Sunday, June 21, 2015

3 Things To Do Before Buying Anything for Your Next Costume

When you get all jazzed up about a new costume, it's easy to want to start buying and sewing RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW. Even careful planning can result in buying too much, so it's good to take a breather before running around buying fabric and wigs and OMG THESE BUTTONS ARE PERFECT I'LL TAKE 8 PACKS JUST IN CASE AND... okay. This is why.

1. The References

Gather as many as you can find. Take your own. Scour the internet. Find fanart that jives with your idea of what the costume should look like. Print out the best references AND put them on some sort of storage that you can access from your phone at the store (if you have such a phone). I like to put mine in Evernote or Dropbox, or just directly onto my phone. That way, you can compare the printouts and the screen versions to decide on colours, since they can look different depending on screens, printer, etc. Put everything in a folder and take it to the store!
I may or may not be planning something new...   .  _.


A complete list of all the pieces of the costumes, and then a sub-list of everything you you need to construct each piece. Then, turn that into a shopping list. Figure out which items come from which places - wig stuff from your favourite wig website (mine is Arda!), fabrics from your local store, special trims and beads from online shops, etc. Then you won't miss anything when you're shopping!

I am one of those weirdos that loves to organize, so this part is actually fun for me. >_>

3. The Plan

Try to figure out the basic plan for assembling your costume. First, it may reveal a few more things you need to buy. Second, it will reveal problem points of your costume construction and allow you to think ahead before having to redo something. Finally, if you know at least some of the patterns you'll be using (if any), it will give you a better ballpark of how much fabric to buy so you don't end up with way too much or way too little! Optional: come up with your "plan laugh." Mwaaa ha ha haaa...

Once you give things some thought and have at least most of a plan, have fun with the fun part!

What are you planning to make right now? Leave a comment!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

On Life, Sadness, and Cosplay... and Fresh Starts!

Getting ogre-ified in Shrek: The Musical
I was pretty sad for a while.

Funny enough, when I was unemployed for a few months, I was happy. The lack of income was disheartening, but I had a safety net, and the rest of my life was better: I had time to do things I really wanted to do because I wasn't working, I could go outside when the sun was up, cook without spending all of my free time doing it, and get some real cosplay work done.

When I eventually got a job, I wasn't entirely thrilled. Not only because of the sudden lack of free day time again, but because it was going "back" to a job I wasn't keen on doing again. While there were lots of things I loved about the job, on the whole, I was sad. I didn't really realize this fully, at least not all the time. But over the time I worked there and tried to figure out what I wanted to "do" as the next step in my career or as a  new career, I fell into bad habits, I gained weight, and I didn't do things I normally enjoyed - like work on costumes.

When I did work on a costume, I tried it on after not having worked on it in a while and ripped a hole in it under the pressure of the new weight that I was still in denial about.

This made me not want to work on costumes. For a long time.

A loooong time.

I'm pleased to say that I'm somewhat settled into a somewhat new life now, and that I am generally happier and working on repairing my habits and my body and my outlook on life.

And now, I'm also trying to repair and renew my dedication to cosplay, and to accept my body for what it is right now and to build costumes around the way it is right now instead of waiting for some mystical future time when everything will be perfect because, well, it won't.

One of the things I'm going to try to do is update this blog again. I know I've never been consistent in the past, even the times I said I would be. It hasn't been my strong suit. I've been flakey about it.

But, I'd like to change that, along with the other changes I'm making in my life, and I think it's a fairly small thing I can do to improve my life overall. Hopefully, along the way, it will provide interesting stories, images, and information to whoever stumbles upon this blog.

My goal is going to be a post every week. At the minimum, a small post with three things in it. It might be three things I did, three things you should do, three things to make stuff with, three of any things! But it's a small format that isn't too overwhelming for me to begin this journey. If I can post more often than that, I will!

If you've made it through this post, and if you have enjoyed my blog in general, first of all, thank you! Second, please do leave comments! I like to know someone out there (even just one person) is enjoying some of the content, it gives me motivation to keep going!

I recently played princess Fiona in a local production of Shrek: The Musical, and she has a line where she says, "I'm just happy it's a new day, full of promise and fresh starts." I hope that it is indeed!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Update to an Old Post

In addition to today's post, I updated this older post about using fiberglass to make the Windia Sword. I added a few resin progress shots, and updated some of the text. Check it out!

