Lizzie Newell is the last guest blogger in my fall/winter “Writers Who Create Other Things” series. She tells us how her latest research inspired her to make nautically themed book lanyards. I love the colors, materials, and story behind these lanyards. Welcome, Lizzie!

book lanyard, fishing gear, creativity, inspiration

Lizzie Newell on Costumes, Fishing Gear, Jewelry, and Writing

I’m a writer who makes art, jewelry, and costumes as part of my writing process. Currently, I’ve made a series of jewelry, based on fishing floats, to send to folks who signed up for my newsletter. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the book cover and interior for my soon to be published novella, Sappho’s Agency. I produced the cover image using digital painting. I work in a traditional manner, developing the painting from sketches as I learned to do as an art student.

My stories are set in on a maritime planet, Fenria, which resembles Southeast Alaska over the entire planet. Fenria has many islands and fjords but no continents. The entire population lives near the coasts. They use boats and ships for transportation, and get much of their food, fish and sea vegetables, from the ocean.

In doing the research for my writing, I read up on boats, ships, and fishing villages. I regularly travel in Southeast Alaska and have an extensive collection of seafaring music which continuously inspires me. I’m fascinated by systems of rope and string which leads to my apparently oddly juxtaposed interest in corsetry and maritime gear. A corset with its combination of cord, fabric, and semi-rigid elements has a strong resemblance to the shrouds, sails, and spars of a ship.

My inspiration for the jewelry series came from watching the docking process aboard an Alaska Marine Highway ferry. To dock a ship, the deck crew throws a heaving line to personnel on the dock. This heaving line has a monkey fist knot on one end. The other end of the line is tied to the hawser used to moor the ship. I wanted to try making the rigging in miniature which led me to making my book lanyards which can be used as either a bookmark or a necklace. I net wire around a marble to make miniature glass fishing float such as were used by fishermen in the 1940s. I attach each model float it to a miniature heaving line.

Fishing float book lanyard

Making these book lanyards serves multiple purposes. First, I can’t come up with ideas when faced with a blank computer scene, but if I have something to do with my hands the ideas flow. I’ve played a lot of Freecell, Minesweap, or Tetras. Jewelry takes the same type of thinking. I have tools and materials next to my computer for use as a break from writing. My sewing, which takes more space, is set up in my bedroom. I also make models out of paper and so have a cut mat on top of a drafting table to do the work.

I use my costumes, jewelry, and art as a way to promote my writing. At writers’ conferences, working on jewelry is a great conversation starter, so are my costumes.

Amelia Bloomer costume
Lizzie as Amelia Bloomer

I made a Bloomer costume based on the style of clothing promoted by Amelia Bloomer, a 19th century feminist and magazine editor. I wore this to political events as a way of promoting voting. I also made a regency era costume complete with underclothing and did a strip tease at Worldcon in Montreal. For this I was given a special award and I got a hug from Julie Czernida.

I post photos of my process on Facebook and I give the jewelry away. Each of my pieces has a jewelry tag with my name so that if anyone is curious about the jewelry they can Google my name. Best of all is how I meet other people who make jewelry, art, and costumes or who know about aeronautical and boat design.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Thank you, Lizzie, for guest blogging today!