The creamy/gold fabric half of the dress was a hard match. It’s a pretty subtle pattern, and not soopah shiny gold, but has just enough sheen to look regal. I was also hoping to find something that could be cut both directions to save a little on the cost. I finally found some at the discount home dec fabric place.
Then I took back some wire I’d bought at JoAnn’s that didn’t match the first gold wire I’d bought for the lacing findings, but somehow while I was there, I lost my car keys. Talk about turning this into an expensive costume if we decide to replace them. Maybe they’ll still turn up.
I have all the clover sections wrapped for those lacing pieces–16 yards of 20 gauge wire. I don’t have enough of the bead caps I was using though, so I need to get more before I can finish.
The piping on the skirt is supposed to be leather, although it doesn’t really look like it. There’s a brown-gold suede at JoAnn’s I think I can use to make it look right. And the up side of losing the keys was that I found out where they keep the cording for making your own piping.
And finally, this morning’s project: duplicating the pattern of couching/goldwork embroidery on the center front of the bodice. It’s the same way I did the pattern on Elizabeth Swann’s Pirate King coat a few years ago–blow up picture, trace, transfer. Unfortunately, I can’t find my Wacom tablet pen, so I traced crudely with a touchpad. It’ll do. I can correct curves as I go.It looks off center in spots, especially at the bottom, because the photo wasn’t perfectly centered, but my tracing is one half, properly aligned, then mirror flipped.
Completely unrelated to Ravenna…
I liked my “How I spent 2011″ summary, so at the beginning of 2012, I started a Google Doc to keep track of the year. I’ll thank myself in December. The first six months have been pretty good! So far this year, I have:
- Written 38 GeekMom posts
- Seen 16 movies*, including 11 in theaters (The Cabin In The Woods twice) and 2 in our personal backyard theater
- Played 7 board games I’d never played–but only 1 video game
- Done only 8 crafty projects, but also 2 big cakes and 9 new-to-me baking projects
- Read only 4.5 books… that’s just sad
- Been to 11 parties (not counting conference events, but totally counting kid birthday parties)
- Been to 9 conferences
- Seen 7 live shows
- Bought 1 car
- Gone on 1 big road trip
- Changed jobs
And we’ve got six months left in the year!
* This many movies is just unheard of post-children. But there are so many to see this summer!
Are these technically notions or findings? Whichever it is, I’m about a fourth of the way through making more than 200 of them.
They’re the pieces that are used for lacing up the sleeves and along the front of the bodice:
I started out using a Thing-a-ma-Jig, but I might as well be using The Force for all the good it did me. I had to hold the pegs in with one hand and wrap wire with the other, which means I’m one hand short to do this effectively. For a dozen, it would have been fine. For 216, not so much. I went to the hardware store and got a pack of nails for $1.30 and a scrap from the wood department. Hammer them in, saw off the nail heads, and voilà, a much more effective wire jig.
Eight yards of 16-gauge gold wire later, and I’ve got the clover section made for about half of them. On top of that, I’m wiring on a bead cap and a small gold bead on each one to make the complete piece. The photo at the top of this post has two finished pieces on the left with a pile of just the clover-shaped base in the middle.
When not wrapping wire, I’ve been on a fabric hunt along the east coast. Sewfisticated in the Boston area is an amazing store, and I found something that would work for the patterned sections, but I’d really like to find something I can cut in both directions to cut down on the cost a bit. Back to hunting.
“That was the most labor-intensive dress,” Atwood said of the wedding gown worn by the evil queen (Charlize Theron). “It took four people over a month to make.”
I think I’ll do it alone in five weeks. That sounds reasonable. Whenever I start looking for costumes I’d like to make, I’m always drawn to Colleen Atwood’s work. So even though I haven’t seen Snow White and the Huntsman (I hear it’s terrible), and even though I don’t have enough time, blonde hair, or any idea how to turn paper into bones, I think I’m going to launch into Ravenna’s wedding dress anyway.
I’ve been gathering reference pictures on a Pinterest board. (Hey, I finally found a productive use for Pinterest!) I always start a costume by considering what the biggest challenges will be. Once I figure out how to overcome those, I feel good about starting. For this costume, it’s:
I originally thought that the shoudler cage was a thin wood or straw sort of material connected together. It’s actually glazed parchment paper. Whereas I thought the bends were connections, they’re really just shaped into the paper.
A few nights ago, I started experimenting with card stock and the first glue I found in the house. Clearly not the final plan, but good enough to see if I could do it. It’s going to take… oh, possibly the rest of my life… but I think it’s at least possible. Here’s how it went with the card stock:
The dress pattern itself
Look at the hips here. If you look at the front of the dress, it looks like a top and a skirt. But when you get to the back, it’s clearly connected all as one dress. I’ll have to think about the best way to work that out.
I read that the pieces at the tops of each pleat/godet were found in some little corner of Italy, so I don’t think I’ll be stumbling across them in the local AC Moore. I’ll have to hunt for something similar or make them. There are only 24, so not too bad. Then there’s the little four-leafed metal findings that go up the sleeves and down the front. There are “only” 216 of them.
Making beer is a lot like making tea. Except when you’re finished making tea, you drink the tea and throw out the leaves. When you’re finished with the first step of making beer, you put the brew in a giant bucket and throw away a massive glob of wet grains.
Or do you?
