Steampunk Amazones Collection, Part 1

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Well, I love Steampunk – mostly because it combines a few of my passions: history, clothing, culture.  with this collection I sought to add to the mix and enhance my perception of Steampunk through some more of my passions – horse riding, side saddle, and different cultures.

 After a few months of drawing, researching and picking up bits and pieces that vaguely went with the idea, the first sketches were ready – we had 7 amazones, from different continents and backgrounds. A few weeks later, most of the fabrics etc were assorted ( I wanted to use the stuff I had in stock, so sometimes the choice was a bit limited.) A bit of a disaster struck when we realized we wouldn’t be able to shoot the collection in the original venue as the friend who worked there, my side saddle mentor Becca Holland,had her hand in plaster and was off sick, plans had to be changed – and soon we had a solution: splitting the shoot in 2 parts, with one part taking place in the North, and one local. Atkinson Action Horses were recommended by a friend, who trains there – and the plan was hatched. We could have an action photo shoot and at the same time we got a model – not only a rider but a falconer, running Flight and Feathers Historical Falconry.

The result of the cooperation are below – let us meet  the first 4 Amazones

1. North America: The Neonavajo ( working name: Pocahontas…). having always been inspired by the Native American Indians ( my childhood nickname was Apache! ), this collection was just a perfect medium for playing around with leather, feathers and beads. The model for this look, Amy, was chuffed at being the Steampunk Pocahontas – and pulled the look off admirably!

 The initial sketch:

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Finished outfit

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The skirt was just a fun idea – 6 panels laced together – and unlaced for riding. the corset was perhaps the most demanding piece form the collection –   there is a fashion layer, coutil layer and a cotton lining. it is fully boned and sports external waist tape – all embroidered. Flossing, reminiscent of eagle feathers took quite some time ( and sore fingers…) as did the beading- we used different kinds of beads and metal bullet cases. My husband even produced some matching necklaces:-).

 To finish the outfit off, I Steampunk’d a jacket ( from Next) that I purchased at the Stamford Steampunk market – simply added beads, bullets and cogs. feathers, funk 70ties boots and some weapons, including the guns from RP Outfitters, completed the look.  The horse chosen for this character played his part extremely well – Badger was very patient and charismatic. He was fine with people putting tassels, braids and feathers on him, shooting bows off him – perfect.

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2. Europe: The Ringmistress ( still looking fora better name…)

 This was the least time consuming project as I utilized gear I already owed – the jacket i made as a part of my 1885 Riding Habit, and a corset ( 1884 Higby Patent)

 this was the original habit:

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 and that was the sketch for the Amazone:

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 Add a Steampunk topper and my hunting whip, and sorted!

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and without the jacket, with just the corset, worn on my old salsa top ( !)

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 I also wore lovely earrings from The Navigatrix🙂

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My stead was a hunter, Charlie. Charlie was one of of those horses who do not care much about anything unless they are ridden. so for the static shoots, he was half comatose, happily dozing away.  Things changed once I climbed on board and soon Charlie was cantering around the school.

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 alas, the Steampunk topper, unlike my proper one, did not sit tight enough and was blown off shortly after… still, we did have a good run!

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looking awake and happy. As is Charlie!

3. Africa ( and Middle East): The Neobedouin.

One of my favourite characters – I spent some time with the Egiptian Bedouins, crossing the White dessert, Black Dessert, and the Great Sand Sea, before staying in  Siwa, a Bedouin oasis ( and going for some sand surfing…). they were great folk, polite, with great sense of humour – and completely bonkers mad, especially when driving was involved. Great people. Not surprisingly, I have already  used the character in my previous collection – this one just needed  a slightly different look.

the sketch:

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and the realization:

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Amy was modelling thins one – and the outfit consisted of loose linen pants, original gallabiya in silk/linen -brought from Egypt a few years ago, adapted for riding. The underbust corset in sateen was decorated with leather strips, gold braid and  quite a lot of Egyptian coins… Headdress – lots of scarf ( including my Nubian one from Aswan), braid and a silk mask, based on the original mask Bedouin women wear. the hip chain and amber bracelet were provided by The Navigatrix, the gun by RP Outfitters.

