Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Warm zombie, no zombie?

The big question is how I’m going to keep myself warm next Friday. I pondered some ideas yesterday and came to a reasonable and manageable result. Even if warmth doesn’t suit zombies, I’m trying to construct sleeves, which would look like decomposed skin. Positive side for them is that if they work, they will cut out time from the make-up process. This far things are looking good.

Greater hindrance with taking my little girl out is the weather, which promises rain for Friday evening. Usually I make the costumes so that they endure some punishment from Mother Nature, were it rain or snow, but with Samara I feel insecure. I don’t mind rain, but I mind the pink particles I cursed earlier. I've washed the dress for the last time, but there is still a chance that some survived. Of course it could be hilarious for Samara to look more like Hello Kitty at the end of the walk...

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm feeling nostalgic

Ten years ago I watched my first anime marathon. Anime was relatively new in the beginning of 2000. And by this I mean that there where established audience, but still it was considered as underground. Of course there where Pokemon airing in Finland already and it was anime for sure, but for me it was more like a children’s thing. My first real touch to anime was as a seinen and shounen fan… believe it or not… Sailor Moon. Somehow it didn’t appeal to me even if I saw few arcs, but years later I really got into Magic Knight Rayearth. Is a small part of me dreaming of being magic girl saving the world every now and then? I don’t know about that, but apparently there is something shoujo-ish lurking in me.

But not everything was pink in fairy land. The series which got me hooked few years later was Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell and earliest find Escaflowne, which as mecha anime gave me a reminder how much I had liked Transformers in the nineties. To back up my interest in mecha series, my older cousin had sky channels on their household, which aired anime or would we say “American anime” in English. Through him and next to Transformers I had watched some episodes of Voltron, Saber Rider and one that I really can’t remember. There where a young boy, red droid as his helper and… something. Well, it wasn’t my favourite to start with, but if someone got anything out from my description, please enlighten me. When we were kids, we also had Starzinger on VHS subbed in Finnish. It’s hilarious to watch now, because we have still have the same debate about the names of their attacks. Was it “Dogmissile” or “Gro-aarmissile”?

Noir team, Mireille on right. Picture from a fansite.

Now from nineties back to the millennium. Little later, after Sailor Moon marathon, I also explored series titled Noir. It was more of my liking with the girls with guns concept. I happened to remember the series while I was browsing through’s newest costumes. Mireille jumped from the crowd and for a moment I thought from where I knew her. Obviously her design is not the most elaborate in the world, so that couldn’t be the reason. And then it struck me! It seemed as if the blond curls and high slit had never left me. I Googled and ended up rekindling old memories with Noir.

And then I got struck again! I have to make Mireille! I’m now rather obsessed about it. I fight the urge to dash to the nearest fabric store. The most horrifying thing is that I have blue eyes already and emphasizing contacts and the god damn curly, blond wig with bangs! Someone help me!

Note: Being nostalgic can be dangerous for cosplayers.

Edit: Yoki enlightened me with the mystery series, it was Macron 1. Thank you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Samara likes... pink?

Apparently, because there is pink spots all over her mossy and decomposed dress. Oh, how did it happen? No, I didn’t drop marker on it. It’s all because of my featherbrains and lack of knowledge with powder substance dyes. I did dissolve the dye before use, but evidently the pink particles dissolve lot slower than the blue, green and violet ones. And the pink particles are also light weighted; they tend to travel easily when measured to be dissolved, to places where they should not be. Like the shoulders of the sleeves. There are pink dots. They weren’t there before I ironed the sleeves with steam, which made the treacherous, invisible pink particles to activate and spread. Now I officially hate pink.

I will find some way out of this problem. There is still one weathering dye wash to go and I’m prepared to ink them if nothing else helps…

Actually this wasn't the first bump on the road with this costume. I redid the bust for the dress yesterday. It was bit too snug to wear, especially if I'm going to put something underneath. It could we wise. Next week it's going to snow if the forecast is correct. I'm off to think how to keep my legs and arms warm. Make-up might not be enough.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween is just around the corner

It’s little over a week till Halloween and I’m starting out with my costume. And it begins as it always begins, me on the floor kneeling and crouching. Today I used my free time making patterns for a dress. When making costumes, I always start from basic patterns. I have two or three different sizes on my closet fit for me and Yoki. It’s quick to pull them out and start cutting and taping the wished forms from them. Personally, I hate going through piles of magazines in hopes of finding close enough patterns. Sometimes it might be quicker, but my short temper rarely bends on this matter.

