Dieselpunk Siri telephone costume Birmingham Paige Smith g1

BUILD: The “Siri” Mohawk Headpiece

The Mohawk Headpiece for the 'Siri' costume was a huge learning curve. While happy with the result, the journey was fraught with errors that demanded serious improvisation.

The Mohawk Headpiece for the ‘Siri’ costume was a huge learning curve. While happy with the result, the journey was fraught with errors that demanded serious improvisation.

I learned SO MUCH from my mistakes during the “Siri” build.  It was an ambitious project and my lack of crafting skills and aversion to measurement REALLY made themselves known along the way. But…I also discovered that improvisation, desperation and flexibility of vision can fill in many of those gaps.

These progress pics for the Siri costume’s headpiece really emphasize my lack of real crafting skills. Hopefully, they also highlight how flaws and mistakes can be hidden along the way; being willing to change and alter your design mid-stream is vital when you’re a mistake-maker like me.  There’s a LOT of re-purposing going on in this costume, many learn-as-you-go mistakes, and some poor planning errors, too.  Just the same, I’m happy with the end result.

Since no one is probably interested in duplicating this costume, rather than presenting it as a “how to”, the following images are intended to illustrate what kind of materials can be used for a project like this.  They may also illustrate a fair number of “what NOT to dos”.

All thumbs,

Paige

The phone/light cords were the perfect disguise to hide my measurement mistakes and provide support for the mohawk quills. AND it fit into the whole theme - so disaster averted!

The phone/light cords were the perfect disguise to hide my measurement mistakes and provide support for the mohawk quills. AND it fit into the whole theme – so disaster averted!

Why even send this card? Clearly your thirsty recipient would rather just have a damn bottle. Cheap ass.

Bizarre Vintage “Happy New Year” Postcards

As a collector of vintage St. Patrick’s Day postcards, I’m continually surprised by what passed as festive good wishes ‘back-in-the-day’.  Weird images and scenarios abound in the aged greetings of yore.

With the new year on approach, here are some vintage “HAPPY NEW YEAR” postcard images with questionable (to our modern eye) messages. Seriously, WTF.

The Danish know how to party like it's 1883. "Quick! Grab sausage, booze and pretzels! And skis!" This is all kinds of crazy.

The Danish know how to party like it’s 1883. “Quick! Grab sausage, booze and pretzels! And skis!” This is all kinds of crazy.

Nothing says "Happy New Year" like gettin' boozy with the baby.

Nothing says “Happy New Year” like gettin’ boozy with the baby.

Charging into the new year on the back of a beetle. Because ...bugs?

Charging into the new year on the back of a beetle. Because …bugs?

Who wants to start the new year with a rain of champagne dropped from a zepplin by scary clown-apes. And cheap champagne, cause that bottle's HUGE.

Who wants to start the new year with a rain of champagne dropped from a zepplin by scary clown-apes. NOTE: cheap champagne, cause that bottle’s HUGE.

Raise your glass if you are five.  WTH.  Maybe baby-sitters were a 20th century thing.

Raise your glass if you are five.
WTH.
Maybe baby-sitters were a 20th century thing.

The gal isn't having a happy new year. She's four glasses in a giving a 'piss off' toast to her ex.

The gal isn’t having a happy new year. She’s four glasses in… and giving a ‘piss off’ toast to her ex.

Running off the pigs of the previous year by beating them with shamrocks. Sounds legit.

Running off the pigs of the previous year by beating them with shamrocks. Sounds legit.

Your previous year is at an end. The new year dawns. Prepare to be disciplined.

Your previous year is at an end. The new year dawns. Prepare to be disciplined.

The message: "If you get her drunk enough..." This guy's face just screams roofie.

The real message: “If you get her drunk enough…”
This guy’s face just screams roofie.

Why even send this card? Clearly your thirsty recipient would rather just have a damn bottle. Cheap ass.

Why even send this card? Clearly your thirsty recipient would rather just have a damn bottle. Cheap ass.

Happy New Year, Clumsy McButterfingers!

Happy New Year, Clumsy McButterfingers.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and  Goose that spits money. Into a spitoon.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and Goose that spits money. Into a spitoon.

Let's see...a winged baby, a wicked scythe, an hourglass...and a box. Hmmm.. I'm thinking that time's running out and OMG!!  What's in the BOX? What's in the  BAHHH-XXxxx?

Let’s see…a winged baby, a wicked scythe, an hourglass…and a box.
Hmmm.. I’m thinking that time’s running out and OMG!! What’s in the BOX? What’s in the BAHHH-XXxxx?

Maybe this vintage gem was sent by abstainers to their more festive friends to put them off their New Year's Eve drinking plans. HOwever, according to this image, he should be most afraid of the foot odor demons the next day. The person who sends this is not your friend.

