Tuesday, December 18, 2012

About contact lenses and sort of a review

For me contact lenses play an optional part in cosplay. I think a lot of cosplayers also see they as fine tuning or matter of engaging to the hobby rather than absolute part of the costume. Since I use glasses every day at work I thought that getting a prescription contact lenses wouldn’t hurt. Especially as regular cosmetic contact lenses I’ve used during my cosplay years don’t seem to fit, I had two reasons to make an appointment to my optician. The person prescribing should be licensed optician, optometrist or an eye doctor.

What the optician does in the first sitting with a new contact lens user is somewhat the following; asks questions about health and need for lenses to map out what type of lenses would work best and examines the eyes with a microscope for correct base curve, prescription and possible astigmatism. Then optician gives instruction of how to insert, remove and care for your lenses. The optician picks the pair of lenses based on the examinations and checks that the lenses fit properly on the eyes.

The prescription should have information about your eyes (diopter powers, base curve, diameter), lens care instructions, the date, the period of validity and the name of the optician

The cost of the first lens fitting in Finland costs varies from 15-40. Sometimes the fitting is free if you make an order for lenses at the same time. Even if you order lenses online, I recommend getting a prescription. Even if the probability is low, some people are not suitable wearers of contact lenses. It’s the job of an optician or eye doctor to give the green light and find the perfect lens type.

Base curve, diameter and power clearly visible in the package.
Buying from well known manufacturers or checking the seller’s site for detailed information about the lenses is really important. If the seller uses names or registered trademarks without any word of the manufacturer or the basic info about the lenses, including the base curve, diameter or safety instructions are nowhere to be found, it’s probably better to find another site to buy from. The seller should also provide information about wearing, removing and caring for your lenses from wear schedule to suitable cleaning solutions. Most sites also list the water consistence of the lenses, which is almost straight forward guide to the comfort level of the lenses.

The markings on the cases were added by absent minded cosplayer, who wanter to make sure that lenses would be worn in correct eyes.

I decided to buy my first pair of lenses from the optician, since they sell only genuine products. I chose one-day lenses, since I only need or want to use them time to time. With one-day lenses I can skip the lens care totally, so it’s hygienic and easy.

Even if I fitted one-day clear lenses I wanted to order tinted lenses. I ended up with “single wear” products from Starlens. They are one-day contact lenses which tinted all over, meaning that they don’t have a “hole” in the center for the pupil. And since they are only tinted, they work best with light colored eyes. The lenses looked so interesting that I had to test them. One package with two lenses was about 11 euros. An they are non-toric. Toric lenses for antigmatism are bit more expencive and they usually month or year lenses.

The Starlens Biomedics 1-day has six different colors; blue, brown, green, violet, mandarin and turquoise. I chose green to be tested first, because I have two green eyed characters chosen for Desucon Frostbite.

The water consistence of the lenses is 52% and they felt really comfortable. I forgot that I was even wearing lenses. And since the lenses were tinted, not opaque or printed, the outcome was natural. My eyes are light blue and the structure of the iris is clearly visible with the lens. Behold the scary eye!

I was skeptical about seeing everything in green, but the world looked rather normal when wearing the lenses. The brown ones might dim the vision a little, more so if they are worn in the evening or in dim lighting. But I think that is something I could live with, since the lenses were so comfortable and I liked the outcome.

Of course in cosplay purposes they might not always work, since some characters have true BAZOOM-effect on their eyes or the color or design on the eyes is really distinctive. But for characters with “normal” eyes or when the eye color just doesn’t match with the cosplayers eyes and the change doesn’t need to be dramatic, I recommend these lenses. I’m going to wear the lenses for Alicia for example. No BAZOOM needed.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Saya Otonashi from Blood+ at Tracon 7

I actually do have proper entries under construction. I really do!  As soon as I get an opportunity I will write about contact lenses. I recently bought ones with prescription and did the whole optician routine by the book. I have worn cosmetic contacts as long as I have cosplayed, but it took me this long to go to optician and check if my eyes are even compatible with lenses. But since I can't wrap the experience up just yet, I just keep spamming photos for now.

Saya is actually the only costume we both have worn. We are pretty much the same size, so I didn’t have to alter the costume to fit me. I only had to turn the skirts waistband over, so that the skirt “shortened” a little; my torso is taller than Yoki’s so the height proportions of the skirt and the jacket didn’t mach. It was an easy fix.

