Monday, August 30, 2010

Dragon*Con - What's Going On

Dragon*Con has finally published their tracks and schedule!!! As always though, with any convention, there is the "can change at any time" disclaimer. Melinda and I have been looking through it, and we may have overbooked ourselves, and it may cost us $100. If it does, oh well, it does.

Each Push Pin is a convention hotel. The little pink bed is our hotel.

The three across the top aren't bad. There is a tunnel and walkway system connecting them. The yellow for the Westin isn't bad since it's right there at our hotel. That stupid light blue pin is the trouble maker.

We've been looking through the schedule and we have some tough decisions to make, and a lot of walking to do.

Thursday - 10AM - 10PM - Preregistration pickup - Sheraton
7:30PM - 10PM - D*C Rennfest/Celtic Extravaganza - Marriott (Celtic Party)

Friday - 10AM - 11AM (all the below are from 10 to 11...too many choices)
45 Years of Jeannie - I Dream of Jeannie Panel - Hyatt
Interview with the Cast of True Blood - Hyatt
V: Aliens Among Us - Interview with the cast of the reboot of V - Marriott
Star Trek - Engage - Opening of the Star Trek Track - Sheraton
Intro to Alternative History and Steampunk 101 - Westin

Friday - 11:30AM - 12:30PM
Star Wars Costuming and Accessorizing - Marriott
What Happened to My Space Program - Panel with NASA - Hilton

Friday - 1PM -2PM
Costuming: From Concept to Working Model - Marriott
Star Trek Costuming - Sheraton

Friday - 2:30PM - 3:30PM
A Hobbits Tale - Conversation with Sean Astin - Hyatt
DS9 - Home of the Prophets - Sheraton
Meet the Stars of Star Wars - Hyatt
Weasley's Wizardry - Hyatt

Friday - 4PM - 5PM
Hydrogen Cars, Wind Farms, Ethanol, and Other Silly Ideas - Hilton
Lost in Space 45 Years - Lost in Space panel - Marriott

Friday - 5:30PM - 6:30PM
30 Years Since the Empire Stuck Back - Marriott
Simon and Kaylee Reunited - Firefly panel - Westin
D*C Opening Ceremony - Hyatt

Friday - 7PM - 8PM
Troi Unplugged - conversation with Mirina Sirtis - Sheraton

Friday 11:30PM - ??
Live Astronomy - Star Gazing with NASA - Hilton
Are you a Death Eater? - Marriott

Saturday 10AM - ??
Dragon*Con Costume Parade Down Peachtree

Saturday 11AM - 12PM
Dreaming of Jeannnie - Marriott
True & A - Q&A with True Blood - Hyatt

Saturday 1PM - 2PM
A Living Doll - Conversation with Kelly LeBrock - Marriott

Saturday 2:30PM - 3:30PM
Articulation: Objects in Motion Costuming - Marriott
TNG: Adventures in the 24th Century - Conversation with ST:TNG Cast - Sheraton

Saturday 4PM - 5PM
Firefly Guest Extravaganza - Firefly cast panel - Hyatt

Saturday 5:30PM - 6:30PM
Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow 8th Annual Fundraiser and Bake Sale - Hilton
Question for Q - Conversation with John Delancy - Sheraton
Spotlight on Adam Savage - Hyatt
The Toytastic Generation - 80s toy cartoons - Hyatt

Saturday 7PM - 8PM
Freaks and Geeks in the Potterverse - Marriott

Saturday 7PM - 9:30PM
Guest of Honor and Awards Banquet - we have tickets for this - Hyatt

Saturday 8:30PM - 10PM
Star Trek World Record Attempt - Sheraton

Saturday 10PM - ??
Last Party on Alderaan - Star Wars Party - 10PM - 2AM - Marriott
Dragon*Con After Dark - 10PM - 12AM - Hyatt
Star Trek Party - 10PM - 12AM - Sheraton

Sunday - 9:30AM - 12PM
Iron Artist - Iron Chef, but with Art - Hyatt

Sunday - 10AM - 11AM
Faith and Fantasy - GOD - God's role in SciFi - Marriott
Filling the Gaps - Prop Making - Marriott
V: Visitors Are Our Friends - Hyatt

Sunday 11:30AM - 12:30PM
An Hour with the Tams - Simon and River Tam from Firefly - Westin
Gargoyles: The Animated Series - Panel with the voice actors - Hyatt
What is the President's Plan for Our Space Program - Hilton

Sunday 1PM - 2PM
Avery Brookes Q&A - Sheraton
Sin & Salvation in Bon Temps - True Blood - Marriott
Weasley's Wizardry - Westin

Sunday 2:30PM - 3:30PM
Data from Data - Conversation with Brent Spiner - Sheraton

Sunday 4PM - 5PM
DNA Forensic Crime Investigation - Hilton
Futurama Cast Panel - Hyatt
Miss Star Trek Universe - Sheraton
Star Wars Comics and Art - Marriott

