Bombshell Wonder Woman Cosplay, Part 2 – Experimenting with Thermoplastics, Trial and Error

bracer in the white

I am very new to thermoplastics. If you are not familiar, I’m talking about Worbla, Wonderflex, EVA foam and craft foam. I decided for this first project I would start small, and try a few different mediums. Trial and error. Mostly error. I promise I was not drunk when I did this, just not very experienced.

BRACERS

I decided to make my bracers out of craft foam, mostly for comfort. This is the kind of foam you get at the craft store for kids’ projects. It’s super cheap and easy to manipulate. Remember: your wrist is smaller than your forearm, so you will actually be cutting out a trapezoid, not a square. Measure twice, cut once!

The next step was to find a pattern online that approximates the pattern on DC Bombshell Wonder Woman’s bracers. I am not very good at freehand drawing, but I’m pretty good at tracing. I was able to find one on Bigstock, and it was actually meant as a graphic notebook doodle. Now, how to get the picture on to the foam? I only have a black and white laser printer. “But wait,” I thought, “laser printers heat set the ink onto the paper, so maybe if I use an iron I can partially transfer that on to the craft foam.”

bracers transfer

Um, kinda? Also, craft foam shrinks a little when you apply heat. Oops. Gotta use low heat. I’m going to say I would not recommend this. It would probably work better with an ink jet and that special transfer paper. I used my task light and squinted a lot, and I managed to trace all of it out with a black ball point pen. The pen leaves an indentation and mark, so you have a textured effect. Great! But, I was using the thinnest sheets of foam, and the pen was leaving an impression on the back side. Hmmm… better add another layer of foam on the inside for stability. Luckily, hot glue is the perfect adhesive for craft foam. This would be a good time to form it around your wrist. Use the iron to heat it a little and you can wrap it around your wrist while it cools. Remember, the inside layer will need to be slightly smaller than the outside layer! Just like a racetrack! I just glued it in and then trimmed the excess.

bracers tracing pattern

At this point the edges looked like crap, so I needed to put edging on it. That’s just strips of craft foam glued on. No biggie.

bracer parts

bracer in the white

OK, it’s pretty much assembled the way I want it. Now I need to paint it. Always prime first! I just used gesso, because I’m an art school dropout and had a bunch left over. I understand you can also use Elmer’s white glue. Or possibly, if you have a well-ventilated area, Plastidip. But gesso worked fine for me.

bracer primed

Then I just added a couple layers of silver craft paint, and dry brushed with black to give it some depth.

bracer painted

Then I added Velcro strips to the inside with hot glue.

WWbracers-inside

bracer image

I actually think they turned out pretty well, in spite of my issues. One thing that puzzles me though, is that over time the indents where I traced with the ball point have turned a sort of yellowish color. I may have to repaint.

BELT BUCKLE

This was pretty detailed. I got an image of the buckle online and started making a pattern based off of that. I used several types of plastics, and it did not turn out like I would have liked. But I will probably re-make it at some point. This is more of a cautionary tale I guess.

belt buckle image

First I made the base, which is just an oval. But the oval also has a raised edge. I made an oval out of Wonderflex. Then I thought that it would not be thick enough and I ended up adhering a piece of craft foam on top of it. That was a mistake, because the craft foam is easily marred. Then for the raised edge I cut out a strip of Worbla and wrapped it around the outside. It turned out very uneven. I have since received some very good advice on this, and what I should have done is just to keep the Wonderflex base and cut out an oval in Worbla, like a picture frame, and adhere it on top. Next time.

belt buckle base-1

 

For those of you who are not familiar with these materials, Wonderflex and Worbla become self-adhesive when exposed to heat. Wonderflex on only one side and Worbla on both sides. Worbla can be molded like clay. Use a heat gun to mold it. There are tons of YouTube videos that can explain better than I can.

I made the eagle entirely out of Worbla. I actually cut out two basic shapes, then I carved out the second shape and adhered all the bits on top of the basic shape for the details. There were tweezers involved. Also, I ended up molding the eagle head a lot with clay tools because that was just the only way to do it. It’s tiny!

belt buckle cut out

belt buckle eagle finished

I have read, and seen tutorials, indicating that you can prime Worbla without needing to sand, as long as you put the primer on thick enough. You are supposed to use wood glue. This advice is inaccurate. My buckle ended up being highly textured, and I wanted it very smooth. I may try to use Plasti Dip over my existing buckle, or I may just sand it if that doesn’t work. Anyway, that did not work for me.

