Sunday, September 8, 2013

Clockwork Droid Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago, we did a photo shoot with some of our costumes at the Mayslake Peabody Estate.  The mansion was built in 1921, and is simply breathtaking!  We've been there for many of the First Folio theatre productions, including The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe and Searching for Peabody's Tomb, both of which take place in various rooms throughout the house, and The Turn of the Screw, which was performed in the indoor chapel.  Due to the several performances we've attended, we've become pretty familiar with the interior of the house.  Last October, we were attending The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe for the second time.  The play begins in the library, and as we sat there waiting for it to start, I was staring at the enormous fireplace.  And I realized ... hang on, why did I never think of this before?  It's the perfect place to do a Clockwork Droid photo shoot!

The mansion is in the process of being restored, so there is almost no furniture in it.  There will literally be a chair in one room and a folding table in another.  There are a few pieces of period furniture on the landing of the main staircase, but that's about it.  They store all of the furniture for the theatre productions and special events somewhere else, so with a few exceptions, the entire mansion is completely empty.

We scheduled a shoot for late July, and we literally had the entire mansion to ourselves.  I stopped by one afternoon to drop off my paperwork and a quick tour of the house where they showed me which rooms I could use, and I decided to add a few more costumes to the shoot.  (I'll post those later.)  The entire shoot was an incredible experience.  The only other people around during the shoot were a few office workers, and they just left us alone.  The entire mansion was silent.  As I dressed in the bathroom and made my way through the house to the library, my footsteps echoed ominously on the wooden floors ... Seriously, it was a bit unnerving to be in there alone after going to so many creepy plays!  Not only is the mansion this grand, historic building with incredible architecture that makes you feel like you're in an English country house, it had also been a monastery (a reportedly haunted monastery), and now serves as a theatre (and everyone knows that theatres are haunted), and according to Searching for Peabody's Tomb, there have been multiple paranormal phenomena at the mansion.

Anyway, if you're in the Chicagoland area, go visit.  It's part of the DuPage Forest Preserve system, so they hold art classes there and do tours.  And if you want to do your own photo shoot, their package is very reasonable, and your rental is for a full two hours.  (I don't believe they list the photo package on their rentals page, so contact them directly.)  Considering that it's a one-of-a-kind location and the money goes towards supporting the forest preserve, it's definitely a worthwhile investment.  I'd absolutely book with them again if a future costume fits the location.

Here are some of the photos of the Clockwork Droid that were taken by our photographer, Peg Tierney of Brewster Street Studios.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dragon Con 2013: Doctor Who

This year, Noel Clarke, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Eve Myles were all at Dragon Con.  I added Noel and Eve to my autograph wall (I only need Naoko Mori, and then I will have collected them all, muwhahahaha!) Their panels were the filthiest panels I've ever seen, and John Barrowman wasn't even there!  Well, he was at Dragon Con, but he wasn't on any of the Torchwood panels for some reason.  Anyway, Torchwood/Doctor Who panels are always the most fun, and usually the dirtiest.  Seriously, I don't know how those people ever got any work done.

However, the highlight of my weekend was when I met Noel Clarke!  I only wanted to dress as the Clockwork Droid for that one time, and only because I have photos with other Doctor Who people as the Clockwork Droid, so I wanted to carry on that tradition.  I got all the way to the Walk of Fame before realizing that I'd left my new Clockwork weapon in my hotel room!  I walked all the way back - which would normally not be a big deal, but this year we were staying at the Westin, and it was a 15-minute trip one-way.  By the time I got back to the Walk of Fame, Noel was taking a break.  Argh!

When he returned, I'd been hoping to get a photo with my weapon in the frame (obviously, as I'd walked all the way back for it), but he insisted on a giant hug.  I didn't have time to refuse, and honestly, I'm not really sure why I would.  This was not only a highlight of my weekend, but of the entire life of the Clockwork Droid.  Unless Billie Piper, David Tennant, or Sophia Myles shows up in Atlanta, the Clockwork Droid is now retired from Dragon Con.  It really doesn't get any better than this!

I love how happy the Clockwork Droid looks ...
I also met Eve Myles.  I told her that our favorite quote from Torchwood was, "You're cleaning the oven!"  She threw her head back and laughed pretty hard.  Not only was she adorable, she was hilarious at her panels.

The same TARDIS that we had our photo in last year was up in the Sheraton at Dragon Con this year, so we hiked over with our Inspector Spacetime outfits and snapped some shots!

We also ran into another Constable and Inspector, and they had Blorgons!

Now that Dragon Con is over, I'll be focusing on more Doctor Who projects: namely, playing viola in the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra's 50th Anniversary piece, and (hopefully) making a Clara Oswald cosplay for Chicago TARDIS.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Eomer Fabrics

My husband Matt made all of the armor and props for Eomer, which you can read all about here.  However, he was running out of time before Dragon Con, so I offered to make his tunic and skirt. 

These are the reference photos we used.  I'm not sure where we got this one from, sorry.

