#Mothra #Cosplay Day 5 Holding Steady on #Budget

Tracing the pattern on the backside of the wing.

Setting up for Cosplay Sunday

Setting up for Cosplay Sunday

Thanks to the ghosts of science projects past the Mothra cosplay is holding steady at around $70.00 for supplies and materials. Black fabric paint is being shared with a Midna cosplay as well as, yes, a Godzilla cosplay that are also being made by others in the household. One of the real tricks to keeping a budget reasonable is to not be afraid to repurpose things. Have an old pillow you’re going to throw out? That synthetic stuffing would stuff a tail or other cosplay piece. We found an old broken office chair that someone was throwing away and with their permission we took the leather upholstery off of it and now we have a couple of nice sized pieces of leather to use on some cosplay.

Finishing tape wrapped wing extender with wrist loop.

Finishing tape wrapped wing extender with wrist loop.

This week I started by making the sheath for one of the wing extenders I constructed last week. Save your fabric scraps, they’re perfect for something like this. It took me quite a while to get the extender into the sheath because I made it so tight. Upon modeling it I discovered that it was not quite rigid enough to support the end of the wing. This was disappointing as I had scrounged the 12 gauge wire specifically for that purpose and bought finishing tape to wrap it with. Unwilling to have floppy wings I went rummaging through the garage as well as the shelves of craft left-overs from previous projects. I found two small dowel rods (They run around $0.48 each if you have to buy them) that hadn’t been used on a science project a few years ago.
Leftover fabric for sheathing.

Leftover fabric for sheathing.

I made the sheathing a bit tight, I didn’t want the extender to move a lot. Next time I’ll leave more room for the corner. It was tough to thread the extender through the sheathing. The dowel only just barely fit but I think I like it. It’ll support the leading edge of the wing almost all the way along my arm.

I’m learning as I go on this cosplay. If I had to do it over I would put all of the pieces together before I started painting. The multiple layers of fabric make it difficult, if not impossible, to see enough of the pattern to trace it onto the backside of the wing in places.

Tracing the pattern on the backside of the wing.

Tracing the pattern on the backside of the wing.

With that in mind I’ve begun to assemble as much of the wings as I can before I continue painting. Since I’m putting layers of fabric on the wing in spots I’m tracing the outlines of the pattern as I go to cut down on copying errors. Most of my time today, after attaching the extender sheathing to the left wing was spent attaching the inner portion of the sleeve to the right wing, hemming it and sewing the furry textured material onto the inside edge of the wing. With the remaining time I had today I copied the pattern to the inside area of the right wing.

While I would have liked to get so much farther today I had too many other things to do to really devote a lot of time to working on the cosplay. I’m learning a lot and getting a bit done every Sunday and I’m having a lot of fun with it too.

Although it would add to the price of the finished project, I’m seriously considering buying the Mothra theme song from iTunes so I can have it play as part of the cosplay when I’m at a con. Or do you think, gentle reader, that would be over the top?

Jeremy Webster of F5 Reviews In The Flesh for The Geek Girl Project

Check out this review of my novel by Jeremy Webster, who reviews movies for F5 and books for The Geek Girl Project. Here’s an excerpt:

Much the way Stephen King’s The Gunslinger told a dark fantasy tale by dressing it up in spaghetti western characters, costumes, and settings, much of Zolnoski’s science fiction debut comes in a shell of adventure fantasy, particularly in early, action-heavy setpieces involving a long, arduous escape from enemy armies and pursuing predators dense in a seemingly endless forest region, and late in as the novel’s protagonists set to sea in a steampunk-style sailing vessel to contend with sea monsters on their way to their fabled destination.

But to assume the work to rest on something as mundane as rescuing the girl or saving the world from the latest watered down wannabe Sauron or Morgoth is not what Zolnoski had in mind. A reader and fan of classics of the science fiction genre for most of her life, Zolnoski carefully weaves in plot elements involving issues such as sociology, relative ethicality and morality, ecological stewardship, and even innate species memory.

