Current Cosplay Project for Otakon #2: Sailor Pluto Part 1, Some History and The Keys

Disclaimer: This post is all about Sailor Moon. Due to the long talk we can have about Sailor Moon, manga and anime, first anime series and new anime series; I’m going to only talk in parts about it but not really long details, so bare with me. I’ll say the “main 5” a lot so I’ll break it down here.

The main 5 are: Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, and Sailor Venus. They’re the first scouts to show up and ride the first season until the other scouts show up. I say “main” because usually those who are not deep into the anime can recognize them first and the other scouts after given a minute. I guess you can say that since Sailor Moon is the main-main character (namesake and all) and the other scouts are her protectors/comrades, they’re the main force since Sailor Moon is higher up on the royalty ladder than the rest.

The other scouts or the Outer Scouts who do play big roles in the series are: Sailor Pluto, Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, and Sailor Saturn. Sailor Saturn is a whole post by herself so I’ll back off on that one. I believe they show up (minus Saturn) around season 2 and stick pretty much after that.

**special note**: I’m writing this blog in the future (after maybe 2 paragraphs into the 2nd half of this blog) as in this cosplay is completed and I’m working on newer and bigger projects. I’m playing catch-up since a lot of things have happened since I started this entry and blog in general.


Hey everyone, I’m back again. I’ve been pretty busy lately but I’m back with a new post about my 2nd cosplay I’m working on. I’m working on…..Sailor Pluto!!!

Sailor Pluto Manga
Manga Accurate picture of Sailor Pluto that has been remastered

How the idea came to be came about shooting the breeze with some friends on what to do next year for Otakon (referring to planning last year in 2014) and a friend posted these burlesque versions of ALL the Sailor Scouts from Sailor Moon. Back then I wanted Sailor Venus or Sailor Mercury, but as the year went on and I learned about more creative things; I wanted to go bigger.

Burlesque sailor scouts
Burlesque Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask (lol)

When I mean “bigger” I mean I wanted to build a prop. You see, my history with props has been very small and simple. Nothing complex or “serious,” just very basic simple things that didn’t require thought or actual planning. All in all, I wanted to do a cosplay that was challenging and would make me think. After I played around with the Lady Baron Samedi/Baroness Samedi cosplay in my head, working out the details and what i could do to make her come to life, I wanted to do something like that but bigger!

So, in comes Sailor Pluto. A Sailor Scout who is one of the outliers from the “main 5.” Barely seen or cosplayed really well because of popularity reasons probably, in my opinion. And of course, her iconic Time Key or Garnet Rod.

Pluto and Time key

Every Sailor Scout has a move or color that is associated with them since they all play a part in this whole storyline. The one thing you can IMMEDIATELY call out is Sailor Moon or Princess Serenity. I say that because homegirl has like what 8 or whatever different items and things. At best all the others get a move or a small item, other than their transformation stick.

The only exceptions I suppose to that would be The Outer Sailor Scouts: Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, Sailor Saturn, and Sailor Pluto. All of them have some kind of weapon or primary item. Since they aren’t the “main 5,” to me, it seems like they aren’t portrayed as much or seen as “cool.” One might say the anime kind of does that for you.

When you watch the first season of the first anime, before the Crystal reboot, you grow and develop with the main 5. You see how they start out as scouts, their worries and fears, their individual personalities and takes on their past lives, etc etc. So you form that bond and can pull them out from the rest. Every one else, since they kind of just show up and at first are seen as “bad guys” until proven otherwise, they don’t get put out their or loved as much as they should be.

So with ALL of that being said, since they’re not as out their as the other scouts, it gives A LOT more creative freedom and liberties when it comes to cosplaying them!

ANYWAY! After thinking about it, wanting to challenge myself to do things to put myself out there, I decided for Sailor Pluto. I want to attempt to make a version of her that is not completely canon and not like everyone else I’ve seen on the net. I always wanted to toss my hat into the serious prop building ring and tackle the time key.

I’m going to let you know now….there were soooooooooooo many elements I put into this cosplay that this blog is going to be done in parts. This part I’ll talk about the easier things and end it with the Time key/Garnet Rod because that is a work in progress (WIP) and a lot to talk about there. I’ll start with her keys.

Sailor Pluto Crystal KeysWhen I was first going through the planning stages for Sailor Pluto, I got down all the basics that make her Sailor Pluto and what she has that makes her identifiable. Long green hair with a bun. Tall Time Key/Garnet Rod. Burgundy, black, and white color scheme. Okay, got it. I planned out what look I wanted her to have. At first burlesque was good, but it changed over to a steampunk idea since I’ve been getting into that A LOT lately so I decided to make her a burlesque-style steampunk scout. Okay, great!

