In case you hadn’t noticed, my recent spate of costume posts was inspired by my upcoming trip to Costume College this year. I went this past weekend and it was fabulous! Also, my daughter sent her Cat-icorn (above) with me to keep me and my tiaras company.
These are totally my people– detail-obsessed lovers of gorgeous and/or hilarious outfits, willing to discuss the intricacies of fabric design or corsetry at the drop of a hat, and always appreciative of the work we all put into these things! I can’t wait to go back next year!
I did take a few photos of randomly beautiful costumes, but not nearly as many as I should have. Also, I was wearing gloves for two of the big events and it’s a lot harder to manage taking pictures with my phone that way. Next year, fewer gloves = more pictures!
Many years ago I was obsessed with this dress by Luly Yang Couture:
I thought it was fabulous, I desperately wanted it, and I went so far as to custom-paint panels of yellow chiffon with diluted fabric paint (stretched over custom canvas stretchers) to match the butterfly-wing skirt panels so I could make one myself. But I never finished it, and I never had any place to wear it anyway, so it languished in the back of my closet, stuffed into a paper grocery bag with my other unfinished projects. And now, of course, replica dresses are available online and Spoonflower is a thing (and has basically the exact design available that I’d have wanted) so I wouldn’t have to hand-paint the fabric anyway. But I still have no place to wear it…
About four years ago I dug it out to use in a Halloween costume, stitching the panels to a red crinoline and painting a black bustier top with a hasty orange/yellow/gold design to tie in the colors and be a butterfly fairy. And then it went back in the closet.
However, when it was announced that the Costume College 2018 pool party theme would be “Realm of the Goblin King” it was clear to me that it was time to revive the costume, at least to give the fabulous skirt another outing. But the bodice would have to be re-done, because my quickie paint job was looking pretty amateurish in the harsh light of day.
One problem with the glass walls of the fairy house is that they really don’t provide much purchase for mounting things like curtains, shelves, or other things. Not only that, but anything you do use to mount stuff will show through the glass from the outside, which is never pretty. To combat this (and to fill in some of the bareness of the walls), I decided to add a tree to the inside. The branches “grow” along the walls and provide both cover and a place to hang things from, and the leaves make the whole thing look cozier and less stark.
The first thing I did to try to make the glass-and-metal house look more natural was to add a stone floor. Not a real stone floor, of course (though I did briefly consider trying to find some pebbles and mortar), but an amazingly realistic faux-stone floor made of a material I never would have thought of on my own… egg cartons.
Cardboard egg cartons are really perfect for this application– they’re smooth on the front, but the back side has a great texture to mimic stone, and they’re already this grayish-brownish color that works really well, particularly once coated in glue. Apparently miniature artists use egg cartons (and those cardboard coffee-cup holders that hold multiple cups at once, they have an even more textured surface) all the time to make faux stone surfaces, and I can see why!
Several months back, I was out shopping and happened upon this beautiful little glass… thing.
I couldn’t tell exactly what it was– was it a terrarium? A dome-type thing meant to go over a planter? A lantern? All I knew was that it had a roof, a window, and would make a perfect fairy house.
When I was a kid I was always making and drawing tiny fairy scenes– I would try to construct furniture out of leaves, make dishes out of acorn caps, etc. (I will say that it was a lot easier to draw things like that than to make them in real life) Once, I got inspired by a line in Hans Christian Andersen’s “Thumbelina”…
She was scarcely half as long as a thumb, and they gave her the name of “Thumbelina,” or Tiny, because she was so small. A walnut-shell, elegantly polished, served her for a cradle; her bed was formed of blue violet-leaves, with a rose-leaf for a counterpane.
… and I made my own tiny bed out of a walnut shell and some pieces of blue and pink fabric to substitute in for flower petals. It’s safe to say that I was pretty “into” the whole tiny-fairy-furniture thing.
My daughter is going to be a flower girl in my brother’s upcoming wedding– she’s extremely excited about it, of course! We decided that aside from the dress (which is huge and made of yards and yards of ivory tulle), what she really needed was a wreath of flowers for her hair. Because hey, flower girls need flowers, right?
After finishing the body of the dress, I still had to decide on the floral embellishments at the hip and shoulder. My Etsy ribbon-flower appliques did indeed arrive in time, but they were kind of boring-looking– too pale, not enough color to them. Besides which, when I pinned them to the dress they looked a little off– too fancy compared to the simple fabric.
I decided to go in a different direction, making ribbon flowers out of ombre-dyed taffeta ribbon. And because I can never take the easy route to things like this, I decided to dye my own ivory ribbon rather than buy it pre-colored.