As Zolnoski approaches the novel’s climax and conclusion, the work begins to take on thematic elements of it being merely a tiny, but crucial, moment in many such moments leading to these events throughout history, many of which were either pre-ordained to occur or optimized on a statistical plausibility of occurring. Such is the sort of storytelling arc conceptualization we saw with Asimov’s Seldon crisis concept throughout his Foundation series, and the millennia-long genetic breeding programs eventually resulting in Paul Atriedes in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Zolnoski works with the conceptual brain food of the classics, while delivering it in a package of epic fantasy adventure.

Zolnoski’s prose is largely fluid and easily accessible and her characters are interesting and relatable. They tend to be somewhat archetypal of their various specialties in interest in skill, but this is hardly a detraction to the proceedings as the novel itself justifies why they function in this way. A strange way to relate this notion, I know, but readers will know exactly what I mean when they experience the novel themselves.

Check out the whole review at The Geek Girl Project.

Also the novel is available through iTunes as well as Amazon. Best way to find it on iTunes is to type in: Zolnoski.

#Mothra #Cosplay Still Under $100.00.

Layout

Layout

Layout

After finishing up my first ever cosplay this last March, a gorgeous steampunk cosplay, I decided, for no discernible reason, to go big and make a Mothra cosplay. Almost every Mothra costume I’ve seen online (since I’ve never actually seen one at a con) has a huge full mask head that’s bulky and looks like it’d be difficult to wear all day at a con. I worked out a solution that I’m pleased with. Then there are the wings. Lots of people make a variety of wings for a variety of cosplay and they are all gorgeous.

Secondary (hind) wing

Secondary (hind) wing

Since I’ve been making this whole thing up as I go along I’ve tried to give some thought to how things will work, how they should be put together and what will work best for construction. I decided this weekend that it would be better to assemble the whole wing before I continue with any painting so that the patterns match on all of the pieces. The way I’ve been working so far would lead to painting each piece separately and then sewing them together and hoping that I get everything to match up. While this method could work, it would take meticulous measurements and fitting up of each piece during final assembly and, knowing myself as I do, I knew there would be flaws if I went that route.
Attached hind wing

Attached hind wing

To that end I got to work on the secondary, or hind, wings. These were difficult to sketch out and I’m glad I’m using tailor’s chalk to rough out the outlines for the major pieces. I also used the remnants of my fabric to make the sleeves that will make the wings wearable. I did not stop working on it when I should have and as a result painted the pattern on the secondary wing piece in the wrong orientation. Having a week to think this problem through I came up with a low cost solution that looks like it will work. I’ve painted over the mistake with white paint. This hides the error and gives me a fresh start with on the pattern without having to take apart the secondary wing piece.

Correcting a mistake.

Correcting a mistake.

Wing extensions

Wing extensions

After much consideration I googled how to make the leading edge of the wings rigid enough to extend without immediately folding. The best technical advice I found involved wrapping 12 gauge wire in finishing tape with hot glue and inserting it into a sheath in the location desired. Since I actually had 12 gauge wire in the assortment of tools and things in the garage that we inherited long ago I was only out a couple packages of finishing tape @ 3.99 each. This puts me at around $20.00 over my initial desired budget of $50.00. While this makes the costume a bit more expensive than I had hoped, it’s still well under the $100.00 mark.

I had planned from the beginning to have a wrist wrap that would attach to some kind of rigid agent affixed to the leading edge of the primary wing sections that I could grab and hold out for pictures and when I wanted to display my Mothra wings. Sewing a type of open sleeve into the shoulder would take care of the length of the wings over my arms and leave my hands free for getting autographs or purchasing items while at the con.

Sleeve pattern.

Sleeve pattern.

This weekend I spent around 5 hours working on the costume. Next weekend I will finish adding the faux fur to the inner portion of the wings and attach the wire wing extenders. If I have time I will continue painting.

Casey Kasem Passed Away June 15th

Mark from Gatchaman Action Figure

Mark from Gatchaman Action Figure

Mark from Gatchaman Action Figure

Many people have written about Casey Kasem’s passing. They have written about his career, his illness later in life and the sad feud that exists between his remaining loved ones. I’ve read blogs about his voice acting in Scooby Doo and how he used that humble cartoon to speak about his own values to a generation of fans. They have written about things that while true, seemed a bit cold, a bit clinical as a way to remember a man whom exhorted his listeners to “keep their feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” What great advice. Be pragmatic but not afraid to dream.

