Sunday, 13 December 2009

'Tis the Season...

Dear Teedles,

You might have been thinking that its been awfully quiet on the Pixie front. Well, you wouldn't have been wrong. Its been terribly hectic both at Pixie School and the Circus, and then there's the sideline I have to take care of at this time of year, if you know what I mean (big fat man, white beard, seriously in need of a new outfit, needs to stop drinkinng all that fizzy brown stuff).

So here are some of the stocking fillers he's had me making this year.

First off is this lovely red and silver pair. The fuse caps came off these ones, so it was really easy to stuff 'em full of beads. I really like these ones; very festive.

And then I real problems getting the fuse caps off any of the other ones, so I had to think outside the fuse. Quite literally, actually. Hmmm, lovely purple swirly beady things. That's two seperate pieces of wire there, one going up through the middle, the other twirling round the outside.

So, thinks me, what am I to do now? Each pair has to be different and I can't get the caps off. Trying to twist them off with pliers makes them go tinkle-crack-smash and heating them in Snorty's firebox just makes the glue go brown (you can't get them out of the oven quick enough to get the caps off while the glue is still molten).

I had some very pretty turquoise wire and I thought, let's do a variation of the beady one, just with wire. And instead of a loop on the bottom, lets have a pretty swirl ('cos its a bugger getting those loops to sit right underneath).

Right, one more pair to go. I got my lovely drill out again, only this time I got one of the bigger bits and drilled a stonking great hole in one end of the fuse.

The advantage of that is that I can cram the little beads up through the hole. The disadvantage of that is that there's this big hole in the bottom. I did think about sticking a big bead over the hole, but trying to handle that with very quickly drying glue would be sure to end up with Pixie fingers stuck in there as well. So I thought the swirl would make a very agreeable alternative. The beads are iridescent, so it sparkles very nicely in the light.

There have been other things I've been working on, but they're super-special secret still (until after the big man has been out on his rounds. And I don't mean the Prof; he's currently helping the Elves. He looks really cute in green, especially with that hat and the stripy stockings).

Ah, my new crystals have arrived. Best get back to the other two pairs of earrings.

Have an excellent festive season

Lots of love, Fuschia

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Coppers and Computers

Dearest Emilly,

I do hope your polar trip is progressing well. The post-butterflies have complained a bit about the cold up there, but they think that the coloured lights are very pretty, like the shimmer in their wings in fact.

We had a bit of a party in your absence and while the Prof was pootling about preparing the moonshine and the nibbles, I thought I'd better make some more things for the little gift-shop.

First up is this little item, or "Green Machine" as we've decided to call it. I know you know a bit about the future and these strange things called computers. I believe that some of our current compatriots call them Difference Engines. I haven't had the heart to tell them that the ones I've seen in the future aren't steam-powered. Still, if you take a nice big hammer to them, there are some very pretty things inside. It would be fun even if there weren't pretty things inside; you know me and hammers!

The Prof says this piece is called a hard disc reader head. I know it doesn't look like a head or like it can read, but I thought the ribbons and the little beads made it much more presentable to the library types, particularly Sir JJ and Miss Homewood (and I don't think it would be interested in Sir JJ's secret stash of very nice whisky, unlike some of his other readers. Hic!)

And then there's this one: Time Flies. Not all of the bits of clock we got from the Rummage Man were in tip-top condition; even though I felt a bit sorry for this watch-face as its seen better days, I still think its very pretty. Its such a lovely colour under that enamel; maybe true beauty does lie within?

The shiny circular piece the Prof assures me is a hard disc spindle thing. No idea what one of them does, but its got some very useful holes in it for putting ribbons through. And the little dragonfly liked it so much when he came to see what I was doing, he asked if he could stay.

Some of the other reader heads that we recovered from more old computers the Prof found in a wonderful yellow boaty called, I believe, in the local parlance a "skip", weren't as pretty as the one above. In fact, the only pretty thing in them was the copper coily; not only is it a very pleasing shape, there's a class of butterflies called Coppers, or Lycaenae.