Sailor Pluto Burlesque
Original burlesque idea for Sailor Pluto

As I planned it out in my head and worked over things, and of course looking up previous cosplays via Google. I noticed everyone was essentially doing the same thing. Dark green hair with a bun. Time Key/Garnet Rod. Burgundy, black, and white color scheme. All the basics nailed with some twists such as steampunk, burlesque, or victorian something. In a way they all looked alike.

I wanted something to add to the cosplay to make it stand out or add to the wonder and the “ooooo Sailor Pluto” feel of it. When in doubt, turn to the manga. So I found this picture of either a cover she was on or a colored page in the manga of her. In said picture, she had a “key belt.”

Sailor pluto keysI googled the mess out of this and seen versions people made and I wanted to make them look like metal, and not just huge clay keys with silver paint. To cut a long story short and a dream, I discovered Smooth-on and “cold casting.”

Cold casting, to be simple, is to use resin and metal powder to make something that LOOKS like real metal without using melted down metals and such.

After pretty much stalking Smooth-on’s website and this page about cold casting, and my brain exploded. To cut A LOT of details out, I basically went to my favorite art supply store on a whim and found the resin AND the silicone mold I wanted to use to make the keys!


*I’ll make a post dedicated to the magic of Smooth-on, pros and cons based on my experiences, and where you can buy their products.*

First, what I did was I took to the internet to see if there was a clearer picture of her key belt so I could accurately see the detail on the keys. I found this picture:

Key belt
Fanart of the key belt by tini

Mind you, this was WAY BEFORE Sailor Moon Crystal came out so this picture was all that I had. Either way, she did a BOMB job, so this was my reference pic.

Anyway, I took this picture and blew it up and cut out each key. When I did this the first time around, I took the cut out keys and taped them to a craft table I have and covered it in parchment paper. I traced the keys onto the parchment paper and used the traced outline as a template.

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I used the template and molded the keys by hand using polymer clay.  Polymer clay is a great clay to use for making demos of things because since it has no water in it, it doesn’t dry out unless baked at a certain temperature.

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Michael’s brand, about $10.

Anywho, I molded the keys, free handing, and they came out okay. To me, they weren’t uniform.

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Not too bad for someone who isn’t an artist or something lol

I needed the “stems” of the keys to be straight and even, so I just grabbed these plastic coffee stirrers I have. They’re basically thin, straws, so I covered/rolled them in the clay and just reshaped the keys. Oh, I almost forgot, I used these clay sculpting tools I bought from either AC Moore or Michaels to shape and smooth out the clay keys. For the heart shapes, I just rolled some clay into stripes and free handed them to a heart-shape that I liked. For the 2 other keys, the “K” keys, I used my finger and pushed a well into a clay ball; to place the gem or red stone, but that’s for later.

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When I was satisfied with my results, I baked the keys according to the directions on the package. I ended up redoing the bigger heart key at least 3 times to make the heart smaller since I thought it was too big. While making the keys, I decided to make clay balls that I will also make molds of to use for gems for the “heart” keys.

After I was finished making the clay keys and gems, I needed to make molds of them.  At first I was going to use mold builder to make molds of the keys, so according to mold builder whatever I was making a mold of had to have a sealed surface. So, I had to seal the keys. I used mod podge clear sealing spray in gloss. Maybe I did something wrong, but for me they came out a little tacky, so I went over them with regular mod podge in gloss which worked just as well.

20150227_232708I made 3 “gems” because I wasn’t sure exactly what size I wanted so I just made 3 sizes I thought were pretty good for the “heart” keys.

After the keys and gems were completely dried, I went to use the mold builder but it was already cured (I’ll do into more details about that in the Smooth-on blog) so I had to go elsewhere. At the time, I already bought the resin I needed for the cold casting.

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Smooth-cast 325, colormatch

So after more research and a trip back to my fav art supply store, I got Oomoo 30, which is liquid rubber.

20150316_234703I watched at least 2-3 vids from Smooth-on before I made the mold so I ended up doing it twice, using different methods. The first method I used was to just make one single layer mold of all the keys and gems.

