Bella’s Tchotchkis: Sparkly Accessories for Sparkly People
Technology has taken the fashion world, the entertainment world, and the burlesque world by storm, and there is no shortage of cutting edge technique in the costumes on the burly stage. Upon further investigation, we caught up with one of the most innovative pastie makers in the country, Bella La Blanc of Bella’s Tchotchkis, to learn more about her adventures in making the perfect 3-d printed pasties, including engineering her own 3-D printers for the job! The following interview excerpt is an up-close and personal account of Bella’s process and her thoughts about how artists can work together in a competitive field.
RLR: So, how long have you been doing 3D printing?
BLB: Well we started toying with the idea about five years ago. My husband is a software architect and does computer engineering and stuff like that on the side as a hobby. Yeah, he’s a nerd by trade, and a nerd for fun, so, in other words, he’s really HOT.
BLB: With that being said, we started seeing these big Maker Fairs and Tech Fairs, and we’d go to these, and we saw a 3D printer. And he was like, “I really want to get one, I really want to do something with it”. And I was like, WTF are we going to do with a 3D printer?
So we bought a Duplicator I-3 and it was a build your own kind of kit (a lot of this was his hard work too!) because if you bought them pre-built it was $5-6000. If you bought your own kit and built it yourself when they first came out, it was only $2000.
We started fucking around with it and making all kinds of cool shit. And we realized that the plastic was hard, that you could print it really thin, you could print it really thick, and then it was literally him and me on the couch one night just talking and I was working on merch, and I looked at him and he looked at me and I held up a pastie and he already knew.
And he said: “we can try…”
So, he literally built all the patterns from scratch. We’re talking we probably went through at least 2-3 rolls of filament
RLR: Yes, because you’re trying different densities and shapes, right?
BLB: Exactly- A lot of my earlier models were a little thinner, my next models a year or two later were a little on the thicker side, but they were also heavier; it took us years of tweaking. We had to consider what KIND of plastic are we going to use? Because there are tons of other kinds of plastics out there now like PLA, PET,a bunch of others, and I have rolls of all of them!
Then we had to figure out high melt temp, low melt temp, warping, cracking, proper temp to print at- things that especially even now, people who are buying 3D printers don’t think about. And, you know it has become kind of weird in the 3D printing pastie community because a lot of people are doing it now…
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s one of those “hey, you’re getting started, awesome, can you reach out to someone who’s been doing it for a hot minute, just to make sure you’re doing it right? I don’t want to admit the amount of money that we spent to figure out exactly the right consistency, the right plastics. I mean, we’ve gone through a couple of printers too, because, if you’re going to buy a printer and work it like a work horse…
RLR: How long does it take to print the pasties?
BLB: It takes about two hours to print one pair, but it’s not a big deal if you just keep them printing morning, noon and night. You do have to go down and scrape the printer, so I set up a print before going to bed and when I get up in the morning and scrape the printer and get the next print started. The truth is, the machine does all the work.
RLR: Oh yeah, after the two years of engineering where you figured out what you wanted to do and how to do it right!
RLR: So, do you have a different printer now that you prefer, or are you still using the same brand but an updated model?
BLB: So, now we use printers that my husband has built from scratch because we know what we want and how we like things done.
BLB: Even the parts for the printer are 3D printed!
RLR: That’s amazing!
BLB: It’s become a science of exactly what we want and how we want it. So, you can’t buy the printer, because he made it!
RLR: That’s what you want, a product that no one else can get!
BLB: I do suggest for someone who wants to get into 3D printing- don’t buy a MakerBot, they are really outdated. If you have one, great, just make sure you have the updated stuff for it. But I’ve seen a lot of positive things come out of the Prusa brand. That’s my suggestion. Don’t spend thousands of dollars perfecting it like we did! Let me help you; I fucked up so you don’t have to!
RLR: How can someone buy your pasties, and what is your site and social media info?
BLB: You can go to Bella’s Tchotchkis website which is www.bellastchotchkis.com, powered by Square (easy for payments) or to my Facebook page. Usually the easiest way to contact me is through the Facebook page or the contact button on the website. Sizes are: Small- 2”, Medium- 2.5”, Large 3”, with smaller and larger sizes made by request. Usually average turnaround from making it and getting it to your home is less than a week (in the U.S.). If you don’t see what you want on the website, I can always make it! (View more of Bella’s creations on Instagram @bella.lablanc)
(There’s much more to learn from this interview! For full text, click HERE)
We wanted to send a huge thank you out to everyone who was able to make it to The Pastie Project book launch party recently. It is such a pleasure to share this book with you, and we are grateful for your support. This party was for all those who contributed to the making of this book, and without whom, there would BE no book! To our little book design and production team: Ben, Tiny and Liz- it couldn’t have happened without you.
Thanks to Peter Aguero for being an excellent party host, and my favorite interviewer.
