Sunday, October 30, 2011

The under the sea hat

So, I started with this, a sort of black felt skullcap with various types of fabric manipulation on it and a crappy veil. I finally decided that, from the look of it, it must have been a millinery student's project, where they learned different techniques. Knowing it wasn't a valuable vintage treasure allowed me to feel okay with hacking it up.

And this was the pile of possibilities (that's like the room of requirement)

First I took the crappy veil off, and then cut off most of the texturey pieces that had been layered onto it. Then I covered it with a sheer purple fabric that had large chunks of glitter on it, but I didn't sew it down, only pinned it.

Next I put a layer of sheer burgundy over the hat, but this layer was deliberately uneven and dimensional, rumpled in places like a brain or something. Now, I sewed through all layers, attaching 'soap bubble' beads at every stitch. I've used these clear with AB finish beads in lots of undersea quilts for underwater bubbles. On the front and sides I tucked the sheer under the edge and sewed it under, but at the back I let the bulk of fabric hang down the back and cut it into wide strands.

Since this was supposed to have an under the sea theme, I needed sea shells. I chose an appropriate small crafts tool and drilled holes in some shells.

These, with some pearls, were applied to the back of the hat where the long dangling strands were.

I also took some wide, sheer ribbons in purple and gold and tucked them in with the dangling strands. The strands, I was hoping, would be sort of seaweedish, while the hat itself was supposed to be sort of brain coral. Or something. The finished hat:

It took me all day to make that fool thing. It's not really as bad as I thought at first, but it really wasn't the glorious creation I'd hoped to make!
Macabre reading in time for Halloween at the Examiner: The Poisoner's Garden!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Steamcon 3 - Monday back home

Monday was travel back home day. I managed to drag my butt out of bed early enough to eat, put my makeup on and finish packing without a panic, which surprised me. I’m usually good for a panic. R saw me off when the shuttle picked me up, and because he driver had to pick up some people from their house, I got to see some of the residential area- and on the freeway, for one minute, I got to see water! I swear I will see and smell salt water again someday.

TSA at SeaTac figured I was trustworthy looking enough to not make me be radiated, so I got through security very quickly. The gate for my flight was in a smaller section of the airport, and it had a very small waiting area. Why, I wonder, would you have an area with only 48 seats for a plane that seats 75 people?

 As soon as we board and I’m seated, I check my blood sugar. It’s 174- not surprising, considering the number of chocolate covered pretzels I ate. Someone taps my shoulder. The guy across the aisle and one row back asks if I’m diabetic. I say yes, and he says “Isn’t 174 rather high?” I explain about the pretzels and that my intermediate insulin is just about ready to kick in. He nods, tells me he has 6 relatives with diabetes, and that he’ll be watching me for problems. Thankfully, there are none, but it is kind of cool knowing that if my sugar bottoms out and I just sit there drooling when it’s time to deplane, someone will know what’s going on and what to do.

At the airport, the little shuttle bus takes me out to the long term parking. I then leave my purse on the bus as she drives away. Luckily, she sees it before she gets out of the parking lot and circles back, finding me running down the aisle, waving my hands wildly.

I’d planned on stopping at a fabric store and Target and perhaps Michael’s on the way home, but as soon as I pull into Target I realize I’m screwed because I have my laptop, the car doesn’t lock, and I’m not about to leave it at Target’s desk thingie where they hold back packs. Crap. So straight home I go, with no silly Halloween purchases made. Dammit! Tim isn’t home when I get there, but the cats attack me and hold me down on the bed for some time.

One of these days, I’ll get all my pictures processed and uploaded to Flickr, but that’s going to be a while still. Meanwhile:

Sunday night the toads got to play dress up. It was only fair, after R and I had been playing dress up all weekend. 

Brass fish embedded in the terrazzo at SeaTac. It's a simple thing, but really adds to the place. There are interesting art pieces scattered around SeaTac; it makes it a much, much more interesting place than the big box that is Spokane International.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Steamcon 3 - Sunday

Sunday is a more casual day at Steamcon. There are no big events and a lot of people are already leaving. So R and I dressed more comfortably in Victorian bathing costume, so no boots with heels or tight belts. Our bathing dresses were black with white trim, worn with black and white striped stockings, black flats, white mob caps with some black and white trims on them, black and white belts, and curly wiglets. The finishing touch was a pair of latex toads as big as our heads which we carried around in our arms. The effect seemed to jolt a few who didn’t really look close at first but merely thought ‘oh, bathing costumes’ and only a few seconds later went “with giant toads”. And I discovered that my face is really too old to get away with ‘cute’ anymore. R looked totally adorable but I didn’t come off nearly so well. 

