A Nerd in the Garden – Busy Spring

Spring Tulips

Cappuccino Lily

Cappuccino Lily

last year we spent a couple of months clearing out a lot of weeds and preparing our garden space. We put in 7 raised beds and planted them. We also mulched heavily with hazelnut shells. The mulching worked like a dream. This year there were very few weeds and they were easily pulled. The entire garden space looks neat and well cared for.

We learned also that the squash, pumpkins, zucchini and like vining vegetables will take up all the space they can. We had 20′ vines, possibly even longer. they have been banished to the side yard.

Gunnera

Gunnera

This year we put in two more raised beds and have been cleaning up the side yard. We have a problem with Himalayan Blackberries, which are very thorny and grow very fast. They are all but impossible to get rid of once they have gotten a foothold. Every year we tear out so many sharp thorny vines. The thorns go right through leather gloves. Those are probably the worst of the offenders, although no one told me that Clerodendrums propagate underground so I have to pull some Clerodendrum shoots every year. Likewise catnip. I planted it many years ago, all unaware of its propensity to propagate underground, for the neighborhood kitties. I’ve almost got the catnip out for good but it’s been a battle.

Of course there are the usual suspects too: Dandelions, thistles, broadleaf weeds, clover, various grasses and bindweed. There is a lot of weeding to do and clean up takes a lot of time and effort. It’s very satisfying when it is done though.

Raised Beds

Raised Beds

You may notice the inverted pot on the side of the raised bed. This is to set my sprinkler on. It gets it high enough that I’m not wasting a lot of water watering the sides of the beds and the pathways.

We have a gorgeous garden this year and at long last the flower bed we’ve been putting in the side yard is starting to look like we want it to. The attempt to dig up and move the Crocosmia was unsuccessful. It came back where it was dug up and did not grow where it had been planted. In the fall I will try again.

Rose Taboo, Mallow, Dutch Blue Iris and Crocosmia Lucifer

Rose Taboo, Mallow, Dutch Blue Iris and Crocosmia Lucifer

We planted dutch blue iris and they came up beautifully. Likewise lilies and earlier in the season tulips. The Gunnera is finally thriving. It’s a swamp plant so I have to water it frequently but I love it. We had to mulch it heavily to get it through the winter but it survived and has rewarded us by getting to a height of 4 feet. The leaves are easily 3 feet wide.

Spring Tulips

Spring Tulips

The area will take several years to get all of the weeds out and mulched, since we are doing it ourselves. Sure we could hire professional landscapers and they’d do it in a weekend but it would cost thousands of dollars that we just don’t have. By spreading out our planting, and our clean up and preparation we are dividing the project into manageable chunks and spreading out the cost so that we can pay as we go. It also gives us a chance to correct errors as we learn. Sure it’s going to take years to get this yard looking the way we want it to but it won’t consume too much of our time at one time and it won’t break our budget.

In the fall I planted a lot of tulips and lilies. It was a delight to see the tulips bloom this spring. The lilies are starting to bloom now and will carry through the late spring/early summer. Then the roses will be in full bloom. This year the roses got an early start.

Flower Bed

Flower Bed

Purple Prince Lily

Purple Prince Lily

A Nerd In The Garden: Weeding, Iris and More Math (Math Is Fun)

Iris Saved

Weeding and building in the upper left corner

Weeding and building in the upper left corner

In previous blog posts I’ve mentioned that the verge on the side of the driveway is fairly large. This week I did a rough measurement of it’s area and it’s approximately 400 square feet. This was a fairly easy calculation that follows a well known formula. My driveway is approximately 40 feet long and the verge is approximately 10 feet wide. 40 X 10 = 400. Your units are feet and feet X feet = Square Feet. Putting it all together: 40 ft X 10 ft = 400 sq ft.

