Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ottawa Comiccon 2014 Con Report!

Hello peeps! Ottawa Comiccon 2014 has come and gone, and I'm happy to say I survived another year! Although I was working right up until the last minute, I successfully completed enough of my Moria to wear (though not as much as I had hoped) and had a blast strutting my stuff both in the halls and in the masquerade, in spite of the fact that Moria didn't get nearly as much recognition as Moxxi (obscure character, obscure series, and no cleavage = little love). That said, those who did know who I was were suitably impressed!

So attractive! Before the day crumbled
Saturday morning was one of those "comedy of errors" situations - it seemed no matter what I did, the world was determined not to cooperate. First I grabbed my model magic horns and found that one had cracked - not much I could do about it, but it was frustrating. For this make-up, I picked up better quality facepaint and a sea sponge applicator in hopes of having a better finish for my white makeup (as the girl at Audrey's had convinced me to do), but in spite of better than twenty minutes spent in front of the mirror, I couldn't get an even coating of white to save my life. Next, I grabbed my carefully crafted latex stitches (which I had made by paiting layer on layer of mould building latex on to plastic sheeting in the desired stitch pattern) and promptly dropped the 8 stitch chain on the floor, causing it to twist into a sticky, useless mess. I managed to salvage 5 or so of the X sitches, but it was a painful and frustrating process. Then I grabbed my belt off the table (after having laid it there to allow the e6000 I had used to glue on the buckle to dry) and discovered that the spray paint I had used to paint it hadn't cured properly, and therefore had adhered itself hopelessly to the plastic table cloth causing several chunks to rip off while trying to peel the buckle back. After painter's taping and throwing quick coat of silver on that, I went to burn the CD for my masquerade entry, only to discover that the track I had downloaded only had 26 sec of the song - luckily walk ons are only 30 sec (I filled the last four with a nice Moria laugh when I was on stage), but it was just another thing to add to the pile of stupid that my day was becoming.

Although I had planned to be out the door at 8:30 am in order to get there early enough to get decent parking, all the fun and games had delayed me to a 9:40 am departure, following which I hit heavy construction related traffic, and didn't even arrive at my con buddy Renee's place until just after 10:00. The only small stroke of luck that we came on was that the direction we chose to get in to the venue (only picked because of the proximity of a Tim Hortons to it) placed us in a spot to avoid the giant lineup for the overflow parking, which was a ten mile march away from the door, but at least we weren't waiting 30+ min just to park! Anyway, from there we headed to the door, waitied 20 min (seemingly for nothing), were finally let up to the door, and discovered that that line was only for people who pre-ordered tickets (which I hadn't as my phone wasn't cooperating when I had tried) and we had to walk to the other side of the building just to walk back to wait in line again, and the MOMENT we hit the door? The con got locked down due to a child having been lost.  AAAAAAARRRRGHHHH!  I'm a super laid back person normally, but after all of that I was just about ready to cry (I'll blame sleep deprivation and hormones).  I managed to keep my composure, and after another 10 min or so we were finally allowed in.

With my friend Christa, as Azula

The first thing I noticed about this year was that there were even MORE people than last year - it was practically impossible to move at times due to the sheer crushing number of people in the way. The set up had changed quite a bit, which was mildly confusing to me at first (having not thought to check the map beforehand) but I managed to find my way to the Masquerade registration anyway. The lovely masq staff were super accomodating in that even though I wasn't there early (as I had intended to be) they agreed to place me early in the lineup as I had a wedding reception to be at by 8:30 pm.  With the signing up accounted for, we checked the schedule for desirable programming. The two panels I was interested in - "Costumes on a Budget" (I can always use tips) and "Silicone Armour - It's a Piece of Cake" had both come and gone before we got through the door, but "Finding Serenity : A Firefly in the Night" was coming up, and Renee loves Firefly (as do I) so we figured we'd check it out! The panel was presented by the Ottawa Browncoats, and while it was a great introduction to the series and gave a few interesting behind the scenes tidbits and some interesting discussion on the strengths of some of the episodes, there was a little too much focus on the basics, and thanks to the late nights leading up to con, I found myself falling asleep (quite literally), so we ducked out a little early.  From there, we lined up in the nice long line for lunch at one of the little cafeterias, and picked up a slice of pizza each (reasonably priced at $5). We would have checked out the Food Court, but neither of us were smart enough to bring real money.

