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08 September 2007 @ 01:46 am
Orlouge - wrap-up  
This post is designed to be a final wrap-up for the Orlouge project. It will have some repetition for those of you who've been reading the journal, but the point is sort of to archive the costume and process in one post. I am still hoping to have a better photoshoot soon with this costume, on a day when it's not just rained however many inches. (I couldn't go outside, and my house ≠ Orlouge's castle.)

From Comic-con Masquerade: Video of walk-on, for which I won an Honorable Mention for Textile Craftsmanship. I've never competed alone in a masquerade before and likely have not had an audience of 6,000 (not counting simulcast rooms) when competing in groups either. I did not talk about it much because the experience was so intense, but in hindsight I think I should feel especially honored to have won a craftsmanship award given that I was never craftsmanship judged backstage.

Reposting the reference for . . . reference

Photos graciously taken by Saeru and Ensui in my very un-castle-y foyer

CG of Orlouge by systema's roommate

Also, for reference:
Convention report
Photos from San Diego Comic-Con exhibit hall and panels

Dressform photos for the purposes of documenting the costume. (click for large)

The final armor was made in about three days immediately before the convention, after the resin process failed.
Relevant posts: 25 March: Costume breakdown brainstorming
21 April: Paper patterns and Fuzzforming
23 April: Early resin layers, on the resin process
02 July: Progress armor, on drilling holes
06 July: Finished lower section, progress resin
22 July: Disaster with the resin
Materials: The green sections are made with Sintra, a cheap thermoplastic usually used for sign making. I got mine from a sign making store who was willing to place a materials order for me. I got it for a totally different project which it proved unsuitable for - lucky for me I had it in the basement or I don't know what I'd have done! Sintra can be bent with a heat gun, but will only curve in one direction at a time. It was painted with metallic green and then accented with gold. On its own, the Sintra is quite thin and flimsy looking; I backed it with black felt and then covered the felt with pleather (because felt looks like felt). I had a problem with gaps which had to be filled with hot glue - so in the end the whole edge was "caulked" with hot glue and then hand-painted black. The multicolored part which goes over the shoulders and around the neck is not based on the art since if it was there, it would not show under Orlouge's hair; but something had to hold the armor up. It's made of Fuzzform with Wonderflex reinforcement where it attaches to the rest of the armor, covered with leather, and backed with felt to prevent damage to the garment or me (hardened Fuzzform is slightly scratchy).
Attachment: The armor goes together with Chicago screws (also known as self-binding posts); eight in total. Thanks to saeru for confirming that the way to keep pieces from rotating is to attach them at two points. The armor then attaches to the jacket with snaps; two in the back on the narrow pieces, and a bunch in front along the curving lowermost bit.

The beading sections are something that wound up getting finished at the convention. One apparently got lost and had to be remade before I took photos here.
Beads: All are glass (plus some freshwater pearls), strung on 18-strand beading wire. I don't like plastic beads; I think they often look cheesy. I was able to afford using all glass (depending on type, they can be four times as expensive) by buying most of the beads on clearance and also using ones I'd been stockpiling (also clearance). The strings are randomized; segments of them are patterns sort of like .o.0o=o0.o. but they are connected to each other by random sections so you can't tell where patterns begin and end.
Attachment: I wanted the bead strings to be removable to protect them in transit, so they attach to the armor with magnets. I previously tried using magnetic ball clasps on Yuuko (xxxHOLiC), for her choker. It didn't work well for that application, but it would have worked fine for this - had the brand of magnets I found not been a little too weak to consistently support the weight. They hold unless jarred, which was partly the idea - I was concerned about the strings snagging on things in wearing and causing damage, so I wanted them to be "breakaway" (without really breaking). The downside is, when they've all been removed, it can be a little hard to tell what goes where!

