Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Photoshoot: Deathsmiles in Salem!



The shots from our Deathsmiles photoshoot in Salem, MA are finally out! I'm extremely pleased with how they came out. It was so fun to wear these costumes in Salem - it IS Halloweentown, especially in October!

IndieNate did the photos, and he was really fun to work with :3 There are a lot more photos where this came from! The full set from the shoot is on his Flickr page here:


You should check out his other photos while you're there!

Costume credits:

- I made my own Casper costume, wings, and scissors, as well as Windia's sword.

- YummyGamorah made her own Windia costume and wings, Rosa's costume, and styled my wig bangs for me :3

- HoneyB made her own Rosa wings and fairy in the cage, as well as assisting with numerous parts of her own costume, including the ruffles and chains!


I can't wait to do something like this again! It was so much fun ^_^

New Site Layout, Again

I didn't really care for the dynamic layout (without spending a lot of time fiddling around), so I chose a different static layout. Clean and simple ^_^

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Deathsmiles Photoshoot: Preview!

My cosplay partners in crime and I had a WONDERFUL time at our Deathsmiles photoshoot in Salem, MA! Where better to do a Deathsmiles shoot than Halloweentown itself? Our awesome photographer, IndieNate, was so fun and easy to work with, and we're excited to see all of the photos. He was kind enough to provide us with a few preview shots just a few days after the shoot! Here are some, but you can see all five shots at http://flickr.com/indienate. Please check them out! I'll be making another post when we have the full shoot!
    
I made a few repairs to the costume for the shoot; namely, I fixed my poor droopy wing by reinforcing the wire inside the spine. I also touched up the scissors a bit to keep them from falling apart for a little longer, and tried to rejigger the hair wings, but some of them fell out, anyway. Oh, well... I have a better plan for them next time, and they look okay in the photos, anyway. It's nice to work on existing costumes in little chunks like that. I have a bunch of tweaks to make to other costumes, so that I can wear them again! I'm excited to do this. Anyway, please enjoy the photos, check out the rest of IndieNate's stuff while you're there, and stay tuned for more Deathsmiles :3

New Layout

Hello all, I'm trying a new blog layout. It's a bit plain, but I thought I'd try it for a while before taking the time to update the colours, etc. Let me know how you like it!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Word About Emails

Hello Readers,

Today I received a backlog of emails that were apparently lost in the ether somewhere for a while. Some were from last year!

I'm very sorry if you emailed me and I never responded. I responded to several emails today.

I did some tests and the email for the site seems to be working now, so please continue to send them my way. I know now that I need to test my email system every once in a while to make sure it's working :|

Again, apologies if you were awaiting my reply! I always do my best to answer emails promptly.

Friday, September 30, 2011

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

I wanted to show off and write about in more detail the Deathsmiles costumes we wore to Anime Boston 2011, where we won Best Overall Craftsmanship in the masquerade.
First, we'll look at Windia. The costume was all YummyGamorah. I made the sword! So, naturally, here is a shot that showcases it :3

The sword was made mostly out of fiberglass and foam. This was my first experience with fiberglass, and I have to say, it was a pretty positive one! I was always afraid of fiberglass, and thought that it was incredibly expensive. As it turns out, it's not so hard, and not as expensive as I thought it would be.

My lovely friend Josh at work offered to teach me the ways of the glass (and to lend me his garage in which to do it), so I took him up on that immediately. He uses fiberglass for auto body work, and is very familiar with it. Here is a quick and dirty explanation (via text wall) of the basic process, tools, and techniques I used to take the sword to completion.

I showed some progress photos of the sword in an earlier post, including tips on creating it.
After carving the sword out of foam (which was easy, fun, and extremely messy), I covered all of the foam in clear packing tape. This is not the time to get the super-ultra-thick-magic-packing tape. You want the thinnest, cheapest stuff you can find. The thinner the better. As thin as possible with still a reasonable amount of sticking power.

The goal is to cover all the foam so that the resin doesn't eat it (nomnom). Cut little pieces to fit in tight spots and around curves. I'm sure there are other things you can cover the foam with, but this was a quick and dirty solution, which also happened to be inexpensive, and effective. Very shallow detailing can be brought out later after you put the bondo coat on.

Next, the fiberglass is applied. The fiberglass sheets and resin came from the hardware store; it's near the paint, glues, and solvents. You can also find it online. You will also need some disposable mixing cups, cheap paintbrushes that you can throw away, popsicle sticks (or similar) to stir with, and a LOT of disposable gloves. Change them often. Never be without them.

You cut some strips of the fiberglass fabric, lay it on the foam, and start soaking it with the resin, which you've mixed up according to the package directions (right?). Use the paintbrushes to really get it saturated with the mix. Dabbing is better than strokes, as stroking with the brush can cause fiberglass "hairballs" which make things lumpy. If you get some of these, remove them.

