A Note about Streampunk

Hello All,

With the house and yard starting to shape itself up, let’s turn for a post to another topic.  I have been slowly looking at and buying pieces to build my steampunk botanist. I mean, what the point of building up this plant nursery without a mistress to run it?

The basic idea behind steampunk is the product of a particular sect of the Science Fiction community. It is largely based in the Victorian Era, but with a kind of industrial revolution feel to it. It is largely got a technological feel, with the brass and gears, but with the values, and social “settings” (if you will) of the 1800s. Think the Sherlock Holmes Movies. Or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Or Jules Verne books.

I spent a lot of time researching not only the culture, but how to build these costumes. I spent a lot of time trying to decide what exactly I might want. I thought about sewing it, and my momma and I talked about it in-depth. We looked at patterns and at prices for material. Eventually, we decided that it would be best (and cheaper in the long run) to just piece it together with pre-made costumes pieces, then possibly make the accessories. And so I decided to that, to me, the essence of the costume came down to three things. I knew I wanted a corset, a bustle skirt, and a headpiece of some sort. I just figured that if I’m going to do this, I want to do it all out. I want the costume pieces to be big and period specific. I mean, when I watch historical movies or shows, I spend more time paying attention to the costumes then the actually plot. (It drives GL crazy :P) I wanted my color palette to be greens and browns in varying shades. It speaks to the profession of my character, who would naturally be very in touch with the earth as a botanist. I wanted some subtle patterns, maybe slightly mismatched. Lots of rich fabric, lots of layers.

Well… I have the basics of the costume worked out now. I already had these brown boots with buckles that I knew would suit the theme, so I started with them. The first thing I ordered was a skirt piece with a bustle on the back. I was super excited, but it turned out that it left a very significant gap on one side that was not “family friendly,” for lack of a better term. I fixed that problem with a modern green maxi skirt. It gives it that pop of green I really wanted. My shirt was actually a homemade piece from another costume that Mom and I had made a few years ago (pirates… yo ho ho!). After searching for quite a while, I finally found a corset I was happy with on eBay. It is a under-bust, with rich brown texture. Best part was already embellished, so less work for me! Here is what I got so far!

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Quite Happy so Far

I am still looking for the perfect headpiece. Everything I have seen has been more expensive than I wanted, so I have a feeling Mom and I will be building a little while I am down south visiting. Sounds like fun to me. 🙂

Cheers,

BG

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DIY: What’s your Sign?

Hello All,

Ok… this project is slightly more involved, but I LOVE it because it is a method that you can use for anything (and not just Halloween)! In fact, I used it  to make these shields that hang outside my house. They are painted with the Scottish Seals for the three clans Green Lantern and I descend from!

Anywoo. Let’s get to it.

The first thing you need is wood for your sign. If you are comfortable using powertools, feel free to cut it into the shape you want. Since my hubby doesn’t trust me with a saw (and probably for good reason since I can barely operate a kitchen knife :P) I bought my wood pre-cut from a craft store. I left my wood raw because I want it to wear while it’s outside, but you could stain it if you want here.

The next step takes place on the computer. Figure out what you want your signs to say, or what design you want on them. I used Adobe Illustrator to create and manipulate type, but you could even use office just to type out fonts or use clipart. I chose a font with an old-world, steampunk-y kind of feel. Make sure that whatever you are using has thick clear lines that will be easier to follow during the transfer step. You might want to double check the measurements of your sign to make sure everything is sized appropriately. When you are satisfied, print it out. This becomes your stencil.

I like to cut down the excess paper from the stencil so I can place it better on the sign. Flip it over, and using a pencil, color over the back side of the words. DO NOT do this on top of the wood sign! You will end up with shadows of backwards letters on the sign… not the best effect. 🙂 You might have to do a couple of layers to get a good solid color. Place the stencil on the sign and tape it in place when you are satisfied with the placement.

Stencil in Place for Tracing!

Stencil in Place for Tracing!

Now you trace. In the case of my letters, which are thick, I did the outside of the letter, and the inside to create the internal spaces. When you press down on the top of the image with the point of your pencil, the graphite from the back with make a shadow print on the wood. Make sure you get all the lines!! There is nothing worse then picking up the paper and realizing you missed a section! Once you get through all of that, you can pull the paper stencil off and throw it. You will have a perfect guide on your wood to follow.

It will be light, but if you look closely, you can see my graphite guide!

It will be light, but if you look closely, you can see my graphite guide!

Now the fun part…. Painting! Depending on the size of your sign, the size of your brush could change. Since I had a lot of little details, I chose a small flat brush. Depending on how intricate you design is, it may take you a while to paint. I did three signs spread over a couple of days just because I didn’t want to rush it, and because I was working on other projects.

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If you are making a normal sign, that’s it! Go you! For me, I wasn’t quite done. Obviously my plants are carnivorous… They kill things. SO… I needed a little blood. Using red paint, I applied it with a combination of two ways. The first was spatter painting. I used a paintbrush (but a toothbrush would work better) and ran my finger across it quickly across the bristles while pointing it down. Very easy. After I was satisfied with the amount of splatter, I got a bit more hands on. I actually painted parts of my hand to leave prints and drags across the signs. It really gave it that Halloween feel I was looking for. 🙂

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Bloody Good!

