Sunday, 22 August 2010

Wire Not?

Dearest Em,

Look what I found! You know the lovely things you gave me that we thought we'd lost? The Prof managed to find them again!

Gosh, that's a lot of exclamation marks, but I really was very relieved when he handed me a little silver box with all the lovely gifts you got me from Lynne at The Altered Element. I'm still 'sperimenting with the stuff to go in the lightbulbs, but I'd forgotten you'd added some of these marvellous little cogs as well. What can I say, they make smashing centre pieces for the knitted wire rose brooches. I decided to go with watch faces and cogs in the end as it takes long enough to hand sew the wire to the Sparkles sieve brooches without adding hand stitched padded washi paper flower centres like the one I made for you (pretty, but very fiddly). This one has copper and brown knitted wire, a black watch face and a small copper spoked gear.

This one has a slightly different centre: a medium sized silver gear thingy, an old watch face and a lovely little blue heart to go with the lovely blue knitted wire.

Its always hard to get the Brownie to paint these properly, but they've come out rather well, I think. I've made a few more in different colours and with old watch faces as their centres, but I know you were particularly interested to see what I did with the gears.

Ah well, no rest for the Pixie. Best get back to recorded all my discoveries and tidying things up. Please give our love to Mr Dickens and Mr Rivett (and not forgetting Mr Woppit, as if anyone could!)



Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Big Restock

Dearest Em,

You were right, its quite exhausting setting up a half-way decent gift shop, knowing what to include, what to price things at and how to display them. Hopefully I'm getting the hang of it.

This is a little something I put together from the bits left over when the Prof broke all those watches apart for me. The back plates were so pretty, but I wasn't sure what to do with them. Then, one day when I was sitting looking at them, I noticed that there were two sorts and that I had three of one and two of the other. "Excellent!" I thought, I know what to do with them now. And so this necklace was born and christened "Back to Black".

And then I got to work on those lovely little tiles we found in that delightful emporium in Derbyshire. They're very unsual and absolutely perfect for the sort of things I like to make. Although they were a little tricky to put together; I kept buying headpins to attach the crystals, but all the ones I got were incredibly tough to use and I ended up with very sore hands. I think I'll stick to having little loops everywhere - its much less painful on the fingers. These are also in the gift shop, as "Black Tile"

Full of industry, I cracked on with another pair. These are lovely flat glass beads, with grids printed all over them. The grids change colour depending on what direction the light hits them, so you never quite know what they'll look like. I added a silver cog from the watches and a pale green crystal that matched one of the colours in the grid and "Off the Grid" was completed.

These ones are faboo, but actually quite simple in a lot of ways. I got the blue frames when visiting the Queen of Canada, from the wonderfully named TANK fire + metal in the Distillery District. As you can imagine, we didn't tell the Brownie that we were going there, although I'm sure he wouldn't have enjoyed it. Much. It does have a very good brewery. Anyway, the earrings: they're called "Hard to Resist".

I bet you can guess who I was thinking about when I made these earrings? Yes, that's right, our dear Miss Rothschild. The pretty little pink roses reminded me very much of our favourite clockwork girl. I do hope she isn't working too hard on her magnum opus. Even clockwork girls need time to play and have enjoy a little tea and cake. These "Pink Rose" earrings are also in the gift shop.

So, as you can see, full of busy, and now its time to get the laundry done. Snorty's boiler should be about warm enough now and he says he likes doing the washing as it means he can snort bubbles out of his trunk. He's a funny steam elephant.

All our love,


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Lava and Lumpies

Dear Miss Muse,

Its been a while since I sent the butterflies with salutations, so I thought it was high time I made ammends. I know you like unusual things and shiny things, so I got the Boxed Brownie to make some watercolours for your perusal.

This one I have named after something he drawled in his rather odd southern accent; he claims that he said it was luverly, but I thought he said "lava-ly" (and was attempting to be funny, seeing as the bead is made from cooled lava). He was a bit sniffy at first, but soon perked up when I told him what a great name it was for the pendant.