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The mount was a spectacular Spanish Stallion, Almonzor.  A truly magnificent beast, very well schooled – and looking quite dashing in the Scythian tack…

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 here Almonzor just showing off…

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 Amy also brought her young kestrel, Shira 🙂

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4. Asia: Mulan? ( again, still looking for a better name..).

 Here I again combined things i love – I adore Chinese and step people clothing – and have bee fascinated with them since my tender teenage years – I have been training kung fu since i was 16, and i am now learning Mandarin. putting the martial arts, costume and equestrian ideas together was just fun.

The design:

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and its rendition:

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with Shira!

The outfit had several layers – loose silky pants, silk kaftan, leather corset and matching collar here – but there are also separate sleeves that hook up to the collar, and another kaftan, in metallic cloth, with a belt.

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As for the mounts, we first selected another gorgeous stallion

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 He wasn’t particularly impressed with having to work on his day off, and standing still was just not cutting it.  He playfully headbutted me, then kicked the owner, Ben and legged it, seeking greener pastures.

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Freedom!!!

 After a few rounds around the paddock, he consented to being caught and Ben rode him a bit – perfectly fine. still, for safety sake,we decided to get a bit more sedate mount for the shoot, and so Seamus was brought in to stand  by for Mulan’s ride. and he was perfect:-)

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we did a few charges on him too – alas, i forgot that we were shooting a fierce warrior so I was smiling a lot – not best for the shoot:-(

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a tad better, but you can still see the smirk.. 🙂

and there it is – 4 amazones, the next 3 are in Part 2 – here

credits:

photography – believe it or not, my husband ( after a  course with MOckford Photography)

Horses and Location: Atkinson Action Horses

Kestrel: Feathers and Flight

Clothes – me- So Prior Attire and our Steampunk branch, Off The Rails

jewellery, as indicated earlier – The Navigatrix

Steampunk guns: RP OUtfitters

models, Izabela PItcher and Amy Wallace

Many, many thanks to Ben and Fran from Atkinson Action Horses –  you were a great help- providing professional and friendly advice and service – the horses were turned out spotlessly ( i thought  me and Amy would be doing the horses ourselves, so that was a huge bonus – we had more time to make ourselves look pretty! ), and they were stunning and well behaved, including the young naughty boy  🙂

Huge thanks to Amy to not only agreeing to the wild idea, but also arranging the shoot, modelling and bringing her kestrel – you both looked superb!

thanks to Sarah from SDWD, who did a make up and hair trial with me!

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one eye for Mulan, one for Neobedouin…

and kudos to Lucas Pitcher who took the pictures and edited them so promptly!

jut to finish it off:, a few behind the scenes shoots… 🙂

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getting ready

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grace, poise and dignity – yep, that’s me…

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whooa! my hat’s falling off! 🙂

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Shira, like every girl, was interested in make up. a lot.

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She took a strange liking to Lucas and sat on him a lot. Shat on him a lot too…Image

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Ben showing us how it is done – mark his broken foot…

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naughty boy about to headbutt me, bless the young beastie!

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look, no hands!!! 🙂

well, that is it for now – the part 2 soon – after that the collection will be shown at the Fashion show at the Steampunk Asylum in Lincoln – and then some outfits will be put on sale:-)

Some Fun on the Side

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Or, in other words, some of my side saddle adventures:-)

I have been riding since I was 8 –  and although I did some show jumping and cross country work in my teenage years, I was always more interested in doing things a bit differently – loved hacking and covering distance – going on  long trails was always welcome!  In the Uk, I spent a few years riding for a cavalry regiment for the English Civil War Society –  swashing my sword and firing carabines from horseback was by far much more interesting!

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at the battle

I have tried some horseback archery and Roman riding with a group Comitatus – great fun!

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doesnt show, but have just thrown a plumbata at a poor bloke with a big shield…

Nowadays I mostly hunt in Devon and Somerset, riding lovely thoroughbred horses blessed with amazing stamina – going up and down those hills there for 6-7 hours sometimes is by no means a mean feat!

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at the meet – immaculately turned out and clean. 7 hours later, at the end of the day – not so much…

But I have always wanted to give a side saddle a go – to canter through the fields as a real lady would, all style and elegance. Well,  in the recent years SS seems to have been enjoying a come back – and so an opportunity arose one winter, a few years ago, when I was introduced to Michelle who hunts sidesaddle on Exmoor.

