‘Tis the Season for Sparkles and Trim

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Sit down little ones, it’s time for a story…

Once there was a burlesque dancer named Chloe D’Lite. She had a wonderful time performing burlesque and finally hit the Broadway stage (The Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon of course!).  Then she fell ill. Her life changed forever when she discovered she was…. dum dum dum… PREGNANT.

Chloe accepted her fate and even came to embrace this new life. She decided that she had a wonderful time dancing and costuming and now she could put that part of her life aside and focus on family. She began to buy knitted sweaters and yoga pants. She nested. She ate a LOT of chocolate. She even chose to have, gulp, Mom hair. (For those of you who don’t know what this is, it can come in many shapes and forms but all Mom haircuts have one thing in common. Sigh. They are all practical and incredibly boring.

After baby life was good. But Chloe couldn’t help noticing sparkles coming back into her life. A bit of tinsel here, a glitter wreath there. Ahhh…. it was Christmas Season. The lavishness of the holiday decor sent her into a crafting frnezy and she had a change of heart. She soon came to accept that she MUST perform again. It was a part of her, it was in her nature. 

And so a new burlesque piece was born and a dancer returned! Christmas Magic!

Enter the Christmas Tree

I wanted to do something different for XXXmas burlesque so I took a very unsexy holiday tradition and glamorized it. I looked around for a sexy version of Oh Christmas Tree (not easy by the way). I found a great Jazz Instrumental by Bobby Rodriguez Oh Christmas Tree. 

Then I needed to make a costume. This was the point in my life when I made a resolution to not spend a ton of money on Burlesque. Blowing the bank on a costume is easy to do, as most of my burly friends know. Glitter and gems ain’t cheap! But I have a lot of schtuff in my house and the holiday season is the time of excess so there are hundreds of free decorations lying about. My cost for this costume was… $0.

I took garland that I had bought at a clearance sale at home depot for 5 bucks and turned it into a top and skirt by cutting it and tying the pieces of it to a length of gold rope leftover from another costume. I added some bells and tiny ornamental balls (hehe) and a few strands of metallic foil garland. I had some white gloves that I had picked up at a Halloween clearence sale and added metallic garland to those as well (with my glue gun). I took a star ornament and glued it to an old headband.

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Christmas Tree Costume Skirt
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Skirt and top

 

I had a bra and panty set that a friend had given me years ago. It never fit because my breasts were too small, but breastfeeding boobs are a glorious thing and it was a perfect match! I added some glitter trim and made a glitter bump belt. I used garland as a boa and made pasties out of glitter foam and cheap bows I found in my gift wrap closet.

Christmas Burlesque Costume
Accessories- garland boa, green garland bump belt, bra, panties, gloves, tree topper and pasties

And Voila! A Sexy Christmas Tree was born. A true Christmas Miracle 😉

Chloe D'Lite Christmas Burlesque
Chloe D’Lite performs her Sexy Christmas Tree burlesque dance

And if you’d like to see me perform this piece I will be at the Free Flow Dance Centre for The Rosebuds XXXmas show December 8, 2017!

Have a warm and merry Holiday Season!

Ciao

Chloe

 

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On a Craftier Note…

So far all of my posts have been about costumes, but I am not working on anything right now so I am going to write about a craft project I recently finished.

I love being cheap and saving money, or not spending money at all. This is a vein that runs through everything I do. I always try to use scraps of things or find items at second-hand stores to repurpose. I enjoy the challenge, it’s like solving a puzzle in which are numerous paths to travel down and each one yields something new and completely different.

I wanted to make a display for our Gods of the Archipelago fantasy photocard series. It is being displayed in a store called Alchemy in downtown Saskatoon (woot woot!) and we are super stoked to be in such a cool and ethically driven store. They always source locally when possible and they sell clothing, accessories and art from local designers. I love their green vibe too… they are super socially conscious and committed to making this world better. I’m proud to have our art being sold at this gem of a store 🙂

I wanted two feelings to come through in this display, the archipelago (which is a collection of islands) and old world mythology. The Gods are inspired by old Greek, Roman and Norse mythology and also by the look of Frank Frazetta a renowned fantasy artist. I went to Village Green, a second-hand store in downtown yxe because they have really neat unique things and it’s not usually picked over like Value Village. And the prices are way cheaper.

