27 April

Paul Cory and a suede coat

Paul Cory Photography Photo taken by Paul Cory, at the Festival of Legends just outside of Chapel Hill, NC 4/26/14.

Meeting new people and running into current friends at like-minded festivals is always fun, but sometimes not as much fun as finding the photos later. I’ve known Paul Cory through con circles and other people, and I always love his work.  He’s taken a few shots of me that I adore, so I’m a little biased.  He’s always around North Carolina sci-fi and fantasy conventions, and sells sessions for reasonable fees.

I also wanted to show off the suede cloak.

About 2 weeks ago, that cloak started out as six pieces of soft pigskin suede. I used every single bit of it, with only tiny scraps left over. The cloak is patterned roughly after a fleece version that a company in UK sells. Their cloaks look hand-serged, and nice and full and flowy. My friend wanted one that was real leather suede, and through fortunate timing, we found a pile of it on sale at our local  Tandy Leather store.  We inspected and unrolled around 10 pieces and chose six that were closest matched in tone and color.  I gleefully took them home, petted them, then hung them vertically to let the skins stretch naturally for a few days. I knew the cloak was going to be heavy, and it would stretch on its’ own and possibly pull any seams I had done if I didn’t let them hang first and pre-stretch.

I made one mockup of muslin following a simplicity pattern. We weren’t totally happy with the results, so I cut off the sleeves and skirt, and made a new bodice using McCall’s ‘snow white’ pattern. The sleeve holes were better fitted for movement, and I used the bodice pattern pieces 1-4 and the upper arm, cut in half along the upper curve, then cut the pieces so the top curved in and removed the need for any sleeve ease. You really don’t ever want to try to ease a leather sleeve. This bodice fit better under the arms and in front, and I was able to fit a hood to it and the existing bell sleeves and skirt with no problem.

The biggest change ended up being the fullness of the coat.  The cloth mock-up had 8 panels, but we reduced it to 6, because a leather coat didn’t have to be as full as the dress pattern, and we would have had to buy another hide to fill it out.

The suede sewed together like a dream. I really didn’t expect it to just zip through my machine so well, even using my non-digital ‘heavy duty’ machine (I also own a digital machine and 2 sergers, and an embroidery machine).  It was thick, but easy to work with, no worse than any other dense, slightly stretchy fabric.  My machine does worse with vinyl and breaks more needles.

I learned something important while stitching embroidery on real leather suede.  The sewing needle gets hot, very fast. I could only embroider around 6 inches at a time, and that was pressing my luck.  I had to clean the needle regularly with nail polish remover.  When it overheats, it melts the suede and the needle becomes sticky with seared animal proteins.  The thread broke often, but not in ways that hurt the leather, and the Coats embroidery thread is working well so far.  The leather is backed with non-fusible interfacing, then the extra was cut away after stitching.  It took me 8 hours of sewing to embroider the middle back, sleeve back and shoulders. It will probably take me another 12 to do the bottom edges and front.  Fortunately, I found that I can prop open my laptop and have re-runs of Buffy running on Amazon Prime. I have to stop often to clean and let the needle cool off every five minutes anyway, so it was a nice distraction.

I’ve only used about 3-4 leather needles so far, which is pretty good, considering.  I have more embroidering to do on the cloak, but I got as much done as I promised I could within a 2 week period.  My customer is thrilled with her product.

23 April

Toothless 2 – Hoodie adventures

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is coming out in a few months, and I think I need to make something that’s going to be too warm to wear in June.

The first HTYD movie was wonderful and my husband and I both bawled at the end.  I still can’t watch the damn thing without crying. Toothless grew on me fast – his style threw me off at first, but the animation of his expressions and body movements  and especially the eyes won me over fast.  My favorite dragons have traditionally been D&D versions, with strong, well defined bodies and distinct shining scales.  I’m still annoyed that Smaug is technically a Wyvern rather than a dragon – his arms are build into the wings rather than as another set of limbs.  Back to topic: last year, I made this Toothless for my nephew:

Toothless

Toothless was partially completed on the plane to New Zealand and during the first few days of travel.  He was finished in time to pose for photos on the South Island near the Franz-Josef glacier.  Which we got some good shots of, but our helicopter ride was canceled at the last minute due to weather, so we never actually got to go set foot on it.  That would have been my first helicopter trip ever too.  Ah well.  This Toothless was delivered over Christmas, and apparently has not left my nephew’s side since.  He was put together following a free pattern by “KatyA” on DeviantArt.  The pattern can be found here – http://katy-a.deviantart.com/art/Toothless-Pattern-Part-1-of-4-161986741 It is NOT released for commercial purposes, so I can’t make more of these for sale, only personal use.

