The Robot Zork
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but I LOVE making costumes for the kid. So far, the biggest, most in-depth one was Furiosa to go with my Immortan Mama, which we took to a convention to properly walk it around.
But Halloween is always tricky. When she was old enough to choose herself (age three?), the first costume she ever asked for was Max from Where the Wild Things Are. So I found a pattern and lovingly worked on the costume for over a month or so (I had never made a full body jumpsuit before), and then the week before Halloween she said, “Well, maybe I just want to be a bee.” Um…no, kid. It’s too late–you’re Max. Hahah! And so she was Max, and she had fun, and all was right with the world. So I always ask her to REEEEALLY think about it. And then I give myself plenty of time to start. And once she decides, there’s no changing.
The next year, I used cardboard, paper clay, knee pads, and gold spray paint to turn her into her favorite droid, C-3PO, and it was WAY cool. Then she learned about Falcon from the X-men, and freaked when she saw the pre-made costume in the store…so I decided to compromise (because it was on sale), and let her wear it to a convention we were going to near the end of October (Even though I reeeeeeeally wanted her to wear the C-3PO I worked so hard on). But Halloween, she was all droid.
The following year, she was all about teenage Nightcrawler from the cartoon Xmen Evolution, and I threw together a little 3-fingered and 3-toed costume for her. I glued simple blue ears to some hair clips and clipped them into the wig. I used red duct tape over cardboard and flip-flops for the boots, and I just traced around her hand and sewed a simple shape for the 3-fingered gloves.
Last year, she was Pokemon-obsessed. Well, more like James from Team Rocket-obsessed, and dressed as him. I used her old karate uniform, her rain boots, and a purple wig, and sewed her a simple Meowth doll with a painted face. Simple, but so much fun!
This year, she’s been all about the Giant King. We’ve seen the movie a million times–it’s a foreign film dubbed in English, and she’s in love with the big green robot Zork (which she insists on calling “Zorp”).
I let her think about it for months, and she settled on him for Halloween. No matter what came and went, she still chose “Zorp.” She even finally saw all the Harry Potter movies, and said she wished she could dress up as Harry some time at a convention or something, but she still insisted on “Zorp,” and he is her Halloween pick no matter what. “Maybe we can save Harry Potter for my birthday,” she said. (Oooooh, YES.)
So I got started by raiding our cardboard from the recycling bin, and roughing out a chest piece shape with masking tape and hot glue. Looking back, I could’ve probably done without the masking tape and just used the hot glue, but–live and learn.
Then I built the head like a little hat, and sprayed it with green spray paint, and adding details in acrylic paint.
I painted up the details on the chest. The chest piece just slips over her head, and the headpiece has a bit of liner inside it to cushion her head a bit.
And finally, the arm pieces: The husband picked up one of those accordion-style dryer vent hoses, and I spray painted them green. I also had her try on the chest piece again (I’ve learned that it’s super HARD to get my kid to try on and size things!), and had to add some cardboard to the neck hole so it didn’t fall off her shoulders. The tricky part will be attaching the vent hose “sleeves” to the chest piece so they don’t just slide off her arms. I haven’t figured that part out yet (it will most likely involve a lot of duct tape), but I’ll figure it out in the next couple of days!
She’s so excited! So yeah, she’s probably spoiled with custom-made costumes, but I really do love making them, so it’s a lot of fun for me, too. I always think of it as a fun challenge to see what I can come up with to make it work. It’s a great way to keep the creativity flowing, and make something unique and fun! But really–whether you’ve got a store-bought or homemade costume, the whole point of the thing is FUN. It’s gotta be fun for everyone, right?
Myla asked me what I’d be, and I told her I’d probably just paint my face, robot-style. That’ll be fun. So keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram for a Halloween update. And have some good, clean, safe fun out there!!! Happy Halloween!
It all started when Myla asked me why I loved Furiosa.
I told her how I was a big fan of the older Mad Max movies…but that Mad Max: Fury Road was the first time I’d ever seen a character like Imperator Furiosa: she was a strong woman, but she had weaknesses. She was fierce, but she also had emotions. She was powerful, but also terrified. There aren’t many characters like her in movies, and it didn’t end with a boring old love story. I love her because despite her robotic arm, her character was HUMAN.
Myla asked if some day she could be Furiosa at a convention. (I’ve had artist booths at ComiCons in the past, so she’s familiar with that world.) I thought, “MAN that arm would be difficult, but I bet I could do it.” And you know I love a good challenge.
