Costume and Graphic Design


Loki Helmet – Redo

After that horrible first attempt at Christmas, I started over again in February. This time, I decided to build my own wire frame from scratch. I picked up a spool of cheap steel wire from the hardware store. I made sure it was stiff enough that it would hold it’s shape while I work.

I started with a hoop that fit comfortably around my head, like the band of a hat. I then glued an arc over the top of my head, joining the very front and the very back of the hoop. This would hold that hoop at the correct height on my head.

Once I had this basic interior size figured out, I could start building the exterior. Special note: After each session of work, I would test fit the helmet to make sure it still fit and was easy to put on and remove. This way, if anything was out of place, I could fix it before moving onto the next step.

wire frame 1

I cut six wires for the horns, three for each. These I curved into the shape I wanted, and glued together. I kept the bottom ends long, to secure them to the base.

To keep their shape, I started at the tip of each horn, working down toward the base, gluing pieces of foam in between the wires, like spacers.

wire frame 2

With the horns secure and somewhat solid in their shape, I glued them in place on the helmet. Using fabric to bridge some of the gaps, I glued everything together. The fabric provided strength where paper would not, but was more flexible than foam sheets.

With the basic shape now constructed out of wire, foam, and fabric, I could begin layering the paper mache.

wire frame 3

The fronts of the horns were too angular, and I wanted to smooth them out. To do this, I cut strips of foam and glued them to the front face of each horn. This effectively rounded out the front without adding too much weight.

wire frame 4

The next step is to keep layering paper mache over the wire/fabric/foam structure until the outer surface is smooth. More on that next time!

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Loki: False Start

This project was off to a sad start as far as the iconic helmet goes. Before I started, I knew it was going to be tricky.

The design itself is very front heavy, and the horns would have to be hollow. I had seen a tutorial on how to make horns out of clay and paper mache. Basically, create the shape you want out of the clay, and let it harden. Then, paper mache over the clay, dry, remove from clay, and repeat. You end up with two identical horns. Great idea!

I bought a wire wreath from the craft store and trimmed it down, tapering one end so I would end up with a perfect circle segment. I also used a foam head to build the base of the helmet.

Failed Helmet

Problem number 1: The horns were huge. Enormous! Like two feet tall. If I wasn’t trying to go for as movie accurate as possible, I might have let it fly. After all, I am a far cry from Hiddleston’s more than 6ft frame, and could use all the help I could get!

Problem number 2: The horns were too circular. Again, if I wasn’t trying to replicate the helmet from the movie, I would have been happy with it, as long as both horns were the same.

Problem number 3: The head was too small. I tried to fix this by cutting down the middle (so I had two mirror image halves) and adding a strip to make the helmet wider. But it was still small, too round and bulbous, and downright awkward.

It was going to take too much work to fix these pieces, so they now sit in a cardboard box at the end of the table. I don’t have the heart to throw them away just yet, but they will inevitably head that way.

Take from this what you will. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this method in theory, and the failings were probably in the execution. This was my December/January, lost in a mess of paper, glue, and wire.

Several weeks ago, I began work on the new and improved Loki helmet, and it has been going much better. It involves drafting the general shape (from the inside out) in wire, and layering fabric and paper mache. I will go into more detail with that as I collect my photos and descriptions.

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Princess Serenity – Hair

The idea of finally making a Princess Serenity costume started with a chance sighting of a Sailor Moon wig at Value Village. I snatched it up, because I had only ever seen these available online, and was still reluctant to order one of the many I had seen on ebay and other sites.

The Value Village wig. It is ok, but I think I over paid for it… Meh. It started something, and I think that if I hadn’t been researching for the costume in the first place, I never would have come across The Five Wits.
Their site is full of great looking wigs, and the fact that the odango and tails are detachable made me happy. It allows me to place them where I think they should be (which is higher on the head, and toward the back…) and they are made with hyperlon, which is heat resistant and washable. And the prices are quite reasonable. It was a a relief to find a North American based company with good quality wigs that don’t force you to choose between rent and the wig. They are still “out of country” for me, but their shipping rates to Canada are good, so I’m ok with that!
I tossed the idea back and forth in my head, and finally decided that if I was going to do this costume, I was going to do it right. I ordered the wig.
It came very quickly! It was sent regular mail, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take. And because it wasn’t registered or being delivered by a courier, there was no way to track it. It could be held up in customs for weeks, if they decided to be sticky about it. It arrived in 1.5 weeks! I was so happy when I walked up to my house after work, and saw this large yellow envelope on my front step!
I was too excited to document the opening of the package… So, here is the wig all opened up.
The fit is great! I have a fairly small head, and I find that wigs are often too big and slide around too much, even if I try and use my bun underneath as a kind of anchor. I found this wig to be very comfortable, and because it has adjustable straps in the back, I can snug it up to my head!

