Author Archives: Zan

Pixie Wings Tutorial

There are a lot of fantastic tutorials out there for creating fairy/pixie wings- this is just the way that I chose to do it for my Pixie costume.

I started out by figuring out how large I wanted the wings to be (HCC cosplay has a wonderful write up here on learning to scale things for yourself in cosplay which is definitely worth a read- that’s pretty much how I scale things for myself, so I’m not going to re-write what they’ve already explained beautifully there).  Once size was figured out, I grabbed my reference photos of the wings I wanted to make and painted the general shape onto some pieces of cardstock.  To start out with, I only made one side of the pair of wings (one upper wing and one lower wing).

The lines aren’t the cleanest, but that’s fine- the next step is to cut out the white parts with an x-acto knife and that gives me a chance to clean up the edges of the black lines.

Once all of the white parts have been cut out of the wings, I lay them down on more cardstock and traced their outline to make the other two wings (actually, technically I went the super lazy route and just spray painted them over the other cardstock to create the outline for the other two wings).  Since I was using white cardstock and I needed the wing veins to be black I ended up spray painting the cardstock black after it was all cut out.

I used iridescent cellophane (you can buy it online in rolls- I think they also sell it at Michael’s craft stores- it seems to be used for wrapping gift baskets generally) for the shimmery wing membranes.  You can get some neat effects by crinkling it up, heating it, burning it, etc- it’s fun to experiment with.  For my Pixie wings, I crinkled up a bunch of it to give it some texture, then lay it flat on the floor (or whatever your workspace is- I always work on the floor because I’m amazingly clumsy and always manage to knock things off tables…).  I sprayed one side of my painted cardstock wing vein pieces with spray adhesive and then set them down on the cellophane to attach them.  Once all of my wing vein pieces were attached to the big sheet of cellophane, I cut them out (be careful, the cellophane tears really easily!).

To stabilize the wings, I glued (E-6000) a single piece of aluminum wire along the top of the wing and then let it trail off at the base of the wing.  The extra bit of wire is what I would later use to attach the wings to my little harness that went under my Pixie bodysuit.

That’s pretty much it.  You can use a hair dryer or heat gun to tighten up the cellophane if it’s too flimsy between your wing veins- be careful not to melt it though.  These wings have actually held up surprisingly well considering what they’re made of.  If you were feeling ambitious and wanted to spend significantly more money, making the wing veins out of thin metal produces beautiful and far more durable results.  For my project I was leaning towards spending as little as possible- all of the materials cost less than $20 for these wings.

During a shoot, photo by Nicole Ciaramella. Wings held into a specific pose for the shoot with gaffer’s tape.

As a final note, the harness that I made for these wings had little channels in it that the pieces of wire for the wings fit into.  I wore it underneath my costume and the channels on the harness had to be accessed through grommets in the back of my costume.  I couldn’t put the wings on without help, but it made for a nearly seamless attachment which made me really happy- and since there are pretty much no photos of the back of my costume you would probably never know that I spent the time to do that…   C’est la vie.

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Updates – New Website Underway

It’s been ages since this website was properly updated- a new design and lots of new stuff is on the way next week!  Patterns and foam are still available in the store, and jewelry will be going up soon as well- though commissions and custom fukus will no longer be available after 11/01/14 .

Shiny Wig Fiber Tutorial

Making Wigs (and wig fibers) Less Shiny Tutorial!  I’m not sure how useful people will find this, but I’ve used it a lot so I may as well share in the hopes that it’s useful to someone else!
Sometimes you buy wigs and extensions and they’re lovely and nothing needs to be done to them – places like Arda Wigs already have fantastic fibers on their wigs.  However, I like to get a lot of my wig supplies from my local Beauty Supply Store (er, that’s actually the name of it) downtown.  It’s just so convenient, inexpensive, and I don’t have to wait for stuff to arrive in the mail.  The downside to this is that a lot of their extensions are really obnoxiously shiny and plastic-y looking.  They have that undeniable PARTY WIG look about them.  And that is an awful thing.
So here’s how I take care of it!  First, brush out your wig or extensions to get rid of tangles- then fill a bowl or bucket (I think I used a vase in these photos) with liquid fabric softener.  You don’t need any sort of fancy fabric softener- just pick some up from the dollar store and you’ll be fine.  Submerge your wig/extensions in the fabric softener and swish them around a bit to make sure that they’re fully coated in the stuff – then leave them to stew in that for about a week.