Before weeding 11/7/15

Before weeding 11/7/15

There’s about 60 sq ft up by the garage that I have not included in this measurement. There are two reasons for that. 1) the utilities are there and I don’t want to damage or block them. 2) Due to the layout that area gets very little sun so not a lot of plants will grow there. With these two things being the case I’ve decided to wait on that bit and see if I get inspired. Also I cleaned that up once earlier this year and mulched a good part of it. It should just need some follow up and maintenance.

After weeding 11/7/15

After weeding 11/7/15

This week I weeded around a 10 ft square space. My neighbor offered to let me use a tool to make the weeding easier but I chose to do it by hand. Not because I love backbreaking work but because I know there are some gorgeous Iris languishing in that part of the bed and I wanted to salvage what I could of them. The Iris have been overgrown for so many years that I didn’t expect too many of them to even have survived.

So far it is looking very good for the Iris. I’ve found quite a few rhizomes that had growth on them and could be saved and replanted. This will save a ton of money since I can plant them in areas where there aren’t currently flowers.

Iris Saved

Iris Saved

My goal is to clear the area along the east side of the flower bed and plant the Crocosima there. The neighbors like the idea of some kind of screen between us and the sword shaped leaves of the Crocosima get to be around 4.5 ft tall. In front of them I want to put the blue Dutch Iris I ordered and some bearded Iris. There is enough room in that bed with 10 feet on the cross section to put some shorter flowers in front of those without crowding them.

I want to keep the Crocosima because the hummingbirds love them and I love seeing the hummingbirds. Also they naturalize beautifully. The Crocosima also give the garden a bright spot of color that lasts long after the spring tulips have faded.

You might wonder about that cardboard that is down on the ground there. It’s a very good mulch and weed barrier. It’s cheap since you can use boxes you already have, rather than throwing them away and it cuts down on the grass and weeds that grow back. It also biodegrades. Right now it is protecting the bare soil from erosion due to the rain and from bad compression as I walk on it. Once I have the area planted I’ll put down the hazelnut shell mulch that I like but for now cardboard boxes work great.

It started raining so I didn’t get a picture but I scraped the mud off of some more bricks on the pathway on the west side of the house. I’ll need one of the border bricks I bought cut because I need a piece of one in two places. I called my local Home Depot and they didn’t have the equipment to cut concrete. I’ll have to see if my neighbor has something. Otherwise I may have to buy a different kind of border brick that is the size I need for the two spaces.

Next week I plan to do the other side of the walkway border and finish cleaning up the raised bed garden out back. Today I pulled the last of the tomato plants and put them in the compost bin. I need to rake the beds, do a final weeding and put landscaping fabric over them. Then they can rest for the rest of the winter.

Lastly this weekend I scraped some of the weeds out from the expansion joints in the driveway. There is a lot of work to do there and it is hard work. Like the large flower bed, I’m tackling it a little bit at a time. There is a lot to do, it’s true, but chipping away at it a little bit at a time will see it all done. And I still have time to get some writing done. K.

Weeds in expansion joints

Weeds in expansion joints

Scraped out of the joints with a tool

Scraped out of the joints with a tool

A Nerd In The Garden: The Rains Have Come

After weeding for the day

Before weeding

Before weeding

This week the rainy season got started in ernest. It began with a day of spritzing and grew slightly heavier each day until we have a steady all day rain falling. It might be tempting to think it’s time to put the gardening tools away and relax but now is the perfect time to weed out the large flower bed. The steady rains have made the soil soft enough to get the roots out with the weeds. Getting as many of the roots as possible will keep the return weed numbers way down. It also creates more room in the soil for the roots of the flowers planted in the bed.

Over the years the large flower bed has become overrun with weeds and grasses. I’m embarrassed to post pictures of it but in the interest of demonstrating the transformation, photos will be posted.

After weeding for the day

After weeding for the day


For weeding in the rain a good raincoat, work gloves and work boots are a good idea. I also use a tool that is a combination cat’s claw and hoe. With the ground wet a cardboard box, broken down makes for a good knee guard and after an area has been weeded it can be placed on the now bare ground to prevent grasses from growing back.

