Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Surprise! Suddenly High Tea

So, my long-time friend, Author Debra Brown, called me yesterday and asked if I would like to attend High Tea with her at 11am the next morning?  Oh my!  High Tea.  What do I wear?  How do I act?  What IS High Tea, anyway?

To find out, we would be going to a lovely little spot in Junction City (Oregon) called "Scatter Joy."  First stop was their Facebook page to check out what folks wear to such an event.  Turns out it's pretty much whatever you want, so we opted to dress up nicely in skirts, and wear hats - not something one gets to do in everyday life  :)  This certainly would be an awesome place to hold a Steampunk Tea, though.  Amazingly nice folks, and wonderful food!

Debra pointed out later that there was a video, "The Etiquette of Afternoon Tea," on Scatter Joy's FB page, which I didn't watch until I got home.  Very informative! 

What was High Tea like?  We started out with our choice of two good-sized pots of tea from their generous Tea Menu; we chose to start with a wonderfully fragrant "Creme Brulee" sweet tea, and switched to "Earl Grey Cream" later in the meal.  Just after our tea arrived, our server brought the first course, a delicious mesclun salad with bits of orange, good Greek olives and a sprinkling of Feta - a real mouth-pleasing combination!

Next she brought an elegant 3-tiered stand with a variety of tiny sandwiches, scones, bruschetta and tartlettes.  At first glance it may not have looked like much, but believe me it was plenty!  Debra even took a nice little assortment home to her hubby, who had wished to attend but could not.

One of the items I enjoyed most was the scones - because I had always wanted to know what "lemon curd" was like.   Mmmmmmm!!  So smooth and rich and lemony, spread with just a tiny bit of whipped cream onto a bite of freshly-baked scone.  It was so yummy I forgot to take a picture before I started eating it!

Our little meal ended with sweet slices of triple-layer brownies, complemented perfectly with our second pot of tea, the Earl Grey Cream.  Then we spent our last few moments wandering through the shop looking at all the lovely items for sale.  It reminded me of what a French flea market must be like!

So, thank you SO much Debra for this special invitation, and a big thank you, as well, to the lovely ladies at Scatter Joy for a much-needed break from the ordinary!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Adventures in Parasol Repair!

Look what I found on a recent treasure hunt - An amazing Double Decker Asian Parasol!  Unfortunately, it was damaged:  

Well, heck, how hard could it be to fix that?  So, this weekend, being laptop deprived and therefore with some extra time on my hands, off I went into repair land...  First step, clean up the damaged parts.  Fortunately the two bad spots were an even number of spaces apart, so I just cut every-other triangle out with a craft knife.  UNfortunately, I didn't realize there was a string under the paper right where I was cutting, so...  oops!

That's ok.  I just used some strong string and a good-sized needle to carefully thread through the holes and tied it off to the uncut parts.  Presto and onward-ho!

Next I needed to pick out some kind of paper to use.  It was, of course, originally made with rice paper, which I had none of (and, also 'of course' had not the patience to order some and wait for it to come in the mail ;)

But what I did have was some vintage vellum that I picked up at the Brooks Steam Fair this summer with brown-printed blueprints on it - they were selling them 3 for $1.00!  Perfect.  But a little too clean, and a bit bare around the edges.  So first I traced another blueprint onto it with a brown ball point pen, then washed the whole thing with Isopropal Alcohol to blur it a bit.  After I ironed that out (yes, with an actual iron), I measured the umbrella, traced and cut out the right-sized circle.

Then I traced the little circle in the middle and cross cut that so that it would fit over the top nicely.

 I used 'mod podge' (1/2 elmers glue, 1/2 water) to glue it to the spines and the panels that weren't cut out.  Here it is fitted and drying:

Then I very carefully turned the 1/4" hangover and glued it over the edge string in sections.

On the bottom part of the umbrella the spines are coated with amber shellac, so I did the same to the top section, then covered the top part by podging white tissue paper on, then painting that with amber as well.

 Lastly, because once I accidentally inverted the whole thing, I glued a screw into a conveniently-placed hole on the main pole so that it would act as a stop to prevent that from happening again. 

 And Voila!  Works great, looks great - ready to pop into the shop for some lucky customer  :O)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Automata Through the Centuries - Part I

From what I've seen, building beautiful and detailed machines that actually function (such as Datamancer's computer mods or Jake Von Slatt's imaginative machines) is somewhat of a holy grail in Steampunk culture (that is, as opposed to making things that are yes, beautiful, but mostly non-operational). But we Steampunks are not alone in our fascination with such things. For hundreds of years those who could afford to create them or, more commonly, have them commissioned, have left an amazing legacy of stunning art and machines.