When the week is up, rinse your wig/extensions in cold/lukewarm water (don’t use soap!).  Hang them up to dry.  Once dry, shake baby powder/talcum powder onto the wig/extensions and brush through- applying more powder as you feel necessary.  The fabric softener takes away a bit of the shine and also helps the powder to stick to the wig fibers and mute the obnoxious shine.  Style however you want, applying more powder if you feel it’s needed.

I did this on my Leia extensions so that they matched my own hair better (since… my real hair is not QUITE as shiny as a party wig), and also on my Sailor Moon ponytails since they were originally very very shiny!  I’ve used it on a few other wigs and sets of extensions and like the way it makes the fibers look more natural and less shiny.

(download the image to view properly- it’s a bit large…)

 

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Patterns!

Custom fukus are still available through the store- though the format for ordering has changed slightly.  Go check out the page here if you’re interested!  As I mentioned before, the prices on them have gone up due to how much time they take to make.  If you’d rather make your own, I finally completed the pattern for classic and regular style fukus and it’s up for sale here!

 

EDIT:  Eternal Fuku Patterns should be up by mid March- I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to iron out the details on them!  I will make another post when they become available.

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Custom Fuku Prices and other fun stuff!

I realize I already posted this on both my Facebook page and Twitter, but as this is my… uh… home base?  I should post it here too.

As it says- the price of custom fukus is going to be going up on February 1st!  Anyone ordering before the first will receive the current (lower) price.

As a side note, I’ve opened up a little shop on Etsy which has pretty much the same things as my shop here (minus the full costumes- which are only available through my website).  That can be found here.

There’s some new stuff in the shops but mostly I’ve just been working on commissions lately.  I’ll be at Katsucon in February with some new costumes so please come have a drink with me or just hang out or whatever IT’LL BE SO FUN.  I haven’t been to a convention in over a year and I’m beside myself excited about it.

Colored Shoes Tutorial

Maybe not so much of a tutorial, but details on how I put together a lot of my shoes for costumes.

I usually use pleather shoes for most costumes because I love the way they look!  Also, they accept paint easily.  So that helps.

There are some awesome options available for painting leather (and faux leather/pleather), but for the longest time I didn’t know about them and I just used acrylic paint and mod podge to color shoes.  It’s cheap, readily available, and I could mix pretty much any color I needed so that the shoes would match my costume.  Generally two-three coats of paint and one coat of mod podge is enough to cover the whole shoe.
The downside to using acrylic is that it can crack (particularly if you use it on tall boots, or anything which needs to flex a lot when you wear it).

For shoes that have extra straps (like Neptune’s and Uranus’s) I cut pieces of pleather, painted them, and sewed them to the shoes.  For Neptune’s I sewed a loop  of elastic to one end of the ankle strap and a button to the inside of the shoe that the loop hooks over.

I hope that helps someone!  I promise, having the strap on Neptune’s shoe match the rest of the shoe looks a lot nicer than using ribbon, and only takes a little bit more time to add on.

As a final note- there are paints made specifically for changing the color of shoes.  Angelus leather paint and Meltonian Nu-Life spray are two that I would absolutely recommend!  For any sort of boots, or shoe with a lot of movement the result is going to last longer using those paints rather than acrylic.

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Quick Fuku Sleeves Tutorial

I’ve made and looked at a lot of fukus over the years and the question I get the most is about the sleeves.  I thought I’d type up some basic info on how I make mine in the hopes that it helps someone further on down the road!  This isn’t really a step-by-step tutorial since… I don’t really think it needs to be.

For fuku sleeves use white foam sandwiched between layers of fabric.  Since the bodysuit part of the fuku is white, the foam you use should really be white as well- the green and tan foam will show through most white fabrics and won’t look right.

I cut a sort of pointed oval shape out of foam and fabric.  Place the fabric on top of the foam and fold from point to point- sandwiching the foam in between the fabric.  The folded edge is the outer part of your sleeve.  Pin and baste the foam-and-fabric-sandwich together along the raw edge.  Then simply top stitch with white thread and you’ve got some swanky outer-space-y looking sleeves for your fuku.

That’s it!

If you have trouble finding the foam, I sell it here.

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Site update and stuff for sale!

My closets are overflowing with costumes and I really need to get rid of some of them!  Currently up for sale are Myu Eternal Moon, Venus, and Neptune.  If you have any questions please email me.

I’m sort of on the fence about selling these fukus- I love them rather a lot, but I’m never going to wear them again  so I’d rather that they go to someone who will!

I’ve also finally uploaded this new site layout which has been sitting on my computer for… too long.  I have very mixed feelings about it, but it was time for a change so it’s here now.

