Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Excuses and New Year's Resolutions

It's been a long time since the last Pokoteng update.
As usual, regular life comes first and there hasn't been any progress on my end. I started making my shirt for one of my cosplays, but it didn't work out. Needless to say, I have to remake it. Oh well.
Kaye got me a sweet dressform for Christmas, so I predict it will be seeing a lot of use very soon.
The holidays take away a lot of my funds, so I have very little to spend on cosplay at the moment. Also, work is very busy as the holiday break is coming.
Plus, I've just been lazy. After a long day of work, I don't want to have to break out my sewing supplies and start up my project.
But after the holidays are over, I need to get my butt in gear. I have 6 costumes to put together and I need to be productive in the new year.

So here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2011:
  1. I will keep my room and work area fairly neat. When it's messy, I don't feel like doing anything and fall back in the same routine. Cleaning a few things every time beats cleaning a crap-load of stuff all at once.
  2. I will keep as closely to my cosplay schedule as humanly possible. I may have been over-ambitious with my schedule, but as long as I do a little every day or every other day, all costumes should be complete by Otakon 2011. And with some buffer time, there's time to go slowly and be careful. I work the best with nothing hanging over my head.
  3. I will physically work on no more than two costumes at a time. Even if i get bored with one kind of fabric. I have a habit of getting bored with the costume I'm currently working on and look into another costume. Then another after I get bored with that one. Then yet another one when I get bored with that one. And then I have three unfinished costumes and more work for myself. Which is no good, because I either forget where I am in the project or I don't like where I was going or I just find some reason to scrap it and have another go. This starts a new cycle of what's listed above and I'm left with piles of unfinished, unhemmed, unfitted non-costumes.
Well, those are the cosplay related resolutions. Let's hope I actually stick to them.

Things to look forward to in January 2011 (to give myself some accountability):
  • Super Sailor Pluto boots
  • Various Sailor Moon tiaras
  • Athena Glory's Orange Planet uniform
There, two costumes at a time.
Until next time!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Update from Akira

It's been a long time since I updated.
Between my last post and now, Goose bought me this super sweet new sewing machine. It's a Brother SE400 and does embroidery from templates on the machine.
My new baby
Then he gave me another surprise by giving me this (ridiculously expensive) software to make your own templates or from images. These are the patches that I'm using for one of my cosplays and the template was made by Goose. (He's such a software-phile. He loves to mess with stuff like this.)
Pretty patches! Easily resizeable too
I'm pretty pleased with the results. Besides the embroidery function, the sewing capabilities of this machine make my old machine look like a kid's toy. Auto reinforcing, auto cutting of threads, tons of different stitches, powerful machinery behind the shell; this machine makes sewing things super easy. (shameless plug)

It's just a matter of me buckling down and actually sewing. After I get into a routine, it should get easier to schedule my time for cosplay creation.

As Kaye said, she and I will also be working together to make sailor senshi costumes. I've recently bought from brass sheets from the local hardware store and will be trying my hand at that very soon. Pictures will soon follow.

Goose, Kaye and I have a pretty sizable list ahead of us, so there should be many updates to come along too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fabric and Shoes (Part II)

Pokoteng Cosplay returns from New York successfully! We obtained fabric for the main parts and bows for FIVE sailor senshi at around 150 dollars total (with excess amounts just in case).

And the fact that I had to go to New York to find 5.5 shoes in the right color and model is just a BIT ridiculous.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

FABRIC and shoes (Part I)

T-minus 3 days until Pokoteng (minus 2) does New York City! We're trekking to the second closest large city to us to go fabric hunting for the senshi costumes. Technically speaking, we can go to the closest one, but I've been wanting to go back to the city and wander around for a bit and do touristy things again.

Plus I know where the fashion district is and spotted at least four large stores around there. ZOMG fabric.

Hopefully we will succeed. The Joann's around us doesn't really have a great of a selection of serviceable fabric that has a heavy enough weight and a slight sheen in enough colors. And yes, I've looked at fabric.com already. My experiences with them was either hit-or-miss depending on the costumes. I have a bunch of fabric stockpiled for various costumes, but the one costume that I haven't nailed, either online or in person, is the one right below this post. Hurr. I think I may have finally found the right fabric for the overrobe (technically speaking, I've already found one, but the problem is that I didn't get enough yards *SHAKES FIST*).

The under robe is going to be an adventure for NYC, along with senshi gloves and senshi fabric (Pluto, Mars, Saturn and Moon.)