Last time I spoke of budgeting time as carefully as you budget money. Looking at the large flower bed, and honestly it is really just a strip on the side of the driveway that I’ve decided will be a flower bed, it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. What does this have to do with budgeting time? Well when I first started the project I decided I could budget 2 hours of time each weekend to landscaping and gardening. Two hours is about all you’d want to spend out in the rain doing weeding even with a good raincoat and gloves. Two hours a week will be enough to chip away at the weeds and have the whole thing beautiful and ready to go by spring.

Border holding strong

Border holding strong

The border we installed last week is holding very well. The silt has not covered the stones we cleaned off from that side. In the photo silt has covered the other side where the border hasn’t yet been installed. When it isn’t raining so hard, or when I haven’t worked overtime we will install the other side.

I counted up the bricks left and we will need more to do the other side of the walkway. Fortunately purchasing a few at a time spreads the cost out and makes it more affordable.

There will be plenty to do in the garden and flower bed until the weather gets too bad to work in it. The raised beds still need to finish being winterized. That might be next week too. K.

A Nerd In The Garden: Hardscaping

One Side with Elephant Ear plants

Along the fence

Along the fence

By K. L. Zolnoski

This week I did a little bit of weeding out front but not as much as I had hoped to get done. It didn’t rain this week and without rain the ground is not soft enough to really get the roots of the weeds out. So I’m going to postpone the serious weeding out front until next week.

There is plenty to be done on the side yard though. We have a narrow path that runs from the back yard proper to a patio on the side of the house. This is where we focused our efforts today.

When the house was first built the contractor used landscaping timbers to border the brick walkway that leads to the patio. Landscaping timbers are decorative and inexpensive at around $4 per 8’ timber.

Preparing for a new border

Preparing for a new border

Over the years these landscaping timbers have rotted away and a constant wash of silt and soil has buried the bricks. Every summer we have to clean off the walkway. It’s a task that’s tedious and labor intensive. Also, right across the walk way is our foundation and the vents to the crawlspace need to be cleared of debris every year. And, as if that weren’t enough, the rain will wash away the hazelnut shell mulch I put down when we planted the ornamental plants we got on sale this last summer. This is all quite sub-optimal.

So we need to replace the border with something that will cut down on the runoff. I have approximately 80 linear feet on a north south axis that needs some kind of border. That would work out to 10 landscaping timbers but in a few years I’d have the same problem as they rotted away. But they are cheap. We’d be talking about $40.00.

The thing is, I don’t want to have to dig out the old rotting timbers again. I don’t want to have to deal with shoveling a layer of silt off my brick walkway again. I really don’t want to have debris from the slight grade up to the neighbors yard introducing itself to my crawlspace. Something a bit more durable is called for. Something like either clay or concrete bricks. Use of these materials is called hardscaping.

Consulting the Google provided information on a variety of shapes, sizes and prices on bricks of all sorts. There were even molds that could be used to make custom bricks if one has the time and inclination. Budget your time as carefully as you do your money.

Preparing a channel to set bricks in

Preparing a channel to set bricks in

Since I work full time and have a household to keep up I don’t have a lot of time to devote to my garden/borders. My plan is to do 2 to 4 hours a weekend. That’s a modest amount of time that leaves a little bit leftover for other things even after I’ve summited Mt. Laundry and cooked for the week. I don’t have time to make custom bricks.

I work hard for my money and I’m on a budget. So I needed to find a brick that was decorative enough that I could live with it and inexpensive enough to fit in my budget. What I finally landed upon is a scalloped top concrete brick that runs about $1.50 per 16”. Needing 80 linear feet for the first phase means I’d need approximately 60 of these bricks. (80 linear feet X 12 inches/foot = 960 inches. Divide by 16 inches to get the number of bricks you need: 60.) It’ll run me just under $90.00 (because the bricks cost just slightly less than $1.50). That’s quite a bit of my budget but I won’t have to reinstall in a few years. My time is worth something too.