Well, if there's butterflies involved (however tenuously) you know I'm your Pixie! So I snapped them out of their ugly surrounds, polished them up and added some pretty Chinesey beads and a few cogs for good measure.

There is one other piece of jewellery that I've made, but this one has sort of already been commissioned (along with three more pairs). At a different point in the future I found these natty little glass tubes. They had a rather boring wire in them, but I managed to pull the caps off a few and soon remedied that. I've called them "Blown a Fuse", although the Prof looked at me really archly when I did and muttered something about "more like a gasket...". Do you think I should have words with him, Em? Or was he making another odd Circus-type joke, do you think? (For odd, please read not funny)
I await your answer as to whether or not Snorty and I should take him in hand. Give my love to Mr Worthers

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Apologies on Flutterby Wings

Dear Lady E,

Um, sorry about the whole, er, Miss, thing. I'm sure you understand, being a bit Fae yourself, that these human appellations are very confusing, especially when they seem to change them at the drop of a hat. Or maybe that should be heart...

You're not going to be offended by me calling you a lady, are you? 'Cos I can be much more insulting if you like.

Any road up, I've been busy again, as the latest daguerrotype shows. This one is for me and was really a test piece to see if these interesting ground sections from the Clock Man's clock would work as pendant bases. I think you now know the answer to that.

It was also interesting in terms of technique and the order you should or shouldn't do things. I was gluing a whole load of bits and bobs together, so popped this one into the pile. However, trying to do the wiring after the gluing was a bit of a duff idea. No, it was a lot of a duff idea, 'specially when the holes are so small and all the bits are really close together.

Still, it didn't suffer that much from me having too many thumbs today. I blame Snorty; I had to assist the Prof giving him an oil change and my thumbs are still a bit sore from all the nuts and bolts I had to tweak and preen. Mustn't grumble, though - Snorty's humming away nicely and I have a very interesting necklace (even if I do say so myself)!

Now all I need to do is purchase some pretty ribbons and some crimps and I can finish the rest of the pendants for the gift shop.

And thank you for the special tea; most restorative!


Sunday, 27 September 2009

Spring has Sprung

Dear Miss Elytis,

You'll be pleased to know that I've been keeping out of mischief by making sparkly things. These ones are called "Spring has Sprung".

Um, they don't actually have springs in them though, but "Spring has Cogged" doesn't quite work.

Anyway, they're for sale from the little gift shop on the way out of the Big Top - here

Yes, I know that's shameless self promotion, but shy bairns get nowt, as they say.

Time for a nice cup of tea!

Lots of love

Star Potential

Morning Teedles,

Its been a bit hectic over the last few weeks as we've had some work experience Pixies and Circus folk in the Big Top. Spot the Tiger wasn't very happy, but Fred the Lion took to most of them and not like last time. Not that we like to talk about that (I still say it was his own fault; we did mention about the whole mime thing, but you know young people, they always know best. Its the stripy tops that do it).

But, I have been busy, as you can see. I was playing about with the design I did for Miss Emilly and came up with these. They're called Star Potential, because Mr Merlin said that the slotty things could also be called potentiometers. The lady who trains Pixies (I think I told you about her) decided she liked these ones too, and she's bought them as a little present to cheer up her friend. I like the thought of that; after all, Pixies are supposed to spread a little magic as they go.

Be good,

Flutterby Blue

Dear Miss Jameson,

You know how partial Pixies are to butterflies, so I thought it was about time I incorporated them into some swishy earrings. And I like blues and golds almost as much as I like fuschia pinks and purples, so overall I'm rather pleased with the results.

I've put them in the gift shop by the back door of the Big Top, in amongst the souvenir giraffes and cannons - here:

They're probably better for your teeth than toffee apples. Er, actually, no, they're probably not. We do do some nice carrot sticks, just don't tell Snorty we've been sharing his tea time treats!


