Thursday, April 28, 2016

Peggy Carter's Earrings

Peggy has some very signature looks, and one of those are her earrings. While you can easily find them if you search for "flower pearl earrings," it is also quite easy to make your own.

What you need:

1 pair of pearl stud earrings
2 small pearl flower beads
Glue (I used contact cement as a little goes a long way, but other glue would work. Make certain it is a glue that you can tolerate in case it gets on your skin when dried)

This is almost embarrassingly simple, but here ya go:

Step 1: Ensure that your beads will slip over the studs of the earrings.

Step 2: Place a small amount of contact cement just around the centre of the bead. Try not to get it all over the bead as you want it to still look pretty.

Step 3: Place a small amount of contact cement on the back of the pearl stud. You only really need the glue to go on the silver backing of the pearl as that is the only part that will touch the bead.

Step 4: Give the cement time to get tacky and then slide the stud through the bead. Clean off any cement that got on the stud now so that it doesn't dry there.

Repeat for the second earring.

Et voila! Peggy flower pearl earrings that goes with almost everything she wears in Season 2 and quite a few outfits from Season 1 too.

Word to the wise- if you're buying online and the price is just too good to be true, you might be getting what I got, which looked perfect, but was actually just the pieces that you need here to put together. This method works perfectly for making them that little bit more stable if you, like me, are worried about losing the pieces.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mara Jade - Knees and Shin Guards

This was mostly getting to grips with Worbla. I had no issues getting the patterns for the shinguards and kneepads made, and I chose to do them at the same time. The construction of these happened side by side, so I’m just doing the one post about them.

The patterns were basically made by covering my legs in saran wrap, followed by duct tape. I drew on the pattern that I wanted and cut it out and transferred it to paper. The pattern for the shin guards was 4 pieces to try to get the curves to my legs so it wouldn’t just be a straight up and down block with a back opening. The knee pads were drawn at the same time so that they would fit into the space made by the shinguards at the top. 

My difficulty began when I tried the “sandwich” method of making the shinguards. Now, maybe this works well for shinguards that do not have to go around your leg, but I just could not get it to work for me. It was a miserable effort that had me frustrated and annoyed. 

This is the failed attempt. It looked terrible, had almost no shape, and I just hated it. 

So I started again, this time with thicker foam. 

I used 5mm Durafoam. I glued each foam piece together with contact cement and shaped the foam to where I wanted it to be. As I was now going to be covering it in Worbla anyway, I chose to just create the raised details around the edge and in Mara’s cross shape in craft foam. Then I covered it in Worbla. 

This worked perfectly the first time, and turned out great. I beveled the edges to make them appear less thick from the outside, which helped take out a lot of bulk. 

Oh, and I also did this- 

This was SUCH a good idea. While the two sides definitely are different, it is not always immediately obvious when looking at them, so this turned out to be a great idea. Since the foam was exposed on the inside, I just very lightly cut a R and L (for right and left) into the foam in an easy to spot place. This might be up there with my best ideas ever. 

I used Kamui Cosplay’s method of attaching D-rings to the inside, sort of. She uses scrap Worbla to wrap the straight end of the D-ring and then heating that to the armour. Except that I cut through the foam first and then attached the spare Worbla to the Worbla on the front of the armour. It was tricky, but it worked. It did leave a bit of an imprint on the front, and if I was doing it again, I’d probably try something different.

The kneepads were much simpler. I cut them out of the 5mm Durafoam and then traced a copy out of craft foam. I cut out circular spaces for indentations. 

Then built the outer edge again out of craft foam and covered the whole thing. The knee pads and shin guards then got covered in several layers of gesso before I sanded them down.

I got sick of sanding the primer before it was mirror smooth, but in the end, I think the final result is just fine, so I'm not too bothered by the slight imperfections. Afterall, Mara is a woman of action, so its highly unlikely that her gear would end up without a few scratches here and there.

Then I just sprayed them with black primer, followed by black paint, and topped it off with a shiny varnish. 

Considering these are the first pairs of armour I’ve ever made, I was actually quite happy with how they turned out. Even though they gave me some trouble it was nothing compared to what I went through with the bodysuit which deserves its own post… 

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego??

This started out as a bit of a joke. When I started wearing Peggy I would consistently get asked “Are you Carmen Sandiego?” No, I wasn’t, but it did put the seed of the idea in my head. Then it got suggested to me by a photographer friend. I laughed, said maybe and didn’t think much of it.