I really don’t have much more to say about the costume. It was effortless costume to wear on the second day of the convention, regular make-up after the troll blueness and perfect for changeable weather conditions, since its water- and windproof.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New cosplay and photoshoot- Alicia from Moomin

Even if I thought to have a break from costume making after Tracon, I just couldn’t. This year has been our most productive year this far and there seems to be no end to it. The main point for constructing Alicia/Aliisa costume was to make a mash-up revolving around a theme of Zombies at Moominvalley for Halloween. Instead I fell in love with the regular costume so bad that I had to have a photoshoot starring Alicia. The location was our neighboring forest. Yoki acted as the photographer.

 The costume wasn’t complex to build. I borrowed Yoki’s patterns for Snufkin as a base for the shirt and dress. The tights I found from local department store and the shoes are drifted ages ago for unidentified costume purposes. They were so cheap that I had to buy them… Thank you, my inner cosplay hoarder. The pendant is left over Fimo, gessoed and painted pink.

The wig is from a Finnish masquerade store and I used it for Lumiere earlier this year. Its bit thin to be worn loose, but I have solution ready.  Again thanks to my hoarding spirit, I found a pack of straight kanelon fiber from my closet in the exact color of the wig! So if I ever wear Alicia to conventions, I’ll be making wefts for some thickness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Casting with Formaform

When I was constructing the troll costumes, I wanted to try something new in form of casting and mold making. Both of our trolls have harnesses with buckles, so I ended up casting the fastenings from polyester in a Formaform mold.

Formaform is a synthetic and elastic rubber material for mould making. I bought the smallest package, 1,25kg from Hobbypoint, Finnish crafting store. The package contains three different ingredients; granules, liquid and Thermolan, a type of a hardener.

The granules smells pretty bad, but its environmental friendly and you can use it over and over again by cutting it to pieces and melting it again. Nice plus if you haven’t made molds earlier and mess up the first ones, like I did. I think the process pictured below is my third try. Read the instructions well beforehand. You never know, if I cut some corners.

First you need to prepare the working space. What you need is a stove and a retired pot, a scale for measuring, wooden sticks or spoons and cardboard cups. Then you need a container for the mold. I used a juice tetra which I cut in half and strengthened with tape. The master piece is taped to the bottom of the contained with two sided tape. The wall of the mold should be at least 6mm thick. That should be taken inconsideration when choosing the container.

Before I started to melt the Formaform, I sprayed the master with silicone spray. Then I measured the ingredients; granules and liquid in ratio 100/40. I turned up the stove to medium heat, poured the ingredients in and started to stir carefully with a wooden spoon. You don’t want air bubbles. The stuff is ready as soon as it turns liquid. 

I poured the stuff on the mold container and checked the master’s surface for any air bubbles. I pushed the bubbles out gently with a paintbrush.

Then the mold needs to set. The time depends on the size of the mold from half an hour to hour. Formaform will turn rubbery. When that occurred I carefully removed the mold from the container and pulled the master out. I trimmed the edges and check the mold.

First two molds weren’t good enough, so I just chopped it up and melted it again. The third one was almost perfect, so I let the mold cure 12 hours before the next step. At this time the mold will lose some elasticity, but remain rather flexible.

 Because I was using really strong, industrial material for the casting I had to reinforce the inside of the mold. Otherwise the polyester pull would tear the mold apart. Formaform comes with a bottle of liquid that is used to make the mould heat resistant. It hardens the inside of the negative mold so that it can endure materials like resin and hot wax. 

I poured the liquid on the negative and let it set for ten minutes. Then I just poured the stuff out and let the mould cure until the inside had felt solid as the rest of the mold remained rubbery.

Then it was time to mix polyester filling with hardener and pour it into the mold. I recommend using a respirator and pair of gloves when working with irritating stuff. If possible work in steady conditions, in room temperature if possible and not in direct sunlight if you don’t want to ruin your cast or the mold itself. Again, been there, done that.

It took about 45 minutes for the polyester to cure to a point it could be pulled out of the mold. I let the buckle to harden overnight, trimmed it with utility knife and painted it.

In all, it was nice challenge to try something different and because I needed a handful of buckles, it was more affordable to cast them than buy them. And now I have materials for future projects. But next time I’m going to buy more suitable casting material, since the polyester filling I used was bit too strong for Formaform. The last pull I did tore the inside of the mold pretty badly.

If you want more information and approach to mold making, check Rullarinkeli’s blog. Instead of Formaform, she used Vinamold. And there are videos too!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tracon, trolls and toddlers

Maybe it’s about time to write something about last weekend, which we successfully spent at Tracon with a party of seven. Seven! We overcame all obstacles and were victorious!