To Cheeky Cheetah of Glorious Pasties, thank you for letting us use your pastie on our logo, and what a pleasure it was to have you at the party vending your beautiful work.
To Miranti from The Joy of Feasting, who really outdid herself, designing the beautiful tower and bejewelled macarons for the event- THANK YOU SO MUCH!
And, finally, thanks to the Berg’n, for providing a beautiful space, wonderful apps from Lumpia Shack, and a gracious and supportive staff!
Come one, come all, to our BOOK LAUNCH PARTY! Wednesday, June 28, 7-10PM at The Berg’n in Brooklyn!
It’s HERE! The Pastie Project Book was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign in March of 2017, and we hope you can make it to our book launch party to pick up a copy of own, or bring yours by to be signed by the author, Rosey La Rouge!
This is a FREE open-house style event, with snacks from Lumpia Shack, drink service, and special treats.
The Pastie Project books are available for purchase at the party for $45, which is a $20 discount off the cover price. Proceeds will go to The Burlesque Hall of Fame Legends Challenge for next year. We will have other Pastie Project merch for purchase as well, including stickers, Pastie Timeline prints, and Pastie Project playing cards!
Aaaaaaand! In case you need some amazing sparkly pasties all your own, Cheeky Cheetah of Glorious Pasties will be there vending her gorgeous GLORIOUS wares!
Party Host with the most @Peter Aguero will guide us through the night!!
We would love to see your smiling faces out to support this labor of love and Rosey’s personal gift to the burlesque community. Thank you to everyone who contributed to make this project happen! Come celebrate the book that celebrates burlesque costume history!
We could not be more honored and excited to present Pastie History at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender! Thank you to Jo Weldon and BurlyCon for asking The Pastie Project to participate this year. Tickets are just $10, and proceeds go to The Burlesque Hall of Fame! Here is a link to info and tickets! All Community presentations on Thursday, June 1 are held in Bienneville Salon J, and you can get a discounted pass to attend all four! Pastie History is from 3:30-4:30! Can’t wait to see you there!
Here’s a blurb about the presentation:
“This presentation is all about pasties! How has the construction of pasties changed over time, and how have they evolved in the neo-burlesque movement? If you want to know more about the history of the pastie and why the smallest costume pieces in burlesque are some of the most significant, come listen to Rosey La Rouge, author of The Pastie Project, discuss all of the above. You’ll see beautiful examples of historic and modern pasties from around the world, all part of The Pastie Project photo archive. Bring a notebook and writing implement if you wish, we’ll be covering a lot of info, and you may want to jot it down. There will be time for Q&A at the end of this presentation. Get an up-close view of pasties inside and out, and get inspired!”
Well, we finally got it together to get a Facebook page for The Pastie Project. We’ll still be doing #pastiesoftheday every day, but we’ll be moving our daily posts over here by June! Follow to get your daily Facebook dose of pasties!
We had the pleasure of interviewing Camille 2000, Cosmic Queen of Burlesque, and super badass legend, for Burlesque Beat as part of the Legendary Costumes interview series. Check our Camille’s interview HERE!
A huge thanks to the most respected burlesque site and publication, 21st Century Burlesque, for the feature in March! We appreciate the support, and look forward to sharing the book with everyone, for sale online in June! Read the article HERE!
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, to all those who helped The Pastie Project reach over 160% of our Kickstarter goal!
Because we surpassed our publishing goal, we will be able to send $500 to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Legends Challenge Fund, which helps Burlesque Legends with travel expenses to get to the BHOF Weekender in June.
The books and rewards will be sent out in June, and we will have a book release party late the same month to celebrate The Pastie Project’s success and its availability on Amazon.com.
The magical burlesque community, it’s supporters and fans have made this dream possible, and I cannot be more excited to share a book made with all of my love for the change, art and joy burlesque has brought to my life.
THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has donated, shared and promoted this Kickstarter! We are so very excited to have reached our primary goal last night!
What does this mean?
Reaching our primary goal means that we can go to print with the book, so everyone’s orders will be filled! Hooray!
Now that we have a whole 11 days left to continue our fundraising, here is what will happen-
We might actually recover some of our costs for creating the book, meaning money we paid for photo rights, illustrations, and services! Woo!
After we recover some of these costs, the rest of this fundraiser $ will be donated to The Burlesque Hall of Fame Legends Challenge, which helps to fund travel expenses for Burlesque Legends who want to come to the BHOF Weekender. Additionally, we hope to donate swag to the Weekender Volunteer/Performer gift bags!
What should happen now?
Continue to spread the word, continue to pledge! Anything we make over our goal and costs only helps the BHOF Legends Challenge more!
Plus, anyone placing a preorder for the book here will be saving 25-40% off the cover cost after this challenge, so, if you want the book, order it HERE and now! Let’s make a new goal of $12,125, which would up us to 150% of our original goal.
Thank you again! Let’s see how far we can take The Pastie Project together!