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  • Writer's pictureAini

Ursa Major: A Virtual J-Fashion Event

Oh man it has been a hectic past two weeks for me! I took the opportunity to join the virtual Fanime fashion department "Ursa Major: A Virtual J-fashion Event" hosted by the lovely Halley from The Black Ribbon at the beginning of May.

I initially planned to make some floral arrangements but I still have some leftover stock from from the Royal Midnight Court Event in march, however that stock is stuck in the post office at my workplace, Google... and with lockdown still being in effect there was no way of obtaining it. That really dampened my mood and I couldn't find new motivation in such a short time.

I've also really wanted to make something up from the beginning that is 100% my own creation. While I love working with the flowers I have, I always feel a tinge of sadness. I didn't completely create them. Sure, sourcing flowers though a myriad of thrift opportunities is a lot of work and the pieces are "one of a kind" due to the limited availability of the stock - it's just not the same. So, I looked towards the art material I already owned and ribbon embroidery caught my eye!

Once I heard the event's theme "Ursa Major" and saw the event banner I was instantly inspired!

I've always wanted to do constellation related artwork and this was the perfect opportunity! I grabbed my supplies and went to work! I had seen embroidery works done on tulle somewhat recently and really wanted to try my hand at that as well. So I fastened some tulle into small embroidery hoop and the fun times began! I managed to thrift a large variety of vintage Kreinik metallic threads in the past and I was glad to find a great use for them. Working with them is difficult but they look oh so beautiful! After the constellation of Ursa Major was done I decided that while the "see through embroidery" is pretty it was not quite wearable unless I'd conjure up a frame for it - which would then become another issue because I would need to find a way to magically attach a pin or clip without that affecting the main piece... I might make necklaces in the near future but I'd need to source frames for that first. With 2 weeks until the event and national lockdowns there was no way I could go on a hunt in thrift/vintage stores etc. and Amazon just isn't the perfect place for that type of stuff either... so I'm filing that idea away for next time!

So in order to properly display gold thread I wanted to create a good amount of contrast with a dark background. Off I went to dye some silk fabric that has been living in storage for a good 6+ years! I'd spend a good hour every other day, experimenting with different dyes, painting methods, fabric medium and heat setting. I've always like drawing night skies and galaxies. It is extremely soothing to sit down and just apply layers of different hues and dots to recreate the night sky. I even included iridescent paints and next time I will mix in some glow in the dark ones as well!

Fresh paint on silk ribbon and fabric waiting to dry!

Incidentally, I used that picture for my first social media teaser as well!

The final outcome was absolutely gorgeous and I could honestly just sit around staring at the fabric all day. Once everything was set I sat down and also custom dyed the tulle so it would merge just right with the dark galaxy background. If I left it white it would brighten the work overall and I think by blending a bunch of different types of blues it reinforced the galaxy effect and gives it some additional dimension!

To round out the constellation I created a ring with white silk ribbon. It looked almost cloud like and that gave me the idea to color it in brighter tones as well as interlace it with gold thread and some pearls.

Yeah, that'll do!

Once everything was done I mounted it on lightweight material and created a tulle rosette to surround everything, further imitating fluffy soft clouds! I ended up creating two large rosettes and two much smaller simple pin versions. You'd think just because it's smaller that it'd be less time consuming but I still spent about the same amount of time on the embroidery (minus the rosette).

Finally I wanted to add more sparkle because I love anything that's shiny! I created small dangly chains that drape off the outer ribbon embroidery ring like tear drops. With everything that is going on in the world I did want to express my own somber mood as well. While tears are usually a sad thing they are also beautiful. I felt like aurora borealis swarovski crystals would be a perfect fit to emulate the shine of a tear streaked face - they also give the most amazing reflections when hit by light. A great fit overall.

So I made my 4 pins, 3 of them were Ursa Major/Minor themed and on the last one I tried a virgo zodiac (my husband is a virgo so I got inspired by that and coupled with the fact that virgo is relatively easy compared to some of the other ones lol!)

So I definitely nailed down my process and wanted to create something a little more... dimensional. A dear friend had mentioned a heart shape would be adorable and then the Sailor Moon redraw challenge happened at the same time. Influenced by that I decided to try my hand at a heart brooch!

This was the monday before the event and I'd be working a 40 hour week at the same time.