 

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Small frames for our Gods display

I bought a bunch of little frames for about 50 cents each and then painted a couple of them with black chalkboard paint so they didn’t look cheap. I also found an old wine bottle crate (I think). I really have no idea what is was for but it was $1 and I couldn’t pass it up. I stained it but the colour didn’t turn out how I had originally wanted. I had a different coloured wood box (from the same store) that I wanted to hold the actual card sets in and they did not match. But it was nice to not have it matchy matchy in the end. Sometimes you just gotta flow with the go 😉

staining the crate

 

I wanted the display to be interesting, I wanted it to draw you in and make you look a little closer or maybe look from a different angle. I wanted viewers to become curious about the Gods and to want to buy a set of cards to be able to study the characters in more depth. And since the images are very sexy I wanted them to be smaller and harder to see in order to tone it down. Spice is best in small amounts 😉

 

I also wanted to construct a business card holder from an old book, as seen on pinterest. I have a bit of guilt now in using such an old book (a dictionary from the Village Green) but I wanted it to look old and authentic. And it did turn out beautifully. I never ended up using it as a card holder as the cards were too big compared to the tiny book and it’s beauty was lost. I put a framed picture of the creation God Nia on top of it and it looked really cool.

IMG_4542This was the display, half done. You can see the book with the business cards in the centre . In this photo you can also see that it was a hanging display at one point. I changed it to a table top display for a few reasons which I won’t bother getting into.

Display for the Gods of the Archipelago
A display I made for Alchemy in downtown Saskatoon. Here it is in tabletop form. Still not quite complete.

For the sets of 5×7 inch cards I had to figure out a way to show people what they looked like, what they were buying. So I made a couple of versions of “binders” to hold them in. I had them laminated so they didn’t get grubby from handling.

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I made the photo album from an old purse, ribbon trimmings, a binder from Staples, grit cloth and paint. I used glue and E6000 to bind everything.
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In the front are some business cards and a description of what the Gods of the Archipelago is.
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Our promotional card, included as a bonus card in the set of ten cards. With the beautiful Miss Malevolent.

 

The above binder was to have on display in the salon while customers waited to have their hair or makeup done. I also made a binder for the display where the cards were sitting.

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Sanding the wood
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staining and painting the wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took a scrap piece of wood from the garage which I think was cedar. I really have no idea but it smelled nice when I was sanding it. I cut it down to a size just about an inch on each side bigger than the 5×7 cards. It was sanded, stained, sprayed with bronze pearlescent  spray. I then drilled holes into it and attached my laminated cards which I had hole punched and a spiral ring that I removed from an old notebook. It looked pretty nice, but I don’t have any pics of it 😦

 

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I love the grain… very 70’s psychedelic.
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backside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose you’ll just have to go to Alchemy and get your hands on it 😉

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All of my supplies set out for the packages
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Old stamps are ready to go on. I love that they are used postage stamps because they have the postmark on them.

I wrapped the cards sets in brown paper (from Melissa Squire, owner of Alchemy) and secured them with twine or natural hemp cord. Before I wrapped them I stamped the brown paper with our House Archipelago logo stamp which I had made at Rose’s Marking Devices, which I highly recommend. The stamp had beautiful detail to it. I stamped before I wrapped based on the foresight of my husband (and creator of the Gods series) Matthew Hardy. He is a lifelong geek and collector of things, mostly comic book related so he was concerned about the possibility of the ink leaking through the paper onto the cards. So we stamped first for our own peace of mind.

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Each package is unique, with one of a kind stamps.

Then I attached some old stamps that I bought for 4 cents each at Sceptre Coin & Stamp in the Drinkle Building in downtown Saskatoon. The packages look like old postage packages. And I love the worn feel of the brown paper and unique stamps on each package.

 

 

 

 

And that’s it! So check it out at Alchemy or you can purchase a limited edition set of Series One cards for $20 (ten + bonus card in a set) at www.housearchipelago.com

Ciao,

Chloe

The Making of The Darkness

Now on to the next thing…

My husband and I have an artists collaborative called House Archipelago and for the last two years we have been working on a photo fantasy art project based on a mythology he’s created. The project is called Gods of the Archipelago and there are dozens of characters already done (and more to come!). We have another photoshoot this weekend, and are so lucky to work with some amazing artists. Please check out our website www.housearchipelago.com to see the first release of photos and to see the artists we’ve worked with on this project.