From the vids, I learned that to make molds I needed to make a “mold box.” A Mold box is basically a box that shapes the mold and hold whatever you’re using to make the mold from (liquid rubber, silicone, etc). I went to Home Depot and got these polycarbonate sheets and these straps. I made a giant box using hot glue to hold the corners together. Then put the straps on as tight as possible without breaking the seams.11115587_10152880031112144_8258633382180919204_n

I then used modeling clay on the bottom edges of the box to keep the liquid rubber from leaking if I missed spots with the hot glue. I also glued the keys and the gems to the wooden table using hot glue as well. I then sprayed the inside of the box and the keys with a mold release spray. UBER NECESSARY so you can easily remove the mold and what you’re casting.

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I mixed a small batch of rubber and poured it but it only covered the keys and missed the gems so I just mixed all of it.

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The small ripple line you can see is where I poured the last bit of rubber over the first batch that started to cure.

After about 6 hours (or when I came back home from work), I broke down the box and started to peel the mold off. I encountered a problem when I did it, but after messing around with Oomoo 30  a lot more I figured where I went wrong.

First mold of the keys
First mold of the keys

Where I went wrong was this: I didn’t seal the bottom as much as I thought. You see, when using liquid rubber it goes wherever there is an opening. Like any liquid really. Only problem is that unlike other liquids, it cures and remains. So, when I was gluing the keys to the table, I didn’t use enough to really create an adequate barrier so the liquid rubber wouldn’t be able to go under the keys. For future reference, use clay and I’ll tell you why later.

The mold of the gems came out well, so there is that.

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I just cut it away from the keys, when I was trying to pull the keys out. I used an x-acto knife to cut a line over the keys and gently pulled them out so the actual mold of them would remain in tact and not get a nick or tear.

After I removed the keys, I mixed the Smooth-cast 325 with the brass metal powder (and a few drops of so black tint) and poured it into the key mold. In essence, it took about 10 mins for the resin to set and I had to work really fast. Didn’t know that at first so I had to make more. But here are the results from the first time.

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Honestly, I can’t remember which keys I did the buff process Smooth-on talked about, but I think I only did 2 because the rest were still “soft.” What you don’t see much in this pic, is that since the molds were “okay,” I had to cut and trim to clean them up. After letting them set for a bit, I decided to make the molds again because I didn’t like how the keys looked on the back. Remember when I said the rubber slipped under the keys because I didn’t use enough glue? Well the mold got a cast of the glue marks as well.


On to the second method. I’ll skip by this real quickly since the keys turned out the same as the picture above. The method I did to make the new molds that I ended up using was the 2-sided mold or the “sandwich mold” as I like to think of it as.

Basically what you do for this method, which is a little longer than the first, is you take one a cast of one side of whatever you want make a mold of and then you make a cast of the other side.

For this method, I used Oomoo 30 so I had to space it out by 2 days since Oomoo 30 takes 6 hours to cure and I work best at night and I have an early morning day job. I did each key individually.

First, I took some molding clay, flattened it out to make a thin, flat base. Then I pressed the key into it. I took a little bit of clay to shape it around the key so no liquid rubber will leak underneath the key. I then took a small ball of clay and shaped it with my hands into a small cylinder-like shape. I stuck it to the bottom of my key. It will be the pour spout. When you make 2-piece molds, you need a hole to pour the resin or whatever into the mold. It sounds junky, but I’ll point it out in a picture. After everything was shaped and fitted, I took the plastic sheets from the first mold, cut them in fours and made a miniature mold box.

11102615_10152938367462144_6351948637406433572_nI took some clay and sealed the sides so the oomoo 30 wouldn’t leak through. I also put in hex nuts for “registration keys” into the clay base. The registration keys or nuts function so when you make the other half of the mold and need to connect the 2 pieces of the mold, you’ll know you’re not off because they’ll be able to fit snugly.

Just like the first method I did, I used moving straps or secure the mold box. I can’t tell you exactly how much oomoo 30 I mixed since it was essentially a guesstimation.

11041206_10152938367882144_5505712846649988453_nAs you can tell, I only did 2 keys. I did this as a trial-and-error, in case I needed to adjust what I was doing. Also, I broke apart a popsicle stick to use to push the 2 walls of the mold box apart. When using the straps, the box started to lean inward because I tightened the straps so the stick was to make sure the mold stayed even and straight.

After 6+ hours, I broke down the mold box and gently peeled the mold off of the key and clay base. I don’t have any pictures of the “heart” keys since I just came home and saw they turned out well and immediately started working on the second set of keys, so I’ll continue using the pictures I took when I finished making one half of the molds for all the keys.

