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.