Next to making rather easy patterns and cutting the pieces out, I sewed the bust and started to dye the sleeves and the hem for the dress. I’m not sure if my take on the dyeing process will work or not, or rather will the colour stay after first wash. What I’m using is antique grey Dylon dye intended for washing machines, which I found when going through my mixed supplies, but I’m not going to stick with the normal routine. I’m just messing the fabric with the dye free hand. Does anyone have any ideas how to make the dye stick? I might try ironing to attach the colour after the pieces have dried. But still, I’m not too convinced that the colour will stay; at least it will get lighter. Then again, it’s a Halloween costume. I don’t know will I ever use it in other circumstances. For future projects this could be taken as a learning process.

The mossy and decomposed dress in making belongs to a girl, who gave me few nightmares back in the days; Samara Morgan, “misunderstood” kid down the well. She is also typically associated to a ring type thing and a video tape. There are two western versions from two movies obviously. I chose the first one. I think I haven't even seen the second. According to Youtube the "second" Samara is more spider like, quick and evil thing.

If it’s not crazy cold, I’ve planned to take my little girl out for a stroll for local Zombie walk... even if she doesn't practically eat brains or any random body parts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Say hello to my little friend...s

In order to make sanding less time consuming and muscle wrecking we purchased a sander Octo and a rotary tool Cotech. Yeaaahhh!

Octo is very handy when it comes to sanding bigger parts and creating shapes. And because of the small dust bag there is less candy blue powder flying around. It still exist, though. One of the downsides is that it tickles like hell when you're holding the piece which is being sanded, making it impossible to keep your grip and your po-po-po-poker face for long.

Then Cotech. It's a multitool like Dremel, only lighter version. It's bit smaller and significantly cheaper. It's very helpful when crafting holes, details and well... smaller things. Hiron might know more about the tool than I do, because it has become her best friend, even if the small blue waste is trying to po-po-po-poke her eyes when she's crafting.

Both of them came with instruction manuals. I thought to bring up few essential points from my point of view or in other words; how I interpret the instructions.

1.Do not operate power tools in explosive atmospheres.
-Anywhere near Hiron when she's in a certain state of mind: focused, frustrated and fierce, that's for sure. Or all of the previous combined.

2.Use safety equipment.
- Safety equipment? What are those? Does my scarf count as one, when I use it as a respirator? Just kidding.
We have real respirators, few weeks ago we got goggles and gloves we have used almost always. Less injuries, more bandage for binding.

3.Stay alert, watch what you are doing and use common sense when operating a power tool. Do not use a power tool while you are tired.
-Common sense was lost as we started cosplaying and we would never ever work while being tired, right.

4.Do not overreach. Keep proper footing and balance at all times.
-Yes, we're always standing on a roof top and trying to reach an object which is hanging in mid air at least two meters away from us, loose our balance and fall down. In some chases we're sitting on the floor in non-ergonomic positions. How can you overreach when you're holding Octo in your right hand and armor part in your left?

5.Dress properly. Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry. Keep your clothing and gloves away from moving parts.
-Next time I have to remember to wear my wetsuit, at least it's not loose, and buy one for Hiron too.

-yoki out

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Being in a sticker situation

I have a story about my buckle search. Usually I would rip buckles out from old belts or bags or find ones from flee market, but because I needed two identical ones I thought to visit my favorite fabric store in town. At the moment I stepped in one of the clerks, a familiar one rushes to whisper me how small bugs have invaded their shop window. And she also informed me that our window suffers the same invasion. I promised to pay attention to that when at work. After she had showed me the insects and told me where they were located on our shop window, we started to go through small containers and jars searching two similar buckles. We found a rather nice looking pair. Wrong color though, but that would be easy for me to fix.

When I was paying my purchases, the clerk asked me what I was doing. I answered something like a case. She nodded approvingly and stated that it figured. I was like… Okay. How buying two buckles..? Well, I didn’t over think it, I was too happy about the discount of ten percentages!

From each pair there is un-weathered version for comparison on the left.

