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Posts Tagged ‘vintage’

In the last big haul of “Steampunk” supplies, there were all sorts of clock and watch parts. It was from a repair shop so while there was a really random mix, there were also a few big groups of things. One was a large number of the tiny ladies watch cases. Another was a box of the matching ladies metal expanding watch bands. The bands were new so were in great condition and had the old, high quality gold plating.

I liked the look of them as well as the fact that they can give a bit of a flex to how they fit. They are also narrow enough to work in necklaces, unlike the men’s.crystalwatch4

I ended up doing a series of asymmetrical pieces combining both. I set faux stones and gems into the watch cases. (I have no idea how people read the time on them since the faces were super tiny!) The bands make up part of the chains.

For this set I was able to find a trio of cases that, while not the same, feel very close to each other. A set of faux rainbow crystal druzy stones were set into each case. Some old stock vintage aurora borealis crystal drops were hung below each of the earring cases. The necklace has three of the drops hanging from a small brass gear. Salvaged glass beads, that have a bit of the aurora borealis sheen, give the set additional flash.

It’s the only one I did with the matching earrings and I love the Steampunk glitz it has!

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While I’ve frequently got some sort of plan for many projects, there are other things that come from putting random parts of the stash near each other and then seeing what my mind comes up with. Considering that I’m working with mostly salvaged and found materials, it generally means that there will only be one or two of any concept that they spark, but sometimes there can slightly larger groups.

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A few years ago, I found some eggs. They were quite small, around 1 1/2” and painted with a wonderful marbled range of colours. At first, I thought they might have been plastic but a closer look showed that not only were they wood, but that their marbling was hand-done. They were a bit reminiscent of old Fordite and depth of the colours as well the smooth texture of the surface make me think they might have used automotive paint. Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to make them but then either never got around to their intended use or did, and these were the leftovers. This is one of the cases where I would love to know the history of a supply bit, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever find out how they came into my path.

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Their size and shape was close to a few vintage doll arms I had and one got used to make a small wearable doll. I loved the look of the doll, but had used all the spare arms so put them aside again. By the time I went into my next round of jewellery making, I’d added a group of leaf-shaped mother-of-pearl beads to the stash. Looking at those beads, I saw they could also read as wings and the scale was very close to the eggs! I had to put together pairs of the shell “wings” and match them each egg since the colours were so individual, due to the marbling. Then it was figuring out how to get them all hang together so the “doll” illusion held and then matching each group to assorted bits for the heads. A few got watch cases and ended up as the funky ones, while the ones with the glass bead heads turned out to look almost like little angels. I was happy enough with them that I used up all of the eggs, even if it did pain me to not keep one “just in case”!

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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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With the refashioning and remaking of men’s shirts, I’ve been mostly making casual and “work” wear plus-sized dresses but that’s not all I’ve needed. One of the other problems with finding suitable plus-sized clothing is when you have an special event or need things a bit more costumey. Last fall I was going to a 20’s themed event and wanted a period flapper style dress. There are some places doing repro dresses, but I couldn’t find anything I liked in my size so making it became necessary. I did a bit of research into period dress styles first to see if I was going to have to invest in a pattern but looking at how big the range of variations was, I decided it was possible to get away with just upping my modding game.

We had a couple of beaded/sequined jackets in the stash and the original plan was to salvage panels from them, mix the panels with silk or crepe fabric and make the bottom from another skirt or a scarf. We had a couple of black silk burnout velvet scarves but went looking and found another silk scarf and 2 large polyester velvet ones.

As I was laying out the various possible parts, and sketching some options, I realized that the scarves were large enough that we could just skip the whole plan of fussing with the beaded stuff and use the scarves as the upper body of the dress. The 2 polyester scarves were quite large and rectangular and had designs that were already very 20’s while the new silk scarf was long and narrow with a great chevron pattern and beading that coordinated with some beaded trim in the stash. I had seen a few period dresses that used a faux scarf detail as the low “waist” so that seemed like a good way to transition to a skirt and complete the dress.

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It seemed like a good design concept, but I was concerned about how well it would work out in practice and I wanted to be sure that the fit would be right. Rather than making a muslin prototype, I figured that we had 2 of the big scarves and a pair of possible skirts so I might as well go ahead and make a second dress.