The last thing is deciding how your sign will be displayed. The first was easy for me. I attached it to a yard stake which I got from the hardware store. The other sign, which I intend to hang, was a little more tricky. Luckily my next door neighbors are good sports, and he handled the hardware. Basically we used a long piece of chain (also from the hardware store) and screwed it into the back of the signs. Each sign (since it is two hanging together) has four points on the back where a screw is attached through a link in the chain. We left the top long so I could hang it from the ceiling of my porch. Here the finished products!

Hanging and Stake Garden Signs for my Evil Botanical Babies <3

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Back to work I go!

Cheers,

BG

DIY: The “Eyes” have it!

Hello All,

I had a big photography project come through so I got a little behind on my Halloween Projects. But never fear! I’m back at it and working like crazy! As the inside of my house slowly transforms, I am getting the outdoor themed stuff made as quickly as possible. Which leads us to the DIY for today.

Way too pretty to be in my  nursery right now!

Way too pretty to be in my nursery right now!

Now, as a reminder, we are working with this steampunk botanist theme, so obviously what I needed was some mutated plants. Because I don’t want them to all be mutated the same way, obviously I still have some work ahead of me. But the first mutation is super quick and easy!

So I found some eyeballs at my local craft store. Already painted, bloodshot and red on the back, and just perfect for what I was needing.

After clearing out the clearance rack of flowers, I chose the sets of flowers that DO NOT have a visible center (i.e. not the daisies or cornflowers). I peeled the petals so they would not be in the way, covered the back of my eyeball in hot glue, and pressed them directly into the center. After letting it dry for a couple of minutes, I pulled the petals back so they would cup around the eyeball, making it look like it was growing out of the plant. It is THAT easy. Can you believe it? Here it is in a couple of different flower options.

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So obviously I am using this for my themed house, but it has the versatility of being used in a number of situations. Centerpiece for a halloween table? Check. Being a ghoulish bride for your party? Wrap some green floral tape around a few different types and make yourself a bouquet. Be creative and have fun with it!

Anyway… back to work I go. Still lots to make!

Cheers,

BG

Boxes of Parts and Doodles on a Page

Hey All,

So. An update on the Halloween Happenings around here. Even though I have been SUPER busy, (My first Dance Showcase is THIS WEEK…. insert hyperventilating noises here) I have managed to get some work done. It’s really a good thing I decided to document it here… it’s keeping me motivated. lol.

My little orange helper... my kitten Ivy

My little orange helper… my kitten Ivy

We had three boxes and a tupperware hidden around the house with our existing Halloween decorations.It took me a while to find them, but once I did, I split them between three big bins. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t kinda excited about it. Some of this stuff I hadn’t seen in years; Donations from my Momma, Phoenix,  who was more then happy to give them to me since she mostly just decorated when I was young to appease us kids. It brought up for me little waves of warm recollection as I slowly unpacked the little pieces of my childhood…. but that is a completely beside the point.

What I was really trying to do was separate the stuff out into categories. The first bin was for stuff that didn’t fit the theme. Basically that will just end up being the stuff I used to decorate the house. The second was for stuff that was usable, and not in need of any alterations. Things like the fog machine, the big fake spider, plastic skulls, the cobweb-y cloth, etc. The last bin was for stuff that needs to be edited or fixed up. The pieces and parts, if you will. There wasn’t a whole lot of that to begin with, but Green Lantern and I have buying little things here and there to add to it. You know… fun stuff like body parts, pots and silk flowers for my soon-to-be mutated plants, ping pong balls which will become eyeballs, and baskets which will soon become the cage for my new “pet.” So excited. 🙂

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Two of the Sorted Bins… Sans Ivy

The other things I have been doing with my time is sketching. Lots and lots of sketching. I think that is the graphic artist in me. We were taught in design school to make thumbnails or draw out our ideas so we can get a clear picture of where we are going. I have never really let that go. I was a sketcher from way back anyway, so it just helps me clear my head of all the jumbled mess of ideas I have for this. Likewise… I would like to make a note and say I love Pinterest for this. It has give me a great inspiration for what kind of creepy contraptions to build. More excitement.

At Phoenix’s suggestion, I am entertaining the idea of just building my shop outside of the house and not a real and actual “haunted house” in the garage like Green Lantern and I had originally planned. The point is that I probably just don’t need as much space as we needed for our original theme. So I have played around with layout a little, and have in place a working vision of what I think I would like it to look like. I think it might still be a little ambitious… but what is life without a little risk, right? Maybe I won’t get all the way there… but I will have fun trying anyway.

An Early Concept. Don't want to give it all away!

An Early Concept. Don’t want to give it all away!

