Monday, December 5, 2011


I've settled on my first costume for DragonCon...
Movie version Supergirl! I loved this movie as a kid and always wanted a Supergirl costume because of it so now her time has come. I rented the movie from Netflix and got quite a few screen caps and scoured the internet for information on the costume. I turned up a lot of "authentic" Supergirl costumes but I'm hesitant to use them as a resource. On with the break down!

First, a couple shots of the entire costume:

 In the one on the right you can see a little bit of yellow peeking out from under the skirt indicating that it's lined in yellow fabric. I'll have more pictures later on confirming this.

Here are a few shots of the so-called authentic costumes. The one laying out on the table might be the real deal but I'm more skeptical about the three shots on the dress form. I do believe that the suit is separate from the skirt as pictured in the table shot, I'll have screen shots later to support this. Also note the little bit of yellow at the bottom of the skirt in the table shot. The strange boot pantyhose hybrid is throwing me for a bit of a loop. Hereafter they will be known as "bootyhose". From these photos the bootyhose appear to be made from some type of spandex judging by the sheen but if you turn your attention to the two pictures above you'll see that they have more of a pleather look to them. Based on that, I'm calling their bluff on that costume and will not be taking the bootyhose into consideration while constructing my costume.

 Now for some screen shots of the boots:

The first two shots show her flexing her feet when she first gets to Earth. They have quite a wrinkly appearance in the first shot which is smoothed out when she points her toes down. In subsequent shots they don't appear to be quite so wrinkly when she's standing and the ridge down the front either just isn't as apparent or it isn't there at all. I'm wondering if these boots weren't specially made for this shot and this shot only. Moving on to the third shot we can see that her sole appears to be a red rubbery coating on the bottom of the boot. I don't know if Plasti-Dip would do the job for this or not. The third shot clearly shows definition in the shape of the boot complete with pointed toes- further evidence against the bootyhose. I can't see a zipper in any of the views so I believe they were pull-ons though there does appear to be some overlapping in the back that can be seen in the last two shots. It's possible that they have a hidden zipper, I suppose. On that note, I just found an amazing Superman tutorial on League of Heroes that I think I'll be referring to quite a bit during the construction process.

Here's a quick shot showing the skirt lining.
Skirt is unmistakably lined in yellow

I see you, zipper!

 Here's a look at the S symbol on the back of her cape and if you look in the second shot you can see where her skirt zips up in the back.

 I decided to go ahead and do the bracelet as well. I'm not sure how I'm going to get it to light up just yet but I'll consult with people who have more experience with that kind of thing when the time comes. For the base I can probably get some kind of sheet metal and cut a thin strip then bend it to shape. The decorative parts can possibly be built with Apoxie Sculpt though I worry about cracking.  I can get a clear gem like that pretty easily. It'd be ideal if I could find a base bracelet to build on instead of using sheet metal. I'll just have to keep my eye out for these things.

I think I'm off to a pretty good start. Now I need to consider fabrics and start ordering swatches. Hopefully most of them will be free because I'm not exactly swimming in cash right now. I aim to get the samples here in the next couple weeks so I can possibly put any Christmas money I might get toward buying fabric. That could all fly out the window if I have bills due. They have to come first but with any luck I'll be able to get some fabric and ring in the new year working on Supergirl. 

Friday, October 14, 2011


This has been the summer of upheaval. I lost a very close loved one, lost a pet, my husband joined the Marines and left for training (where he had a heart attack) and I quit my job and haven't found another one yet. Things have been turned upside down for a while and I haven't had the energy or the will to work on costumes as of late.I had to skip AWA due to quitting my job but I did manage to get a hotel for Dragon Con next year so I'm pretty stoked about that. I don't have tickets yet but the hotel is the main thing, I'll get tickets when I get a job. I'm hoping that'll motivate me to do some costuming in the next year, maybe a comic book character or some such. Saber is also still on, I'll finish her yet!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Excalibur Progress 1

My board clamped down and ready to cut the base of the blade out

This is after cutting the base and gluing the halves together with the rod in the slot. I had to shim the rod up with wood scraps to make sure it was in the center. I've also got my pattern drawn on at this stage, it's faint because it's in pencil. I went over it with a pen before I started cutting so I could see what I was doing.

Basic shape cut out. All cuts have been done with a saber saw up to this point.

I used the electric planer again to take a little more thickness off and rough out my bevels and point, then I went in with an electric sander and low grit paper to refine the planer cuts.

