Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Susan's Accessories

Namely the bow and vanbrace.

The bow, as you may remember, is PVC that was heated with a heat gun and then shaped. Well, I had to finish it off. The tips of Susan's bow are supposed to be more ivory, but I just couldn't imagine shaping them out of the PVC. So instead, I used DAS clay, which is an air-hardening clay. No baking! It is much more difficult to work with than the Sculpey clay, which is what I made my Clockwork Droid mask out of. It doesn't smooth very well, and I had to do a second layer to make the shape even and get rid of naturally-occurring cracks. But, I think it looks pretty good. Using American brand acrylic paints, I painted the clay tips "warm white" - "ivory" seemed too white. The bow itself has vines carved into the ends, so I glued a strip of leather cord around it (too bad I couldn't actually carve it or somehow include the leaves). I did NOT worry about carving anything into the clay, since it was difficult to work with and I couldn't get a clear shot of the design, anyway. Plus, if someone's going to bother me about that when I've put so much tiny detail into other things, they need to get a life.

I also used the DAS clay for riser (where you hold on). In hindsight, I realized this is actually part of the bow, so I probably could have just painted it onto the PVC. Oh well. I then painted the riser a brick red. I also took a gold ribbon and glued that onto the riser for the gold bands.

The string is gold elastic cording that I found at JoAnn Fabrics. I used the same red paint for the riser on the string, then just tied the string around the bow. One reason I used the elastic cording was so that I can actually pull back on the string! I am happy to say that the bow is now complete!

The van brace wasn't tricky, just time-consuming. I had to make the leather brace and the ivory design as well. I was able to print out a life-sized version of the vanbrace, which I found in the book The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion. I used that as a pattern and cut the van brace out of the same brown vinyl I am using for the straps on the corset. I then cut out another vanbrace of the same size, but then cut it down just a bit. I then sewed the smaller piece on top of the larger piece, leaving gaps where the straps needed to be added.

The straps are thin and fit between the two pieces of vinyl. There are supposed to be small buckles to hold the vanbrace in place, but I could not find anything that small in any of the fabric stores, and I didn't trust looking online for one this late in the game. Instead, I used 3/4" vest buckles. I attached the buckles to the vanbrace using a loop of vinyl. The straps themselves thread through the buckles and actually work quite well. The final thing was to design the pieces that fit around the thumb. For this, all I did was cut a piece of vinyl and wrap it around my thumb. I then cut strips off until I had the right shape. I then cut a piece to attach to the wrist and after attaching that to the main piece, I used the whole thing as a pattern for the actual piece. This is stitched to the underside of the vanbrace. What I don't show you in this picture is that to finish it off, I painted the underside a dark brown using acrylic paint. I actually did that after attaching the "ivory" design piece. I am very pleased with the result!

The other part of the vanbrace is the ivory decoration. I had no clue how to do this - I thought about painting it, I thought about somehow doing it with PVC - but finally, Matt suggested that I use foam. I got very thin craft foam for $.99 at Hobby Lobby. I cut out the shape using the pattern from the book. I then hand-carved the design using the end of a plastic paint brush. After the design was sketched, I painted the entire thing with the same "warm white" paint as the tips of the bow.

After the paint dried, I took a very light brown acrylic paint and mixed it with a bit of water. I then brushed that over sections of the design and immediately wiped off all the extra. It slowly seeped into the sketches and provided some nice detail. The last step was to sew the decoration piece onto the vinyl. It's not perfect, but I think it still looks okay.

Here are some original pictures of these accessories:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Clockwork Droid

Today I finished re-applying the trim for the Clockwork Droid overcoat. I also brought in the sides of the new vest and applied new trim. The next bit I have to do is to fix the mask - I was going to remake the entire mask, but I just don't have time for that (maybe for Chicago TARDIS?) I think in order to make the mask fit under the wig better, I'll take the dremmel and slowly sand off the bit that is sticking up. I'm hoping it works and doesn't end up splitting the mask!

The last thing I have to do is remake the pants. I hate pants. And these pants pull strangely across my hips and make the fabric sit poorly. But that's a last priority because it's a guaranteed headache!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Corsetry

I've spent the last few days working on my corset (and weaving chain maile - I finally figured out how to link the chains - YAY!!!) I started out with just the plain ol' corset, but I needed to have all kinds of leather straps running across it. For the leather straps, I originally started out with the leather that I made the corset out of, but there wasn't enough definition that way. So, I purchased a reddish vinyl. Yes, I know, VINYL. But, it was way cheaper than the leather version and it was actually a better color, too. I cut out a pattern with my giant grid paper, but cut it slightly bigger than the piece so that I could fold the vinyl under to get rid of the rough edges.

I am ashamed to say that I used a hot glue gun to fold the edges under, but I had no choice. The other glue takes FOREVER to dry, and sewing just looked awkward.

I then placed the pieces where I thought they belonged on the corset and glued them using SoBo Premium Craft and Fabric Glue. These had to glue overnight before I could do anything with them.

I had several silver pendants that I purchased from JoAnn Fabrics. Matt drilled out the centers, and I stitched them on using very thin leather thread. The silver square I had to hot glue on. (In the following picture, I hadn't yet glued or stitched anything on yet.)