Buying materials

Buying materials

I cannot stress this enough: Do the math. If you know how much you need of something, (for example I need 80 linear feet for this part of the project) you can easily calculate exactly how much of a material you will need. This will allow you to accurately budget and prevent overspending on materials you don’t need. Don’t let the terminology turn you off. Linear feet is exactly what it sounds like–a straight- line distance measured in feet.

Additionally we need a level surface, ideally 18” above the surface we want to water for our rain catchment system. Concrete cinder blocks are inexpensive and sturdy. At around $0.99 per block I can afford to set up a proper base for the barrels.

Not wanting to overload my car I made two trips and got just over half of the number of bricks I’d need for both projects. I got 32 of 60 bricks for the border and 6 of 8 cinder blocks and I still need two 8X8 square cinder blocks to complete the base for the rain catchments. I’m going with 8” high rather than 18” for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are weight and stability.

Setting the border

Setting the border

We then spent some quality time using the hoe to chip out the rotted landscaping timbers and prepare a channel to set the concrete border bricks into the ground. I used a smaller hand tool to level the bottom of the channel and then we back filled with dirt from the channel to set the bricks and stabilize the border. The bricks I chose are interlocking so the border is very stable.

I didn’t think either brick red or concrete white were very appealing. Both colors have a rather institutional look to them that I am trying to avoid. Those are the only two colors the bricks come in so I opted to go with a pattern of red and white, which perhaps breaks up the monotony of a single industrial color.

Next week we will finish the other side and possibly continue on down the line of the patio. It may take three weeks to finish the north south line. Then I will consider whether I want to do the much shorter east west line for completeness sake. Probably I will. I like it when things look finished and I enjoy looking at something I have made. K.

End of our work day

End of our work day

some assembly required

some assembly required

In Progress

In Progress

A Nerd In The Garden: Spring Gardening Pt. 2 & A New Cosplay

Looks Professional

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

Last weekend I started a project to expand my raised bed flower garden. I installed the original raised bed quite a few years ago and as things changed I found myself able and motivated to expand it that last 10 inches. You can read about it here. Taking that wall apart and rebuilding it was backbreaking work.

Not to be outdone, this weekend I decided to finish up what I started last weekend. There was one corner on the upper left side that had not been finished. It was super difficult to get the established weeds out of that spot and the little bit of rain we got wasn’t enough to soak the soil and make it any easier to get them out.

There was also a third level of raised bed that had sunk into the soil over the intervening years and I decided to unearth those blocks and raise them up a bit. All of this along with my intention to weed a small area each weekend until I have the whole thing weed free.

Also, I bought a bunch of pansies. Winter pansies to be specific. They should bloom all through the winter. Plus I got to quote the movie Madagascar where King Julian says, “They’re just a bunch of pansies,” until everyone around me was sick of hearing it. The pansies were on sale so I got 10 of them for less than 10 dollars.

Intending to only spend a couple of hours on this finishing up project, I ended up spending half the day on it. The results are so nice though. It looks finished.

Just a bunch of pansies

Just a bunch of pansies

I still have a few of the decorative blocks left over and I’m going to clean them up and finish up the back level next weekend. Because I purchased a rather large amount of them when I made the original purchase years ago I’ve been able to reuse the blocks, moving them from one spot to another and this has saved me quite a bit of money. I did not have to purchase any more of them.

I was planning on using the ones that hadn’t been put into the wall as bases for the rain catchment system I’m putting in this year but that’s not going to happen now. I’ll have to see if I can find a low cost replacement for my rain catchment barrels. That’s my next garden project.

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

I did a lot of research on rain catchment systems and while I can’t afford to have a professional outfit come out and install an underground tank and all that, I do have the budget (thanks to Craigslist) to get a couple of 55 gallon barrels and the downspout kits for them. The important thing about this, well there are several but when putting things next to one’s house one very important thing is weight. A full 55 gallon rain barrel weighs in at around 450 pounds. So you don’t want to set it on a slope or someplace unstable. You want to make your foundation stand sturdy and level from all angles.