One manifestation of such art and craft has been the building of “automatons” throughout the ages. I present for your pleasure a few outstanding examples!

The Antikythera Mechanism

Around 2,000 years ago Grecian engineers created amazingly complex machines, including automatons, which apparently were not uncommon in larger cities such as Alexandria, sometimes even run by steam! One famous construct from that time, the Antikythera Mechanism, has been replicated exactly from measurements and examination of the original. By mere observation one would never guess how many things it's doing as it turns: Tracking the both the Egyptian and Greek calendars, the movements of the sun, five planets and the moon, including its phases, plus the rising and setting of certain stars. Oh, and it compensated for Leap Years. And that's just on one side!

On the other side were dials to four track long-cycles of years (19, 54, 76 and 223), as well as eclipse cycles. And if that's not enough, it also showed the dates of the Grecian Olympics (every 4 years, like our own) and other Greek games! Here is a beautifully done 3D video of it working.

DaVinci's Car

About a thousand years later, Leonardo DaVinci, among hundreds of other inventions, created plans for what could be considered the first precursor to the automobile, run by large clock springs:

Monk Bot

Fast forward to the 16th century, where we find a wind-up Monk Bot, owned now by the Smithsonian. No audio on this one, but at about the 50-second mark it starts showing all the little mechanisms that make it work. Isn't it astounding that a machine made in 1560 is now here for us to see on YouTube?? :)

Singing Birds

One common early form of automata was a singing bird in a cage. Would not a few of these in your Conservatory give it a truly Victorian air?


Later makers of these marvelous machines made them even more complex. Here's an example of an automation made in 1895 by Henri Maillardet, which was the inspiration for the movie “Hugo.”

In Part II we will explore modern makers of automata!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Alternatives to Corsets Part 1 - Wide Belts

          When people think of Steampunk accessories of course Corsets are usually at or near the top of the list. But, you know, not ALL of us are into corsets. I do have one boned garment (a waxed-cotton vest that I just LOVE), but I got to thinking that there must be some alternatives to boned corsets that look just as pretty, flattering and, well, Steampunky. So I've done some research and gathered a bunch of pictures to do a series on Alternatives to Corsets. This first installment will give examples of “Wide Belts”.

          Very similar to regular leather belts, wide leather belts can give a LOT of character to your costume:

Another style of wide belt you might consider is the "obi style" belt, which can lend your costume an air of multiculturalism:

I think my personal favorite as an alternative to a corset is what's called a 'vest belt'.  They are cool made from tweed...

Or from leather...

There!  Now you have a few alternatives to that pesky tight corset that are still flattering and have lots of character!  But wait, "what else?" you may ask?  Next time:  Halters!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thematic Thursday: Airship Captains!

          When it comes to creating an Airship Captain costume, you have a several different choices in basic style:

          One is Navy, or nautical, including Submarine Captains (such as Captain Nemo in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.")  This type of costume could be based on traditional vintage uniforms, like these:

          Notice some of the similarities in these uniforms, despite the differences in time period.  Metal buttons; epaulettes, "billed" cap, sleeve stripes and, of course, medals!

          Another style you could choose would be Airship Pirate, which also nicely lends itself to multiculturalism!

          The pirates, it seems, display almost the exact opposite characteristics from the Navy guys - no brass buttons, no stripes, no billed caps, etc.  Not even various time periods!  They seem to have stayed in the late 18th century, with tricorn hats, lots of leather, belts, buckles and lacings.  And don't forget your eye patch - er - monoggle  :)

          In Steampunk, because it is a form of science fiction, you have another choice for this type of costume as well - Space Captain!

So it seems that, as with most Steampunk costumes, your choices will depend upon your story!

Perhaps you'll find more inspiration for your Airship Captain, Sky Pirate or Steampunk Space Farer costume by checking out these Pinboards:  "Nautical Steampunk Inspiration,"  "Scurvy Knaves," "Yo ho ho & a bottle o' rum,"

And, of course, I cannot leave out my own personal favorite Airship Captain Cozmo Osric Galloway's pinboard "My Steampunk"!

Don't forget  you can always just do a general Pinterest search for "Airship Captain" and find all kinds of fun stuff too!