I just dished out about 60 dollars on 6 yards of 58" wide violet gabardine suiting, 4 yards of olive green cotton blend broad cloth and 4 yards of medium weight white cotton twill. The latter two are the lining and main fabric for Nave's Syaoran Nihon-esque (or is it closer to Shara?) outfit. Thank goodness we don't really need to line his pants with the same fabric.. I'm putting him to work with stamping the fabric with the necessary designs. Oy.

Another item on the list at DSW is a pair of red high heeled pumps. I should get these so I can color match the red of my sailor collar and skirt when we wander to the City. There are two or three pairs that could possibly work.. I just need to test walk and break them in. Oh, oh! A pair of tan character shoes too ._. Akira mentioned a boot cover tutorial for her Pluto costume and how they slip on like socks. This is a brilliant Idea, now that I think about it, especially for women who have HUGE issues finding knee high boots that are remotely serviceable for a costume.

Buying boots and modifying them for every costume you make can get pricey, especially if you have a fondness for costumes like that. And let's face it: a pair of comfortable long boots gets expensive. And fashion designers don't go "HURRR let's keep the cosplayers in mind!" I have dancer calves from so many years en pointe, so most of the boots in my size? Yeah, they don't fit. Either the ankle is too baggy, or I can't even get the zipper 3/4 of the ways up.

So boot covers, over character shoes. This is a good solution. Please insert a sagely nod here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomoyo Deconstruction

So I finally started poking at the behemoth of a head dress.

I'm not kidding when I use the word behemoth. I'm about 5'1" (if I'm lucky), which means that this head dress is between 2 feet to 3 feet wide. I'll have a better estimate of how wide it is once I figure out what everything looks like based on proportions and how it looks on me (edit: it's going to be just under two feet wide). In order to save sculpy and sanity, I'm using manila folders to measure and gauge how big things should be by sketching, cutting, taping, staring at a mirror critically, adjust or keep and move on.

So far, I have three attempts on the middle piece (two on the spikes alone) and working on attempt number two of the "bow."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Otakon 2011: Kaye displays her masochism.

I've been accused of being extremely detail oriented. Very detail oriented.

It's an issue, sometimes. This means that I end up being more than slightly masochistic when it comes to picking and choosing costumes. The past few days has just been me staring at the costumes that I'm going to be tackling and plotting a plan of attack. Akira and I are going to be attacking the sailor senshi costume together and divided the work up (she's doing the collars, shoulder piping, glove piping, her boots and the bases of the tiaras, I'm doing the skirts, the skirt piping, the bows and the jewelry/gems. I'm attacking the wigs for myself and Kitaku and possibly helping Akira with hers).

This leaves one elaborate costume for myself, one elaborate costume for Nave, one frilly costume for Kitaku and two easy costumes that are pretty much just copies (plus wigs). Possibly another less elaborate one that I can wear once the crazy one is done with the judging and the photos. I have less than a year.

My costumes.

One of the main ones is the chapter image for chapter 10 of Tsubasa. It's the crazy head dress, with the crazy embroidery. I'm also the kind of person who would add on personal touches.

This means that there will be hand embroidery (I need a better embroidery stand), there will be beading on the edging of the symbol on the tabards and the edging of the overrobe, and there will be a crazy petticoat and train.

The headdress is going to be at least 2 feet across (it may be a tad bit more, depending on how the dangles have to be spaced). Part of the reason why Nave's "elaborate" costume is the white Syaoran costume on the cover of book 4 is so that way he can herd me around people so I don't poke their eyes out or their throat.

So far, all I've done is plot out the craziness that's the head dress, gathered the materials for the sculpts and looked rather mournfully at the purple fabric I have for my overrobe. I don't think I have enough.

Shopping trip ahoy.

Next Year Cosplay

With Otakon 2010 over, I'm feeling a little more optimistic about my costumes for next year. I want to be able to change on different days because wearing one costume was fun, but it got tiresome to hear all the Portal memes over and over again. (One can only hear "The cake is a lie" so many times before going insane.)
I've already changed what I eat in hopes to lose extra weight and have already lost a couple inches from my waist.
For next year, I want to make three costumes for myself and two (so far) for Goose.
I'm working on one of them with Kaye, so right now I'm gathering materials for one I am working on alone.
Oooooh, fabric!

The fabric was all washed last night, thanks to Goose. Tonight will be pattern cutting and fabric cutting. I still need to fix my sewing machine from my last cosplay :x
If you can guess what these will become, good for you. I'll post again with more progress photos after some pieces gets sewn together.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I learned about resin casting...