One of the other things I've been working with is some more of those old glass fuses I have. I put some liquid Fimo in one and baked it to see what colour it would come out; although not completely successful, it should be usable for what I want to do, but it will need a syringe to get it in tidily. I sort of got it everywhere as it dribbled out from under the fuse cap. Mind you, that was my fault as it was a fuse I'd previously baked to try and melt the glue holding the end cap on. Obviously it did melt it a bit, in all the wrong places. Ah well, c'est la vie!

I have this lovely purple wire, and I know you're a bit partial to purple, so I wrapped the fuses in it and dangled some crystals and some little silver lumpies (sorry, Snorty says I have to call them elephants or you won't know what I'm talking about) and voila! They're rather sweet, but in the gift shop they go.
Snorty says to tell the little Master that he's looking forward to giving him rides when he's big enough to hang on to the howdah. I have set the Prof the task of making a special safety harness, although I can't quite work out whether its for Snorty or the bairn...
All my love,

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Full Circuit

Good morning, Mrs Foggy

Or is it evening? All these time differences make me wish that some of the clocks and watches we have lying around the Circus actually worked! Still, it would be a terrible shame to break them open for all the pretty things inside if they were actually doing something useful like telling the time.

I have been investigating some strange apparatus that the Prof brought back from his travels. I believe they are called quartz watches, which made me think that they might be nice and glisteny, like the stones (well, once they've been polished; quartz can be a little dull until its been well and truly buffed). Sadly, this has proven not to be the case, but the do have interesting innards, once you get past this strange material called plastic.

In some of my earlier experiments, I extracted the little copper coils (called solenoids) by use of some teeny-tiny screwdrivers and a bit of pixie determination, thinking at some point that I would use them as dangly connectors in earrings. In two of the watches, however, the solenoids refused to be parted from the little circuit boards (which I have already used on their own in some other earrings I've been making).

After a bit of a ponder, I decided to wire a crystal into the gap between the coil and the board, so making it into a "Full Circuit" (hence the name). They are quite simple, but very chic and shiny. They remind me of a period that Miss Emilly calls Art Deco, although I think I shall describe them as electropunk (as there are no cogs, I can hardly call them steampunk now, can I?).

I look forward to hearing what adventures you and your good husband have been having, but please try not to feed the butterflies too much ice wine when they deliver this letter. I know they're rather fond of it, but they were pretty tipsy after their last visit to your Northern shores (and its bad enough having to deal with a drunken Boxed Brownie).



The Path to Your Heart

Dearest Em,

As promised, I've been a busy Pixie, making things and experimenting. And, following your advice, I'll be popping my creations up in the gift shop in the Etsy Big Top.

I've called these ones "Path to Your Heart", because they're made from the printed circuit boards from some broken quartz watches we got from the other Rummage Man a few weeks ago. And a circuit is a path, and there are hearts on there, so it seemed like the right name for them!

I added the green Swarovski crystals because there's green on the printed circuits, and gold wire and black hearts so that it all toned together nice and harmoniously. There'll never be another pair of earrings quite like these, as I'll never have circuit boards exactly like these ever again.

All in all, I'm quite proud of them and I think they'd make a smashing addition to any steam/electropunk lady's jewellery box, even if I do say so myself!

Right, time to tidy up the display cabinet ready for the next set of new arrivals. Be good, and give our love to Mr Woppit.



Monday, 2 August 2010


Dear Mr Weil,

I was ever so excited when my parcel arrived from you the other day. You know how much I enjoy experimenting, so I was thrilled to acquire Miss Lisa Pavelka's UV resin and those smashing syringes from Mr Polymer Clay-Pit. With Miss Beauty Perfection's glow in the dark purple nail powder also safely in my crafter's kit, I felt certain I could proceed apace with my plans.

A while ago, Miss Emilly gave me some charming little light bulb things (modelled along the lines of those by Mr Joseph Swann, not the thieving Edison) from Miss Lynne at the Altered Element. Sadly, I put them somewhere very safe indeed (although I suspect Snorty may have half-inched them for his own nefarious purposes), so I have purchased some more.