Anyway more on that when I get to installing them. I’m also planning to do a year of my first garden recap when I get the vegetable garden cleaned up and ready for winter. I’m about half way through that now. I’ve got a few tomatoes I’m hoping still ripen up a bit before I have to tear the plants out.

At the end of the day, because I’m clearly a glutton for punishment, I sat down and ordered a few small things to plant in the spring so that I have some summer flowers too. Tulips and lilies are gorgeous but they bloom in the spring and I need something to carry my garden through the summer with some flowers. We’ve already established that I never fail to order twice as many bulbs as I want to plant but this time I out did myself.

You see one of the flowers I love the most in my garden is a blue dutch iris. I’ve only got one and I’ve not found them online or in the garden centers by themselves. They always come in a mix and I always get a ton of white and yellow and almost no blue in the mix when I buy them. The white and yellow are gorgeous but my favorite are the blue. Well this catalogue had blue ones on sale by themselves and they were fairly inexpensive: $15.99. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well I did order them but come spring, when they arrive to be planted, they will be coming in a lot of 50 bulbs. Thankfully I have a great spot for them and they are tolerant of partial shade.

Cosplay:

I’ve finally had another idea for a cosplay. Last time I did Mothra on a budget, which you can read about here. This time I think I can make a wearable Biollante Rose Form. I went through several design ideas, starting with a mermaid under dress. While gorgeous and the right shape for the understructure it would be a royal pain to wear to a convention, so I reluctantly discarded that idea. I’m currently working with a wide leg palazzo pant and tank top for the understructure.

My budget is $100.00 and my time limit is 5 months. I have to work my cosplay creating in around my gardening and right now is the ideal time for gardening. We will see how it goes. K.

Looks Professional

Looks Professional

Mothra Cosplay

Mothra Cosplay

#Mothra #Cosplay Day 14, Nearing Completion

layout

layout

layout

That’s right gentle reader, it’s almost completed. I almost missed a big part of the hind wing on the left wing when I was trying to finish up the painting today. I had to keep holding up the wing and turn it around in my hands so that I could really look at it. I have most of the touch ups done, although I think I could touch them up forever.

I did use the leather needles to affix the wings to the vest. I spent about an hour futzing with the tension, breaking the thread and damaging the leather before I got it figured out. Fortunately I was able to run my seam right over the same spot where I’d repeatedly broken the thread trying to figure out the proper tension on the machine. Since I bought my machine used it didn’t come with a manual so I have to guess at some things.

Sewing  wings to Leather

Sewing wings to Leather

With leather, it’s not like fabric, once the needle punches through there is a hole there that will not be hidden by fibers like with fabric. So that was a concern. Also it was very awkward trying to fit the vest and wing into the sewing foot. The wings are huge and the vest leather. I spent almost as much time just trying to get everything lined up to stitch as I did trying to get the machine to stitch it.

Tension Issues break the thread

Tension Issues break the thread

I have to confess that when I reached the point where the wings were assembled and the painting all but complete I had a moment of disbelief. It’s really going to be done for the Rose City Comic con. All that’s left is to stitch elastic loops on the underside of the hat so I can attach the hat securely with bobby pins and I think there are a couple of spots to touch up on the wings, small ones. Then I have to finish painting the vest and it’s complete. There’s probably not more than an hour or two left and it’s done.

I can hardly believe that it’s so close to done. I will post a picture of it complete and with the proper under dress and boots when I am finished. Also, I must confess, I splurged and bought the Mothra theme song so that I can play it on occasion when I’m in costume. It’s silly, I know, but why not?

So my total for the budget is right around $85.00 for materials, extra paint, brushes and the song. Not too bad. I’m over my original estimate by $35.00 and under my second estimate by $15.00. Not too bad. I’ve spent around 56 hours of my time designing, constructing, painting and sewing the costume. I can’t quite believe that I made this.

