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DIY Armor: Tips from cosplay experts

Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Craft | 0 comments

“Making costumes is addictive. You never just do one costume. It destroys your life.”
501st Legion

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I went to a couple of fascinating back-to-back maker panels at Star Wars Celebration. They shared tips that would be useful in all kinds of craft – even if you’re not into Star Wars.

The panels were given by two groups.

  • 501st Legion: make/wear Star Wars “dark side” costumes (Darth Vader, stormtroopers, etc.)
  • Mandalorian Mercs Costuming Club: make/wear armor-clad bounty hunter costumes (Boba Fett). Four members constructed armor for a panel audience volunteer in just 40 minutes (!)

Like Justice League Arizona (who I’ve mentioned before), members of these two groups build their own costumes, often make free appearances for charities and other good causes, and are passionate about what they do.

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Getting started

501st Legion:

Don’t do a complicated metal costume like Boba Fett for your first costume. Do a soft costume.

Mandalorian Mercs:

You can get everything you need to make your armor for under $50 – tools, Bondo, gloves, etc. But know what level of tools to buy and when to spend less. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on good tools, if you’re able to.

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Safety

Mandalorian Mercs:

    • Wear gloves. Hot glue will burn you and will not stop burning until it cools off.
    • The most dangerous thing is an X-ACTO knife. That’ll cut through you faster than a hot knife through butter.

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Sizing for Costumes

Audience question: How do you adapt costume templates for people who wear larger sizes?

Mandalorian Mercs: Use optical illusion – black fabric, extra flanks, etc. Adapt templates to fit your body. People don’t all have the same proportions, especially women. Get up close with a friend, who can help you get your exact measurements. Armor must be molded to your body. I don’t think anyone else could put on my armor.

501st Legion:

It’s better to have slightly less accurate armor that’s proportionate to you. You don’t have to stick with on-screen measurements.

Mandalorian Mercs:

Make a duct tape dummy for a perfect cast of your body you can use to create a costume sized to fit.

    1. Put on a t-shirt that’s one size too small.
    2. Duct tape around yourself.
    3. Have friend cut it off down the back.

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Materials and Tools

Audience question: Does costume material have to be the same as the original?

501st Legion: No. It comes down to the finish. If a piece is painted well, you can’t tell what it was made from.

Mandalorian Mercs:

  • A dremel set is one of the most important tools. It makes plastic look like metal. However, it is extremely messy. It goes so fast it can eat into your armor.
  • The best place to find expanded PVC board, a.k.a. Sintra is a sign shop. [I believe Sintra is what they used for the armor-making demo. –TCJ]
  • You can get Bondo at Walmart. It comes in large container that should last a long time. Do not glob Bondo on. Use rubber spatula to smooth on small bits.
  • Krylon paints dry quickly and last. Don’t mix them with Rustoleum, because it won’t cure. Some people prefer to airbrush.
  • Primer is like the Velcro to help your paint stick. It’ll last longer.

501st Legion:

Use rare earth magnets when working with metal that you can’t clamp down on. Just don’t accidentally glue your magnets to your armor!

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Sourcing

Mandalorian Mercs:

Costume pieces may be incorporated from found items, seemingly random things like a battery cover from a palm pilot. We like go on what we call “scavenger hunts”. You’ll never look at the thrift store or dollar store the same way.

501st Legion:

It’s funny how our costume obsession has increased the price on random and ridiculous stuff on eBay! 3D printing can be a cost-effective alternative.

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Final Thought

501st Legion:

Sometimes we get too obsessed with details and have to remind ourselves: “Just relax. We’re just plastic spacemen.”

Thank you to Star Wars Celebration for providing media passes.

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Clever ways to organize craft supplies

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Craft | 2 comments

So my craft stuff had gotten a little out of control. I went looking for ideas on how to corral it, and I thought I’d share some of my faves with you. Because I’m guessing I’m not the only one with art or craft supplies run amok.

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1. Multi-purpose craft room – I love the way Alexis (of Persia Lou) incorporated space for various types of craft, work, and for her kids to entertain themselves all in one room!

