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Archive for March, 2020

Here is another of the wall displays for the modded prop guns. Again, I started with a vintage frame. A textured wallpaper also covers the backing board. The gun for this one is a Steampunk mod and is quite vibrant with it’s dark brown, gold details and bright orange transparent sections so the soft, light colours of the frame really show it off. The orange parts are original and light up when the trigger is pulled. Due to the light and sound effects, the gun needs batteries and the bottom of the grip flares out to accommodate them.

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I was able to use a salvaged brass plate from a clock to help hold it in the frame. The four posts that held the box of the clockworks are still attached and the trigger hole slides over one while the bottom flare rests on another. Another small brass piece from the clock stabilized the display supports. All I had to do was bend it’s attached steel strip so it cradles the barrel. The gun can be lifted out easily but is secure on the wall.

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I’ve been continuing to work on display options for the modded and Steampunk weapons and when I took part in a small gallery show, I had to figure out wall options for some of the guns. I wanted to stay with simple, yet functional options and decided to keep them as neutral as possible while having the overall unit work as a whole. (as a custom framer, my design philosophy has always been that the whole piece should be greater than the sum of it’s parts. Many artists fear interesting framing options will “distract” from the art but done right, the frames should enhance the work.) I also wanted to keep the prices down, have them be secure and make it easy to get the guns in and out of them.

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This is one of the most basic solutions. I started with a plain, vintage frame and cut a piece of Masonite to fit inside. The board was them covered with an off-white textured wallpaper. (you can paint this paper to look like pressed tin) I went with the board and paper because they would both be solid and stable and the wallpaper is made to be exposed to air, unlike framing mat-board, which will ripple and warp if not kept under glass. It’s also easier to keep clean than a fabric cover. The backing board could have also just been painted, but I wanted the added interest and Victorian feel that came from the texture.

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To mount the gun, a pair of antique brass curtain loops were screwed into the backing board and that was it! The gun slides into the rings and rests very securely but is just lifted out when it’s needed for an event. In this case, it was pretty enough that the whole thing was bought as a decor piece, but maybe having the gun on hand will inspire a costume down the road.

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When I starting doing weapon mods, I really didn’t think much about how to display them. I’d thought most people would want them for add-ons to costumes but as soon as I started taking them to shows it became very clear that many people wanted a way to have them out on display the rest of the time.

That gave me another challenge since it’s hard to predict what sort of display space they will have so it was necessary that whatever I come up with not be too complicated or expensive. It was also helpful to me if it happened to be something I could use as show display too. I do custom framing, and was able to work out a series of display frames and mounts for a chunk of the guns, (which I’ll discuss in some later posts) but the Sonic Screwdrivers called for something a bit different.

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In the process of buying stock for the vintage shop, we have a wide range of other things that tend to turn up as parts of box lots and the like but aren’t good/old/interesting enough to make to the shelves. That was where I ran across a photo display. It was not very old and had wires, set into a small stone base. There were wire circle springs at the top where you could slide in a photo and the wires could be bent or spread depending on how you want to show them. This was an easy starting point since the base had a simple clean look and good weight to it, making it very stable. I snipped off the circles and then bent the tips of the wires over. They were then wrapped in a bit of padding and then covered in little black leather pads. (salvaged leather from the stash, but you could use any solid, soft fabric) I wanted to make sure there was no chance of whatever was displayed being scratched, and the leather gives great protection.

That was it! The Sonic Screwdriver is then just slipped in between the pads, alternating directions so it sits evenly. It’s easy to pop in and out for use but looks good the rest of the time and takes up very little table space.

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Men’s plaid shirts are so comfortable that I love making them into dresses. I had one that was red and grey that was such a great match to a soft, light sweater that I had to try combining them. Both were too small for me but I thought I’d be able to make them into something my size. The sweater was quite small, but a soft, fine cashmere mix.

In my usual fashion, the long sleeves were cut off to elbow length and the sides seams were also cut away, all the way to the end of the bottom of the sleeves. The sleeves were widened by inserting part of the removed forearms. The cuffs were reattached to the bottoms of the sleeves and the rest of the sleeve finished with a rolled hem.

