Friday, August 17, 2012

What's been going on and a new project: How to make costume armor

So I haven't really talked about much going on for us since our trip... that's because it's been a whirlwind! Right before our trip we had lots of company, and right after we had birthdays and family-stuff galore. I also finished laying out a legacy book about my Dad's parents. It supposedly turned out great in the print, but I haven't seen it yet.

Work has been crazy, and this summer has been so hot our yard is almost completely dead :( The weather finally broke late last week after 6 weeks in the 90-100+ range, so hopefully not ALL my plants are dead. Funny though, we finally get our deck built just in time to have a dangerous heat wave that makes us unable to use it!  I think I still have to 'reveal' that project. The heat started just as we finished painting and staining...

Other than that I'm trying to gird myself for the start of my final semester of grad school, and I gave up on using this reprieve for productive things like organizing closets, a new portfolio website or making photo books. Instead I'm being super selfish and doing projects I want to do... namely, new costumes for next year's con!

Since we managed to get tickets almost a year ahead of time (they have a special pre-registration where attendees of this year's con get first grab at some of next year's tickets) I'm pulling out all the stops and aiming to make some epic gear. I decided this year I want to document the work that goes into these. So here we go...

Zelda: Twilight Princess Costume Diary - How to Make Costume Armor

The first costume I'm doing is a tandem with Brian. We're going as Link and Zelda from Legends of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I've played nearly every Zelda game to come out and I love the design of this version. Here are some reference photos:

I am starting with my costume (Zelda on the right) because there is a lot more to that one! I've never made costume armor before, so the task is a bit scary, and that's where I decided to start!

I researched the craft foam method of armor, which has actually been quite successful. First I cut the pieces out of card stock to get the shapes right and design how it would fit together. Then I traced the shapes onto the foam and cut it out. I cut out two layers of each piece because there are raised patterns on this design and I figured along with looking the best, it would add structure.

After the pieces were all cut out and the pattern layers glued to the base layers, I drew on in pencil where additional detail would go (which would be accomplished using puffy fabric paint). I heat set the curves of the foam by holding it over the stove and setting the shape with my hands. Then I taped everything together to see how it fit:

The foam is very flimsy and kind of fragile at that point. So I gave the pieces support using white glue and thin cotton fabric adhered fully to the back. I had to wait overnight for it to dry.  Then, I took everything outside to seal it. I used a wonderful product called Plasti-Dip (the spray version). It's essentially rubber in a can. A couple of coats and we were all sealed up!

Note: the plasti-dip did have the unfortunate side effect of messing with the curves I'd made by heat setting everything earlier. So I made sure to drape the pieces on surfaces that helped maintain the desired shape and it turned out fine.

Then a quick coat of gold spray paint on both sides of each piece and it's starting to look like armor! I opted to glue sheets of felt (in places where it definitely won't be seen) to the back for even more structure, and added comfort. Glued and spray painted fabric really isn't that forgiving on skin.

The cat helped.

Everything was looking good, but it still didn't look like real armor. Real armor is at least a little dirty and tarnished. So lets get dirty! I used watered down green and black acrylic paint to do this. I brushed it on, and quickly wiped off most of it, leaving paint in cracks and corners and smudging up large surfaces. The picture below shows both one aged piece (left) and the corresponding paint-only piece (right).

 Lets put them together! They are held together with hot glue and strips of felt.

The two sides are tethered to each other in back with a gold chain.

There are more pieces still to be made: the center-front medallion, the headpiece, and the belt will all be made in the same method. I can't wait to keep going!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Quick Comic Con Recap

So we've already established that I'm a terrible blogger. We went to San Diego Comic Con and the word that best describes the trip is: EPIC. In every possible way this trip was incredible. The media, the panels, the people, the stuff. It was one giant sensory explosion.

I took notes on my phone of everything that happened. There was so much going on that we would have forgotten half of it otherwise! So here are my quick and dirty notes and a few favorite pictures. I'm planning on doing a full photo book of our experiences eventually. Hopefully it will be done before next year's con! Yes, we already got tickets at the special presale for this year's attendees...

Wednesday, July 11
We got up super early and headed to the airport. Everything went really smoothly right until we got on the plane. They made us get back off again, Houston (where we were connecting) was shut down from a massive storm! Since we only had a 45 minute layover we started to panic.

