DIY Damask Wallpaper

After picking this big bold WordPress theme to show off my photography, I had to come up with a picture for the header.  I’d just done my first photo shoot with the library and was so excited.  Trying to get the dolls, the furniture, the walls, the art, and god forbid don’t forget the floor, into the shot……was just tiring.  But, once I’d created a Steampunk outfit, hat, and goggles for Angie, I decided less was more.  She looks really cute in her new outfit and I like the humor and playfulness that Steampunk can add (when you’re not fighting giant squids , of course).  There’s plenty of time to do complex shots with lots of stuff to take in………but not there……not at the top of the page…..at least not for now.  A nice vintage looking damask wallpaper would be perfect.

The wallpaper behind Angie in the header photo I made myself with a rubber stamp I’d had for a couple of years.  It’s a nice little damask pattern by A Muse Artstamps, so I thought why not play a little and see what happens.  Using a sponge and watered-down paint in browns, pinks, greens and ecru, I pressed and dragged color it all over my paper to make it look as old as possible.  Don’t worry if it gets messy, especially if you want a really old look.  The more water you use, the thicker the  grade of paper you’ll want.  Since your first effort with the stamping might not turn out exactly the way you expect, if you can, cut up the base you’ve created and photocopy it so you don’t have to repeat this step again.  Each segment can be glued together before stamping.  Using a piece of wood as a guideline I brushed more watered-down paint onto the stamp and went after it.
 

The first version was done using a color that, in hindsight, was too dark…to much the color of her hat, which was visually lost.   I wanted a really old faded look.  Here’s the photo I took to check how it looked.  Although interesting, it was just too much.

 

Trying again with a really really watered down lighter version, I got a wallpaper that would stay in the background and not compete with all the other stuff in the shot.  Be sure to mix enough of the color you want to work with so you don’t run out midway through and have to remix.  Or, be a smarty pants and take notes on the recipe so you can reproduce it if necessary.  As you can see, from the uncropped version, I only created enough of it to get the shot, so it was a pretty quick process.

 
AngieHeaderDamaskFlicX
Steampunk Angie in the Library

I think she’s a young Victorian woman, waiting in the library, for her beau to pick her up in his new steam powered motor car….no…no wait….she’s a young Victorian woman waiting in the library for her new steam powered motor car to be delivered by the cute salesman.     Ciao!

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Steampunkify My Doll

Steampunk Angie

I’ve been attracted to Steampunk since I first heard about it a few years ago on the web.  I fell in love with science fiction in junior high school, about the same time I was sure not to miss an episode of The Wild Wild West on TV.  In 1990 when I purchased a copy of “The Difference Engine“, on the advice of a friend who also worked at the library, I had no idea that this genre had a name.  Apparently this work, co-authored by Austin writer Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, was instrumental in bringing the concept into the public’s greater awareness.  (All photos are flickable to enlarge.)

I will also happily confess that two of my favorite shows have been “The Adventures of Brisco County Junior” (Brisco and Bowler were just too damn glamorous) and, more recently, WareHouse 13.  So, I like to think of myself as sort of mildly keepin’ up with “the comin’ thing”, as Brisco would say…..except for sewing clothes.  Have not sewn clothes much since I was a kid.  Mom was an excellent seamstress and taught me, but I’m kind of a slob who just hangs out in her workshop, messes with furniture & dolls, and digs in the yard…… so who freakin’ cares?  I do on occasion clean up quite nicely, and living in a casual town like Austin has its benefits.  To say I was surprised by the finished product would be an understatement.  With so many amazing doll clothiers out there, intimidation was my biggest problem, but Angie’s jacket turned out quit well and I’m sure I’ll try again.

I used the edges of a piece of vintage ribbon to get the teeny tiny pink ruffle at the cuffs and up the front and collar.   Those pieces are also lined with the pink silk of the skirt.  No, the skirt is not real.  I didn’t have enough fabric to make a real skirt, so I faked it for the camera.  The little striped cummerbund is silk and taken from a sample book of silk plaids.

I’m quite pleased with myself, but will again express my undying respect and appreciation for all those who work on a very small scale.  Angie’s 22 inches tall, which feels pretty tiny when you’re trying to set those sleeves.  I’m consistently blown away by doll makers, doll clothes makers and miniaturists of all kinds.  I don’t really know how they do it.

Besides the Victorian-esque outfit, the top hat and goggles are quintessential Steampunk.  The leather is from a tiny sample of Ralph Lauren leathers, very thin and supple (only the best for my Angie).  Polymer clay lens holders, plastic lenses tinted with permanent marker (rose colored, of course), and tiny watch gears complete her sweet but punked up image.  So much fun!  Thanks for visiting and please feel free to comment!