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To widen the sides, panels were inserted from the sweater. They were cut from the upper sections of the front and back and folded over to join them to the bottom falls. I do not have an over-locking sewing machine, so had no way to do that style of sewn seams for knits. I got around this by using the existing cuffed edges of the sweater along the bottom of the dress. The front and back lower panels and the sleeves gave me enough in total to almost fill the new size. The last leftover bits of the shirt sleeves were used to fill in the rest and add detail to the front.

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While this dress is very soft, warm and cosy, the pull of the soft gathers of the sweater cuffs, along the bottom, and the cuff details in the front don’t look great when worn. In the end, I sewed the front edges closed and this is now one of my mothers favourite nightgowns. I haven’t done much more with incorporating sweaters after this piece.

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This, the third sonic screwdriver mod, wasn’t quite as planned as either of the first 2.(Steampunk or Cyberpunk)

I’d had a concept in mind for both of them and choose the pieces that worked best for each. With the third, it was a matter of having the set of “leftovers” and then figuring out how to make a cohesive design from them. The grip section had very little done to it. I left the one half in it’s original white but decided to cover the rest with some salvaged black leather. (I’m pretty sure that was what the black plastic for that part was supposed to look like) It was cut to fit and then sewn on with the suede side out. I also added a layer of glue around the edges since the fine leather would have rolled and shifted a bit without it. With the glue, it’s fixed, smooth and stable and has a much better feel in the hand.

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The switch section was gilded with a mix of a silver and a variegated gold metal leaf. Bands of the detailed metal watch band pieces were added between it’s own textured panels to give it even more interest. Four watch winders were put along the top edge as well.

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As for it’s top, a large yellow glass gem was set in. It had a hole drilled through one facet and wires were run through that. They wove into the setting and were fixed down inside it. This not only gives it a bit more detail but also make it much stronger and secure. Again, I wanted it to be able to be carried with a costume and this design means it can be handled without having to be too careful. The end is very similar but just has a small green frosted marble. It was small and light enough that it could simply be glued securely into place.

 

 

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A few years ago I posted about modding a sonic screwdriver set. I’d posted about the first of the trio, the Steampunk one, that were done but never put up the details of the other two. I’m finally getting around to it!

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When I started working on a set of sonic screwdrivers, I wasn’t sure if I’d get more than one complete piece out of them, but did end up with a full trio of modded props. This is the second round and while the first was very traditional Steampunk, this one has more of a “mad scientist” or diselpunk vibe. It was also quite a bit simpler in terms of the level of modding as well. Once the four parts had been chosen, they were all lightly sanded with an extremely fine sandpaper so they could be refinished. The black area of the grip section got a heavier sanding to give some wear since it wasn’t getting covered. The rest of the raised surfaces all were gilded with silver metal leaf. They had been painted a silver tone but it was very dull and screamed “THIS IS MADE OF PLASTIC!!”. Gilding using actual metal leaf so while it is a very thin layer, the piece now has a genuine metal surface and it shows. A light bit of dark antiquing was put over the leaf to give it some age and depth and then it was all sealed.

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There were blue coloured transparent panels in the middle section and a teal tube out the top end. They would all glow when the interior sound and lights were triggered so where kept intact and still showed beautifully against the shiner silver finish.

The top end originally had a piece that looked like a swivel nozzle but it didn’t move and the light couldn’t go through it. It was cut off and a faceted clear plexi point replaced it. A ring made from a salvaged metal watch band both covered the join and give it some accent detail. The bottom was altered in almost exactly the same way but it’s point was matte and not quite as fine, since it wouldn’t be lit.

The last detail was a bit finicky but worked out perfectly. A vintage watch winding button was put over the on/off switch. Just above it an intact watch spring and it’s support bar were also put on. The spring case was attached to the screwdriver so the support bar could swing freely. While it looked cool, and could just be decoration, it was also at exactly the right height to be swung over the switch and hold it in the “on” position. Not great for long term battery life if left that way, but it meant that it could still be used by someone with lower dexterity or hand strength. It also would be easier to keep it lit if you were posing for a group of photos.

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While this was a bit less work than the Steampunk version, it showed off the interior lighting the best of the whole group and was the one that was sold with the single working guts.

