Shiny Things Gallery | Other Shiny Things
It started off simply, really. I was tentatively buying some new guitar strings in an effort to get back to playing music and happened to see the store had a Funko Pop! Nick Rhodes. Considering I was at the beginning of revisiting Duran Duran's discography and my housemate was doing some teasing about it, I decided I "had to". Good reason. For a while, nothing happened... then I decided he looked too odd, too lonely, without the synthesizers. My intention was to keep them simple, so I built a couple of prototypes and finally landed on very basic flat wire for the base and simple foam board for the keyboards themselves. Very simple stylized painted details of four classic synths: a Roland Jupiter 8, a Wasp (of course I had to), a Yamaha DX7, and a Moog One. And that, I thought, would be that.
Then my parents sent me birthday money with the suggestion I buy something frivolous that I'd been wanting right at the point when I discovered someone selling the rest of the Pop! figures at a discount if I bought them all together, so... I had to, right? But I was still safe since I wasn't going to make any more instruments. I wasn't. Until I started thinking about how I'd do a drum kit in the same style. Whoops. But they needed a stage first, right? Ha ha. Ha. Of course. Of course they did. But I wanted to stick to "simple and obviously handmade out of easy to use materials" as the style for the whole thing. What's easier than foam board? A lot of things, it turns out, but I was aware of that and I did it anyway. And attached one of those battery-operated "neon light" strings to the finished stage with wire because it's a stage and it needed neon lights. It just did, I make the rules and I state this a fact. That was the extent of the light show, or so I thought.
Back to the drum kit, that took me a while to get to actually building, but ultimately stacking foam board disks on top of each other seemed like a good start. And the glitter paint. This particular purple-y pink-y color is very, very important and was a surprise to come across. The bottle cap cymbals are still my favorite things, though. Those came out so much better than I'd hoped. Still... kind of simple, right..?
Clearly I couldn't make synthesizers and a drum kit and not make the bass and guitar. Clearly. I decided to go with that lovely Paper Gods purple/blue colorshift Peavey Cirrus bass because I just really like how it looks, and a sweet black Studio Series Gibson Les Paul because it's one I know Andy uses and I am biased toward style-wise. Both guitars have little metal bits that attach to magnets at the ends of the ribbon "straps" because I can and I did.
I didn't plan the tambourine. I just kind of wondered one day if I could make the wire work the way I wanted it to, and I had a pile of sequins in front of me from a clothing alteration project, so I started with few expectations... and became really, really pleased with the result. The mic stand and microphone were clearly the easiest bits of this whole build, but that was exactly what I needed to be last.
Then my housemate, who'd inadvertently been the catalyst for this entire thing, said the stage needed pyro. I was going to ignore him, but started researching miniature lights. None of them quite did what I wanted them to do (though it must be said that I've found an upgrade for the future... yeah, I know, but well into the future), but I did have this beautiful fabric. It gradually shifts from red-orange to orange to yellow and was pretty much perfect for, you know, fire. Plus, shiny, no fuss, and could easily be added to or removed from the stage. And as there is one specific song that I think of associated with stage pyro, "Wild Boys" became a bit of a theme.
As for the RGB LED matrix/"video screen"... uh. It had just been part of a curiosity for some time and this was my excuse to finally get one and play with it. I hadn't even begun picking at Python projects and this had already become a process. Experience with pixel art helped as I was getting album covers into tiny 64x32 pixel images, but just compiling them into a gif... was not working. It was overall too complex and the RGB screen kept freaking out with all of the brighter colors, so I had to do more color correcting. For every frame of album art. And then had to use to Microsoft's ExpressivePixels to make it all work together in an animation. Ultimately I split the album art and the "Wild Boys" animations to make it a little easier on myself, but they play together in an endless loop on the matrix itself.
As for the video of the animation and the stage (also unlisted on YouTube if it's having trouble loading here), every attempt at color correcting makes it look worse, so I resigned myself to the over-saturation of reds and included a more accurate but worse quality video of the "Wild Boys" animation tacked on to the end there. I worked way too hard on getting the fire to look right to let that go unappreciated and looking like lava. The backdrop is actually a sheet of iridescent black vinyl that I haven't yet made use of, but now I'm just tempted to keep that as a backdrop. It would be completely impractical, of course, but what's one more thing tacked on?
Credits: RGB LED matrix and all the basic parts are from Adafruit, and I look forward to playing with all that this odd little toy can do. The "Wild Boys" MIDI file is from FreeMIDI.org and I am endlessly irritated that there are no credits attached because the whole file is amazing. The "WILD BOYS ALWAYS" background fire is based on picking Nevit's fire file apart and then basically completely destroying it, but apparently it all worked out in the end right? (The "SHINE" is just... photographs of the glitter paint on the drums. Too good not to use.) Album art originated from the Duran Duran fan wiki before I got hold of them, and clearly their respective artists/designers before that. I tried compiling the animations into "actual gifs" as well, which are free to use or pick apart or do whatever anyone might like to them. If anybody wants the ExpressivePixels files, feel free to contact me and I will... figure out how to get them to you.
Altogether, it's a labor of love and silliness and celebration getting to do different things from my usual creations, I think. And probably isn't technically done yet, but it's done enough. Because it's mentioned nowhere else: Tron is security, the Cactuar laying in front of the stage is... uh... a groupie, and cars are-- Cars. Because cars, right? We just don't talk about the solid gold John Taylor on a pony. It does not exist. You saw nothing.