We got back on the plane an hour later, and they managed to make up time in the air. We got off and RAN to the next gate, where we barely made it on board before they left. That's twice in my life I've had to sprint through an airport like that.
We made it!

After we got to San Diego we picked up our bags and Brian's cousin Eric picked us up at the airport. We went from there straight to the Zoo! It was amazing, Heidi (Eric's wife) works with the tigers there, and took us behind the scenes. The big female tiger wouldn't stop roaring at us, and we found out she had actually eaten somebody when she was in the wild... comforting.

Thursday, July 12
It's the first day of the convention! We were dressed as Star Trek officers this day (Command Red for the Next Generation). Eric took some fun photos of us outside before we left.

We arrived at 7, it was super easy to get to the parking under the center. Apparently if you arrive later this is not the case.

Long line to get tickets! It wrapped all the way around the harbor. Probably about 2 miles, but it went very fast. Everyone took lots of pictures and kept telling us we would die... Even a little kid. Red Shirts die in every episode of the ORIGINAL Star Trek, not TNG. Silly people. The convention was HUGE completely overwhelming

We got interviewed on camera 3 times: A gay tv show, a pool company and a web video series. All of them said they needed the obligatory Star Trek cosplayers.

We looooooove our pocket chairs. So did other people, we spent 12 dollars on 2 little fold up chairs (about 4"x6"x.5" folded up) and it was the best thing we could have bought. Otherwise it's the floor or stand all day...

We got a chicken sandwich and burger for lunch which were great.

We met the Penny Arcade guys, they remembered us! We won the dickerdoodle contest a few years ago, and they love Gojis picture and autographed it for us. Also told us we were sick people (I'm ok with this)

We also met Brent spiner and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek and got their autographs.

We ran into Jerry from face off

And Profiles in History (they auction off Hollywood Memorabilia) has a booth... I got to talk to Joe! He was super nice.

We went to the 25th anniversary of TNG and got to see the new blue ray footage. What a great panel. It was wonderful to hear about their approach to this monumental task. All the effects in TNG were done on tape (shudder) so they had to be completely redone and recomposited from scratch!

I got to meet Stan Lee and get his autograph!!! It was very 'soup nazi' Next, Next, Next... then I ran to catch up with Brian who got in line for Rifftrax live at the indigo ballroom. We barely got in before it started and it was hilarious!!!
Stan the Man

Then we got Mexican food by Petco park and the stadium was doing a "Walking Dead Escape" thing which was awesome to watch. We didn't do it, but I wonder if I would have escaped the zombies...


Friday, July 13

This day we dressed up as Nausicaa and the 'brainslug guy'. Took some good photos... Brian's face makes me laugh!

We got there the same time as Thursday... And said screw that to the Big Bang Theory autograph line, it was insane. Probably had to get there at 3-4 am to get a good spot there.
Then we waited in line for 2 hours to get in to the show floor. Dont need to come quite so early Saturday... When the doors open we dashed to the official t shirt booth for sdcc shirts. We had tried multiple times Thursday but never got into the full line. This time we got lucky!

We bought a book we'd seen yesterday about the Comic Con documentary. Then went back to Penny Arcade and bought some stuff and gabe drew a picture in the book we got.

Then we met Lavaar Burton and he gave me a hard time about my name and how to spell it. We wandered around and ran into Brandon from face off! He was really nice and brought us to his booth where they were demoing some special effects makeup. Also Georgio Tsoukalos was there! (he's the 'ALIENS' guy) He was nice we got pictures with him.

We took lots of breaks throughout the day on Friday, we were definitely the most tired this day. And people stopped us constantly for pictures. Apparently people do remember Nausicaa! While shopping we found a gorgeous Kermit print and bought it. But not after walking all the way to the other side of the floor before deciding to do it. It's seriously beautiful.

Got in line to meet the fables guys. Waited a while but we'd missed them Thursday. Got Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham to sign my Fables #1!

Changed to mundane clothes because I was really hot.

On our way to a panel we ran into Wil Wheaton!!!!! Brian chased him down an escalator and he signed his t shirt (which happened to have a picture of Wil Wheaton on it).  Then we continued on to see Dark Matters with John Noble and since we got there really early, we ended up seeing the premier of Brickleberry, Daniel Tosh's new Comedy Central animated show. Extra disturbing. Dark matters with John noble was awesome!!!! He's so quick and we got to see clips of the new season, it was moderated by the guy who does spongebobs voice, so that was an interesting touch...