Maybe this vintage gem was sent by abstainers to put friends off their New Year’s Eve drinking plans. However, according to this postcard, the foot odor devil is the real threat. Either way, the person who sends this is not your friend.

This postcard's message seems pretty clear. "Hey 1888. Go die in a fire."

This postcard’s message seems pretty clear.
“Hey 1888. Go die in a fire.”

Maybe this was the way to kick off New Year's Day back then. But I can guarantee you that if the New Year's Day dawned with this triumphant racket today... Child services would likely be part of that family's 2014.

Maybe this was the way to kick off New Year’s Day back then.
But I can guarantee you that if the New Year’s Day dawned with this triumphant racket today… Child services would likely be part of that family’s 2014.

"Tornado Jane" exhibited with Photography by Dim Horizon Studio

Steampunk: The Exquisite Adventure | Scotsdale Public Art

Steampunk Exquisite Adventure Scotsdale AZI had the distinct pleasure of meeting curator Susin Rubin at Comic-Con International in San Diego this summer.  She found me sometime after my Steampunk panel, and was very complimentary of both my costuming work…and curious about the notion that I didn’t sew.

Susan was representing Scotsdale Public Art which was presenting a large exhibition called “Steampunk: The Exquisite Adventure” - and as such, invited my participation.  I was honored and very excited about the potential.  They were also very impressed with the talented photographers whose skilled eyes capture my projects to best advantage – and requested images of additional costuming to be framed and shown alongside one of my costumes and gear. The photography of Dim Horizon Studio was selected by SPA to accompany my static exhibit.

Together SPA and I elected to exhibit “Tornado Jane” as a strong example of re-purposing salvaged materials. Tornado Jane was constructed using storm debris from the tornado that savaged the Birmingham, Alabama area in April 2011. (NOTE: the debris was collected with permission and care at the home site of my friend Stephanie who lost everything but her life that day.)

"Tornado Jane": Constructed using debris collected in the wake of the April 2011 tornado that savaged Pleasant Grove, Alabama.

“Tornado Jane”: Constructed using debris collected in the wake of the April 2011 tornado that savaged Pleasant Grove, Alabama.

Scotsdale Public Art had a highly professional method in place to collect and curate various Steampunk-inspired work from as far away at the British Isles.  They were patient and practiced throughout the run-up and opening of the event. They even took time to text me images of my own work being assembled at the venue.

While I missed the October exhibition opening due to distance (Arizona is FAR!), I enjoyed the images and online coverage from the event, marveling at the other artists’ creations and vision. I connected with many of these artists through the only means at my disposal – social media!  Even long distance, I was in the finest company.

In December, I received a call from one of the event curators who was very dismayed to report that my particular exhibit had been tampered with and parts of it stolen. Part of the headpiece had been taken and some of the handpiece had been dismantled and stolen. They were so upset and seemed gravely concerned about my response to the incident.  They were sending me an incident report for my review and asked me for a dollar value to compensate for the loss.

Truth be told…it doesn’t have real value. I mean, it’s debris that’s been torqued, attached and turned into costume art.  I assured them that I wanted no money for the loss, but rather hoped that they would take a page from my method and look around to see what they could replace the missing parts with.  It suddenly seemed like a fun idea that the work could morph mid-exhibition into a group project – smile!

They seemed deeply embarrassed about the thievery, and I appreciate the feeling of violation the curators and host venue must feel.  But in the end, I’m glad it was my ad hoc, eccentric collection of oddments that was pilfered rather than some of the finely crafted works that are on display there.  Instead of any compensation, I asked only that the event grant their permission and blessing to me as I chose to talk about what happened publicly.  I didn’t want to portray what happened as any kind of failure on the event’s part.  They have been exquisitely careful with all the artists’ work throughout.  This unfortunate theft was just a bizarre exception in an otherwise flawless exhibition.

"Tornado Jane" exhibited with Photography by Dim Horizon Studio

“Tornado Jane” exhibited with Photography by Dim Horizon Studio

But, hey! Someone wanted part of my work badly enough to cross the ropes and do some rather involved deconstruction to get what they wanted.  That’s a STORY right there.  Who was the person who wanted these cast-off and damaged bits so badly? Why take time to disassemble it and steal parts? Why not take more? Why mine? Instead of a standard show, I now have a unique memory – a tale to tell from the show I couldn’t even attend in person.  That’s like gold, y’all. I love a good story, something to think about, a unique experience best of all. Achievement unlocked.

Tornado Jane was taken off exhibit after the incident. And that part does make me sad. I’m hoping that my friends at Scotsdale Public Art have since hit the thrift

store-junk drawer to see if they can replace the missing parts with things THEY think might look good on the costume.  I think it’s in keeping with the whole tornado theme; a community putting things back together after parts of it are damaged or lost.  I hope Tornado Jane can come back strong.  She’s tough. And she’s been through worse.