So I’m designing a costume for the Queen of Darkness. Matthew’s concept is for the character to have the feel of Legend (1985), one of my all time favourite movies, I was in love with the devil AND the girl (sorry Tom). Here they are:

The devil from Legend is a character dripping with sexuality and dark sensousness. The Darkness (working title for the character) has a look similar to the character Lili when she becomes tempted by the darkside, but the personality of the Devil.

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You must forgive my sketching, I’m not that kind of artist. This is one of the inital sketches of the character’s outfit. You can see that we will be keeping the plunging neckline and turning it into a body suit. We want the look to be a high cut thong strapless one piece (whew, that’s a lot of descriptors). She will have some type of collar and we have a makeup artist who will be creating a feathered mask look while her hair will be swept up in an art/abstract style do.

I made the body suit out of some glittery stretch fabric that I had left over from some costume or other and I had just enough, yay! You can see that i simply traced an outline of a dance bodysuit I had and sewed the seams up.

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I traced the outline of an old dance bodysuit and then used my sewing machine to make this one in a glittery stretch fabric

modelling DIY bodysuitI then turned it inside out and traced where I wanted to trim excess fabric (for this photoshoot less is more 😉 ) If you look really close you can see where I marked the hip bones to cut the fabric and the shape that I wanted for the breasts.

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Trying to make a thong cut, mission aborted!

I was going to use a thong to trace an outline for the butt of the bodysuit but (hehe) I realized this wouldn’t work because of something called curves, and that’s why I did the tracing while it was on my body.

I was very lucky for two reasons…

One, the model Miss Malevolent is about my size but even tinier; and two, costuming for a photoshoot is super forgiving because it doesn’t have to function, it only has to look good for a few shots.

Using a bra to imitate a model (for costuming purposes)Now having said that thing about Miss M and I having similar body types, I have to admit there are slight differences. Boobs. So I had to try to channel my inner Miss Malevolent by donning my ‘add three cup sizes’ Victoria Secret bra. Yep, it did the trick.

I also made leg bands as pictured in the sketch, but I don’t have a photo of those yet. And a neck collar made out of a halloween mask, s bit of black lace, some black fabric paint and cheap red, black and clear gems. Look at the beautiful hair by Laryssa Scott Hair and makeup out of Salon Hush in Downtown yxe and makeup by Kseniah’s MakeupScreen Shot 2017-11-12 at 5.03.45 PM

Oh and here I am looking totally nerdy at the photo shoot, with the gorgeous Darkness behind me.

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So I will post a pic of this ASAP, until then…

Ciao,

Chloe

Effervescent: The Final Chapter

I’ve finished up the Effervescent experience for now. I had a wonderful time at SWAG, saw some ingenious costumes and works of art. I was inspired to continue to create costumes and headpieces, and hopefully I’ll enter in two years when we have another SWAG event.

23004432_1389173201191858_400215806761232201_oHere is a photo of the model, Jo James, who wore my piece. She did a fantastic job and used the magnetic champagne glass perfectly, taking the occasional break to have a sip of bubbly. The costume was definitely a crowd favorite and I received a lot of good feedback which is always a nice thing.23004475_1389173094525202_8122898253853170170_o

 

 

Champagne Costume: Chapter 6

Well folks, this is the final chapter, although it should be two or three; one for beadwork, one for balls, ahem, bubbles, and one for assembling it all. And then there is the work of figuring out how to transport and hang the beautiful monstrosity that I created. Am I the only burlesque dancer who, after every show, vows to NEVER again make a giant complicated prop?!?

So, the champagne glass. As I’ve said before, the idea for this costume was that I was the champagne glass and I had champagne cascading over me from a bottle high above my head. And that is what I achieved 🙂 I’m so happy with this costume, which is saying a lot from a perfectionist.

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In Chapter Two I mentioned how I used a couple 11 gauge wire hoops, one for the top of the glass and one for the bottom. I used plumbers tape (attached with a thinner wire) to add strength to the top hoop and to have holes to attach wires to. I also used these holes in the plumbers tape to attach the top hoop to the shoulder harness using small hinges. This way I could get into and out of it a bit easier.

I also attached some dollar store garden trellis to the harness and this connected the top and bottom hoops which gave it stability, just like a backbone. I ended up covering the trellis in iridescent pipecleaners and they just peek out from under the bubbles now.

