Friday, August 23, 2013

New costume under construction- Yuma from Claymore

In September we are going to attend to Tracon and again I felt that I could use a new costume to debute. Actually I started my current project last spring when I was waiting for a confirmation that I could compete in Eurocosplay Qualifiers. I had Amira half ready and needed something to craft while waiting the reply from my manager. I wanted to make an armor costume to balance out the embroidery heavy Amira.

I returned to series called Claymore. It’s basically a shounen manga with half-human, half-monster warriors who all are female, have huge swords and are more or less kick-ass chicks. The warriors called Claymores work for The Organization, where all the leading positions are taken by men. The Claymores are deployed from requests to destroy Yomas, human eating demons who can take the form of a human being.

The character I chose is Yuma, ex-Claymore who is one of the independent warriors who fled from The Organization after truly devastating encounter with more developed Yomas. The conflict had really shady traits which made the seven surviving Claymores to hide their presence and to evade confronting The Organization. The Claymores in The Organization named the seven warriors who vanished from the battlefield as Seven Ghosts, because their bodies were never found.

Yuma was ranked as number 40 in her time in the Organization. And with 47 ranks in the troops there were only seven Claymores who were weaker than her. Yuma feels insecure and powerless amongst the group of ex-Claymores she travels and trains with. After the seven year time skip from the decisive battle it’s made clear that she can easily fight with higher ranked Claymore’s with ease. The underdog setting Yuma has is also one reason why I like her so much. She gains skills and confidence during their encounters, but also remains bit awkward with people and still sometimes underestimates herself compared to the other warriors.

As the opposite of the white uniform the regular Claymore’s wear, The Seven Ghosts have black outfits with light armor with individual looks and styles. I think that they each chose how to equip themselves based on their fighting abilities and self-confidence. Yuma’s outfit is one of the more conservative ones in the group and she has many pieces of armor even if in real life they wouldn’t protect much, but I guess that is just how fictional armors work. Yuma is also a defensive type fighter, which might refer to her “heavy” armor compared to the offensive types who have only few pieces of armor for agility and speed.

Wow, that was probably the longest introduction of a cosplay character I have ever written. But Yuma deserves it! As I said, I like her a lot! Maybe that’s why the costume is almost done already...

I’ve made the armor and the bodysuit and styled the wig. I also did an early make-up test and have started with the sword, which is something I have never done from scratch! I’ve even used some crazy powertools! So I have sword making ahead, sewing the cape and buying new contact lenses. Then that should be it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Late report from Animecon X

Animecon X was held in mid July at Kuopio Music Center. It’s been about five years since our last visit to Animecon or rather Finncon/Animecon multievent, which made our trip rather nostalgic. We travelled to Kuopio by train, which set some limitations to what costumes we could pack for the weekend. We tried to travel lightly, since we’ve had our complications with trains and piles of luggage. Years back we forgot our kit with all our make-up on the shelf. Thank goodness Yoki realized that we missed one bag the moment we stepped on the platform and rushed back in to get it.

We both had one costume each for the two-day convention. I wore the school uniform I made for Saya and Yoki chose Kirlain Fuyu Jaw're, a character from Varjella. For Fuyu Yoki left out the white robe she wore at Desucon Frostbite, which is like a representative outfit for members Kirlain family. This light version was summer version of a sort and it indeed lived up to its name.

Animecon weekend was full of sun and heat. Even my uniform was hot to wear. Although the weather made cosplayers suffer it allowed the new outdoor photo service, which really was a nice change even if it required more work from the photographers and the assistants.

 Photos: Santtu Pajukanta

As a venue the Music Center was rather... confusing. It was suprisingly hard to navigate around even with the booklet. It was odd, because the building itself wasn’t that big to begin with. It took me about three to four strolls around the place until I got hang of it.

The Quests of Honor were Spoony, DJ Sharpnel and Benzaie, returning quest from last year. The program itself varied from Moomins to Japanese horror stories. I think that Animecon X was a convention where we spent more time at panels and lectures than in any other event in past few years. Usually we are occupied with competitions or some other cosplay related activities.

The highlight of Saturday was undoubtedly the anime concert. Kuopio’s Symphony orchestra with Atso Almila performed on the main stage playing different anime themes and songs for hour and a half in the evening. The concert was good despite the video clip weirdness, which hopefully will be fixed to match the orchestra’s efforts in the future.

The opening piece was Lugia’s song from Pok√©mon- Power of One. It truly brought up memories accompanied with few tears. But I dare to say that I wasn’t alone with my feelings. Some of the pieces were not that familiar to me, but when the theme of Noir started I think I stopped breathing! In all, I couldn’t think a better way to end the evening.

On Sunday we managed to have a small photoshoot at the nearby park, went to see few lectures and the show cosplay competition at the concert hall. The performances varied a lot, but the top was easy to pick from the bunch. I was so happy that our seats were so close to the stage that I was able to see facial expressions of the competitors. Especially the winners! It was so enjoyable to watch so effortless and natural performance.

