Atmospheric Ghost Lights



Elowen Blackthorn


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Model - My daughter Willow

Outline the story …

When the natural world theme was announced I was so excited! I love nature! I also love a good mystery, especially one with a touch of magic to it. I knew of the Will-o-the-Wisp and investigated it's roots as a natural phenomenon and was surprised to learn that it was part of a great many mysterious lights grouped under the banner Atmospheric Ghost Lights. These sorts of phenomena have been seen on every continent on the planet and are known by many different names, such as the Min Min lights here in Australia, the Shiranui in Japan, the Aleya Ghost Lights in India, the Hessdalen Lights in Norway, the St. Louis Light in Saskatchewan, the Naga Fireballs in Thailand, the Spooklights in the U.S., and of course, the Will-o-the-Wisp in the British Isles and Europe.

I wanted this gown to magically transform; by day a beautiful historically inspired gown, by night, a mysterious ball of light! I took inspiration from a few different eras, the bodice was based on a 1776 corset, the sleeves based on a frock from 1806-9, and the skirt was based on the crinoline supported dresses of the mid 1860s but with a rounder silhouette to evoke the mysterious balls of light. I also knew I wanted it to be blue as I couldn't pass up the opportunity for my daughter Willow to dress as a Will-o-the-Wisp.

Outline the construction…

For this project I constructed my first crinoline, made of crinoline steel, linen tape, and twill tape. It was very challenging. I learnt a lot, taking much guidance from The Victorian Dressmaker by Izabela Pitcher.

Then a petticoat with five tiers of ruffles out of secondhand cotton and polyester sheets. It has a simple drawstring waist.

The inner layer of the outer skirt is a long rectangle of cotton sheet, on a drawstring waist. With the skirt on a dressform I spray painted it with Glo-X Professional Night Paint Base Coat, followed by Glo-X Professional Night Paint Aqua. I've never spray painted anything before, it was both enjoyable and nerve wracking! I then attached another long rectangle layer of recycled silk georgette sari over the top. I loosely hemmed both by tacking them up inside as I wanted there to be a floaty quality to the skirt.

I draped the bodice on my daughter, guided by Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines, it comprises a quilting cotton lining, two layers of cotton twill, two layers of white polyester sheet, the top being painted with blue TULIP glow in the dark Fabric Paint, and lastly a layer of the sari silk. It is fully boned with synthetic whalebone. The sleeves are cotton sheet with TULIP paint and a layer of sari silk on top.

The hair piece is made of buckram, painted with the TULIP paint, with millinery wire sewn along the edges, then covered in sari silk.




  1. Avatar Viktória Kika Kudkov on April 26, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    Absolutely adorable! Love the glow in the dark effect! Great work =)

    • Avatar Elowen Elowen Blackthorn on May 16, 2023 at 9:09 am

      Thanks! The glow was super fun to work with!

  2. Constance MacKenzie Constance MacKenzie on May 10, 2023 at 7:44 am

    I love the bodice with the long sleeves and back lacing which also emulates the fashions of Childrens clothes in the 18th century while also incorporating the natural world theme. Beautifully taking on the mysterious wisp magic

    • Avatar Elowen Elowen Blackthorn on May 16, 2023 at 9:11 am

      Thank you! I didn’t really look at children’s clothing, ha ha! It was SUPER fun to make this wisp gown!

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