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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!

 

Filtering by Tag: cosplay

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.

Care of Magical Creatures

Michael MacWolff

Welcome back, my darlings! If you remember my parting words from last time, I promised a magizoology lesson with all of the critters I've been making for my Harry Potter weekend this October, and I intend to honor that promise!

As a biologist by schooling, a nerd by nature, and a crafter by profession, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I would be entranced by the many wonderful creatures inhabiting the world of Harry Potter. I, like many of you, grew up with the books though my journey didn't quite align with Harry's Hogwarts years. I remember reading the first book in middle school, not too long after it was published. I vaguely remember enjoying it, but I wasn't much of a reader as a kid (and frankly, I'm still not much of a reader, as it tends to put me to sleep so it takes a very long time to successfully finish them). I did, however, enjoy the first couple of movies quite a bit, and by the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was coming out in theaters inn 2005, I had resolved to finish the books before seeing their film adaptations. From book 4 on, I was thoroughly invested in the series, along with a good deal of my friends (who make up the vast majority of attendees for my October event). We even had an awesome Harry Potter dinner at my college which I attended with them, and the school put on quite an awe-inspiring production. They had a woman in a pink dress with a frame around her accepting invitations at the entrance, there was a full cast of professors (all in spot-on costumes) for the head table, and the dining hall, while already having some of the ambiance of an old castle, was decorated with house banners and all matter of wizarding accouterments. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying that the world of Harry Potter is one that's very close to my heart, and that the more recent introduction of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a welcome addition to the canon, particularly given my fascination for unusual animals. There is no doubt this loyal Hufflepuff would have followed in Newt Scamander (as well as Rubeus Hagrid's) footsteps and been an advocate for the many fascinating magical creatures of the world.

Bu that's enough about me and my journey, let's get on with it, shall we? Let me introduce you to a few of my friends!

Here's a photo from Kent Potterfest of my magizoologist outfit and collection of creatures. I have enough at this point that I can't physically carry all of them at the same time XD

Here's a photo from Kent Potterfest of my magizoologist outfit and collection of creatures. I have enough at this point that I can't physically carry all of them at the same time XD

Bowtruckle

One of the fan favorites from the film  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them , the bowtruckle was one of the first magical creatures I figured out how to produce, and one of the ones I can make expeditiously enough to sell.

One of the fan favorites from the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the bowtruckle was one of the first magical creatures I figured out how to produce, and one of the ones I can make expeditiously enough to sell.

Bowtruckles are small creatures which inhabit trees of wand-quality wood. They are very well camouflaged and difficult to spot while hiding in their trees. Despite being rather shy, they are quite protective of their home trees and will use their long, sharp fingers to attempt to gouge the eyes of anyone who attempts to damage their tree. For a wizard to gather wand wood from a bowtruckle's tree, the best method is to bring an offering of wood lice, which will placate the bowtruckle long enough to harvest the wood.

Harry and his classmates studied bowtruckles with Professor Grubbly-Plank in their fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry receiving deep cuts on his fingers from squeezing his a little too hard.

As you can likely tell from their appearance, my bowtruckles are made primarily from chenille stems (pipe cleaners), with leaves from fake flowers,  some thin wire, and small black spherical beads for the eyes. I've made a whole family of them which live in a fake tree I found at the thrift store.


Niffler

The niffler arguably stole the show in  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them . He's cute, a mischievous, and is constantly getting himself into comical trouble.

The niffler arguably stole the show in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He's cute, a mischievous, and is constantly getting himself into comical trouble.

Nifflers are long-snouted, burrowing creatures with a great fondness for anything shiny. Goblins often keep these creatures to burrow for buried treasure. They are gentle creatures but can do a serious amount of damage to belongings and as such it is inadvisable to keep them as pets.

Harry and his classmates studied nifflers in their fourth year at Hogwarts under Professor Hagrid. Hagrid buried a bunch of leprechaun gold and the students had their nifflers hunt for it.

My niffler was crafted from a black dog stuffed animal, which I pulled apart and used an approximation of this pattern to create his body, hand-stitching the pouch to his belly. I made his hands and feet out of tan chenille stems and stitched them onto his arms and legs. His face is Sculpey clay, which I then painted, sealed, and attached with an abundance of hot glue. His nest is a weird string-egg thing I found t the thrift store and painted gold. My steadily growing collection of weird old jewelry I've picked up at thrift stores and garage sales over the years finally got some use as well, for his stash of shiny things!


Occamy

Occamys are feathery, winged serpents native to India and the Far East. These carnivorous creatures are known to eat anything from rats to monkeys, but some seem to have a particular fondness for insects. These creatures can swell or shrink in size to suit the container they occupy and as such can be quite problematic when in open spaces. They are also rather aggressive creatures,  being particularly defensive of their silver eggs.

My occamys have appeared in two different incarnations, the first, pictured above in the teapot, was made from worbla scraps that I heated, squished together, and sculpted into the serpentine creature. The wings are small metal charms which I glued onto the creature and painted. This version is not posable.

The second, and much larger Occamy I created is a plush version. I made the pattern myself (which took a lot of trial and error... mostly error), and eventually got something I was satisfied with. The beak is gold felt, the body is two different blue cotton prints (a darker, mottled blue with gold flecks for the top, and a lighter, crackle-textured print for the bottom), and the wings are two different tones of purple fleece. I made the eyes with small epoxy dome stickers over an eye pattern that I drew myself using colored markers. They are fully posable with heavy-gauge wire running the length of the serpentine body and through the wings.

I just have the one plush one at the moment, but now that I have a decent pattern, I plan to make more for sale!


