Disclaimer: I will be using the term “canon” a lot in this blog and future blogs. Canon is a term used by the anime/manga/geek/nerd fandom that basically means something that is accurate according to the official storyline such as a manga, novel, anime, comic, etc. It’s used to distinguish the official story (i.e. a manga) from a fanfiction or something else.
Hey again! Let’s get into some fun stuff and a topic I love talking about, COSPLAY!
I wasn’t sure what to actually start with but I threw some ideas at my bestie Lisha and decided to start the next post about my current cosplays I’m working on for an anime convention in July called OTAKON!
For just a brief moment (maybe I’ll make another blog about it later) but I started cosplaying in 2010 and Otakon was my first REALLY HUGE anime convention. My first cosplay was Kobato. At the time, my friend Courteney and I were watching 2 series, Kobato and Kimi ni Todoke, and decided why not cosplay Kobato.
Anywho, every since 2010 my outfits have gotten more elaborate (and expensive XD) as my skills grew after I learned how to sew from my Aunt Carolyn. I’m always challenging myself to try new and better things. New and EXPENSIVE things. (Damn you Worbla!)
So for my first cosplay blog post, I’ll talk about one of my current works in progress or WIP, Lady Baron Samedi or Baroness Samedi.
How Lady Baron Samedi came to be was purely on a whim.I can’t exactly recall if this picture was posted in an anime group I’m apart of, DMV Anime Watchers, or just in my feed on Facebook. But when I saw this picture I was blown away. The picture I’m using as my guide is fanart and sadly, I don’t know the creator. IF YOU KNOW THEM PLEASE TELL ME!!
Lady Baron Samedi’s outfit is stunning and she is truly beautiful. The body language, the facial expression…ugh, I needed to do this. So once I got the idea in my head that I wanted to cosplay her, I asked the question….Who IS this lady? So to Google I went and found out that Lady Baron Samedi is based on Baron Samedi.
Baron Samedi is both real and fictional. The REAL Baron Samedi is one of the many gods in Haitian voodoo. The Spirit of the Dead. The Loa of the Dead. The God of the Dead. That is Baron Samedi. If you want to read more in-depth about Baron Samedi click here for an AWESOME blog on him. In fiction, such as movies and TV shows, Baron Samedi is portrayed as a villain or a bringer of doom kind of guy, which isn’t too far from the truth, but you get the point. Most recently, to my knowledge, if you have seen Princess and the Frog; a “parody” or rendition if you will of Baron Samedi appears in the name of Doctor Facilier or the Shadow Man.
Now that you have been given a brief history lesson, time to dive into the fun stuff! The cosplaying!
I started working on Lady Baron Samedi/Baroness Samedi in February and I planned out what I was going to make and what I was going to buy. The tail coat, top/blouse, corset/underbust, cane, and the skull belt I will make. Everything else such as the thigh highs, boots (already own a pair like those so yay!), and the top hat will be bought.
So far I have completed the tail coat, corset, and cane. Currently, I started working on the skull belt and that is a new adventure for me.
Time to break down the cosplay! (the nerdiest part for me so please excuse me ^_^)
The Tail Coat
This tail coat took maybe 2-3 weeks for me to finish and it was a struggle, but in a good way (hahaha). For this, I used the pattern 2525 by Simplicity in the ‘Costume’ section. As I stated before in my last post, I don’t claim to be an expert so yes I use patterns. One day I shall make my own, but until then..SIMPLICITY FOR THE WIN!
On the pattern, I used A/C designs for the base of the coat and the sleeve ruffles, but used B/D design for the collar because I wanted a wider and longer collar for the Samedi tail coat. You know, for effect and the spooky.
The corset, in essence, took about 3 weeks to make and that was only because I was seriously dragging my ass with it. This corset was the first corset I’ve made where I used steel boning and installed a busk, AND used duck fabric which was a semi pain since it broke 2 of my sewing machine needles!
The pattern for this corset is 1345 by Simplicity and I did design F minus the lace overlay and ruffles around the top and bottom. I also changed out the eyelets for grommets. I made a corset last year using grommets for the first time and for me, they lasted longer and were stronger than eyelets. With the previous corsets I’ve made, I used eyelets and either they would fall out or tear threw the fabric.