Cut my cross guard out of MDF. One 3/4" piece wasn't thick enough and two were too thick so I cut a second one from a 1/4" sheet and glued them together. I'll be cutting the raised detail out of sheet styrene so that'll add a little more to the thickness.

I've still got a lot of refining to do on my blade and the cross guard needs a few coats of wood filler along the edges to even everything out. I hope to get a lot of that done and possibly drill the hole in the cross guard this weekend to mount it on the rod.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Excalibur and Supplies

I didn't get as much done as I had planned on Excalibur because I got it in my head that the house needs to be re-arranged again so I can have a makeshift closet in the bedroom. Our house has no closets so we're just hanging some of those brackets on the wall that can hold a closet rod. We'd like it in the bedroom but to do that we'll have to move the dog crate, to move the dog crate something in the rest of the house has to be moved. It's like a sliding puzzle. I knew all those hours of Professor Layton would pay off! My computer will end up being moved to my art desk in the craft room and my computer desk will go to charity along with the filing cabinet. Instant floor space!

I did get the base of the blade cut to fit the curve of the cross guard and I also went ahead and glued the rod in between the two halves of the blade. That took longer than anticipated to dry completely but it's cured and ready for shaping this weekend. With any luck I won't screw it up.

I bought some sheet styrene in a variety of thicknesses to use for the raised gold detail on the base of the blade. I also snagged some clear polyester sheeting for experimentation purposes. I got a pair of Gingher serrated dressmaker's shears off Ebay for a very good price. They'll come in handy when I start cutting the silk organza for the lace and I figure they're a good thing to have around in general. I got a jar of masking fluid thanks to a tip on MLP Arena. It never occurred to me to use that to cover symbols and eyes when airbrushing a pony. It could also have its uses in prop work. I started to top my spending spree off with some pearl airbrush paint for the lace design, but I think I'll hold off on that until I can test it with regular paint- I may not even need the pearl paint. I've got some pearl powder that I can mix in with the paint if it looks like it needs some sparkle. Guess I'll worry about that once I have the dress constructed and ready for the lace.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Excalibur, Inkscape

So, Excalibur. Since my last post I routed out the slots for the rod to sit in and planed the 3/4" boards down to 1/2" thick. That's about it so far. This weekend I hope to get the blade shape cut out and plane the slope in down to the point of the blade.

I recently discovered vector graphics (yes, I'm being perfectly serious). All those hours of frustration in Photoshop trying to get perfect "coloring book" lines and failing...ugh. Anyway, I ran across a free program called Inkscape and downloaded it with the intent of using it to make full-size plans for props. I've played around with it but have by no means mastered it. My graphics tablet is actually getting some use now!

I hope to be launching my new site design soon. I have most of the main pages converted over but I'm missing a lot of the sub-pages like the individual costume pages and such.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Blog Design, Excalibur and Lace

I decided to change things up a bit but I couldn't find a premade background to suit me so I made one. I call it "Tools of The Trade". It sounded like a good idea at 3 in the morning. I also made it the new background for my site. I have yet to complete the welcome speech and the text boxes are still subject to change but here's what I have so far:

I measured my Saber figure and Excalibur and used my height to figure out how large my Excalibur would need to be for it to be to scale. It came out to be just over 49 inches. I used the grids in Photoshop to scale up my photograph of the figure's Excalibur then printed it out on several different sheets and pieced them all together.This will serve as my pattern.

I've got most of my supplies collected  for Excalibur. I decided to use a method I've seen used by Blind Squirrel Props and Volpin Props involving sandwiching a threaded rod in the blade and running it through the handle to strengthen it. I marked out the placement for the channel on one of my boards today but the Dremel bit I had just wasn't cutting it. See what I did there? I suspect they may just be worn out as they are the same bits I used to make all the recessed areas on my gunblade. Nothing frustrates me more than not having the proper tool for the job so I hopped on Widget Supply and bought replacements for my Dremel bits along with a few new bits. I decided to try a cylinder carbide cutter for the Dremel and some straight router bits for use with my Rotozip. I got the priority shipping so hopefully they'll be here in time for me to work on Excalibur this coming weekend.

I did a little test sew on some silk organza to see if I could make decent free motion lace on the sewing machine. It didn't look awful but it wasn't as accurate as I'd like either. Then the thought came to me to airbrush it onto the organza. This solves the problems of accuracy, uniformity and shaves off a good deal of time in the bargain. I'm going to test it out with the paint I currently have but once I've satisfied myself that it'll work I think I'm going to go for a pearl paint. Pearl White from Createx and Pearl Sparkle from Aqua Flow are looking good so far. I haven't figured out how to finish up the raw edge on the bottom yet but it'll come to me. Maybe some type of heat seal like a hot knife would work. Fray Check might even do the trick, I'll just have to play with different things.