But when she asked ME to dress up too, I decided if we were going to do this as a team, we were gonna need to go all out….So there was only one character I could be that would go with hers…. the villain, and her nemesis, Immortan Joe.
I won’t go into character and plot descriptions too much, but I’ll just say I. LOVE. THIS. MOVIE. I love a good character, and no one (in my opinion) has done a better, more well-rounded female character than George Miller did with Furiosa.
Myla knows the basic idea of the story, but hasn’t seen the violent parts of the movie. She knows about the Green Place, and who Furiosa and Immortan are. I even told her the story of Thunderdome, and she’s fascinated by it all.
So I decided to jump in and give a go. There was a convention in Austin that I had a few months to prepare for. For those who don’t know, one of the best things about ComiCons is all the people doing cosplay, or dressing as their favorite characters. I’m always so impressed–people get quite creative with their costumes, and put so much work into them–most of them built completely by hand. I had seen it done many times, but I had never done it before. This would definitely be an adventure!
For Furiosa (above, left): the big build is the arm. And the belt buckle. And all the leather belts. For the Immortan (above, right): good GOLLY. The clear plastic chest piece. The medals. The mouth piece. The codpiece. The hair. It all seemed SO overwhelming. But as my husband always says: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (NOTE: no elephants were harmed in the making of this cosplay).
It was a long, tedious process, but lots of fun….So come with me, and I’ll walk you through the Wasteland…
First off, I am SO grateful to my friend Aletta (from TheFoxyToyBox). When I told her what I was doing, she said “Hey I’m spending the next couple of weeks thrift store shopping. Want me to find you things??” Umm..YES PLEASE!!! So lovely Aletta sent me a few boxes just FULL of things I could use: several leather belts, tools, buckles, hoses, wire, canteens, shirts, pants, you name it. To quote My Little Pony, friendship IS magic–she was a lifesaver.
So I started with the breathing apparatus. Immortan Joe has this giant breathing thing on his back. I browsed a lot of forums before I started that had tons of ideas of how to do this, (carved in foam, using a baby buggy topper, etc) and their main concern was for movie accuracy, but I didn’t take it THAT seriously. I wanted it pseudo-realistic, so it was fairly representative of the movie, without stressing too much about specifics. I went for the basic look, and build a sort of neck-pillow from a thick brown faux suede fabric I had, stuffed it with poly-fil stuffing, glued breathing filters from the hardware store to the end pieces and velcro’d it to my shirt, so it was detachable.
I took the easy way out on the mouthpiece, and purchased a blank used one on Amazon (don’t judge me). I have seen people build amazing ones from scratch, but I lack the patience and stamina for that. I painted it myself, though, and tried it on with the breathing bag. MWAHAHAHAHAHAH. I already felt awesomely evil.
Next, I turned my attention to Furiosa. Aletta had found these wonderful little brown leggings for us, and I drew on them with marker, to simulate the pattern of Furiosa’s pants. She sent TONS of leather belts, so I cut a few up to size Myla’s little body. The best find was a sort of foldup jewelry bag belt (or something?), which you can see at the top right below. I used that as the basis of Myla’s “corset” and laid the other belts below it.
I started working on the arm by using a kid’s long black dressy glove slipped over a paper towel roll as the base, and glued things to it from there. I took a trip to the hardware store, and just grabbed anything I thought would help: bits of siding, wire, little sockets and bolts, and a tiny wrench (which is one of the most identifiable things on her arm). When I got the basic structure (shown above) I put it aside and started working on the shoulder.
This black piece needed to be solid, and after reading a few forums, I went with Kydex plastic sheets. It was only about $10 for a 2-pack of 12″x 12″ sheets, and I only really used one sheet for everything. I took a heat gun and shaped it carefully, burning my fingers all the while, because I am clumsy. I used E600 glue to attach it to a little padded oval of muslin I sewed to fit under the main black part, and attached the little mower-pull (which I found in the weedeater section at the hardware store. A little bigger than what I wanted, but it worked just fine). I build a little velcro’d cuff under the main padded shoulderpiece, which you can see in the bottom right picture below.
Furiosa wears a belt with the flaming skull emblem of Immortan Joe, which I cut out of cardboard, painted with acrylic, and glued to a fabric backing, also gluing various sizes of jewelry chains hanging down the back of it (in the above photo, bottom left).