I painted the base and the decoration with gold craft glue, sealed them with some sort of sealant I had lying around (I’ve moved since then so I probably don’t have it any more). I then glued them together, and then glued the whole thing to a $1 elastic belt I found at a thrift store. The belt was secured with Velcro. Is there anything Velcro can’t do?

belt buckle finished

I actually think it didn’t turn out too badly, especially from a distance. I will certainly make modifications to it before the next time I wear it though.

I didn’t go into any great detail on technique here because I’m not an expert. There are tons of experts on YouTube and other blogs who can take you step-by-step through the process of working with these mediums. One of my faves is Kamui Cosplay. I’m just telling my story here.

OTHER PROPS

Additionally you will notice I have my magic lasso at my side. This is utility rope I got at the hardware store. Interestingly enough, when I bought this it was con season locally, and Batman was in line ahead of us. As he left, the clerk turned to me and said “you don’t see that every day!” Well, actually…

Also, why is it so hard to find plain red circle earrings? I ended up getting them off of Etsy. My wig was also from Etsy.

My next entry will be my struggle with boots, approximately whenever I have spare time.

Bombshell Wonder Woman Cosplay, Part 1 – The Closet

WW full costume editI’ve been Wonder Woman since I was about 6 years old. This picture shows my latest costume, Wonder Woman from DC Bombshells, and the costume my mom made for me when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I guess you could say I’m a fan.

In this post I’m going to show you how I put together the fabric portions of this costume. A lot of this is closet cosplay, with modifications. My posts assume that you have a basic understanding of sewing. I apologize in advance that I did not have as many pics as I would like.

THE SHIRTWWshirt-finished

I had this red button up shirt that I used to wear to work. And then I didn’t because I didn’t really like it that much anymore. It was from NY&Co. It still fit, I just didn’t really wear it anymore. This was a great opportunity to give it a second life.

The first thing I did was add the logo. I found one online, then sized it in Photoshop so it would fit on my shirt. I traced it out in tailor’s chalk, being careful to note how it would look with the buttons in place. I ironed on interfacing to the inside for stability, and just sewed over the chalk in a satin stitch. I made the logo in black, and then outline in yellow, as indicated in the original art.

WW shirt applique 2

WW shirt applique

This was a long sleeve shirt, so I chopped off the sleeves just above the elbow (because that’s how long I wanted it!). I added fake cuffs at this point. That just required measuring around the sleeve and making a rectangle that was the right length and width, plus seam allowance. I added interfacing to the cuffs so they would stay rigid instead of falling down. Then I just folded over 1/4 inch to finish off the edges. Easy peasy.

WWsleeve-inside

In its original form, the shirt had a pretty standard collar and buttoned all the way up, but the costume needed a white collar with a plunging neckline. So I faked it. I cut out a piece of white fabric the same size as the existing collar, added 1/4 inch, and just covered it.

WWcollar-inside

Then I tried on the shirt to approximate where I wanted the lapels to land. They are just two triangles, stitched on over the button section. They end at the point of the “W.”

WWcollar-outside

And that’s about it for the shirt!

THE SHORTS

WWshorts

This was the easiest part of the whole costume, because I just bought the shorts from PUG. It’s not as easy to find high-waisted shorts as it should be, and not as easy to find patterns for them as it should be either! I found star buttons at the fabric store, and then I found a piece of scrap denim in my vast collection of fabrics to create a loop, put Velcro on each end, and there you have a place to put your lasso. Done.

THE HEADBAND

headband-finished

This was an interesting piece of engineering, because as the Rosie the Riveter-type headscarf is drawn, it defies logic. A square kerchief will not have the tie next to the pointy part. So I basically made a headband and added a triangle.

IMG_2191

I measured around my head, noting the way it would be positioned. I also noted where I wanted the star/triangle portion to sit. Cut two, stitch wrong sides together, turn right side out, finish ends, top stitch. I added Velcro to the ends, ironed on a purchased red star, and to complete the illusion, cut out a small piece of fabric to create the tie at the top of the headband. That is actually a separate piece.

bombshell-wonder-woman-poster

Most of the sewing is straight lines or zigzags, and all of the measurements are just my specifications, or to fit the shirt. There is a bit of variation to the DC Bombshells art, so I don’t feel compelled to be perfect. There is no exact way of making this, depending on who is drawing that issue. I will have 2 more segments for this costume: props and boots. I will finish this approximately whenever I have time.

