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Ideas

09/29/2007
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I like to dream. To that end I have notebooks and binders and word documents of ideas which pile up to rival the Tower of Babel (and make just about as much sense, take that as you will), have folders and drawers of unused patterns, have stashes which overflow on a regular basis, have inspiring newspaper and magazine clippings and bookmarks and images saved off the internet galore. One look through my notebooks and bookshelves and you’d realize I dream far more than I actually accomplish anything. That’s okay. By the time I get around to making a large project, so much reflection and imagination has gone into it that I can distill my design goals down into succinct points, and meet them all the better.

Or so I tell myself.

If you chanced to browse among the effluence of my creative reverie, you’d find a notebook that contained a stack of ideas scrawled across a hand-drawn (then scanned, then printed many times) fashion croquis. I sketched up this particular design sheet from a figure drawing book, choosing and slightly modifying the figures on the page to resemble my figure in the flesh. I could have drawn them from scratch, I suppose –my reliance on the figure drawing book was rather heavy for these- but then they never would have been done as I never finish my own artwork. It’s an unwritten law of TalaLife. Today I’m posting the scan for your own usage, if by chance you look somewhat like me: click through this picture to the high res image, right click and save, print off a stack and go nuts.

Blank
Blank

If you use it and feel an urge, show me what you’ve designed. I might even blog them!

Today I’m also going to show you a couple of my design ideas. I may try to make a semiregular feature with this (and by “semiregular” I mean “whenever I feel inspired, a la the Wide World of Crafting posts”). Sometimes I get a specific idea of something I want or a feature I want to integrate into a design, usually drawn from things I see in my day-to-day life. Sometimes, for the hell of it, I sit myself down and give myself a theme (it could be as simple as “Cold Weather” or “Functional Steampunk” or as complicated as “What would the ancient Greek goddesses be wearing if they were walking around amongst the common people today all incognito-like?” or “Okay, so I’m writing this fantasy story: what do people wear in my fantasy world and why?”). It’s oddly liberating to play with outfits and designs without having to worry about getting all the anatomy right from scratch.

Whether the designs I’m about to show you are “just idle dreaming” or “stuff to make”, I’ve yet to decide. See, they have to do with a subject near and dear to my heart: Halloween. The leaves are beginning to turn – it’s still generally warm and green enough by day for me to keep the heat-worshipping, summer-craving reptilian part of myself contented, but there are patches of bright yellow or brilliant orange hiding in the greenery, whispering of fall. The nights have gone hauntingly chill irregardless of the heat of the daylight hours and about once a week what Weather Gods may be toss a bring-your-coat day into the shuffle. These tell-tale signs speak to me of costumes and candy and the joy of the freaky, creepy, kitschy and dark.

I, who adore costumrey and will dress up as outlandishly as possible with the slightest-to-no provocation, have two ideas floating about in my head this year. The first is a rather fantastical portrayal of Hellcat Maggie:

Hellcat Maggie
Hellcat Maggie

To quote Henry Asbury in Gangs of New York, “The Dead Rabbits, during the early [eighteen] forties, commanded the allegiance of the most noted of the female battlers, an angular vixen known as Hell-Cat Maggie, who fought alongside the gang chieftains in many of the great battles with the Bowery gangs. She is said to have filed her front teeth to points, while on her fingers she wore long artificial nails, constructed of brass. When Hell-Cat Maggie screeched her battle cry and rushed biting and clawing into the midst of a mass of opposing gangsters, even the most stout-hearted blanched and fled.”

Even with my shallow knowledge of the history of fashion I know this particular idea screams “anachronism” to make any actual fashion historian queasy. In my defense, Hellcat Maggie is such a historically shady figure herself that I see no issue with spreading her notoriety over various decades for the sake of Halloween. Besides, it’s hard to brawl in the big huge skirts and puff-sleeves of the mid 1800s, and I highly doubt a “Bowery vixen” (more Asbury- the sensationalistic reporter names Hell-Cat Maggie a “Bowery vixen” in the index of the book, which makes you wonder just how exaggerated the actual text is) would care much for looking like a proper lady. Legendary Bowery peer Gallus Mag held her skirts up with suspenders, after all, which is not exactly emblematic of the era’s sensibilities.

The hat (which is most certainly the wrong era, by about a century) is derived from this, which is available for $42 I don’t have at Davenportandco.com. I would pick up a set of fangs and make the claws out of paper and bronze spray-paint (after all, they’d only need to look good for a night), and thus turn myself into a “virtuoso of mayhem”, which seems quite fitting. The skirts are inspired by those available here and here from Australia’s Gallery Serpentine.

The second idea is quite similar to the first in its Victoriana leanings, though its fantasy basis means I don’t have to make apologies to the stitch-counters: a steampunk automaton. I’d want a sort of doll-look (hence the Lolita-like skirt, though I’ve since sketched out a more proper Victorian skirt on the third figure), and would paint my face and exposed skin in such a way as to mimic machined joints and spirit-gum gears and such all over the place at said joints.

Automaton
Automaton

I’ve (obviously) yet to figure out a color scheme. I think I may lean towards black, burgundy and cream (with the emphasis on the latter two). I’d also try to do my hair in stiff ringlets and make a matching fascinator replete with gear work and such, though as I have no idea how to curl my hair in the first place. I still may make the fascinator, and perhaps the gloves, which would be embroidered with clockwork- I have to find a good source of a) embroider-able gloves and b) gears and such first. Suggestions anyone?

So yes, I’ve got plenty of Halloween inspiration going- how about you? What gets you into the seasonal mood, be it costumes or décor or weather or food? As much as I like the holiday, I have exactly zero plans for celebrating it, which is travesty. I’ll have to get on that.

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