Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Strappy hood and body piece

Just wrapped up a couple of new pieces for Karen Hsiao to shoot for her Black Cherries series. These were a total departure from my typical working method, being composed completely of vinyl straps. There was no pattern in the traditional sense, just a series of straps joined together one piece at a time. 

In order to keep the lines of the straps parallel on the hood, I had to actually make some of the straps out of curved pieces. Some of the curves were counterintuitive, and I ended up having to experiment to get the shape right. 

The body was challenging as well - each strap had to be a unique length, and I had to calculate the center, front dimension, rear dimension and front divided in half for each strap to position it correctly. 

With all the hours of careful measuring, cutting and assembly, the end result looks surprisingly simple and clean...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Asylum Hood - Pics by Karen Hsiao

I am loving these shots Karen sent over of the asylum hood on Ginger... Thanks to both of them for letting me share. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fetish Inspiration - Centurians Whole Catalog of the Exotic and Bizarre

Once upon a time there was a young little pervert living in New Orleans who had an intense curiosity about anything kinky, but not much information (yes, I'm talking about myself). I didn't know anything at the time about bondage, domination or the world of S&M, but I knew there were certain things that were dark and perverted that people didn't discuss in public, and I was intensely interested in the subject. I would see something on TV, like Batman getting tied up and it would give me a funny feeling inside. Before long I figured out I wasn't like other people I knew, and I thought maybe something was wrong with me. 

Just a side note for all you young ones out there: this was long, long time ago, before the age of the ubiquitous internet, when any deviation you can think of (and a few more you can't) is just a Google search away. It was actually difficult to find out information about certain subjects back in those days... The pre-internet dark ages. 

When I did come across a depiction of a kinky person in a movie or on TV, it was usually a bad thing: someone was getting tied up just before being killed or kidnapped - pretty negative stuff. I started doing research and trying to find out more. I tried to get my hands on anything that I could. In some movie special-effects magazine I came across an advertisement for a catalog for Centurians. I sent off my $20 and waited a few weeks. When the catalog arrived in the mail, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was like a candy store for me, just filled with hundreds of kinky items - many of which I'd never seen before. It was so eye opening to see that there were other people out there who liked the things I did, and enough of them that there was a business and a catalog full of stuff made for them. I can't describe the world of wonder and how it felt to see these creations for the first time: the bondage hood, with open mouth. The armbinder, the sleepsack, harnesses, gags, cuffs. I had found my people. 

The catalog cover had this long list of contents, which I pored over time and again. I didn't know what any of that stuff was at first, but it seemed to suggest endless possibilities.  

This bondage hood shot, with the mouth only opening and collar with the chain coming off the top of the hood - it's still has such power for me all these years later. Plus, you can see the straps on her shoulders which most likely connect to a tight armbinder. 

Speaking of which, another all-time favorite image for me is this zipped armbinder with 3 straps. Another picture I must have stared at for hours. 

There were so many incredible devices, and the illustrations were beautiful. 

Next I bought a copy of the Latex Annual catalog, which followed that same "shopping list of your dreams" content on the front cover. 

The models seemed to inhabit some fantasy world of perversion made real: flesh and blood plus rubber and fur. I totally understood why Sorayama would take inspiration from this model and pose years later.

This was my first encounter with the idea of a sleepsack - a life-changing experience for me. I loved everything about it, and could only imagine what it might feel like to be inside. It was so sexy to me. I couldn't believe other people had actually made these things. This is still such a hot picture!

As if the idea of a latex full-coverage suit wasn't enough, how about one that inflates? It was a whole new world. 

I couldn't really afford many of the things in the catalog, but it set my mind free in a way to enjoy the fantasies that I had always had. It was knowing that I wasn't alone that was the most valuable things I got from the catalogs. 

A few years later I managed to get some back issues that I hadn't the chance to get previously, including one catalog focused just on black patent leather. The sack pictured on the front cover was another one of those "I can't believe that is real" kind of images. 

The cover image is so inspiring to me, I hope to make some things for this show in Japan that embody that mixture of creativity, kink and mysterious eroticism that the Centurians catalog held for me. Somewhere out there is a young pervert that I hope will say to himself: "I see something familiar in that piece. That means something to me. It's strange, dark, mysterious and beautiful, and I want one." 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Tour of the Workshop

I have some people who contact me about the equipment I use, so I wanted to do a couple of posts about my workshop and equipment. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated space to work. For years I just worked in the living room of an apartment, which meant everything had to be taken out and put away every time I used it. It's much better now that I have a place to get messy and creative, and not in the middle of the living room. I'm sure my wife agrees... right honey?
Here's my workshop on a typical Saturday morning. I've got great natural light coming in through the window, and lots of places to lay out patterns and leather. This is my happy place. 
The studio is divided into three areas: layout, sewing and pounding (I'll explain that last one in a minute...). 
You can see from the diagram below, it's similar to a kitchen layout, with a work triangle formed by the three most commonly performed tasks. With my projects it usually goes: cut, sew, pound - repeat. The leather is laid out and the pattern traced on the main table. The pieces are cut out and clipped together for sewing. Then, the seams are glued and flattened with a mallet (pounded), before moving on to the next part. 
Most of my sewing is done on my workhorse: an Artisan 1797-AB leather sewing machine. It's a compound-feed walking foot machine with reverse-stitching capability and a beefy servo motor. I can do slow, careful work with it, and it can handle light to medium-weight leather. I absolutely love this machine!!
 The other machine in the shop is a 2618-1B, a heavier cylinder-bed machine also from Artisan. I call her "The Beast". It allows me to sew inside closed-end shapes like bags or hoods, and also to handle topstitching where the arm of a sleeve attaches to the body. I have been struggling with the machine because it has a tendency to break needles, but hopefully the latest service I had performed will fix the problem. With any new machine it is hard to tell if the machine itself is the problem, or if it's just because I don't know how to use it yet (which is entirely possible). I may have been spoiled by the ease-of-use of my other Artisan machine... This machine has an even more powerful motor that would easily sew through your finger. I definitely treat her with respect!
 This is an area I call the pounding station. I have a heavy granite plate that I use as a surface to pound flat seams. It also sits under the tooling pad I have when using punches to provide a solid, stable surface. Also, there's a nice little area to cut pattens and parts if needed. To the right of the granite block is my Weaver "Little Wonder" rivet-setting machine, bolted to the workbench. 
 I end up using the space between the rafters for leather storage, in rolls and tubes. Also, paper for design layouts and pattern making. 

My main work surface is a 48 by 36 inch table I made with wheels so it could be moved around. This is supplemented by an extension on sawhorses to take the whole width of the work surface to 96" or 8-feet wide. When working with a full hide or a side, you need that much space to lay it out flat. I also use a separate 18" by 96" piece of plywood to extend the surface area if needed. Even with the extension (a full 54 by 96-inch table top), a 55 square-foot full hide will overlap the work surface a bit on the sides.
Under my wheeled table I have room for storage, which is where the thread and leather dyes live. 

 I have quite a few large patterns, which get stored in another cabinet I made. 
 My table saw gets pressed into service as a leather holding area. (It's under the pile...)
 I keep my smaller pattens in 10x13 envelopes, dated and labeled...
...and these go in a drawer inside the cabinet as well.
That's about it for the studio tour today. Thanks for visiting... Coming up next time: Tools!