Then we got dinner in the Gaslamp  district at the Sci Fi Channel restaurant (It was fully decked out to promote a new show). The food was good, but it was really expensive and we had pretty nad service. Then we got home, and Brian's staff for the Harry Dresden costume he was wearing the next day hadn't arrived by UPS yet. Without the staff, the costume is pretty unrecognizable. He was up until 230am making a replacement. It's not as good, but at least he can wear the costume.

Saturday, July 14
This day we dressed up as the Other Mother from Coraline, and Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files books. We did another great photoshoot with Eric.

Arrived later than before. Around 8. We got in line outside for tickets to possibly win Mythbusters autographs. After several tries, we got one ticket for each group (Adam/Jaime and Carrie/Grant/Torrey). Then we took a break, we'd been in line about 1.5 hrs

Perused the show floor next. Lots of people wanted pics, we were a total hit! Then I got in line for Adam/Jaime and got their autographs. Adam loved that I complemented his Ted talks.

Then we ate lunch on the mezzanine. Great view of the show floor... bad food. Then we went to the floor and got in line at the Profiles in History booth to meet Sean Astin. We walked up and he was shocked at my other mother costume, he called his daughters out of the back and introduced them to me as the Other Mother. I guess they had just watched the movie. I got his autograph and took pictures with him! On our way back upstairs we were stopped by two girls in a small booth, they took pics of us and one of them drew Harry Dresden for Brian.
The exhibit hall from the mezzanine
Sean Astin!

We got John nobles autograph, he did a big shocked expression on seeing me! Then we checked the Penny Arcade panel line, it was ridiculously long so we took a break.
We wandered our way to the G4 booth where they were doing a live taping. Nathan Fillion was there! We were right off camera.

We went upstairs for the rest of the Mythbusters autographs. Brian got in line and I got yelled at by security for milling around. I walked laps for about an hour. Afterwards, we were taking a break and Brian met a girl dressed as Molly Carpenter (from the Dresden files). It turns out she is Jim butchers assistant! I took pictures of them together.
Just a couple of wizards, hangin' out.

Then we went to the Nerdist area outside. They had every batmobile on display. We also saw some recorded show segments on the WB Extra stage including an interview with Kevin Bacon. We entered the nerdist costume contest while we were there. I won "most accurate" which included $50 to Michaels and the 4th season of Chuck! The judge was Holly the incredible costumer from the Comic Con movie.

We dropped stuff at the car and went to the Gaslamp for dinner. On the way we got stopped for even more pics and every time a big circle would form around me as others joined in. We got to the Gaslamp Strip Club (It's not what you think! It's a grill your own steakhouse) and we waited 1.5 hrs for a table... this made for a very grumpy Bre. The food was great!!! Also we were sitting on the patio area, and I scared some children that walked by with my Other Mother costume.

Home and. Zonk.

And that's it, we were off to the airport bright and early Sunday and spent the day traveling. I can't wait to go back!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

SDCC Costume Reveal: Nausicaa

Well, I've been writing a final all evening and for the time being, I've had enough. This is kind of a shame, there's a lot left to do.

Oh well. Instead I'd like to do the "reveal" of my second primary costume for San Diego Comic Con. I put "reveal" in quotes because it's not quite done. But, it's wearable. There are just some props that aren't complete yet, and I'll share those when they are.

For those who aren't familiar with Nausicaa, here's some back story. When I lived in Japan in college, one of my professors told me to read this classic Miyazaki manga. I LOVED it. It's the story of Nausicaa, the princess to a small fringe kingdom called the Valley of the Wind in a post apocalyptic world. A thousand years ago humans destroyed their world through war, and polluted the planet. Now, the giant forests of mold and insects work to cleanse the world of the human's folly. This 'sea of corruption' produces a toxic miasma that is slowly killing off the last of the human race. Nausicaa works to save her people, but also has an amazing relationship with the very forest that's killing them. Drama ensues.

Read it, seriously. This is a watercolor splash page from one of the 7 books just for reference:
She is a wind Rider. She flies on a small powered kite called mehve and she primarily wears a flight suit of sorts.

