Book Review: Steampunk Style Jewelry

Linked from Amazon, sorry if the link breaks in future! Click for the original.

The next book that I looked at was Steampunk Style Jewelry by Jean Campbell. This book is much more like Steampunk Emporium , (than the previous book I looked at – The Art of Steampunk) and is geared (har har) towards making your own steampunk-style jewelry.

There are a number of interesting projects, each interspersed with a sidebar about a different aspect of steampunk culture. The sidebars include topics like the roots of steampunk and science fiction origins, steampunk music, steampunk on stage, gears, goggles, finding materials to work with, and many others. This is really interesting, though it does mean that compared to the other book, there are fewer projects, and each one has slightly less detail in the instructions.

For the projects themselves, there are bracelets, rings, necklaces, and earrings, however the different elements could be swapped between different projects as well. (For instance the dangling element of one earring could be hung as a pendant instead.)  I found the amount of instructional detail ok – if you have never picked up a pair of needle-nose pliers before, it might not be enough for you, but if you have made a few other jewelry pieces before, this book includes more than enough detail.  My only preference for the Steampunk Emporium book is that it covered techniques I haven’t tried yet (and thus the high level of detailed illustration in that book was great), where as this book doesn’t really do a lot of projects that are new to me.  (Your mileage may vary!)

Although I really enjoyed the sidebars about Steampunk culture, I wondered if a book devoted to jewelry was really the best place for these items, or at least the quantity and length of them.  I would have loved to see them in a book about Steampunk culture itself – with chapters devoted to stage, dance, costume, artwork, jewelry, animations, goggles, rayguns, etc, but the length devoted to the subjects in this book is hard – they’re too short to give anything more than a taste, and I feel ultimately that they take away from the book I was really trying to read – one on making jewelry.

There is also a brief gallery of steampunk jewelry designs near the end of the book, with some lovely and well-photographed pieces to serve as inspiration.  Some are very similar to the designs in the book (at least in terms of tools you would need, techniques to use, sources for supplies, etc) while others are far more ambitious, and likely the work of trained jewelers rather than crafters.

As with all of these kinds of “project”-based books, supplies are vital, and if you want to capture the same look as the author, getting the same supplies is important.  There is a lengthy supplier list at the back of the book, along with artist biographies and credits (with links) for the artists and performers in the culture sections.

So, what do you think?  Have you picked up Steampunk Style Jewelry?  What did you think?

Book Review: The Art of Steampunk

Linked from Chapters, sorry if the link breaks in time! Click for the original

After taking a look at Steampunk Emporium  I thought it would be interesting to see what other Steampunk books are out there. Well – there’s a lot!

One of the ones I picked up was The Art of Steampunk by Art Donovan.  This isn’t a craft book in any way; instead the book profiles a number of steampunk artists and their creations.  The book starts out with a bit of information about steampunk, what it is, and how the author curated an exhibit at the Museum of the History of Science in the UK.  The introduction is followed up with an essay on Steampunk by author G.D. Falksen.

The rest of the book is devoted to the individual artists and some of their creations.  The book is mostly focused on showcasing the art, with a brief biography on each artist.  The majority of the pieces (some functional, some simply for display) are beautiful, but with the high level of skill from the artists, the pieces are less inspirational than I was hoping for.  I think this book really seems like an extension of a book found at a gallery or museum exhibit, and less of a stand-alone book to introduce people to the art of steampunk.  With that being said, the book is certainly well-done, and the pieces selected within it are exceptional, and really show off that true artists (rather than crafters) are deeply passionate about this subculture!

Have you picked up this book?  What do you think?

Blocking flat felt

Blocking flat felt

Flat felt blocked on a head block

A little bit ago I tried out blocking flat felt from the fabric/craft store (as a more easily accessible alternative to purchasing felt capelines and hoods).  This is 100% wool felt (not the acrylic mess) and although it shaped wonderfully with the steam (you can see my little kettle in the corner) the result is far too soft to hold it’s shape.  I had read somewhere about at this point painting the inside of the felt with glue to ‘size’ it, and add the stiffness needed, but instead I blocked buckram on the same headform, and will end up simply covering the buckram with the felt.  (Since I don’t have access to the headform anymore; it’s gone back home to my millinery instructor!)  Maybe in a future post I’ll have a finished hat to share!

Cut! – The Duchess – Military inspired

Oops!  I thought that I had shared all of the costumes from the Cut! exhibit from The Duchess, but when I was looking through page two of my drafts – I found the last (I hope!) one that I had overlooked!

The military-inspired dress from The Duchess

This is the military-inspired dress from The Duchess, worn when she was campaigning for Charles James Fox.  The movie is set in England in 1774-1784, and the poster reads as follows:

Poster, click for the full version

The Duchess is based on the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duches of Devonshire.  Whiel the duchess’ beauty and charisma made her famous, her extravgant tastes and appetite for gambling and love made her infamous.  Married young to the older, distant Duke of Devonshire who was platently unfaithful, Georgiana became a fashion icon, a doting mother, a shrewd political operative, an intamite of ministers and princes and the darling of the common people.  Cosume designer Michael O’Connor described his process for creating the right look for the film:

‘Eighteenth century clothes were really quite extraordinary, but in the film the characters are speaking dialogue that needs to be paid attention to.  You can take inspiration from the past, but you have to play down large patterns and bright colours.  You don’t want the clothes to distract, though in reality they were probably extremely distracting.’