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After having had success with using a salvaged skirt and men’s shirt to make a plus-sized dress, I started making more. They were very comfortable and I liked how it was possible to keep them more casual or dress them up, depending on the base parts used. This was one of the more casual ones I’ve done so far. The base shirt was a brown plaid and was Abercrombie and Fitch. (I used it because I really liked the plaid fabric but it gives me a special joy to be a fat woman in one of their pieces since it bothers their fat-phobic CEO) A light cotton embroidered skirt was a perfect colour match so I used it, even though it was almost too small to work.(there were a couple of cheats I used to squeak by with it)

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A and F runs small on their sizing (shocking, I know) so even with it being a large, the men’s shirt was too small in the arms but at least it was long-sleeved. The arms were cut to elbow length and then the side seams cut out, including down what was left of the arms. The leftover sleeve pieces were attached to the bottom of the arms to widen them and the cuffs attached at the bottom, along with a bit a rolled hem to finish.

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The skirt was so small that I wasn’t able to take any length for the side inserts. It was however lined with a light cotton in the same colour. Since the dress would be worn over leggings, keeping the lining wasn’t necessary so it was removed and I used it for the side widening panels.

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The skirt had most of it’s embroidery detailing along the bottom and I only wanted to add about 8” of length so was able to use the most interesting part of the skirt. There was a minor problem in that the run of the shirt bottom came in a bit shorter than the enlarged bottom of the shirt. I didn’t want to shorten the bottom to get more fabric, and even if I had been willing, it wasn’t gathered enough that I’d be able to make the shortfall anyway. Luckily, the leftover top section was also just over 8” long and there was one section that had the embroidered flowers over it so I was able to get the needed 16” or so from it. The original bottom hem was a simple rolled one so duplicating it on the added section was easy too!

The shirt already had great contrasting white buttons, so in this case I left them.

The light-weight fabrics make this dress very comfortable in warm weather. It has a casual vibe but is dressy enough that it’s fine for wearing when I’m helping people in the gallery. (I also used some of the scraps to make a cute, co-ordinate bow hair clip)

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While I’ve made quite a few pieces that are fan inspired, I don’t often get into memes much. (and really, if it weren’t for the younger demographic on my fandom and Facebook feeds, I wouldn’t even know about most of them) Sometimes, however, you get a weird coincidence that can make some things look more planned than they were.

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To make my Cerberus dogs, I need a matched set of three, so I have to collect suitable options in a (ridiculously large) stockpile. Sometimes it can take years to get the right trio and other times I’ll put them together pretty quickly. I’d had a single white Husky sitting for over a year and was starting to think it might be best used some other way but I got lucky in the late summer and found another pair. (The white ones are especially difficult since I’m so picky about condition and white shows any wear.)

I put them together right away since there were so shows booked for that fall. It was within a few days of finishing him that I started seeing this photo around of three pups looking through a hole in a fence. It amused me how much they looked like the stuffie so I’ve decided to run with it and titled this one, “Cerberus, Guarding the Gates to Heck”!

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While quite a number of my things have a bit of a macabre edge to them, I don’t do a huge amount of stuff that is true “goth”. However, now and then there are some things that completely qualify. This necklace is one of them.

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Quite a number of years ago, I found a pair of the Visible Man and Visible Woman anatomical models. Both were from the 60’s or early 70’s and both were damaged and missing a few parts. Over the years, they’ve slowly been consumed in a really broad range of projects but I’ve still got a few parts hanging around, waiting for their perfect use. It wasn’t until I got a group of old-stock crystal drops that this necklace came together. The right woman’s arm and the man’s left are bound together with wire and a red crystal drops falls from them. Chain and red glass beads finish the rest of the necklace. It’s simple, creepy and easy to wear. The elbows have some bend and they rest over the collar bone so it doesn’t look stiff. (heh, “stiff”, I’m prone to “pun”ishment) The wire that makes up the existing joints was in pretty good condition, and I liked the shape they have so it was left intact. I also didn’t age the bones since that would have pushed it to a full-on costume look and I wanted to keep it in a style where it can be worn in regular life. Now I just have to figure out what to do with some feet “bones”…

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