Thursday, April 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Ootini part 2 of (now 3) - the mask

Constructing the eyes of a Jawa costume really deserves its own post so I've decided to split the mask post in two.

Sadly I did not have time to take pictures during the construction process, but I've reconstructed what I could using pictures of the completed items.

photo credit: Bill Nolan
The mask base: 
Starting with a plain plastic craft mask I cut the nostrils into one hole and cut the mouth out of the mask entirely. Structurally this is pretty much how I wore it the first day.

I had a lot of issues with my breath and sweat condensing on the inside of the mask and the pull of the entire mask was pretty much suspended on the bridge of my nose giving me a wicked sinus headache and raw bruised feeling across my nose by the end of the first night.

This was compounded by the fact that the mask fit the length of my face fine... as long as my mouth was closed. Any time I opened my mouth my chin hit the inner chin of the mask pulling it down tighter on my nose and I had to push it back up into place regularly.

For the second day I cut the upper lip out entirely and removed as much of the chin of the mask as I could. To add some padding for my nose and keep the mask off my face I sliced up several disposable squishy foam earplugs into approx. 1/4 inch thick pieces and glued them in a pattern I hoped would comfortably distribute the weight.
This worked really well, and in fact every single time I wear a mask for something I kick myself at some point in the evening for not doing this.
The staining on the forehead pads is blue hairdye.

What would I do different?
I think I cut a little more of the plastic out of this mask every single time I wear it.

Given my druthers I would completely rework the base structure of the mask leaving as little material touching my face as possible. Ideally I would have something suspended well off of my face like glasses with enough structure to attach the eye lights at the cheekbone level, the drape to cover the lower face, and some sort of superlight framework for the forehead area to attach the covering cloth.

Airspace and cheek area stability are the key elements. My current pie in the sky design would be an open-worked metal eye mask frame with a simple forehead cage.

The covering and attachments:

The black covering for the mask is a stretchy black velvet material which I attached with a hot glue gun. The upper part of the face down to the underside of the cheekbones was glued down to conform to the shape of the face. There are two draped pieces covering the mask, one from the cheekbones and one from the chin, which helped conceal the shape of my face and any part of my neck that might have been exposed by the hood. I think doing it draped from the bridge of the nose as I did probably made it a lot easier to breathe and meant that I could cut away a lot of the mask when I realized the problems of the first day.

Closeup of the eye covering and light and elastic attachment points
The mask eye holes were backed with a rubbery shelf liner material and glued on with white PVA glue. I was worried the glue would melt from my sweat but it has held up for several years now. In all but the most direct and brightly lit shots the eye camouflage worked shockingly well and often people looking directly into my face had to ask where I was looking out of. I learned to ignore the mesh pattern very quickly and had fantastic field of vision, probably the best I've ever had in a costume with a full face mask (the hood does disrupt that somewhat).

Holes for the eye lights and elastic strap to hold the mask on were drilled using a pin vice and drill (which went through everything extremely easily) and the attachments were wired down with anodized craft wire. Any small patches of white around any fabric edges were touched up using black acrylic paint, which I also used to cut some of the shine of the hot glue wherever it was visible.

What would I do different?
In a re-do I would probably switch to a glue with less shine and more working time, and would definitely use a more breathable material. I am not prone to overheating but this costume is VERY warm.
If using a mask I think I would attach the eye camouflage last instead of first to make it easier to cut the eye holes out of the fabric face covering. A better mask material would probably be silk noil as it has the right matte finish to absorb the light, it is light, airy, and drapes well, and it is shockingly cheap.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday Monday: the hope I'm not getting sick edition.

Feeling kind of cruddy but I don't want to leave you hanging - so have a few pics!

BadassCrossstitch #yearofstitch weeks 1 through 6

Week 7 (and all individual images) are posted on my Instagram
I'm really enjoying this project - it's been fantastic to try new things and each piece is so small and self contained it's been a great take along piece.

New project start - first 100+ stitches in Garden of Delight by William Morris from Heaven and Earth Designs. It's so nice to be comfortable stitching again and after this I'm even more convinced to swap to a new fabric on my Shades of Red project. I do want to pick up some stitch marking pins as this design is fairly intricate (over 20 colors in the first 100 stitches alone) and I think it will help me keep track of things better.

Fresh brows courtesy the Benefit Brow Bar at Ulta. They are the only place I will go to to get my brows done anymore. My brows are so sparse it's very easy to over pluck.

