Thursday, 3 December 2009

Making Jewellery Issue9

These polymer clay pendants were inspired by Donna Katos techniques in "surface Design" I combined a few of them, added my own twists and voila! They shine like stained glass - and could be just perfect for Christmas presents...

If you'd like to learn the details of how to make them, using normal polymer clay and liquid clay, they are featured in this months Making Jewellery Magazine

Mmmmmm, must put "more polymer clay" on my Christmas list...

Craft Stamper

Januarys issue of Craft Stamper is now in the shops with a lovely steampunk/altered art pocket watch project from Yours Truly. It's a little bit Mad Hatter, a little bit Rococo and all Steampunk!

Here's a little sneak preview of the main project - if you want to see more you'll just have to look in this most excellent magazine!

I have another awesome steampunk project in the magazine next year so watch out for that one too!


Well, hubby and I had a smashing few days in london, we looked at the christmas lights and drooled over the gorgeous things in the V and A. Harrods Christmas windows got our prize with a Wizard of Oz theme in eyepopping lime green and scarlet.

We went to the national gallery, (and Libertys...) Hubby also got very excited at seeing part of Babbages Difference Engine in the Science museum. They have a whole hall of steam, a positive mecca for all Steampunk afficionados. It even has Stevensons Rocket! We also went to the Hyde Park Winter wonderland and saw a magic show in the zippo circus tent ;0 all good clean family fun!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Making Jewellery Issue 8

My projects for this months Making Jewellery Magazine are a sweet origami star necklace made from christmas wrapping paper, and a special polymer clay Christmas bauble bracelet with a huge sparkly crystal and Vintaj wrapped clasp - you know how much I love my polymer clay!

The bauble project didn't photograph particularly well in the magazine - the original bracelet and my own photograph is much brighter in colour and sparkle!

I chose lovely bronze and gold steampunk colours with dark reds and purples and flashes of pale mint green - a colour combination I love!

Oh and if you missed my cover project last month with the art silver and polymer clay spacers, combined with purple and turquoise swarovski crystals, then Making Jewellery have thoughtfully provided it as this months on-line tutorial! check it out .

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Whitby Goth Weekender

It had been ten years since Lyssa and I were last at the Whitby Gothic Weekend. We used to go every year to sell our corsets and costumes . We never sold a lot as we liked making coloured corsets and the goths wanted black, black, and more black, (those were also the days before corsets became de rigeur for the gothic comunity) so we thought it might be fun to have a reunion tour and see all our old friends and visit the old haunts. We were not to be dissapointed ;0

We packed our best frocks and headed off to Thorpe Hall in Fylingthorpe - our residence for the weekend. All the b and b's in whitby had been booked long ago - and oh my but we were pleased they had been. Thorpe hall is an absolute gem of a guest house, run by Angelique and David Russell, it is a lovely tudor mansion, one of those oak pannelled, secret passageway houses you long to explore. It was more like staying with lovely friends in the country than in a posh hotel, the plumbing squeaks and the roof leaks on the stairs, (as it should in all real old manors) but the ambience and warm welcome (as well as filling breakfasts) are great.

We wandered into Whitby fashionably late, to hear the strains of a song that sounded very familiar, It took me a moment to recognise them (and the band has had a name change) but there, live on stage, were my old Goth friends from my days at Hastings art college "Children on Stun"!
A happy reunion, and some fish and chips later we wandered back to the Hall to sleep....

Next morning we had a good shop at the bazaar, and in the town, I treated myself to a t shirt with Daleks on ;) then hung out with the steampunk contingent at Bothams tea shop. Everyone looked splendid, wearing their best adventuring outfits and an aweful lot of tea and cake was consumed... we also bumped into our friend and costume diva Olivia aka "the wicked lady", it was so lovely to see her again, exquisitely dressed as always.

Then we grabbed a carpet picnic from a little deli and headed back.

For the evening we decided to dress in Highwaywoman garb, squeezing on the 18th century corsets and donning teeny tricornes, before going to the spa to dance the night away, once more meeting lots of friends.

