Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!
Helping me this morning is Sara, creator of the marvellous larp and steampunk clothing at Citadel Costumes. Good morning Sara, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Yes, I have my favourite homemade tomato and red pepper soup. I made it by softening a large, diced brown onion in a knob of butter. When soft, add two diced red bell peppers and several different types of sliced fresh tomatoes. My favourites are vine tomatoes and baby plums, but you can use any you like. Then add enough vegetable stock to cover the ingredients, a little salt and pepper and simmer until the tomatoes have turned into a pulp. Whilst you are waiting for that to happen put two sweet pointed peppers on a baking tray, and drizzle in a little oil, pop them in the oven at about 200 degrees, and roast them until soft and the skin is slightly blackened, drop them whole into the soup and remove from the heat. Once the soup is cooled, blend it in the pan until smooth… you can add a little single cream or natural yoghurt to make it creamier if you wish
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your lovely hats and costumes, I see you have you brought some along to show us today!
You certainly have a wide range of costumes, what inspires or influences you when you sit down to create a new costume?
It depends really, if it’s a costume from my own imagination, it can be something as simple as seeing an image or texture, I then start to think about how to translate that into fabric, which then develops into a whole character costume…If it’s for a client, generally I build on key aspects of their brief, and add my own creative spin to it. I love a challenge, so I always try to add something to the design, which will push me outside my comfort zone. Whether that’s a challenging pattern cut, or a difficult dye job, I think it adds something special to the piece, a kind of exclusivity if you will.
Splendid! Do you usually have a particular character or setting in mind when you create each one?
Not always, but sometimes a whole costume will pop into my head; I’ll think “Sea Elf” and the whole thing will be there in colour and texture with accessories! Other times I’ll get inspired by a fabric, like Chinese Brocade and a kimono with a bustle will pop into my head! I’ll start to make the piece and a character will form around it, I’ll begin to visualise other aspects of the costume, the accessories, hairstyle, mannerisms etc.
(this must sound mad! Hehe)
No, no my dear, that does not sound mad at all, unless, as they say, ‘We’re all mad around here’ … but tell me, do you take part in live action role play yourself?
Yes, I’ve only been involved in it for a couple of years, but it’s an amazing hobby. I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and I love dressing up. The role play was challenging for me, I felt rather awkward the first few events I went to, but throwing yourself into the game and the character you’re portraying is the best way forward. It’s pure escapism for me, a way to get away from work/life stress and although I come home from events exhausted, in a way, I always feel recharged too
It sounds marvellous! You have a lovely range of costumes in your shop but if a customer wanted something special do you take custom orders?
Yes I’m happy to take commissions, I find some of my best work comes from other peoples briefs, even though I’m quite whimsical, I like having guidelines too, it helps me focus!
Oh lovely! Now I know I am just longing to get one of your lovely hats! Tell me, where can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?
Currently, I only have my Etsy store for online purchases, you can find that here:
I’m also on Facebook, where you can see what I’ve been up to, recent makes, upcoming trading events etc, that’s here:
And, if any of our discerning Steampunk friends attended The Chepstow Steampunk market, in south wales on the 22nd of april I was there too and may be again in the future.
Now that is a curious thing as I think some friends of ours were there as well! Now then, as the kettle is singing, the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea?
Oooh both really!, a good cup of coffee, with milk, is what gets me going in a morning, and a nice cup of tea in the afternoon to pick me up when I’m flagging!
Splendid, here you are then a nice cup of tea to usher in the afternoon!
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Sara, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
By all means
Lovely, thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen today, and I will see you again next week with another splendid steampunk guest,
Blessings on your brew my dears!