I didn't have the hardest time making each part but I'd say the most time consuming was the outer pearl layer. While it is absolutely beautiful it does take a good hour to two for one heart. I decided to make two different sizes, since the large one really commands your attention when worn! The pink is inspired by Angelic pretty's latest Neon Star Diner release - I really want to try my hand at matching embroidery colors. I got the perfect metallic blue thread for it but I don't own the dress so it'd be a little pointless for me to make that at this time - anyone looking for a custom commission though?

For this piece I feel confident enough to be able to streamline and recreate it as a custom commission. It took me a while to figure out the wording and policies but I did create a custom order option on Etsy. I think in the coming weeks I will try to make a few more sample pieces of different color ways as well!

I did end up making one final additional piece, a small golden frame of both Ursa Major and Ursa Minor with a little rain cloud spilling over the frame. This one was super fun to make and I really want to find more frames to make similar pieces! I got a bunch of ideas in my head for that already!

This picture really shows the effect of the dyed tulle on top of the fabric! I am so in love with the effect!

So that completed my rather small collection of items. I'm really happy with the outcome for all of them though and the overall process taught me some new skills as well!

Thursday night came around and I had blisters from all the sewing I had done. I took most of my product images at 2 am on friday morning then I called it a night. All of friday I spent editing my product images and coming up with a decent item description for my Etsy store. Usually when I think of selling something I greatly underestimate the amount of work it takes to properly present your work online and in person. It's a battle to get accurate colors on photos, let alone an attractive composition. I realized way too late that I had photographed the white rosettes on white background. It looks clean but it also completely ate the tulle rosette ring in the photos.

White on white, genius!

My first round of product images also didn't show any items on actual garments... Off again I went to set up my mannequin, pull out a decent coordinate from the closet, set up all the lighting and back to taking pictures.

Bless I do Declare for her beautiful blouses!

Rinse and repeat on the editing. I had all items listed by sunday... around 2 am lol. I never claimed to be good at time management... however I did list everything polished up to my own standards. I didn't rush anything out half done and I'm proud of myself for that.

Then it was time to go to bed, the virtual tea party on Zoom would start at 2:30pm! I crawled out of bed at 11 am and slowly made my way into the bathroom to put on my makeup. I had no idea on what to wear for the event other than wanting to include a representation of my work. So I pulled stuff out of the closet at random (I still need to reorganize and clean it back up now that everything is said and done...) and in the end I wore the dress I used to take pictures with. It's a very cute Metamorphose Temps de Fille Satin Back Shantung Princess Dress I got many years ago and altered to have a Madame de Pompadour painting esque ribbon tie bust.

I've worn it many times and I like how versatile it is! I've previously blogged about it for the Seraphim Forest event back in 2019 in my Throwback Time 01: Seraphim Dreams post at the beginning of the year. So it saved the day once more! I wanted to do a blue coordinate but it didn't feel right to wear the products that were currently listed on my Etsy store... Good thing that one of my friends already went ahead to claim the small heart brooch and was totally cool with me wearing it! I wanted to bring in more inks and used some of my own collections floral corsages. I also knew I needed to wear my Voodoodolly Starry Halo crown to match the theme! I pulled out an old Dream Holic wig from their Bienhime x Dreamholic 2016 collection. I always loved the gradient in that wig and I simply couldn't resist using the clip in buns! I added some peal accessories and I was ready to go!

Late but took the time to ost an Instagram story...

Of course it was 2:45 pm by then and I was already 15 minutes late for the tea party... Ouff! However I had a wonderful time meeting a whopping 50+ lolitas from around the world even if it was only virtual!

It me + privacy blur!

I did have lots of fun seeing so many people, pets and coordinates! I need to shout out the amazing Shaf, also known as Lipton Cunningham, for hosting such a well coordinated virtual meet on Zoom! I'm still amazed how smoothly the turn by turn introductions for 50+ people went!

It was a nice way to spend part of my afternoon and I finally started winding down from the previous weeks of essentially working double time (my regular job + art!) I'm super grateful for the chance to partake in this event and many thanks again to all the amazing artists making this event what it is, and once more to Halley from The Black Ribbon for being such a great organizer!

I finished my day by taking some outfit shots while showcasing the heart pins I made ~ which turned out really cute! I need to figure out how I want to edit some of them but so far this picture is my favorite one!

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