Tried an orange lippy - NYX Liquid Suede in "Orange County". Still looked great after an entire day at the wineries eating cheese and drinking reds so I can definitely vouch for the longevity of this formula. I think I need to be more tan and better matched to my foundation to really feel confident in this particular shade but I was surprisingly comfortable.
I think I've got this bright lippy thing down.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Monday regerts

Live! Coming at you from my new computer desk! 

It may be cheap S-Mart pressboard trash but still worth it to have the hutch and a keyboard tray. It's actually an L desk as well but I have to cut down the L piece to fit the space so that's going to have to wait a bit. The cats are all quite fond of this new and exciting way to be between me and whatever I'm trying to read,

Heaven and Earth Designs - Mini Shades of Red
I'm seriously considering scrapping this project to start again with different fabric. This is navy 22 count hardanger cloth and it is just NOT working out for me.

I find the holes hard to see both due to the color and weave (which is not tight exactly but it is dense), and my stitching feels unbearably sloppy. I've been fighting myself to pick this piece back up every time I want to stitch for weeks and I just don't find the stitching pleasant enough to keep going for another who knows how many months. I thought stitching on 22 count with two strands would be nicer than 28 count with one strand but I no longer think so. I was passing a lot of my reluctance off on the stand I've been using but I no longer think that's the main problem, though it is a continuing annoyance.

Ahhhhhh well, lessons learned: I will likely avoid dark fabrics on large works, and no more two strand stitching on full coverage pieces.

I finally got around to cleaning up my mani on Sunday. One of the pitfalls of a nude mani is its easy to ignore chipping so it outstays its welcome. I wanted something green (because it's been a while) and fairly simple that could stand up to potential staining from my haircolor. I've worn Alien Queen from IncidentalTwin as an accent before but somehow never as the star and as with every single time I've worn one of her polishes I was super dubious on first coat and totally psyched by the third. They are sheer but they build beautifully.
Accent nail is Ulta Popping Bottle. 

Since the move in July my nailpolish has been sprawled across more than three cardboard boxes. My swatch sticks were woefully out of date and I had several new bottles that had not been cataloged in Nail Polish Book - a phone app I use to organize my stash (there are only so many bottles of relatively spendy dark teal polish one person needs to buy in one month). I finally took the time this weekend to catalog everything and get my swatches up to date and now I'm looking for a better storage solution than sorting into overly small dollar store bins by used (red) vs untried (blue).

I realized as I was pitting this together that I never posted my #yearofstitch piece last week so I will do so on my Instagram @the_itsybitsy in a few. Its been done for weeks, just not posted.

Just because it was funny, and a good reminder to avoid unitaskers!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Monday - those May Flowers better be spectacular edition

It's been a freezing rainy mess of a week. 

Forsythia flowers I expected, frost flowers not so much.
The trees are still budding and the grass is starting to perk up so I'm staying hopeful for Spring. My unsprouted basil planter however... that I've written off as a late frost loss.

I no longer accept the concept of a basil free life so I started fresh seeds in a trash-hacked plastic bottle seed nursery this weekend and I'm taking advantage of the spare light from my wee Aerogarden. I did about 1/3 classic sweet Genovese and 2/3 a deep purple colored Genovese style basil variety called Amethyst Improved. I'm hoping to see those sprout in the next week or so.

I got my hairs did this week and I've finally gone back dark, though since I'm growing my cut out I still have enough lightened hair that I was able to go this amazing nearly indigo pen-ink blue.

As far as stitching goes I did a few #yearofstitch pieces, this week's post is up on my main Instagram @the_itsybitsy

Oh! Speaking of Instagram, if you like Instagram and you like cats I now have a feed specifically for mine! I always wanted to post more of them but felt like I didn't want to take over my feed. Now that you can do multiple feeds with one log-in I took the plunge.

Follow Renfield the Black cat, Quincey the ginger fluff and Mina the cow cat at @Catfaxabbey
I will only be following pet feeds from there but if you have a more general feed drop me a line on The_ItsyBitsy

I had a new computer desk debacle this week so instead of a working desk I have a pile of (mostly intact) pieces in the corner of the office waiting on replacement parts.

Sorry about the weird formatting on this post - the components for my desktop are scattered across the office floor at the moment and apparently blogging on an iPhone really just doesn't cut it.