There was a demonstration of Victorian cane fighting, which turned out to be fascinating and looked to be a great deal of fun. The instructor had brought a variety of canes so that people could participate. We watched as they learned to defend against different kinds of strikes. It made me really, really want to have a walking stick.

After walking around and admiring costumes and gadgets some more, we changed into mundane clothing and went out into the real world. We walked over the skywalks and visited some of the stores in the area. It’s a very well done, expensive looking retail area; one of the buildings has a water feature with Chihuly glass sculptures. After dinner, we retired to the room to try and pack our bags. Amazingly, despite having shipped some items ahead and now having large toads, everything went into the suitcases. 

 A submarine made from an old wooden barrel, with lights and motion (the propeller, which you can barely see here, turns)

Chihuly glass sculptures in the retail building.

New article

New article up at the Examiner, on keeping your yard safe at Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steamcon 3- Saturday

Saturday is the dressiest day, the day of the High Tea. I dressed in a long brown skirt with a bit of a train, which was to prove problematical for clumsy me all day. My top was a dark brown velvet sleeveless number that looked enough like an old bodice to pass when kept mostly covered by the purple on purple Medici belt and jacket. R put a couple of curly wiglets on my head, which covered all my flimsy hair, giving me, for the first time, a decent head of hair. I put my undersea-ish hat on over this. While not awesome like other people’s hats, it was at least not as bad as I thought it was. My necklace was a fairly large clamshell that was hinged; I hung it from an antique brass chain and put a flickering LED tealight in it so it pulsated.

Tea wasn’t until afternoon, so we went to the fencing exhibition (and left because of heat) that I said previously that we went to on Friday- duh. We went to line up for the tea at a time we thought would be early enough- and found a line that went the length of the hall in front of the ballroom. We were lucky, though- by the time the doors opened, the line was that long again behind us! Apparently there were at least 200 people attending the tea.

The line proved to be a great opportunity for people and costume viewing, even though it was hard on the booted feet. So many fabulous costumes and great looking people! Took a lot of pictures, but I seem to have terrible luck taking pics. My camera reacts slowly, so people have moved on, and I get lots of blurry ones that end up deleted.

Despite being way back in the line, we got seats at a table near the front. This year, rather than a fashion show, they had a bathing beauty contest. Given the size of the room, it was a good thing that they had the entrants circulate among the tables, giving everyone a good look at their costumes, before they went up on the stage. There was every possible take on a steampunk bathing beauty, from mermaids to Victorian bathing suits to diving helmets to a person with a giant fish for a head to my favorite, a group effort: a smack of jellyfish who spun, bobbed and wove their way around. While the judges decided who the winners were, Unwoman played her cello and sang to entertain us.

After the awards were given, everyone rushed out of the room for a group photo on the beautiful double staircase in the Winter Garden. R and I went around, hoping for good pictures rather than being in the picture; most of mine did not turn out, sadly. It was a great opportunity for viewing costumes!

We ended up going back to the room to relax for a while as neither of us felt very well. Later, we wandered out in search of music, but what was playing at the time didn’t strike our fancies so back to the room we went, for sewing on Sunday’s costumes. Yes, that *was* a recurrent theme! Thankfully, this time I only had some ornamenting to do, not any hemming and pressing. 

 I saw a number of people with wings over the weekend, but this was the most ornate pair, with clockworks and gears!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Onward! Steamcon 3 Friday

Friday was my day to bring out my standard black and white striped skirt. It’s not Victorian, it’s not steampunk, but hey, black and white stripes! Wore it with the black bustier I altered and a black velvet bolero. Had intended to wear my fire engine red wig with it, but when I put it on (having not worn it for around five years) I discovered that the color instantly aged me 10 years. I have been aware that my skin has aged a LOT the last two or three years, but I hadn’t realized quite how bad it was until that moment. So, I switched to the fuchsia purple wig R had given me. Much better! I did learn that screaming fuchsia purple hair requires a lot more eye makeup, though, so that one’s features are not over powered by the color. Pile on the purple shadow and black liner!

We spent a lot of the day in the vendor’s room and the art show. Many beautiful things in both places. The art that impressed me the most was from this studio: and her name is Yvette Endrijautzki. Go look. Buy her work, because I want her to keep creating art so she can come back to Steamcon 4. There was also some incredible metal work, such as an angler fish that I think would make a great addition to a porch with a light in it’s , well, light. Sadly, I did not get a card from that display. In the vendor’s room I ended up buying a silvertone brooch with a skull on it, which I promptly put on, and R most graciously bought me a crocheted bead bracelet with midnight blue AB beads that went marvelously with my black and white outfit.