On Sunday we had tea and cake in Sanders Yard with the amazing artist and sculptor Dr A and his lovely wife Briony, who I hadn't seen for years. His new steampunk range of characters The Mechtorians are absolutely gorgeous, and he presented me with DJ Gramo (a gorgeous little wind up gramaphone figurine.) We spent ages talking modelmaking and steampunk and faeries while Lyssa got comandeered by a cat and the baby blew bubbles...

We visited The Magpie for fish and chips , well, they are a Whitby institution and then Sunday night we stayed in, having the whole Hall to ourselves...

After running about pretending to be characters from Scooby Doo,tapping the pannelling looking for hidden doors, we took our duvets down to the lounge and watched The Talented Mr Ripley with a bottle of wine and chocolate biscuits (not a usual combination but we'd eaten all the cheese...)

Monday we headed into Whitby once more for cake - this time at Marie Antoinettes. There were still plenty of goths around, making the most of the sunshine. We also saw a few of the steampunk society, also heading for cake. There are so many special goth shops now, in some ways it's very different from 10 years ago, but the original happy spirit of the whitby goth weekend is still there, along with many smiling familiar faces.

Sadly Lyssa is still waiting for Dracula to descend from the Grande Turk....

Thursday, 29 October 2009


I just couldn't resist...

Although he has cogs for eyes, my steampunk pumpkin seems quite a cheery chappie...

He's got a top hat on too though you can't really see it!
And now I have lots of nice pumpkin flesh to make muffins!

MCM london Expo

Another mad and fun weekend steampunking, this time at the manga comic and movie Expo in london.

The Victorian Steampunk Society were invited to exhibit and lecture, so a small band turned out in full gorgeousness to talk about tea and tiffin (and spaceships and rayguns...)

Herr Doktor brought some of his marvelous rayguns, Kit Cox drew portraits and exhibited art. Lady elsie and Major tinker had some great costumes, while Peter Harrow set up his portable gentlemans study. I brought my steampunk jewellery bling and assorted flyers. We even kidnapped graphic novel legend Brian Talbot and forced him to sign his new steampunk book " Grandville" for us...

A very good time was had by all and we managed to entertain and inform the masses about the wonders of steam!

I narrowly escaped from Zombie Disney Princesses and hugged a Dalek (much to my husbands horror), and I even sold some steampunk jewelry to charming Warehouse 13 star Allison Scagliotti

Lady Elsie and I did a double act on steampunk costume in the little theatre too - which was great fun.

There were some awesome costumes, from pretty gothic lollitas to giant furries, lots of aliens, predators and stormtroopers too. Oh and a Doctor Who!

In fact I think there were more people dressed up than not at the Expo. It had a big manga following which was nice, lots of cosplay folk who really really loved the dressing up angle on steampunk!

How to put a busk in a corset

This is something that confuses a lot of costume makers wanting to have a go at corsetry for the first time.

Whether you're a Goth, just getting into Steampunk or a hardcore historical re-enactor or just love live roleplay, a corset is a useful thing to own, and if you've made it yourself-even better! There are loads of good patterns out there, truly victorian, reconstructing history, past patterns, mantua maker and laughing moon all publish corsetry patterns from an assortment of eras... but don't forget to make a mock up version first - you can't ever expect a bought pattern to just fit perfectly!

Anyway, to accompany my articles for Your wardrobe Unlocked and Foundations Revealed on corset and bustle making, I thought it might be useful to go over the basics ;0 One of my articles is about re-creating the corset shown on the left, moddelled beautifully by Rhona. It's a factory made corset from 1898 (ish) created by a company called Charles Bayer Corsets ltd. It's a gorgeous pattern with a very pretty engraved busk.

step 1 lay out yourfront pattern pieces with the right sides upward, place the busk the right way round on top of these pieces, with the double hook at the bottom and the studs facing up. Separate the busk and put the side with studs and it's corresponding fabric panel to one side....Cut a facing the width of one side of your busk plus 2cm seam allowance, it should be as tall as your corset center front.

step2 place the busk on the pattern piece and mark in the seam allowance, either side of the loops.

step 3 pin the facing, right sides together along the center front edge and mark with pins the gaps for the busk loops. sew along this seam, stopping and starting at each gap, leaving an opening for the busk to poke through. Stitch backwards to secure the thread at the beginning and end of each little section...

step 4 iron the seam open

step5 iron seam closed, folding the seam allowance inside.
Insert the loop side of the busk through the holes, iron the raw facing edge in to neaten.