Sunday 7PM - 8PM
Race of the Tauntauns - Tauntaun sleeping bag race

Sunday 8:30PM -12:30AM
Yule Ball - Harry Potter Party

Monday 10AM - 12:30PM
Star Trek Cast Closing Ceremony

Monday 1PM - 3:30PM
Dragon*Con Has Talent - Talent Contest - Hyatt

Monday 2:30PM - 3:30PM
Turning the Pictures in Your Head Into a Roof Over it - how to make a living as an artist - Hyatt

Monday 4PM - 5PM
Closing Ceremony - Hyatt

The Mask - Part 4 - Paint

Time to prime all this mess and paint it. I've got less than 10 days now for Dragon*Con.

The primer goes on great. Let each coat dry for an hour and then apply another. 3 in total if I remember correctly. Primed the vinyl as well.

Nothing says "Obey Me" like a head on a pike. I turned this toward the door and asked Melinda to come outside. Scared her to death. I laughed.

Now for the silver paint. I have two kinds and I don't know what the difference is. I use the first kind and get two good coats. Next I take the new paint and hit it with a coat of it. This new paint has some sort of metal flakes in it. It almost feels like glitter paint. But why would Home Depot stock glitter paint without putting a warning on it. I only hit it with one coat of this and wait for Melinda to come home and deliver her opinion.

"Why is it sparkly?" -- Melinda
Ugh...I had turned Destro, the greatest weapons dealer in the world, into a freaking Twilight vampire. I never looked at it in the direct sun, but sure enough, there was glitter everywhere. Gold, silver, blue and purple sparkles all over my mask.

Fortunately, I had more of the first kind of paint, and it covered the sparkle paint very well...after two more coats. Now, with primer, I have 7 coats of paint. Time for two of clear coat and call it done.

At last, I have my mask complete. It is not perfect. I could work on this solid for a year or more and still see things wrong with it. I have no time left for my OCD. It is what it is, and I just hope someone thinks it's cool, because I do.

The lumps in the vinyl smooth out when it gets stretched over my head.

Oh, you might be wondering about now, how am I going to see out of the mask? I wear glasses and there is no room for them under there. Well, while I was building the features with the card stock, I built in a foam form around the eyes. Once everything was done, I took the lenses from an old pair of glasses and inserted them in the foam form just behind the front of the mask. As, Travis put it "you made a prescription mask?" Yup.

The glasses are there.

Modified dog collar for the bottom of the mask. Helps hold the neck in place. Cut off the original buckle and just added more velcro.

The Mask Part 3 - The Back Half

Remember earlier on I mentioned I made a big mistake with the mask that I wouldn't find out about until much later? Well it's much later now. I have a front piece 90% done, but it's useless until I can get the back done. I treat the back just like the front. Using tape and cardstock to build up the surface, then treating with resin. So far so good.

Then I try to join the front and back. Not good. I need this to be easy and quick to do, and I am not seeing any way to do that. There is a huge gap between the front and back. I try to make a cardstock filler, but I just can't work out how to join them. I've got the front holding onto my head with three velcro straps (left to right and one from the top to middle). I thought about adding velcro to the inside of the back and just letting velcro work its magic. But there is still the gap, and I have less than 20 days now.

Eventually, I decided to scrap the back from the original mask. It wasn't working. It wasn't comfortable. It wasn't going to be easy to attach. Instead, I sat down and sewed together a new back from some of the vinyl I have left from my other pieces.

I essentially made half a baseball cap and then ran two strips down from it that velcro at the tops and down the middle. It's not seamless like it should be. It's not as elegant as I would like, but I am out of time and worst yet, out of ideas. I did test to see if the vinyl would take paint and it did like a champ (I mean it's plastic, it should). I joined this piece to the front with Gorilla brand duct tape and of course this now introduce more seams and that stupid tape texture that you can't hide. CRAP!

I could use more resin over the tape. That would cover it in plastic and hide most everything, but that resin has some strong fumes that really linger. So, I did something I knew I shouldn't and switched mediums. I went with a patching flexible sealant putty typically used for countertops. It dried fast and was low odor, but new and I didn't know how to work with it. It dried rough in some parts. It didn't sand well at all, meaning it didn't sand at all. It did do the trick though and it hid most of the seams just like I wanted.

It's not perfect. It's not that close to what I had originally envisioned back in February, but it's what I've got.

The Mask - Part 2

Now I have this big lump of tinfoil, duct tape, and fiberglass resin. What to do now? Well, I guess I need to see and breath. Eye holes cut. Nose cut out and reformed. Oddly enough, it now looks like a wrestling mask. Crap.