It has been – in fact – An Exquisite Adventure after all!

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PHOTOGRAPHY: “Trolloc” from Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ (#1)

20130216-_MG_4880-Edit-Edit-2385003875-OThis is the first set of images for the Trolloc costume I made for JordanCon 2012. As an uber-fan of the Robert Jordan book series ‘The Wheel of Time’, it was a project that I wanted to attempt for a while.  But it was only when a fellow fan – and master costumer – suggested a group cosplay of Trollocs for JordanCon that I really considered making a run at it.  I knew I had to make it using mostly recycled items, but bits of it would have to be made from scratch (my Kryptonite). Still, I cobbled the Trolloc together, stormed the halls of JordanCon with the group and had an amazing time wearing it.

These images include fellow fan, artist and artisan Paul Bielaczyc of Aradani Studios.  His Trolloc is really a master work. How good was it?  It was so realistic that someone seeing it called the police to the Sopes Creek park where we were doing this photo shoot, and reported that there were – and I quote – “Monsters in the park.”

The Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department arrived (along with another patrol car) in response to the call.  Once they rolled up, they confirmed that the “monsters” were in fact merely harmless, eccentric costumers making pictures in the woods. The police made their own pictures – Evidence, I think – asked us not to eat the hikers, and left with a smile.

My own costume was a serious beta version. My first attempt at a big mask sculpt (using model magic) was a bust – and this Trolloc headpiece no longer exists in its original form, as it deteriorated after a few outings.  Still, Dim Horizon Studio captured it in pictures while it didn’t look too bad. Honestly, they make everything look good.  The images hint at what could be  – a Trolloc build, done right.  It’s on my list.

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Paul Bielaczyc – Foreground

Steampunk TF costume Lyric Birmingham Paige Smith v2

PHOTOGRAPHY: Steampunk Tooth Fairy at the Lyric (#2)

Steampunk TF costume Lyric Birmingham Paige Smith v1

This is the SECOND set of images of the entire Steampunk Tooth Fairy costume and gear, captured by Dim Horizon Studio at the Lyric Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Steampunk-inspired Tooth Fairy is one dark-as-hell vision of a night-time tooth collector who doesn’t always wait for teeth to come out on their own.  She’s equipped with vintage dental tools for extraction, irrigating (and digging when necessary). If she’s feeling especially generous, she can also dispense spirits (via her “swish & rinse”) that may take the edge off her procedure.

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Dieselpunk Siri telephone costume Birmingham Paige Smith h3

PHOTOGRAPHY: Siri, A Helpful Communications Assistant (#2)

"Siri Appleton", a costume interpretation of Apple iPhone's 'Siri'

“Siri Appleton”, a costume interpretation of Apple iPhone’s ‘Siri’

This is the SECOND set of images for my costume vision of Siri (the Apple iPhone assistant), captured by Dim Horizon Studio (Atlanta) at the Historic Lyric Fine Arts Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.  The “Siri” build incorporates old telephone parts, wiring etc., zip ties, along with salvaged hardware, and cast-off clothing. She embodies the punk aspects of what a helpful communications assistant in a more Dieselpunk setting might look like.  These images do not include the (salvaged) fiber optic plug-ins that illuminate the mohawk.

The Lyric Fine Arts Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama is a grand old vaudeville theatre (1912) that has fallen on hard times over recent decades of neglect. With special permission from its conservators, we carefully navigated its interior for this photo shoot.  Peeling lead paint, shedding asbestos, exposed wiring and soft spots in flooring were only a few of the hazards that our team skirted during the shoot.  In spite of her current state of dishevelment, we were all captivated by her lovely bones and her century-old beauty. It’s official. We’re in love with this old lady.

In recent years an energetic group of dedicated saviors have been working to save and restore this architectural masterpiece — with great success. If you would like to contribute to her rescue and repair, please consider donating to the worthy effort at http://lightupthelyric.com/!

 

 

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Steampunk Tooth Fairy

PHOTOGRAPHY: Steampunk Tooth Fairy at the Lyric (#1)

Steampunk TF costume Lyric Birmingham Paige Smith s2The Steampunk-inspired Tooth Fairy is one dark-as-hell vision of a night-time tooth collector who doesn’t always wait for teeth to come out on their own.  She’s equipped with vintage dental tools for extraction, irrigating (and digging when necessary). If she’s feeling especially generous, she can also dispense spirits (via her “swish & rinse”) that may take the edge off her procedure.

These are the first images of the entire Steampunk Tooth Fairy costume and gear, captured by Dim Horizon Studio at the Lyric Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.

Steampunk Tooth Fairy

Steampunk Tooth Fairy

Steampunk Tooth Fairy

Steampunk Tooth Fairy

Steampunk Tooth Fairy

Steampunk Tooth Fairy