step 6 with a zipper foot sew very closely all the way round the busk to hold it in place.

step7 cut another facing for the stud side of the busk. place it right sides together with the front fabric piece and sew all the way down the seam.

step 8 iron the seam open and then closed as before.

step9 place the two piece together as they will be when completed and mark where the busk loops cross over.

step10 using a small awl make holes in the fabric by separating the fibres (don't cut holes or the fabric will tear) just gently tease apart - use a knitting needle
too if necessary.

step 11 insert the studs from behind one at a time. If you try to make all the holes in one go, the first will close up by the time you get to the last.

step 12 sew closely round the busk as before....

Monday, 12 October 2009

My sister is the usual recipe sharerer in the family but I made some pumpkin pie muffins this weekend that were just soooooo delicious I felt I should share them with you.

They were so good I even had to eat one off my best china... The frosting was hubbys idea as I had a pot in the fridge left over from the cupcake styling on the burlesque photo shoot. I wouldn't dream of buying this type of icing normally - but oh boy!!!

I don't know what sparked my mad muffin desire - perhaps these gorgeous polymer clay cupcakes I've been seeing everywhere.. these polymer clay miniatures are from Christal Jensen and are absolutely gorgeous! She has a dvd you can buy too on how to create them ;)

But as I haven't got round to making polymer clay ones yet, and there just happened to be some pumpkin in the freezer I was defrosting.....

Anyway here's the recipie..

1 and a half pints pumpkin puree (mine was frozen in junks -I just defrosted in microwave, cooked for a minute in microwave, drained off the water and whizzed through the blender...)
1 tablespoon black treacle (mollasses) mmmmm
8 oz soft brown sugar
4 fluid oz melted butter
2 eggs
7 fluid oz milk

Mix that all together in the food processor or by hand till nice and blended - don't overdo it though.

10 oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 oz rougly chopped pecans
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinamon
1 tsp mixed spice

To finish - a bit of cinnamon sugar (optional)
Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting

Sift and mix all the dried things in a separate bowl thoroughly. then add the wet mixture and mix roughly - just blend the ingredients, don't go wild and over beat it.

Spoon into 12 large muffin cases, sprinkle a little cinamon sugar on the top and bake in a gas mark 6 (200 C) oven for 20 -25 mins

Either eat warm as they are or let cool and then swirl frosting on the top....

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Making Things

I pulled a weird muscle in my chest this week and couldn't move much, so I've been mainly writing magazine articles and experimenting with jewellery techniques. I've also had a bit of an
etsy frenzy and put a lot of new things in the shop.

Then I saw the state of the dining table and decided I really ought to have a tidy up. Whenever I'm on an artistic roll I just can't bear to put things away -one random thing will often spark up another idea, However I can never find the tool or stamp I need, as it's usually being sat on by the cat or bunny....

I tend to do most jewellery and polymer clay at home, keeping the Nottingham studio free for the big frocks and teaching, it means I can easily fit chores in around baking polyclay in the oven or waiting for glue to dry. I can also have a browse on t'internet for inspiration...

Speaking of which these are my attempts on some of Christy Friesons peppermint twist beads - I love her work so much but her swirls and things never look like octopuses, sigh... perhaps it was the blue colour...mine have come out just a little bit too like cthulu...

I had a go at some Halloween candy canes too with a steampunk edge - these are now available in my shop and I'll do a tutorial too, I used Donna Kato's candy stripe technique as a base then got a bit carried away with cogs and gears and rust. I know candy canes are christmassy too but I just felt like doing some purple and orange ones...Candy canes are such fun but I can't say I like the taste particularly, I'm more of a chocolate girl. Polymer clay ones are much better;)

I used a bit of iridescent powder and some liquid clay as glaze to make them really shine at the top swirl. The steampunky bits were dusted with metal powder and then grunged with acrylics. Then I popped them back in the oven to set.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Regency Ball Bath 2009

Yes, it was that time of year again when we decended upon Bath in all our Regency glory! The Regency Ball is held every year as the final event of the week long Jane Austen Festival in Bath

This year we managed to bring even more of our friends, taking up at least 3 tables at dinner....