To distract myself from all that annoyance I wanted a fussy embroidery piece, but I'm still fighting with the new stand a bit too much to comfortable stitch on my big HAED piece. I picked up my Blackwork Journey piece instead and finished the first block. The stitching is so fine it's hard to get a pic of the whole thing that also shows the designs well, I think I may do a slideshow of the individual blocks at the end.

After that I picked up a gift piece I've been working on for a few months now but I'm not showing that off yet so progress pics may be scarce for a bit.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Ootini! Part one of two

Way back in the olden days of Livejournal I had a craft-specific feed under the name Carapax.

I stopped updating that feed in 2010 but it's still there and there are a lot of projects and ideas which I'd like to have handy so I'm going to start reposting them here. Subjects range from historical recreation, to brewing, to cosplay, to interior design crafting.

Posts will be generally left as they were written, though I will likely combine and condense certain things. Unfortunately even in this first post there were links which no longer work - but I have tested and replaced all of them so any links here are functional.

I'm starting with one of my very favourite projects to date - my Jawa costume.

Yes, this is a self portrait.

-td8733 was the primary source I used. Great ideas and closeups of what they did, coupled with plenty of production stills from ANH.
  • I have provided a link to the wayback machine snapshot instead of the real page because sadly this page is now SEVERELY broken. Site primarily for making a Jawa manikin, most useful for closeups of weapons and accessories (I didnt bother with weapons since they are such an issue at conventions).  Useful for details on the bandoliers and various widgets. Multiple useful links about halfway down right side of page. Primarily used for hood diagram. Jawa Just ta - Costume standards for the 501st Jawas Jawa The Wookieepedia entry on the Jawa

Primary Materials:
Two  Brinkmann GO-LED Waterproof LED Mini Lights
Appropriate yardage of a med weight dark brown roughwoven textured fabric - In my case 4 yds of a poly cotton blend
2 amber coloured decorative glass stones (the kind used both for filling vases and as Magic Card markers)
Plastic Craft Mask
About a yard all told of a black, light absorbing fabric (such as velvet) to cover mask and line hood (from stash)
Dark brown or black cotton jersey work gloves 
Amber coloured transparent glass paint
Two heavy duty cable/zip ties to hold the hood open. A package from Home Despot or Lowes is relatively inexpensive and infinitely handy for costume and home uses so I always keep them around. (in stash)
A few inches of black rubber shelf liner for eye camouflage. You want the stuff that looks all nubbly like rubber droplets sprayed onto a rubbery mesh. (super cheap by the roll from most S-Mart type stores)

Materials and tools I found helpful:
hot glue gun
black paint
sewing machine
matching brown thread
a few inches black ribbon
pliers to break apart light casings
exacto knife
pin vise with small drill bit
duct tape (of course)

The Robe:
My extensive "historical recreation" T-Tunic experience saved the day here.

There are two typical ways to do T-Tunics, one is the way recommended in the TK409 diagram which I disliked for my purposes because since I had fairly wide fabric that would have meant cutting the entire length of the fabric to the appropriate body width. This also involves cutting and attaching the arms separately. If you have narrower fabric or require more fullness in the robe this might be better, but for my circumstances it was not the way to fly. Finally it was unclear who this diagram was supposed to fit so the measurements were mostly useless.

I made the arms straight (not angel winged) and I pretty much just traced around a T-Tunic I use for Pennsic which still seemed to have about the right amount of fullness over a sweatshirt (which I knew I was going to want for warmth). Looking at the movie stills from td8733 it seemed that the sleeves were straight and very deep (the "armpit" is clearly nearly at the waist of the actors) so I made the sleeve extend down about 12" from the shoulder seam.
Here is the robe I did folded in half and laid out (as it would be to cut the fabric) and here is a closeup of the same with a tape measure over it. For size reference that was well enough fullness to comfortably accommodate a 34" chest measurement plus a rather bulky sweatshirt.

Here is a pretty good description of how to do this sort of T-Tunic though you'll want a lot more fullness in the body, though I used the sort of angle-y side hem I just left the bottom straight like the second diagram (IE I did not curve it to account for the side length as the robe is supposed to be puddly and draggy).