Next up: The arm. Since the Furiosa character is missing an arm and Myla is not, I did what most people do when they cosplay Furiosa: I just built a mechanical arm. I started with the base of a long little dressup black glove, and just added all kinds of nonsense to it. I used the black Kydex to mold the little black finger pieces by heating it up and forming it around my own fingers, while wearing a gardening glove and burned myself again, because I am a professional crafter. Haha! Once they cooled and I glued them to the black glove (being careful not to glue the fingers shut), I glued corrugated metal the outside of a few of them.
The lifesaver, though, was a trick I learned from one of my favorite craft/geek blogs, Epbot: METAL TAPE. After I got the basic shape down, I covered nearly everything in metal tape. It’s a bit thinner than aluminum foil, but softer, and with an adhesive side. And when you paint it, it has this great old metal look! I put it over the black Kydex, and scraped little “holes” in the index and pinkie fingers, to give that holey metal look (I’m pretty sure that’s a professional term). I cut the pin parts of off metal push tacks and glued them down to look like rivets. I wrapped things in wire and leather string. And I think it came out pretty cool….especially considering this is teensy enough to fit on my 7-year old…
Now I turned back to the Immortan again, which I had been putting off because I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about that clear plastic chestpiece. Instead of dealing with it right away, I started on some of his “badges,” most of which are smashed bottlecaps. I had purchased a mixed bag of decorative bottlecaps from Amazon, with coincidentally cool names like Pop’s Soda, Green Seltzer, Dad’s Ale, and Sunshine Soda, none of which are movie-accurate, but are sort of a funny nod to the character, if you know the movie. Now THAT was fun! If you want to get some aggression out and feel super awesome, get a hammer, and smash some bottlecaps flat. Woohoo! I also got a nail and hammered holes into four sides of each bottlecap so I could make them into this sort of chainmail.
The armpieces were a little easier to mold by laying a flat sheet of PETG plastic (around $8 for a 24″ square sheet on Amazon) over a curved rolling chair and heating it up, and I sealed the edges in moleskin tape. I wasn’t so serious about the emblems. I glued down the bottlecap “chainmail,” put a “Mr. Yuk” symbol on his arm (above) because of the poisoned air & water in the movie, and the bear with a star is my husband’s old unit patch from Alaska (just because). My leg chaps (not pictured here) had emblems from random cars (thanks to a trip to the junkyard and scoring several for free) instead of high-end v8 engines, which was funny. Because it’s supposed to be fun, guys.
So the most intimidating part, the clear chestpiece, would’ve been a cinch if I’d have had one of those industrial vacuuforms. But since I did not, I gathered my courage, went in my garage armed with my heat gun, and shaped some of the PETG clear plastic sheets over a mannequin form. I got a couple of pieces of the PETG in case I made mistakes, which was a good thing–since the first couple of times I tried it, it turned out all wobbly and wonky, and looked like I strapped a plastic takeout box to my chest.
The codpiece belt was that same fake suede painted black with a few nuts and bolts glued to it, and the “929, 240, and 49” emblems were cut out of cardboard, sealed in that metal tape, and aged with black acrylic paint.
Finally, after a couple of bad attempts at the chestpiece, I came up with something fairly usable. It was a little wonky, but sturdy. I made a lower back piece to go with it, and attached them to eachother with snap-tape on the sides so I could snap myself into it. Luckily, some of the wonky wrinkles looked like the fake-molded abs he has, so that was a happy coincidence, and I accentuated them with some thinned-down brown acrylic paint.
Aletta came through again with an old cellphone, which my husband broke apart for me, so I could use the keypad and inner panel. I used old necklace chains I had, and a spark plug and other things from the hardware store for his chest decorations. My favorite part was the medals, which I ordered inexpensively from random sellers on Etsy: there were medals of old Russian leaders, and awards for marching band and saxaphone, which made me laugh BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY. I cut up one of my husband’s old army shirts to go under it all (since, um, I’m a FEMALE), and it sort of looked like this now:
And for the last bit, I didn’t want to put all that work into this and use a cheap little thin halloween wig, so I found a $30 lacefront wig on Amazon that looked so much like the real deal, it was scary. I was going to ratt it up a bit, but when I got it out to give it a try, it didn’t really need much of anything done to it…
Whew! Are you tired yet? Well good, because that was pretty much it for the build.