Clockwork Heart

Dear Emilly,

Just a short note to let you see what else I've been up to lately. I bet you thought it was too quiet over here at the circus...

These are the earrings I made for the lady who trains Pixies. She has excellent taste in colours, even if I do say so myself. You know I like to give everything its proper name, so these have been christened "Clockwork Heart" and I'm happy to say that the lady was very pleased with them.

Better go, more letters to write! I look forward to our imminent shopping trip for sparkly things

Lots of love,

Friday, 11 September 2009

Dingly Danglies

Dear T,

I'm glad to say that I've been at it again, this time with many sets of pliers. I've kept these ones a bit of a secret up 'til now, as the pink ones are a present for a certain red and black spotted aquaintance of ours (and you know how the post-imps can never be entirely trusted not to peek and gossip).

The blue and purple ones are mine for our outing to Lincoln. I found some more of those resistor thingies and they really are quite nifty for wiring things together. The dangly bit with the heart on is made of old watch parts, so the earrings are ever-so-slightly different. The nice lady who was training me to be a better Pixie liked them too: she's asked me to make her some!

The pink and green ones with the little stars are for you-know-who. The linky bit is something I think the Prof called a "variable resistor". Apparently you jam a tiny spanner into the slotty bit to make it more or less resitant. I think someone jamming a spanner into you would be guaranteed to make you more resistant, really, wouldn't you? Maybe this future gubbins has some sense after all; I remain to be convinced. The only problem with the stripy resistor bits is the colours they come in - I'd kill for a nice pink or purple one.

Anyway, must dash - I need to pack Snorty ready for the trip southwards. I have to dig out the smart howdah with the silk cushions and the nice tea set if i want to travel in a bit of luxury. Well, the Prof has to actually dig it out from the back of the outhouse; its far too large for me to do much with, but you know what I mean.

Be good,


Saturday, 5 September 2009

Tinkering Along

Hello there, Terry!

You know I said that I'd been tinkering away again? Well, here are the fruits of my labours thus far:

You've seen the little cabochon that I usually wear with my nice white posh going out and about blouse, haven't you? This is the pixiepunk replacement, made especially for the Convivial in Lincoln this coming weekend.

Its a terrible shame that you're on the wrong side of the Puddle; Emilly, Oolon and Mr Merlin will all be there. We shall try to grab daguerrotypes for your perusal.

The backplate is from a very noisy alarm clock - I think I told you about having to hide it under Snorty's straw to deaden the racket. Once I got the straw out of the little holes, it made quite a nice mount for everything. Some of the other bits are from the Clock Man's mechanism, some
from the Rummage Man, and a few resistors we borrowed from the future. And you can't beat a few crystals. Please assure Miss Elytis that they're quite safe and there won't be a repeat of that unfortunate exploding incident.

Not to be left out, I made the Prof a nice badge (he says its not manly to call it a brooch; honestly, men!). It was his design, but he was humming and harring about actually clagging the bits together, so I did it for him.

He's foregoing his usual choice of outfits, so there won't be any leopard skin (probably a good idea, as it might be just a little bit too carnival for polite society). Instead he's aiming for what I have jestingly called 'FlyPunk (I think he took some fashion tips from Cap'n Tightpants last time he popped over for tea). He says it looks like a marshall's badge and he's inordinately pleased with it. I believe the correct exclamation at this point is "Yipee-Kiyay!"?

And then there was the experiment: some of the old watches we got from the Rummage Man were in a "not quite sure what to do with" pile. Some were so exhausted, we put them out of their misery; others were so interesting I intend to use them as they are. And then there were the not quite had it, but not quite outstanding lot. I dug out a book from our extensive library (Circus folk need to be ready to turn their hand to anything) and made a wire bezel for one of them.