Which leads me to this = Toothless Dragon Hoodie

Dragonhoodie

This dragon hoodie, on the other hand has no released pattern, but I suspect I can bastardize a few pieces of the DA pattern, or at least blow up the tail portion for the hoodie.  It is done by a Canadian company, and it simply looks amazing.  I’m plotting on doing my own, and I don’t know at this point if I’m going to make the whole thing from scratch or purchase 2 hoodies and scavenge tail, claw, wing and horn material from one of them.  I found a few base designs that I like – I prefer the ‘slim’ fit style, and I found a hoodie on ebay with a double zipper style that I would like to use as a base.  If I go the buy and modify route, I’d need two of the same style hoodie, maybe one the largest size they carry so I can harvest the bigger one for material. I like the diagonal seam across the front and would like to try drafting a pattern with raglan sleeves, and the lower pockets as in the ebay example (not the front pouch that most hoodies seem to have). I also like the draw string hood, so I’ll use that as well. I don’t like the puffy arms as much, however, so I don’t know if I’ll keep those as part of my design. I think that would make it different enough for me to sell if I don’t.

Using 2 hoodies – I have matching material, but it may not be enough. having a base to start with could, in theory, save me some time but I’ve become wary of ‘time saving’ shortcuts. It would be nice to not have to go through the whole fitting process though.

Using hoodie fabric – I can do my own design, make a pattern of my own (and in theory, digitize and sell that) but it will take extra time to do everything. On the other hand, I’ll have fabric to burn, and I can pick fabric that I can be sure won’t be too bulky with the added tail and whatnot.  There are advantages to being able to make another one, say for my nephew, with fabric I can buy readily.

Either way, I’ll need some black fabric paint and maybe a nice stencil for clean paint edges. I know for sure I”ll be doing a half-red tail with the viking symbol instead of all black like the one for sale.  I’d like to do my own design and sell it – perhaps a Smaug hoodie for sale instead of a Toothless, so I don’t risk stepping on the other shop’s figurative toes. My own Toothless hoodie will have the center back wing spines as well as seven pointed flappy wings rather than the four points that the already existing hoodie has.

20 August

Random fun thing – Pony Island

Tatt Gallery

Birdhouse_tattoo_01

Queen Chrys

A few months ago, a friend got me into an online game called “Pony Island”. One of the things you can do with ponies is ‘tattoo’ them with your own images, either with a solid background or even with an alpha, but only in certain boxes. All the ponies have just one template per male/female/breed, so the image areas are a little limited. Each pony gets 3 ‘slots’ or tiny boxes that run together where images can be added to the skin.

I went a little crazy and made a bunch of Tat’s for my own ponies and sold other ones. These are my favorites. The top three I won a contest with the designs for “Seasons”

The ponies display pretty small, only around 250×250, and the tattoo area is only on the body in the middle of that square. I’ve had fun harkening back to my low-poly 3D days with small textures sizes. Some ponies get even less area than others because their wings take up so much space of the display area.

All were done in Photoshop. All pony tattoos were made from scratch and saved as .png’s – game rules prevent any photos or photo derivatives from being used, so everything must be painted by hand. Image references are allowed, but nothing can be directly copied.

4 August

Group Zelda shot finished

Finished photoshop image from our Animazement group photo. I have permission from all cosplayers to alter the photo(s) and use them.

Finished photoshop image from our Animazement group photo. I have permission from all cosplayers to alter the photo(s) and use them.

I’m calling this ‘done’. There may be a few other things I could do, but I’m pretty happy with it.

6 May

Taking a break for myself.

Midna Helm Wip

WIP – Midna’s helmet.

I needed to take a break from working on commissions and to keep myself from going insane during a 7 day work week. I wasn’t able to work on my commissions, but I was able to throw time at the helmet while spending time with my husband. I probably should have kept better track of time, but I believe this is currently over 15 hours of work, possibly 20. The layers of sealant and paint won’t take up too much time, but it may depend on how I decide to finish the final layer of paint. I want shine, but not too much. The helmet in game is almost like ore – not shiny like metal, but not entirely rocky either. It’s a weird mix. The fact that there are broken bits and cracks makes me think it’s not pure metal, but it’s not polished granite either. That said, a granite type finish might be a good idea, with speckles. hmm..