Here is my rendition so far:

The close up on the bottom is the closest approximation of color. Each piece is handmade except the leggings, shoes and belt. I still need to create her ceramic sword, and a belt buckle. In the first image I just painted on the bandage on my arm because I didn't bother to tie one on for these pictures (I'm allowed to be lazy sometimes right?).

It's made mostly of felt, as described in the books. And it has been brushed with fabric paint to perfect the color, and mottle/dirty it up a bit. This is supposed to be covered in blue blood after all!

I am a little worried about being hot at the con, but I'll live! Only 18 days to go, I'm really excited!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SDCC Costume Reveal: The Other Mother

Well, so much for a blow-by-blow of progress as I worked on this. Along with my affair with that hussy Domestic in Detroit, these last few months have been INSANE. I've been taking some extraordinarily difficult classes, work has been very busy, and we added a deck onto our house. (pics later, I'm still finishing the details).

In my spare time (HA!) I've been working on costumes for San Diego Comic Con in July. As of last night, the first costume has been completed so I thought I'd share.
It's the very costume I showed you the research on 3 months ago, the Other Mother from Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

The pictures aren't very good, they were taken on my phone at night and I was kind of rushing.

Front View:

Blurry Side View:

Being a Creeper View (aka hide yo' kids):

I will post some additional and detail shots when I take them. The wig is a decent synthetic number I found online at The button eyes are molded plastic, and even have molded thread so they look stitched on. I can see through the holes, not perfectly but well enough. I'll post the vendor where I got those when I dig up his info.

Any thoughts? I'm a little worried about this one because I feel like my other costume is way cooler. My husband said it just kind of looked like a suit but with weird eyes and a bustle... the other costumes I've found online are intimidating!

Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm sorry I've shaken your trust DSFQ

So I haven't been around. I have but I haven't. And I'm sorry... but I've been cheating on you.

Over here.

I'll be back soon. I've been struggling balancing both of you, but I think we can be one big polygamous blog family soon :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

One of the Nerdiest Posts of All Time

Ok, so apart from decorating the den, school, work and working on our deck project - YOU DIDNT READ THAT YET! We've been preparing for something else too (like we needed something else right?)

We are going to Comic Con 2012 in San Diego! We're super excited, and lucky because we'll get to stay with Brian's cousin's family, and they're cool people. Well, since I'm a massive dork I think it's fairly obvious that I'm planning on dressing up. And so is Brian. So as soon as we actually got our tickets we started planning.

Brian is going to go as Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files books. He's a wizard for hire in Chicago, and fights all types of fantasy nasties in the modern-day setting. I think this will be awesome beyond reason, but we're not there yet.

I have started my costume (hoping to make 2 different ones, but that probably won't happen), and I will be going as the Other Mother from the book/movie Coraline. I love Neil Gaiman's work,  and I love the movie and it's style as well, so it was a natural choice. For those who don't know, The Other Mother is a creature who spies on children through the eyes of a doll. She lures Coraline to her world where everyone has button eyes like dolls. She gives her everything she always wanted, and to stay in this fabulous world, she must let the other mother sew buttons into her eyes too. BUT, she is much more sinister than it seems... she's like a spider spinning a dangerous web.

The costume I will be making I refer to as the Bug Bustle Dress. This is the first outfit where you start to feel she's not what she seems. It's very structured, and very severe. I took a few reference photos while watching the movie to get started.

As you can see, the most important parts of this costume are:
1. The striking colors
2. The structured 'carapace' bustle
3. The hair and button eyes.

You also can't tell, but she wears red heels. SO first I went to the store and got fabric. This was the first mistake (tripped up right out of the gate...). I thought this fabric was perfect, and when I got home and started working with it, I realized how wrong it truly was. The dots were FAR too small. So since I couldn't return the fabric, I tossed that very expensive mistake aside and tried again.

Yes. This is quilting cotton. You'd think black with white polka-dots would be easier to find... I'm not worried though, a little iron-on interfacing and the lining and it will work just fine! So I started the skirt for this from a pattern. I don't generally use patterns, but the skirt is a simple pencil design, so I figured that would likely be faster than draping from scratch like I usually do so I went with McCall's M3830. So after an evening I went from that pile, to this:

Up next, after I hem it and add the waistband I'll show it to you on (with shoes!). And I've begun draping and building the oh-so-complicated-crazy-ass top. 

