Craft Stars: Violet Temper, Queen of Drag DIY
Like many crafters, I've been watching the hot glue-scented hijinks on RuPaul's Drag Race with a lot of envy and admiration. Those girls can make anything, from a wearable boat to a terrifying snake arm-puppet. Plus, dresses and wigs to die for - what Ru's queens can't make is really not worth making.
So, obviously, Crafty Crafty now needs to explore a key crafting demographic: drag queens. Luckily I have found a lady who is a total Craft Star in the making - drag queen and full-time costuming student Violet Temper.
A native of Pennsylvania, this lady claims, and I quote, to have been "pushed from the womb with a canister of glitter and a gross of rhinestones." Now based in LA (via New York), Violet studies for her Master's Degree at the extremely prestigious Cal Arts - that is, when she's not hanging out with her husband-to-be and her cats.
In her iota of free time, Violet generously agreed to speak with Crafty Crafty about her most ambitious projects, her love for stretch fabrics, and fashion design in general.
Hi Violet! Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Your costumes are incredible, encompassing advanced jewelery design, couture sewing and astounding feats of hairdressing and wig design.
Thanks! I'm very proud of my Lady. But just FYI, though I design my wigs I
do usually have them made/styled by someone else. Doin' hair is hard, girl!
For real. So, when did you first start making your drag gear? Were your
designs a hit from the beginning, or did you have a bit of a learning curve to
Um, ha, good question. I may have thought that they were a hit but my looks have not
always been embraced by other drag queens. The first time I ever performed in drag I
made my dress out of trash bags and duct tape and the other girls were a bit confused.
I guess I've always been a bit of a crafty rebel when it comes to drag, and I appreciate a
look that's more home spun than off the rack.
What proportion of your drag looks do you make yourself?
I would say about half. When you look at my drag closet half of it is weird vintage and the other half is most spandex dresses that I've made. I really don't like to wear things more than once (which is completely absurd) so many of my looks are cobbled together or cannibalized from other things I've made.
It's all about improvisational, on-the-spot DIY couture!
What's your favorite creation to date?
I just completed this giant sperm whale dress for a friend of mine for a performance
piece she's been working on - complete with a giant two-piece show girl collar for the
mouth. The tail is 10 feet by 6 feet and it's made out of hoop skirt boning and buckram. We also rhinestoned the sh*t out of it and it looks amazing.
What are the most difficult skills you've had to master to make
your drag wardrobe?
The most difficult thing for me is definitely hair. I just don't think I have the
patience required to do a really good wig. I am also not the kind of girl who
will shake a wig out of bag, tease it a bit, and call it a day. Most of my wigs are
more like helmets made out of hair and shellacked into place by an insane
amount of Aqua Net.
Who's the craftiest drag queen you know?
Ha ha, touché! Do you think that drag queens who have other people make their
costumes are cheating?
Not at all. Not everyone can be a talented seamstress and craft queen like myself. I
really don't mind at all when girls have their costumes made, especially if they're paying
me to do it, but one thing that I cannot stand is girls who look like Forever 21 threw up all
I mean, if that's your style then that's your style, I just find it tragically boring. Drag for me is about everything and anything over the top. Whether you're camp as Christmas or fishy as the ocean, just make it big!
Right on! So, what are your favorite materials to use when crafting? Any special
When it comes to making outfits I love working in stretch/spandex for two reasons. One: I'm lazy as hell and stretch requires less time and effort in regards to patterning and
stitching. Two: it comes in the wackiest crazies prints and patterns you can possibly
imagine. Oh, and three: yard by yard its cheaper then other fabrics with prints at the
same level of ridiculous.
Tips: don't be afraid of stretch! You also do not necessarily need a serger or an
overlock machine to sew with it. You just need a single thread domestic machine that has a zig-zag stitch. DO NOT trying to sew stretch with a normal straight stitch. It does
not allow for the stretch so when you put on the garment you'll pop all the stitches when
it begins to stretch and nobody likes a hole-y queen.
Thanks for that! Now, for our most crucial crafting dilemma: in the case of a zombie apocalypse, what craft tool would you use to fight back the hordes of the undead?
That is the best question in the entire world! And, yet, also very difficult to answer. I do like the image of me in Mad Max drag with a couple of holsters filled with the biggest hot glue guns that you've ever seen. They would, of course, have to modified to project a hot spray of glue or else that fighting would probably be a bit to intimate and sticky for the purposes of defending myself.
Want to see Violet perform? Check out her website, and don't forget to applaud her efforts (or nominate your own Next Drag Craft Superstar) in the comments!