#Mothra #Cosplay Minimalist, Adjusted Budget Holding

Inside of the Left Wing is done

Inside of the Left Wing is done

Inside of the Left Wing is done

With the holiday weekend affording an extra day to work on the Mothra cosplay I was hoping to get the paining finished on the wings. Since I have to mix the colors myself from the available fabric paints I have it takes a lot longer than one might expect. They are turning out beautifully but it is taking such a long time to paint them.

I ran out of blue and orange paint so I had to pick up more. This pushed my budget ever closer to the hard limit of $100.00 for materials. True when I started I was hoping to keep it around $50.00 but that starting budget was quite unrealistic and only goes to show how little experience I have with making cosplays. I should have just started with the more reasonable budget of $100.00, and a more seasoned cosplayer probably would have.

Even with a budget of $100.00 I’m still looking for bargains and using coupons to buy my materials. Goodwill, and store coupons are great resources for getting materials and keeping to a reasonable budget. This weekend there were some particularly good coupons for some of the local craft stores due to the holiday. That’s something to keep in mind when considering starting a new cosplay. If you plan it right you can get your materials during a big sale.

Better planning in general would have helped keep the cost down. I didn’t know how much paint the fabric I chose would soak up so that is costing me in additional paint. I’m sure someone who has been doing cosplay for a long time would have chosen different fabric, treated it differently and planned things out better than I have.

We did get a cheap table cloth, a plastic picnic table cloth to put on the table while we paint. It protects the table and makes it less nerve wracking when we paint on the only good sized surface in the house for crafting.

Outside of the Left Wing

Outside of the Left Wing

All that being said, I still love what I’m doing and I love my costume. I’m learning a lot and having fun. My goal now is to get it finished up within the next two weeks. That includes touching up the paint where necessary, affixing the wings to the vest and stitching loops on the hat so that I can use bobby pins to keep it on my head in a crowded convention hall.

There are some flaws to the costume. I pretty much won’t be able to carry anything, so any tchotchkes or memorabilia I may want to pick up will have to be handled by one of my companions. The cosplay is designed to be portable though. I can roll the wings and vest up into a compact bundle to transport. The most difficult piece to transport will be the hat, due to the feathers.

Both Wings

Both Wings

We got our tickets to ECCC (Emerald City Comic Con) today and I’ll be wearing it there for certain. I’m still looking to debut it at the RCCC (Rose City Comic Con) in three weeks. We will see how well it travels then. K.

#Mothra #Cosplay Day 13, Oversights and Corrections

The pattern is really coming together as I near completion on painting.

The pattern is really coming together as I near completion on painting.

The pattern is really coming together as I near completion on painting.

Well, gentle reader, it is day 13 of the Mothra cosplay construction. I’ve logged around 49 hours of labor on the costume as of today. I really need to step it up because I’m just over a month out from the debut comic con. I was looking for one I could get to sooner than Emerald City and found Rose City. That’s where the costume will be unveiled then: The Rose City Comic Con.

While I was looking at my model and at some of the other cosplays and realized that I had overlooked the underbelly of Mothra. More specifically I had overlooked the legs. With this in mind I roughed out a vague shape for her legs on the front of the vest that is serving as the central structure for the costume. It is a very rough shape and not what the final form will look like. I did not paint in the bend of the joint because once the vest is on, the leg will wrap around my side naturally. It is tempting to be dismayed by how ugly this looks right now but I am confident the final solution will be just fine.

In the process of roughing out the legs I discovered that there are small pockets on the front of the vest (yes I missed them when I first bought the vest). The pockets may not be deep enough to safely hold an ID. I rather suspect they are not and am still searching for a better solution. Right now I’m thinking maybe a small shoulder bag could work if it hangs down far enough to be below the vest.

front of vest

front of vest as underbelly

front of vest as underbelly

All of that aside, I finished painting the inside of the main part of the right wing and painted the red/orange/yellow parts of the hind wing. Since I started on this project I have learned a lot about how to go about this and as a result the inside of the wing is visually superior to the outside. Again it is tempting to be dismayed but I knew I would have to touch up the front side and I know it’ll be just as lovely when I am finished.