Robe construction was done entirely with a Serger due to time constraints (and having gotten a new sewing machine which is complicated enough to actually freak me out a bit). Arm edges and bottom hem was left unfinished to hopefully develop the desired ragged appearance over time. Because the fabric was not wide enough to make sleeves which extended to pretty much cover my hands with my arms down I ended up having to extend both sleeves by about 8 inches at the forearm (which I can detail if requested but I don't see much utility in it here).
I did not bother with the split down the center front of the robe as it seemed pretty superfluous to the appearance of the design and would have added several more seams and closures to worry about.

The Hood:
I made the hood pretty much exactly as diagrammed at tk409, however I used a slightly wider piece of fabric (I just used the full width of the fabric so the folded length was probably closer to 25" then 20).
I originally did not line the hood and used bias tape to hem the hood and make a channel for the zip ties I used to hold the hood open, but I quickly realized that it did not have enough weight to it and that the inside of the hood needs to be black for the mask to blend in.
I ended up top-stitching a roughly 8 inch wide piece of stretch velvet just to the inside of the hood edge (this is same fabric I used to cover the mask) and tacking down the other edge a couple of places (I did not want an obvious line of stitching right in the middle of the hood body). Here is a pic of the hood laid out inside out as flat as possible, and here it is from the side on my lovely dress dummy+octopus model.
The bottom edge of the hood was selvage and did not require finishing.

The closure of the hood was a small snap but it was mildly annoying to have so light a closure as it came open while I was adjusting it a few times so I believe I ended up adding a small hook in the long run.
The stiffener to keep the hood open was simply two long cable ties with the closure ends cut off which I duct taped together in the middle to make one long (approx 26 inch) stiffener. I located the middle of the hood and stitched a channel on each side wide enough to insert the cable, but left the center open. I slid the cable in from the center and got it completely centered on the hood and then stitched the channels closed right at the ends of the ties so that the ties could not shift around.

My lovely assistant.
Next up: the Mask!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Monday - the stuck in because it's apparently winter again edition

The new embroidery frame is a bit fighty, it likes to explode without much warning* so I didn't do work on it much. I have to work out some sort of stabilization beyond occasionally going over the whole thing with a rubber mallet. 

Most of my stitching this week was on #yearofstitch pieces which I generally do without a stand. I'm actually up to week ten though I've only posted through week four.

I didn't hate stitching this like I thought I would! Sadly I started it in two strand and found it a bit weedy, but I was kind of stuck with it by then so I soldiered on with the sides and switched to three strand for the middle section. 

Hooray for laying tools! You can do satin stitch without one, but I certainly wouldn't want to. Finishing off on the back was really annoying though.

I've done some on my HAED Shades of Red piece and it's starting to pick up speed but it still doesn't look like much yet. So much confetti stitching. I had been using a magnifier and light but I think I'm going to ditch the magnifier. It's a lot of hassle and my stitching just seems wonky in the parts where I used it.

There is a cross country stitching challenge at the HAED forum I follow I'm considering but I don't think I have any projects lined up which suit it very well and the prize images they offer aren't typically my thing. I feel like I should join for the sake of challenging myself but it really will cramp my style. There are a couple of months left to join (this is no small challenge) but I suspect I'll leave this one to others.

I did finally try my new Limited edition  Limecrime lip colour Beet It and though sadly I did not get a pic with it on my face I'm REALLY happy with the shade. It looks a bit mauve in the tube (see the small dot to the left) and I was almost pissed at having snagged yet another blah tone but it dries to a really nice intense shade right on that cranberry border between berry and red. I feel like it looked a touch more pink on my face but I also had a much more even application. Putting lipstick on your wrist is surprisingly awkward feeling.

I include the other Limecrime shades I own and a fairly true red from NYX in a similar formula (longwearing matte cream with a doefoot applicator) for comparison. So far all of these have proven to be pretty much bulletproof. Any lippy that will hold up to a dinner party and a mildly absurd amount of wine gets my thumbs up.

Utopia is the color I wore for my wedding!

*The embroidery stand actually exploded again as I got off the couch to set up the lip color pic.

What was supposed to be a simple clean up of my fatally chipped grey and gold polish turned into a subtle but (I think) cool French manicure. The base is Twinkle Twinkle by NailNation3000 and the tips are Love Me Fear Me by IncidentalTwin.

Sadly it doesn't photograph very well AT ALL as the camera really wants to pick up the yellow tone of the flakies instead of the opalescent goodness and I feel like this pic makes my nails look stained even though FOR ONCE they actually aren't.

I may use a pink tinted topcoat next time as these translucent manis seem to yellow out and get dingy really fast.