Tracon is an annual convention held traditionally at Tampere. This year’s convention was the seventh of its kind and the third one held at Tampere Hall, conference and concert hall near the center of the city. So alongside shops and grocery stores, accommodation is near. We literally had to take only few steps and we were at the convention area. We liked it, with the troll feet especially. Tracon’s program covers pretty much everything from role-playing games to anime and manga, with huge amount of cosplay from various sources. The quests of honor this year were Sandy Petersen (Cthulhu!) and Yasuhiro Nakura(Moomin!). For us, Tracon 7 was our fifth Tracon on a row, if I remember correctly.

This Tracon was bit different compared to the previous ones. We didn’t cosplay from the same series with Yoki, we had three generations attending to the convention; including me, Yoki, Thalla, his wife and two children and the Mom/Grandmom and I acted as a judge for the costume competition on Saturday. Also, Yoki participated on a demonstration for original costume designs on Sunday, for which I give two thumbs up! I hope that this kind of show will continue as a part of the cosplay program, so that those creative people, who give a form to their imagination by constructing a costume, usually sparing no effort, can have some well earned stage time. I don’t know if alternative or unofficial forms of characters could be integrated to this class somehow. Or would there be too many participants… Pre-selection maybe?

Over all the whole convention was a great experience. Loads of cosplay, great competitions and polite people, which really was nice since we had younglings with us. I have to admit that I was bit worried that a convention might be overwhelming with pram and lively two year old, but I was so wrong! Our two year old was so exited from all the life-sized stuffed toys that she wanted to hug each and every one. So big thank you to all the furries around! I bet you will not be forgotten.

Since I started to thank people, next big thank you goes to Iris, the person charge of the Tracon’s cosplay competitions and competitors and judges and… well, cosplay-everything. Thank you! For a first timer, the judging was a positive and a memorable experience. Also I could not have better mates to judge with. I, Lilian and Kizzy had weirdly enough really similar perspective to cosplay and I hope that we made the judging situation pleasant to the contestants, which was one of our goals. And if anyone wishes feedback from their costumes, just sent me e-mail on our address and I will reply from my personal account.

Part of the gratitude goes to the participants and everyone at the cosplay backstage. The competitions held at Tracon from the costume and show competition to the World Cosplay Summit preliminaries have been praised a lot, but not for nothing. Congratulations for all the ranked cosplayers!

I almost forgot our costumes! On Saturday we were troll siblings from World of Warcraft with Thalla. 

Yoki wore a costume from her original story, portraying Sio Imano both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday I strolled as Saya Otonashi from Blood+.

On Saturday, the kids were introduced to the world of cosplay in form of cute animal over-alls. I don’t know what kind of presents can be expected from the costume crazy auntie. Sadly, I don’t have a good photo of us all in costumes. We were standing in a rather dark corridor when we had the opportunity for group photos.

I’ll write a post about our troll costumes in more detail later on and spam some photos from the costumes. Also Yoki promised to write about her adventures in the field of costume construction.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Introducing Na’Gath and plans for Tracon vol. 251

It happened that I went blue today and asked Yoki to take some pictures of my latest cosplay. Meet Na’Gath, a carefree shaman based on World of Warcraft female troll. The garments are actual item designs in the game… I might have spiced them up a bit.

Based on the two hours I wore the costume, I say that this cosplay is rather comfortable, possibly because I chose a bodysuit over bodypaint. For the face and neck, which are the parts I had to paint, I used water soluble products from Grimas. I didn’t fix the paint and I could have concentrated more with the make-up, but in all it turned out quite well.

It doesn’t show up too well in the pictures, but I’m wearing a pair the blue fake eyelashes I accidentally found while looking for some bling to put on the pointy ears.

It’s possible that my costume will be the only one from the three we’ve been making that will debut at Tracon. It happened that first we had to drop the show competition because of unexpected setbacks and last week more followed. One of our trolls and three other party members might have to skip the occasion, but it’s quite alright. If we won’t make it to Tracon this year as a group, we will book another convention for the trolls next year. Thank goodness, there are so many conventions in Finland nowadays. 

But I and Yoki will be strolling at Tracon in few weeks for sure. Yoki will be portraying her original character design and possibly dig an older outfit from our costume crowded closet. For the first time we will swap costumes, as I have been thinking of wearing Saya Otonashi from Blood+, which Yoki wore at last Desucon. For the other day, my choice of costume is probably Na’Gath. Altough, based on the expession, Kuura seemed not to appreciate the troll in me.