When my mother was going through her old boxes around seven years ago, we found my earliest writing on Monsters! A little assignment from grade school!
“Tyson. / Mummy, ghost, goblin, witch, vampire, troll, gargoyle, Pumpkinhead, invisible man, spider, zombie, devil, demon, skeleton, wolf-man, blob, dragon, gore, ghoul, horror, wolf, bat, IT, scarecrow.
Monsters are gross, ugly, and most of the time, mean. Some monsters you can’t see. Monsters are strong. They can be rude. Some don’t even talk. Monsters laugh, cackle, giggle, and eat a lot. Some walk through things. Most monsters act like parents. Monsters also have bad tempers. Some monsters kill people to eat them. They have bad manners and they eat too much.”
Well, how’s that for a list of nouns and adjectives? Something that struck me is that this list is very similar to the list I submitted to Alisa to choose which monsters we wanted to Steampunk and write about! But there are a few that I’m not quite certain about…
I know for sure that my childhood form had never heard of Pumpkinhead, the monster from the horror film, so I feel like I must have been referencing the character from the Return to Oz and the Wizard of Oz series of books. But he wasn’t very monstrous. He was actually kind of nice. So, that one causes me pause.
Who knows where the word Ghoul came from. I must have had a thesaurus around, because that is not a word I would have known then, and certainly not one I have used very much in the interim.
When I was really little we watched Stephen King’s “It” on television. I believe that, coupled with the character from the Adams Family, led my young self to believe that IT was a legitimate, common-place, every-day type monsters!
Another thing that strikes me is how often I made reference to monsters eating. Was I hungry when I wrote it?
My favorite line is “Most monsters act like parents”. I have no idea what that means. But maybe the strong parental instincts of these monsters are why I love them to this day!
Does anyone else have a love of monsters that started early?
When Philomena visits the monster prison on Lu Yan, she wears a garment influenced by China, Japan and Victorian London!
The dress is made from Orange Silk and Brocade.
The outer layer is a Chinese influenced bolero jacket. The underbust corset is made of metallic brocade, and is the steampunk element. The bustle covers an A-line skirt with brocade accents.
The blouse reflects Japanese kimono shapes and the hat reflects Japanese mounted archery. I wanted to make the outfit out of more Japanese pastel colors and prints, but the only fabric I had available in the right proportions were Chinese style brocades and orange silk.
Philomena’s hat is inspired by Yabusame, Traditional Mounted Archery. Mine features a tiny Dragon Head provided by my Brother and his Wife who sent it from Japan. We could not find an Oni, or demon, which appears on the traditional hat.
Lu Yan’s Costumes
Our book features a world-famous Monster Hunter named Lu Yan. He hosts our heroes at his “Monster House” a prison for various captive monsters. He is a steampunk gentleman.
I purchased this red coat with a fancy collar because it looked pretty steampunk to me, and matches the costume his wife will wear that Alisa created many years ago.
His costume has a Monster theme in its jewelry. I used some collar tip pins I found at Topman (I got both gold and silver) as well as a monster brooch I made by sculpting worbla on top of a dollar store toy lion.
The collar tips feature skeletal fingers holding a double strand of chains. I got them on clearance when Topman sent me a promotional email and I pounced. Don’t you just think they’re perfect for a monster hunter?
I bought a $1 toy lion and cut off its head, then painted it gold. Using leftover Worbla, a thermoplastic crafting supply used by cosplayers, I built on top of the toy lion to make it look like a Chinese Lion.
I am also working on a hat for Lu Yan, but I have not finished it yet!
Lu Yan’s Hakama
Monster Hunters aren’t always out in the field, sometimes they stay home. In our story Lu Yan is shown with his wife in a personal moment.
Our Chinese monster hunter is wearing them because out model requested them, and that’s how we roll.
This character needed some clothes for his stay at home. I tried to add a bit of a steampunk element by sewing decorative buttons on. Hakama are generally tied on, but these use elastic, so I thought the element would look cool.
Lu Yan’s Wife Costume
As you know from reading the chapter, Lu Yan’s wife turns out to be the “Bride of Frankenstein” style monster. Her costume, however, is a fantasy influenced Chinese gown.
The gown is a cross between old Chinese court gowns and Victorian bustled gowns.
The fabrics are all brocade, some with metallic thread. There are many layers, and the gown uses five different brocade fabrics as well as some fabric flowers.
The gown uses over 14 yards of fabric, and is pretty heavy. I tried to reinforce the seams with interfacing, serging and top stitching.
The gown is lined with the lightest weight polyester faux/silk I could find.
The train is lined with an interfaced cotton so that it can drag on the floor without tearing up too quickly.
The back features a detachable large brocade bow. The bow is so heavy, I feel now I should have boned the obi/sash that wraps around the waist in order to support it better. You learn as you go.
Here you will see the final image from the book of the husband and wife:
Shooting the Photos of Lu Yan’s Wife
Here are some behind the scenes shots:
The final image:
Shooting the Photos of the Heroes
The Monster Prison
Here are some outtakes from the various monster prison shoots over the years:
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