Published in: on June 20, 2017 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Harley Quinn’s Mallet for Raks al Assaya

IMG_2040-Edit

Photo courtesy Douglas Klettke

Con season is upon us again, although there’s never a bad time to cosplay. In December Bad Weather Burlesque had a FAN-tastic theme show, wherein I did a Saidi-inspired Harley Quinn number. I had just taken a Saidi workshop from Jasmin Jahal and I LOVED it! When you love two things they often have a lot of crossover. If you’d like to see the whole costume you can check out how I made it here.

The great thing about this method is that it is pretty easy to build, the materials are easy to find, and if you whack someone in the head they will only be mildly irritated rather than concussed. It’s also pretty light, so carrying it around won’t be taxing.

Want to make a mallet of your own? Here’s what you need:

  • 1 wooden dowel, 3/4″ diameter (depending on the size of your hand), approx $2
  • 1 roll bubble wrap, large bubbles, approx $16
  • 1 roll red duct tape, $6
  • 1 roll black duct tape, $6
  • 2 sheets red duct tape, $2 each
  • 2 sheets black duct tape, $2 each
  • Hot glue and gun
  • Scissors
  • Saw (for cutting down the dowel)

 

Materials

Materials

 

My first concern was that for Saidi Raks al Assaya (dancing with a cane) my prop has to be light enough to swing it around and still control it. I also needed to make sure the head of the mallet did not whack me in the leg while I was spinning it. So I checked the clearance between my swing radius and my leg, both with length and diameter. The weight can shift so that the mallet turns sideways. If you are not dancing with this prop you may disregard this note and make it as big or small as you like.

Don't hit yourself in the leg

Don’t hit yourself in the leg

Apologies here, as I did not take a lot of pics during the process. At this point I secured the roll with a couple of pieces of red duct tape to keep everything in place while I did the ends. Learn from my mistakes here, as the ends will be very bumpy if you do not put something flat under your sheet of tape. Cut a circle from something that is at least the thickness of cardstock and put that underneath your sheet as you stick it to the end. If your mallet is larger than the sheet of duct tape you may need to use multiple pieces, or just use the tape from the roll. I do the ends first so that the edges of the duct sheet can be covered and secured by the tape. At this point wrap the red tape around and around and around the roll to cover the whole thing. Be careful to overlap so no bubble wrap can be seen.

Bumpy

Bumpy

Not bumpy

Not bumpy

Add a stripe!

Add a stripe!

At this point you should have what looks like a red cylinder. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHICH END IS UP, because we are going to affix our harlequin shapes to the ends. You want to make sure it looks good when you are posing with it so the harlequins shouldn’t be all kittywampus with respect to the handle, or each other. This is where duct sheets are extra handy. Draw out your pattern on the back side of the duct sheet, cut them out, and carefully stick them on. I actually just cut squares from the grid pattern and turned them sideways. If you want further embellishment wrap around a line of black duct tape near each end.

If you prefer, you can skip down to the handle part first and then come back to the decorations. Doesn’t really matter.

Lots of little pieces of tape

Lots of little pieces of tape

Now we are going to add our handle. If you are actually using this to dance Raks al Assaya, measure from the ground to about 2-3 inches below your navel if you keep your elbow in when swinging and cut the dowel to that length; or if you raise up your elbow then cut to whatever length is comfortable. Wrap the dowel in duct tape, alternating red and black. I made it striped by cutting a lot of small pieces and wrapping them around one at a time. If you want to try to wrap it at an angle, best of luck to you. That did not work for me with alternating colors. Important to note: if your hands get sweaty the duct tape can get slippery. Alternately you can wrap the handle in ribbon and just glue it down with craft glue. Make sure to cover the end too so it looks finished!

Finesse the handle in

Finesse the handle in

At this point that whole “which end is up” thing becomes important. Find the bottom center of your mallet head and mark it. Then get a pair of long scissors or a long thin knife and stab it a bunch of times to make a hole for the dowel to go in. Keep your movements straight up and down and be careful not to stab through the other side of the mallet head. Test the depth by sticking the dowel in the hole you’ve made. If it is too tall, keep stabbing. Or you might have to re-cut your dowel. This part requires some finessing. Once you are happy with the connection get out your hot glue gun, set to high, squeeze some glue into the stabby hole, then quickly stick the dowel into the hole. The high temp should cause the bubble wrap to melt a bit and you’ll have a really secure hold.

Give it a twirl, you’re done!

 

 

Published in: on February 24, 2016 at 10:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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Lindemann: Skills in Pills – I just need to talk about this album – NSFW

Lindemann came in the mail today.