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Later on as I was adding design elements I spray painted some MORE garden trellis gold and added that to the back harness so that it framed my neck and head to make me I look like a queen! Quick side note: I added iridescent Swarovski crystals to this neck piece using E600 glue and eventually they came off along with the spray paint, so heads up, don’t glue gems on spray painted garden trellis 😉

I fixed it with some gold floral accents, a clearance Xmas flower clip and a few pearl creations I made. I decided to leave the green of the trellis exposed because it was the same color as my accent colors (champagne bottle) and it gave the whole look more richness.

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I had to add straps from the shoulder pieces to the front of the top hoop so that it didn’t collapse and then small but strong chain from a hardware store  (which I later painted gold to blend in)from the top hoop to the bottom hoop so THAT hoop didn’t collapse down.

I have to say that the majority of my time was spent working out the structural details of the piece and I encourage costumers to not rush ahead because it looks ugly. My piece looked like a jumble of wire until the last few weeks, but I KNEW that it was all going to work.IMG_4371

I also ended up adding a second smaller hoop below the bottom hoop, which I attached with thinner wire. I wanted to have more of a rounded shape like the bottom of a champagne glass and curvier lines to accent my body. And my husband suggested that I bend the wires in at the sides around my waist area to give it a nice curve. I find that sometimes I am a stickler for being authentic to an idea i.e- “I have to have the EXACT shape of a champagne glass”. I am trying to let go of this impuse when it inhibits the costume rather than making it better.

So now that the shaping of the glass was done it was time to add beads. Time for the fun part! I hand strung all of the beads except for a few strands on the sides that I found as bracelets at the dollar store and looked perfect. I was also given some fabulous gems from the beautiful and generous Dandy Miss Mandy. Thanks love!

I first found some shapes that I liked (trying to keep it as an art deco 1920’s piece) and used the 11 gauge wire to shape them. Then I strung all of my beads on either tiger tail wire or jewelery wire. I used wire because string breaks and glue dries up. Since I was spending hundreds of hours on a costume, I wanted it to last and I didn’t want to sit in a pool of tears on the floor when something snapped and beads exploded all over ;P

Not much to say about the creation of the glass because I went where the inspiration took me and had fun deciding which beads to use where and what designs to make.

One thing I had to do after was ensure that all of the wire ends were covered with duct tape (on the inside of the hoops). I did not do this before the show and had huge scratches on my butt and thighs from tiny wire ends rubbing against me. I DID fix this problem before I entered the piece into SWAG because no one wants their model to get hurt!

After the body of the champagne glass was done I moved on to bubbles, which I represented with pearls and foam balls covered in white pearlescent paint. DON’T USE SPRAY PAINT ON FOAM! Just saying, it looks like Xenomorph blood eating away at concrete, and you are left with a sad nothing. I love the lightness, durability and low-cost of the foam balls, definitely the best option.

I skewered them with… a skewer.IMG_3727 Then I stuck iridescent pipe cleaner through them and had a blast making beautiful bubble shapes. Bubbles tend to combine together in certain ways so I tried to replicate this look so that my bubbles looked like bubbles and not balls. I also used a couple different combinations of paint looks to give my bubbles some depth and texIMG_4090I originally thought I would have a bubble train trailing behind me, but after “walking” in my costume I realized that this would make it almost impossible to move on stage, and I did have to stay mobile enough to parade around (as Ziegfeld girls do).

Another idea that was scrapped due to physical limitations was my champagne tower that would hang from one arm held on by a wrist and elbow strap. I may still try for this someday since I have all the glasses made and ready to sparkle!

So instead of a bubble train, I used the 11 gauge wire and attached it to my “backbone” and then, you guessed it, I added gold duct tape! My bubbles on the pipe cleaners went on last. This was another one of the really fun parts for me because there’s very little room to go wrong, it’s not detail work and there is no definite shape that it must take. I gave the shape a bit of an S curve with a splash because bubbles look better when they 
IMG_4338are erratic. And then I added a bit of a “bump” to the butt. I love a good bubble butt (pun intended).

And that is it! Done. Fini.

After a successful (sold out!) two night show with the Rosebud Burlesque Club at the Remai Modern Art Gallery in beautiful downtown Saskatoon I decided to enter the costume in the Saskatchewan Wearable Art Gala. This is an event that I modelled for two years ago and I just loved it! All the proceeds go to the Jack Millikin Centre, a unique artists retreat centre on the infamous Ness Creek grounds.