I then started work on the back of the corset. The tan strips of vinyl have to go over the shoulders and then attach in the back and some of the straps have to attach from the back to the front, so I had to put the corset on the dressmaker's dummy in order to get everything to fit correctly. Some of the straps will attach using velcro. If I permanently attach the strips, I can't get the corset on. And if I use snaps or something, that won't work if I need to adjust the corset. Some of the straps are attached to each other using a belt buckle (one side is permanently attached, the other side will attach to itself with velcro.) I am ashamed to say that I again used the hot glue gun, only because it's so much faster and the other glue takes so long that the pieces would have slipped out of place. When I have everything attached correctly, I will lay it out on the table and reinforce every piece with the SoBo glue.

The last thing I worked on tonight was I took rivets and flattened the top part that attaches into the leather. I then glued (with hot glue - yes, it should work fine for this part) that onto the leather. This way, the rivets are in there without actually having been riveted. After the grommets, the thought of riveting together all the leather and vinyl just about made my head explode! Anyway, here's the front of the corset partially completed (not all the rivets are on yet - I ran out of hot glue!)

I'm still working on the chain maile for the top of the costume, but that's coming along pretty well. I had to purchase another 3 pounds of rings, so hopefully they'll be here in a few days and I can start making chains again. It's going REALLY fast now that I know what I'm doing. I got the entire front done during two episodes of Doctor Who (which means some of that time was spent watching and not weaving.)

Also, I still need to figure out what to do with that dratted collar. Maybe once the chain maile is in place I can more accurately gauge how big the collar needs to be.

It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close!!! It also looks less cheap when it's not illuminated by a flash. I'm still working on the back, so I'm not going to upload those pictures quite yet. Here is the original again for comparison:

Monday, August 9, 2010


I FINALLY figured out what to do with the bow! The answer: PVC pipe. I found a terrific website on how to bend PVC: http://www.pvcworkshop.com/bendpipe.htm The trick is to not only heat it thoroughly, but also to fill the pipe with sand so that the heat is distributed evenly and the pipe is supported so that it doesn't kink.

I started out with a five foot length of 3/4" diameter PVC pipe, but it was just a little too wide. But, I used it as my practice piece. I nailed nails into a board in the shape that I wanted, took out the heat gun, and got to work. It took about a minute to get the plastic soft enough to shape, and it has to be heated in no more than about a 2-inch width, so this was a bit time-consuming. But, it worked perfectly!

Once I was done, I decided which end I liked best, flipped over the board, and drew an outline of that side of the bow. Then I flipped the bow over and outlined it on the other side so that the outline would be exactly symmetrical. Because the middle of the bow is straight, you can also lengthen or shorten the bow length, determined by where you place the bow for drawing the outline (I shortened the bow a few inches.)

I went back to Home Depot today and got another five foot length of 1/2" diameter piping, and it is the right size. So I set about shaping it again. An observation - when the heat gun is on, it smells like the popcorn air popper. And if you get too close to the plastic, it browns to a nice golden color, like a toasted marshmallow!

But now I have the bow in the right shape. I'm going to cut off the ends and shape it with some kind of putty or clay to get the nice pointed ends of Susan's bow. I'm very excited - the rest should go pretty smoothly. This was definitely the biggest obstacle in making the bow! And it cost $2!

And here's the original for comparison - mine might be a tad too big, but I don't care - it's freaking cool!

Also, I ordered my shoes today! They're the ones third from the left. They're not quite that color, but they're the closest I could get.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chain Maile

Today was kind of a bust. I'd made a form for the quiver last week. I used a giant styrofoam cone and whittled it down to the correct shape (which is an elephant tusk.) I then made a form using paper mache.

I was going to sculpt the quiver today using oven-bake clay, which I rolled out into thin layers with a wine bottle. It kind of looked like raw bacon or something. Disturbing, especially since we just had a pig roast yesterday.

Well, the clay was just not working. It was lumpy, it was stretching out, it just was not good.

So, I gave up. Matt suggested using fiberglass or something - I don't know, he'll have to tell me what to do. It's apparently what he used to make the form for his R2D2 dome. My biggest concern is that I have to be able to sculpt this, and I'm not good at sculpting. I need something that won't dry until I want it to!

Anyway, I gave up on the quiver for today and turned to the chain maile. Remember, I spent a long time making chains, and Matt spent a long time piecing those chains into sheets of maile. We ended up with two big sheets of chain maile.

What I did today was I split both sheets of maile into two sheets, so I ended up with four identical sheets of maile. I was trying to figure out how to attach it to the corset without 1) ruining the corset, and 2) making it look fake. Matt suggested hand sewing it to a belt, but I broke the needle on the first attempt and didn't even get it all the way through the belt. Then I remembered that I had an extra leather cord!

I wove the cord through the top row of maile, tying a knot on the last ring of each sheet to keep it in place so it didn't slide. This way it has enough body that it can move and ripple as I walk like a full shirt of maile, but it's not going to slide around. This will tie around my waist. And - ta da - I've got a maile skirt! (Click picture to view larger image!) I will spend this week making chains for the top and the sleeves!