Following lunch, we walked the floor, and by walk, I mean shuffled along fighting
our way through the crowd or being pushed along, depending on the moment. It was a little too much for my level of patience by this point in the day, and it was hard to get a close look at ANYTHING.  I saw a few other One Piece costumes along the way, but for the most part it was at a distance, and when I
I found a Nami! Picture courtesy of Renee
complimented one Trafalgar Law in passing, he showed absolutely no indication of knowing who/what I was.  I DID run in to a lovely Nami outside the tower of T-Shirts!  We had a nice chat on the awesomeness that is One Piece. The merch I did see looked good, but it took us so long to do our first lap that I didn't have time to go for a second (when I usually make purchases) before I had to report to the green room.  That said, it was nice to get somewhere quiet where I could sit for a while! Just like last year, the green room was backstage for the main stage, so I was able to catch some of

the Edward James Olmos Q&A from the other side of the curtain, and some of the Leonard Nemoy Skype visit as well (which was plagued by technical difficulties, but worked itself out) which was fun, entertaining, and was crashed by Karl Urban - priceless!

As always, the wait was long, but Renee was there to keep me company and I got to chat with various cosplayers, and took the time to get caught up with Demelaa and Zeveelia of LITAS Cosplay, fellow Borderlands fans who I met last year at our impromptu Borderlands meetup! This year Demelaa was rocking Tiny Tina and Zeveelia switched sirens from Maya to Firehawk Lilith. Belziir was once again the official masq photographer, and I had a great little shoot with him. Luckily for me, he was one of the few people who recognized Moria, and he suggested a full on maniacal laugh pose, which worked out nicely - can't wait to see how the rest turned out!  Judging went well, the judges seemed suitably impressed with my work, the prosthetics, the embroidery and all.  I'm still not sure what the result was (seeing as I had to work the next day and missed the award presentation) but having seen the calibre of work I was up against, I'd be surprised if I was recognized this year.  That said, Demelaa and Zeveelia were selected for best paint detailing - awesome and well deserved!
LITAS on stage, photo by Pose4Effect

Since my original walk on plan had centered around my scissors (which weren't finished in time), I kinda had to come up with something new on the fly.  It was pretty simple, just striking poses, trying to look maniacal and the like, with a nice loud "kishishishishi"  as I went off stage - easy, right? Well first of all, I'm pretty sure I didn't get close to the full 30 seconds (I could be wrong, it just felt too fast) and then, just as I was heading off stage, my belt fell off (which elicited giggles from the audience).  Full on, dropped around the ankles, fell off, after it had behaved and stayed in place ALL DAMN DAY.  I played it cool, flicked the
On stage shot from insta_reviews - belt drooping ominously
belt off stage with my boot and carried on my way, but once I was off stage, I started laughing (quietly, as I didn't want to interrupt whoever was on after me) and couldn't stop for an extended period of time.

And that was that! As much as I hated having to take off and miss the rest of the masq (again) I really needed to get moving if I was going to make it to my cousin's wedding reception.  I retreated to one of the ladies rooms and made a quick change from full on cosplay mode to regular old pregnant lady heading to a wedding mode.  The most challenging part of this was trying to get the darn lipstick off - I've owned Graftobian before, my blue lipstick for Gaige is Graftobian, and I had no issue when testing it... Well for whatever reason, my purple was like dry tar, a heck of a pain to apply (let alone evenly), and impossible to get off.  Around the point when ALL of the rest of the makeup had been removed, the lipstick was still firmly in place and now tinged white by the makeup that had been rubbed off/around it. With some serious effort, I managed to scrape it off, shook out my hair, threw on a dress and some jewelry, and scampered off for some fun at my cousin's wedding reception! Yeah, I was pretty much dead by the time I got home at 12:45.

