Harley Quinn’s Mallet for Raks al Assaya

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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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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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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!

 

Steampunk bag project

Costumed at CONvergence

Eric, Karen and Erica

This is my very first blog post!

My latest spare-time project revolves around CONvergence. If you are unfamiliar with this annual affair, it is a huge genre convention held at the Bloomington, MN Sheraton Hotel. It regularly draws 3000-5000 people. Last year was my and Paul’s first year and we loved it! I went in costume so I am going to explain how this costume was put together for your edification.
The easy part was the actual costume. I have fallen in love with the steampunk style so I worked with that idea this year (and last year as well!). The ensemble is composed of a cream-colored frilly blouse that I found at a thrift store, a pair of vintage goggles I found online (I think I paid $20), an altered skirt from Old Navy, boots from JC Penney, and the key piece was a lovely green corset that I bought at the CON. I had planned on that purchase this year because I just don’t have the knowledge or patience to sew a corset. Maybe I will someday, but today is not that day.

Skirt from Old Navy

From Boring to Steam

It took very little time to alter the skirt. I just gathered it in strategic places and added vintage-looking buttons from JoAnn Fabrics. My main accessory to this whole thing was a rather snappy-looking messenger bag. I found this bag in Mills Fleet Farm’s army surplus section for $15. When I showed my husband he decided he should get one because it is perfect for carrying the Netbook. I also showed it to my friends Karen and Eric, who each ended up buying one, and I just found out my dad bought one after I showed him mine on Father’s Day. It’s just too good a deal. So I went to work turning it into a steampunk-style bag. I called on a very knowledgeable friend for advice on leatherwork. He was able to hook me up with what I needed.

Before and after

Finished bag and original

I got a 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of leather, mahogany dye, sealant, screws for leather, and a really cool dragonfly adornment that is also for leather specifically. My first step was to make a stencil from brushes I downloaded from obsidiandawn.com. She has some gear brushes for Photoshop that worked perfectly. I printed off a design and cut it out of the leather with a box cutter. I then burned the edges with a soldering iron to give it a more finished look. It worked OK . I would have liked it darker, but I was under some time constraints, as usual. I then stained the leather. It ended up being streaky, so I had to stain it twice. Since I was using a water-based stain it took 24 hours for each pass to dry, leaving me with even less time. After I finally got the sealant on it looked somewhat distressed and very dark, but I think it worked pretty well. Next I glued some pewter-colored fabric (half-price remnant) to the back side of the leather piece so it would show through as gears. I used the screws to hold the cut-out pieces to the bag. That got to be hard, because the hole puncher only reaches about 1 1/2 inches. Paul ended up helping me drill holes through the bag. Then the screw for the dragonfly decoration was shorter than the other screws and I couldn’t get it to go through all of the layers. I ended up having to hot glue one corner of the main piece to the bag and also the gear decoration that covers the clasp on the bottom. I would have used E-6000, but I had reached my last night and I didn’t have time for the adhesive to set. My final detail was to hang a chain between the dragonfly and the screw in the top gear. I was pretty happy with how it had turned out.

It turns out I should have started earlier and used the E-6000. The one corner came loose and my gear ripped off almost immediately. I managed to locate some crazy glue, but ultimately that would not save my gear. It is probably somewhere in the dealers’ room. The jump rings I used to connect the chain to the screws kept pulling apart and I eventually had to just pull it off entirely. Ultimately, for a woman this turned out to be a very bad bag. It was difficult to access and didn’t work for girly things like a makeup kit and hairbrush. If I were transporting documents it would have worked just fine. The part that made this realization difficult was that I was getting compliments on the bag, so it still looked great in spite of everything – it just isn’t functional.

I am already plotting a more lady-friendly bag for next-year. And a more elaborate costume. But I’ll have to do that in my spare time.

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 3:40 am  Comments (4)  
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