If I allowed all of these little missteps and setbacks to overwhelm me, or focused on every imperfection it would be easy to lose sight of the big picture and give up. No it won’t be perfect. Yes I still have a minimum of 4 more Sundays to complete this thing, and that’s if I keep making the kind of progress I made today. But it’s fabulous and I conceived of this, designed it and constructed it myself. I may make more polished cosplays in the future. I may make more elaborate cosplays in the future. But I will never surpass this Mothra for the sheer love I have for it. For me it touches on everything cosplay is about.

Mothra has great sentimental value for me. My grandmother used to watch Godzilla movies with my father, who in turn watched them with me. In crafting this costume I’ve discovered a deeper connection to the character and to the entire genera, which I love. I was thrilled by Pacific Rim, but as much as I love technology, I don’t think those cosplays suit my style. Of course there is always Godzilla, but again for some reason the Big G doesn’t really spark my cosplaying imagination.

I must add that I am delighted one of the other cosplayers in our group is making a Godzilla cosplay. I think it’s fantastic and fabulous, just not for me. I’m still kind of surprised that I chose Mothra.

Anyway, here are this weeks photographs of the progress on (cue dramatic music) The Wings of Mothra:

At the beginning of today

At the beginning of today

Painting the purple fields first

Painting the purple fields first

Several shades of blue

Several shades of blue

Red on the hindwing

Red on the hindwing

Notice, if you will the correction I’ve been making to the blue on the hindwing where I painted over the section where white should be. It’s working and you can now clearly discern the white “stripe” continuing from the forewing to the hindwing. Also I noticed that the hindwing fields had red at the outside edges not a darker orange and have made that correction. The colors are just beautiful and it’s looking like it should to my eye. K.

Minimalist #Mothra #Cosplay on a Budget: Day 12

Painting the orange fields on the inside of the Right wing
Painting the orange fields on the inside of the Right wing

Painting the orange fields on the inside of the Right wing

Looking at my model and at the vest I’m using for the body part of the wings I realized that I needed to paint a chevron on it underneath the design in the middle. I also did not like the way the yellow paint was turning a greenish color on the leather. So I decided to paint an under-layer of white, over which I will paint the yellow. This should brighten up the yellow and make it less muddy and greenish. Over that I’ll paint a light brown to get the tannish color.

Mothra pattern on vest

Mothra pattern on vest

This time I took a close up picture of one of the mistakes I’ve made so you can see what I’m doing to correct it. In this case the lower, or hind wing panel has a couple of spots where I painted blue that should have been yellow or orange. I’m painting over these spots with white before going back over with the yellow.

Mistake in the hind (lower) wing -- blue paint where it doesn't belong

Mistake in the hind (lower) wing — blue paint where it doesn’t belong

Close up of mistake with white paint over the blue.

Close up of mistake with white paint over the blue.

I realized that the hind wings of my model have way more red and less orange than I’m using so I’ll have to correct that as I paint. Reality is bearing out my theory in that the areas I’ve already painted black are not taking on other colors where I accidentally go outside of the lines. I’ll have to remember to paint the darker colors first and finish up with the lighter colors. Sure this may seem like an obvious thing to people who have been doing this for years, or painting for a while but this is my first attempt at anything like this and I’m learning as I go.

One thing I noticed, now that I’m paying attention, is that Mothra gets repainted about as often as Godzilla gets a new suit. It’s really quite fascinating. There are at least 4 different Mothra wing pattern variants that I’ve seen in the last 5 Godzilla movies I’ve watched. I love it!

Mothra toy I'm using for my model

Mothra toy I’m using for my model

I had to do a lot of cooking today so I didn’t get as much time to paint as maybe I could have but I think I made some good progress. Mixing colors and making sure to blend the painted areas takes some time and thought. It is satisfying to see the colors on the wing when I am done.