While I did enjoy my time at Comiccon this year, my overall experience wasn't as positive as last year, partly due to my own muck-ups (not fully finishing my costume, not sleeping enough, all the fun the morning of, arriving much later than intended, forgetting my insoles) and the rest was due to the ridiculous crowds.  I understand the draw and why Saturday was a popular day (it's the biggest day for stars, and most people who only get the one day pass pick Saturday), but it was much harder to get a good look at everything when you could barely move, and I was disappointed that I made it out of there with NO swag. My aim for next year (assuming I have my costume finished in time... assuming life with baby allows time for costuming) is to get the weekend pass (I won't have to worry about working, as I'll still be on parental) and do all my shopping/browsing on the Friday, then I won't be as stressed by the crows on Saturday, and can take my time and focus more on checking out panels and the like.  I still felt no desire to do the autograph or photo session thing, as much as I love some of the celebs on the bill (Christopher Lloyd, Edward James Olmos and Karl Urban come to mind immediately) waiting in a line to shell out money to have a moment in time, an autograph, a picture with them. I'm not sure who it would take to convince me to jump in there, but I'll see who's on the bill next year!

Moria held up pretty well to the rigors of the day, with the exception of the belt incident. As much as I had worried about my prosthetics, the spirit gum held fairly well, though by green room time I needed to apply a wee bit more spirit gum to one of the horns and a few stitches that were juuuuuust starting to come loose. All in all, costume success!

I'll leave it at that for this entry, next time I'll talk about the rest of the construction for Moria, and cover what I'm working on to finish up the costume before the big photoshoot with Capt Crankypants, which will likely be taking place at the beginning of June, or at very least before Baby Crankypants graces us with her presence! Hope those of you who hit Ottawa Comiccon had an awesome time!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Comiccon Plans - Making Moria!

Awesome stuff! Thanks Lee!
Hello again internets! All is well in the Crankypants household, and Baby Crankypants is 30 weeks along, getting bigger and kicking stronger every day! I, on the other hand, have been busy running around town collecting bits and pieces for my Ottawa Comiccon costume.  Things are going well thus far, I just have to actually get some serious work done!  Before I get too far, I just wanted to make a shout out to pose4effect, a fabulous photographer who I have had the privilege to bump into at my last two (and only two, ha ha) cons, and who posted up an awesome edit he put together from a picture he snapped of me at Pop Expo!

The plan WAS to post all about my progress on Gaige (and it's all written up and ready to go) but I took too long getting the corresponding pictures together, so I'll be bumping her to the next post (or maybe the one after) and focusing entirely on my Comiccon plans and progress!

So I found out about our impending bundle of joy waaaaaay back in November, and while I was preoccupied with Gaige and Pop Expo (and, you know, the fact that I was pregnant) at the time, it didn't take long after Pop Expo for my thoughts to turn to Comiccon, and what was I going to do for a costume at seven months pregnant.  Of course, my first approach was to look for a pregnant character to cosplay, but none of the characters I found quite fit the bill for what I was after.  Actually, they were almost uniformly wearing boring dresses with no fun weapons or props of any kind - where's the challenge in that? From there I turned to badass characters with children (who must have been pregnant at some point) but drew nothing but blanks. A cute Chansey gijinka maybe?  Way too much pink for my taste (plus I haven't played Pok√©mon in AGES).

Isn't he beautiful? Or at least perfect for a pregnant lady!
Well, I was at a loss.  Luckily, a solution presented itself to me! My sisters got me hooked on One Piece, and as I was reading through and found myself in the Thriller Bark arc, I was stared in the face by the perfect character for a pregnant cosplay - the lovely, leek shaped, lazy captain himself, Shishibukai Gecko Moria (or Gekko Moriah, depending on where you look). I had already known of Moria's existance, seeing as he's my oldest (by a matter of minutes) sister's favourite character - so much so that she plays him online (and draws many, many pictures of him), but I didn't think of it until I actually saw him in action.  Not only does he have everything I look for in a cosplay - an awesome and complex outfit (challenging but in the realm of possibility) AND awesome weapon(s) (I mean GIANT SCISSORS! Who else has giant freaking scissors that separate into SWORDS?!) - and as a bonus, his super bottom-heavy shape is uniquely suited to a pregnant lady! Success! 

