our anachronistic costumed adventures only extended to the faux-medieval? Not so. Our nerdery knows no bounds! Feast your eyes on this small incarnation of another subculture we recently got into: steampunk, doll edition. Every single thing entirely from scratch. I described sewing the skirt in this post. The shirt I hand-sewed, making up the pattern as I went along and basing its dimensions on the shirt that the doll originally came with.

Ok, so, accessories from the top down. Her top hat is made from a few pieces of leather from an odds-and-ends scrap bag (they sell these kinds of off-cuts in bulk at places like Michaels, if you're interested). I used copper wire to "sew" the side band together, and then glued the brim and crown on with E-6000. The band is a piece of raffia-like string, and the cockade is made of some feathers, craft gears, and wire.

The goggles were a trip to make. I used one of the same kinds of gears that's on the hat, but bent its teeth inward, around a transparent piece of plastic (a circle cut out of a plastic binder divider). Then, with some very liberal use of E-6000, I attached side pieces that are shaped kind of like horse blinders, and a wire nose piece. The straps are a ribbon threaded through wire loops attached to the leather sides.

Her boots were ridiculous fun to make. The soles are made from polymer clay. For the uppers, I again used leather from the scrap bag, which is why some of the larger pattern pieces had to be assembled from smaller leather scraps. You can just see the orange stitches from one example of me doing this on the right. I used orange waxed thread to emphasize the pieced-together-ness of the boots because it seemed like something a hardened steampunk adventurer would have to do mid-caper. We mostly followed these gloriously detailed doll boot instructions, minus the saran wrap.

Finally, the double belt is made from shoe buckles, and some leather from a thrifted handbag.

So, so fun to put together! I'll show you our own steampunk getups next.

What's the last doll outfit you assembled?

September 28, 2016

I Made a Corset, Yo

Our love of Ye Olde Ren Faire continues unabated, and we once again sallied forth to pretend to be old-timey folk. My idea of adding an item or two to the costume stores every year is a pretty solid one, and the family reused much of what we had made last year. New for me? A cotton batik print corset, thank you very much, with zip-tie boning and satin lining. I mostly eyeballed the design after looking at a few patterns and slap-dashedly measuring myself. Honestly, because it's laced up, it's a pretty forgiving piece of clothing. Is it super duper medieval? Um, yeah, no. But it's colorful and fun!

We need to get cracking on some stuff for Mr. 42-Roads, no? He very graciously helped make a bunch of stuff for the kids with nary a hint about the fact that he's costume-less. I mean, it's true that he is quite dashing in his shirt, but I'm thinking next year is the year we step up his game.

The kids decided to be royalty, so I had the somewhat unpleasant experience of working with fake fur. It's kind of yucks, I have to say, and it sheds everywhere! But how else are you going to get those kingly ermine robes going? I found a very lightweight burgundy fabric with the perfect slight sheen, hot-glued the white fur onto it, and used a permanent marker to draw some black spots for verisimilitude. Their crowns are made from wire and beads.

Did you go to the Renaissance Faire this year? Did you pepper your speech with a bunch of thee's and thou's? My anachronistic medieval self only ever sounds like a pirate, for whatever reason.

September 27, 2016

Polymer Clay Necklace

For some reason, it's taken me up until two days ago to consider using the polymer clay the kids like to play with as a jewelry material. I'm not sure what I was thinking. That it was too kid-adjacent? Too clunky to work with without specialized tools? In any case, what an odd blind spot, I now realize, after scrolling through page after page of gorgeous polymer clay pieces on Pinterest.

So, here is my first attempt - a few textured circled joined with jump rings and hung from a silver chain.

I stuck to subdued versions of primary colors to reference the playfulness of the material, and I didn't use anything to shape the circles besides fingers and a few random craft room objects (for example, the divots on the red circle were made with a fusible bead).

I really like how it came out! It's got a fun, relaxed vibe, and as a bonus, it weighs practically nothing.

What new materials have you recently discovered?

September 26, 2016

Picture-Perfect Weekend

So, we managed to snag the brass ring of parenting triumphs - a weekend away without the kids. And not just any weekend! We got to drive up to extraordinarily scenic Portsmouth, a lovely island town on the coast of New Hampshire, where we indulged in such completely adult activities as "not worrying about whether the fancy restaurant will have food for picky eaters" and "spending a long time browsing in the extremely fragile things store without constant panic about ill-swung arms." Reader, it was glorious.

Oh, and I'm not kidding about the picture-perfection of this place. That lighthouse? Yeah, no biggie - just a quick snap with an iPhone. I feel like we should send that photo to Apple for one of their "taken with an iPhone" billboards. Oh, and I feel completely free to pile on the praise for that particular shot. It's not really bragging if it was Mr. 42-Roads wielding the camera, right?

The highlight of the weekend may have come when we decided to order room service Saturday night. It suddenly hit me that we were basically at peak decadence: lying in bed in pajamas as a man in a dashing tuxedo brought us food on a tray. I mean, where is there to go from there? We were basically at "Beulah, peel me a grape" territory.

What memorable hedonism have you indulged in, or maybe even adapted to?