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2. Repurposed containers – Put vintage finds you love to use as storage!

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3. Convert a hutch to a sewing space!

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4. Craft supply shelves – Matching glass jars give even a mishmash of supplies a uniform appearance a and allow you to see what you’ve got.

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5. Craft closet makeover – one couple transformed a closet into a welcoming workspace.

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6. DIY birch branch brush holder – Drill holes into a piece of branch to hold brushes, pens, or other tools.

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7. Repurpose an old ironing board as a place to hold spools of thread.

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8. Art journal cart - This IKEA cart is a great place to keep journals and supplies. And it’s mobile, so you can have a workspace anywhere in the house.

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9. You can see the same rolling carts used for other types of supplies in this studio. Also love the 3-tiered metal lazy Susan!


Photos via respective sites.

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Fireworks and Fountains in Anaheim

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

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1. Make an entrance

They say it’s about the journey.

But arriving can be pretty nice too. After you’ve been traveling, unlocking the door to a comfortable hotel room feels like someone should strike up the band and set off fireworks.

That literally happened when we stayed at Hotel Indigo Anaheim. Mention my name, and there will be fireworks the night you check in too.

Hotel Indigo hall

Actually, Disneyland does a fireworks show every night. Mentioning me changes nothing. You can, however, request a room with a fireworks view when you make your reservation. Then you can just assume they’re in your honor.

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Everyone there is really accommodating and service-focused, regularly working things out for guests – transportation, early check-ins, recommendations, etc. We had a late-notice schedule change for our Star Wars Celebration convention trip, and General Manager Edward Voysest was flexible with changing our reservation. Hannah made sure everything was set when we checked in.

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So while the really hardcore fans camped out on a convention center floor, we were sleeping in an actual bed with really excellent pillows. I know. Poor us!

 
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2. Start your day

We were so comfortable, it was hard to get moving the next morning. Blackout curtains can be a double-edged sword. The Keurig helped.

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The bright lighting in the bathroom helped too. In the shower was a regular shower head, as well as a handheld one that reminded me one of those long microphones. So, in case you need to do some shower singing, you’re all set. There’s also a fancy straight-sided vessel sink atop the counter and really nice scented soaps.

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Since we had stocked our mini fridge with fruit and yogurt and whatnot, it was easy to grab something quick that first morning when we were in a hurry.

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When we were less rushed the following day, we tried out the Chambers Bar & Bistro in the hotel. It was really crowded, so they asked if we wanted to eat out on the patio. It was a beautiful morning and so peaceful out there!

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Our server José knew so much about the area and the menu. I ordered the chilaquiles, house-made tortilla chips drenched in red pepper sauce with queso fresco and avocado on top and local eggs, fruit, and diced potatoes on the side. It was absolutely the best dish of the trip. Thinking about it now makes me a little sad I can’t eat that every day. Also hungry.

 
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3. Get around

After we were ready and breakfasted and coffeed, we’d slip our lanyards on, get our convention gear, and walk over to the Anaheim Convention Center. Along with Disneyland, it was only about 10-15 minutes away – close enough it wasn’t a big deal to go back if you forgot something/needed a nap.

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Not driving is actually more convenient, since traffic around there can be kind of a mess and parking at the convention center, theme parks, and most area hotels is $15-20 a day. Hotel Indigo Anaheim doesn’t charge guests for parking and even let us stay parked in the garage a few extra hours since we planned to be at the convention past checkout.

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The area is really pedestrian friendly with wide palm-lined sidewalks, a ton of restaurants, and a few stores. The only time we used the car during our time there was to meet my cousin Allison in another town for lunch one day.

 
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4. Return

After we were done conventioning for the day, we’d head back.

Hotel Indigo Anaheim is pretty hard to miss. It was remodeled a couple years ago (recently enough that some Google Maps views still show the old Holiday Inn Express facade) after the launch of the Hotel Indigo brand with its focus on an experience that reflects the character of the neighborhood. In this case, that means an agricultural theme. Way before the remodel and before Anaheim was populated by Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and 20,000 hotel rooms, there were acres of citrus trees and walnut groves.

