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Blog

Here's where the magic happens. I'll be posting about all of my experiences and experiments (both failed and successful ones), introducing you to my costumes, sharing fun stories, linking tutorials and useful products, and who knows what else!

 

A Beautiful Monster

Michael MacWolff

Alright, as promised last week, I wanted to show off the making of my new cosplay for Youmacon. For those of you who don’t already know the details, it’s Berserker of Black (Frankenstein’s Monster/Fran) from Fate/Apocrypha!

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Now despite all the cosplays I’ve made in my life, this project was pretty daunting for me. I’ve never really made a dress like this and I wasn’t entirely sure where to start. Thankfully, once I did a little research online and started drafting my patterns, it wasn’t as scary as I thought.

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I started with the structure that would be underneath the dress: the hoop skirt! This is basically a waistband with some hooks & eyes, several lengths of satin ribbon with loops sewn into them, and some galvanized steel wire. I had to adjust the size of the hoops several times before I was really happy with it, and I ended up using packing tape to keep the ribbon in place with respect to the wire hoops. So yeah, it’s kinda janky but it’ll work. I had some help from this tutorial to get the basics. She uses thin, flexible PVC instead of wire, which probably would’ve worked better but since I already had the wire and I’m a cheap S.O.B. I figured I’d try it this way.

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With the hoops themselves done, I needed to soften the edge of the lowest hoop a bit so my dress didn’t end up looking like some sort of flying saucer, so I used a loooooooooong piece of tulle that I gathered (by hand, I might add) that falls just beyond the lowest hoop.

I also lucked out in that I already owned this cute white petticoat to use over the hoops and under the skirt of the dress. It’s even the right height, YAHTZEE!

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Now came the fun part of patterning the dress. I had a decent idea how to do the bodice and the skirt, but I wan’t so sure about the actual breast cups so I cheated and just built them off of an old bra.

 Yeah, the UFO shape is what I was trying to avoid. This is from before I added the tulle and reduced the bottom hoop a bit.

Yeah, the UFO shape is what I was trying to avoid. This is from before I added the tulle and reduced the bottom hoop a bit.

With the pattern done and tested (both on my dress form and on my body), I was ready to put the dress together for real!

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The red details were attached using a satin stitch, the same way I usually do those types of details on my csplays (maybe some day I’ll own an embroidery machine…. yeah I’ll keep dreaming). Also, the center bit is actually lace instead of ruffles because I thought it would look nice. Also I was too lazy to make ruffles and already had some lace trim that would work.

The breast cups are literally attached to the bra you saw in the last photo, and I hand-sewed a bunch of the top part together on the dress form just to get it situated properly. The last bit to add to the dress was the top part with the sheer black fabric and strappy bit… which apparently I don’t have a photo of it after I added that part, oops.

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The gloves are in two pieces, with the actual gloves parts being an antique pair I found at a thrift store some time ago. The sleeves are a separate piece made from rayon/spandex knit and the red sections are literally from an woman’s t-shirt I thrifted (since they don’t make stretchy enough fabric as Joann’s in this color).

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Next up we have some headware! Yes, those are headphones that I built the ear thingies off of, and the veil actually attaches directly to the band across the top. And the unicorn horn is cardstock with worbla over it, and miraculously enough it’s lightweight enough to stay on my face just using lacefront tape.

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And moving right along we have some legggggggies! The base boots are actually something I’ve owned for a long time because any time I find heels at the thrift store I can actually fit in they refuse to leave my basket. I’ve even performed in drag in those boots, but sadly they’re old enough that the outer layer of the faux leather is literally disintegrating everywhere so they’ve been making a huge mess of the house. I finally chopped the tops off (cause they don’t need to be that tall anyway) and scrubbed as much of the outer layer off as I could manage. The front metallic bits are craft foam that I attached permanently to the front of the shoes (contact cement), because obviously I’m not going to be using these for anything else anyway with shit constantly falling off of them. The legs are metallic 4-way stretch knit (yes, I broke down and bought the Yaya Han shit cause it was the best thing for the job and thank christ I had a coupon). To keep the leggings from riding up, there’s a small piece of velcro that attaches them to the front of the boots. And to keep them from falling down, I pretty much turned my hoop skirt into a garter belt, and there’s ribbon with buttons that goes down the back of my legs, with an little elastic loop to hook around them on the tops of the leggings.

With all that done I was too excited not to try the whole thing on! (sans gloves so I could hit the button on my phone)

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I’m so pumped to wear this, cause it’s super pretty on it’s own and you’re not gonna see my dumb face most of the time with her hair like that. I do have two details to finish: the egg & the weapon.

The egg is finished I just need to make it attach to my hip somehow (probably velcro).

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The weapon is gonna take a while longer to finish because I’m a little overambitious with it. I really want the globe at the end to light up, which only makes sense if the plates are extended out. So naturally I’m using giant styrofoam bowls and a translucent globe light fixture to achieve that.

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Thankfully the rod is fairly straightforward, even though it is rather detailed. Also thankfully I found an actual fixture to attach the globe with, which means it’ll be easy to remove.

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Details on the rod include: cardboard mailing tubes, MDF discs, Foamcore board discs, worbla, wooden knobs, toothpicks, dome stickers, an actual light fixture, and a Mason jar lid. So this is the most “me” part of this cosplay, obviously, given the random trash incorporated into it :-D

That’s all the progress I have, since the plates on the top are nowhere near ready to start painting, but soon I’ll have a fully functional light-up mace! Soooon. Hopefully soon. Dear god I hope it doesn’t take as long as I’m expecting. Pray for me.

Commission Progress (WIP Wednesday)

Michael MacWolff

Welcome back everyone! I know I’m supper sporadic with posting here but I do have some progress updates on the commissions I’ve been working on that I wanted to share!

