The sleeves have been beaded.
I have never been so happy to finish a beading project in all my life, and I have beaded a lot of sleeves before. I think the problem with this project was the vast quantity of beads needed in various colors, in balanced groupings. The actual sewing was mindless, but making sure I wasn’t repeating colors too often was tedious.
However, it looks very pretty now that it is done.
I am now working on the linings, the beaded cuffs and the sleeve farthingales that will help the sleeves hold their poufed shape.
While I was doing all of this, my Dad was working on assembling the mechanicals that will make the key rotate in the back. The final plan we came up with looked like this:
As you can see, the stem of the key has been shortened considerably from the original length. A metal pin/dowel has been attached to one side, and the stem attaches to the stem of the motor via a cotter key. We were trying to figure out a way to make the key easy to remove for when I wanted to sit down, but not so easy to remove that it would fall off when I was moving. I suggested a cotter key and it works great. The motor used makes the key turn at roughly 20 rpms.
The copper pieces that were going to cover the front of the box are now being used as the back, as I have decided to move the entire mechanism to the outside of the bodice, rather than trying to hide it underneath. It is very Steampunk to have visible hardware and mechanicals, and it also makes it easier for me to fit a bodice without having to adjust for it.
Consequently, I needed something to go over the top of the box to make it a bit more decorative, since I am essentially a big Clown Doll. Unfortunately I had to nix the idea of etching the copper, for several reasons. First, it is rather cold outside in MN, and having no experience in etching, I didn’t want to mess with chemicals that need ventilation and storage during this time of year. Second, I have a slight tremor in my hand and very brisk reflexes, and it seemed like that was asking for trouble in working with chemicals. Someday I will etch something, but it will be when the weather is much warmer.
I sat and brainstormed various ideas for the cover. I thought about decorative floor vent covers, tin tiles, etc. Nothing seemed to work, so I went to Home Depot and literally went up and down every aisle trying to get inspired. When I saw the decorative grates, I was sold. I found one that seemed to look a bit like gears/flowers to me, and bought the sheet. Here is what the key will look like from the outside with the grate over it:
The grate will be cut and formed around the box and secured in place with some of my Dad’s antique screws. The open end of the box will not show due to the grate cover, but it will allow for wires to come through the grate and attach to a switch that will be hanging inside my skirt. All of the metal will be painted and sealed and the key will have the copper leafing applied to it and the rivets affixed on top. The 3 points on the crown will have spinning gears on them.
The grate is also going to be used on the front stomacher panel. The gears that will actually move will be sandwiched in-between the copper and the grill, and stationary gears will be affixed to the front of the grate. The idea was to avoid having moving gears anywhere near my sleeves, skirt, etc. There also needed to be a change in motor, as the motor we were using was moving things at 50 rpms and that was pretty fast.
The front panel and the back box will be attached to each other via copper strapping on the sides that will be molded to fit around my corset. I am also planning on having strapping going over my shoulders, and under the supportasse.
Speaking of the supportasse, I had an idea the other day about how to do it and immediately ran to Home Depot. I bought 1/4 OD soft copper tubing for plumbing that looks like this:
I initially thought of just bending it into position, but then it occurred to me that I could use 90 degree corner pieces and tees to put it together, and that that might look pretty cool. I wasn’t able to find any copper pieces (although my fabulous plumber Angie is looking for me) but I did find some brass compression pieces and they look pretty neat with the copper tubing. I am going to build the supportasse on the neckline of the bodice, and then attach the ruff via wire to the supportasse so it is supporting the weight of the beads.
While on Pinterest looking at photos of supportasses, I found this one:
Their supportasse was based on an extant example and was recreated for a specific garment. If you click through to the website, you can see a photo tutorial of the process used to make the supportasse. It is amazingly helpful to visually see how it was made, and they even have photos of the jigs they made to shape the designs.
I was inspired by their used of decorative wire pieces and decided that mine would have some as well. I am planning on having a big top tent be on either side of the main support in the back, and then a simple circus animal of some sort on either side of that. They will be attached at the top and bottom of the supportasse via thin copper wire, and will be made from heavier copper wire. I am tempted to do them in brass or silver so they show up better. We’ll see what I decide when I get there.
I am excited to be in the home stretch here, as I can finally start to assemble things now that the big hand-stuff is mostly done. The plan to make a specific corset for underneath the outfit was cancelled as the one I have fits well, is made of steel, and I am running out of time. Maybe someday I will make one that coordinates.
Hopefully there will be more frequent updates over the next several weeks as things progress. I will try to take photos of the process and post them here.