I have a couple other things up in the shop section as well- including fuku foam and a few openings for custom made fukus.  I’ll be adding more stuff shortly!

That’s all for now!

*Edit* Added Myu Saturn up for sale as well!

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Fancy Shmancy Shoes Tutorial

This isn’t particularly cosplay related, but I made myself a pair of Sailor Moon shoes over the weekend and got a lot of questions as to how they were made.  It was really straightforward so I figured I’d just post the information here for anyone who might want it.

I’ve seen a lot of people making comic book heels lately, and I really wanted to try and make a Sailor Moon pair.  These shoes were originally a terrifying grey snakeskin-y print… I like to think this is an improvement.

What you need:

– Shoes
This pair was only $10 in some clearance section, they don’t have to look good- in fact, the uglier the better.  Then you don’t have to feel guilty about destroying them.  Just make sure they don’t have too much of a raised texture.

 - Paintbrush

 - Bowl of water

 - Modge Podge
I like Modge Podge- partly because I have a few big bottles of it lying around the workroom- I have a feeling you could use white Elmer’s Glue as a substitute though, they seem to be basically the same thing.

- Whatever you want to design your shoes with. 
If you’re doing comics, most stores have quarter bins where you can get some pretty cool stuff for only $.25/book.  Or you can just print stuff out.  Just make sure that whatever you print out isn’t going to bleed if it gets wet.  I printed my stuff out onto completely average printer paper.  Maybe something a little less sturdy would’ve worked better, but it seemed to turn out fine as it was.

-Scissors

-Exacto/Knife

-Ribbon (to finish the inside of the shoe)

First you should probably make sure that your shoes are clean.  That may be stating the obvious, but then again maybe not.
Cut out your source material- smaller shapes will work better over big curves (like the toe area).  Try to decide where you want the different pictures to go (I started at the heel and worked my way forward).  When you’re ready to start gluing, put your first cutout piece into the bowl of water for a few seconds to soften it up and then stick it on to the shoe.  The water alone should hold it there pretty well if you want to mess around with different pictures and see how they fit together- once it looks alright, paint over it with a layer of modge podge.  You’ll probably want to make sure you have some overhang on the pieces so that you can tuck them into the top of the shoe afterwards.  Sometimes cutting or scoring the pieces with the knife will help them fit around the curves of the shoe.  Do this to the whole shoe.  And the other- because you probably have two feet.  DOES IT LOOK AWESOME NOW?

Maybe not.  Mine looked pretty ridiculous at this point- but they were at least looking less snakeskin-y.  To finish off the shoes I scored and folded the flange/overhang bit into the top/opening of the shoe and glued a bit of ribbon over it (on the inside of the shoe) so you didn’t see the strange paper edges.  I cut along the sole of the shoe with my knife to remove the excess paper/decoupage bits and to give it more of a finished edge.  It might’ve looked better if I’d done this as I went and sort of pressed the finished edge into the gap between sole and shoe- ah well, hindsight.

After all of this I went over the whole thing with another layer (or five…) of modge podge in the hopes that it would stand up to a bit of wear and tear.

I hope this was sort of kind of helpful in some way and that it leads to there being more swanky well-loved shoes in the world.  <3

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New York Comic Con 2012

The best word to describe New York Comic Con is crowded.  If there had been a fire we’d all have been trampled to death by the wave of humans.  Serious kudos to anyone who cosplayed at the con- moving around in normal clothes was a nightmare, I’m sure it was only more difficult in costume.  I only dressed up on Saturday (and almost didn’t even bother with that because of what a pain it was to move around the con) as Leia- which is pretty much just a frumpy frock.  I can’t imagine how exhausted the people in full body paint or armor must’ve felt by the end of the day.  Really, you had to plan your bathroom breaks to take into account that you’d be waiting in line for about half an hour before actually making it into the restroom.  On the show floor you’d have to be holding on to the people you were with or someone would get swept away by the crowd- and cell service was non-existent once the convention was underway.

 

Man, I am just full of whining about this convention and I really don’t mean for it to come off as ‘Horrible Experience 2012′ because that’s not what it was at all.  Sure, it was crowded- but there were some amazing guests.  I think this may be the first time I’ve ever gone to a convention and actually wanted to see guests.  I turned into a useless fangirly puddle over Fiona Staples and got my copy of Saga signed by her and Brian K. Vaughan which pretty much made all of my aggravation at the crowds worthwhile.

Finally, (and I feel kind of after school special for saying this, however true it may be) what really made the con was being able to hang out with people I don’t usually get to see and making new friends.  ♥

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