So I’m not expecting to have any updates on this for a little while. It is gonna be a killer week (which I might feel the need to comment on later), and my focus is going to be entirely on work and dance. However, I am hoping to maybe have a project to talk about next time. Way cooler, right? Have a good week everyone!

Cheers,

BG

Home is Where the Military Sends You

Hey all,

It’s official. I’m finally back online with regularity. I got the photography blog rolling a week or two ago, and got my design page back on its feet. So now, I finally find the time to play catch-up here.

You know what else is official now? Our change of address. Yes… that’s right. I am no longer wandering around Europe. I am back in the states, and Green Lantern and I are slowly settling into our new home.

So… where to begin?

After finish my final performances at my Theatre… lots of tears…lots of painful goodbyes… we started packing out the house, and moved into a guest house in our “hometown” for the past three years. Green Lantern was really sweet to me and I can’t thank him enough for letting me go and work elsewhere with a dear friend. All that was happening around me felt too fast and rushed. It made me so anxious. Working away from it all was truly the best thing I could do.

Two nights before we left for the states, I was surprised by a group of people who I really, truly love with a little dinner. I can’t even describe to you the love I felt that evening. It was exactly what I needed to start to let go. You guys know goodbyes are hard… walking out of that small, intimate group of friends was one of the most difficult things in had to do in Germany.

The large company part was the night we left. We went, but my anxiety about the large group made some of it easier to a certain extent. There were still tough goodbyes… girls I had gotten close to in the last couple of months in Germany. But as often with the Military… we promise to see each other again. After all, army aviation is a relatively small community.

The next morning… that was it. Green Lantern and I were on a plane. That is one positive thing I can say… I was glad I wasn’t going to have to make that long, agonizing flight back over the pond. Still, I definitely pity my Lantern for having to deal with a semi-distraught Batgirl for most of the trip. As a sidenote… don’t try to fly with a dog in Chicago… you WILL regret it. Friendly advice. 🙂

We flew first to Green Lantern’s family, and spent a couple of weeks there. It was a good thing. My Lantern hadn’t been home since we got married, and had not met his niece yet. It warmed my heart to see him play with her. She had changed so much since I last saw her… it’s amazing what a year can do.

My family was next. This was the first real point since we came back to the states that I started to feel a little at home myself. It’s easier with your own family I think. I miss my mom and dad so much when I’m away, and I feel so blessed that I could see my brother almost every day… a pleasure I had not really had since I was in high school. We stayed with them a few weeks, and before I knew it I was off into the great unknown.

We arrived in our new home in the middle of the night. Well… in a local hotel in the city of our new home. I was too exhausted to think much else until I woke up the next morning. I peeked out the window and looked at Colorado Springs for the first time.

My first feeling was relief. It felt much like Anchorage to me, where I lived as a teenager. There was a sense of familiarity to it that I think I definitely needed at that point. I still felt lost and lonely and anxious… but I thought maybe I could do this.

Ready or not, here we go! Home sweet military home!

Ready or not, here we go! Home sweet military home!

We got our house later that day. I have to say that our house is amazing. It’s wonderfully big, with three bedrooms and plenty of storage. Our unaccompanied baggage came the next day, and there was some comfort in seeing some of my own things. The first half of our housing shipment came a week later or so and we finally had some furniture. Then my anxiety set in again. Green Lantern had to go,  away to a class, for the next 6 weeks.

I would be lying if I said I said I didn’t feel a little upset at the idea of being here alone. Luckily… I wasn’t alone long. Batman to the rescue!

I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to have my dad here with me for those first couple of weeks alone. He brought me the rest of my things from his house, helped me unpack, set my house in order as much as we could. He set up my washer and dryer and kept my driveway clear. He hung pictures on the wall for me, and helped me transport my carpet back and forth to get bound. He built me a table in my workshop and put shelving in my bathroom and one of the extra bedrooms. He drove me to my dance lessons and helped me pick up my new kitten. But most of all, he was just there for me. He was someone to talk to and cook for. We watched tv or movies in the evening and I felt safe when I went to bed at night. Having Batman here was such a blessing to me. There is no way my house would have become functional without him.

But eventually he had to leave to go back home, and I was truly left to my own devices. The second part of my housing shipment arrived, but missing a number of boxes. I struggled trying to unpack with no hardware to put any of the shelving units or beds together. I went to a bunch of job interviews and was rejected.  Long story short…. I was stressed out and very overwhelmed. All of my anxiety came back instantly. My one happy place was my new dance studio, and it was pretty much the only way to get me out of the house.

The result of Green Lantern coming home... a functioning table!

The result of Green Lantern coming home… a functioning table!

Now… well I’m happy to say things are finally starting to even out. I still miss Germany. I miss traveling like crazy. I miss my friends. But I’m learning slowly to love my new home too. Green Lantern came back just last week and has since helped a lot in getting the house more livable again. As with everything in the Military, it is an adjustment period. Maybe I’m not perfectly happy. Maybe I’m still nervous and jittery. Maybe I get overwhelmed easily. But with my Lantern here… I think maybe I can do it.

Cheers,

BG