Corset patterns NEVER CHANGE unless you’re doing an underbust, but they mostly stay the same so that is the easy part. Once you find a pattern that is VERY easy such as THIS, you can pretty much make any corset!
For this fabric, unlike the other corsets I’ve done, it needed a very STIFF interlining. Fashion corsets that are made to just look nice and aren’t meant to be functional (such as slimming the waist, etc) usually can survive with or without interfacing. This corset, however, needed to be functional and look nice so it needed a lining that would be sturdy. The pattern suggested at least 3 fabrics, and I went with duck since I could find it. Duck is a very VERY STIFF fabric, so if you’re going to use this make sure you’re using the right sewing needle. I recommend it because it’s easy to find and the finished look is gorgeous.
I’m SOOOOO GLAD I invested in an awl and my grommet gun! Before these 2 things came into my life, I had to put in grommets/eyelets BY HAND! WITH A HAMMER! Not saying it’s bad, but it’s loud and time-consuming! The awl helps making holes so much easier because you don’t run the risk of making the hole TO big or cutting in a tiny cut that will expand and ruin the hole for the eyelet/grommet.
With the cane, I took sooooo much creative liberty with this. As you can see in the main Lady Baron Samedi picture, you can’t really see the ‘handle’ of the cane clearly. This is where cosplay gets really fun. Since I couldn’t figure out what to do based on the picture, I decided to create what kind of cane I wanted to see a voodoo God have. Since her outfit overall is very classy in the “Night at the Halloween Opera” kind of way, I decided to make the cane a very spooky and horrifying prop. Something I would think a witch doctor would have without being HUGE. So I decided I wanted to keep it black and have the top and bottom “tied” with some kind of rope detailing to make it look like the cane was put together in the bush. The handle or ‘orb’, I wanted it to be trapped souls. Seriously. I wanted it to seem like she obtained any through trade because of how greedy or sacrificial humans can be.
I’ll say this, this orb was a SERIOUS labor of love!
The orb or glass orb part and the ‘cup’-like holder is a lawn light I got from Wal-Mart that I cut and broke down. I cut off the parts I needed with a utility knife and took out the light components and kept the glass and ‘cup’.
Since the ‘cup’ is plastic, it would wouldn’t look right with the wood dowel or wood stain I would use for the cane so I needed to cover the ‘cup’ so it would look uniform with the dowel. I thought of wood putty, but wood putty doesn’t dry so I went to Home Depot and discovered wood filler. Wood filler, is a sandy-like glue (some have wood pulp in it) to fill in holes or cuts in wood. When it dries, it becomes hard and can be sand down with sandpaper or something like that. The winner for me was that it’s able to be stained with wood stain.
The dowel I got from Home Depot was great in size, but when I got home and thought about how tall I wanted the cane to be the dowel was short. So I got wood plugs and pretty much attached them to the dowel until the height was where I needed it to be. Once the gorilla glue dried, I covered the wood plugs with wood filler and sanded it down when it dried.
When the ‘cup’ dried, I sanded it and smoothed out the bumps that I didn’t catch when it was wet. Then I attached it to the dowel and filled in the gaps between the dowel and cup with wood filler. When both the top and bottom of the cup were dry and sanded to my liking. I stained the cane with Varathane wood stain in color ebony.
When the stain was completely dry and I made sure I covered all parts, I used twine to wrap around the top and the bottom for the detailing.
I used gorilla glue to seal the knotted ends of the twine and when the gorilla glue dried the next day, I sealed the parts not covered in twine with a clear polyurethane sealer in satin finish.
This part of the cane was the more serious labor of love on my part due to ALL the detail. Since I wanted the souls to look trapped and ghoul-y, I came up with the idea of having the “souls” submerged in a dark-colored resin with haunted faces and a lot of them without literally jamming the glass with paper.
I came up with the idea of attaching images of ghosts onto marbles and placing them in the glass orb, and then pour in some colored resin and call it a day.
I literally googled “souls” and this awesome picture by this artist from Finland came up and I fell in love. I printed up various sizes of the picture until I came up with the right size I needed for the marbles (regular decorative marbles from Dollar Tree) without being too bulking and causing too many wrinkles in the paper when fitted.