Relevant Posts: 22 March: Costume breakdown
07 April: Silk dye test
11 April: Silk dye complete process
16 July: Completed train/skirt photos, detail on white skirt

The train has been covered in depth before so I will not go into it much here. Ironically, it was one of the pieces I was most worried about, but it was also one of the only ones that had no disasters.
Materials: Started with blank white silk yardage, cut and sewed back seam, did the silk painting, did hems, added sequins/beads, added ball chain to the hem to get the right trailing effect.
Attachment: The train and white skirt are attached to the same waistband, made from double-fold white bias tape, which closes with a snap. I usually prefer to have things function like "real", separate garments, but there were too many layers here to be anal about that.

White underskirt
Materials: Skirt was remade multiple times; including more than one recut, not sure how many " rip and re-sew" jobs. Fabric is some kind of white rayon, I didn't want to leave it plain so I made a stencil of a rose design and painted it with a pearlescent medium, then added sequins and beads.
Attachment: Same as above. The underskirt is, amazingly!, under the train. XD

Relevant posts: 25 March: Breakdown, wireforms for ram horns
03 April: Ram horns early layers, base headpiece sections
07 April: Progression of horns, other pieces
07 April: Wig dyeing complete process
21 April: Fuzzform headpiece sections
02 July: Priming resin pieces, back section
06 July: Final stages of horn painting, completion

The headpiece has a lot of elements: it's 15 pieces plus the flowers.
Materials: Ram horns and long horns - Aluminum wire, paper mache, Magic Smooth and Magic sculpt. Wing sections and petal section - Fuzzform base with Magic Smooth resin. Back section and black piece - Wonderflex with hot glue designs and Mod Podge to seal. Hair - Tina Punky wig with custom dye job and a foam and fabric base. Flowers - Some custom painted, others have sequin and bead accents.
Attachment: Entire headpiece sits on base wig like a hat using a plastic "helmet"-like base. Everything is attached to that base (with multiple types of glues) with the exception of the long horns, which had to be made removable for transit, and the silver backpiece and beading, which attaches with magnets. The flowers are technically removable since they are on barrettes.

|+| JACKET |+|
Relevant posts: 22 March: Costume breakdown
27 March: Trim test
21 April: Cutting muslin
06 May: Jacket sewing and trimming, tassel dyeing
Materials/Notes: Done in heavy, mostly matte "Ultra Satin" (actually remnant from Yuuko of xxxHOLiC), lined with mystery rayon. Two types of gold trimming, applied partly by machine and partly by hand. Tassels were made from scratch, twice, due to dissatisfaction with the dye job the first time.

|+| TUNIC |+|
Relveant posts: 22 March: Costume breakdown
06 May: Tunic designs
02 July: Completion
Materials/Notes: Decent quality satin (remnant from "Frontiers" AYA of Psycho le Cemu), lined in cotton muslin, design in metallic silver trim applied entirely by hand. Zips up the back.

Relevant posts: 22 April: Breakdown
16 July: Cumberbund armor, before alteration
Materials: Black part made made from a commercial pattern with some alterations, a lightweight upholstery fabric with an interesting suede-like pattern, polyester boning. "Armor" section is stiffened Fuzzform with craft foam for dimension, leather over top. Leather already had a paint effect on it, which I enhanced with silver and purple fabric paint.
Attachment: Black part laces up the back; I made the "armor" section removable with velcro to make it easier to transport.

|+| PANTS |+|
Stretch velvet leggings, elastic waistband, very basic and easy, all serged. First time doing a serged-on waistband (works great). Used a commercial pattern that didn't need alteration (Kwik-sew).

|+| BOOTS |+|
Relevant posts: 25 March: Breakdown, Wonderflex forming
25 March: Wonderflex finishing tests
03 April: Unpainted boot caps
07 April: Boot top petal pieces cut, primed boot caps
21 April: Base of boot tops, failed original paint job on boot caps
23 April: finished boot cover front
02 July: boot caps finished

Boot tops
Materials: Fronts are Wonderflex base, PVC on the front and upholstery vinyl on the back, partial Fuzzform section between the bottom and petal sections, with trims, brass, and leather (used like five types of glue on different parts). Backs are Fuzzform and vinyl. I was never happy with these and I'm still not. Honestly, they need to be remade; it took a lot of work to try and make the "crab walk" they required look threatening. It's just one of those things that looks cool in art but doesn't work well in reality - and I probably couldn't have known in advance.
Atttachment: Front velcros to back around leg. Worked great in tests, not so well in practice.