I bought three sizes of half round stryrene from Hobbylinc so I could see what it was like. It's fairly stiff but with a little bend to it depending on thickness. I put the largest of the three (which I believe was 1/4") into the toaster oven to see if it'd become pliable. I probably left it in there for about 5 minutes total on 300 degrees but I took it out 3 times during that 5 minutes to check on it. The first time I wasn't able to bend it any more than normal, the second time it had more give to it then the third time it was nearly like a strip of clay. I was able to easily bend it into a tight horseshoe shape without any distortion to the styrene. I'm looking forward to trimming something out with this stuff. It comes in sheets as well so I may have to look into getting some to experiment on.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Craft Room

I finally got a few pictures of my craft room. It still needs some work but this is much better than the little corner I had before.

My ponies got banned from the rest of the house so I put up their old shelves again and dubbed this my "wall of happy". All my instructional books for sewing, crafting, drawing and whatnot are on the bookshelf below.

I kept the TV in this room since there isn't a hookup for it in the new bedroom. I've also got my NES and Playstation 2 tucked away in here so I'm good for retro gaming or dvd's. Just having the noise of a TV seems to help me work sometimes. I'm not fond of all the fabric bins being stacked up under the window but I just look at it as encouragement to make something out of it to sell. To that end, I started a cheshire cat set from some of the wicked long pile fur I picked up while working at Hobby Lobby.

I added another set of wall shelves in the corner for my various chemicals and my wig heads finally found a home there also. I've got some "for sale" stuff piled up in a box waiting for their new owners.

Having my table out in the middle of the room is sooo nice. I can get around my entire project now without having to shift it around. I've got my most current projects tucked away in the printer boxes below the table.

I decided to put my clothes rack in here as well since it's basically dominated by costumes anyway. It's nice because if I need to pull something for reference it's right there. The printer boxes have my costume shoes in them.

More shelves containing the various trappings of costuming work. I put up a shelf for my dolls as well so they finally have their own place to live where the cats can't easily get to them. I bought stands for them but some of them were too short for the taller dolls so I modded one for Ian using a curtain rod and epoxy putty. Not too snazzy looking but it works. Willow and Aurora need their stands modded also, that's why they're still sitting.

I've also been hard at work on my new version of I've got many of the main pages done and am now working on individual costume pages. I went through my old link pages and culled out all the dead ones and added some new pages I've found. I did a test transfer of the site to since I didn't have much there yet. I had to work out a few kinks but once I got the hang of it the pages were easy to transfer. Hopefully I can go live with the new version within the month. I'd like to have the majority of my pages set up first, but I'm well on my way. I also ordered a full copy of SiteSpinner since it was about $20 cheaper than normal so I don't have to worry about running out of trial version days anymore. It's a pity it doesn't include some kind of photo gallery coding or at least the ability to put pictures in the scrolling text box. I'm sure I could go in and tweak the code to get it to work but that would defeat the purpose of having the program. On the other hand, the workaround I decided on has the benefit of making the pages load much faster than they would with larger pictures. Plus since only the text scrolls the pictures remain visible at all times instead of having to scroll to the bottom of my text walls to get to them. After it's all said and done SiteSpinner pwns FrontPage so I can't complain too much.

I made some headway on Excalibur and the white lace at the bottom of Saber's dress. More on that in my next post.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lutterloh Pattern System

This looks pretty intriguing: Lutterloh Pattern System
When I have some extra money to throw around I may invest in this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Craft Room / Wigcraft

So yeah, I have no idea why I thought I could move around the contents of more than half my house in just one weekend and work on my armor. I've got the rooms mostly in order now and will be posting pics of my awesome new craft room soon. It's a little cluttered up with my "for sale" stuff and framed art that I have yet to find a home for but it's still quite roomy.

I finally got my hands on "The World of Wigcraft" this past Friday. I'm almost done reading through it and I really like what I see. It makes me want to take on a costume with a crazy difficult wig...almost.

I saw Sucker Punch a couple weekends ago and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I'm very tempted to make a Baby Doll costume now. I really need to finish a couple other projects first though so that'll have to be put aside for the time being.