Deathsmiles: Windia (or, How to Make a Wooshy Sword with Fiberglass and Resin)


Creating Branches and Wood Texture - Cheaply!


The aforementioned project for which I painted many, many leaves also required branches (what else would leaves be on?). Not only branches, but branches of specific thicknesses and shapes. And, oh yeah, they have to be light enough to carry on my back. Geez!

I solved the conundrum by creating the branches out of PVC pipe. It's cheap, readily available, lightweight, comes in many different thicknesses, and easy to bend with some sand and a heat gun. I'll talk more about that process in another post.

Once I had all this smooth PVC formed into branches, how to make them look like... well branches? The answer: TEXTURE ALL THE THIIINGS!

How To:


  • Cheap paintbrushes
  • Matte Modpodge (matte so it's easier to paint)
  • Tissue paper (any colour will do, I happened to have white)

...that's all!

Then, I used the following steps:

1. Crumple the tissue paper in (mostly) one direction to create wrinkles that more-or-less go one way. I did this by holding one side of the tissue sheets in my hands, then using my fingers to gather and crumple the sheet until it was all inside of my hands. It was sort of like doing a really poor version of accordion folding.

After crumpling, tear the tissue sheets into smaller pieces. You don't want really tiny pieces as you would for paper mache; you want larger pieces about four or five inches wide and at least long enough to wrap around the branch. A little longer than that is better.

2. Apply some Modpodge (white glue should also work here, but Modpodge is stronger) to a section of the branch. Overlap the Modpodge a little with previously-textured sections to ensure no spots are missed.

3. Apply the end of one piece of tissue to the spot, and use your Modpodge-dipped brush to gently apply the tissue, wrapping it around the branch and brushing in the same direction as the wrinkles, as much as you can help it. You want the wrinkles to remain in-tact; don't pull the tissue taught or do anything else to discourage wrinkling.

4. After ensuring the piece is covered in Modpodge, continue down the rest of the piece in the same manner, overlapping sheets of tissue slightly (or a lot) as you go. Fill in spots that seem thin or unconvincing.

Eventually, you'll have a lovely, textured piece. This method covers many flaws and lumps. My branches were lumpy and had all different textures because of the fiberglass, glue, and what have you, but the wrinkled tissue gave it a uniform texture.

Be sure to let everything dry completely (I recommend overnight at least) before attempting to paint it. I applied a coat or two of primer, and then brown spray paint. I'm not quite done with the painting (it's a bit boring and needs touchups, etc.), but you can see from the first photo that it's already pretty convincing.

Happy texturing!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'm Not Dead! Plus DesignMaster Paints on Faux Greenery

Indeed, I am alive, aliiiiive! Last year, all I really did was work. Lots of long days and overtime. It was entirely worth it, but now I am not working, so I have time to costume again! Horraaaay.

I had to paint some faux leaves for my current costume (what could it beee?), which I'm hoping to debut at PAX East.

I used some spray paint called DesignMaster (that's the brand). It's available in all the major craft stores.

This is a great paint for painting stuff like these leaves that needs a bit of a flexible finish. The colour goes on in a very fine mist, making it easy to blend and layer the colours. This was perfect for the leaves, which needed to be golden, with some brown and orange undertones.

These started out dark green.

I had never used this product or painted "silk" flowers or leaves before, so I ended up wasting maybe two cans of paint because of it. But now, I think I have it down. Don't be like me! Here are some tips for use:

- If you are completely recolouring the item, like I was, seal it first with two (or even three) light coats of the Super Surface Sealer by the same brand. This will keep the item from absorbing too much paint. This was my big mistake.

- To achieve the multi-toned look I got, I would start with a light coat of brown, followed by orange, then yellow (probably two coats of yellow).

- This product WILL drip and run, like any spray paint, if you hold the can too close or spray for too long in one spot. The best look and coverage was achieved with building up several light coats from about ten inches away. This is especially important if you are blending colours.

Finally, these paints are about $8 in the store, so utilize your store coupons! They are well worth it for this kind of project, though. The flexible finish and fine mist are great.

Happy painting!