Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Been a while, eh?

Whew, I've really fallen down on the job here. I had such plans for this blog and making changes to the house and my current financial state precludes both. . . ah well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Steampunk Home Project (Pt 1)

Recently, my significant other and I moved from an apartment into a rental home, our first HOUSE. Sick of sharing walls with aspiring musicians and drunken pugilists, we transitioned from Apartment Dwellers to House People. It feels good to hang up a picture at midnight and not wonder if your bothering someone, or repot a plant on your porch and know that dirt isn't falling all over the elderly tenant below.

It was the perfect time for a new fascination. I'd fallen into a funk creatively, sure that I was a failure at anything I'd try and so barely bothered trying anything. Getting interested in the design motif Steampunk and all its subcultural gewgaws was a welcome distraction, and to celebrate my newfound positivism I decided I'd change the predominantly goth/neo-victorian scheme of my home into a steampunk one. I've only been in the house three weeks, but some projects on the Brassgoggles forum and The Steampunk Home blog inspired me. So here is the first of many to come.

The Curtain

Within hours of being in the new house, my darling and possibly overstrong Significant Other managed to break the flimsy bathroom door. Aha! I thought. An opportunity for creativity!

Even though we are still walking around boxes and the project room is nowhere near organized, I felt like I needed to work on something just as a break from opening cartons and setting things on things.

I purchased about three yards of canvas-colored duck cloth, embroidery floss in coppery-brown and antique gold colors and anorak snaps (as they were the closest approximation to rivets I could get). Over the course of a week, I transformed them into this curtain. It's not much to look at now, but I'm thinking of painting it a bit to break up the plainness of the color.

All the gears on the curtain are embroidered, there's no paint or dye used anywhere.

Here's a photo of the embroidery on the brown cogs. I chose the color because it was evocative of copper, which I realize now kind of doesn't make sense because copper isn't a metal you'd use for a gear, it's too soft. But I still like how it turned out as such a stark contrast to the pale cloth. I chose the canvas because the weave is very rough and besides resembling sailcloth, I thought it would be easier when it came to the needlepoint part.

I nearly broke out the protractor and graph paper to ensure that it was perfectly symmetrical before realizing I had no idea where those things were, and if I even still had one. You can see that the cog's teeth don't fit together quite right on the smaller one, but on all the other gears on the curtain they do or I cheated to make them fit.

This is a detail of the large 'brass' gearwheel in the center of the curtain. You can see the pencil marks I made when I was sketching on the canvas, a mistake I learned from when I started my matching curtains. I'm terrified to wash this as of yet, mostly because we don't have a really good place for it to hang dry. I covered a chair with a contractor bag and laid the curtain over it, which worked pretty well but wasn't high enough to keep the ends off the floor.

The stitches follow a pattern of 6 large, 6 small. Sometimes it was hard to replicate the curve of the wheel but overall they are nice and even. I hadn't done embroidery since I was about 8 so this was all a learning experience for me!

This is a detail of the curtain rings that I used. They were of antiqued brass and again, another Joann's find. They're basically little alligator clips wired to rings, and I bought some extra to use in costuming for belts, holsters, et cetera.

You can also see my zigzag stitches. I only started sewing on a machine about four years ago and just took a class on how to use one last September. One of the best things the instructor taught me was to iron your seams, which was news to me. I learned a lot in that class actually. I've always made things or modded them but I usually get bored and stop halfway through because I either don't know how to finish or I'm impatient to be done. There is a massive hoard of partially finished sewing and art projects that I haven't yet sorted through.

This project was as much about finishing something as making a decorative curtain. It was fairly simple, and I had the added reward of having a closed door when I use the bathroom! That's a grand motivator right there, I can say.

The next project is curtains for the bedroom window. I have a matching curtain rod and package of rings, leftover duck cloth and plenty of embroidery floss. The next finished project shall be posted soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Welts I have Had

In May, some friends convinced me to try paintball for the first time.

I'd never done it before, but I am pretty good at FPS games and no stranger to running around in the woods or physical activity. For most of the people in our little group, it would be the first time as well. Only two had done before, including my significant other Fictition.

I was pretty good at rolling around in the dirt and hiding and shooting while running, but it turned out the best thing I was good at was developing enormous ugly bruises in all the places I was hit. Unforunately, we were playing on the same field with 3 greasy teenagers whose every weekend was spent paintballing, practicing, or futzing with their expensive equipment in some way. I could make an easy double-entendre here about all the ball-handling and ball-play that goes on in their lives, and I just did.

