Saturday, 25 January 2014

DIY Rodarte Star Pin

So like many people I loved the star hair pieces that were used in the F/W 12 show. They were made specially for Rodarte and were available to buy for $640. Since then there were a slew of DIY versions, and as I love the piece myself I decided to try my hand at making one too.

The Inspiration

The Ingredients

Wire, thick gauge but bendable
wire cutters
gold spray
gold paint
stars (star metal studs)
optional: pliable sheet metal (custom stars)

 Looking at the original (below) figure out what your metal frame will look like and where your stars will go and design a template.


Luckily there was a Rodarte model who received her star hair piece as a gift after the show and put it up for sale on ebay, so I got a close look at the original from all angles. I noted that the main triangular base is curved slightly to fit against the head. It is also soldered (the metal pieces are glued together with liquidated metal) in a very free form manner, you can see a lot of the metal gobs of soldered metal even on pieces like the arms for the stars that would be one continuous piece of metal, so obviously a design feature. I created this look with hot glue (note: metal can get very hot, good to use pliers.) Note: It is easiest to glue pieces that have more surface area

Gluing the pieces together.

The larger stars were impossible to find as studs, so I made them out of sheet brass, see my medieval headphones for more about that type of metal. I cut out the stars then bent the middle of the star prongs to get the 3D effect.

Make sure to roughen up the surface of the metal before you glue so the glue will adhere. 

After the stars are all affixed to the frame you can spray the whole thing gold or use paint to create a uniform colour.

Finished product! I used bobby pins to fix this to my hair but you could also glue pins or clips to the back to make attaching it easier.

I had extra stars so I decided to make a more astronomically correct pin and modeled it after the little dipper!

Good luck with yours and enjoy!

Background: Botticelli the Three Graces from 'Primavera'
fingaz77 on ebay for the closeup pictures of the hairpin
little dipper from app StarWalk

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Tuesday Toolbox: The Gingerbread Construction Site

Royal Icing Piping Bag: "Pins, Secure the Tower!!"
chocolate pipettes: "Heave, Ho"
pins: "on three men, PULL!!"
wooden spoon: "Where do these go again?" (string lights)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Downton Gingerbread Castle

So, this Christmas I thought of creating my own gingerbread house. It is not something done in my family, but it combines my love of architecture and model making with baking, what could be more perfect! I was travelling home for Christmas and both my mother and I love Downton Abbey. I especially love Highclere Castle, the real life Downton Abbey home. It is an awe inspiring architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Charles Barry after he finished the Houses of Parliament and it is truly a character in the series. I had seen a previous gingerbread castle of Downton, here, and was inspired to try my own. Maybe it was a bit ambitious for my first ever attempt at a gingerbread house, but I followed the recipes and advice from this site, where she created a lovely gingerbread Brownstone, and a fellow designer! I wanted to create an homage to the Downton Christmas special from 2011, where Matthew proposes to Mary on New Year's Eve. It was a lovely scene and the only Christmas special actually set during Christmas. So I started from the photo below, the view of Highclere from the back where the final shot of the episode shows a very happy couple. 

Then, looking at the photo, I planned out how many individual walls had to be made, turned out to be 16. The pieces where then drawn on paper to make a pattern and then they were laid out and cut out of dough.

I wanted the gingerbread house to be true to the original design, not the traditional candy covered gingerbread house. The real breakthrough was in finding gold edible spray! So looking at the original design below and what was available in store I designed the detail. I used almonds for the spires, split yellow peas and lemon peel for the stonework, and thyme and raspberry fruit pieces for the greenery. Don't forget lots of icing!
I used broken butterscotch candy for the windows, but I really wanted the gingerbread castle not to just be about the building itself but about the characters. So I printed out stills from the series on acetate and mounted them on the windows with icing. I also wanted to illustrate the interior design, so the red library, the dining room, Mary's bedroom, the Grand Saloon, Upper Saloon, and the Green Drawing Room are all represented roughly where they are in the real building. Added to this I especially wanted to illustrate the story line of both Mary and Matthew's romance as well as Sybil and Branson's. So below you'll find  Mary and Matthew dancing and sharing gifts, the tree in the Saloon, Matthew punching Carlisle as Mary looks on, Sybil wearing her split dress (trousers! gasp!) and later in the same room nursing the wounded. I also tried to show a wide variety of characters so you'll find Rose, Cora, the Dowager Countess, and Edith in the windows. It was a lot of fun planning the insides, almost more fun than creating the outside! 
Floor Plan
 Central Piece
 Right small tower
 Left small tower
Left tower and side piece
Right tower and side piece

 The side wall before it is put in the oven, with engraving under the windows and butterscotch ready to melt into golden windows.

Split peas and icing create the detailed stonework, and the lively dinner party is in place.

 Decorating finished! Flat pieces are ready to ship..

 Testing the lighting on the central piece.

Now since I had to take a plane to get home, and was arriving the day before Christmas Eve I had to bake the whole thing here before leaving, so the only option? Flat pack it all. It was my carry on and luckily no bomb sniffing dogs stopped me! 

So early in the morning I set about building. The pieces were all backed in Styrofoam for support and pinned into place with icing as glue, and on some pieces real glue was used.

Finished, and of course a video was made..

So Happy Holidays and have a Happy New Year! Just watched this years Downton Christmas Special as a New Years Day treat. Hmmm, I wonder what I will bake next year, and ideas?

all photos taken by Chloe Cornell unless otherwise stated
scenes from Downton Abbey property of ITV