Lindemann came in the mail today.

WARNING: Every link in this post is NSFW.

So anyone reading this who knows me well is aware that Rammstein is my most favoritest band in the whole world. Since they don’t have anything in the pipeline at the moment (except for the tour DVD – on order!) of course I have to check out everything that their members produce.

I was not sure what to expect when I first heard the Lindemann project was happening. I have listened to Emigrate, which is OK but kind of mainstream, and also Eisbrecher, which I do rather like. Both lack that special Rammstein magic though. No offense, it’s just when all six of them get together it’s special.

I was particularly apprehensive when I learned that Till that would be singing in English. The German is part of the magic and authenticity of the band. It is also part of the plausible deniability, because Rammstein lyrics can be pretty messed up sometimes. I saw the video for Praise Abort, which is beyond messed up and completely grotesque. At first I was sure I was not going to pick up Skills in Pills because it was just too much, even for me. Just imagine all the most offensive things you can think of, and then multiply by ten, and then put it in a blender. But then I found that the song was stuck in my head. In spite of the grotesqueness of the imagery it was hooked into my brain. So I broke down and ordered the album.

Just the other day Paul alerted me to the fact that the video for Fish On had been released. At first I was scared, and a little horrified, but if you are a viewer who started watching it and then stopped because you were afraid of what was going to happen next I am here to assure you that it is OK, what you think is going to happen does not happen. I mean, it’s still crazy, but it’s not that bad.

So anyway, the album came today and I have been listening to it, and man is it good. I love this music. The lyrics are extremely sexual and/or drug related, and unfortunately that plausible deniability is gone. They even included a book of liner notes with all of the lyrics. And there is a photo for each song. It is disturbing and grotesque and wonderful.

I don’t want to downplay the importance of Peter Tägtgren in the creation of Lindemann, but I don’t listen to as much death metal as Paul does so I’m not as well versed in his work. But maybe I will be soon.

So buy it. Or don’t buy it. I don’t know what your sensibilities are. I’m just saying, you’ve been warned.

Published in: on October 15, 2015 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sharknado 3: A Serious Discussion on Modern Cinema

Haha, no. But also, yes. Spoilers galore ahead.

I’ve had a little time to digest last night’s premiere of Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No! and read some reviews and thought pieces on the phenomenon. I have also been thinking about the reactions of people who have not seen the first two movies, but out of curiosity were finally ready to see what all the fuss is about. I have come to a few conclusions that actually surprised me.

First, I think the self-awareness of the franchise has somewhat changed the feel of the story. The original was what it was, with no real expectations of greatness, beyond any other movie by The Asylum. #3 was super campy and self-aware. But also, who cares? I mean, really. At the end of the day it is a movie about a guy who fights sharks in a tornado. And if the franchise eventually fails? Again, who cares? They haven’t invested much money in it, and nothing lasts forever. I and my husband, admittedly, may care more than some people as we participated in the crowdfunding of Sharknado 2, and named one of the sharks in the movie “Mrs. Bitey.”

Did you think I was kidding? This is a real thing!

Did you think I was kidding? This is a real thing! Look for the red circle.

I have read some comments, and also heard from my friends who are new to Sharknado, that they were a bit confused by some things in the third installment (beyond the basic concept). I didn’t realize until then that there is actually some real continuity to the ongoing saga. I was happy to see Nova return and had wondered why she was not in Sharknado 2. April has upgraded her hand to something more sophisticated and has almost become a likeable character. There are a lot of scenes that are self referential, like Fin filleting a shark in mid air, the baby being essentially born out of the shark, for example. I never thought I would say this, but it really does help to see all of the movies in order.

A lot of the popular appeal is its silliness, and the ridiculous number of celebrity cameos. But probably even more so is how The Asylum and SyFy have integrated it with social media. Twitter is the place to be on Sharknado night. In fact, I suck at Twitter, but I Tweet for Sharknado.

But, the thing that took me a little while to realize was that Sharknado 3 was really for fans of The Asylum. There was a lot of stuff in there just for us. Some casual viewers may not have noticed that SyFy was running all of their insane shark movies all this week: Megashark, Mechashark, Megashark vs. Mechashark, Two-Headed Shark Attack, Malibu Shark Attack, and the premiere of Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf, just to name a few. There is a whole subculture of fandom that is devoted to these movies. SyFy typically runs them during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. They are for people who enjoy absurdist theatre. Plain and simple. Some of these are franchises on their own, and sometimes those franchises are crossed over just so that Debbie Gibson and Tiffany can have a catfight at a barbeque. Did you notice, that when GRR Martin was eaten by a shark, he was at the time watching Three-Headed Shark Attack? Did you realize that when Lukas tells the soldier “at least it isn’t zombies,” that the soldier is in fact played by Kellita Smith from Z-Nation? My husband, a fan of Z-Nation, also mentioned that the show did a spoof of Sharknado that featured a zombienado, and in that episode one of the characters says “at least it’s not sharks!” Secretly, this movie was for us. I love that.