Since this creature was designed to be wearable and super sturdy, there are a number of reinforcements, both internal and external. While still a touch "squishy" as my beaded critters tend to be, there's a lot more general firmness and lack of flexibility to this one. I also wound up using four different colors of beads, from light golden brown to dark brown (and the main coppery brown color of the body is, of course, comprised of discontinued beads, argh!), mimicking the natural color variations of fishers. As to be expected, no camera is rarely able to actually reflect as much, as getting the light "just right" usually results in over-bright and fuzzy images. Fun for everyone.
As for the harness, well... an embedded bail was just weird and uncomfortable looking, y'know? And I'd already sort of been thinking about what I'd like to do for a harness/bail combination, so when I got permission I just ran with it. The wire is stainless steel (and VERY STURDY ow my hand), and the little silver eyes are indeed sterling silver.
Overall, I'm happy with the result (though clearly the commissioner's happiness is sort of key, too). It would not have happened without an extremely patient and encouraging commissioner who had faith in me even through my seeming ineptitude and many mentions of internal screaming. Heh.
So I wanted to take a shot at further editing the pattern for the Daydream Bavi. The plan was definitely to come up with one that represented peaceful dreams, so a blue and slightly off-white color scheme seemed appropriate. Beyond that, I just kind of wandered. I knew I wanted something a little "incoherent", dream-like but soft, and I think I managed. The Bavi themself is soft and fuzzy fleece with cotton embroidery floss detailing (further sparkled-up with iridescent blue pigment and fabric paint afterward), the patch of "scales" on their rump smooth beads. The mask is a strengthened and reinforced papier mache-type base, horns left accented but bare, while the rest was coated with handmade paper and then accented with beads and chain.
This... wasn't actually supposed to happen. I'd made a quick test pattern and used some old white felt in order to test it on fabric so I could edit the pattern accordingly, with no plans to keep it in one piece... but I'm me, and I should have known better. Ultimately, I was inspired quite a bit by Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films, where there are creatures both strangely enchanting and just a little... unnerving, in a way. Something that maybe most humans aren't meant to know very well. I've also had these face and sun cabochons for years and finally found just the right use for them.
Coming off a little rest period from the Materia Cuff commission, some very lovely and magnificent person actually asked me if I could do a fantasy beaded mask blending elements of both my (DFMW) Beaded Chainmaile Mask and Submerging. I could not say “YES” quickly enough.
The basic idea behind the beaded curtain was to hide the eyes while still allowing vision. To my surprise, it worked! I mean, er, to my absolute expertise in these matters. Yes. Ahem. Every hanging strand ends in either a single gold delica bead and a crimson-burgundy freshwater pearl drop, or a light gold Swarovski crystal with a red glass drop. While the front is notably more heavy that the rest, the way the diamond pattern rests against and around the head actually distributes the weight in a way that doesn’t make it feel like your neck is always fighting with it.
All in all, I’m extremely happy with how this came out. Thank you so much to the commissioner for the opportunity!
Akanksha isn't quite one of those magical fish who grants wishes. If a cruel person catches her, then what she whispers in their ear is the truth of their cruelty, and how the rest of the world is pained by such actions. If a kind person catches her, she will whisper to them of the good things that they have done, and encourage them about the good things that are still left to do.
Fitting, then, that Akanksha would be a barrette. I'd just been looking at images of koi and fighting fish and... decided to try something different? I have no other explanation. And I finally found a use for beading thread, at long last! Ahem. Those larger beads are mostly gemstone (and argh, I can only identify the quartz with any certainty; the rest is "dyed something") and therefore heavy. Her pectoral fins are wired beads, and her dorsal fin is comprised of only beads a thread, reinforced with iridescent paint so that it's flexible.
Some charms are painstakingly created over years, magic and materials carefully selected, crafted, moved into place so very delicately. Others are made quickly and with desperation from nearby materials for a single-minded hope and purpose. It is the opinion of some mages that both types of charms can be equally effective.
As happens so often, I was just going through materials and staring at a few of them and then... er, this. Plus a little story in my head.
A few days previous, I had been playing with polymer clay and the "stone" effects I might be able to get, and then "antiqued" bronze wire, pressed metal wing charms and that copper diamond came in to the picture. Things happened. For all the simplicity, I really enjoy how it came out.
Still very young and unaware of the ways of the world, the seventeenth daughter of Nature decided to take a husband. There were many years of bliss, until her husband became ill. When his eyes ceased to see her and his chest ceased to move, she cried out in anguish for her mother's help; but Nature told her this was the way of mortals, and she could do nothing to go against their fate. Nature's daughter begged the birds to take her soul to her husband's, but they too could not go against the way of things. Devastated and alone, the daughter of Nature tore apart her wedding dress and began to fashion her own bird, sewn together with her own hair, bejeweled with her own blood, its eyes made from her own crystallized tears held in place by her own wedding ring. She breathed the breath of life into the bird, and when its wings spread and flapped she begged for it to take her soul to her husband's. The end of the tale changes depending upon the storyteller, but they generally agree that the bird took her to meet her husband, and Nature would never again acknowledge her seventeenth daughter.
That weird little story was in my head the entire time I was making this... bird-thing. I just wanted something simple between projects, so of course I wound up with something much more complicated. It's weird and different and I really wanted to reflect that messy, desperate, grief-stricken emotion that's reflected in the story. Despite how "messy" it all looks, though, it's still very well put together. I swear, I could do no less.
All entirely hand-sewn from satin brocade (wow was that an experience) from a not-really-followed vague memory of a pattern I think I may have seen on the internet years ago. Then I added plenty of glass beads, coated wire, two quartz beads for the eyes, and surely a little insanity all around. Well I like it, so there.