To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
In 2012, I started a steampunk costume that never seemed to take flight. The only finished piece is the skirt stay/brooch, created in collaboration with my friend Katherine Koba (who did all the beadwork, and continues to create the mathematically-inspired jewelry in her Etsy shop).
The backstory for the character I dreamt up to costume included Ada Lovelace as her godmother, inspiring her to tool about with Babbage’s analytical engines. While the character is fictitious, Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was not—she’s considered the first computer programmer, having theorized how the Analytical Engine could do calculations decades before an electronic computer was built. So, in honor of Ada Lovelace Day (the middle Tuesday of October every year), here is a post about the brooch (finally!).
With computers, everything boils down to zeros and ones—electric current on or off. Calculations are performed by circuits of varying complexities. One of the more basic is called a full adder, which we modeled this brooch after. As you might guess from the name, it adds numbers together.
In the beadwork, the inputs are splayed across the top and the results (sum and carryover) are dangling from the bottom, with the gates and intermediate results between. The smaller, purplish beads are numbers—1 or 0—and the larger orange and gold represent the logic gates—gold for AND, orange for XOR. The white beads are filler for the paths between the gates.
The beadwork is mounted on a base made from bicycle gears (we can pretend they’re from an analytical engine) that were superglued together and spray-painted. I can’t speak for Koba, but I think sizing the wires correctly was the most difficult part of this—particularly since the gears and I were in Utica, and Koba and the beads were in South Korea!
Plumleigh can’t do any actual calculations with this full adder, but it certainly is a fun accessory to wear while she fiddles with a real set of circuits solving any manner of problem.
Projects like this are just one of the myriad ways STEM sneaks into my crafting. How does it influence your hobbies?
I think head-in-the-clouds Rae has won out (was there ever a question, really?). I’m making a Steampunk costume over the course of the next nine months. I even ordered some fabric, so now I have to make it.
My muse hasn’t stopped singing about the costume in the past week. It came up with a whole backstory and character for this costume, and who am I to deny it? Now that it’s in my head, I can’t get past the character (who is about 18 years old) so this won’t be a costume for me. Luckily, I have two younger sisters with similar body types (to each other, not me. Brats got all the tall genes)—hereafter referred to as C&K—to exploit, and they’ve agreed to let me dress them up at Christmas for a photo shoot.
So, paired with their measurements, a dress form I don’t yet own, and only a single chance to fit a mockup or two in person in less than a month (unless they come visit me, which is doubtful, since they’re on college-student budgets and I’m on a recently-bought-a-house-and-am-making-a-big-costume budget), I will be creating a costume that fits them (in theory). Luckily, they have more pattern-ready bodies, so fitting should be simpler than if I were to make it for myself, I think.
I can’t really sketch, but here’s a bit of my idea on paper…
Can you keep a secret? I’m a bit of a closet Steampunk. I love the aesthetic. I like a lot of the literature. I mean, basically, if you take my love of Victorian fashion, computer science, leather, lace, the paranormal, and any number of intriguing anthropological and linguistic themes, you get Steampunk, like it was simply made for me. Although, with the exception of the fashion bit, the others might not be so obvious to hardly anyone. I live in my head sometimes.
Aside: speaking of literature, I’m biased, because I’m totally in love with the (now completed) series and have been since the first book was published, but if you like Steampunk, the paranormal, and absolute absurdity at times (packaged in extremely well-written prose), you needs must endeavor to read the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (starting with Soulless—at least read the online preview available for the Kindle version). Go on. I’ll still be here when you’re done.