Pictures to come.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Still Alive

Slightly side tracked but still here.

I've been fiddling around with updating my website with a program called SiteSpinner. Everything about it seems perfect except for the lack of built-in photo galleries. I can't get photos in a scrolling box at all so I'm having to work around it by making the pictures tiny. They open in a new window like the current version of my site. Taking that into consideration, the Graphics section is probably out unless I make numbered pages. I don't think I really need that section anyhow. I mostly had it for my own reference. Here's a sneak peek of the new version:

I figure I'll keep the backgrounds of my blog and my site matched. I've got a little while left on my trial version of SiteSpinner, but I think when it's up I'll go ahead and get the program. Not sure when I'll go live with it but I'm going to get as many pages changed over as possible first.

My leg armor came to a screeching halt for a while. The Chavant clay didn't really work for me so I had to ask around for recommendations on a different clay. The good folks over at the RPF suggested Klean Klay so I got some samples of it and decided I liked it. I ordered 12 more 1lb bricks in extra firm which I hope will show up before this weekend. Here's the mess I made with the Chavant which had to be scraped off later.

I've taken some high res shots of her armor and other details so I'm going to print that out to have in front of me while I sculpt this time around. I considered even making them life sized and using them as patterns. Whatever works.

This weekend I'll be switching rooms around to have a larger area for my crafting supplies so I'm rather excited about that. I'll still try to make time for sculpting my armor once the furniture is all in place.

Just read that Katie's wig books are arriving at her house tomorrow! The long wait is finally over ^___^ I feel like I should be planning for a midnight release party XD

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Leg on a Stick

I got around to fiberglassing my leg cast this weekend. I decided to seal the seam first so it wouldn't go out of alignment. I mixed about 4oz. of resin my first go and it started setting up on me halfway through. Next batch I only did 2oz. and I was able to use it all before it started curing.

After my seam set up I fiberglassed the T pipe setup to the inside of my casting. I put a rag in the bottom for the pipe to rest on so it'd dry more or less in the center of the ankle opening.

I went ahead and covered the side facing up while I was at it.

Once the mounting fiberglass cured I screwed the pipe back into the flange and finished fiberglassing all the places I'd missed. 

I ended up with some wicked sharp edges on my casting so I used my Dremel to smooth most of them down. Now it's ready for me to start sculpting onto it.

I did a little test with a candle warmer and the Plasteline clay. It did melt it down but it took a considerable amount of time. Heating it in the microwave and using the candle warmer to keep it liquid would probably be the better way to go. I have the NSP soft, but the tutorial recommended medium or hard so I may end up having to buy more clay. I'll wait and see how it handles first.

And finally we come to my little side project. I've been trying to come up with a way to fix my Himeno shoes and I finally decided on gluing white PVC over them. They're a bit bumpy on the surface so I was going to do a layer underneath the PVC to smooth them out a little. I used Shoe Goo and although it sticks wonderfully and seems like it'd hold forever it won't go on smooth for anything. As I spread it around it rolled and pilled making additional bumps all over that show through the material. My next experiment will be with Super 77 spray glue. That'll at least give me a smooth application, I'm just worried about its holding strength.

That's all so far. Next comes the sculpting. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend Goings-On

Leg Cast
Here's a shot of the leg cast now that it's off my personage. I took the stuffing out but left the bands on. I'll have to fiberglass over the seam this weekend, weather permitting.

Here's the stand I made to mount my casting on. I got a couple flanges and a 48" pipe from the sprinkler section that had threading on both ends. I cut the pipe down the middle to make two, mounted the flange to my board and screwed the pipe down into it. The T pipe had to be shaved down a little to fit in the end and is still only dry fitted as I obviously need to be able to take it off to fit my casting onto the pipe. Now all I have to do is fiberglass the casting onto the stand, lay a layer of 'glass on my casting and then I can start sculpting. I may need to glue a couple paint stirrers across the underside of the ends of the board to make it a little more stable. It seems solid now but that may change when the weight of the clay starts to add up.

Plaster Cheesecloth Test
We did a little test with cheesecloth and plaster of paris. I had both on hand so I thought that'd be better than buying more plaster bandages. It didn't turn out exactly as planned but I think it might be doable. Maybe mix a little less plaster next time and thin it out a tad more. The test casting did come out pretty darn hard considering how thin it is. I'll be busy for a while sculpting the left leg armor so I won't need more castings right away. Might do a couple more test runs in that time.

