Steampunk Hands around the World – Interview with Abigail of Wiserabbit

One of the highlights of my work are the creative friends that surround me. This time it is my very great pleasure to introduce you to Abigail of Wiserabbit.

We met years ago in a tent, on a scout site, whilst enjoying our favourite pastime of Live Roleplaying. In fact, it was a good friend who introduced us. I’m happy to say that I was there at their wedding and the pair are now honourary aunt and uncle to ‘the Scamp’. 

It isn’t at all unusual to find larpers who make their own costume, but in this case, the seamstress is well-trained and highly skilled!

1.      How did your shop get its name and what was the main inspiration behind opening your shop?

I’m not actually sure I can remember where the name came from! I’ve always had an affinity with rabbits (I share my workspace with my two house rabbits, Juno and Verity) and “wiserabbit” has been an internet handle for quite some time.

In terms of my reason for opening the shop, I started sewing full time when I found myself unexpectedly out of work. About a month later I became pregnant with my son, so it was a time of huge upheaval. I went from working in change management and being fiercely independent, to being a pregnant housewife within the space of a month! Starting my own business was a way to reclaim some of my identity. It also helps fund my expensive dressmaking habit! Most of my work is bespoke, but the Etsy shop gives me a financial excuse to make speculative items.


A mutual friend models for Wiserabbit

   2. What do you create and do you have a signature product? If so how did it come to be?

I would say it’s probably my forage caps; I made some for a pulp adventure LARP game and they proved very popular. I enjoy the huge variety that you can get from a single pattern. After a while, I started selling the patterns themselves and through various channels have now sold about 80 of them. I’m hoping the new fingerless glove patterns I’m working on will be as successful!

The Forage Cap is available on Etsy
  3. Where do you find your inspiration and what makes you different from the other people that make what you make?

My inspiration is nearly always based in historical fashion. I love the quality of construction in older garments; something you just don’t get now. Sometimes though, I will create a piece based around a piece of literature, a character or even around something I’m angry about! I initially trained in theatre and was particularly keen on allegorical pieces, mask work and puppet work. On stage a garment has to encapsulate the character at that point (or deliberately juxtapose a different set of ideas). I love the idea of a garment starting a “conversation” before a character speaks. It’s the difference between costume and fashion; fashion expresses what someone else wants you to be, costume can express whatever you want it to.

The Governess Gown is available on Etsy

  

 
      
4. What do you enjoy most about your craft?

I enjoy the self-sufficiency of sewing. Its a skill that everyone needs to utilise during their lives and being able to do it myself is satisfying.

The Steamcaptain America Ensemble…
..with a hidden in-joke!

 5. What is your best advice to newbie Etsians just opening their shops?

Etsy actually only makes up a small amount of my sales; most of the things I sell are bespoke requests so I’m probably not best placed to answer this. What I would say though, is pay very close attention to trending items and be realistic in your expectations. If you are looking to make your living as a crafter, then you will need other outlets as well unless you really are able to nail a target market.


The Navigatrix and Weldon Rivett esq. sporting a
Wiserabbit forage cap and Regency Steam coat 
Looking rather fine in his waistcoat, don’t you agree?
Wiserabbit uses veggie friendly ‘pleather’ and works
on it to make it closer to animal leather. 

 6. What are your top 3 favourite shops on Etsy and what do you like about them?

With the exception of the Navigatrix and Arcane Armoury of course?!

 Actually none of them are Steampunk related! The shops that have caught my eye are:





It’s all for the same reason – the uniqueness of design concepts, the design integrity and the display of skill.

7. Where can you be found online?


and on my Facebook page, which is updated the most often (I am terrible at updating things – I need a secretary!)


and of course, my Etsy shop: 


      
8. Do you have any coupon codes / special sales / upcoming or current promotional events going on in your shop? 

Just for you! Use the coupon STARLING01until the end of April 2014 for 10% off. Share this one wherever you like 🙂
9. What is it about Steampunk that you love and how did you become involved in it?
Would you think me a mercenary wench if I said it was because I saw a business opportunity? That was certainly why I first got involved but over the past year, I’ve come to love both the aesthetic and the wonderful people involved. I have never met such a creative, humorous, inclusive and welcoming group of people and I love their company. I love a group where individuality of style is prized over anything else. I’ve done LARP and re-enactment fairs as well, and the Steampunk fairs are by far the most fun.

I’ve also just started reading the Boneshaker trilogy by Cherie Priest, and that is really bringing the world to life for me in a convincing fashion.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thankyou, Abigail! It really is lovely to introduce our wonderful friends to everyone.

Speaking of authors….here’s another mutual friend and fellow LRPer, sporting his bespoke, Wiserabbit apparel.  A jolly nice chap, too!



Russell A. Smith 

We would love to read your comments, share a bit of ‘LRP froth’ (enthusiastic live roleplay talk) or find out what sort of Steampunk costume you would commission if you could!

Remember to use the #SteampunkHands on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to find other related blogs, reviews and other multimedia events this February!

~ The Navigatrix. Who has a sudden desire for more clothes. Quick! Send customer reinforcements! 😉

                                                                                                                                                                     

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