Jun 232013
 

Kendandra’s going through a rough patch, so his column is now on indefinite haitus. We’ll let you know if and when things look up for him.

 

Thanks,

the management

Jun 232013
 

This isn’t 100% done; it definitely needs gloves and a hat, but it’s wearable. This is Nettie’s “respectable” outfit, for day-to-day going around town shopping type activities. She thinks it looks respectable and high-class 🙂 The high-class ladies in town feel differently, but then, what do they matter, Nettie likes it so pooey on them.

pose1

pose2

pose3

pose4

How’s it look? I definitely need gloves I think 🙂

Jun 162013
 

The first piece of the first costume for Nettie was begun at the Steampunk Empire Symposium, in a class on bustle creation, and finished shortly after, when I had access to my sewing machine again:

bustle_1

The bustle, in a heap

 

The next piece was ordered online, a parasol to match the color scheme I had in my head:

 

parasol_1 parasol_bustle

 

I ordered a corset at the same time, but had to return it, as it was unfortunately a bit too small. Thankfully, the second one I found fit okay:

 

corset

I found a great skirt pattern, nice and simple. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the exact opposite of simple. You see, while the skirt itself was easy enough to make, the miles and miles of ruffles are another story. Let it be known that I hate ruffles with a burning passion. They’re worse than pleats. It’s easy to ruffle a little section of fabric, but yards and yards of it? The first portion comes out before you’ve finished halfway! I finally decided the best way to do it would be to ruffle a section, then stitch ribbon over it, then ruffle the next, and so on and so forth. It made the ribbon pucker a bit, but I think it looks nice anyway.

skirt_tophalf

The top half of the skirt, before adding ruffles

stitching

Stitching away on ruffles….forever…

skirt_1

I didn’t like the way the ruffles were attached, so I’ve ripped it out and re-stitched it since then, but this is the general idea

skirt_and_bustle

The back, with the bustle over top.

Now all I need is a top, petticoats, and knickers 🙂

Jun 142013
 

Looking for more blogs to follow? I’m taking part in a “link party” — a group of likeminded blogs cross-advertising. Check it out below!

Steam Ingenious Blog Link Party

 

If that’s what brought you here, welcome! Feel free to check out our stuff. We’re in a bit of a slump right now due to upcoming nupitals and Kendandra moving, but we have new content at least once a week. Don’t be afraid to leave comments on older items — we’re very friendly here.

Jun 092013
 

Because sometimes I do things that aren’t steampunk. (…yet.) Lara Croft, from the 2013 reboot of her franchise, now wears pants! Canonically! Again! This seemed like a cause for celebration, and as I examined her character model I didn’t see much about it I couldn’t emulate easily with my body type.

The new canonical look

Seriously, a trip to the outlet mall pretty much has this covered 😀 Since I didn’t want a bra to show under the thin-strapped tank tops, I opted to spend more on the bottom tank in order to get one with a bra built-in from my favorite bra retailer, Just My Size:

Valmont Lace Trim Bra Camisole, promotional shot.

Then I took a quick trip to the local thrift shop — and I do mean quick, as it turns out they closed a half hour earlier than I thought they did so we only had fifteen minutes to shop. There’s two thrift shops on the same street near my apartment: one is the local Goodwill, which I prefer to patronize, and the other is a place called Village Discount Outlet, which has the distinction of being three times the size of the Goodwill. Their selection is usually pretty crap; they run sales regularly on their already-marked-down products, meaning they have a lot of turnover and anything particularly nice gets snatched up pretty fast, but if I’m looking for something basic enough they’ll often have it. In this case I got lucky and found three tank tops that might work. With minutes to spare before they closed, and since they have no changing room whatsoever, I decided to purchase all three, figuring I can always donate anything that doesn’t fit to the Goodwill.

shirts

One of the shirts vanished…. >.>

Side note on colors: The tank top in the model in the game is clearly, CLEARLY, grey. Maybe a faint hint of blue to it, but pretty much grey. What color is the tank top listed as on every fansite I’ve ever seen? Blue. WTF? Finally I realized why: her older model had a blue tank top. So other cosplayers are doing bright blue tank tops, disregarding the in-game model. Whatever.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any cargo pants whatsoever. Another of my favorite spots for cheap clothes is Amazon; I found the perfect pair, but balked at the price. Over $50 with shipping wasn’t cheap, but at the same time… PERFECT. I bookmarked them, deciding I’d at least try Walmart first. Thankfully, Walmart had cargo pants! Downside, they were the wrong color. Upside, they were $19 instead of fifty.

Promotional picture of the pants

Promotional picture of the pants

We thought about dying them, but we didn’t want to damage or stain our washing machine using washing-machine dyes and didn’t have a dye vat. What we did have was a stockpot, water, vinegar, and the ability to purchase coffee. So, natural dye job it was~!

pants-during

Pants, cooking in a mixture of coffee, vinegar, and water

pants-drying

Pants, drying, after dying

Notice how absolutely perfect the color is in this shot? Now see what happened after we washed them:

Pants, after washing and drying

Pants, after washing and drying

Bleeech. In person they’re even lighter than the picture seems to show, this was taken with a cellphone camera. Oh well. The final costume is below:

pose1

pose2

Jun 022013
 

I know what you’re thinking. “Yami,” you say, “You have four active members of the group and you’ve done four character design posts. What on earth do you have left to write about?”