So the best thing about this is that despite a few simple dress rehearsals, you really have NO idea what it’s all going to look like altogether til the day of. We got to the convention center and put ourselves together in the parking lot. I painted us both up, and wiped my painty-fingers on Myla’s shirt and arms and my pants, because we’re supposed to be all dirty from the Wasteland. I needed my husband to help me put everything on and snap me in, but once we did, it was pretty spectacular, you guys…
Myla’s Furiosa was pretty awesome once it was all together. We opted for NOT shaving her head (hahaha), and pulled her hair back instead (darn, those curls always escape, though!).
(And despite it being velcro’d to her shirt and supported by straps, her little shoulder piece kept sliding off the whole time. Kid-shoulders aren’t as supportive as grownup ones, I guess.)
My “Immortan Mama” (as Myla called me) was a sight–people cleared out of our way when we walked through the aisles, and we were asked to stop for photos a LOT (which is all part of the fun of it).
People go to conventions for different reasons. There’s usually an Artist Alley (where comic and other fine artists and crafters go) and a vendor section (full of t-shirts, comics, toys, and dolls). There are celebrities (actors from Walking Dead, Lord of the Rings, and Dr. Who, for example) to sign autographs and take photos. There are also panels and classes you can visit outside of the main convention area.
Any and all of that would have been very difficult to do in my Immortan costume, so we just walked the main convention floor, looking at tables and stopping for people to take our picture. We had a pose down, and people seemed pretty excited by it all. On the down side, no one could hear me or understand me, so it was a little awkward meeting Bob Camp (the co-creator of Ren & Stimpy), and trying to tell him my name so he could personalize a doodle. But really, that’s fine, because I got THIS cool pic:
He was a pretty energetic dude. I even sang along with him to the theme song of Log and the Muddy Mudskipper Show, but in my mask, it was pretty much a mumbled mess. I sounded like a Peanuts parent. Hahah!
We had fun walking around the convention, looking at cosplay, vendors, and displays, and talking to artists. One challenge was that I wear glasses and don’t have a contacts prescription, so I had to squint my way through. I kept my glasses in my pocket, and since I’m nearsighted, I could see general things, but they were mostly blurry unless I squinched up close. By the time we were done, my face was super sweaty and Myla was tired and hungry.
Since my peripheral vision and speech were limited, I didn’t get to get a good look at much, so the next day we decided to meet up with my friend (and awesome tattooer) Annie, and just enjoy the sights. We posed in front of Myla’s favorite Ninja Turtle, saw some excellent cosplay, and splurged on ALLLL sorts of goodies (Labyrinth Funko Pops, anyone!??!).
So if you’ve ever considered going to a ComicCon but thought it was maybe too weird, go ahead and give it a try! And if you’re not up for going through all the construction and costume building that I did, just wear a superhero t-shirt and call it a day, because that’s fun too. Just have a good time, and let your geek flag fly!
PS: Did you see my super cool luna moth necklace up there? It was from a vendor at the convention–Monica L. Knighton–she turned out to be one of my favorite booths there(once I could actually SEE)…. I got a few things the first day and had to go find her again the second day and get some more. 🙂 Go check her out!
This Is Halloween
It’s nearly Halloween!
If you’re like me, and you’re horrible at decorating for anything but Christmas (I mean if you put a bunch of stuff UP, you have to take it DOWN, right??), I thought I’d share with you a couple of my easier Halloween projects that don’t take a lot of work, or effort, or even skill for that matter, but projects that still make Halloween fun, and make you ALMOST feel pretty Martha-Stewarty. …Almost.
First up: PUMPKIN PAINTING
I don’t know if I’ve told you before, but Texas is HOT. I don’t know how people can carve up a pumpkin without it turning all moldy & mushy before Halloween night (that’d certainly keep any trick or treaters away, if that’s what you’re going for, I guess), but painting is just as fun and creative with just about HALF the mess!
Since my sister’s young adult-kid is visiting, we all picked pumpkins and painted them. Now, I’ve seen the amazing things people can do with pumpkin carving and pumpkin painting, and in my mind, I can do a super cool thing too, but when it just came down to it, I went with the “ain’t nobody got time f’that” approach, and just made a big goofy face. Myla did the two on the left (I believe it is a golduck and a psyduck from Pokemon–of course). Maylin did a skull, and mine’s the giant big goof-face. BOOM. Happy Halloween.
Next up: DECORATING COOKIES
If there’s one sort of cooking I CAN do, it’s baking….especially when most of it comes from a box, and all you have to do is add butter and milk. The fun part was just getting out all the sprinkles and eye candies and decorative icing-tools and just letting everyone go wild. BAM! You just Halloween’ed.