I used mod podge in gloss to stick the paper souls to the marbles using a regular paint brush. I’m brish the mod podge over the front and back of the paper soul and smoothed it over the marble. I’ll go on the record to say that if you’re a crafter or cosplayer, have mod podge in your toolkit.
I didn’t have a pattern or formula as far as placement goes, I just winged it. The idea was the soul was starting from the bottom and going upward like how steam rises from a vent. In total, I made 20 marbles. 14 would fit comfortably in the glass orb and I made 6 extra for testers in resin.
After a day or so, the mod podge cured and the marbles were all glossy and sealed (mod podge works as a sealer too!!), and I took 3 of the ones that I thought were ugly and used them as testers for resin.
I did 2 separate tests for the resin after I got some resin dye off of eBay. I wanted the goo/resin to be the kind of purple where it was dark but still slightly transparent so you can see the souls but not see all the imperfections. I decided the “true” purple, which is an even amount of red and blue dye, achieved the effect I was looking for. After that, I started to place the dried souk marbles into the glass orb based on my tests. I noticed that if the marbles were pressed against the glass, they could be seen clearer but still hold some mystery. So I had to place them in specifically so I could get the look I wanted.
I basically used gorilla glue since it dries in 10 seconds and tweezers to get the marbles in the orb and stick them to it since mod podge wouldn’t work as fast as gorilla glue.
I know it sounds VERY tedious and it was, but it was worth it in the end. After a day or so when the gorilla glue cured completely, I mixed the resin and poured it and after maybe 6 hours the resin cured and the orb came out BEAUTIFULLY. After another day for extra measure, I placed the orb on the cane and it came out great! It’s sexy, creepy, haunting, and just creative. It’s the first prop I made where I put in THIS much love and serious hours. In total it took like 22 hours or so.
The second to last project to finish for Lady Baron Samedi is the skull belt. I had to make the skulls and that was a fun mini adventure. At first I cut/carved them from insulation foam I got from Lowes and they came out great.
To carve out the detail, I used clay sculpting tools to press into the foam to get the fine lines and outlines I needed. As time went on, I didn’t paint them because they were kind of thick and I was wondering how thin I wanted them to be so I decided to wait until I was ready to use them, but by that time came around I discovered a new material for cosplaying purposes; EVA Foam. EVA Foam is the kind of foam you’d see yoga mats, those huge puzzle place mats in preschools, or fatigue mats in garages.
After pretty much crashing through YouTube and stumbling upon this great youtuber from New Zealand who talks about the basic tricks and things you need to know when working with EVA foam, I went out and bought some from Home Depot and cut out my new skulls.
One of the tricks the youtuber talked about was how EVA foam expands when heated so the fine lines become more visible and defined. After I cut out my skulls and made the shallow cuts with an x-acto blade, I took my head gun and used the high setting and waved the heat over my foam skulls, the results are PERFECT!
After they cooled back down, I painted the skulls. One I painted on a layer of gesso and the other I just painted directly. I didn’t want the skulls to be white but BONE white so I mixed 3 paints together: titanium white, naples yellow, and burnt sienna. I don’t really have an exact amount I used of each, I just mixed until I thought it looked good. Pro tip: it’s easier to add dark to light colors but difficult to lighten a dark color so mix your lighter base first then add a darker color for effect and detail.
I had to do multiple layers to cover all the dark spots that shown through the white paint. I used a fine point brush to add the black into the cracks and deep lines to make a shadowing effect. Also, I did a dry brush technique (meaning the brush wasn’t wet when I painted) so I could add texture and age some it a bit.
Currently, I’m working on the skull belt and that’s another day another blog kind of thing. But what I have so far is, I have the base of it so pretty much the belt part without the loops that lap around the first chain. I used natural shell beads I found at Michaels and plastic pearls from Jo-Ann’s. I decided to use metal wire instead of beading string because beading string didn’t hold the kind of form I wanted.
And there you have it, the first of 2 cosplays I’m working on for Otakon 2015. Sorry, I took a long time with this blog. I had to make sure I covered each piece without going into that “explain-y” side. For tips and clarifications on things, I’ll post another blog about that.