Boot caps
Materials: Wonderflex base with hot glue detailing and Mod Podge to seal; plastic gems.
Attachment: Elastic underneath the shoe.

|+| BASE WIG |+|
Sadly I took no photos of this part of the process, which included duct-taping a wighead on a broom handle to my bathtub. I used the same pseudo silk dye I used on the headpiece wig, but of course it took much longer since the other wig was about 60" long. Four different color mixes were applied with a paintbrush. The result is only slightly visible in person, but it would be obvious next to a solid-color wig. The wig was vinegar-set and washed and no dye came off on the costume.

Relevant posts: 18 June: nails complete process
. . . yes the fingernails get their own section. I didn't get to wear them for Comic-con thanks to nail glue that had glued itself shut, in spite of a valiant and clever attempt with some double-sided tape by resin_ga_miteru. For the photoshoot, I wound up putting them on with rubber cement. If anyone has a recommendation for a GOOD nail glue or alternative, please holler as I will appreciate it for the future. Nails are a dollar-store find, filed into the proper shape and painted.

It's possible you remember me discussing making kanzashi for the headpiece - certain faintly drawn bits in one of the reference artworks. (Kanzashi are the hair decorations Japanese women wear with kimono, the term seemed appropriate.) I had already ordered some pheasant feathers I thought I might use on the headpiece, and these wound up substituting. Why? I spent a lot of time on the designs for the kanzashi because I didn't want to leave them plain, and had planned to brass-etch them. The new transfer technique I was trying, after three efforts, had to be abandoned - and because the armor crisis hit, they got dropped. Since I never posted this, and will be covering brass etching again in the future for the Steampunk thing I'm working on . . . this was using a method wherein you print your design (reversed) onto glossy photo paper and then iron it on to your brass. As you can see, it didn't transfer very well at all.

And now, it's time for the wrap-up, grade-school style.

|+| What Did We Learn? |+|
We'll start with practical things.
|+| Sometimes it really IS the materials. If I had not spent quite so much time assuming that I was an underachiever with sandpaper, I might have realized that I had defective Magic Smooth.
|+| There's no point being snobby about techniques. Not always - but sometimes - cardboard is better than fiberglass.
|+| Nevertheless I am still toast when it comes to upcoming costumes and how I'm making certain parts. But, I'm thinking that finding out how to do things is 99% finding out what DOESN'T work, which sometimes includes things failing in spectacular fashion. Fortunately, the only real casualties were an already worn-out bamboo rug (silk dye), a small patch of carpeting (heat gun), and a large quantity of my sanity.
|+| I'm not underestimating, however, intangible gains (not as intangible as the stuff below), like the kind of new ideas and willingness to try them that come from having the chance to experiment and learn and hopefully have some kind of results. I'm about to talk about another reason why it's important to not just plan, but basically, there is not nearly enough information out there no matter where you look about doing weird things. If you're not making the same thing several million people are, you're going to have to go WAY outside the box with materials and techniques. And the only way that's going to happen is by tracking the stuff down and finding out what it does. Glues do not say on the back "does not work on brass". It's usually impossible even after the fact to figure out the one wild card about how you did something that caused it to NOT work how it did for someone else. The only way you're going to find out what works for you is the hard way (though hopefully not the hard way that involves things catching on fire and/or melting).

|+| Perfect plans don't exist in reality. Or, at any rate, reality isn't highly tolerant of them. See also: Murphy's Law. No matter how much time you have, or how carefully you plan, Stuff Happens.
|+| Always test-run. I'd really hoped this would be my shot at finishing early and having a chance to put on the *entire* costume and tweak, but it wasn't. See above.
|+| Sometimes it's not your fault. See the first one again. I think the biggest realization one has to come to is that there may not be any way to "get it right". You can plan as much as you want, be as careful as you want, leave as much extra time as you want - but it may be impossible to compensate for random things that are totally out of your control. Insurance doesn't cover acts of God; how can you?