This is fun :) It's slow going though... thank you real-life responsibilities!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Before and After: The Den

I've been kind of in-and-out lately due to some shifting stuff going on with work, and a beastly new class. HOWEVER, I have some fun pics I want to share with you! We've been working on our den since the new year as you know from our big 'no more water' sub floor project.

It's been the home of our books and desktop computers for the past 2 years, but that's about it. We had other projects we wanted to do first, yadda yadda. This is what it looked like before:

This has been really depressing for me, because this is the room with the fireplace, and one of the main reasons I wanted this house. I didn't even like doing homework on that tiny desk, and it was always cold since it didn't have an insulating subfloor. We only got the fireplace fixed last summer (had to rerun the gas line, the idiot who installed it put it in a really bad spot and it was dangerous). So over Christmas we took care of the floor problems which means I got to start decorating!

First we started by building a desk. The drawers are from ikea and the top is wood I stained, edged and sealed myself from Lowe's. I have a print I need to get made to go above the desk, those pics/diplomas will be moving to a different wall.

Then I got new bookcases (I collect books, folk tales, fairy stories and histories mostly) because the others were ugly and the shelves were bowed. I also picked out new chairs from Target. We got them nearly 50% off with all the coupons/sales I used.

Ignore that stack. Those are Brian's from random classes over the years. He's supposed to go through them and pick the keepers.

And lastly, yesterday our sofa arrived! We bought it on super sale at Art Van last weekend. I want to make new throw pillows for it, and also ignore the coffee table. That's our old beat up one that we'll be craigslisting once I can find a new one I like.

So yeah, that's it! You can't see my valance because of the sunlight, it's just a white one that matches the floor-length curtains in our room. And we still need to pick a spot for a little tv and I've got new throw pillow covers I need to plop in place, but it's just about there!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nightstand Nightmares!

So with our overhaul going on downstairs, we've gotten new bookcases. I've been taking some time to organize all of our multitude of books into a usable setup. I realized that many of the books I needed to organize were missing, so I went on a hunt.

Apparently my nightstand has been hording them!

Um. Wow. I read a lot. And I have a bad habit of jumping around and reading 48375372 things at once. Here's what I've been rocking lately.

1. Blood Rites (The Dresden Files) - these books are like crack. I'm 6 books in and need to order the next one!
2. All the Weyrs of Pern - brand new, haven't even started it yet, but I love Anne McCaffrey's world!
3. Boneshaker - steampunk, zombies, what else do you need?
4. The Hobbit (annotated) - I reread my Lord of the Rings collection regularly. And the more annotated the better!
5. Those are just my glasses.
6. Happily Ever After - this is a collection of short stories and re-imaginings by a variety of authors, including one of my favorites: Bill Willingham of 'Fables'
7. Norwegian Troll Tales - I love folk tales. Especially Scandinavian folk tales!
8. Victorian Fairy Tales - Yeah, seeing the theme here?
9. The Annotated Brother's Grimm - It's annotated. It's classic tales. It's the size of a cinder block. It's awesome.
10. Gardening in Michigan - Planning next spring's yard, so what if it's January?
11. The Medieval World - This book from National Geographic is PIMP if you love history.
12. GNOMES - possibly one of my favorite books ever. Gorgeous illustrations, and it's so whimsical! This book almost never gets put away because I read it so often.
13. Secrets of the Gnomes - a sequel from the previous, it's just as stunning.

So yeah, this should be a good indicator as to why I want to name the fireplace room "The Library". What's on your nightstand?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New year, and a new floor!

So remember how we got water in our lower level a few times? Well over the holidays we did something about that.

We moved everything out of the room. Which included cleaning out 2 desks and several drawer units that have been used to shove random things in, and emptying our 3 very full bookcases. I spent a whole day just on this part, but it's nice to know that we don't have random drawers full of old class notes and crap from 2008!

Painted the entire floor with DRIlock.

Added a subfloor with plastic backing so if water does come in, it'll run straight to the drain.

And had the carpet reinstalled with a new pad!

Soooo much work for it to look exactly the same... BUT we have a lot more in the works too. It's furniture time!