It was blinkin' hard work, let me tell you. That so called craft wire was really tough to bend to my whim, so it didn't come out quite how it was in the book. The back was supposed to be the front, if you see what I mean (hence the swirly thing), but I accidentally managed to put it in the right way up and I rather like the front being the front. I know its wonky, but that's me really, isn't it?

Oops, better go, I can smell burning. And that means either Snorty's run out of water or I've left the soldering iron on again.
Be good,

Sunday, 30 August 2009

By George, I Think I've Got It!

Dearest Emilly,

I have to say, I think I might have pretty much cracked it.

I have enclosed a few quick daguerrotypes showing the fruits of today's labours. Its been a bit of a one of them, with some things working straight away and others proving to be a little trying, but thanks to the various samples I've made it wasn't anywhere near as tricksy as it could have been.

To the left, the overview: black acrylic felt with an overlay of Wireform that I blasted with some embossing powders to knock it back a bit. As you can see, free machine zig-zagging around the edges with metallic thread just gives it a little something extra that the unedged samples didn't have.

To the right, you can see the details a bit better. There's an old watch face, a cog from that wonderful mechanism we got from the nice Clock Man, a few resistors that the Prof dug up in the Circus' basement and some copper shim butterflies (nicely pinked up with another blast or two from the heat gun).

I must confess, I did resort to glue; I thought it would look a bit messy even for Pixies if I tried to couch everything down.

And I know that resistors are a tad post-modern for steampunk, but then again, that's not entirely what I'm doing...

To the left, you can see the tassle I made to finish it all off. There's three different sorts of variegated silk ribbon in there, with an old clock hand (from the Rummage Man's stall) wired onto it.

My wiring still needs a bit of practice, and getting the two bits to hang together was beginning to tax my patience, but it all came out alright in the end (at least for a first full attempt).

Now all I need to do is sort out the medals and some earrings and the brooch for my blouse (sort of like an alternative tie for Pixies) and do some more embroideries (I have a great idea for some applique work with some of the smaller bits from the teeny-weeny watches; oh yes, and finish the other ones I started) and do some felt-based cog-shaped brooches and... Well, you get the general idea, I'm sure :)

And thank you for the patches - they will cover up the hole in my blue skirt very nicely. Its amazing what damage a soldering iron will do if you leave it in the wrong place.

All my love,


Saturday, 22 August 2009

Fun and Games With the Prof's Soldering Iron

Dearest Terry,

I do apologise for not sending this earlier, but Mr M has been visiting and we've been showing him the delights of the Colony. But a promise is a promise, so here are my experiments so far.
First we have experiments with heating melty things (synthetic organzas) that have been embossed with metallic embossing powders. I used some Indian wooden print blocks I have, as well as a couple of butterfly stamps (not so's you'd notice 'cos it all went a bit smudgy). Any way, some interesting crinkly effects, which I sewed onto black acrylic felt. Nowhere near a finished concept, but it has some potential I think (although you never quite know where the crinkles will go).

Then I moved on to burning burny things with my soldering iron (which is much smaller and more delicate than the Prof's and much less grubby). I couched some knitted copper mesh (or some antique gold coloured stuff that I have no idea what its made of) onto acrylic felt and used the grid to work out where I was going to burn the holes. You really need to think about where you want the holes or its a bit of a bugger threading them later on.
On the left is the first 'xperiment. Plain background, some holes, some silk ribbon and a few beads. Then I wrapped the edges with satin ribbon (3mm) because the edge of the felt is a little indistinctish. But the satin ribbon is really wobbly, so I think I must resort to my fearsome sewing engine and just zig-zag the edges (although this will have to be done before I thread the ribbons or it'll end up trapped in the wrong places and I'll owe the swear box a fortune).
The next one is threaded with some rayon cord I space-dyed myself for another project (a wall-hanging inspired by Durham Cathedral's pillars ). I had a bit of a mishap with the embossing powder on the acrylic felt, which sadly deadens pretty much anything you stick on top of it. The butterflies were cut from metal shim (copper and brass) and couched down. No edging (didn't fancy fighting with the machine).
(There is another experiment, but the daguerrotype is proving recalcitrant, so that one will have to wait until another time).
The last of the tests so far is this one to the right: no embossing, no edging (see above for rubbish excuse as to why not) but more butterflies and beads and ribbons. Its definitely getting there, but still needs some tweaks, like brighter ribbons and cogs and things. I have many cogs, but I'm reluctant to use them on test pieces; after all, samples are to make sure the technique is right, not to squander precious materials.
Phew, I think that's more than enough for now!
All my love,
F. xxx

