Sometimes, to make the things I’m gonna make, I have to make them to figure out how I’m gonna make them.
This was definitely one of those situations! In the freezing January of 2021 I had a vision of a green glittering crown, made of beads and Angelina Fantasy Film and UV resin. I imagined that it would sit lightly on the head like wings, or crawling ivy.
Initially there were two wing-like structures, one of beads and crystals and floral wire and one of lighter wire and Angelina Fantasy Film.
Above you can see the two sections held together in front of February snow, 2021; the fused and completed crown, with late January snow, 2022, and the finished crown on Imbolg 2022, when sunlight burst onto our balcony for the first time in months.
During the summer of 2021, I spent many hours on the balcony in the sun, applying tinted UV resin and crystals to each section.
Once each section was completely decorated and strengthened with resin, I fused the sections together with beaded wire and UV resin.
Unlike all my other headdress projects, I wanted this crown to be light, and also stable!
Somehow I decided that a lightweight headband could secure it while the actual structure rested on the wearer’s hair. So I ordered a thin green headband and attached it to the two wing-like structures of floral wire, using ribbon and resin-covered wire loops so it would be mobile.
I added some bright green organza ribbon that had been awaiting its destiny for at least two decades.
The organza ribbons can be braided into hair to secure the crown, or used with bobby pins to hold it.
The Spring WILL come.
If you are interested in Imbolg and Brigid, and other Irish and Celtic spiritual traditions, check out Berlin-based Irishwoman Dee Mulroney!
She is the power behind Growler and an incrediblevisualartist and storyteller and ritual-maker. The work she does is a vital source of strength and cultural connection for me. She will be making fine art prints of her beautiful drawings available soon!
I amassed a huge stockpile of green bling, and bought a discounted Orchard Corset 511 to use as my base.
The green corset was one of the projects I didn’t get to before we left, so I packed all the green jewels and beads and appliques and trims up in a “project kit” and boxed it up.
I unpacked it with the other 400+ boxes last winter. Once my workroom was set up, I started opening project kits and finishing projects. I movedthroughthem at a pretty decent clip! I made the leaf crowns to go with the corset early on, last summer.
I took out the corset and got started on it last August. First I created a bunch of beaded and crystal-covered appliques with some pale green leaf-shaped Venise lace.
I tacked the lace down to netting in an embroidery hoop, then embroidered and bead embroidered it. Then I added velvet leaves (bead embroidered too).
This took about a million years.
Which never bothers me. I like to do textile art slowly, to balance how fast I draw and paint.
Once I had finished a bunch of appliques and had test fitted them on the corset, I modified the corset itself.
Otherwise the corset wouldn’t lace nice and parallel, and it would distort the embroidery and structure of the corset to have a big gap at the bottom.
Sloppily adding handsewn gores like I did is a good way to ruin the structural strength of your corset, but I knew I’d be adding thousands of stitches and layers over the gores. So I wasn’t worried.
When I’m done with one of these beaded corsets it’s basically a cuirasse, an armored breastplate!
It took several months to carefully sew the appliques to the corset, adding bead embroidery as needed to fill in gaps.
I used strong green nylon beading thread I got to make beaded fringe for a lamp in Berkeley in 1999.
I also used beading thread to make strings of variegated beads to sew down onto the corset in curving lines. Because I’m insane, I always sewed back through the beads on the string as I sewed them down, in case the thread broke.
And I think maybe I might want to lend the finished corset to a burlesque dancer or performance artist someday so it should be able to stand up to some abuse.
Panel from Swamp Thing 34, “Rite of Spring”, by Bissette and Totleben
When I started planning it I thought it would be all greens, but since then I’ve learned A LOT about color, mostly through my textile artmaking.
So as I worked on it I decided to add oranges and pinks and burgundies and browns. There are even pyrite-colored rhinestuds all over it, though they’re subtle as hell.
The oranges and warm colors make me think of the love story of Alec and Abby in Swamp Thing, and the orange yams that they shared. It’s a story that’s very meaningful to me, and the best story I know about connecting with nature and The Green.
I’m not a huge nature person, but I love natural symbology and motifs. Working with these colors and shapes really nourished my William Morris heart!
I’m pretty thrilled with the finished corset.
I don’t know exactly what I’ll do with it yet. It feels like a work about nature, and pagan things, and fae things, appropriate to Midsummer. There’s a Midsummer costume party at House of Red Doors in July, and I might wear it to that. I might loan it out for photo shoots, if I found someone trustworthy who wanted to shoot it and they had a model who fit it. I might show it somewhere if there was a show it worked for. Who the hell knows, I just needed to make it, and I’m so glad it’s finally done, almost ten years after I started planning it!
I’ll get better pix of me wearing it soon, with the jewelry and crowns I made to go with it 🙂
*everything you could ever need to know about buying and wearing a corset is here on Lucy’s website. This amazing young woman has created a resource for the corset community that is beyond price. There is info about the relative measurements of OTR and RTW brands, a corset database to guide you in your purchase, and so much more. We love Lucy!