Just the base wig, no odango.
And the pretty odango! 
Those strings can be trimmed and tucked in, they leave them on 
so you can make adjustments to your liking before trimming them off.
Yes, it is heavy… those tails weigh more than you think they would! But, it isn’t anything outrageous. If you have ever had long hair and then cut it all off in one shot (I did that about 10 years ago) the removal of this wig felt like that. The light bouncy feeling of having a lot of hair lopped off. So, when they say on their FAQ what they recommend for “floor length hair” wigs, they have a very good point. The longer the hair, the heavier it is, and the harder to wear. And the more tangled. And hair to the knee will give a good enough “floor length” effect. I am so glad that these tails don’t touch the floor!

These puppies are quite long!
I did find that with the dry climate we have here, the tails built up static very quickly, as you can see in the last photo. I contacted the Five Wits, and they suggested rubbing dryer sheets on them to keep the static down. They also said that some wig/hair places will sell anti static stuff, but it can be quite pricey. I will be giving these a test run and will try the dryer sheets. I plan to have this costume ready to wear by August, when I am attending When Words Collide, a literary convention in Calgary.
Stay tuned, and I will share the design and construction of the dress as I work on it this summer!

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Help Sidney Eileen Defeat the Dread Lyme

I have mentioned Lucy’s Corsetry many times in my corset making posts, and she has been a huge source of inspiration to me. Her mentor, a woman who not only nurtured her love of corsets, but also encouraged her to make her wonderful videos, is in need of help.

Sidney Eileen has suffered from Lyme disease for 6 years before finally being diagnosed, and in that time it has robbed her of her well being and ability to work. It has reached an advanced stage that requires many months of intravenous treatment.

A Call to Action has been put forward in the blogging/corseting/costume community to help. Any donation, no matter how small, will mean everything to Sidney. I can’t afford to offer much myself, but I am giving what I can, and hope that by sharing this at least one other person might do the same. Here is the campaign website where she shares her story, and there are links to other sites for information on Lyme.

If you are comfortable making a donation and passing this along, then I encourage you to do so. The fundraising efforts will run until April.

Sidney, I wish you the best of luck with your treatment, and a swift and full recovery. Brightest blessings to you.

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Pure Speculation 2012

Another year, another Pure Speculation Festival gone by. I don’t know exactly how many years ago I attended my first Pure Spec event, but it was back in the days when it was tiny and held in a community hall near Argyll. I volunteered there for a few years, and then decided to attend as a paying patron. I have been going every year ever since. 
I love the community feel of this festival. I have been to conventions of the small and medium variety (I have not yet travelled to San Diego, Vancouver, or Toronto for the huge conventions), and I must say that the small cons are great! Rather than being in a huge room with five hundred other people, straining to see the slide show at the front of the room, you are in a small room, with perhaps a dozen or so fans, engaging in conversation with the guest. Everyone gets a chance to ask a question, or comment. You get face time with the guests. It really is refreshing. The guest list might not include names like William Shatner or Stan Lee, but they do bring industry insiders… authors, prop designers, comic artists, real people who do these things for a living, and can give you a peek inside their world. 
This year we didn’t see as many cosplayers… which made me sad. I love costumes, and I love seeing other people’s costumes. I get a bit shy in public, and don’t often compliment others on their work, but I do see it and admire it. 
Of those who did dress up, there were a handful of us who participated in the costume contest. Steampunk, being very popular these last couple of years, was well represented! I was the only entry in the advanced category (where, oh where did the other artisans go?) The winner of the novice category was a Steampunk lady (I think her name was Amber, if I remember correctly). She had made her corset, and it was very nicely finished. There was one award for Judges discretion, that was given to a man for his clever “Steam assisted stake” for slaying of vampires and other such creatures of the night. There was also a “random assassin” from the game Assassin’s Creed, and a Diesel Punk soldier. The trophies were in keeping with the zombie theme and were ‘risen from the dead’. Mine had a sticker on the plate to reflect that it is now a costume trophy, a Pure Spec sticker on the pillar, and topped off with a Green Lantern figure. We fist bumped. One of the other trophies was topped with a pirate ship. Awesomness all ’round.

Fist Bumpin’ mah Trophy
My camera, being big and heavy to carry all day, and being horribly out of character, was left at home for the day. It did not occur to me to take photos with my phone (duh!!) so I do not have photos of the other costumes… perhaps, if they are posted at at some point, I can point people there.

I also picked up a pair of earrings from Weregeek that I had been eyeing for a few years.

Feel the power of the dice!
I do check to see how many people are actually visiting my pages here, and while there has been an increase of visitors, it is impossible to tell if people are coming here because they are interested in what I am posting, or if they came here by mistake and promptly left because this wasn’t what they were looking for. Imagine my surprise to be recognised on Sunday, not once, but twice! And both people said “I read your blog”. They read it! I am so accustomed to being the fan girl, not being the one with fans! So, here is a “shout out” to my two readers!! And Melissa, I have greatly admired your work for a long time, and to hear your praise for my own skills meant a great deal to me!

It was great running into friends at the various tables! Many great conversations were had, and I look forward to seeing you all again at the next con, though it is so far away…

Well, with the conventions all wrapped up for the year, I will get back to my non-costume sewing and other projects. I am still undecided on the next step for my corset…