For Nave's Kilik costume, I learned a few things about resin casting.

Amethyst Angel's Casting Guide
is a really great run down of what materials she used and the advantages/disadvantages of each. The ladies of HCC have also compiled this list of tutorials and, more specifically, a guide on casting with polyester resin.

I used polyurethane resin and silicon mold making compound from Micro-mark's casting starter kit. It's a great deal, and it really does have everything that you need to make a few molds. To finish the molds though, I ended up using about two and a half bottles of each compound. Yeesh.

Also, to preface: I'm a chemist. I'm used to handling dangerous chemicals at work. While resin casting is actually fairly simple, pleeeeease wear gloves of some sort.

- The initial sculpt is the most important part, and silicon takes the texture of whatever you pour it on. After I got everything done, I realized that I really should have taken extra time to smooth things out and get rid of the finger prints. Woops.

- Display size foam core boards and hot glue = awesome for making the mold boxes if you don't have access to oil based clay. They can be re-usable to an extent if you make smaller molds in the future and you're careful about tearing the mold box apart.

- If you have multiple casts, give yourself more than two days to do it ._. I rushed the last ring and it was a bit squishy in comparison to the rest and took longer to set because I wasn't careful about the measurements.

- Red Solo cups and plastic utensils? AWESOME FOR MIXING EVERYTHING.

- Careful about the undercuts on your sculpt... The phoenix heads for the knee guards had a pretty deep undercut and it was a rather large pain in the rear to pull the sculpt and the casts from the mold. Trust me, it wasn't fun.

- Do everything in stages rather than seeing one thing through all of the way (i.e. finish all of the sculpts, make all of the mold boxes, do all of the pours). I generally do my work that way anyways, but if you prepare all of the molds for the pour all at once and you accidentally mix too much molding compound for one of the molds, you can pour it into another one without any worries because...

- Silicon sticks to itself very well. I cut up my first ring mold and shoved it into the phoenix mold to bolster the amount of molding compound I had left. I will most likely be destroying these molds if I have to do a large cast in the future.

Introduction 2.0

Kaye, here!

What Akira neglected to mention was that I actually didn't get my own sewing machine until 2009 as a graduation present for myself >> I've been cosplaying since 1999, but I've really only been making my own costumes in the past four years or so. There are still a lot of techniques and methods that I need to learn, and hopefully this will be a good documentation of what works and what doesn't.

My past costumes include Kodoma from Ah! Megamisama (Katsucon 2000), Finn Fish from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne (2000), Hawkeye from Full Metal Alchemist (2005), Twilight Princess's Zelda (2007), Tifa Lockheart from Advent Children (2006 to present), Soifon from Bleach (2009) and Xianghua of Soul Calibur II (2010).

In my spare time, I knit, make jewelry (commission-able!), read a lot of novels and work in a lab. I'm also the resident caffeine junkie and owner of a fluffy white cat who is the bane of a black costume's existence.

We also have two satellite members who also attended Otakon with us just last weekend, and they will also be attending Otakon 2011 with us. Nave cosplayed with us for the first time as Kilik (SCIII), and Kitaku is also a newbie cosplayer with St. Tail (St. Tail), Aerith (FFVII: Advent Children) and Misa (Death Note) under her belt.

2011's costuming will be an ambitious year for us. I hope to enter into my first costume contest next Otakon with Tomoyo-hime of Tsubasa.. now I just need to check the rules to see if I qualify as a novice or a journeyman >>


Well, here's my attempt at a working cosplay blog. Kaye, Goose and I make up Pokoteng Cosplay, named after President Aria Pokoteng from one of my favorite anime series, Aria.

Goose and I have attended Anime Boston 2008 and Otakon 2010, which was just this past weekend.
Otakon 2010 was our first attempt at real cosplay ("real cosplay" being not something we pull out of our closets that vaguely resemble characters) as Chell from Portal and obscure Aperture Scientist Bob complete with ASHPD and Curiosity Core. Unfortunately, we didn't keep a very good documentation of our prop and clothing construction.

So this time, in hopes of Otakon 2011, we will be keeping track of our progress through our several costumes. This is a way for us to look back at what we've done right, what we've done wrong and a way to motivate ourselves if we fool ourselves into thinking that someone out there is watching us.

Kaye is a veteran Otakon cosplayer and a good friend of ours who has sort of mentored us in the construction phase. She's an awesome seamstress and prop maker as you will see in posts to come.
This Otakon, she was Xianghua and made two other costumes for other people.

With that said, welcome to Pokoteng Cosplay and please keep watching for updates!