We went to watch a fencing exhibition, but it was so hot in the room that I thought I was going to croak. Gave up and went to recover. Found the Cityflowers Halloween display, which had many, many wonderful things, like giant thorny stems (like, towering over me giant), very realistic latex toads, steampunk spiders and an animatronic old woman in a rocking chair that actually disturbed me as it kind of reminded me of my mother near her end. *That* is effective scary décor!

Also that day we went to a lecture on the development of submarines which turned out to be fascinating. The two gentlemen were in impeccable uniforms, had a wonderful Powerpoint presentation (hey, time travel, remember? Anachronisms are cool) and knew their stuff. As an added bonus, there was a Russian woman in the audience whose father had been in the USSR submarine corp and she had been on their subs herself a few decades back. The interchange between her and the presenters really added to the panel! We had dinner in the room, and went out a bit for a few minutes but neither of us felt wonderful and we had to work on our Saturday outfits- I still had to put the whole bottom hem in my jacket yet!

A couple of the many, many marvelously dressed people.
Tentacle love!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Steamcon 3- part 1

Note: I have no idea why Blogger refuses to acknowledge the paragraph spacing. I’m waaaaaaaaaaay over due on my Steamcon 3 write up, so I’ll try to get at least one day done today. Okay, hopefully two, because I’m putting a little of Thursday, travel to Seattle (oops, Bellevue!) in. Steamcon 3 Thursday Drive to the airport in the ’86 Subaru. Halfway there, I hear a new rattle that I can’t figure out. But it doesn’t sound like it’s in any area of concern, so I keep going, nervous as hell. When I stop for gas, I discover that it’s just the gas filler hatch open and flapping in the wind. That’s a relief. Get to the airport and check bag. At the first security point, the guard can’t figure out if my driver’s license is really me. Finally I take my hat off and grin at her, causing my eyes to disappear as they always do in pictures. She goes “Oh! Right!” and nods me through. At the scanners, I get pulled out of the regular line that goes through the metal detectors and made to take an X-ray (at this airport, they don’t send many through the X-ray). They don’t bother to tell me why. Evil black clothing, I guess. After losing out on a chance for an earlier flight by one person, the flight goes smoothly and they even give me a glass of wine. Gotta love Alaska flights and the Washington wine producers association! The emo teen next to me is white knuckled all the way. Poor guy. My Shuttle Express ride takes off almost immediately after I get to the kiosk, and we zoom through to Bellevue on the car pool lanes. After living in California and north Idaho, my heart is in my mouth as we speed along, because in either of those places, the car pool lane wouldn’t be respected and people would be pulling into it at least to pass others. Western Washington drivers are truly wonderfully polite! We pull up in front of the hotel and it’s spectacular. The registration desk is fronted with some sort of translucent natural stone that is back lit. The hotel shares space with and is connected to other buildings, so there is a common area with a glass dome over it. I have just a few minutes to gawp at this before R arrives. We go up to our room, unpack, talk excitedly, and get things ready for Friday’s costumes. Eventually we hit the wall and fall asleep.
The check in desk at the Hyatt. I seriously want a piece of furniture done like this.
New article at the Examiner, on the Pacific yew, source of the drug taxol:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New article

New article up at the Examiner, on hyacinths! I love the scent of hyacinths so much!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New article

New article up at the Examiner, on freezing tomatoes: Hard to get back to thinking about plants after the excitement of Steamcon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New article

New article up at the Examiner, on bringing the houseplants and tender perennials back in for the fall:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Altering a bustier for Steam Con!

Just by chance, I found a black stretch cotton bustier at a yard sale for $3- just what I needed as a costume piece for Steam Con. It has a side zipper, and while the bust fit, I could not get the zipper to close over my lower ribs or my waist. Not by a long shot. Yes, I am that oddly shaped.
So I did what any frustrated person would do: I cut it down the back.
Then I took another piece of black cotton that was the height of the back, plus the length of the facings and a 1/2" turn under for the facing hem. I pinned and stitched a piece of black ribbon with white dots on it, similar but not an exact match to the ribbon that goes around the bustier under the bust.
Then I pinned the new piece of fabric to the cut open back, right sides together, and sewed them.
It looks terrible now- the black doesn't match and the ribbon is different. But bear with me.
I folded along each of the new seams and pinned them wrong sides together. Then I stitched an inch in from the new seams, doing it twice for strength. There were now two flaps sticking out of the back.
Next I put four large eyelets/grommets whatever you call them on each flap. I need to get some grosgrain ribbon for the actual lacing, but this thin ribbon gives you the idea. Voila! Mock corset top!
For the finishing touch, I sewed some ribbon roses that R sent me to the front.
One project down, about 10 more to go!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New article up at the Examiner, on annual sunflowers!