My idea is this: to make some charming earrings that look attractive during the day, but then glow in the dark. There are two potential ways I can do this and I am investigating both. The first involves making my own small beads from glow in the dark Fimo, forming them into the glowing element of the bulb. This should be straightforward enough, so I'm not practising this. The beads were made by wrapping the clay around a thin copper wire, sectioning off small donuts and baking them on the wire.

The other way of doing this requires some practice, and this is where your goods and the nail powders come in. I drilled into some old glass fuses, one at both ends and one only at the top. The one that had been drilled at both ends had a coil of silver wire glued onto it's base to plug the whole after the rest of the wire had been pushed through the top hole (so I could make a hanging loop).

I then attempted to mix the nail powder and the resin in the syringe, which was a bit of a disaster. Never having worked with the resin before, I was unsure how long it would take to cure in daylight and was rather hurried in my actions. I have now confirmed that it takes ages to set unless you have a UV light, so next time I will work at a more leisurely pace. Once mixed (sort of) I syringed the mixture into the fuses, then popped them on the window sill to set. That took three days, so I shall acquire a UV light to make it all happen just a little bit faster.

The nail powder is beautiful, as it also contains purple sparklies, but I just didn't add enough. Also, with the resin taking days to set, the powder settled out, congregating in the base of the fuse (although interestingly, the glitter remained suspended). Slightly disappointingly, it doesn't glow purple in the dark either, but a ghostly lime green. Its a bit tricky to see as the Boxed Brownie complained bitterly at being forced to work in the dark (and there's just not enough powder, as I mentioned before), but I'm sure you get the idea.

But I'm not disheartened! I have some Fimo liquid polymer clay to experiment and I'm not done with the resin yet. Once I refine the technique on the fuses to my satisfaction, I shall progress on to my bulbs. Once I have done that, I shall write again and let you see the finished results!

Please give my best wishes to Mrs Weil,

Yours faithfully,

Mrs Begonia.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Dearest Terry,

Hope your latest excursion with Oolon wasn't too nerve-wracking and that you didn't need all that gin you packed to cope with his piloting skills. You did remember to take your Brownie along, didn't you, or at least one of those new-fangled gizmos? I always like looking at your holiday snaps, they're funny - all those running feet and blurry images. And you say your Brownie isn't fond of a tipple!

Anyway - (I'd better hurry up, the butterflies are looking aggrieved at me taking so long to write this) - I've been making stuff again. This is part of a watch I picked up ages ago from the Rummage Man. The bracelet was damaged, had been badly repaired and the case was a bit corroded, but it had ever such a pretty movement when I levered it out of the back. I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it really hard to break these objects up, even when they are very poorly and neglected. Maybe its just me, but taking apart something that somebody put together with such love and care a long, long time ago seems a bit naughty and disrespectful somehow. Unless its utterly buggered and then, really, what else are you going to do with it?

So, I jiggered it about a bit, took the pretty blue face off (no point in hiding it away), popped the mechanism back in and pushed the back back on. Then I put it onto some fine black ribbon to make it look all stylish and minimalistic. Well, that was the general idea, any way. I have a couple of other watches in this category - mostly intact physically, just not working mechanically, so I may well be creating a few more along these lines. Watch this space! (Sorry).

Ah well, according to the clock on the tent wall, its nearly time for all good Pixies to go to bed. So I'll be staying up for quite a while longer...

Let me know when you've got something other than that grotty Battenburg cake and I'll pop over for tea.



Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Roses are, well, pink and gold

Dear Miss Jameson,

Its all been a bit of a frenzy over here at the Circus of late - I've been getting my sketch book up to date, teaching Snorty macrame (he's doing remarkably well, all things considered) and trying to instill some sort of order on my boxes of stuff. And making pretty things, as well, in between bouts of putting things away then getting them straight back out again.

