All Tied Up (In a Corset) and Releasing the Hounds

My life has taken a stunning turn of events in the last year. When I started this blog, I had hoped certain things would happen.  I wanted to explore a different vein of my creativity and use Steampunk as a theme. Little did I know how this project would evolve and how I would change. I completed some of my initial concepts in quick fashion. One of them was a Steampunk costume I made and wore on Halloween.

I recently updated the hat and corset from the costume for a gallery show, FashionArt at Soulard Art Market (SAM). While they didn’t win prizes, the pieces were well received.

FashionArt Show Pic FashionArt

I shared my hat making process in another blog recently and wanted to do the same for the corset work. This begins with my old couch. I bought a huge buttery soft brown leather couch for $99 in the discount section of national chain furniture store. I’d come to this shop often to check the sample and damaged pieces. One fine day, a beauty of a sofa practically called out “buy me”. The frame was slightly damaged, but the original price had been over $1,000, so it was a steal.

Thanks to help from one of my brothers and my dad’s pick-up truck, that brown baby was soon in the living room of my shot-gun bungalow. Fast forward to five years later, after I’d sold the house and moved to a high rise apartment, my brown leather friend had barely survived the move. The jimmied fixes I’d made to the frame had come undone and the movers had caused further damage. I had the plush couch propped against a wall for a while, but when one of the arms had started to come off, I knew it was time for it to go.

Being the good recycler I am, I decided the milk chocolate leather was just too awesome to part with. I carefully cut it from the frame and kept it. I donated all the interior cushions to Goodwill.  Alas the frame was so busted that I simply broke it into smaller pieces and left it at the dumpster. Had I still been in my house, I probably would have bar-b-q’d over it, redneck style in the backyard.

I wrapped the large leather pieces and stored them in an extra strong trash bag in my closet. I found a replacement couch for only $49. Apparently I have a penchant for finding cheap leather brown couches. It is while working from this couch that part of my old brown friend rose from the ashes like a Phoenix in the form of a corset.

Using another corset I’d bought as a pattern, I cut a couple good pieces and hand stitched my virgin attempt at corsetry into being. I’d found some awesome chains, a pocket watch and wired ribbon to decorate my newly created beauty. I left out the boning. That will be a future endeavor I’m certain.

An old pair of brown and black striped pants circa 1994 added some nice panel blocking. Yes, I wore those pants from the Gap until I ripped the crotch. I had Steampunk leanings back then too I guess. I had saved the fabric to make some pillows, but they have instead made nice touches to the corset (and hat). And I still have some material left over; traveling pants indeed.

Corset Panel BasicCorset Front 1Chain detail

Finished Corset Panel 1

For its Halloween debut, I was in an incredible hurry, so I had to pin the back panels on to my blouse. But for the FashionArt show, it needed finishing. I learned how to use a grommet tool and used a gorgeous black satin ribbon to tie up the back. Ironically, this tie up reminded me that part of the reason I didn’t finish the corset on time for Halloween was because I got caught up reading the “50 Shades” trilogy. But I digress; the corset was completed at last. Enjoy the pics, and then please read on about how I feel about releasing art and writing.

Corset Back 1Corset Back 3Corset Back 4

Putting out any completed piece of work, whether it is music, visual art or writing can be fairly nerve wracking. I like to use the phrase “releasing the hounds”, famous from the old Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Hounds of the Baskervilles”. In an old movie version, the manor dogs are released and madness ensues. I often feel that way in the creative process.  The work is prepped for release, I’m running around like crazy trying to get frames, editing, delivering and making deadlines. And finally there’s the opening or show or publication, where I practically collapse in heap and try to enjoy the fruits of my artistic labor. I hope the work is well received, but comfort myself with the thought that those who can’t create usually criticize.

Right now I’m in a creative frenzy with several large projects happening at once. The aforementioned FashionArt launch went well. I was able to secure a mannequin for a reasonable price and the gallery is fairly close by, so delivery was easy. On the other hand, I have a large competition pastel piece (44” x 64”) on its way at this very moment to Wichita, KS in a freakishly bad Midwestern snowstorm. As of right now, it’s on a UPS truck, waiting for the roads to clear before leaving Kansas City where they received a foot of snow. Here in St. Louis I have successfully bitten off all my nails. Which is OK, because I have two other large visual art projects in the works and I don’t need my nails dragging over pieces. I haven’t painted my nails in years for this reason.

One of these projects is a fantastic community art sculpture project that involves my other creative passion, animals. I am looking forward to creating despite the craziness of my schedule.

My written works are fighting for equal time. I have been working on a Steampunk trilogy since last summer. Originally scheduled for release last fall, I realized that it needed major editing. I had to abandon it for a few weeks after I got a couple opinions and my system picked up a nasty virus. I got frustrated and other art interfered. Inside I was dying to “release the hounds” as the creativity came faster than I could write.

While the trilogy was in a holding pattern, I came up with whole different serial about a single vampire and his search for an eternal love. I thought I’d never write about vampires, but it would not wait. Within a couple days, the first installment and its accompanying illustration were published in the Kindle store on Amazon. Much to my delight, I had my first sale. My hounds have been released, more are coming and a happy madness has ensued.

-“FashionArt” runs through March 8th in St. Louis’ Soulard Art Market.

-“The Long Moonlight” by Victoria L. Szulc, the first of “the Vampire’s Little Black Book” series is available on the Amazon/Kindle store for Kindle and apps (copyright and TM Hen Publishing). The second story should be available this weekend.

-“Strax and the Widow”, by Victoria L. Szulc (copyright and TM Hen Publishing), the first of the Steampunk trilogy is slated for a June release.

Feel free to “Like” me on Facebook at “The Countess Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc”. I update frequently with teaser nuggets from the books and pictures.