Let’s start with the projects you’ve already seen the beginnings of:

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Silas’s armor is coming along nicely, though unfortunately I’ve run out of worbla so I can’t make any more sections until that arrives.

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Next up, Opal’s bow is done with construction and I’ve started painting. The gradient painting is a huge pain in the ass but it does look pretty cool.

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Now, on to new projects which I’ve somehow magically gotten further on than the stuff you’ve already seen! I’ve started working on Yuna’s staff from FFX. It’s the staff you traditionally see her with in all of the official artwork.

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For the head, I used 1/4” MDF and thick craft foam to make the little blue details on the gold head. The shaft is a wooden broom handle I got at Home Depot.

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The blade on my scroll saw broke in the middle of trying to cut the staff head out, which was slightly terrifying. Thankfully neither me nor the prop was hurt, I just had to finish cutting it out with my jigsaw instead.

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Here’s the head all painted! Next step is to paint the shaft blue but I haven’t gotten to that yet.


The last new item on my list is Atalanta’s bow from Fate/Apocrypha! I’m making this for a friend of mine and we’ll be cosplaying together at Youmacon.

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Much like Opal’s bow, the base is wood with a section of broom handle as the grip. Despite the overall shape of the bow being a little more intricate, this actually took way less time to put together than the other bow because it didn’t involve two layers of wood together (which took a LOT of sanding to even out) and the weird round spiral bit that also took a lot of time and work to get fit together and looking right.

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The raised details are all made from either craft foam or cereal box… you can probably tell from the photo above which sections are which ;-)
The bits around the grip are covered with worbla scraps that I heated up and mushed together.

With the details done, all there was left to do was paint and add the bowstring. The simple black & gold color scheme is what really made the difference as far as time spent detailing compared to the other bow I’m working on.

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And that’s all the commission work I’ve gotten done recently. I was out of town all last week visiting friends and going to my brother-in-law’s wedding so I was not as productive as usual. This week I’m aiming to get Yuna’s staff and Opal’s bow done so keep an eye on my instagram to see more progress photos! I’ve also been working on my new cosplay for Youmacon which is mostly done at this point, so I’ll be posting again later this week or some time next week with all the photos and construction notes on that!

WIP Wednesday

Michael MacWolff

Hey everyone, I just wanted to share some photos of the stuff I've been working on lately.

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First up is this bad boy, the Silenced SMG from that game everyone's crazy about right now, Fortnite. I cranked this thing out so fast that apparently I haven't posted any of it on here, so you've only seen this stuff if you follow my Instagram

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The base materials are wood, MDF, and cardboard. I carved the ammo cartridge/trigger/grip section out of 3 layers of MDF, the large cylinder is a heavy duty mailing tube, and the smaller dowels are from an old wooden broom handle.

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Most of the details are craft foam, along with some small dome stickers for the one spot. The sight is a slice of rigid plastic tubing (essentially PVC but transparent... PCV would have worked just as well).

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Here's the full build! the details on the side are more MDF, and the part that goes against your shoulder to steady the gun is wood.

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Here's the fully painted version! I had fun doing the rust details along the metallic parts. Here's a few extra detailed shots. The paint job was pretty easy since most of it is black. I did do some subtle highlighting with dark grey to make it a bit more interesting though.

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With that done, I started a few new projects. First up is a personal project for myself, that I was hoping to do for Matsuri but I ran out of time. 

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If you've ever played Nier: Gestalt/Replicant then you'll recognize this as the saucy magic book, Grimoire Weiss. And, if you haven't played it... you should cause it's a great game.

I've been wanting to make one for a while and I finally found a good book to use for a base last time I was out thrifting. The proportions were perfect for the design (although the book is a bit slimmer than Weiss is in the game) and it was a cookbook which seemed all too appropriate (for those of you unfamiliar with Nier, Weiss hates cookbooks and tells you about it several times in-game).

I found a lovely illustration of Weiss's front cover on the Nier Wiki, so I resized it and printed several copies on cardstock. Then, much like I do with my MtG life counters, I used an exacto knife to cut out different layers and then layered them together to get the 3D details.

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Once the layers were attached to the book, I spray-shellaced the whole thing so that the cardstock wouldn't get all wrinkly when I went to paint it. I also did a few layers of mod podge before I started the painting process.

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This is the state he's currently in. I have to touch up the mid-tone in a few spots where I got a little overzealous with the black, and then I need to add some highlights (and probably touch up the midtones again afterwards. Then once all that's done I can add the metallic coat and sealers. It'll be a bit before I can start working on the back yet...


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The other project I started is another commission, the bow pictured here from Steve Universe.

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The base is all wood, and it's actually two layers glued together to get the thickness I needed. It might not look like much but I've already sunk a LOT of time into this project, most of it spent sanding these thing into the shape they're currently in. The round sections are bits of mailing tube and the bar that will hold them together is going to be part of a broom handle, so that way they can separate for easier transportation. I still have a whole lot left to do for this but at least it's coming along!


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Last up is the most elaborate of anything I'm working on, and you guessed it, it's ANOTHER set of Nohrian armor because FML. I guess the nice thing is that I've not had to make the same set twice? Even though it's all very similar? Maybe that's not actually a good thing? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure after I finish this project I'm going to strike full plate armor sets from my repertoire because they're way too much work.

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Here's what we have so far: the torso plates and the bracers. This is all craft foam that will eventually have worbla over it. Hopefully by the end of the day I'll have the pattern figured out fro his shoulder pauldrons because they're a very odd shape that I'm still not entirely sure how to achieve. But I'll get there I'm sure.

That's all for now!