I got this squishy stretchy knitted wire ages ago when Mr Fenwick was having a sale at his emporium. I've tried to use bigger gauge knitted wires before, but they tend to sproing all over the place when you cut them, as well as being a tad unruly when wrestling them into place. But while I was tidying and pondering the other day, I suddenly thought that the finer stuff would make pretty steampunk roses. I also have this lovely Japanese washi paper bought whilst visiting an art shop on Messers Haight & Ashbury's estate in the city of Saint Francis, which just so happens to be exactly the right shades of pink. It has gold dragonflies on it (but sadly far too widely spaced to be seen on little bits like this), so I bunged a bit in the middle, stuffed it with wadding, couched a clock cog on to it and finished with a little dragonfly that you could see.

This is the prototype, and as you know, you always learn a lot when experimenting (except the Prof, who still doesn't seem to have got the hang of not blowing things up even after all that practice). I'd make the centre of the flower a little differently next time and use a longer length of wire for more ruffles, but not bad for a first attempt!

Speaking of explosions, I can smell burning and (come to think of it) I haven't seen the Prof for a while either. Better just go and make sure that the potting shed's still intact...

Be good! Love


Friday, 16 July 2010


Dearest Em,

I know that sometimes it takes me a while to get round to things, but you know that hat workshop of Sparkly Jem's you encouraged me to go on after I admired your cracking cranial adornment? Well, I went and only eight months later, I've actually finished the hat!

Rather natty, eh? The fabric was printed by the lovely Spoonflower, on the Colonial side of the Pond. They hail from an area famous for their cutlery inspired foliage, which I believe the company is named after (and so much prettier than the other local herbage, the Prickly Sporkmoss). The cog is from my stash, the ribbon from some other random shopping trip where I grabbed far too many pretty things with no idea of what I'd end up doing with them (although I believe making medal ribbons was on my mind at the time), and the wooden butterfly from a traipse along the Queen of Canada's excellent street of beading emporia. Its lined with a very delicate duck-egg shade of silk and I'm rather pleased with it. Now all I need to do is remember to take my hair-pins with me next time I wear it...

Needless to say, I'm rather proud of it. Doesn't it look chic? Unusual for this Pixie, I know, but every girl needs to have her glam moments, don't you think?

Must dash! Be good (or at least, don't get caught)



Lost and Found

Dear Mrs Foggy,

Blimey, its been a while, hasn't it? I don't know where the time went since your nuptials. It was very good of your Boxed Brownie to send us his little paintings over the aether, although our Brownie is now sulking and has eaten several daguerrotypes in protest (including the one of Mr Mesmer's cravat pin). I have confiscated his gin in retaliation and attempted to convince him that his images will be much more in focus without it. Funnily enough, he won't believe me.

To prove I did do some creative stuff in between then and now, these are some earrings I made for a Canadian friend of ours. She's a very talented jewellery maker herself and over the years we have whiled away many a happy hour in the bead shops along the street the Queen of Canada has designated specially for that purpose. I found the lovely little crystal butterflies on a shopping trip with Miss Emilly, and the little silver hearts. The main challenge was finding some nice posts that weren't for pierced ears. All in all, I think they worked quite well.

And then there was something for Terry; she likes purple and again, she's a very talented jewellery maker (its always a bit nerve-racking making something for other designers, but we all have our own unique style and no-one's sent anything back yet!). Its very simple, just another of those lovely circley bits the Prof found in the circus basement when dismantling the old Babbage Engines.

Last, but by no means least, this necklace was for Miss Emilly, to go with the earrings that I made for her when I was 'sperimenting last summer. I made the ribbons a bit long, but seeing as she's rather handy in that department, she soon sorted that out to her satisfaction.

Life at the Circus since then has somewhat got in the way of making pretty things, but now its the off-season I'm hoping to get the sketch book out again (and the power tools). I even dutifully sorted out the big pile of stuff I'd accrued over the last year, so I pretty much know where everything is and even what I have! Except for the little light bulb things that Miss Emilly gave me; I've no idea where they are. I suspect the Brownie, but he's denying everything and its not as if Snorty would know what to do with them.

Best be off, I think I can hear George chasing the Prof around the workshop. He's a good lion, most of the time, but he does get bored easily and I don't fancy having to give him another bath if he gets in amongst the dye vats again (although he did rather suit that shade of purple).

Please give our love to your wonderful hublet, and ta-ta for now!