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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: wip

They're Outta Here!

Michael MacWolff

Welcome back everyone! Sorry for the hiatus, but I’m currently smack in between two vending events so I’ve not been doing as much cosplay work to focus on having enough inventory for my shows! However, I have finished two major projects and I have some other stuff in the works and I’d like to share all that with you lovely people.


First up we have the finished suit of armor that I’ve been working on! I’m super happy with how this guy turned out and I can’t wait to see Indi in it cause they’re gonna be such a wonderful Silas!


My second finished project is the Dark Magician staff I’ve been working on for a long-time customer of mine! And yes, the orb on the end does in fact glow!

I’m happy to have my first two commissions under my belt for the year and I look forward to seeing both of my customers’ full cosplays when they’re all put together!

Next on the list I have some minor progress on my current personal project which you’ve already seen some work from. That would be Frog from Chrono Trigger, who I’m hoping to debut at Tekko in April. I already have the head 90% done (I just need to add a few small details like barbels and tympanum). so I started working on a few other bits. Thankfully the pants are just plain pants, but I needed a shirt that looks like his skin so I made one with the leftover fleece from the head so it would match.


I did my best to show off all 3 colors here, since the front is all white and the back is all green.

I’ve also started putting together his breastplate, which I’m making out of 3 different types of foam.


The base is a large peice of EVA foam floor mat, with the weird texture facing the inside. The white bubbles are halves of styrofoam balls, and the rounded edge is part of those foam insulation tubes that you get to insulate pipes and things (you can find them at the hardware store. I also have some heavy-gauge galvanized wire on the inside to help it keep its shape since I don’t plan on putting worbla on the outside of this guy, I’m gonna try doing a plasti-dip coating instead. Unfortunately I can’t really do that until it gets a bit warmer, so this is about as far as that part’s gonna get for a bit.

The last project I’ve started is a new commission from a friend of mine who’s a member of my steampunk group, the Cleveland Zeppelin Union. It’s not actually a steampunk project but it seemed like a good reason to plug our club. Anyway, it’s actually a project I’ve had before, but it’s been quite a few years since I had my first go at it. It’s Isabela’s necklace from Dragon Age 2.


This was my first go at this project, which for reference is from 2014. It certainly doesn’t look terrible, but unfortunately my client wasn’t super happy with the way it fit so I ended up having to redo it. Regardless, I think this definitely shows how far I’ve come over the last 5 years.


Between my familiarity with materials, my greater attention to detail, and just having a better feel for how to use what I have to make something look nice, this is going to be a major improvement over the foam pieces I made in 2014. Beyond that, I’ve been a lot more proactive with looking online to see if and how other cosplayers have made their stuff. Much like with constructing Frog’s head, I managed to find an awesome Isabela cosplayer who had a detailed description of how she made the jewelry (and the rest of her cosplay). So a big shout-out to Azzura on RPF for guiding me on this project!

I obviously still have a good bit of work ahead of me, but I probably won’t be doing much more work on this stuff until after my second event (which is the first weekend on March). I may try to crank out Isabela’s necklace though, so I can get it to my friend sooner rather than later.


Michael MacWolff

So, most of you know already that I've been working on one of my more impressive projects, and that would be Coco Adel's kickass gattling gun. While I'm still working on bending the laws of physics to my will such that it will actually fold into a little studded leather purse, I have at least finished this awesome gun.

For those of you unfamiliar with the source material, here is Coco demolishing a bunch of grimm.

Thankfully, the friend I made this for wanted it to be smaller than that, so I at least had that going for me.

I started with a bunch of .25" PVC pipes and one of the leftover coasters from our wedding, which just happened to be a perfect size to use for the gattling barrels' connector pieces. I cut lots and lots of small round holes out of about 15 layers of foamcore board, and eventually we arrived here, my first small triumph in taking on this rather daunting request.

After cutting small circles out of many still small but somewhat larger circles of foamcore, I then got to do the exact same thing several more times, but on a much larger scale, this time for the actual ammo drum. Again, there were lots of layers and holes to be cut out of all of them, this time all big enough to shove a 3" PVC connector through so that the barrels could fit into the drum... and be able to be removed again from said drum.

This is a nice before and after comparison with the large hole stuffed with PVC connector and the layers all getting cemented together.

From this point, the rest is a flurry of more foamcore, some wood, bolts, metal studs, a spring, some more PVC fittings, and a few random bits of thin plastic, until we eventually get the other bits of the gun including the grip with the trigger button (which can actually be pressed and stprings back), the handle by which the whole thing is carried (bolted to a piece of wood and into the large PVC fitting where the barrels fit into so that the weight of the PVC doesn't make the whole thing come apart), the little panels on either side of the gun barrels, and the bit underneath with the studs. I didn't take too many progress photos because I was too busy swearing at all of the little shapes and details I had to figure out how to construct and then attach properly without them falling off (there's a lot of spots on here where things just seem to magically dangle or float without any support... a cosplayer's worst nightmare).

Somehow I managed to get all of the shapes in there that I needed to, which meant I was ready for several coats of shellac & mod podge before the painting could finally be done. As for the painting, I used a spray for all of the yellow, then brush painted the black (and the metallic gold bits for the studs along the bottom... **remember to undercoat your metallics**)

Here's how the gun looks all done, and sorry for not having a few more progress shots in between. But  who are we kidding, the final product is the most exciting part anyway.

And there you have it! I'm delivering this lovely item at Matsuricon (8/19-8/21) so you can expect to see some photos of the mighty firearm in action with my friend as Coco!