My crappy sketch, to see if it might work

Production is well underway at this point! After months of bringing materials together, once again I find myself with a short fuse - way too much to do, and way too little time to do it in (7 days left! Aaaaahhhhh!). You really think I would have learned my lesson by now. Oh, and if you're wondering why I'm wasting time blogging, this was written while at work and unable to work on the costume - trust me, as much as I love sharing, I would rather be making progress! Luckily, I have some extra days off this week, but I'm really going to have to apply myself - no distractions allowed!

Here's the plan! The intent was to be as faithful as possible to the original design, the trickiest part with Moria being that his design is so inconsistent - there are differences between the manga and anime, and even within those mediums his appearance changes all the time.  I picked out a few of the original artist's depictions, and am trying to follow those for the most part.  The biggest deviation I'll be making is using boots instead of shoes, which I chose to do in order to get a little closer to his proportions (his legs are hella-short, so I figured full length pants would look funny).

Stuff already under way:

Jacket - I verified before even starting that a normal, non-maternity blazer fit just about perfectly for Moria's open coat styling. Luckily, I already had a blazer pattern which I was using to make Gaige's vest, so I whipped that bad boy out and got to work - with Fatima's help for better fitting. This is where my cheapness really bit me in the behind, though, as I picked up fabric with a slight pin stripe instead of pure black, as the black was $22/yd, where the pin stripe was $3/yd on clearance. I started out trying to pick out the stripes, but realized quickly it would take too damn long, so I switched to colouring them in with sharpie and/or black fabric marker. They're still a litte bit visible in certain light, but I think it might add to the costume rather than detract - we'll see!

Colouring in pin stripes, the collar pieces and interfacing, and the magic of the suddenly horribly messy workspace
The main modifications needed were - extended all panels to accomodated pointed front and tail, collar pattern made for giant pointy stand-up collar, collar reinforced with heavy weight fusible interfacing and wire, sleeves shortened to fit into gloves. At this point the outer shell is together, the liner is almost completely together - left to do: sew in liner sleeves, add some hidden pockets, attach collar, shape bottom of coat (front points and tail), install liner, paint and sew on buttons.

Armbands - For the armbands I puzzled for a bit as to what to make them out of and how to go about doing it. Various ideas came to mind, but what I knew was that I wanted the dots to be dome studs of some sort. The only satisfactory studs I could find locally were actually upholstery nails, which I found in a 100 pack for under $5! In the end, the only material I figured would be able to hold the studs was leather, so I picked up a 3/4" leather belt, cut it to size for each band, painted with fabric paint - the sides silver and top with a blue/silver mix, and have begun banging the studs in. I'm completely satisfied with the look, but can't seem to get the dome to lie flat once I bend down the nail.... I'll keep working on that.

Left to do: bang in the rest of the studs, attach to gloves/sleeve - the plan for the sleeves (to maintain mobility) is to sew one end of the strap to the sleeve, and connect the two ends of the straps with thin black elastic so

Belt - The original plan was to go legit, working with an actual leather belt and everything - well, it didn't take very long wandering around the local leather store to realize that it was going to be a well over $50 project if I wanted to stick to that plan, and I decided to change to a cheaper option. I picked up purple vynil and two packs of pyramid studs, shored up the vynil into an even and straight 4" strip, measured out where I wanted my studs (evenly spaced, two rows, with 5mm in between in each direction) and got to studding by poking a stud through in the back (where I measured out the spacing) then popping the studs in from the front and bending the arms down with jewelry pliers.  

Left to do: I wanted to save finishing this for last as fitting is tough when you seem to be growing by the day, when the time comes, I'll add more studs if need be, fold over excess vynil and adhere to back of belt, make a buckle out of craft foam (primed, painted, and sealed), use magnetic purse closure on back of belt to secure.

Scissors - I want my scissors to be both big and functional, but also light weight. I started out with a poster board mock-up, played with the handle area until I knew the joint can actually work, and then moved on to the big stuff. The mock-up was traced on to 1/2" thick foam board, then cut out with x-acto knife. Because of the nature of foam board, the degree to which I thinned down the joint area made the joint weak, so I'll be working to build it back up.