The first step was basic math. I measured the scarf in both directions and then myself, both around the widest section and then down the front to get the dropped waist length. The scarf was quite a bit longer than needed for the top so a section was taken out of the middle, leaving 2 pieces the right length. (and handily with finished hems on 3 sides) I calculated the size for a pair of fabric inserts for the sides. They were a bit narrower at the top, and slightly curved there since that was the bottom of the arm-holes. The thin black crepe that was used for the inserts also made up the bottom of the sleeves. The sleeve tops were done using the left-over section of the scarf. The split-top style really appealed to me since it gives a sense of being sleeveless without actually exposing the upper-arms and is still period accurate.

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For the bottom of the dress, I used a pleated black satin skirt. It was small, but I only needed the bottom 1′ or so and there was enough flair to it that it fit just fine. It had some nice button details on the waist band so that was removed and used as the front panel of the transition section. The back was cut from some black satin we had in the stash.

The donor scarf was dark pink/purple as well as black and we had some beaded trim that matched so a line of it was added between the bottom of the scarf and the top of the transition section.

The neckline had to be hand-finished with a rolled hem but I cheated on the inside of the sleeves and did those with the machine.

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The whole thing came together really quickly and mostly had simple straight seams. Making the trial version helped out since this one came out a bit bigger than needed as well as too short for me. I also found the beaded trim more of hassle than expected but figured out how to work with it by doing this one. It didn’t help that the trim was on a bright pink ribbon so any spots where it wasn’t perfectly caught are super obvious.

The biggest issue is that the burnout velvet is partially see-through. I’m wearing a sports-bra in the pictures, which is an option, but any black or colour coordinating slip, tank or camisole worn underneath will work.

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The last of the Key racks was were I had the most fun. IMG_6129 The back is the centre part of the panel and a chunk of the original sticker was still on it. While it was no where near intact, it is still partially readable and has a great look. I wanted to keep that but doing so limited where hooks could be placed. I fiddled a bit with using the key hooks but then remembered that I had a few antique brass gears around. These ones hadn’t been used for other things because they all still have their central pivots solidly attached. That made them perfect for my needs and I was able to embed them into the wood backing. Almost all were bent, at the tips of their pivots, or in one case, it was tilted strongly upwards, so they will still work as hooks. The spacing even worked out well enough that the remains of the label show well through the open parts of the gears! While I’m pleased that it turned out to still be a functional key holder, the finished piece has such a great Steampunk vibe to it that I think it is likely to get hung up as pure decoration.

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For the second of the my Key hooks, I wanted to use IMG_6137 some of the longer flat silver ones. I love how their shape is closer to the antique keys and is vaguely reminiscent of a spine. The problem was that, unlike the solid brass keys, many of them will break instead of bending to the curve for a hook. It was a bit frustrating, trying to figure out which ones had the right type of metal composition and shape, that would allow them to be bent (some were too hard for me to handle with the tools on hand) without snapping. I had to make things even more difficult by only wanting ones with specific looks too. Eventually, I was able to get a trio that I liked done. For the accent, it’s simply a large enamelled clock face. This one was a bit too big for jewellery but was in such good shape I didn’t want to use as a background for a collage either. This was a good way to let it shine.

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A while ago we found a large group of keys. IMG_6130 My primary area of interest was the antique skeleton keys but the lot also included quite a number of more modern ones as well. (and by “modern” I mean from this century) The later keys just aren’t a style I like for jewellery, so aside from the “Key to My Heart” painting series, they hadn’t been getting used. At the same time they came in, we also found a pair of solid iron ring mandrels. Having the mandrels meant that I could shape some of the softer keys into hooks and make a group of “key” hooks. (and yes, the terrible pun was part of the appeal) I wanted to keep them small enough that they would fit in a range of spaces since most key racks are used in tight spaces. I also wanted the finished pieces to keep the vintage feel of the keys. To do that, I ended up cutting up a back panel from an antique clock that I found in the stash. It gave me three panels that were small enough to be hung anywhere but big enough that each could fit enough hooks for a usable key rack as well as some decorations. For this one, I went with a trio of brass keys and a dark brown accent piece. The flower is a fairly newish, resin piece but has a great antiqued finish and was cast from an antique sculpture so the keys end up feeling like the newest part of the whole thing.

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