Notable for dinner was the delicious syllabub

Overall very good quality food (although our hungry gentlemen had to go up for "seconds" their first allocated portions being rather, dainty....)

I have to say though, the vegetarian choice was rather lame - a slice of quiche (which was also given to the meat eaters as well as their portions of fish and casserole, which seemed rather unfair.
Veggies get hungry too, and paid as much!)

There was also delicious roasted vegetables and mashed potato with butter and mustard... But no wine was included,and the bar was shockingly expensive...

However, we had all enjoyed our morning dancing lesson, trying out some new moves ready for the ball, so when the dancing was announced we raced to make up our sets!

Nothing can quite describe or photograph the magic of dancing in full costume with 400 others in the Bath Assembly rooms to live period music. It is absolutely wonderful!

Our only regrets were that the hours raced by and before we felt we had truly started to get into our roles as regency bucks and elegant ladies, the evening was over! There were some lovely gowns and uniforms worn, but our party was very splendid indeed! all the hard work of bonnet and dress making definitely paid off! And there was much interest in my Regency costume and bonnet workshops...

The Fops and Dandys collapsed exhausted as the carriages rolled up to the door and we returned to our assorted hotels and hostelries...

Can't wait to do it all again next year ;)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Burlesque Photo Shoot

My manic week continued with a brilliant photoshoot, organised and styled by me, pictures by the very talented Julian Andrew Holtom and make up by Sali MsMoo...

It went really well, Rhona and Helen, were keen to add more unusual pictures to their modeling portfolios, and got into all the mad parts I asked them to play - from Cupcake Fairies to Pirate Queens...

Whilst Vicky and Lyssa got some great publicity pictures for their new act. They are soon to be performing as "The Double Entendres" with a high kicking, corset wearing, dance act! I can't wait!

They all loved my mini top hats and I think they are modeled perfectly, with apropriate poise and jauntyness....

Julian is available as photographer (and me as stylist) for photoshoots - both commercial and personal - just email for more details.

There are loads more pictures on his flikr site too - It was such a fun shoot to do, everyone was wonderful and had a really great time!

My First Cover Project!

I'm very excited as today sees my first magazine project to make a full cover! Making Jewellery Issue 7.

It's a very fabulous 5 strand victorian necklace with swarovski crystals and pearls. The article shows you how to make the gorgeous spacers from silver metal and polymer clays. Obviously there is a little steampunkiness in there - the pattern I emboss on the turquoise clay is teeny cogs and gears, subtle but steamy!

I've also got another article in that issue, a write up of the fabulous Helen Cox's Polymer Clay Play Days I wrote about earlier in the year. The dates for 2010 are already up on the website and places are selling fast!

As if that wasn't all enough! In a fabulous double whammy, the first article I've written for "Craft Stamper" is also out now.
You can just see the pendants on the top left hand corner of the front cover. Two front covers! As you can tell, I am inordinately excited about this...

There's more pretty steampunk in this project too, the polymer clay is stamped with cogs and overlaid with delicious rose millfiori (from the lovely Marcia) theres some on line content too for tags and cards made with corset stamps and stuff.... I'm going to do more articles for Craft St
amper too - the editor Katy is just so lovely!

These pendants are also going on sale soon in my Etsy shop soon, so do mark it as a favourite in your etsy list!

Historic costume tour of Great Britain

Had a lovely day today at Greenwich Fan Museum. I gave a brief talk about my work to the American ladies on the Historic Costumes tour, organised by the lovely Jennie of Sense and Sensibility Regency Patterns. My friend Cathy Hay of "Your Wardrobe Unlocked" had also met up with them a few days previously, (do have a look at her Oak Leaf dress in the Natuional Trust "treasures" competition.....)

The ladies were all exquisitely dressed in their Regency finest to partake of tea and cake in The Orangery.
lots of scones and cake were enjoyed by all while oohing and ahing over the pictures of my "Big Frocks". I was also pleased to make the acquaintance of Suzi Clarke, an excellent costumer I have long admired.

The museum really is one of Londons best kept secrets. Although very small, it has a wonderful collection, it restores fans too and there is even a fan making workshop on some Saturdays! Well worth a visit if you are in the big city!

The ladies were all off to bath for the start of the Jane Austen festival - so I have no doubt we'll be meeting at the Regency Ball!