This thing is HUGE. When I started on this journey (haha) I knew I wanted to make it as proportional as possible to the original Imp form of Midna, who is of course very small and stout. This helmet is about two feet wide and the crown is a full 40 inches around. I have a lot of extra space inside the helmet, so after this thing is painted and sealed, the next step will be adding interior padding so it’s comfortable, and of course, the ears need to be added. Looking back at the model, I should probably add a half inch rim all the way around the bottom edge of the top half of the crown. WHEE MORE GLUE.

… This thing is going to be HEAVY. I haven’t even added the wig yet. Which may be fleece.

Materials: Several butchered anti-fatigue floor mats, nearly 24 sticks of very large hot glue sticks (about 3 wasted and discarded), thick floral foam wire, some craft foam for raised areas, model magic for the rope snake and other raised puffy areas and elmers glue for sealant before painting. The white stuff was my first attempt to seal the helmet with spackle. It didn’t really work. The front piece of the helmet is lined on the outside edge with Worbla, for strength and to resist denting should I drop it. I had some gap issues with it though, so I decided not to use it on the rest of the crown.

I found the original textures and blew them up, by a lot. It messes with the details a bit, but I was able to cut an exact replica with the edges. The front piece is exactly the right shape. I do have a tiny bit of an issue where the crown is about an inch or so too high – you shouldn’t be able to see the blocks above the rim of the front piece of the helmet, but I think it looks okay. I can’t cut any more off the bottom edge, nor off the top and the only other option is remaking either the crown or the front piece, and neither of those is going to happen.

7 April

More notes from the world of costuming

I’m working on a couple of new commissions, so that’s exciting. I’ll have new photos to add to my cosplay section, including a Snowtrooper, Jinora from Avatar: Legend of Korra, and 2 Mara Jades. Oh, and Luke Skywalker.

I have a busy busy schedule, but I feel like I’m getting faster every time I make something. Panicy moments aside, and the time I stall to get started on. oh.. ANYTHING, I’m getting better. Having a serger really helps a lot too.

I’m looking into possibly getting a Cricut machine. If nothing else, it’d be really freaking useful for cutting out stencils. I could potentially add my Journey costume as an option for commissions – as of right now, there’s just no way. I’d have to charge $700 for it, as I made mine, and I seriously doubt anyone would pay that. Additionally, that means I’d have to make it again. Which I am SO not ready to do anytime soon. I’m going to replace the tights, since my attempt at tight-making more or less failed. I popped a number of stitches on photoshoot day, but was able to arrange myself so none of them show up in the final shots.

There’s a future potential of doing a Tangled/Rapunzel dress, which the cricut machine would basically make manageable. Otherwise, I don’t think she’ll be happy with the quote that I have in my mind.

I need to order more skin paint too.

I’m working on an idea for Mara Jade’s lightsaber, as a hilt prop only. I haven’t gotten around to really attempting to work with metal yet, but I am managing plastic pretty well. I picked up some PVC pipe and am looking into making something that can eventually be shipped off and chromed, then adding final details. I also picked up screw covers for the rivets, and a handful of fittings to try out. I may get a blank blade from ultra sabers, and try rigging an LED blade myself. The basic one will be just a hanging hilt though. If it turns out satisfactory, I might be able to add custom PVC sabers to my shop, which would be pretty cool.

1 April

Journey costume, FINISHED!

journey_duke

Taken at Duke Chapel, in Durham, NC, by N3 Photography!

Journey Cosplay, with the Carolina D20 girls group! —

As always, thanks to TurnonRed for the tutorial!

17 March

New skin color mix!

Posted by in make up | No Comments

So, I accidentally discovered the way to keep my face from flaking and otherwise losing color.

Last night -3/16, I was Aayla Secura with Rebel Legion at the FireAntz game in Fayetteville. I’m doing my usual routine when I realize that my blue bodysuit and headtails have faded a bit since I originally made them, and I’d need to alter my color a bit. I didn’t want to use straight liquid blue, but I couldn’t use my Ben Nye powder and have exactly the right color too.

What I used:

Moisturizer
Latex wedges (completely destroys them)
Ben Nye liquid medium blue – MagicColor liquie- Cosmic Blue
Ben Nye cake – MagicCake powder – Blue
Ben Nye Final Seal
Ben Nye Neutral Set powder
Makeup Brushes.

On top:
Blush, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, white shadow.

Make sure your face is clean, and layer on a fair amount of neutral moisturizer and allow to ‘soak in’ before applying makeup. Use a body moisturizer anywhere else you will be applying paint.