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Michelle on her Joseph, all elegance – and me on Zeberdee, warmly wrapped up agains one of the coldest winds ever – more of a wild west hussy than a lady…!

The first lesson went well, and I rode a few times under Michelle’s tutelage – but alas, it turned out to be pure torture! my right knee was in agony after about 20 minutes. and so I thought that my wonky knees were not really designed for side saddle.  I didnt know much about it then and it wasnt till I met Becca Holland, currely working at Audley End House, who suggested that maybe the saddle was just too short for me.  Michelle is petite – me – not so much!

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the first time…

Spirits were raised and i was determined to give it another go. As i just got engaged at that time, i wanted to ride side saddle after the ceremony – so I also had another excuse to learn the skill!

The first lesson was a success – the saddle was bigger and I was really comfortable in it – no knee problems! The mount, lovely, grumpy Henry, was gentle and understanding, and Becca is simply a superb teacher…

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still a bit insecure…

I also discovered that turning to your left can end up badly – my first fall was even captured on the camera ( almost, before hubby turned it off and rushed to rescue – unnecessarily asmy bowler hat was made of sturdy stuff an survived the impact… )video here .

but after a few more tips, I was much more confident and the canter/trot transitions were coming along nicely  

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yupee! cantering on a very sleepy Henry, it seems…

After that lesson weather worsened and all I was able to do is to plod around on the frozen grounds, modeling my growing collection of habits.

Here at a show and tell event,  sporting a 1785 riding habit in wool – double wool vest , wool skirt and jackets meant I was not frozen!

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out in style… with becca keeping an eye over me:-)

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Audley End in its wintery glory

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and a view of the habit, getting ready in the stables:-)

  And another one,  this time 1910 habit…

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wool habit and lovely Jack at the ready

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close up of the habit

But then the spring came and we started training more – and after a few more lessons, and no more falls, I was allowed to go outside and play in a bigger field.

Soon it was time to try something else – jumping! and to make sure I do it properly i was asked to do it without a bridle…video of the first very awkward jump here

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bridless…

As my jumping progressed, we started to add toys – at one lesson i did a lot of jumping and throwing speers at boars – at another i was piercing balloons with a sabre – endless fun!

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our toys…

In the end, i was able to do Becca’s favourite trick – jumping over a table and snatchign a glass of champagne  while flying over – here is my practice run!

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table…

We also included a dress rehearsal before my wedding – just making sure if the Victorian undergarments worked. they did – though I must say we naver had so much audience as when doing the dress rehearsal training!

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and a bit more ladylike trot around…

Alas for my wedding henry had an injured tendon, so I was using one of the hunters – poor boy had a saddle only once before, but luckily it fitted, and  despite the owner’s fretting we were able to canter away just after the ceremony! vids here and here

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cantering away, with my new husband!

Since then another habit was made… this time 1885, in blue wool, with elaborate frogging

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a new habit and a new boy – Jimmy!

We have also had the pleasure to witness the first side saddle point to point since 1921 –  a few piccies here…

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Becca flying over the fences on a borrowed pony

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the winner, Susan Oakes and Lizzie Harris – not competetive at all… 🙂

This spring i hope to continue the training so that next season I am able to do some hunting  aside – fingers crossed.

in the meantime, have a look at Beccas Video: How to ride Sidesaddle like a Victorian Lady

or visit the blog of  the Flying foxes – http://flyingfoxes.org.uk/tag/side-saddle/

 

following huge interest in the habits: they are made by me! check www.priorattire.co.uk or our facebook page🙂

 

 

there are also articles how to make them available on amazon:

the 18th century one

the 1810 one..

and the most asked for, the blue , 1885 habit

 

04/2014 update – a few more  habits and ss adventures happened:-)

a nice training session at Thurleigh Equestrian Centre, sporting my blue habit…

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and a Steampunk shoot too  ( from the Steampunk Amazones Collection)

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 Then a green habit for a customer – love the colour choice here! 🙂

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and the newest, 1860(ish) habit – a stock item the shop:-)

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