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Now there is a musical fountain and light show (think mini Bellagio) out front, but the hotel features plenty of reminders of the past. There are floor-to-ceiling photos of walnut trees and vintage farm equipment, antiques in the lounge, and a restaurant named after the old Chambers Ranch.

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You’ll probably be greeted by the super friendly lobby staff when you walk back in. The Front Desk Supervisor Arthur, a.k.a. King Arthur, takes care of his domain, patiently answering questions for guests, helping with the luggage cart, even running outside to direct traffic when a parking guest was in the way of the garbage truck.

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You can sit by the pool, get a workout in, or catch up on work in the business center. There’s free wifi throughout the hotel, so you’re not limited to working in the business center. I took my iPad up to the second floor lounge, which is open to the lobby, while people wearing conference lanyards or Jedi costumes or mouse ears walked by outside.

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Of course, chilling in your room is nice too. (And I definitely needed some down time!) We had a family studio, so it was really roomy with a couch and nice hardwood floors. Housekeeping comes daily and the room was always sparkling clean when we returned, with fun little touches like towels folded into the shape of an elephant. One day we left Mr. Cheeseface on the nightstand, and they set him in the center of the pillows when they made up the beds, which made me smile.

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Before you know it, the Disney fireworks will be bursting in the sky, and it’ll be time to start it all again.

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Photos by Phillip or me.

Thank you to IHG / Hotel Indigo for providing our accommodations and breakfast vouchers.

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Try Today Friday

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

Over on our Facebook page, I’ve been doing something I call Try Today Friday. I share a craft idea, travel app, recipe tip, or some other useful thing simple enough to try out that evening. The ingredients/supplies are things you probably have on hand, could easily pick up on your way home, or just download.

Scarf tying tutorial by Schmutzie

Some examples from past Try Today Fridays:

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For now, #TryTodayFriday only happens on the Facebook page. So like us and make sure to stop by there on Fridays!

Scarf photo via Schmutzie. Calendar via Things I Should Do

Microblog Mondays

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Cactus Craft

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Craft | 0 comments

I keep coming across neat cactus-related ideas and thought you guys would like to check these out.

Cactus at The Farm South Mountain

1. Paper

Simple yet fabulous-looking paper cacti project via The House That Lars Built!

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2. Plastic

Plastic bottle cacti by Veronika Richterová. While she has special processes for creating her cactus art, it’d be fun to try making a simpler version of these.

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3. Planters

We featured these upcycled water bottle planters by A Beautiful Mess on our Facebook page in a Try Today Friday post, but I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss them!

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4. Pincushion

Sewing Lab has a tutorial for a cute stuffed fabric cactus that’s the perfect place for pins and needles.

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5. Possibilities

C2C Gallery in Grand Haven, Michigan suggests using cactus seeds in artwork. What they had in mind were Helen Otterson’s botanical-inspired ceramics. (Like Succulent Blossom.) But it made me wonder about using seeds in collage to add some depth and texture.

Have you ever created something inspired by cactus or using actual parts of a cactus plant?

Succulent Blossom By Helen Otterson

Top photo taken by me at The Farm at South Mountain. Other photos via their respective sites.

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7 Things that Only Happen at a Star Wars convention

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Travel | 6 comments

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A few of the things we witnessed at the Star Wars Celebration convention that I doubt happen anywhere else:

    • A panel on Star Wars vegetable carving — that was full to capacity.
    • The feeling you’re being followed, and then realizing that behind you is a full-size working R2D2 made out of LEGO.
    • An emcee, who, immediately after showing a movie trailer, asks “Do you want to see it again?” and an audience that shouts “YEAH!” and stays to watch a second time.

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  • A guy who cosplays as George Lucas.
  • A room full of non-Navajo speakers going to a screening of a movie in Navajo.
  • Carrie Fisher casually wandering out to a food court patio to give her dog some water.
  • A 3D movie experience that keeps getting disrupted by people walking in late and using light sabers as flashlights.

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Microblog Mondays

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