Casey Kasem hosted the American Top 40 Countdown for as long as I can remember. While it may seem odd, the weekly Top 40 Countdown was the only radio show I took pains not to miss. When my favorite song was in the top 10 I cheered it and the artist on. The show was the main way I discovered new favorite songs and groups. It was easy to imagine that we knew a little something about him. Of course we didn’t, but that feeling of closeness that came from listening to him week after week was still there. And I was truly sorry to hear that he was in declining health and saddened when he died.

What I really missed in all of the reporting was mention of his voice acting work on one of my favorite cartoons: Battle of the Planets. (Yes Sandy Frank is the source of all our pain–thank you Joel and the Bots). Casey Kasem was the voice of Mark in the American version of what was originally called Gatcheman. I was never a fan of Scooby Doo but I loved Battle of the Planets. Many a morning I pushed the envelope of catching the school bus to watch just one more minute of Battle of the Planets. For the record I never did miss the bus but I got chased out of the house more than once lest I do miss it.

These are the fond memories that come to mind when I think of Casey Kasem. So it is with real feeling that I say, rest in peace Mr. Kasem. Your presence on the airwaves brought a bit of happiness into lives all over the nation and probably even farther. K.

#Mothra #cosplay construction Day3: A #Budget Breakdown

Two coats of paint

Sewing

Sewing

Gentle reader it occurs to me that you would like to know the materials and costs. Sorry it’s the third post before posting this. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be blogging about this project when I started.

3 yards of cotton @ 5.99/yard
3 yards boning @ 2.29/yard
1 yard white faux fur (remnant) 2.99
1 leather vest (Goodwill) 9.99
1 packages fabric paint @ 4.99
1 package fabric markers @ 4.99
2 fascinator forms @ 2.99
2 ostrich feathers @ 2.99
2 pendants for the jewels for the eyes @ 1.49

Hemming

Hemming

What I had on hand:
Sewing Machine
Sewing box with:
Tailor’s Chalk
Shears
Thread (white, black and other colors)
straight pins & pin cushion
Sewing needles
scraps of black felt, fusible interfacing and elastic
tape measure

hot glue gun
hot glue sticks

mixing paint

mixing paint

My total so far is $62.74 and I’ve spent approximately 12 hours of my time working on it to date. So I’m around $12.74 over the budget I wanted to stick to, which isn’t too bad and I’m sure I could have found more cost effective ways to get some of the things I got. For example I probably only needed half a yard of the faux fur and 2 yards of the boning but I wasn’t sure how much I would need at the time of purchase. I could have gotten just one form for the fascinator instead of two if I’d ordered the shape I wanted from ebay and I could have gotten the fabric markers on sale. I could have gone with a cheaper cotton but I wanted something sturdy. I’m hoping this costume will last me for many cons.

So that’s the current breakdown.

Today I got to work on my Mothra cosplay for 4 hours. That’s probably a third of the total time I have been able to spend on this costume and is a goodly chunk of time for me to work on it all at once. After giving it some thought I decided to add some boning to the wings so that when they are extended they display rather than folding.

Now I’ve never worked with boning before so I did a quick google. Given my options, via the great oracle Google, I chose to go with sheathed boning so that I wouldn’t have to sew sheathing myself. I can sew a straight seam but I’m a far cry from a seamstress. I got my sewing machine used several years ago and took it to a local fabric store to have it tuned up and they gave me a few lessons on using it. I also chose white sheathed boning so I could paint it along with the fabric I’m sewing it onto.

I spent the morning sewing the boning into the wing and hemming around the edges. The cotton fabric I bought is woven so that it doesn’t unravel but a piece doesn’t look finished if it’s not hemmed. Since I foolishly didn’t calculate a 1/4 inch hem I tried to keep it as small as I could so as not to take up too much of my fabric.

Once the sewing was done I got back to painting. From the way the fabric is taking the paint it looks like two coats of paint will be needed to get the color saturation right. Both sides of the wing sections will have to be painted. I haven’t even cut the secondary wings yet. The size and shape of the lower wings will be critical to the way the costume works. From what I can tell of the toy I’m suing for a model, attaching the lower wing pieces before they are painted will be the best way to make sure the pattern matches up.