Dark blue silk chenille is used for this military-style day ensemble.  The jacket has leather trim with gold braid ‘frogging’ and brass buttons.  To show her support for the Whig party at a political rally Georgiana wore this suit lined in orange with a buff leather waistcoat since blue, buff, and orange were the colours of the Whig party.  Fox fur was used for her muff and hat to illustrate that she was campaigning for Charles James Fox.”

Sleeve cuff

Fabulous cuff detail.  There appears to be several layers of white lace at the sleeve edge, a similar fabric to the jacket/skirt body used for the cuff turn-back (the description suggests it’s leather, but it doesn’t look like leather to me…), with layers of gold braid highlighting a white bound buttonhole and large non-functional brass domed buttons.  More trim on the cuff edge as well.  The sleeve also appears to have been cut on the bias, since the welts of the chenille are on an angle.  (Bias cut sleeves also fit better and have more movement in them… though take a lot of fabric!)

Waistcoat and jacket hem

The waistcoat is in the buff leather with brass buttons, navy blue piping and blue bound buttonholes.  The jacket has a drastic cut away, with the same contrast blue fabric reverse facing, and the elaborately braid-trimmed white bound buttonholes and non-functional brass buttons as the sleeve cuff.  You can just barely see the bust dart from the jacket edge to the bust point, to shape the jacket.  There is also the top of what I’m calling the ‘garter’ – of course in 18th century England, stockings would have been held up by a ribbon tied around the leg, not by things hanging from the waist like a modern garter… but I don’t know what else to call these!  Not to mention, I have no idea what they are ‘for’ – other than to look pretty!  (Can anyone fill me in by leaving a comment?)

Jacket and waistcoat

Another shot of the waistcoat, jacket, ‘garters’ and the top of the skirt.  I didn’t really get any specific shots of the skirt, since it seemed generally unremarkable.

Another shot of the 'garter' (?)

Here’s a full-length shot of the ‘garter’.  Although it looks elaborate, it’s really a black grosgrain ribbon, with a number of brass filigree elements added on.

Close up of 'garter' (?)

I should have gotten a better photo of this – sorry!  But, here’s the ending to the ‘garter’ – with the cameo hanging from the end.  You can also just barely see some of the hand stitching holding the brass filigree elements to the black ribbon.

'garter' (?) and jacket lining

Although the garter is out of focus, this shot is mostly to show the orange lining of the suit.


A shot of the impressive wig and hat.  I really would have liked to get a better photo of this, but the display was on a stand and impressively tall, too tall to get a closer look or a better photo.  Here too is a closer view of the jabot, with a big white bow and loads of white lace (like the sleeve cuff).

Photo from the Jane Austen Film Club, click for original

And finally… a publicity photo from the movie – this one found on the Jane Austen Film Club blog, showing the costume in action.

Book review: Pattern Magic 2

Image from the publisher - sorry if the link breaks in future, click for original

In a previous post I looked at the first Pattern Magic book by Tomoko Nakamichi, and this time around I’m taking a look at the second Pattern Magic book.  Like the first, the book is terribly ambitious, and highly inspirational.  Again, it’s like origami for clothing, with some very wearable designs, and some designs that are pure fantasy (and likely best left to the pages of the book instead of being made up in full-size to wear!)

The book is organized in a similar way, and offers a half-scale bodice block to start playing (sized to fit a medium Japanese woman) and detailed illustrations how to take the pattern from the basic block to the design pattern.  Of course, there aren’t many instructions for actually constructing the garments, but I think that if you’re ready for the challenge of these drafts, you’re probably skilled enough to figure out the construction as well…

The designs themselves are grouped into three categories; playing with geometrics, decorative structures, and ‘it vanishes’.  The ambition of the designs really reminds me of a friend of mine – quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes a little TOO smart for her own good… haha

In my post about the first book, I commented on my favorite designs. This time around, I like:

Wearing a balloon – The collared version.  It’s just so clever – something that looks simple at first glance, and then when you start to look at it, it starts to unveil it’s funky secret…

Sprouting at the back – The end result looks very elvish and monk-ish at the same time. With that being said, I wonder if it would end up just looking like an unfinished hood?  This is something I’d love to see someone else make up…

Just like a stole – I’ve seen this before in 1950’s dresses I think – very cute and sweet.  I wonder though if the result is worth the extra pattern drafting and construction work?  The overall effect could be achieved with an additional piece of fabric…

A ball-shaped accordion – I’ve had this kind of thing in mind for a bag actually (or something vaguely like it), though the author shows it as a sleeve which is interesting as well.  I really like the shell-effect pulling the accordion diagonally, though I don’t know how this could be used…

Like a jungle – although it goes against my love of symmetry, I like the concept behind this design, and could see it looking very interesting if the pieces were strategically placed on the back of a dress.  I also wonder how it might work if the pieces were to lace across like a corset back?

Cowl neck & application of the cowl-neck design – I love cowl necks, but it’s not something too unique (since I’ve made up several over the years) but I love the application, turning the cowl into a vest front with lapels (this would look beautiful in a halter-neck I think…).  The straight-front Regency-style jacket is less interesting to me though.

Like the first book, you can get Pattern Magic 2 from the publisher or, if shopping in Canadian dollars, from Chapters/Indigo.

On my wish list is Pattern Magic for Stretch Fabrics, which hasn’t been published/distributed yet by the looks of things, but is available for pre-order from Chapters/Indigo for May 2012…  I’m fascinated by the idea of all of the structure from the designs in the first two books interpreted in knits!