Work quickly in small batches of resin, as it will begin to set up within a few minutes. When this starts to happen and the resin in the cup gets very gloppy, toss it and start with a new cup of new resin mix. Continue this until all surfaces of your foam are covered.

If your conditions are very humid, damp, or cold, (ours were all three :| ), you may need to add a little extra hardener to the resin. Beware of adding too much, as it will ruin the resin.

Allow the resin to cure fully as indicated on the package. You can see here some shots of the sword after it's been completely fiberglassed (the fiberglass is still curing here). You can see in the first shot some holes in the foam from where the resin got underneath the tape. The fiberglass will form a hard shell, so these holes won't matter, but you can understand how it would be bad if the resin were applied directly to the foam surface.
After that, you cover the fiberglass in a thin layer of Bondo or other body filler using a little plastic scraper (sold next to the Bondo). This fills in the texture of the fiberglass and any imperfections. Spread it on as thin as you can, but remember you can always sand it off; it will just take a very long time if you glop it on.

After the bondo sets, sand. Sand forever. Sand until you can sand no more. I recommend a power palm sander if you can get your hands on one. Finish it off with finer grits and by hand in tricky spots. Use a dremel to put in some shallow details. If you sand through to the fiberglass, stop there.
I filled in any holes with some paper mache pulp, which I then sanded again.

I used some DAS clay from the craft store to add the spiral details.

Finally! Once everything is smooth and clean, I used regular acrylic paint from the craft store to paint it up. I dry brushed on the grey areas on the blade; I wanted it to look like it was wooshing all the time, since Windia uses wind magic, and her sword is basically a wind sword. Once everything was painted, it was covered in a coat of clear satin spray sealer. This makes it more durable.
It's probably my favourite thing that I've made.

I hope these tips are helpful if you're going to make your own prop using fiberglass. This post is a little poorly written and a block-o-text, so I apologize for that. I usually try to be more organized and concise, but I'm clearly not in the mood for that.

I also apologize for the lack of fiberglass progress shots; there was no one to take them when my hands were covered in fiberglass gunk.

I think the sword complemented Sarah's excellent cosplay very well, and it was a great prop for her to pose with.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is it over already?

Feels like CTcon came and went like the breeeeeze.

By the by, I registered my blog on this site, if you're interested...

COSBLOGranking

I went to ConnectiCon with my friend Sarah (new to the cosplay realm :3). We went as Ace Trainers from Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen and Diamond/Pearl.

For now, just dropping a pic or two for you! I'll be writing more on this (and other things...) soon. I'm finally moved into my new apartment, and no longer working overtime at work - all of which happened one right after the other, and right after Anime Boston, by the way! - so I'm ready to get some content rolling up in here. It's been a bit embarassing lately. I'm sorry. Please come back :D




Monday, April 25, 2011

WE DID IT! :D



We got Best Overall Craftsmanship at the Anime Boston masquerade! That means we placed above our Masters division!

Here are some pics... better pics, and more about the costume and Anime Boston, to come over the next few days.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Pair of Giant Scissors...

Just a quick progress photo on the OTHER pair of giant scissors: Casper's (mine!) for our Anime Boston Deathsmiles group. How did I end up doing two costumes in a row with giant scissor weapons? Who also wear blue? And have caplets? Who knows -_-

They're made out of foamcore, some expanding foam, and paper pulp mache. It needs a LOT of sanding, and probably a bit of reshaping. I had trouble even with the pattern getting these to look right, proportionately, so they will never be up to my usual prop perfectionist standards; however, I think the overall effect will be great. I'm going to try to get them to have a bit more of the skeletal feeling the scissors in the artwork do. The pattern was a bit of a compromise between the box art and a photo of a Casper figure I saw. They also won't open and close like my other scissors; the design is just too weird, and they'll be better served as a static prop, I think.

The scissors as they're pictured here aren't assembled at all. They're just pieces stacked on top of each other.

Please excuse the dirty floor >_> it needs a vacuum. Also, I have the worst vacuum ever. Can't wait to get a new one when I move!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How Embarassing D:

So! I was going through my blog comments, making sure I didn't miss any spam, and realized I missed a really important comment from OCTOBER (*falls over*) telling me that the link to my Izumi Goggle Tutorial (from this post) was broken. Oh, the horror!

It's fixed now! Head to the link above for some sweet tutorial action. And thanks for letting me know! I am thoroughly ashamed. -_-;

Quick Sword Update, and Construction Tips!

Hello hello, I did a bunch of work on the Windia sword handle today, so I thought I'd post it!