11173401_10152938367152144_1437384267705533461_nThis is what each half of the molds look like when I pulled them from the clay base and clay key. You see the holes of the registration keys/hex nuts and the shape of the key and parts of the grooves and smudges I made in the clay. Don’t worry, those won’t effect the casting. You see the small ball of clay at the bottom of the mold? That is the pour spout. You will need to keep this in the first half of the mold you do, or else when you pour in the liquid rubber for the second half you’ll fill in the pour spout and will have to make a new hole to pour into.

After I pulled each half from the clay base and key, I pretty much set them back up the same way; using the plastic squares to make a mold box and to secure them with straps. The only difference this time around is I used a mold release spray so when I pour the liquid rubber onto the first half they won’t stick to each other.

To apply a mold release spray, you basically follow the instructions on the can. I sprayed it in short bursts on the mold itself and the plastic sheets. Then I took a regular paint brush and worked the spray into the mold and box. I let it dry then sprayed again but didn’t work it into the mold this time.

I encountered a small issue with this time because I used the wrong mold release spray. The mold release I linked earlier is a universal mold release spray and in the following picture will help me explain better.

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As you can see in this picture, there aren’t any registration keys and the reason why is because of the spray I used. At the time, I didn’t know there was a difference between the universal mold release spray by Smooth-On and Mann Ease Release 200. The difference is simple. The Mann Ease Release 200 can be used on FRESH silicone. MER is a mold release that stops silicone from bonding with silicone, because silicone sticks to nothing else BUT silicone. So essentially what happened was this, when I filled in the mold box to make the 2nd half of the mold the silicone filled in the registration keys and bonded to the 1st half of the mold. I was left with a small, rectangle of silicone with the clay keys stuck inside.

It wasn’t a problem, I just had to cut open the mold and get the keys out. But as you can see in the picture above, they came out well so there was no issue. Just a mini pain. Another change I made was to some keys I added a 2nd pour spout. I did this because for some of the keys the resin didn’t fill in each spot with the 1 pour spout.

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I didn’t take too many pictures of the in-between but what I did was I buffed out the brass in the keys so they were shiny and then used Rub ‘n Buff in Silver Leaf over the brass. The keys have a silvery-gold kind of look to them.

To finish off the keys, I made castings of the gems from the gem molds I made when I first started this mold making process.

I attached the gems to the heart keys (bottom) via gorilla glue and domed or poured resin into the little bowls in the other set of keys (top).

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After the glue dried and the resin cured, I “aged” a huge bobbin ring (ring to hold your bobbins for sewing) using brown alcohol inks. I used keyring tags for the loops on the keys to get them on the ring. And that was that.

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Current Cosplay Project for Otakon #1: Baron Samedi genderbend, Baroness Samedi/Lady Baron Samedi

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.

Example:

Yellow Pikachu Pikachu is officially yellow so this version of him is canon.

This Pikachu is blue and since it isn’t official (at least I don’t think it is), it is not canon.


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.

Kobato
This is the dress I did. (I’ll make a post about this later on)

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.

Lady Baron Samdi
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.

DoctorFacilier-tPatF
Doctor Facilier, Disney Version.
Baron Samedi
Baron Samedi, Haitian Loa of the Dead.

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

Lady Baron Samedi Tail Coat
Finished Product: a brocade tail coat (apologies, the collar is made from a shiny fabric lol)

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.

Tail coat and lining
I used pinstriped fabric I had for the lining (hello sew-in interfacing…evil!)
Sleeve ruffles
Sleeve ruffles are made from satin taffeta (same as the collar) with lace trim (I cheated on the lace, I used stitch witchery)

The Corset

CorsetThe 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 pieces
Corset pieces (2 of each) labeled for memory sake.

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!

Corset pieces 2
This corset required an interlining made from a really stiff fabric so I picked duck. Love the results, dislike the process.

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.

Corset making materials
Things you need in your corset making kit (bottom picture from left to right): Steel boning in various sizes based on the corset seams (plastic can be cut so just make sure you have enough), busk, awl (for poking holes), and an eyelet/grommet gun (omg lifesaver!)

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.

The Cane

Voodoo Cane

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’.

Cane top, woodfiller
The ‘cup’ component of the cane covered in wood filler

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.

Cane bottom, woodfiller
Bottom of the dowel with added wood plugs for length covered in wood filler.

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.

cane top 2
‘cup’ attached to the dowel with more will filler used to connect them and fill in gaps

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.

wood stain cane top

Cane stainThe stain dried pretty quickly and it took essentially one coat for the overall color but at least 3 separate paint jobs to get the whole cane since I painted it in parts.