It’s a shame to toss all those delicious-smelling grains that you carefully chose to make a delicious brew. Some people compost them, although some people have had bad experiences with how that turns out in the compost pile. Clearly the only sensible thing to do is eat them and all the protein and fiber goodness they have to offer. And if you haven’t tried homebrewing, this is just a bonus reason. It also means you can share your brew with your kids, since this is before the alcohol enters the picture. If you’re not ready to use them all (and how could you?!) as soon as the brew leaves the stove, you can refrigerate them for a day or two or freeze them for longer.
This weekend we got to work on making a Brooklyn Chocolate Stout clone, which I hope will be delicious in a few months. Meanwhile we’re getting a taste of the grains. First I put them into a bread. I tried two recipes. “Recipes,” I say. Bread is one of those things where I was always afraid to go off-recipe. But hey, when you’re already going crazy and throwing a pile of globby, wet beer makings in, who needs a recipe? This is also why the first loaf was a dense, brown blob. A reasonably tasty blob, but nothing I wanted to repeat. The second loaf, however, was sweet deliciousness. Here’s how it goes:
- 2.5 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup grain (run them through a food processor or spice grinder first)
- 3/8 cup sugar
- 2.25 tsp yeast (that’s one packet, regular, not fast-rise)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup(ish) water
Put it all in a stand mixer, and let your dough hook do the work. You don’t even have to bother activating the yeast first unless you need to see if it’s good. Let the dough rise for an hour to 90 minutes, then bake at 400 for about 45 minutes. If you’re actually good at this bread-making thing, feel free to punch down and knead all you want. That’s a lot of work, so I didn’t, and it was still tasty. Bread blasphemy! Basic notes so you can wing it:
- Bread wants to rise at about 78 degrees. That’s why you’re usually advised to add water around 110 degrees, since the cooler flour will bring that down. However, depending on whether you’ve just taken the grains off the stove or gotten them out of the freezer, your temperature is going to be wildly different. Use a thermometer and adjust accordingly.
- Wet dough is good dough, but too wet is just a mess. Add 3/4 cup at first, then the rest if you need to. I went a little overboard with the water and had to add some flour.
- That’s a lot of sugar, so it comes out pretty sweet. I thought it was delicious, but you’re welcome to cut that back. What type of beer you’re making will affect things too. This one has a lot of chocolate and dark grains in it, and the bread came out quite dark. (My two-year-old thought it was chocolate!) I thought the sugar was a nice complement to that, but it might not be as tasty with a hoppier brew.
Of course, you can only make so much bread. So what else is there to do with all those grains? Burgers. That’s right. Burgers. I came across this suggestion on a message board, and since I’ll try anything once, into the beef went the grains. I picked up a hunk of beef (round, to be specific), and my husband put it through the grinder with some of the grains. I didn’t get a chance to tell him to put the grains through the food processor first, and you’d never know. The meat grinder took care of that just fine. Then we added an espresso/brown sugar rub. A 3:1 ratio of espresso to sugar works great. These were among the most delicious burgers we’ve ever made.
Need some more ideas? Here are a few recipes I’m planning to try. Add your own suggestions in the comments.
Máirín Duffy asked people to write a story about this image:
Last weekend, we took the kids (ages 2 and 6) to FUDCon, and the older one spent part of Saturday writing the story of Sparks and his friend the unicorn. (Spoiler alert: They break up, and he gets a new friend in a bunny named Ruth.) Tonight I showed her Beefy Miracle and the radioactive panda, and she decided to write her next tale about them. Here’s how it went, told by her, transcribed by me. (She’s not bad with the writing, but typing takes forever. She’ll learn QWERTY eventually.)
Beefy Miracle vs. Twinkle the Panda
Twinkle the Panda liked Beefy Miracle. He had a magical power that could make people so powerful. Beefy Miracle couldn’t get the magic power because Twinkle Bear had another power that could keep the magic all the way inside to his bones. And because he’s a hot dog, and the power is only for people.
Beefy Miracle has a very rare power in his ray gun. It can shoot animals and people all the way through their bones. But they’re not dead. They’re still alive, but they have a hole where they got shot. If they get shot a lot of times, they get bigger and bigger holes, and then if it gets so big that they can’t stay alive, they die.
So one day Beefy Miracle came to Twinkle. He wanted to give Twinkle a ray gun because he had an extra one. The ray gun was blue and red, just like Beefy Miracle’s. Beefy Miracle had a powerful ray gun, but when he gave the other ray gun to Twinkle, it didn’t have any power. So Twinkle was very mad at Beefy Miracle.
Twinkle got batteries he found on the ground, and he put them in the ray gun. He shot Beefy Miracle so hard that he got so big of a hole that he died. Twinkle got some foam squares and put them on Beefy Miracle, and then he came back to life.
Beefy Miracle has mustard on his stomach. He gave Twinkle a hug and he got mustard on him. And then Beefy Miracle and Twinkle were friends again. And Beefy Miracle and Twinkle went to the park. The end.
I’ve been a fan of Nicholas Felton’s annual reports for several years. I’m not a graphic designer, much less an infographic expert, but goshdarnit, I loved those things. And I’m a big fan of me. (Because if you’re not a fan of yourself, who will be?) This year, those two fondnesses combined into this: my own, much shorter personal annual report. It was a fun way to review 2011, see what I did, and realize that I took way too few pictures. Conveniently, my new Nikon D5100 was delivered today, so I ought to be able to rectify that in 2012. It’s also amazing how much I forgot–I realized when I logged in to WordPress to post this that I completely left out any reference to the six months we spent learning how to live and cook and bake gluten-free. (Or maybe sometimes forgetfulness isn’t so bad.)
Click the image to see the larger, more readable version.