I decided to completely overhaul the steampunk tree this year, the better to fit our shiny new steampunk room. I also moved the tree over here:
I liked the teal chairs flanking it so much, I decided to go with a teal and copper color scheme. Fortunately I already had enough ornaments in those colors, so I didn't have to buy any new.
Next I added in two strands of multi-colored patio lights that look just like hot air balloons, plus my own crafted hot air balloon ornaments:
I've had these patio lights for nearly a decade, and this is the first time I've found a proper use for them. Aren't they pretty?
There are also a few steampunk ornaments, like clock hand snowflakes by my friend Sharyn, and these papercraft gears by my fav steampunk jewelry artist, Friston.
The tree's most striking feature - and the one I'm most proud of - is the airship tree topper with its twinkling "smoke trail" garland. Here's a quick Vine to show you the twinkle effect:
The rest of the tree lights are static and warm yellow, while the "smoke" is twinkly white. To do it, I first wrapped white twinkle lights in a spiral up the tree, then covered them with glittery white cotton batting. Shockingly easy to do, and I love how the wispy cotton looks just like a vapor trail!
Not to mention, it's nice having twinkle lights in this room again. I love the ones on our Harry Potter tree so much, it's nice to have just a LITTLE twinkle back here.
Our airship topper is a $3 model ship from the thrift store, mashed together with a dirigible balloon John sewed from unbleached cotton. To combine them I ripped off all the masts and sails, then used brown embroidery floss to fashion an extremely crude net.
The model ship was attached to its base with two plastic bell-shaped pegs. I popped these out, painted them gold, and glued them to the back of the ship to look like thrusters or exhaust ports. (Click the pic to see them closer.)
Hanging the airship was tricky; the balloon is hanging from clear line, but the tree branches have to help support the ship's weight underneath. Definitely a two person job.
John's balloon is the real star here. We made the pattern using a small Nerf football wrapped in masking tape, then adjusted it to make it fatter. I especially love the fins on the back; John stuffed them with cardboard to keep them rigid.
Next year I'll try to make a better net, and maybe add some wings to the side of the ship? I'd also love to add a bright gold fan behind the ship for sparkle.
Beside the airship we have some hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling:
The big silver one is new, and it's my faaaavorite. Sharyn helped me find a new way to make balloon baskets that is super cool - I'll try to throw together a post on it soon.
Ok, that's the topper stuff, now let's talk about dat BASE.
This is the base's second incarnation, since our first attempt went horribly wrong. (The spray paint buckled the foam board we were using. Blurg.) After that John switched to Masonite, and I changed the design from an elegant red box with Victorian gold script to this copper-and-gauge style.
The box sides are held together with Velcro, so the whole thing is easy to assemble around the existing tree base, and - best of all - is collapsible for storage.
The gauges are paper print-outs behind thin sheets of plastic, held in place by surrounds John cut and routed from Masonite. The rivets are all various sized furniture plugs. The giant key is (surprise!) more Masonite, with a wooden dowel for the shaft. And yes, you can turn the key. :)
This base is another element I may jazz up more in the future; I could see adding a switch or two, some copper coils, and even a few blinking indicator lights. (Right??) For now, though, I think this is a lovely start - and it's nice not having a cloth skirt for the cats to burrow under/shed all over/puke on.
More of my new hot air balloons:
Once you start looking, you'll be surprised how many ornaments out there already look like balloons! I love these quilted ones - even though my thimble basket isn't that great.
I also have a few of these stunning copper glass drops:
They were a rare splurge from Crate N' Barrel a few years ago. I could only afford 6, and they each weigh a ton, and I will love them forever or until the cats break them.
Steampunk nutcracker on the left, rocket-riding octopus and clock hand snowflake on the right.
This is not steampunk, but it's copper and teal and oh-so-sparkly I couldn't resist:
(Also plastic, but with this much glitter, who cares? :D)
I'll leave you guys with one final dreamy HDR shot:
Hope you enjoyed my steamy labor of love! Stay tuned for even more Christmas goodies; I'm finally coming out of my sinusy sickness funk, so it's full steam ahead on the catching-up-on-posts train! CHOO CHOO.