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!

1 comment:

Sara said...

Lovely! I love the fact that your gears are actually interlocking.