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.

Cane clear coat
Twine detailing added, sealed with gorilla glue

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.

The Orb

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.

  Cutting Souls

Cut out souls

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.

Souls

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.

Resin test
Resin test with the marbles in 3 different shades of purple. A normal/true purple, a blue purple, and red purple.
Resin Test 2
Second and last resin test with just paper to see which purples I liked more and gave off the effect I was looking for, the “true” purple or blue purple.

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.

Orb prep

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.

marbles in orb

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.

Orb
Before the resin cured, I wanted to see if the bottom came out how I wanted it to. And it did!
Voodoo Cane
Finished orb and cane, modeled by my mom!

Skull Belt

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.

insulation skulls 2

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.

                         EVA skull EVA skull 2

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!

EVA Skulls Heat GunAfter 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.

EVA Skulls paint
Skull on the left: Layer of gesso Skull on the right: No gesso but avoided painting over the eyes and nose .

Finished EVA skullsI 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.

Skull BeltAnd 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.

Cheers,

AfroGeekChick

My name is AfroGeekChick and I started Blogging.

Hello! Not sure how you found this, but welcome! I’m AfroGeekChick and this is my blog.

I’ve wanted to start a blog since forever but didn’t know where to go or how to really start. A great friend of mine (Hi Jess!) started a blog a few days/weeks ago to talk about Huntington’s Disease or HD, and it really inspired me to turn to WordPress and start something.

Well first things first, what is my blog? My blog is a space for me to share my creativity as an avid crafter, seamstress (in training lol), makeup addict, cosplayer, and a black girl who loves her natural hair and wants to share my experiments with products and styles.

Do I claim to be an expert in any of the many hats I wear? No, not really. Every day I’m learning something new or a new method about something, and I want to share it with folks so others can learn as well.

I guess another reason is to help spread the word that black cosplayers or black anime fans, especially black women, exist and do great things. It never really dawned on me until I started cosplaying a few years ago how little you see black cosplayers shown or talked about in a positive light. If someone like me cosplays a black or “black” character everything is fine, but the moment we step outside the box and cosplay a “white” character, the critics come hard and fast. Regardless to how much time and effort was put into the costume or prop, down to the smallest details only known if you read the manga, the whole cosplay and cosplayer would get torn apart on cosplay ‘wall of shame’ sites or in a Reddit thread.

If it is talked about or shown in a positive light, it doesn’t last very long. The attention dies and focus goes back to a cosplayer who is more “accurate” in the sense of skin tone. Same can be applied to makeup and the black woman.

“You’re too dark for that shade.”

“Red lipstick doesn’t look good on a black chick.”

“Omg you’re wearing green lipstick? That’s so ghetto/ratchet!”

Not saying this happens to me or often, but the fact that it happens sucks and it needs to not be a thing.

The point is, do whatever feels right for you. If you want to cosplay as Sailor Venus and you’re a black girl, go for it! You want to wear a red lip and your skin is a very sexy deep chocolate-brown, why not? Do you! Be happy doing you and know that you’re not alone.

This blog. My Blog. Will be filled (hopefully anyway XD) with all my cosplay adventures, makeup finds and tips, random things I’m crafting or cooking, or anime and manga feelz of joy or doom. All not exclusive JUST to the black girl but to everyone who wants to read it. Any cosplayer, crafter, builder, anime lover, manga reader, etc who stumbled on my instagram and want to know how I made this or stitched that or if you too think the ending to Tokyo Ghoul season 2 was janky and you ran to the manga to figure out WTH happened! Or if you too just discovered Worbla recently and want to get down with the magic. You’re not alone, I start playing with it next month and I WILL talk about it here!

My blog is also here to empower and encourage the many black women I know and don’t know to do whatever weird, geeky, nerdy thing they want to do that is creative and crafty and fun. Don’t let the negativity of others stop you from being who you are or do what you what you love doing. There may not be many of us but we’re all here and in this together. Cannon or not, we’re here and we love to be here.

I am a cosplayer who is a black woman. I will talk about a new anime I watched or manga I read at work. New makeup products I’m a fan of or just bought and want to share. I will share easy tricks to know for sewing a corset or how much I hate doing sleeves and how harsh duck fabric is. I will be completely random and tell you why my day was either awesome or an epic fail because of a heat gun mishap (here’s hoping that will NEVER happen!!) I am AfroGeekChick, welcome to my blog.

Cheers.