Sunday, March 24, 2013

Steampunk Hat, Part Deux

My first foray into hat-making has been an interesting creative journey. Thankfully, the second part of making my steampunk hat has been much smoother and easier. When I last left off, I had a simple red band that had taken over an hour of work to create. However, this was not nearly fancy enough. Clearly, tulle was needed and I found two yards of lovely red tulle with a slight shine to it that I wrapped around the hat. 

I quickly discovered that the tulle needed to be tacked down in some way, otherwise it would easily slip off. I solved this problem by sewing the tulle to the band, since the band is quite snug and it securely anchors the tulle in place. 

Thus finished, I slipped the hat band back on the hat and saw that it fit just fine! To form a cute little "poof" at the back of the hat, I put in a few stitches and pulled them taut to gather up part of the tulle. The result is a little tail of sort that looks quite fun. 

The resulting tulle effect looked good - I arranged it to be asymmetrical and pulled tulle over the top part of the hat on the right side. This was accidental in the beginning, but I liked the way it looked.  

Next, feathers! The local Hancock Fabric store had these lovely, fluffy beauties, just perfect for a proper steampunk ladies hat. Some experimenting proved that I had to trim them down to size, which is the reason my craft room looks like it was the epicenter for a mass parrot molting session. Little feathers are liberally scattered around the rest of my house, and I found a few of them floating in the toilet. 

Even with some trimming, the feathers still stuck out in a way that was not aesthetically pleasing. Nice, but not quite there yet.  

The answer? Some tacky glue. I ran a bead of glue along the spine of the feathers, then held it in place with a ribbon around the hat. I let it dry overnight and was gratified to find that the feathers adhered nicely and now curve pleasantly around the hat. 

A final steampunk touch! As of now, I haven't quite figured out how I will attach the watch. Ideally, I would like to have a clasp system that allows me to remove the steampunk embellishing at will. I am a member of both a steampunk and a gaslamp society, and this hat is suitable for gaslamp minus the watch. I shall have to experiment with fasteners and see what I come up with. 

I spent a few hours today tidying up Chapter 12 and working on some minor issues. I've decided that the Horizon's selling price is 15,000 pounds. However, I need to track down some exact shipping costs for items such as flour, coal, nails during this time period. Based on my research, this will not be an easy task as prices varied wildly during this time. Today I found an excellent article about the shipping industry during the 19th century. Apparently 1854-1855 was a peak shipping time, thanks to the Crimean War. Information about shipping indexes was tracked during this time; however, the focus was on highest and lowest prices, so it is difficult to find out average prices for commodities. Also, there were a huge amount of variables such as the type of ship, the distance traveled, weather conditions, etc. I have a feeling that it is going to be quite hard for me to track down solid numbers!

My hopes are that in two weeks, I can have a proofreading party to polish up the final draft. However, I am plagued by "writer's fatigue" and assaulted with a deep-seated desire to just get the damned thing done and published. Keeping strong unto the end is proving to be enormously difficult, and I will be ruthlessly honest in admitting that I hate this stupid book right now. I know that all this is a perfectly normal part of the writing process, but I honestly want to just shove the manuscript in a drawer and not look at it for a few years. Although his name escapes me, I know there was one ancient Greek scholar that advised you should set aside a piece of writing for seventeen years before revising it again. As this point in time, that option sounds unbearably attractive! 

However, I will soldier on and get this book published as promised!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Steampunk Crafting Woes

Yes, I have not blogged for exactly a month. I shall make up for it with an amusing post which was almost entitled, "It Should Not Take An Hour To Make a Simple Hatband." This essentially sums up my evening: an attempt to take this plain little number and jazz it up with a snazzy red hatband.

My first problem is that apparently my hat was in dire need of a priest and some holy water, for it bore this label on its brim.

Hoping that merely removing the offending label and burning it was sufficient, I removed the tag and set to work crafting a simple red hatband. I had some leftover silky fabric from a blouse I chopped into a bolero and was looking forward to an easy ten minute crafting project. It started promisingly, and I was moving along quite fine...

...until I belatedly realized that my iron was set on maximum heat...

...which melted and warped the fabric, leaving the band too short to fit around the hat. Irritated but not undaunted, I sewed two pieces of red fabric together to make another band, realizing that I had sewed one inside to one outside. More irritated, I ripped out the seam, sewed the pieces together correctly, then realized...

..I had incorrectly sewn lengthwise. I muttered a few choice words, then ripped the seam out and managed to put together a decent hatband that fit all the way around the hat... 

...that sadly is not even and also has a funny lump on one side from an inside seam. However, enough decorations should cover up those minor problems. Next was time to delve into my "box 'o steampunk goodies" and dig out some gears. 

A friend of mine had given me an assorted box of steampunk odds and ends, and I was particularly happy to find a watch with a cracked face to add some nice roughness to the overall effect. Although all good steampunks should avoid the temptation to "glue some gears on it", I nevertheless reached for my superglue because my last attempts at soldering were completely ineffective, mainly because I had mistakenly grabbed my dad's woodburning kit instead of the soldering iron. 

Currently, the glue is setting and I will soon be wending my way to the local fabric store to buy a few yards of red tulle to hang off the back of the hat. Then I will have a completed costume for the next steampunk event. 

The writing process is ticking along nicely - I had a few more adjustments to make to the final chapter and some research to track down. Currently, I am searching for some specific examples of wooden ships circa 1850's and their costs for building and/or their sale costs. I tentatively set the Horizon's price at 20,000 pounds, but I have absolutely no idea if this is an accurate representation of what a comparable wooden sailing ship would cost in 1854. I also want to find some information on shipping prices during the 1850's: however, there are an abundance of variables which make it exceedingly difficult to know exactly how much one could expect to pay to send a ton of flour from England to Ireland. 

In the next few weeks, I expect to have the final draft ready for a final round of proofreading before it moves into the publishing stage. Artwork is being arranged, and then there is the fun process of setting up the manuscript via Amazon's specifications for publishing. The e-book format will not be a difficult process; however, setting it up for print copies will be challenging enough that I am seriously considering paying Amazon to do so for me. Amazon has a variety of packages for self-published writers, and if you are willing to fork over enough money, they will do much of the work for you. 

I have to admit, though, that I waver between excitement, frustration, and outright hatred of this novel of mine. Such varied feelings are perfectly normal, I am fully aware. However, there is that small but persistent voice that yowls, "Your book sucks and no one will enjoy it." On one hand, I wish I was back to writing full-time and not in the workforce. On the other hand, writing full-time means that I have to be at it hours every day. 

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception I receive post-publication. I could struggle to sell a hundred copies, or it could capture quite a bit of popularity. Since this is a series, I'm committed for the long-haul and I know my writing will develop and improve as the series progresses. We shall just have to see!