Alright, admittedly, this isn’t very spooky, but hey–it was fun (especially since Texas’ version of autumn is for the wind to blow a little so you might have to put on long sleeves). Granted, you could chalk something spookier than we did. I drew a cute decorative little moth, and then realized that wasn’t really very Halloweeny, so I tried to spook it up by adding (and labeling, in case you couldn’t identify it) a “GHOST BAT.” Myla did Slappy the flying squirrel (because: Animaniacs), and Maylin drew aliens and stuff. But yeah, spooky stuff would work, too.
And oh yeah: DECORATIONS.
This one I’m not so great at. I put a store-bought plastic sheet on the door that says “Happy Halloween,” and we got a giant spiderweb with a cute big black spider. That’s about it. Myla loved it. But that’s about all we did outside because did I mention you have to take DOWN the stuff at some point??
So my friend asked me what Myla’s going to be for Halloween, and it made me nostalgic for some of her older costumes. Like the time she was madly in love with C3PO, and the store costumes were lame, so I made her one, cosplay-style (I blogged about it here) which I think turned out SO COOL….and I threw together a quick sugar-skull Vader (because why have a Vader, when you can have a sugar-skull Vader?).
(Sorry for the watermark, but she’s my kid, and stuff has a way of going weird places online. Which reminds me, I think I’ll do a post on the whys and hows of watermarking soon…)
Last year, she was Nightcrawler (not that Jake Gyllenhaal movie about a serial killer), the teenage version from the cartoon X-men: Evolution, which she discovered at superhero summer camp. I made her little blue ears with hairclips in them (although she decided later that the wig was “too itchy.” I made 3-fingered gloves (she insisted on that, and thought it was so awesome). I made a tail to pin onto her black leotard, and a simple belt. The shoes were the hardest, as they were supposed to look like they had two toes (like one has, if one is a mutant).
Anyway, here’s what he looks like in the cartoon:
She liked him because he was funny and goofy and silly. And HE COULD TELEPORT. Too cool.
So THIS YEAR, she has decided to be James, from Pokemon’s Team Rocket. He cracks her up. She even knows the whole motto (say it with me: “To protect the world from devastation…to unite all peoples within our nation” –what, no takers? Just me? Hello?)
Here they are, from the cartoon (James is the one on the left):
See that little cat? That’s Meowth, the other part of their team. And to help better identify her as James, I whipped up a quick little Meowth doll for her to carry with her:
He was super simple, easy to whip up. Basically just a front-and-back pillow with appendages. I painted on everything. So if she carries him around, it might make a little more sense who she is….although I’m very aware of the fact that Pokemon was in its prime like 20 years ago. Still, you’d be surprised at how many of her school friends know EXACTLY what she’s talking about when she talks about Poke-stuff (which is quite often).
The funny thing is, she asked me if I’d be Jessie. Yes, Jessie from Team Rocket. Have you seen her? I’ll give you a minute while you scroll back up to look at that picture again. She’s the one on the right. Go ahead, I’ll wait….
…Okay, RIGHT?? Sorry, kid, I’m not exposing my midriff, I have NEVER worn a mini skirt, and my legs just don’t do…THAT. And the hair?? I have looked at what the cosplayers do, and again: ain’t nobody got time f’that.
BUT WAIT! I came up with a solution: I got a white t-shirt, painted a big R on it. I have black leggings, black boots, black gloves. As for the hair, I got a red Bettie Page-style ‘do, which will have to do. I’ll be “retro Jessie!”
In any case, it doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care about authenticity. She cares about fun. She doesn’t care if I make homemade cookies from scratch, or if I just add water. What she cares about is having fun together. She won’t remember that we never actually CARVED a pumpkin…she’ll remember that we had fun painting them. Kids don’t always know what they DON’T have unless you make them aware of your shortcomings. Just go with it! Have fun, and make some awesome memories. Even little efforts can make the long-lasting, forever-kind of memories.
And hey–if all else fails, and you haven’t got a costume, grab some eyeliner, and turn yourself into a sugar skull.
BOOM! You just Halloween’ed AGAIN! Easy peasy.
So get out there and have a good one! We’re doing a lot of our Halloween fun stuff this weekend, as I’ll be in Austin for Wizard World on the 30th and 31st. Myla will be there on Saturday. If you’re there, come see me–I’m giving out free stickers to kids on Saturday, so come & say hello!!