I got my fiberglass supplies this weekend. Hopefully this coming weekend will be nice enough that I can try them out. I may look at getting some cloth and mat in bulk once I get the hang of using them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fiberglass - A Decision

I've decided to start with the 3M resin (which I'm now thinking is polyester) I can buy locally to reinforce my leg castings. It'll be cheaper than ordering an epoxy resin and I can get my hands on it much quicker. For my final pull I may order a small epoxy kit just to test it and compare the results with the polyester. For now, I'm going to practice with the polyester.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Further Fiberglass Musings

BioWeapons - has a how to section for casting, molding and armor creation. Very impressive stuff.

I'm trying to find out if I should be using polyester resin or epoxy resin for my armor. I've seen people singing the praises both ways so I'm at a loss. I may just get the 3M stuff from Lowe's and see how that goes. I'm not even sure if that's epoxy or polyester but I'm guessing epoxy....maybe? I may break down and ask the folks over at the RPF. I hate asking n00b questions but I hate wasting money even more.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plaster Bandages and Corsets - possible source for Catwoman corset hardware

I was looking into getting more plaster bandages from Smooth-On today, but shipping was going to be $20 for 4 rolls. Seemed a little steep. I headed over to The Engineer Guy and not only is their shipping half what S-O was asking but their bandages are cheaper as well. Exact same bandages from what I can tell in the pictures. Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Smooth-On but I'm going to have to pass this time around. I was going to go ahead and get the bandages today but I noticed TEG has fiberglass cloth and mat. This warrants further research.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bits and Bobs

The little fiddly bits on costumes can be a pain to find when you don't know the correct term for them.

Plastic Cabochons, for example, are the foil-backed acrylic gems found on 90% of anime characters. I've never seen anything but the faceted variety in my local craft stores while most designs call for the smooth ones.

Acrylic Half Spheres pretty much the same as above except colorless and no backing. These would be good if you needed a custom color or a massive size (up to 2", anyway).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Leg Cast Done

Left Leg Cast

We started out doing the right leg with plastic wrap to protect my skin, but the bandages didn't seem to be setting up properly. We worked with it for several minutes then I decided to try it on the other leg but with vaseline instead of the plastic wrap thinking it might be impeding the process somehow. The bandages were quickly removed from the plastic wrap leg and transferred to the vaseline leg. We did several more strips but it still wouldn't harden so we tried to speed it up with the hair dryer. Nothing was working so after about 20 minutes or so of failed attempts I had my husband use the unopened roll of bandages. I had no idea that plaster bandages could go bad when left in the open air but apparently that's what happened because the sealed bandages worked as they should. I hobbled around the house for a couple hours waiting for it to dry completely (which it never really seemed to), then I cut it down the inside of my leg with a combination of scissors and a razor blade so that I could wiggle my leg out. I matched the sides back up and put rubber bands down the length of the cast to help keep the cut edges from distorting. I also stuffed it with plastic bags for the same purpose.

Now I'll have to purchase fiberglass materials so I can reinforce my cast enough to be able to sculpt on it. I took a trip to Lowes today to see what the local prices were but I plan to comparison shop on the web before making my purchase. Supplies at Lowes will run me around $60 but they only had fiberglass cloth, no mat. May as well say $70 once I get the mat online. There's a Home Depot in the next town so I may check out their prices as well before deciding.

Lowes Prices:
Cloth $6.98 for 8sq ft
Resin $35.98 for 128 oz
Mask $6.97 for 2
Bondo $10.98 for 1qt
Bondo $20.97 for 1 gal

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Blog!

In my continuing efforts to get back into cosplay, I've decided to keep a project journal of sorts. I'll be posting progress pictures, links, ideas and anything else related to whatever project I happen to be working on or thinking about working on at the time.

The costume I have picked for my wicked huge cosplay comeback will involve some armor making. To that end, I submit these two sites...

digitalEMERALD- instructions for fiberglass armor construction

Armour Archive-patterns for various historical armor pieces

In all likelihood I'll be using a combination of these two methods. For the parts that aren't very detailed or oddly shaped I'll probably use the patterns to make a base out of Wonderflex. From there I could do one of two things. I could try to smooth out the Wonderflex with Friendly Plastic or I could fiberglass the Wonderflex instead. Fiberglass may be the better option since it will lend some rigidity to the piece while also keeping my surface textures consistent throughout the suit. For the parts that cannot be satisfactorily achieved within the limits of Wonderflex I will resort to sculpting and casting as seen in Emerald's instructions.