In all, Animecon was nice and carefree weekend spent in good company… with hotel breakfast! The next stop for us is going to be Tracon at Tampere. Greetings to the hosts of the entertaining panel discussion at Animecon about cosplaying and parents; we might have one cosplaying mother in August! Our mother has always been a supporter of our hobby (when she got over the fact that our work room will never be totally organized ever again) and few weeks ago she opened a discussion: “Could I wear something else than just regular clothes for chance?”

Friday, August 9, 2013

Saya Otonashi from Blood+ at Animecon

Blood+ is a series to which I have returned many times and read through four to five times. I must admit that I have never watched the anime more than few peeks from two episodes. I have formed an opinion based on what I’ve read about the animation, that the plot is more to my liking in the manga with all the misunderstanding and tragedy between Saya and Diva and Diva being more childlike and innocent in her horrible actions.

The high school uniform I made for Saya is a combination from both the anime and the manga. Biggest reason for combining those two was that I couldn’t find suitable track shoes seen in the comic. In the anime Saya has basic walking shoes, which I happened to have in my closet.

The costume itself is pretty basic; pleated skirt and white shirt with red bow. I also made the school bag and had the sword with me which Yoki made for Desucon 2012. I only got few recognitions since the school uniform is so ordinary looking and modest compared to the more better known Saya costume with plum colored jacket and white skirt.

We actually had a competition with Yoki at Animecon. We competed which costume gets more photos taken; my school uniform against her own design. It was a close call... Yoki won by one! I got over it rather quickly, because Fuyu’s costume is really well done and good looking.

We also had this weird encounter with two young guys, who enjoyed the weekend with some refreshing drinks at the park. Against all odds, they were  true gentlemen. They asked a permission to pose with us in a photo and made polite questions about the costumes. When I answered which character I was dressed as the other dude saw my fangs, his eyes started to sparkle and he invited me to bite his neck. I laughed and told him that the fake teeth might not be durable enough to do that. He was bit dissappointed, but he still thanked us for saving his day smiling a happy, slightly drunken smile.

All the photos were taken by Yoki. The large quantity is only because she took so many good ones that it was hard to narrow them down only to few!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Straightening synthetic hair fiber

I like to re-use and –style my wigs, even if I have a tendency to hoard them excessively. For my new project I bought some straight fiber to match my already existing wig. I was disappointed when I opened the package and saw that the presumably straight fiber was anything but straight. I really didn’t have the time to order a whole new wig and had to start a straightening project for kanelon fiber which weren’t heat resistant. I was bit horrified, even if I have straightened synthetic fibers before. Now I needed to style a really sleek and straight wig, when the troll wig was fine being bit frizzy and messy.

I used almost the same method as with the troll wig, with the difference of using gauze instead of pattern paper.

First I took a small lock of fibers and combed then through with a wig brush. Then I sprayed the lock with water and combed it again.

Then I layered the gauze on an ironing board and misted it with water. On the bottom I placed one layer of gauze and two on the top. The gauze which I used was diaper gauze, which is multi-layered compared to regular one-layered gauze. So if you are using regular gauze, be sure to fold it several times.

I set the iron first on nylon setting, but soon increased the heat to silk setting; one point.

Then I placed the fibers beneath the gauze, holding the loop on my fingers. Then I pressed the iron firmly on top of the gauze as close to fingers as I was comfortable with and pulled the fibers under the iron. This I repeated multiple times, with spraying and combing the fibers time to time. Its important not to press the iron too hard, because you don't want to stretch the fiber, only re-shape them.

On left: the half-way fold after few presses with iron. On right: the fibers with the half-way fold, straight from the package.

For some fibers I decided to iron the really annoying half-way loop/fold, especially if you’d like to make the wefts longer than half of the fiber length. It took few extra presses, but finally the fold vanished all together.

After straightening half of the fibers in the package, I sewed the wefts and handstitched them on the wig. After experimenting with iron-on interface, I’m back with sewing the fibers on tulle. I think it’s because my craft skills have improved and I have much more patience than before with wefts.

On left: wet fibers comparison; straigtened- original. On right: dried fibers comparison: straightened- original.

With straightening the results really depend on how many times you repeat the ironing process. And of course it would be ideal to buy real straight fibers in the first place. My resent purchase from Cybershop was somewhat a surprise, since the first straight fibers I bought from the company before were really silky and smooth. These seemed like crepe fiber, which was carelessly straightened. Gladly I’m a crafty person by nature, so the straightening wasn’t a big effort even it first seemed laborious. I’m still going to continue buying from Cybershop, since their customer service is awesome and this was my first let down in almost seven years.

And here is the wig almost styled, some trimming is still required. I added some length with the wefts and re-styled the whole front with removing part of the skintop and adding long bangs. The wig I used for this project has been seen on Deidara before.

I’m going to make an entry of this "no embroidery for a change, only crafting"- project soon, because... summer holiday! If you have any guesses, feel free to leave a comment!

P.S (Finns) If anyone has problems with keeping wigs on their heads and hasn’t found wig-clips anywhere, Cybershop has three different colors of them and they work miracles! I first used them with Amira’s wig, because regular pins couldn’t support the weight of that massive braid. Also Yoki used them on Fuyu’s wig, since her current Mohawk haircut provides very little fastening surface for pins.