This reference photo of the embroidery is from Alley Cat Scratch.

For the tunic, I used a Wuji Charcoal Shirting from JoAnn Fabrics.  Matt drafted the pattern for me based on a pattern he found here.

I hand-drafted the collar and attached it, using craft foam in between the layers for support.  I also sewed button holes onto the front and wove a leather cord through to tie it.

For the skirt, I used Zhan Hunter Target from Joann Fabrics.  I drafted a pattern based on length (mid-knee) and width.  The corners are rounded, and it's also split in the back.  I added ties to hold it up, but I may replace those with buttons.  There is a yellow gold embroidery all down the sides and bottom, with intricate embroidery on each corner.  I didn't get around to doing the corner embroidery, but I'll finish that up later.  The embroidery on the edges is essentially a series of ovals with more intricate embroidery connecting them.  I made a pattern and pinned it to one side and traced it with a marker to make half of the ovals, then free-handed the other side of the oval.

I embroidered the skirt with my machine using a stitch length of 3.5 with a stitch length of just over 0.  I did the ovals first, and after those were done, eyeballed the half oval that goes from the bottom of one oval to the top of the one beneath it.  It was my first time doing any embroidery on the machine, so I think it turned out pretty well.

Here's the final product (sorry, we have it tied incorrectly in this shot):

I still need to distress everything, but there wasn't time.  And again, the full costume, because it's just so gorgeous:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dragon Con 2013: Evening at Bree

This year, because of our LOTR costumes, we spent a lot of time with the Tolkien Track at Dragon Con.  Friday night was the Evening at Bree, an event with music by Emerald Rose.  The special guests at the event were Sylvestor McCoy (Radagast in The Hobbit and the Seventh Doctor), Graham McTavish, and William Kircher, who played Dwalin and Bifur in The Hobbit, respectively.  Matt entered Eomer in the costume contest.  His entry was announced by Sylvester McCoy!  (Please ignore the bad quality.  My iPhone refused to focus and I didn't want to miss it.)  That was super exciting!  But then, Emerald Rose selected Matt as Band's Choice, and Graham McTavish, Matt's favorite Dwarf, was the one who announced it!  (You can see it here around 13:58.)  I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but we are both over the moon about not only the win, but that Radagast and Dwalin said our names!

Before I go any further, here are our final costumes (and I'll try to remember to post about the fabric portion of Matt's costume soon):

I can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to attend Evening at Bree.  We had a blast and met a lot of great new people, and met up with others like Celtic Ruins Costumes, whom we've followed for the past few years.  Everyone looked brilliant, and we especially loved all of the dwarves.  The talent at Dragon Con is unbelievable, and we both came out of the con this year feeling extremely humbled.

It is a bit disconcerting to me that most of the dwarves are played by women, as I am infatuated with Richard Armitage.  I have Thorin on my iPhone screen so that every time I turn it on, I see his gorgeous eyes staring back at me.  There were two unbelievably good female Thorins, and their costumes made me feel all confused ... (okay, not really, but I did have to remind myself several times that it would be highly inappropriate to flirt with them).

Apparently, I need to make myself clear with my previous statement.  My comment about the dwarves being "disconcerting" was a joke - I was so excited to have my photo taken with Thorin, who I am so in love with, and I felt a bit silly because I was practically drooling on her.  I have zero problems with crossplay, whether it's women dressing as male characters, or men dressing as female characters.  Zero.  For God's sake, I play a MALE Clockwork Droid!  I understand the appeal of doing a character of the opposite sex straight OR as a femme version, and I support it all.  I wasn't suggesting that women shouldn't play male characters, or that it's wrong in any way.  I just found it funny that I knew that most of the dwarves were women, and yet my brain was still like, Thorin = hot.  I'm sorry if some people find crossplay to be actually disturbing or bewildering or confusing, but I am NOT one of those people.  So, I apologize for offending anyone that thought I was saying that women shouldn't cosplay dwarves.

Speaking of flirting, I had to practically peel the women off of Matt.  He's a good-looking man, but in that Eomer costume - dear lord.

Matt also attended the Middle Earth 80's Dance Party, and I was there briefly as Shadow Weaver.

I should mention that both events were streamed lived from, and they have the videos archived here.  Unfortunately, the clip of Matt dancing with the iPad seems to be broken, but yeah, Matt was given the iPad so that he could dance with the virtual partygoers.  I left that party wondering what had happened to my quiet, introverted husband!  I'm sorry I went to another panel before joining Matt at the party, because I missed Legolas dancing to They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard!  You can enjoy it starting around 21:20 here.

Enjoy the photos that we took at Evening at Bree!


Tauriel, Legolas, Eomer, Eowyn

Eomer and Tom Bombadil

Eomer with adorable dwarf women!
Tauriel, Thranduil, & Legolas

Tauriel & Eowyn

Eomer & Tauriel are photobombed by Kili.


Strider & Eomer

The elves are photobombed by Kili.

With a phenomenal Thorin.

Thorin Oakenshield

Two Thranduils = unlimited disdain.