I’ve been a roleplayer, a writer, and an actor for basically my entire adult life. When I start making characters, I don’t stop at one per person. None of the guys have, of yet, approached me with another idea to develop, so I’ve been developing some ideas I had lying around for myself.

So. Nettie O’hara. I was inspired primarily by two drives when creating her. The first was to make a friend for Bob. In the game he was originally designed for, he fell into an accidental yet well-matched pairing with one of my oldest characters (in terms of how long I’ve been playing her, not age), a woman named Aldrea. I don’t plan to do a steampunk version of Al, however, so I took it upon myself to dissect what about the relationship worked so I could create a new character that would fill her boots, so to speak. Aldrea doesn’t take Bob’s crap. She tells him her honest opinion, refuses to be afraid of him, and often has snarky commentary when the other members of their spaceship are being absurd. She likes to shoot, so they have that in common, but she reigns him in, refusing to deploy weapons of mass destruction when they could simply stealth past the enemy. Most importantly, she makes him want to be his best self.

The second inspiration was River Song.

 

Nettie O’hara is, as the name suggests, is of Irish descent. She’s an American — she has to be, to have met Bob. River song does a few appropriate costumes:

From The Impossible Astronaut, I believe

From The End of Time, if I recall correctly. Check out that belt

But I wanted to go a little differently, at least for Nettie’s first few costumes. I didn’t want a girl cowboy to match Bob, I wanted something different. So I went with Saloon Girl.

Now, no two sources seem to quite agree on what a Saloon Girl exactly was. Some have her being a pure prostitute, a little above a streetwalker but no so high on the sex-worker class ladder as a brothel-worker due to the lack of bouncers to dissuade rough customers. Others have her as pure and chaste, a companion for drinks and never for sex. For this character, I’m using the definition reproduced here from Saloons of the Old West by Richard Erdoes, which discusses “Hurdy-gurdy houses” or “pretty waiter saloons”:

The hurdy-gurdy house existed to sell drinks. The girls existed to keep the wet goods moving. […] Some of them were prostitutes, but most of them just danced with men for a living. They were considered a cut above the fallen angels. In this respect they resembled geishas. They were there to entertain, to please men, and — most important — to make them buy drinks at outrageous prices. They had their own places to live and sleep in. They might be snubbed by the so-called better element, and they were seldom virgins. They took lovers freely and defied convention by living openly with their paramours, but most of them were not whores and resented it if treated as such. They were proud that they picked or rejected their lovers as they pleased. They worked for saloon owners, not for madams or pimps — most of them, most of the time.

(An aside: the way this book is written gives me a headache sometimes, so I don’t necessarily recommend it, but it’s what I managed to purchase on the cheap).

Nettie is basically the social equivalent of a waitress in LA then: not a star, not Somebody, but not exactly a junkie or a whore or the dregs at the bottom of the barrel. Her duties are more like those of a modern-day hostess club, though: sex is not what’s for sale, but the idea of sex is being used to sell the things that actually are for sale.

Of course, she wasn’t born a saloon girl. I picture her coming from a farm and deciding she wanted to try her hand at a more glamorous  more independent trade instead of marrying a farmer or a cowboy and settling down. I figure she grew up with no mother and three brothers, meaning she’d been around men her whole life.  She’d be used to hard work, and have enjoyed much more independence than the upper-class ladies that seem to epitomize the Victorian era, as noted in Women of the West by Cathy Luchetti:

In the West women experienced an autonomy never before dreamed of, and with this new freedom came the necessity to solve their problems in any way they could. Making do became an art shared by both sexes, and “women’s work” soon came to mean whatever had to be done, whether it was herding cattle, checking trap lines, or seeding the rows with corn.

Her father always used to say, in his unrepentant Irish accent, “Nettie, m’heart, you’re as good as a lad.” As she grew older, however, she grew more and more aware of the physical differences in her body. One day she replied to her father, “But you know I’m not a lad, right?” His blank stare made it clear he had no idea what the difference was, and she decided it was time to seek out the company of other women.

Nettie really embodies that can-do attitude of the Western pioneers. She can shoot a gun — not like Bob can, but it seemed a useful skill to learn. She can wear pants if she needs to. She can lift heavy things, climb rocks, camp out, anything that needs doing to keep up with him… but he doesn’t take her along on missions because he respects her as a lady and doesn’t ever test her skills.

At least, not at first… 😉 I’m envisioning a time later in their relationship where wedding bells are rapidly followed by them both riding off into the sunset together, as partners. But that’s later outfits.

Jun 012013
 

Greetings, loyal fans! Today I am proud to introduce a new,very small sub-blog: Radiant Gaming.

As some of you may be aware, Radiant Vanguard started out as a tabletop gaming group, getting together to play World of Darkness. Over the year we’ve been friends, we’ve also done a good amount of computer, console, and board gaming. Radiant Gaming is a small, irregular side blog dedicated to these non-steampunk topics. There’s no set schedule, but I plan to do a weekly recap of our gaming sessions as, starting today, we’re doing a brand new campaign. I’ve encouraged the guys to, any time they feel like it, go ahead and post anything related to any sort of gaming that they feel like, so there might be posts more often, but there might not. So if you’re interested, it’s probably worth subscribing via email or RSS feed so you don’t miss any updates.

See you there!