Left to do: reinforce handle area with plastic, glue, and cheesecloth, build handle out of craft foam and model magic, figure out how to make the blades both functional as scissors and separable, seal edges, coat everything in mod-podge hard coat, prime, paint, seal.

Brick Bats - Finishing these guys will likely have to wait for last, as if they're not done, the costume will still be a costume, but I got started at work on a night shift when I had a little extra time. I've picked up a few 5" "smoothfoam" balls, and I already have the eyes and mouth carved out of one, with the two connecting so I can pass wiring as necessary.

Left to do: Carve the other ball up, coat with mod podge hard coat, prime, paint and seal the bodies, line the eyes and mouth with aluminum foil then wire with clear LEDs, install semi-opaque windows painted with transparent purple paint, and add wings (likely fabric on wire frame) and ears (model magic), then suspend one over each shoulder using a webbing harness under the jacket and coat hanger wire.

Stuff yet to be started (top down) -

Wig - I ordered Arda's Vegas in Maroon (he's shown with purple hair in the anime, but in every coloured illustration by the original artist, his hair is more maroon). The plan is to sculpt the wig into his iconic 'do with a craft foam shaping substructure, using the hair fibres from the long silly tail thing to cover the foam and create a glued hairline including widow's peak and the long, thin sideburns.

Horns - I'll be making super lightweight horns using tinfoil and model magic, shaped to fit my forehead and glued on with spirit gum.

Stitches - The plan is to use the mould building latex I used to make the mould for Gaige's bolts and just painting layer on layer on a flat surface until they're built up, then gluing them on with spirit gum.

Ears - The original plan was just to order some online, but I couldn't find a pair that was both satisfactory and affordable. Soooo NOW the plan is craft foam, folded over, heat shaped and glued, then detailed with the dremel-clone, primed, painted, and attached with spirit gum.

Teeth - I'm hoping the thermoplastic I ordered from the UK will arrive in time. IF it does, I'll be making top and bottom retainers out of the thermoplastic, then gluing shaped and pointed fake nails on to make a full set of sharp teeth (I'll blunt them a little for the sake of comfort).

Jabot - I'll be using white cotton, making the neck portion clip underneath the frill, lining the frill with heavy weight fusible interfacing, and installing wire along the bottom edge of each tier to ensure it keeps its shape.

Necklace - The plan is to use two layers of 6mm craft foam with leather cord sandwiched between (with a clasp in the back), smoothing/shaping the edges with the dremel-clone, heat sealing, priming, painting with shiny purple fabric paint, and sealing.

Undershirt - I can't for the life of me find a satisfactory fishnet shirt, so I'll be making fishnet using black embroidery floss and attaching it to a white undershirt.

Gloves - I picked up some lovely black semi-stretchy material, and a pack of fake nails to sharpen and use as the under-structure for the claws. The plan is to secure wire rings to the back of each nail so they'll move properly with my fingers, and make the gloves conform to those points. At this point, the intention is to make the gloves large around the forearm (stuffed to maintain shape), and reinforce the scalloped edge with heavy weight fusible interfacing.  For the blue edging, I'll be painting on blue both as an under-colour and to stiffen the edge a little more, then embroidering over it.

Pants - These will be a touch complicated. Making a pattern using the only pair of maternity pants I own that don't have a stretchy or elastic top, I'll make the base pants, and then sew on squares of yellow fabric to make the pattern. I'll be attempting to shape the squares to give a little added perspective, but we'll see how that goes.

Boots - Because I opted for boots (cheap knee highs from Ardene, $20 on sale) rather than shoes. I'll be making two attachments for each boot, craft foam with upholstery nails for the domes, heat sealed, primed, and painted.

And that's it! Yeah, it all sounds so straightforward, but I know I'll be facing my fair share of issues and setbacks along the way. Good thing I have all week off, 'cause hot damn, there's a lot of work to be done!! Next time I'll let you know how Comiccon 2014 went, and share my Moria success (we hope)! Until then, you stay classy, internets!