So I had some painting to do and while I was at it I painted the shoe buckles too. I chose the color to be the same in all of the buckles. Next to straps the case project made progress with travel stickers. They were just printed on photo paper and glued on. I slightly slipped from the reference pictures, which were not too coherent to begin with. Mystical stickers just popped up for few frames and then vanished. My sin was to determine which of the stickers were simply there and in some cases alter the shape of the stickers slightly.

I might finish the surface of the stickers with satin varnish. I tried hair spray for some peculiar reason, but it came out too glossy. I just need to first make a test run. I have no idea how varnish will react with printer ink.

After that the only thing left with the case is the attachment at the top. I actually tried something, wasn’t pleased with it and trashed it. The concept is still good, the execution just wasn’t. I think I was bit tired and my mood was too driving to succeed. But I think I will find a nice state of mind soon enough and finish this one case shortly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Candy blue dust taking over the world

Or at least our residences. We are now officially back with Snowtroopers, which materializes in sawing, sanding and gluing Styrofoam. Even if I had dark thoughts about working with Styrofoam again, I feel revived now. Maybe I was prejudice. Last time I had to hurry and almost be hasty when making molds for the armor, thus gathering tremendous amount of stress. Now I can take our time. Only thing that hasn’t change is my hate towards the waste; fine, static dust which can penetrate through socks, shirts and even jeans! Even if you vacuum the workspace thorough, it’s still there. Even if you try to vacuum your clothes, it's no help. That stuff will be everywhere.

Next to fixing the molds so that they could hold few more rounds with "vaccu" or vacuum forming if silly nicknames are forgotten, we are constructing the backpacks for our Troopers. I dropped the back piece from Yoki’s debut with the costume, because making it might have totally destroyed my nerves. I still think it was right decision, not only because my mental health but also because my understanding of making three dimensional objects from sheets of material has notably improved.

Also it’s a lot easier to work with the costumes now, thanks to our recently purchased power tools. Seriously, go get some power tools! Lighter versions of different tools can easily manage tasks of cosplayer's needs. Would you believe, that sanding is starting to be fun with little Octo! I’d love to share the experiences with our sanding and carving helpers, but Yoki will write about our new friends in near future.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Acrylics on pleather

I made a quick trial with fake leather or more commonly pleather while waiting my suitcase to “dry” the other day. And what do you know, the test run proved to be more than I expected. Go acrylics!

I painted thin layers on black, stretchy pleather. I made one test with paint where I had added Medium to just to figure out how I could use it in the future. The whole Medium thing is new for me, but I know it should add some flexibility to the paint. On the down side it will also make the color diluted. After I had let the paints to dry I really put them to test. I stretched the small piece of pleather as much as I could and for my surprise nothing happened. The paint endured the punishment really well. The were no cracks at all. And what’s the greatest thing, the texture of the pleather will remain visible! I will use acrylics on pleather on the accessories for Luminara and Barriss, so there won’t be strain on the pieces. I would love to try out how the paints would hold on shoes or larger areas.

Smaller details on the buckle and the larger area on the scrap piece are with Medium. Color used was copper.

Two points to be taken in consideration when painting pleather with acrylics; color of the pleather and the acrylics you are using. Even if you paint without Medium, the base color will sheer trough. I only did one layer, but I’m sure that with two the result will be more covered up. I don’t know how it will affect the elasticity, but as soon as I try it out I will write about it. Then, based on my experience, there are a drastic differences between acrylic paints. I used System 3 acrylics which are quality paints. They might feel little expensive, but now after working with them for a while, I would not change them to anything. I have also used Winsor & Newton, but System 3 is my new favorite. The point was that invest in good paints, they will save you from cracks, plumps and frustration.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Make it cheap!

The title seems to be the thought behind my current project. But gladly, when talking about cosplay cheap doesn’t always mean bad. For cosplay, cheap could be lined together with words like innovative, clever or challenging. Well, I don’t know, but for me it has worked well. All together I have spent something like thirty euros to my project. For that money I have managed to construct almost all of the small accessories and pants, bought shoes and acquired most of the materials for a jacket. That’s what I need to start next besides polishing and finishing the items I have already made progress with.