I had to give the creation a name in order to enter it. I hate naming things, I’m terrible at it. I couldn’t name a dog to save my life. I thought back to the common thread running through my mind during the creative process and realized that I wanted this costume to be light, bubbly and full of upward movement, just like the delicate bubbles floating up and out of the champagne glass. I wanted this costume to be Effervescent. And so it was.

Thank you to everyone who read this blog and who have come out to support the Rosebud show and also to those who will be attending SWAG 2017. I am so happy to share this costume creation story with you 🙂

Ciao,

Chloe

Champagne Costume: Chapter Five

Accessories!

I feel like that word definitely needs an exclamation mark because accessories are so much fun and so easy to play around with. You can much more easily change your accessories in a costume than you can the major pieces.

At this point in building my Champagne costume I had to take a step back and look at the whole image I was creating. I was happy with the balance of materials and the way that the bubbles looked and moved (stay tuned for the bubble blog later this week). I looked at the color scheme and felt like it needed a pop, which I added with an accent color.

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My color scheme was based on, well, champagne obviously; but also from a necklace that the lovely Headmistress Cheripop Purr and Mona Handful had picked out for me at the infamous Dubarry’s in Las Vegas Nevada. Feel free to sigh as you gaze at the blingy-ness…

You can see a lot of gold, rose gold, iridescent. Beautiful colors but none of them stood out.

I noticed the green champagne bottle on the headpiece and knew I had to somehow add in green without making it stand out too much or look tacky.

I had these dollarstore magnetic curtain tie backs which I knew I wanted to use for pasties. An old trick I use for making quick and professional looking pasties is to take something broach size, stick it on a backing and voila! So I took the ornament off of the magnet (I ended up using the magnet for my champagne glass on my headpiece) and stuck it on some glitter foam.

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IMG_4201I thought it needed to tie into the costume more so I added some tiny pearls and green Swarovski crystals, attached by very thin jewelry wire.

I made a belt to tie around my waist to give my body more definition and shape. I used cheap green ribbon from Michaels’ (only because I couldn’t afford a beautiful pre made applique belt like this one on Etsy etsy.com/…/emerald-green-sparkly-elastic-bridal

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Last and very much least this time, were the panties. I had no time and I didn’t feel like anyone would notice the panties in the giant champagne glass anyway. So I did some glitter paint and some gold iron on sequin ribbon and I was done.

I had some fabulous shoes as well, made (more glittery) by moi and used in my first major burlesque performance

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And that’s pretty much it for accessories for the champagne costume. Check back soon for the final chapter (sounds so ominous doesn’t it?) of the Champagne Glass costume!

Ciao

Chloe

Champagne Costume: Chapter Four

It’s all about the base, bout the base, bout the base…..

That’s right folks, it’s time to talk about the stem base for my beautiful, spectacular, gorgeous champagne costume 😉

I felt that this was an important element to include so that I really looked like a champagne glass. My vision ended up being pretty close to what I made and there were very few hiccups so, yeah, I really love my base.

I used my 11 gauge wire to make a hoop and secured it with duct tape. Then I did the same with a slightly smaller hoop which I made big enough to feel like I could take a decent size step in.

 

I bound them together with wire and made sure the slightly smaller hoop was a bit more elevated so that it looked like a champagne glass bottom. I secured them together with good old wire and duct tape. You can see a bar between the hoops, that was to give it stability to stop it from swinging around so much when I walked. Later on in dress rehearsals I chopped it off because it was a tripping hazard (I kept stepping on it) and the extra support from the trim must have helped because it was no longer an issue. I really really reeeeally didn’t want to fall! Champagne flutes are delicate  😉

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Then I had to decide how to attach it to my legs. My original vision was to have leg garters that would have pearl bead strands coming down to meet the wire frame base (see above sketch). I attempted it and it looked awful. Through trial and error (and advice from my Rosebud Crew) I decided to leave the front and back open to show off my legs and make them look longer (every inch counts). I attached two leg straps, secured with velcro, covered them in a nice stretchy material and then attached them to the base with wire.

And Ta Da!!

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Eventually I added some rhinestones to the leg straps and I made a wire and bead design to add to the side which hid the ugly wire holding it all together. I had already added the trim to the hoops (all leftovers from previous burlesque costumes… I love saving money!) and it was complete.

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I had to learn how to walk in it, but that’s another story for another day 😉

Thanks so much for reading!

Ciao,

Chloe