I have given this a lot of thought and this is what I want to see in the future:

  • An explanation as to why Fin is at the center of the Sharknado issue, preferably involving a multi-generational pirate curse. Think Ginger Snaps Back (but with pirates).
  • The return of Vivica A. Fox, possibly as a cyborg, or possibly in a prequel related to the pirate curse as mentioned above.
  • Sharks colonizing space. I have not yet been able to find Raptor Planet on DVD, but you know, like that per the description.

None of these ideas is ridiculous. You know it’s true.

My only real criticism is that, in spite of it being a really good mascara, the Benefit They’re Real mascara product placement was a little out of control. And I would not use it as ammo because that stuff is expensive.

What do you think? Don’t think too hard.

 

Published in: on July 23, 2015 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hey Erica, What Have You Been Up To?

Wow, I haven’t posted here in forever! But, ’tis the CON season, and I was at Fargo CoreCon last weekend.

Erica and Brenda get horny with a priest.

Erica and Brenda get horny with a priest.

I got to wear on of my favorite outfits.

I got to wear one of my favorite outfits.

I danced with some Jack O' Lanterns (thanks for the pic Debi).

I danced with some Jack O’ Lanterns (thanks for the pic Debi).

And with Mistryl Shimmy Guard (MSG - bringing the flava!)

And with Mistryl Shimmy Guard (MSG – bringing the flava!)

There was a Furry Parade!

There was a Furry Parade!

And a marriage proposal (under duress? Darth Vader is, like, right there).

And a marriage proposal (under duress? Darth Vader is, like, right there).

Spiderman and Spider Gwen made it all the way from San Diego

Spiderman and Spider Gwen made it all the way from San Diego

And then this thing happened

And then this thing happened

But was defeated by this thing

But was defeated by this thing

And there was some comedy

And there was some comedy

And then we all had a nice nap.

And then we all had a nice nap.

Also Voltaire was there, which was really cool but I didn’t get any good pics. Same with Christopher Mihm, who did some great panels. Love his movies. The end. See y’all at CONvergence!

Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm  Comments (3)  
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Enrolling in Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School

Bender !Flames!, or at least part of him

Bender !Flames!, or at least part of him

I am an art school dropout, and I have not sketched anything other than accessory patterns for literally years. There is a reason I concentrated on photography! But last night I attended the Fargo branch of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School, with guest model Bender !Flames! and I really enjoyed stretching my brain muscles a little. My first few sketches were crap, but I got better after I warmed up a bit. It’s still not great, especially compared to some of the awesomeness that was on display, but I feel better about my mental workout the next day. If you enjoy drawing or even wire art (as one original young man did last night) I’d encourage you to check it out in your area. There are at least 100 branches throughout the world! Dr. Sketchy’s new Fargo home is at the Beefsteak Club. The next session will be Dec. 12.

Words of Wisdom from the Birthday Girl

It's MY Day!

It’s MY Day!

Today is my 40th birthday, so to mark the occasion I will share some things, in no particular order, that I have learned over my last 4 decades on this planet. There’s a lot here, but I guess that just shows I was paying attention (maybe).