They had the 'pro' coveralls, helmets, and multiple refill- pods strapped to their backs. They were also incredibly sore losers when the ref called one of them out, arguing trifles and sulking. They were about 15-16, and possessed of a level of melodrama that would have put the 8th graders I once taught to shame. When one was called out he came and sat next to myself and a mother, put his head in his hands and looked crushed. When the mother complimented him with 'You guys are really doing good!,' he stoically looked at her and could barely utter a throaty response. 'No we aren't. We should be better than this.' As if Kane or Master Splinter were about to walk out of the scree at the edge of the course and demand an explanation for their bitter, bitter failure. I could imagine him later on that night lighting an incense stick so that his mighty warrior ancestors would not weep in the afterlife at his failure. What lame-o's.

Anyhoo, here are some of the bruises I got from my paintball encounter.

Mmm, purply goodness!

The first here was shot from 'illegal distance.' Basically, when you are 10 feet or less from someone you're supposed to shout 'bangbang' to prevent them receiving any actual damage. I was playing in a long sleeve shirt and I was probably about 11 feet away, but I still got a nasty welt. That hurt like a mad bastard for a few days. I had a deep tissue ache, the kind you get from lifting your max weight as the muscles have tiny tears, and the bruise wrapped all the way around my arm!

If you look closely you can see another welt on my collarbone, on the right side. Getting shot stung and was definitely unpleasant, but it only hurt for a little while. It was actually better than getting a shot with a needle, because with no anticipation you couldn't get nervous and apprehensive. All the adrenaline roaring through the bloodstream helped temper the feeling, too.

That chicken wing needs a little more sauce!

Here's one on my thigh. I had ten in all, but I'm only posting a few so you get the gist of it. I'm short, so that's why my leg looks funny and stumpy. I also don't tan or go outside in the sun much, if you can't already tell. There were more on my calves and one on my ankle.

Ooooo, my underwear on the web at long last!

The worst one was on my back. The ref took a look at it and then checked everyone's guns, to make sure the pressure wasn't turned up too high. I didn't even know I had it until someone pointed it out after I took off my long sleeved shirt; the welt on my arm hurt far more. I think this was when the 'ballboys' turned a corner, spotted me, and covered my side with shots. I looked like I'd lain on my side in orange paint. Their raging, hormone-addled brains were probably confused by the fact that I was female and knew how to roadie-run and combat-crawl, and took out their repressed hatred for all the females who wouldn't respond to their sweaty advances with extended squeezes of the trigger finger. If you look on the left, you can see another smaller welt, AND my self-designed tattoo. I'm a scorpio, in case you were wondering. Looks like I need a touch-up.

Overall I enjoyed paintball. I had a great time, got a great workout and had wonderful fun with my friends. Paintball done correctly (safely, with safety equipment and isn't a bunch of idiots in tanktops and sunglasses running around in the woods) is one of the safest sports according to studies done by insurance companies, reporting the least amount of serious injuries. I think in the proper situation anyone can enjoy it, not just young or active people.

Getting the Intro out of the way

Now that I have a better idea of what I want this blog to be about, I decided to do an extended intro so that you'll know what it's all about, too.

Hello, my name's Jen, and I am an atheist and an epicurean. This does not make me a hedonist; Epicurus counseled self-restraint and moderation as much as the pursuit of pleasure. Of course these aspects of my personality are only a small part, which jostle for place with the introvertive and autodidactive aspccts. But we were talking about hedonism, and why that title doesn't apply to me.

Drinking to excess is certainly fun if done right, and I fully endorse it as an occasional pastime, but making it a fulltime or constant pursuit will only prove detrimental to other pursuits. Healthwise, and in the financial sense, booze (good booze) is a drain on the wallet. And liver.

No, I enjoy experimenting with cooking, fine art, music, crafts, exercise (I lift weights and strength train, will be starting Russian kettlebell training soon) homebrew (I brew my own beer), clothing, decorating, DIY projects. . . really anything that crosses my mind. I tried shrooms once and occasionally drink absinthe, but I don't smoke pot or do any other kinds of substance. I'd rather drink a beer or some wine or something, because at least I can sue the maker if something goes wrong. This imaginary accountability is my security blanket in an otherwise uncertain and crazy-ass world.

I'm not sure how or if I differ from the average twenty-something searching out interests and experience, except that I know that I do. I was taught from an early age by one parent to hold back, to withdraw, to mistrust new experiences, things, people. 'You might be hurt,' was how I rationalized that fear. I was taught by the other parent to move forward, to try, to engage with open arms, and that parent's outlook was 'You might have fun.'

I have spent a long, long time being afraid of being hurt, of not liking things, or of looking foolish (ironic considering some of my fashion choices!). Now I want to have fun. Lots of fun. And I want to try things and document them. Every thing I try to do will be another victory over the fear and hesitation that was instilled in me from an early age. If you care to come along. . .well. . . the more the merrier!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Hi y'all!

This is my first post to blogger. I found it through a friend's blog, and I spend most of my time on LJ. I hate myspace, although I have a profile there (just like everyone else) for social networking.

Not much to say at the moment, I'm still learning. I'll be posting off and on as I go. Otherwise you can get to know me better at