Monday, 17 August 2009

Where Pixies Fear...

Dear Miss Elytis,
I said that I would write to you again when I had a piece to show you. And here it is:
I have called it "Fear to Tread 1", as one of the Prof's arty friends said that a good title is everything in these matters. It was inspired by a little pair of brass wings given to me by our mutual acquiantance, Miss Emilly Ladybird.
Sadly, the daguerrotype's colour reproduction is a little lacking, for the tones are much more rich and chocolatey on the real thing.
Although there is often some argument as to the name of the technique used, I believe it to be called shadow applique, whereby I trapped a felt shape between two layers of sheer fabric, in this case cotton organdie I had coloured with silk paints. I trapped the shape by virtue of running stitch, then set about embellishing it with wire whimsies, sequins, a few beads and some metallic threads (just back-stitch, but quite effective). Pixies do not get on well with metallic threads, but their lustrous shimmer winks at me from beneath the bed of stars by which they rest. So pretty much worth all the swearing getting them in there, then!
I intend to make a nested set, consisting of two more parts in different colours with smaller wing shapes. I can see that the Prof is refraining from making jests about tables, which will be just as well for his shins. I shall post them when they are complete.
In other news, the magical felt I require for backing my proposed brooches, medals and emphemera has arrived by courier. So now I must decide - finish what I have started, or plough on with new and exciting things!
Be good, and careful with the tea,

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Pretty, shiny things

Dearest Emilly,

Our trip to the local flea market yesterday morning yielded some wonderful finds, a selection of which I have included for your enjoyment.

It has to be said that the world will become a much quieter place once men of science invent something other than clockwork to power their timing devices. I've taken to hiding the alarming clock under the steam elephant to deaden the racket!

I look forward to seeing what else you discover on your travels,


Saturday, 15 August 2009

Time and Tide Wait for No Pixie

Dear Miss Elytis,

In accordance with your very kind request, here are a few of the fabric designs I have been toying with.

This one I call "Time Blossom", although I suppose they could just as easily be cherry blossom snow-flakes. The Prof's pocket watch kindly provided the inspiration; the hour hand is so very pretty (and I'm almost certain he hasn't missed it yet).

In fact, I liked it so much, I bought the... no, hang on, that's not right. Let's try that again: I liked it so much I used it to create two more fabrics, Hands of Time 1 and 2. The background is based on some embroidery I did when I was a Pixie in training.

They look very good on the cotton organdie I had them printed on to, but as yet I haven't made up my mind quite what to do with them.

I promise to post more bits of things when I have them completed - you should see the lovely silk ribbons I have acquired from a gentleman who travels the Silk Route!


Friday, 14 August 2009

A not so quiet day at the circus

Dear Emilly,

Its been quite quiet at the circus of late, and so I have decided to raid the mysterious cupboard under the stairs (which is quite tricky when you live in a big tent) and begin making things.

What things, you ask? All sorts of things: small stitched pieces, jewellery, accessories.

How, you ask? Traditional embroidery techniques, combined with more modern influences; paper, silk, lace, wire, things I find in the Prof's toolbox.

What style, you ask? I shall call it Pixiepunk, because there's nothing wrong with a semi-eponymous title. Part steampunk, part atomicpunk, all pixie (you know, shiny things, grubby things and ribbons).

Why, you ask? Because a pixie must do what a pixie must do.