This only really works if you’ve used up enough of your cake to make a well in the container. Pour enough Cosmic Blue into the well to fill it, dip a wedge into the final seal in a separate container and wipe around until the cake is moistened and the Cosmic blue begins to mix in. Using the wedge and re-dipping into final seal and the cake/liquid mixture, apply your first and base coat. This coat will not be all that even, but it only needs to be a first, thin layer that will get your second layer to really work. Starting with your face, apply every where you need to, adding more final seal and liquid to the cake as you need it. Use gentle, short strokes and cover completly, even if it doesn’t look totally even.

Switch to your makeup brush, something with a good edge to get around your eyes, but allows good coverage. Use two brushes if you prefer. Paint on the same cake/liquid mixture on top of your base coat, saving insides of elbows and under your arms for last, if covering. Allow to dry, then liberally dust on the neutral set powder with a powder – fluffy brush. Go nuts with it, because anywhere you don’t use you risk it either rubbing off or sticking to yourself.

Now that this is done, you can use your regular makeup to do eyes, lips, ect. I ALWAYS use a lighter and darker blue or shade of base color to highlight and shadow my face and body where there should be natural lights and darks. I use a white or very pale blue shadow under my eyes, down my nose, center of forehead, and just above the lip. I use a darker blue/or shade just under my chin/jawline in my neck crevices, collarbone, near the ears, and below my blush. I typically have to use shadow to re-cover my eyelids, but this paint combo actually stayed on my eyelids pretty well on it’s own. Don’t forget to color in your eyebrows as well!

This will become my base method for everything from now on – I didn’t crack or flake all night. I only lost a little bit on the inside of my elbow, but I was impatient and didn’t let it try fully. I also forgot to moisturize my arms.

16 February

Repost vacation: 2012, Prague, post 1

Vacation photos!

A street shot of Ljubljana (Lu-blaynyah) towards the last third of our vacation time

(repost from FB #1 – it was too funny not too, since I was just figuring out the keyboard)

Got to Prague, yay1 haven§t figured out some of the keys on the laptop that is available for use in our rooms. whee. all the numbers are letter withs accents by default typing, and the y and z keys are flipped. Haven§t figured out hyphens, question marks or apostrophes either.

Unfortunately, it§s nearly four am, and I can§t sleep. After a really fabulous dinner, I think I crashed too soon. or I should have stretched a lot after 10 hours of plane travel. Work up with my calves absolutely screaming at me. Literally threw myself out of bed and through an effort of sheer willpower, stood up to stretch. After about 10 minutes, I calmed down enough to drink some juice, walk around the rental apartment and go back to bed. Woke up an hour later with calves screaming bloody murder, again, and now I§m slightly terriifed to sleep again tonight.

Fun times.

We deplaned, and I got my first passport stamp ever, in the Charles=DeGaul airport in Paris. Good lord that place is huge. I had a chocolate filled crossiant and spent some time figuring out where the hell my wallet was. We had a mad dash from the Detroit airplane to the AirFrance departing plane, and I must have left it on the Detroit plane. Sucks, but I didn§t lose my passport, and I only had a few cards in it. I ditched everything I didn§t need out of my wallet before we left town, fortunately. I§m out some cash, but if I§m lucky, it§ll turn up.

We got our rental car and started out the exact wrong direction. Got turned around, took the wrong turn off the right exit and somehow ended up back on the exact same wrong road. Found out that the signs for PRAGUE is actually PRAHA, and all the the streets are poorly marked.

ADVENTURE TIME

It seems like you can only drive anywhere by gas station placement and sheer memory. The roads are absolutely crazy the way thez are laid out. IT was kind of awesome. We made it. I had bought our landlady a gift = a 2006 red wine from Napa Valley. She was happy and gave us some local wine in return that I haven§t tried yet. The bottle survived the plane trip quite well, even in the checked luggage. I also brought her some of my jelly, which I hope she likes. I just realized she may not know how to open the damn thing, however. hmm.

I§m getting better at flying. I didn§t sleep a bit on the detroit flight, slept 3 of 6 hours on the France flight and slept like a dead rock on the last leg. I even looked out the window during landing at Prague.

I now have my verz first passport stamp too1 in Paris, and got to try Czech food :D the place we had dinner, I had pork loin crusted with grated parm cheese and I think deep fried, or pan fried in a lot of butter, with herb gnocchi and gravy. It was delicious.

15 February

Last Pot Brewed

Posted by in Art | No Comments

Tumblr is easier to update on a regular basis, so here it is!

I’m up to 63, I think.

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/lastpotbrewed

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