All Sparkly Glowy

Michael MacWolff

Hey folks, as promised, I wanted to show you the construction of one of my recently finished commissions, a staff for the Crystal Maiden of Dota 2! For those of you who don't know what that looks like, here:

So where to begin? Well, I started with the request that the staff be potentially modular, and ultimately that it be easy to ship to Canada, as well as transport to & from cons. So I started with a flagpole. I've tried taking dowels and trying to use dowel screws to allow you to screw & unscrew the rods together, but I don't have a machine that lines things up perfectly for me, so that's never turned out particularly well. The additional benefit of the flagpole is that I could have both the crystalline topper as well as the bottom embellishments on the staff both be removable from the center rod.

Construction started on opposite ends, using cardboard to create the gold portion of the topper that would serve as the base for the crystal. Why cardboard, you ask? Well, first of all I needed to have something I could carve the middle out of as I layered it together, because the crystal needed to light up, so I had to hide the battery pack(s) somewhere. Also, my intention was to cover the gold part of the topper with worbla, and while you can cover foamcore with worbla, the heat tends to make the foam expand and makes it a bit more difficult to work with. On the opposite end, however, I did actually use my standard foamcore layering method to create the foot of the staff.

The next bit was probably the most time-consuming: patterning out & making the crystal. Thankfully I did pretty well in high school geometry so putting the pattern together wasn't too painful. I also had some help from this lovely tutorial by Kohalu Cosplay, which gave me some good pointers and helpful methods & supply ideas to use. I didn't follow it quite to the letter as I needed a bit more flex to my crystal, but it's definitely a great tutorial to look at if you're needing a place to start on something like this.

As I always recommend (do I always recommend it? I should because you should always do it, so I will recommend it henceforth), pattern your things out on paper first. Well, cardstock in this case so it actually has enough oomph to keep its 3D shape when you tape it together. Also, once you have the flat shapes made, actually assemble them. I realize that's probably an unnecessary note because you are all brilliant people out there, but testing this part by putting it together with some masking tape can save you a lot of headaches later when you're using your actual materials.

And speaking of said materials, you're probably wondering what I used for the actual crystal. I used these lovely translucent report covers, found at my local Office Depot. They're pretty much the same thing I used for Scarlet Flandres's wings if you remember those go look in the "Prop Gallery" for the big wings with the rainbow of glowing crystals). I even colored them the same way: with lots of Sharpie.

Once you transfer the pattern to your translucent plastic sheets, you'll want to score the fold lines with something; I used the dull side of an exacto knife... just be careful if you do the same, I went a little too deep in a couple of spots and cut all the way through the plastic. A ball-point pen might be a better idea to avoid that issue. After all of your pieces are cut out & scored, sharpie away!

Now, before I actually constructed this monstrosity, I put together an understructure to build the crystal around, so that the twinkle lights that would provide illumination had something to hold them in place, and because once the crystal was built, I wouldn't be able to manipulate anything on the inside. I simply used another piece of the translucent plastic with long tines sticking out to wrap the light strand around.

Now that the lights were in place, I needed something to diffuse the light a bit more evenly in the crystal, so now I got to cut up some white plastic grocery bags (yes, like the kind they put your stuff in when you go to the store... any store) and wrap them around the lights, using a bit of packing tape here or there to secure them.

Voila! Our light has now been diffused a bit, and thankfully the translucent colored plastic will help diffuse it more. Which brings us to the actual crystal construction. This thing is actually constructed and held together using packing tape. Seriously, that's the extent of what's holding this crystal together (Ok, I did use some E-6000 on the edges of the smaller crystal offshoots to help hold them in place, but it's mostly the packing tape).

**A note about this step: put the side you sharpied the hell out of to the INSIDE.

Now you'll notice all of the glare and unevenness from the tape. That's just a hazard of the wierd shapes of this particular crystal. If you're making a more geometric shape (like the smaller crystals on top), that happens a lot less. But you can also help remedy that and make it look more crystal-y by now sharpie-ing the entire outside of the crystal (that's what I did... and you'll want to buy at least two sharpies of the color you need, I killed one and a half in the process of making this). Once the outside layer was covered in an even coat of sharpie, I shellacked the entire crystal. I used this spray shellac for this step, and sprayed about 5 coats on to make sure it was even & well-covered.

See how much nicer that looks? You'll also notice I've already put the worbla over the base at this point too. Now for the last bit, the round parts on the bottom of the staff. I actually should make a little tutorial on how I did this because it was kinda wonky, but I used cardstock & masking tape to make the... I don't even know what shape to call that... round, sharp-edged protrusion. Then once the base was down I slathered it in spackling paste, let it dry, then sanded. Rinse, repeat several times until it was smooth enough for me to be happy.

The only thing left to make now are the round gems the go on the staff head, and then to start painting! With the crystal on top, I couldn't really spray on a base coat without the risk of ruining the crystal, so I brush painted everything. Don't forget my rule of undercoating your metallics! I used a honey brown color under all of that gold and it turned out lovely.

Here's the gem, it's just blue sculpey, but I did use the sharpie on it as well to give it the same tone as the crystal, then I sprayed it with the shellac to make it nice and shiny!

Here's the gem, it's just blue sculpey, but I did use the sharpie on it as well to give it the same tone as the crystal, then I sprayed it with the shellac to make it nice and shiny!

Here's the majority of the paint job, on all of the pieces.

Here's the majority of the paint job, on all of the pieces.

The very last part was taking some fur (it was actually come of the leftover trim from Ashnard's cape) to make the little fluffballs that hang from the branches on the staff head. So here you can see the finished product!

I'm very pleased to say that I've already heard back from the customer and it sounds like everything arrived safely and she loves it. I'm hoping in the next week or so that she'll send me some photos of the whole costume put together that I can share with all of you, but until then, cheers!