Here again with this weeks webcomic link. I actually had a lot of fun doing this one. I took my time with it and got everything as close to spot on as I could manage. Anyway, enjoy.
So, riddle me this. Where, if you have a lucky day, can you pick up a piece of designer clothing for the price of a couple of pints? And the answer is not “Five-finger discount.”
The answer is of course your local thrift shop.
It will come as no surprise what-so-ever to those who know me that I own virtually no new clothes. Aside from my underwear, and a handful of new pieces that I simply couldn’t walk away from, if I can buy it in a thrift store I will. I’ve basically done this my entire adult life, after all how else can you gather a wardrobe of often at this stage almost unique pieces for next to nothing, and support charity at the same time?
Over the years I’ve gotten some amazing pieces of clothing in these shops. One glorious day I found a designer ankle length black leather gypsy skirt, a brand new denim basque which the manufacturers had stopped making three years previously, and a pair of gorgeous black leather Mary-Janes. The whole lot cost me less than 20 Euro’s. How can you beat that?
Well on Thursday I did. On Thursday in my local thrift shop I found these for 12 Euro’s…
Seriously, an essentially new pair of New Rock Reactors, boots that retail for a minimum of 120 Euro for 12 Euro’s. If they’d walked five miles before I got them I’d be stunned. I couldn’t believe it when I saw them, and I simply could not pass them by. The same day I found a pair of stunning brass and colored glass lamp shades for my soon to be steampunked bedroom, 8 Euro’s for them both!
Just after Christmas I found a bowlback mandolin, which is currently under reconstruction as my (also soon to be steampunked) mandolele, for just 15 Euro’s. After research I found that my pretty bowlback instrument is at least 40 years old, was handmade, and is as beautiful today as it ever was.
And there you have in three items why I adore thrift stores. You can go into in to your local ones for week after week, and find nothing worth buying. But on those wonderful days when you do find something special, it’s generally going to be something which, at least to you, is extraordinary.
All this, and you find yourself helping a charitable organisation as well.
So in closing I feel it is now appropriate to introduce to you my delightful readers, one of my favourite songs by the delectable Bif Naked. I’ve been humming this to myself since I found my new New Rocks, though I’ve been replacing “My new tango shoes” with “My new kick-ass shoes”. Enjoy!
Two weeks ago I wrote a short review of the Tec 6 foam dart gun by Tommy. I bought this gun with the intention of using it to relearn my modelling skills as part of the run up to starting a major new project. Well the modding is now done, so I thought I would share some pictures, and a very brief explanation of what I did, as well as what I learned while doing it.
So to start with a reminder of what this gun looked like when I got it. It is a truly hideous gun to look at, but had I felt serious potential for a reformatting.
To start with I dismantled it. From past experiences I knew to make basic notes on how it actually went back together as I took it apart. Make a note of the absolutely horrendous colours used by the manufacturers. If Satan puked up a gun, this is what it would look like.
I decided early on to get rid of the cocking handle that came with the gun. Yes that hideous silver yoke at the top of the gun is the cocking handle. I’d love to ask the designer what he was thinking. But getting rid of it meant that I needed to fill in the slot for it on one side. I decided to use some wood stock I had lying around, and to simply shape it into a pleasant curved shape, rather than try to blend it into the curves. I feel that this works in a Steampunk way because of how often Steampunk styles involve clashes of colors, and forms rather than objects melding together.
As you can see from the above picture I also gave the whole casing a damn good sanding. I next sprayed the entire thing in a black enamel undercoat in preparation for detailed painting. I don’t intend to show pictures of the various stages of painting the gun, but I will say this, that enamel spray was a HUGE mistake. It reacted with literally every other paint I used in this project. It was quite simply a nightmare, and resulted in my buying a tin of Citadel Chaos Black Primer for use with all my future projects.
In the end though I did overcome those problems, and yesterday I finished the paint job on my gun, as well as adding a very small knob shaped drawer handle to be the new cocking handle. The result is this…
As you can see in addition to the new cocking handle, I also did a little work on the trigger itself. Went with a black base color, but used both silver, and bronze as secondary colors, and a beautiful turquoise for highlighting in certain places. I also modified and painted the darts to give them that “shot to hell and back” look. unfortunately this photo simply doesn’t do the colors justice.
I learned a great deal from doing this project. As well as what I learned about mixing paints by different manufacturers I also learned a lot about painting techniques (though I still need vast amounts of practice), I got experience reworking plastics, and modifying items to make them components for something the designer never, ever intended (new cocking handle). All those lessons will transfer nicely to my next project.
Well regardless of lessons learned, and fingers that may have been glued together. Ladies and Gentlemen may I present…
Occiditis Fatuis (Kills Idiots), personal side arm of Captain Lucretia AcidGurl, 13th Imperial Marines (retired). But more about her later.
As I hinted in the second of my New Year posts I have several important projects starting this year. Well last Wednesday one of them came to a surprising start. My partner in crime had found in a local thrift store an old, battered, bowl-back mandolin. So the next day we wandered, and I purchased her for the princely sum of 15 euros.
She’s in dire need of a lot of T.L.C. The neck was damaged but repaired reasonably well in the past. An internal brace has lifted, though after a huge amount of research I know now that too is a fixable issue. The finish is badly chipped, and scraped. And the inlay around the pick guard has been tortured within an inch of its life. But she’s still a beautiful instrument, and after Sunday I believe she can have an amazing second life as a mandolele. (mandolin-ukulele hybrid. Well in fairness I’m a female/male hybrid so it’s an ideal instrument for me don’t you think?)
Sunday I decided to clean the dust, grease and gunk of the ages off. Then I repaired 2 minor dings on the soundboard. Then finally I test strung her with a spare set of Aquila ukulele strings.The change to a mandolele came because when I got her she had only two steel strings left, both were under tension, and you could practically feel the mandolin getting ready to implode when you touched it. It simply can’t take steel strings anymore. A shame, as I’m sure she was a sweet sounding instrument, and a joy to play when she was in her prime.
Regardless after I fitted the strings the moment came when I plucked a true note from her. Ukulele’s have a sort of furry-ness to their sound that I adore. Each note kind of buzzes ever so slightly, and after trying out dozens of ukes in shops across the country at this stage I’m pretty sure it’s a standard feature of their sound. I do truly love that fuzzy feeling. I think that it is part of what makes music played on a ukulele feel happy. But the note that came from my new toy was pure, sharp, fresh. It was the aural equivalent of the difference between watching a movie on VHS video, and DVD. (kids if you don’t know what a VHS was, the porn your dad has stashed in his wardrobe is the reason you still have that odd thing that doesn’t play DVD’s under the telly.)
Well the end result of all this is that before Bella’s Steampunk Night I intend to complete all the repairs, and refurbish my future mandolele as a key part of my costume. On that day a new character will rise, a new alter-ego for Amanda Harper, a steampunk luthier, uke player, and all round hottie named…well that would spoil the surprise.