Of course the last one is what I really covered ages ago in my somewhat controversial rant article for Booty Project on cosplay. Perfect does not exist in reality. The gospel of Walgreens is true: We really do not live anywhere near Perfect. Say you're perfect - the universe will probably go, sorry, we have to compensate for that, and give you a random, out of the blue lightning bolt of smackdown. The trick is - realizing that's okay. It's not your fault. If you let it destroy your world, though, then it IS your fault. The universe doesn't really have it in for you; it's just that Stuff Happens. I admit to having "a moment" at Comic-con when, on two hours' sleep and not enough food, I suddenly had to realize that after four months of working my ass off nonstop, I was NOT IN CONTROL. It's hard to explain what the effect of that is - or the context that I really did *nothing* else in the time period I was working on Orlouge.

So basically . . . what happens in reality generally has very little to do with what you think and plan and predict will happen. If you can roll with that, you learn a lot more and accomplish a lot more. (Maybe the theme song here should be Oasis' "Roll With It".) Big projects are scary - starting them maybe not nearly so much as finishing, and finishing maybe not so much as coming to terms with the results and moving forward with just the best parts of the experience. So here's to perfecting fine arts that can never really be perfected, because hopefully a step in the right direction is more than we think it is.(What's the quote about aiming for the stars because even if you fail you'll still go higher than you thought possible?)
Current Music: Minnesota - The Push Stars
Glarawen: ParnsAngelbyBeverly!parnsangel on September 9th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll still land among stars."

Something like that. I love this journal post! Such a treasure trove of information. Saved to memories so if I ever get to do something amazing this will help. Thank you :D
cosplaysagacosplaysaga on September 10th, 2007 07:06 am (UTC)
Yeah I think that's closer than mine XD

You're welcome e_e
(Deleted comment)
isisishtarisisishtar on January 13th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Giving critique is almost silly after seeing this MARVELOUS work... but she is right, ity's almst a shame that you don't go BAZOOM wit hthe make-up... but then again.. maybe you did on stage?! ^_^

I absolutely love this, and you're my hero! ^_^;
cosplaysagacosplaysaga on May 22nd, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
Well I took the advice to heart though, I tried harder on the makeup when I did this for ACen, I think I did better. I was nervous making my friends wait to take my photo while I got in costume so I rushed on the makeup. I don't wear makeup really in normal life so I think I'm not sure how to push it @_@ On stage actually I had a professional do it and I didn't really like what they did at all >_> (They got it on my costume too)
cosplaysagacosplaysaga on May 22nd, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
Thank you ^^

I tried harder on the makeup e_e I will try harder again when I take more photos~
margaret: Asellus// Mystic charmmargyydoodle on April 2nd, 2008 07:46 am (UTC)
Hi! I commented on DA asking if I could be one of your princesses? ;D

Anyways, this cosplay came out SO gorgeous! Especially the hair ♥ Im a HUGE SF fan (obsessed with Mystics & Asellus) I started a SF comm here awhile back saga_series and I know everyone there would love to see this ♥
cosplaysagacosplaysaga on May 22nd, 2008 05:59 am (UTC)
Hi, I will definitely post there as soon as I have better pics >_o I really want to get some veeeeerrrryyy soon. If I have to I'll set up a tripod and use a timer x.x
margaret: Asellus// And then she smiledmargyydoodle on June 9th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)