  1. Being an adult is not standardized. At 16 you can drive a car and get a job. At 18 you can vote, get married and join the military. At 21 you can drink alcohol. You can’t rent a car until you are 25 though. And you can’t run for President until you are 35. When do you become an “adult?” I know a lot of immature people who have kids and jobs so that doesn’t always cut it. My personal definition is “when you make your best effort to be responsible for the choices you have made.” But it’s all a matter of opinion.
  2. Don’t take on more responsibilities than you are comfortable with. Learn to say “no.” There is not enough time to do everything you want to, so if you try to do it all it will be half-assed.
  3. There are no “adults,” we’re all just faking it. The older you get, the better you are at faking it.
  4. People are complicated. I know Democrats who love their guns, Republicans who march in Pride parades and Atheists who are open-minded about spirituality. When they say that stereotypes are there for a reason they are right; it’s because many people are lazy and don’t want to have to think too hard about how complex human beings are.
  5. Gender doesn’t mean much, and it is damaging to everyone to try to force roles on people. Men take care of kids, women bring home the bacon. Some people are both men and women, some identify as neither. We all love who we love. If you don’t like it then it is probably a reflection of the gender role you have been forced into. It’s a tough thing to shake. I have a hard time letting old ideas go too.
  6. Nobody is 100% good or 100% bad. JFK was a great champion of civil rights. He was also a terrible husband. Even Dick Cheney likes puppies. You don’t have to excuse bad behavior, and you don’t deserve a cookie for being a decent human being. This is one of the hardest ideas I have had to accept because it requires some complex emotions and a lot of serenity to be able to digest.
  7. Have you ever made a mistake in your life? Maybe a really, really big, embarrassing mistake? Yeah? So maybe don’t be so hard on other people then. Don’t be too hard on yourself, either.
  8. Don’t be a dick.
  9. The best time to buy a used car is October. It is the end of the fiscal year for the government and that’s when they swap out their fleet vehicles. You can get a well-maintained late-model car for less because it has high mileage.
  10. Buy whole life insurance if you can afford it. People who tell you to eschew whole in favor of term life are just after your money. It’s the difference between buying and renting. You can cash in your whole life when you retire. Term goes away the minute you stop paying into it.
  11. Make a will. Everybody dies and not everyone is lucky enough to be old when it happens. Make things easier on your next of kin by having your affairs in order. Make sure this includes a living will. You can get cheap software to help you and your bank will probably notarize it for free. Make sure your executor has a copy or knows where to find it. Besides, it can be fun to think about who you would bequeath your prized possessions to. It’s like a birthday on opposite day.
  12. There are worse things than dying.
  13. Be involved in your community. By “community” I mean a group of people you share an interest or mission with. I am part of the nerd community, the belly dance community and the burlesque community. It is very rewarding to be able to share these loves with other people.
  14. Share your knowledge. Isn’t it great to be able to look up anything on the internet for free? Think about contributing to that, to being a part of a wonderful resource for others.
  15.  My tech theatre methods instructor in college told our class that if you believe what you do is art, then it is art, and don’t let anyone else tell you different. Word.
  16.  Recycle for the money, not the environment. People roll their eyes when you bring up the moral or ethical reasons for recycling. Here’s the practical reason: Taxes. If we don’t recycle, the landfill gets full faster. Then our municipality has to either buy more land or spend money to send our trash somewhere else. Our tax money. If we all recycle we not only lessen the tax burden, but the city sells our recyc, generating revenue that further reduces what we have to pay for solid waste disposal. So put that in your bin and recycle it.
  17.  There are rarely simple answers to complex problems. Violence, health care, civil rights, social inequality: these are all problems that have been decades, even centuries (millennia?) in the making. If someone presents an answer to these problems that is a paragraph or less, they probably haven’t thought it through that carefully.
  18.  You did not get to where you are today by yourself. We all live in a society, not a vacuum. If you are successful it is because someone gave you a job or bought your product. Somebody else gave birth to you and changed your diapers, educated you and fed you. Be grateful for what you have and remember to help others as you have been helped. If your life is crap right now, help others anyway if you are able. You can never have too many friends.
  19.  Don’t feel guilty about asking for help or being a burden. Someone else will need to lean on you someday.
  20. Try Yoga.

So friends, that is the best I have to offer after 40 years. Maybe the next time a base-ten number rolls around I will have more wisdom to impart. If you have anything to add please do so in the comments. But if you do please remember #8.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 10, 2013 at 8:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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CONvergence 2012 Highlights

Finn and Jake meet Fionna and Cake!

What a busy month! Kicking things off for July we went to CONvergence 2012 in Bloomington, MN. Super fun as always! In the above picture Finn (don’t know this guy, but he was a good sport) and me as Fionna from Adventure Time. This turned out to be a surprisingly popular costume as I had several people ask to take my picture and also ask me “what time is it?” Also, while I was walking back to the CON from the DQ across the parking lot I heard some guy yelling “Finn! I love you Finn!” and I realized he was yelling to me! I think that was a first. Since I talk about crafts and costumes on this blog, here’s my costume breakdown: Shorts, tights and shirt are all from JCPenney; hat from Etsy.com (I had to add some wires because the ears were too floppy, and sewed in blond doll hair because my hair is dark red/brown); shoes are Sketchers; Backpack and Cake made by me. It was really challenging making a round backpack, but I found that if I approach it like I would sew the shoulder of a sleeve it really helped a lot. Cake is one of my best creations. She’s just a huge feltie. I’ve had some practice with these, and I fashioned her from a picture I found online. I have to say though, I like how this guy made his Jake, because it was a lot less bulky and hot, I’m sure.