Then I was floating through a charity shop and found a big red jacket for €12. That week, I’d realised that the hat I’d bought for a Peggy costume was wrong, BUT it would work out for a Carmen Sandiego costume. The first trial went like this:

I hemmed and hawed for a long time, but eventually decided that I wasn’t happy with the colour of the hat. I had played with hat shape before, so I was ok with fixing that, but dying it was a bit nerve wracking.

In the end, it was very easy. The hat itself is wool (or at least supposed to be) so I bought a simple red Dylon dye at my local fabric shop. I followed the instructions and put it all in my sink to keep the red dye from being everywhere.

Tip for dying- ALWAYS make sure that you get whatever it is you want to dye soaking wet throughout before you put it in your dye bath. Otherwise it may not evenly take the dye.

I wasn’t sure how long the dye would need, so I left it in there for well over an hour. I rinsed it out, and while it was wet already went ahead and sprayed it to death with starch like I did with my Agent Carter hat and shaped it how I wanted it.

As it happens, there’s like a rubber or something in my hat. Fortunately, the hat wasn’t far off the shape I wanted and the starching managed the rest.

In researching Carmen, I realised she has more possible looks than I realised. For me, the yellow band on the hat was the look that I remembered best, so I wanted to recreate that. I grabbed a wide yellow elastic, which I used as Carmen’s hatband, and then found a matching scarf like material. I threw on black clothing from my wardrobe with some fun black boots and voila! Carmen brought to life.

Photo by George Germaine.
I really had fun with this costume. My love of travel is at least partially related to my love this character and it was just so much fun! I’m already hoping to wear it again because I really enjoyed playing with her character.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mara Jade - Bits and Bobs

Its been over a year since I started this costume, and several months since I got it finished. This time last year I was spraying chrome paint all over my in-laws front doorstep and the back piece I made for Mara so I figured it was time to put together some build posts about this costume.

Mara Jade is probably my favorite female from the Star Wars universe. Growing up, there wasn't much choice. It was Leia or... Leia. I eventually found the Expanded Universe and fell in love with Mara's sarcastic, strong character.

Actually, a lot of this costume came together very quickly.

For her wig I got a Ferrari in Pumpkin from Arda Wigs, and paired that with coloured contacts. Her gloves were actually some of the first gloves I ever made earlier this year, and at the same time I made the hood to match. Her goggles were one of three I purchased from eBay, with the winning pair being a snowboarding set that I got for half nothing.

The first thing I did was tackle her back piece. This was my first foray with Worbla, which I've decided has to be one of my new favourite things. I'm not going to go into how you use Worbla, as that's been covered by a number of people, most comprehensibly by Kamui Cosplay who has a number of tutorials that are excellent.

This was actually the first piece I did as I wasn't sure how Worbla worked. The answer was "very well" and I basically used it to cover shaped pieces of foam.

The back piece I sketched out on paper and then built with foam. I wanted it to have some oomph, as I didn't like the really flat versions that I'd seen.

I smoothed down the larger foam which had a heavy pattern, and then dremeled down the sections that stuck out so that you'd get the difference in height. I dremeled the edges as well so that it was less severe edges.

I built the centre part with craft foam on top and then covered everything with Worbla. This being the first thing I'd ever done with Worbla, I was shocked at how easy it was to put together.

Then I added spare bits of Worbla to form the "screws" on each tab, and began the process of covering it all in gesso and sanding it down.

I found a fabulous chrome spray paint that actually made it brighter and newer looking than I really wanted, so I took some brown and black paints to it to tone it down.

I also had fun playing with leathers in order to finish this. I ordered veg-tan leather and dye for the various straps and belts. First I soaked the leather and shaped it so that the straps would lie closer to my body shape.

This basically meant clipping it all together as it would end up and wearing it around the house until they dried. Then I dyed them with leather dye and polished them with a sheen. Word to the wise- don't forget to dye the edges of your leather. It looks very silly otherwise.

For the shoulder straps, because my back piece was foam based, I was able to cut channels in the foam and link all of the ends of the leather together with wire so it is nice and secure. While not pictured, I covered the back of it with black felt so that it wouldn't rub against the bodysuit and damage the fabric.

The belt took a little more doing, but once I caved in and used contact cement, it worked really well. I'd been wanting Barge cement since that is something that everyone seems to rave about, but it appears nigh on impossible to find here in Ireland.

I hit up my local hardware store and found this:

This is also contact cement, and it works very, very, VERY well. It works on the foam, it works on leather. I haven't found something it doesn't work on yet. I actually have a hard time understanding how it works so well, but suffice to say that things are not going to be falling apart any time soon. I usually try to avoid glue at all costs as I worry about lasting power, but this stuff is amazing.

Next up was her knee pads and shin guards, which I made at the same time, so I'll do those together in their own post.