Truth be told, I’m less than delighted with the 12 gauge wire in the corners of the wings. They pucker the fabric and don’t stay in shape very well. It’s tempting to take them out and work some thermoplastic into the corners. The only reason I haven’t is because right now, since the wings are still separate and not affixed to the vest, I’m able to roll them into tidy bundles for storage. Of course this rolling is what’s warping the wire. It is my hope that once I’m finished and I iron them, the wire will hold its shape and not create folds in the tips of the wings.

The pocket idea for the vest to hold an ID and some cash doesn’t seem to be a good one. I don’t want to have to unsnap my vest to get to stuff. That would be awkward. I’m wondering if I can affix some kind of pouch to the underside that would hang down a bit on my hip. It’s something I’m continuing to give some thought to. Eventually I’ll come up with a solution. When I do, rest assured, I’ll share it with you here.

As for my budget, I’m still holding steady at $80.00. This includes the leather needles for my sewing machine, which I got last week. The nice thing about those is that they are good for more than one use, so I’ll have them for future projects.

#Mothra #Cosplay Day 11: Second Thoughts, Third Thoughts and More

Inside of the Right Wing black fields complete

Inside of the Right Wing black fields complete

Inside of the Right Wing black fields complete

Today is the eleventh day I’ve been working on my Mothra cosplay. I spend between 4 an 6 hours working on it when I do it. Since I work full time I only have Sundays to work on it. At this point I’ve put in a minimum of 44 man-hours (woman-hours in my case) of labor on the costume.

I know that many of the pictures I take each week seem very similar to the ones from the previous week. More than just documenting how to make this costume, I’m chronicling the actual time and effort that goes into making one of these costumes. Progress is often slow and more than once I’ve looked at it and felt that I’ve gotten nothing done, that it’s moving along too slowly. Painting both sides of each wing means that I’m actually repeating a lot of work, but there will be a front side and a back side to the costume and I can think of no way around it.

I had some second thoughts about the costume this last week. Am I painting it right? Will it look ok? What if it looks ridiculous once I’ve got it made? I’ve put so much time and money into it already. Then I look at the pictures I’ve taken and realize that I love what I can envision it as being when it is complete.

Then, while I was putting the pieces of the whole costume together in my mind: The wings, hat, boots, high-low dress I intend to wear underneath; I realized I had overlooked something fairly important. Oh not for the costume, that’ll be awesome (IMHO). No I realized that I had no way to carry ID or cash or anything else in this costume. The wings will get in the way of a purse or bag and there’s no way to wear one under the vest. From a practical standpoint this is a fairly major oversight.

The only thing I can figure is either scrounge up an old fanny pack we have somewhere around here. Then it occurred to me that I could possibly stitch a pocket into the vest. I’ll have to see how that works out because I need to be able to carry a few items with me.

Front of Left wing before black fields complete

Front of Left wing before black fields complete

As for the cosplay itself, this week I finished up the black fields on both wings. Looking at the left wing I felt that some of the fields that are to hold color were a bit too wide so I thinned them out by making the black fields a bit wider. I’m putting the black down first because when I paint the colors they won’t show up as badly on the black if I go out of the lines as the black would over the colors.
Front of left wing, black fields almost complete

Front of left wing, black fields almost complete

This is a learning process for me. It’s my first real cosplay, the first one that I’ve made from scratch. Thus it will have all of the mistakes a first costume has, it’ll have all of the mistakes a novice makes when crafting something like this. It’s easy for such an item to fall out of favor as experience leads to better cosplays down the road but to be honest I cannot imagine topping this cosplay. Not for concept anyway. What I’m glad of is that I still love this cosplay even after weeks of work and knowing that I still have weeks of work left to do on it.

As far as the budget goes, I did go ahead and buy leather needles. I got an assortment for $4.99, which brings my total for materials up to $80.00.

Painting the inside of the sleeve

Painting the inside of the sleeve

Next Sunday I expect to start filling in the bands of color on the wings. Once that’s done I’ll iron them and sew them onto the vest. Speaking of which, I still need to paint the vest a bit more. Worry not, gentle reader, there will be pictures. For now, please enjoy these. K