Fwooper

Fwoopers are small, brightly-colored songbirds that come in a variety of vibrant hues. These birds' quills are widely used for fancy quills and they are prized pets, however its song will eventually drive its listeners mad, and as such are required to have a silencing charm on them.

I'm currently in possession of two fwoopers, one of which I created myself, and the other of which purchased at Oddmall from Turkey-Eyes Designs (the green one pictured here). I liked the way they made his little face and eyebrow feathers so much that I modeled my own after it. For mine (the pink one pictured above), I started with a small styrofoam egg, flipped upside-down (so the slightly larger part is facing up). I used feathers harvested from a two-toned pink feather boa and hot glues them onto the egg. The face is made from Sculpey clay and glued on as well. For the feet, I used medium-gauge wire to make the general shape, and then wrapped thin-gauge wire around to make it look more like a bird's foot. The perch I actually made myself as well, using a wooden plaque found at the thrift store for the base, a wooden dowel rod for the vertical peg, and a piece of a thick branch that fell out of a tree in my back yard.


Ashwinder

The ashwinder is created when a magical fire (that is to say, a fire which has had some sort of magical substance added to it) is left unattended for too long. These serpents only have a lifespan of an hour, however in that time they will slither out of the fire which spawned them and find a secluded place in which to lay their eggs. These eggs are incredibly hot and can cause fire to ignite within just a few minutes of being laid. They are, however, quite valuable if frozen and used in potions.

My ashwinder started out as an unusual ash tray souvenir thing from Las Vegas, which I found at a thrift store. Its some sort of ceramic, so I carved out the center section with my dremel. I painted it, and used small plastic easter eggs for its brood. there are mood lights in them which make them glow.


Knarl

The knarl is one of the hardest magical creatures to recognize, as it is visually indistinguishable from the common hedgehog. The only way to tell the two apart is to offer them food. A hedgehog will accept and enjoy the gift, the knarl, however, will be offended at the gift, assuming the intention was to lure it into a trap, and will consequently wreak havoc trough the garden.

The knarl is one of the few creatures I did not really do anything special with, it's just a stuffed hedgehog I found at the thrift store.


Golden Snidget

Those of you familiar with the popular wizarding sport of quidditch may find the name and appearance of the golden snidget to resemble one of the balls used in the game. This is not coincidence as in the early days of quidditch, this small, golden bird was used for the same role as its modern counterpart. Snidgets are small, lightweight, and very adept fliers, due to their completely rotational wings which allow them a great deal of control in the air. They can hover in place, fly backwards, forwards, or any other direction, and can change direction mid-flight in a fraction of a second.
As noted earlier, they were used in the game of quidditch in its early days, but as these birds are very fragile, they would often be crushed when caught by a seeker. These small, delicate birds became more and more rare, and finally wizards developed a contraption to serve their purpose. It is now illegal to capture snitches, due to their protected status.

To create my snidget, I crocheted his round body using gold eyelash yarn and worsted-weight yarn at the same time, to give it the fizzy texture, but also have it be substantial enough to look solid. I used a pretty simple crochet pattern for a ball, and then stuffed it. The wings are just a collection of gold feathers glued together with a wire on the end to keep them firmly attached to his body. The eyes are small, half-round doll eyes that I found at the craft store. The beak is sculpey clay, and is also held in place by a wire. The little feet are made from orange chenille stems.


I have a good deal more critters to share with all of you, but I think 7 is enough for now.
f you enjoyed today's post, stay tuned for a second Care of Magical Creatures lesson next week!

The Overdue Review(s)

Michael MacWolff

Hey guys, so it's a month after the fact but hey Ohayocon was a thing! I actually had a lot more fun this year than I have in a long time, and it was all thanks to awesome con friends! Here's a quick play-by-play.

Friday I got all dolled up in P'Li and headed south. Honestly, I think my makeup this time around looks even better than last time!

Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful.

Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful.

*Muah*

*Muah*

Sadly, my Red Lotus group still hasn't panned out, but people have started stuff so hopefully the next time you see me in this costume I'll have some other kickass benders with me! As such, I changed out of her pretty quickly because braid of doom is not very comfortable and I wanted to hang out in my new costume, so consequently the only photo I have of me actually in the costume is the selfie I took when I got there.

Next up was Torchwick from RWBY! I promised my friend, who make a gorgeous Cinder that the next time she's running a formal ball, I'd have him done so we could attend together. And guess what, she ran a fantastic formal ball and these two lovely villains danced the night away!

We also did a wonderful photoshoot with a friend of Cinder's and I'm very much looking forward to seeing the results! Just from looking at the photos on his camera, things looked amazing so I'll definitely be sharing once we get them back!

Saturday was a day full of RWBY, as my Coco and I hung out as the (once again) only CFVY members at the convention.

Naturally, since my phone camera isn't that great, I don't have any photos of us, but here's a shot of the insanity that was the RWBY shoot that evening.

There were way too many people in way too small a space, so it was both claustrophobic and hotter than hell. It was still awesome though, and we got cheers on our way up to the stage for team CFVY... or really just CY. We also made a bunch of new friends and did a little photoshoot afterwards with a much smaller subset of the group. I also haven't seen any of the photos from that yet but I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday was the usual lazy day, and I stuck to my decision of Banjo-Kazooie being my forever Sunday cosplay. He's comfy, recognizable, and rare enough of a cosplay that people get excited about him. And I finally have a photo of the whole costume thanks to Genki Wolf!

And that was it! Mostly hanging out with con buddies, and having a lovely time dancing the night away! I even hit up the rave for a little while because I magically wasn't tired Saturday night. There was also some solid cosplay from other folks, so here's a smattering of photos.

Now I'm back to the daily grind with a vending event coming up this weekend and several commissions in the works! So I'll be seeing you next time, and hopefully it won't take too long for me to get to next time XD