Art for me has always been about being inspired by things around me while using lots of different elements and ideas to create something unique and special. I have always loved gardening and with that comes lots of rusty tools, gears and things that have interesting shapes and textures. I also love to create faux finishes like leathers and marbling. As an artist I think I see more details and colors than most people. I think it comes from drawing and painting so much that it trains you to see the hues, the details and the textures of an object instead of just the object. You might see a tree, but I see the lights, the darks, structure and the negative spaces too.
With that in mind we were on a trip to Portland Oregon for the Spring Market. We were driving through a small town in Oregon when I saw a bunch of old rusty gardening tools that had been transformed into animals. I yelled to Randy to “pull over” and I jumped out of the van before it stopped moving. We wandered through this odd and crazy zoo. It was love at first sight. We were planning on stopping to see my mom in Northern California on our way home and I just had to bring her one of these awesome, crazy creatures for her garden. We decided on Big Rusty, a wonky, crazy looking bird made of a shovel, rototiller tines, rebar, faucet handles etc. We had our van full of stuff from the show, so we had to tie Big Rusty onto the roof of the van. As we drove, I could see his silhouette on the road. He wasn’t small or light. He was about 4 ft tall and he must have weighed about 30lbs.
We laughed at ourselves and what people must have thought about us driving with Big Rusty tied to the roof. As we drove and I watched his shadow on the road as he was traveling with us it started me thinking about creating animals out of odd things, some rusty, some shiny. Nail heads and gears all lent themselves to this idea that was starting to take shape, odd shape, but shape, nonetheless.
I started by sketching some simple Kitty’s that were all made from gears, springs, rakes and anything metal I could think of. That is why I originally called it Steampunk Kitty. Being a bit dark and different I thought that Halloween would be a good time to release the line. As I began to develop the line, it changed, becoming more colorful and interesting since dark rusty gears and automotive springs for cats weren’t very colorful or fun for fabric.
As I began to paint, I knew we needed some complex backgrounds and rich colors to make the line come alive. I pulled from the many faux finishes and mixed media backgrounds that I had created years ago to help pull all the elements together to form this fabric line. The bugs were actual paintings I did for an apothecary shop looking design that I loved but never used. I wanted it to have that kind of a look, so it was morphing as I let my design create itself with the bits of art, I had been saving for just this occasion.
The main characters developed into their own personalities. Sir Ives (the owl) the old, wise scientist, the keeper of time and knowledge. Nicholi Jeeters (the Cat) loves gears and diodes and keeps the rhythm for the group. Then there is Phineas (the crow), this quirky persona is fun loving and adventuresome. He holds the keys to unlock the wonders of the air.
The pumpkins (pin head, shrunken head and zipperhead) were added to bring in the element of Halloween. I wanted to keep the line fun, bright and interesting, true to my brand and not too dark or scary! It was a happy, fun steampunk. I hope you love it as much as I do. It is a truly inspired line that came about by allowing my imagination to keep refining the original idea until we arrived at the final characters who became Steampunk Halloween. We are now working on the next one!
There are great machine embroidery patterns to accompany this collection coming soon from Desiree’s Designs! Sign up for her newsletter (on her website) to learn when they will be available.
Left: Desiree, and her husband Randy were stars of Quilt Market in Houston. Bringing the steampunk style to life! Below: Desiree, Randy and daughter Jenn… a Steampunk family!
Steampunk Halloween is in shops now and ready for your creative projects! Stay tuned – we will announce a contest with Desiree on Friday 4/24!!!