The prop I’ve been putting together is a suitcase. This far I have used cushion board from recycling stack from my work place, half a meter of black cotton, beige curtain fabric from discount, pieces of dark brown pleather, some black rubber band and twenty four studs with glue and acrylic paints. I still need to attach slings, travel stickers and buckles and it should be close to ready.

Making the suitcase has been surprisingly easy. With the measurements you need to be accurate and at times you need to wait glue to dry completely before you can go on, but next to those and using massive amount of tape, piece of cake. If I ever need to do similar prop, I think I will choose poster board instead of cushion board. Some of the inner edges came up little untidy because the board got pressed in. Good thing is that the areas are inside the case and don’t show much.

Now that I think of it, I don’t know why I made the suitcase as operating one… It has never been opened in the series… Damn. Well, for me suitcase is functional even if it’s drawn. And now I have place where to put my stuff at conventions.

Studs for corner pieces painted and weathered with acrylic.

One budget solution occurred to me when I was faced with striping a pair of pants. I pondered between fabric marker and buying tremendous amount of ribbon. I didn’t like the result of the marker, it was bit messy for my taste and I also didn’t feel too good of spending money to ribbon 0,75 euros per meter when I needed almost fourteen. It would have cost almost as much as the fabric for the pants.

The solution is making your own ribbon from scrap cotton and sewing it on the pants before putting them together. It sounds elaborate, but is well worth it. I made stripes which were 0,5 centimetres width. Wider stripes should be easier to pull off and narrower ones should also be possible. I will post later how to do them. I just need to make samples before that, because I didn’t took any pictures when I was working on the pants.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tutorial- Detachable buckles for shoes

To fill my evenings I’ve been working on a single project and I thought to reveal how I’m planning to execute the look of colonial shoes by adding buckles to regular women's shoes. This is low budget one, because I had all the materials I needed to prepare the buckles. If you have glue gun, scrap poster board, something moldable and hair pins you are on the winning side.

First you need to pay attention to the shoes you are purchasing. In these types of women shoes there are two possibilities. Either the band on the top is solid part of the shoe or it’s attached from the side seams. For this project you need to buy shoes where the band is separate from the shoe to tuck the pin under it. I found my perfect pair from flee market for six euros.

When you have your shoes, it’s time to start with the buckle. Take measurements from the shoes, study your references and draw a frame on poster board. I made the inside of the frame just fem millimeters bigger that the height of the band. When you have cut out the frames, it’s time to bend them. Dampen the poster board a little, but not too much. It will start to fall apart if it's too wet. Then place it on a slightly curved surface. I put the wet frames inside a cylinder plastic container and placed a glass jar over them to prevent them to recover their original shape. Then it’s time to wait for the frames to dry.

For the attachment I used regular hair pins. First you need to shorten them to desired length. Make it so that the back of the pin is aligned with the inner height of the frame. This way it will sit on the band correctly. And use heavy duty pliers to cut the pins. You might ruin your scissors with them. To attach the pins hot glue the straight side to the frame. Use some help equipment and try to get the pin sealed inside the glue. I used my fingers when the glue was little cooled down. Use your own judgement with how you do it.

For making the buckles three dimensional I used the molding material, which I might have given bad reputation on my previous posts (I still hate the smell). First I made sausages out of the stuff and wet the surface of the poster board slightly to make it stick. Just a tiny bit of water is enough. You don’t want the frame to loose its shape. Pay attention to it while you smooth out the surface. Again water is a helpful aid. When you are satisfied, let the buckles to dry completely before going on.

To finish the buckles sand them with fine paper. Clean the surface from dust and you are ready to seal it. I used basic wood glue, which I applied with wet brush. Gesso might also work. Seal the back side around the pins too.

I gave the buckles a base color, but didn’t finish the paint job because I’m still going trough references to make a conclusion about the coloring. Acrylics would work well and miniature paints if you want to be waterproof. For finishing touches I would recommend weathering and perhaps coat of gloss.

Notes: For the pin attachment you could use some other glue, even epoxy. I used hot glue because I like the quickness of it. If you are working on a bigger buckle, you could seal the pin inside a piece of ribbon or fabric. It requires more space, but will be much firmer solution.When sketching the frames look at your shoes and see where the band is placed compared to the place where the shoe bends. This will affect the shape and size of your buckle, because it would not be comfortable for you or the buckle if it was on the way when you walk.