Some time ago, after much scrutinizing of images, I realized that the middle of the sword handle wasn't a solid cone as I had thought, but two 'pipes', as it were, twisting around each other! While that looks really awesome, I had a bit of a D: moment, as I wondered how the hell I was going to make that happen. This was also back when I thought the blade would be made of plastic.

Now that I'm doing the foam/fiberglass treatment, I wasn't scared of this at all. I bought some thin PVC pipe, which was really inexpensive; about $3-$4 for a very generous length of pipe. If you're having trouble finding such small diameters of pipe at the store, look for the copper pipe! I found this stuff by the copper. It's made to be the same sizes as standard copper piping (to use as an alternative to copper plumbing), so the sizes are much smaller for applications like this.

I cut some short lengths of the pipe, then used a heat gun to gently heat and curve them. I did this by applying pressure to the top of the pipe. I held it like that until it was cool enough to hold this shape. NOTE: Do this with an open window. PVC fumes are toxic, and while I didn't heat the pipe very much, it still gave off a slight odor, and my room is small. It was freezing and I opened my window, just in case. Better safe.

Anyway, I ended up just screwing the bottom of the pipes together with a regular screw, which isn't ideal, but it's what I had and it will work when I get the fiberglass covering it. I bolted the top sections of pipe to a piece of wood. The second image here is a close-up of the wood-PVC-foam assembly. Apologies for not taking a pic before I glued the foam on, and for it being a bit blurry, but hopefully you can see what I did. If there's a desire, I can make a diagram of this later.

I glued the top blade section to the wood, then glued two other pieces of foam on either side to build out the thickness of the top of the handle. I carved that down with utility blades and sanded it with regular sandpaper. I ruined my sanding block by mistake, and I missed it. If you're working with foam in this way, buy several sanding blocks at the hardware store, or at least sticky-backed sandpaper and some small wooden blocks. It's generally much easier to sand with blocks with this foam. The sheet form is only good for really tight areas.

This week I'll be, I think, covering this with a thin coat of Bondo (to keep the fiberglass from eating the foam), and then covering in fiberglass. Hopefully, this won't make the sword too thick. If it will, I'll sand it down some more. I think it will look pretty sweet, though. And it's still so freakin light! D: The goal is to have it paint-ready by week's end.

Last pic's of me, to give you a better idea of the scale, and how awesome Sarah will look when she's holding it. Please don't judge my raggedy appearance, as I've been working on a sword! Nor the clothes on the bed. I was wearing them and got warm >_> wut.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Anime Boston Update, etc!

Etc! Like the etc is the exciting part.

I figured I owed my small readership (who are you guys, anyway?) at least a brief update.

As I suspected, I wasn't able to complete the staff in time to make it into the Blizzard contest. This made me very sad. However, at least now I can make it perfect. It's about half way done. I don't have a progress shot on it just yet, because...

After the contest was done, I took a little costuming/prop break for a week or so. Then I got to work on my Anime Boston costume and associated props. I'm entering into the masquerade with two girls from my work, Sarah and Kayla, so look for us! We're going as Casper (the blue one), Windia (the white one), and Rosa (the pink one) from the video game Deathsmiles. The costumes are very cute, and I'm really looking forward to it! I'm a bit nervous about my first masquerade, though.

I'm responsible for making Windia's sword and Casper's giant scissors (so many giant scissors...). Originally, I was planning on making the sword blade out of translucent acrylic, which I bought and began slogging away at cutting with my lack of appropriate tools. I was really struggling with it, and also worried about the fragility of the material, as well as its weight.

Luckily, during this time, I happened to connect to a coworker who knows all kinds of stuff-making techniques, and offered to share his knowledge AND his workspace. SO, I'm instead making the sword out of... fiberglass! And foam. The latter comes first, then the former. I've always wanted to learn this skill, and now I'm able to learn it from someone who knows what they're doing, while simultaneously making a sweet sword that I had to make anyway. BONUS: it should be very lightweight for Sarah to hold! Horray! The photo is a progress shot of the blade shape out of foam. (Please excuse the surrounding mess. >_>) I'll be completing the handle this weekend, and next week, it's fiberglass time!

I'm full of !s today, I guess.

As a bonus, I've included a photo of a progress shot of the skull that goes in the middle of my (Casper's) scissors. It still needs to be sanded and everything, but I'm happy with its appearance. I made it from paper pulp mache, which you can buy in great sacks at the craft store for about $10 a bag. It was very easy to work with, and dries super hard and light! I'm very impressed by this material, and will be using it a lot in the future. I'm also using it on the WoW staff. Shots of that another time.

