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!

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