So on the subject of costumes, while at the CON I purchased a new corset, hat and sparkly scarf and wore it all on Saturday. This did not culminate in the costume I anticipated due to a very thick crocheted top and a large, yummy meal at India Palace on Saturday. So, what am I? Futuristic saloon girl? I don’t know. The skirt is from a thrift store and the boots by Lane Bryant.

Uncategorizable

I think we managed to get into almost all of the party rooms.

Par-tay!

Friday I think our big highlight was making it to the Jews In Space party room in time for the Shabbat blessing and matzo ball soup. Good stuff. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of Optimus Prime wearing his tallit. We also really enjoyed the Ochaya tea room, partly because it was comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, but also largely because we like to say that Paul has the T-virus.

The Ochaya

We also went to the Worship The Goddess room so that Paul could worship me, of course. We met a satyr there. He was cheeky.

Worship the Goddess

Cheeky Satyr

The Ghostbusters 911 room was pretty impressive with all of their gear, although I don’t remember the uniforms being this sexy.

Gonna bust some sexy ghosts!

Vigo and Paul

And of course we couldn’t miss the Burlesque show at Stand Up Records! They even had Boylesque by the Goblin Prince.

Jessica Rabbit

The Goblin Prince gets ready for the ball

My favorite of course would be Smiling Lune bellydance. Hourly shows all night Friday and Saturday!

Not your mama’s bellydance!

There were loads of fun costumes too:

Cap and the chorus girls

The Tardis

Dancing Robot

The two Moiras – they didn’t even know each other but showed up to the American Horror Story panel!

Jawa and Sandperson doing Yoga

And toward the end we all sort of felt like this guy:

Too much partying

So a fun time was had by all, and we can’t wait until next year, when the theme is the British Invasion. I’ll have to come up with a really good costume in my spare time.

BONUS – Test your geek cred:

  • Who is Optimus Prime?
  • What is the T-Virus in reference to?
  • What is a Tardis?

If you know the answers to these questions you should go to the CON next year. If you don’t, you should also go to the CON next year because it’s super fun anyway!

 

CoreCon 2012: Hosting a Con Suite

Boy howdy, have we ever been busy lately! Too busy to blog, apparently, but I will start making up for that now.

Karen with Jezebel and the Whore of Babylon

Karen with Jezebel and the Whore of Babylon

CoreCon 2012 was the second year of the KEEP con suite. If you are unfamiliar with fan conventions a con suite (or hospitality or party suite) is basically a party room, usually with a theme, that is open to the attendees of the convention. It may be hosted by the convention itself, or by fans who just want to throw a party.

The KEEP consists of Karen, Eric, Erica (me), and Paul. This year, in following with the apocalypse theme, we decorated sort of like a fallout shelter/ossuary for the general room layout. Friday was “Puppets of the Apocalypse,” which included a puppet stage and 3 different puppet shows, each running twice. Saturday was “Doomsday Cinema.” If you are considering running a con/hospitality/party suite here are some things to think about, and how we dealt with them:

The KEEP

The KEEP

Decoration: We used Scene Setters wall coverings this year, which we attached to the wall with blue painters’ tape. We also had a gas mask and warning posters for that special extra touch. That part was not too complicated or expensive.
When planning for decorations consider how you will attach them to the walls. Do not use anything that will damage wallpaper or leave holes in the walls or ceiling. You are liable for any damages. Also, be aware of any impediments like smoke alarms, a/c unit, pictures that won’t come off the wall. You can’t cover smoke detectors or sprinklers.

Activities/Entertainment: Friday night was the puppet show, which also sort of falls under the “decor” category. We were able to borrow a puppet stage from the library, used a backdrop stand to help support it and hung up muslin left over from last year’s circus tent theme as a curtain. Saturday night we removed the puppet stage and set up a movie screen in its place, running apocalypse-themed films.
When planning for activities and entertainment think about if this is something you would like to see or do yourself, and if it would keep you in the room.

Refreshments: We had Kool-Aid, candy, and homemade cookies.
When planning for food and drink consider what is practical and if you have the necessary facilities to pull it off. You will probably be lucky to get a mini fridge and microwave in the room. You may not be allowed to have hot plates. Find out ahead of time. Typically plan to have a serving for every expected attendee of the convention. Yep, that’s a lot. Some people will not show up, and others may take seconds. It should even out. Chocolate goes fast.