Other than that, much progress has been made, but not many photos have been taken. The sewing part of it doesn't look like much to photograph right now, and I just haven't gotten around to taking a shot of the scissors. I will be taking more photos this weekend, and give some kind of update next week. Things are rolling! :D

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quick Progress Update

Here is a crappy picture of the staff I'm making for the aforementioned Blizzard prop contest. I don't expect to win, as there will be many entries that were built more carefully over a longer period of time, but it is pushing me to make things.

I'm trying a lot of techniques I've never done before on this one, so it's really taking forever. It was a quite risky thing to do under a time constraint, but... meh. I couldn't use my usual methods due to the nature of the thing.

Trying something new often requires trial and error, even with careful planning. I hate struggling with a technique, only to realize further in that I could've done something from the beginning to make the process easier. But, at least I can use that knowledge for the next prop. ^_^ I'll be more specific about the trials and errors here when the staff is done.

By the way, you're looking at the top of the staff here. I know it's blurry. And unfinished. But you get the idea.

Also of note is that, for the first time, I designed the staff to come apart into two pieces. There happened to be a good place in the design for this to happen. This will help with moving and storing it. ^_^

The goal is to have the staff ready to paint by the weekend. Once it's in the painting stage (less completely-room-consuming and easier to clean up at the end of the day, at least in theory >_>), I can so some significant work on props for Anime Boston. Sewing will follow shortly. Much to do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

KICKING IN MORE

So, prompted by yesterday's post of forward-looking optimism, I started getting into gear with my costume research immediately. Now I'm filled with a driving force that's a mix of emotions - annoyance, jealousy, irritation, and, above all, passion and desire.

This may sound like a weird combo to you, but there's something you should know about me. I'm a jealous person. Not in a "my boyfriend can't speak to other women" way (not even a little), and not in a "I wish I had that car" kind of way (I hate cars). I get very jealous of the skills and work of other people. This is an attribute I hate about myself, but I can't get rid of it altogether, so I'm trying to put it to use as inspiration.

In the many hours of costume research I've done over the past few days, I've seen a lot of photos of great costumes. Not just great costumes, but great costumes that I'VE always wanted to make (for years) but haven't, due to space and time constraints, laziness, or whatever else. A perfect example of this was seeing a female Illidan when I went to Blizzcon this year. I have been thinking in earnest about making that costume for several years, and have a big folder of research, lists, and references. But I was afraid of the expense, and the money and space I didn't have (I still live in a small room, and have little income). Today I found someone who's made many sets of WoW druid tier armour. Who has a burning desire to do just that?! Yeah.

So, now I'm determined. And a little pissed. I'm funneling a set amount of money into my costume fund each month. I will try to get more commission work. I will do at least a small something in the name of costuming every single day. Let's see what I end up with by the end of the year.

My research has yielded many positive results for me to begin some things I was afraid of or unable to work out the mechanics of. I will carve foam. I will sew my butt off. I will make a mess of my tiny room, and try not to worry about it too much. I will make my boyfriend a costume. I will make 20 for myself.

Okay, maybe not 20.

But I'm inspired, and ready. I'm done being lazy and coming up with excuses. This site will also look like a bit more than this by Anime Boston. Won't you follow my journey? You'll either watch me succeed, or fail. But it should be interesting. Oh, and pic is related. It's my druid, Tariine (was Tarine... stupid realm change...), in a portrait I commissioned at Anime Boston one year. She is going to inspire me. I am a lot like her.

Alright, let's do this. LEEEEERRRROOOOOOOOOY...

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's Kicking In!

So I'm settled in at the new job, and hopefully will be settling into an apartment in the near future. The holidays are over (wonderful, but a time-suck :3). It's time to start in on some costumes! Reflecting on last year, I did a pitiful amount of costuming. That was mostly due to money issues, but this year, I'm going to make it happen. I have a lot on the docket, and it's all going to happen!

Here is what I have planned currently, roughly in the order it will be completed/worn:

  • January

    • Prop for the Blizzard prop contest (which I just found out about, and is EXACTLY up my alley... holy crap! D:)

    • Commission: American Mcgee's Alice, for my friend Sarah ^_^

  • February - March - A group cosplay and masquarade (that's right!) entry with some fellow cosplayers from work. For Anime Boston.
  • July - Bellatrix Lestrange. For the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2. The last Harry Potter movie... ._.
  • October - Lady Gaga. For Halloween. Or a concert. If she has one. And I go. :3
  • Late Summer/Early Fall - Night Elf Druid in Stormrage. For Blizzcon (hopefully).
I'd also like to fix up some of my other costumes, namely Pokemon and Souseiseki.

I'll be posting some progress updates as I'm able on each project. I'm excited about costumes for the new year! :D

Oh, and the photo is what I ended up wearing to the Monster Ball (as mentioned in my previous post). I only had time to make a lightning bolt, but I liked it. :3 Also, awkward arm is awkward.