Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the absinthe fairy

Last Friday night I attended an event called Speak Easy Cabaret - The Tease! at Cattivo's in Lawrenceville, where one of our SCSS members was performing a steampunk burlesque show.  Hearing that there was to be a costume contest, I determined to make a statement by using a new corset and skirt combination I recently purchased from Pittsburgh corsetry retailer Black Hearts Clothing.  The idea was to be the life-size incarnation of La Fée Verte, a.k.a. "the Green Fairy" or "the absinthe fairy."

To be a fairy, the first thing I needed was fairy wings.  So I followed an old clip of Emilie Autumn from a crafting show where she shows the audience how to make your very own faerie wings.  This clip was filmed while she was still performing her "Enchant" era music, by the way:

My first question, however, was: What sort of wire did EA use for her wings?

After a look at the comments section I went with 14 gauge galvanized steel wire.  Probably not the best choice for easy constructions, as it wasn't as pliable as I would have liked it to be when I was bending it.  But the shape turned out all right in the end, even if each side of the wings weren't totally symmetrical.  It also probably helped the wings not get damaged in the large crowds around the burlesque stage, although I did end up hitting a  few people in the face with the wings when I turned around abruptly or moved while forgetting that I was wearing them.

Using 25 cent white drug store stockings, I stretched them out and put them over the wire, taping them in place with electrical tape:

After that I made decorative holes with incense, and painted the frame with acrylic paints using a green theme.

The incense I bought at a Super Walmart for $1.00. I did try to just use a lighter on a test wing, but EA was right about the incense sticks- they do provide a more controlled burn for designs, while the lighter just created huge, uneven holes. I guess one could use cigarettes as well, but it seems like a rather expensive thing to use, would create a bigger, less delicate hole and make the wings smell like ciggy smoke.

I used metallic grey acrylic paint for the "veins" of the wing, and worked with darker green on the inside and lighter green on the outside. Then I covered the entire thing with a glittery green acrylic paint.

After wrapping the middle in ribbons that both dangled from the back or would be used to tie to my arms, I took apart a cheap artificial floral bouquet, again from Walmart, and glued the green flowers and some additional greenery to the ribbons in the middle of the wings.


To complete the outfit I painted an old pair of high heels with the same green acrylics used on the wings, and then sewed a quick "absinthe utility belt" to hold my props- a sealed bottle with real absinthe in it, a semi-permeable bag with sugar cubes, and an absinthe spoon, on a "utility pouch" made of pleather and attached to an everyday dark brown leather belt:

For hair I tried to use cheap party store green hairspray, but that ended up looking pretty terrible so I had to wash it out and redo my hair.  I moussed it and curled it, although by the end of the night (when I actually got around to taking photos, as the burlesque show wouldn't let us use cameras before or during the show) I ended up looking like I had had a little too much absinthe myself:

Oh yeah, the sea-green demon horns... they were from my friend Lydia, who insisted I wear them as they matched my wings to a T.  While she was right about the horns and wings matching each other, I think the concept confused people who weren't familiar with the idea of La Fée Verte.  On the other hand, however, the horns could represent the potent drink's false but popular reputation for making people go insane or causing death at the beginning of the 20th century....

The costume in its entirety:

The wings were very comfortable to wear and tough as nails with the galvanized steel wire in the large crowds, and very popular.

The show was pretty good. I wasn't fond of all of the dancers, but Lex Lethium, the steampunk burlesque performer, did an amazing job!

As for the costume contest... it was cancelled.  Dang.  I was sure I was going to win too!


  1. First you make such a badass costume and then the competition gets cancelled? Argh! I would have been pissed! At least you had an excuse to dress up and I am sure you would have won!
    I tagged you for the Liebster Award ;)

  2. Those wings are excellent. Love the outfit!

  3. You are looking great in this dress.Dress color and face make up is also good.

    Zombie Costumes

  4. Well no matter what: Your Green Fairy looks AMAZING!!!
    When I get a moment & the next BHC shoot together - I'd love to have you wear it.

    As for the rest of your experience at the event..I'm not really surprised...and it sux that they cancelled it. We'll be happy to have you enter the costume contest for Monsters, Music & More - we've never cancelled a contest & never will.

  5. Thanks so much Cy! I would love to wear this again for a BHC shoot!

    I've got a couple other steamy ideas I think BHC would be interested in...