November 10, 2016

Halloween Spooktacular

So, time for a little recent bright spot to distract from the last few days...

On top of our usual door monster, this year's Hallow's Eve decorations included some skeletons in our window boxes demonstrating how to be helpful.

For instance, why not knit your buddy a scarf for the coming bone-chilling weather?



Or take your pet out for a moonlit stroll after making sure that collar is very, very secure? Just don't yank that leash too tightly!



And finally, if a neighbor is in over his head on a backyard project, why not really dig in to help?



Of course, we were out in our regalia as always. Actually, before trick or treating, we hung out at the Renaissance Faire on its last day of the season, where many people skipped the pseudo-medieval in favor of their Halloween get ups.

Here is our version of Kubo from the fantastic Kubo and the Two Strings. Have you seen it yet? It was pretty incredible origami-based stop motion animation. Her hair was perfect for his top knot + long bangs style.



Another front view of Kubo with a shemisen and an eyepatch, and a nice shot of a skeleton friend along for the ride. And, by skeleton friend, I of course mean, an animated skeleton warrior raised from dead to avenge his enemies.



So, what do you add to a Japanese-influenced fairy tale and a DnD monster to complete the thematic coherence? Steampunk Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of course.



What's the last fun thing you can look back on to ignore recent news?

October 12, 2016

Fringe Arts: Habitus

On Monday, we managed to catch the last day of Ann Hamilton's habitus, a Fringe Arts installation. And it's not exaggerating to say that just like that, a somewhat dull and purposeless day was filled with strange and hilarious spectacle and delight.



The installation consisted of many huge cylindrical curtain shapes hanging in a warehouse open to breezes from the Delaware River, suspended from pulley systems that you could either spin around yourself. Either the wind or your motion made these curtains billow out like sails or like giant skirts.



There were a number of very serious art-appreciators there, but I have to say that for us the main reaction was delighted laughter and amusement. Imagine that light and happy feeling of twirling around in a flouncy skirt - but times a thousand.



Here is a shot of the rigging that each curtain was on, just to give you a better sense of how it worked. You can just about see the pulley that was connected to a dangling rope pull.



So fun. And plus, we got to see a helicarrier in the Delaware on our way to the exhibit.

What delight came out of nowhere for you recently?

October 11, 2016

A Perfect Day

We strolled around the city on Sunday, enjoying the weather and each other.



Such a lovely day.



Still looking for that elusive picture of the four of us together.



But these are pretty magical anyway.

What surprisingly awesome thing happened on a regular and mundane day for you recently?

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?