The faux fur will be an accent along the inner edge of the wings and will likely need to be attached to the wing after both sections are sewn together but before the painting of the lower section. Since each section will require two coats of paint, minimum, I’m expecting this to take quite some time. Fortunately I have extra boning so I can put some on the lower wings too.

Since I bought spray paint pens but found they spattered too much, I’ve been spraying them onto a plastic lid and using paint brushes to paint. This has allowed me to mix colors to great effect. I will post as I have updates

wing in progress

wing in progress

colors

colors

Two coats of paint

Two coats of paint

#Mothra #Cosplay Minamalist on a #Budget: Day 2

Mothra Hat/Fascinator

Mothra Hat/Fascinator

Mothra Hat/Fascinator

I finished touching up the eyes on the hat/fascinator I constructed to stand in for a full head mask, which I felt was just too constrictive for a convention cosplay for me. You can see the almost finished piece in this picture. I still need to attach elastic loops for the bobby pins that will secure it to my head. Over all I am very pleased with it. It is light weight and very well balanced. It will stay on my head as it is but in a crowded convention I don’t want to risk it being knocked off or the antenna catching a good draft and sailing it off of my head.

Today is the second day I’ve had a few hours to spend working on it and it is time to start the wings. I tried to think of several different ways they could be attached to my body. Shoulder straps can be binding and uncomfortable, plus they have the disadvantage of sliding down your back unless tightened properly, which is difficult to do by oneself. I considered making the superstructure out of thermoplastic or even warbla but not only do I lack the construction expertise, both would have blown my meagre budget out of the water.

$9.99 baby

$9.99 baby

Xtreme Leathers

Xtreme Leathers

Leather vest w/ hand painted Mothra pattern on back.

Leather vest w/ hand painted Mothra pattern on back.

I finally hit upon attaching them to a vest. If I got a vest from, say Goodwill, I could get one cheap and it would cut down on the amount of sewing and construction I have to do. Semi-homemade is ok with me. 😉 With a vest I could attach the wings to the shoulder and back and loop them over my arm on the upper end. It would take some doing but I can run a straight seam fairly well on my sewing machine so it shouldn’t tax my limited sewing skills.

At the local Goodwill I made a find that I’m still proud of. I found a motorcycle leathers vest for $9.99. I kid you not. It fits perfectly and it will hold up to the wings and keep them in place very well.

Yes coffee is an important component of any cosplay construction.

Yes coffee is an important component of any cosplay construction.

I also intended to pick up a couple yards of muslin to use as the fabric for the wings, which I would then paint. Muslin is surprisingly expensive these days and the friendly craft person at my local sewing and fabric shop: Mill’s End (shameless plug) was able to direct me to some cotton that was more sturdy than muslin and cost the same. I got two yards of that. I also picked up a yard of that furry white fabric I used already to make the hat. This will give the wings texture on the inside edge.

Now I don’t know if any of you, gentle readers, are as crazy as I am but I free handed the design on those wing pieces while looking at my model. Granted I used tailors chalk to draw the outline and the major features but it started getting in the way on the body of the wings so I just went with a black paint marker. Yes, I am hand painting the wings. If you don’t have the confidence in your freehand skills just keep using the tailor’s chalk to mark in the design. It is easily washed off.

I used a piece of scrap black felt to measure the length of my arm before drawing the wing outline with tailor's chalk.

I used a piece of scrap black felt to measure the length of my arm before drawing the wing outline with tailor’s chalk.

I’m doing the wings in four pieces: Two upper and two lower. You can see a blue feather in one of the pictures. I’m thinking of cutting it in half lengthwise and using it as more texture in a transition area of the wings. I have high hopes that this costume will be easy to wear and clearly identifiable at a con.

IMG_3316

Painting has begun.

Painting has begun.

I’m also planning on completing them over the course of several days. These days will be whenever I have a few hours on a weekend to spare. I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve made today. So far the materials for this costume have cost me approximately $50.00. I’m sure you could get that price down if you wanted to. I spent extra on the feathers because I didn’t want a hundred of them when I only needed two. I also spent too much on the eye gems because I couldn’t find what I wanted and didn’t want to drive all over town, so I bought two pendants and pried the gems out of them, instead of a bag of plastic gems.

Look for more updates as construction continues. K.