New things we learned this year:

  • People love puppets. I was really surprised to find we had a full house for all six shows. Rock on.
  • People are less interested in homemade cookies than we expected. We thought we’d be bribing people with the cookies in hopes they would stay for the show. It was the other way around.
The cast of KDINO

The cast of KDINO

We did a panel at CoreCon 2012 on this subject, and I would like to say a big THANKS to Karen for writing the outline, and to House, Carrie and Kim for contributing. The following comes from that panel.

Top tips for preparation:

  • Plan way ahead.
  • Decide on your theme.
  • Find out what kind of space you are working with (talk to the con chair) and what is available – chairs, tables, etc. See if you can get room dimensions.
  • Find out what the Con expects/requires from you.
  • Determine who you can actually count on to help before, during and after the con. Plan for breaks for everyone involved.
  • Figure out your budget. If it will be extravagant consider spreading the cost out over the course of many months.
  • Look at all of your resources. What do you have around your home or work that already fits into your theme? Do any members of your group have talents for sewing, designing, building, etc that you can use?
  • Determine how you will transport and store decorations and props, before and after the con. Will it fit through the door?
  • Decide if you will have commerce (selling stuff) in your room. At some cons this is prohibited, and there may be tax codes or health codes to deal with. I am personally biased against commerce because I think of it as a party for your 500 closest friends, not a business opportunity. That being said, if you are selling something akin to a meal, I can’t really fault you for wanting to cover some of your expenses. Use your best judgement.
  • Decide if you will have alcohol. YOU CANNOT CHARGE FOR ALCOHOL. And I wouldn’t recommend selling cups and then “giving away” the alcohol. You, not the con, are responsible for checking IDs and badges so be prepared for that. Giving alcohol to a minor is a big deal. Plus it is expensive. But it is also a party and will get more traffic in your room, so choose wisely.
  • Test all recipes ahead of time.
  • If possible, practice set up and tear down, and a run-through of any activities.
  • Design an ad and fliers.
  • Consider drawings or prizes.
  • Consider a tip jar. You won’t make your money back, but it’s worth a shot.
  • Make a checklist of every single little thing you will need, like remote controls, batteries, lights, napkins, cups, serving utensils, doorstop, etc.
  • Make sure you know the check-in and check-out times of the hotel.

Top tips at the con:

  • Get in as early as possible.
  • Be aware of badges. Non con-goers should not be in your room. Check all IDs if you have alcohol.
  • If you have food and drink consider getting self-adhesive painter’s plastic for the floor. It has paid for itself in our suite for sure! As I said earlier, you are liable for any damages to the room. We bought ours at Lowe’s, but I can’t find it on the web site. It’s in the flooring section.
  • Make sure to schedule breaks for everyone involved so you don’t miss the rest of the con, and you can check out all the other excellent suites!
  • Get a contact for security in case you have any trouble, and do it BEFORE you open up the room.

On a personal note:

  • Don’t take it personally if you don’t get much traffic. Some days are good, some aren’t.  Maybe nobody was in the mood, or another suite stole your thunder. It happens.
  • Taking into account the above, do this for yourself first and foremost. If nobody else shows up at least you will have fun.
  • Be realistic about how much time you actually have to dedicate to this project, both before and during the con. When we started out with the puppet show idea we were talking about doing a different show every half-hour all night. Eventually we got real and only did hourly shows that lasted about 5-6 minutes. Don’t burn yourself out.
  • As I said earlier, this is not a money making venture. We figured we spent around $700 amongst the four of us over the course of the year leading up to CoreCon 2012. Much of that expense was for things that we would have bought eventually anyway (portable movie screen, for instance). We had to pay for the room, decorations, food and drink. We also have a lot of puppets left over that we may never use again, and we had a prize drawing each night Friday and Saturday. We got $6 in tips. You do NOT have to spend a crapload of money on a suite! You just have to get creative.

Even though it was a lot of work we had a blast this year, and we won second place for our suite! That means we get a full-page ad in next year’s program! Now we have to figure out how to top this year’s success in 2013. I’m sure we’ll sort something out in our spare time.

Fionna and her Furry Friends

Fionna and her Furry Friends

Props to Puppets by Margie for our custom-made puppets! If you have any questions or suggestions please put them in the comments.

Published in: on May 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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