I used this image of a bust that a short lived company made of Destro as my source. I then took what I had learned from PaperCrafting, and folder card stock over the mask, using it as a form, and the card stock to build up the features. The lips for the mask were a challenge. How do you make cardstock roll smoothly. You don't. Instead I took a piece of cotton rope I had for a dog leash, cut it to length and taped it in place. Instant lips. It worked pretty well. I used electrical tape to secure the cardstock, which may not have been the best idea. When I later tried to cover the card stock and tape with resin, it didn't seem to want to adhere to the electrical tape. Either they don't like each other, or my mix of resin was not right. Either way it did eventually get several coats of resin. I don't have any pictures of the resin part, because it is messy and I didn't want to accidentally screw up my camera.

After the resin had dried, I noticed there were still some rough areas that needed attention. I could keep trying to smooth it out, or bring in my dear old friend Mr. Bondo. Some bondo and sanding and its looking pretty good.

This is when I start to run out of time. I still need to fix the back, join the two halves, and paint. About now, there are maybe 20 or so days until Dragon*Con. This going to be rough.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Costume Repair Kit

According to everything I have read, you should take a costume repair kit with you to conventions. Makes sense, especially if you are flying to one. Only thing is though, costume repair kits were never intended for redneck geek costumes. For example, I can't take paint and fiberglass resin with me and use it in the hotel. Well, I guess I could, but I may want to go back to that hotel one day.
So, now I have to build the redneck geek costume repair kit. So far the kit contains:
A small sewing kit (needles, threads, etc)
5 different kinds of tape (scotch, duct, painters, electrical, chrome)
Safety pins
2 kinds of glue (Instant Crazy Glue, Elmers)
Silver touch up paint and brush
Sharpies (black, red, silver)
Zip ties (large and small)
2 sided sticky velcro
Roll velcro
Replacement decals
Cutting tools (scissors, exacto, razor knife)
Velcro zip ties

Hopefully all this can get us through the weekend. I would ideally like to include a dremel tool and attachments. Along with fiberglass and spray paint, but again, I think the hotel may frown on that. Not sure though, I may have to ask.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Mask

The mask...the mask...that #*%*&#() mask. What in the world was I thinking about trying to make a full head mask by myself. I've never done anything like this before. This is totally new territory.

I thought about casting one in latex. Make a plaster mold of my head then poor a latex mask from that. Couple of problems. This is expensive. This is dangerous. And latex ALWAYS looks like latex. A rubber mask is a rubber mask. This is supposed to be made of metal not rubber. So that is out.

I thought about making one out of aluminum. I did cast aluminum in college so I have some experience with that. Still though, it would require a mold of my head in a substance that could be burned away by the molten aluminum. Maybe next year.

I found a full mask of Destro for sell on eBay and have seen other people with them. This could work, until I saw the price. $250. For just the mask. Nope. Going to have to make one myself. Somehow.

Now when I was making the papercraft guns, I learned a lot about how to mold with paper and use fiberglass resin to "freeze" it and basically turn it to plastic. So, that would work. Plastic is hard and can look like metal when painted right. Unfortunately, there are no papercraft patterns for making a full head mask. But I didn't give up.

I did find a way to make a full head mask yourself. I don't want to say where I found this technique, but even gimps can have a good idea from time to time.

To make the mask:
Step 1 - have someone wrap your head in aluminum foil. Foil is a good substance for this. It's flexible, but will hold shape well. This lets features like eyes, nose, ears and mouth to be marked, but doesn't provide a perfect mold.

Step 2 - have the same person that wrapped you head in foil now wrap your foil wrapped head in duct tape. This is the real trick to it. This will basically freeze the foil wrap in place and give the whole mask a little more substance. Note: Be sure the person tears the strips of duct tape BEFORE putting the tape on your head. That tearing sound is loud.

The Straws are so I can breathe.

Step 3 - cut the mask off your head. Either with one cut up the back or a cut up each side. This is where I made a mistake that took me months to find.

Step 4 - take the removed mask and use fiberglass resin on the inside. You'll do the outside too, but later. This coat on the inside is simply for strength. Best to do it early too so the fumes will have time to fade before you have to wear it.

The remaining steps involve creating the features on the front of the mask. Applying the resin to the front. Fixing the back half in my case and then reattaching the two halves. How bad could this be?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


One of the MANY events at Dragon*Con is a world record attempt. They are trying to get the most people ever photographed all wearing Star Trek uniforms.
Melinda saw this and we HAVE to do it. Joy. I'm excited about it, but this means that there is yet another costume for me to fix. *sigh*
I've always said if I was going to do a Star Trek uniform I'd do the uniform from The Wrath of Khan. I love those uniforms. You can buy some pre-made versions for about $200 each. I could try to sew them, but I don't have time to find the pattern, material, order the pins and insignia and actually sew the things. What to do? that's what. We ordered two Paramount licensed uniform costumes. The quality is OK, but what do you expect for a "costume". It works though. We will be participating in the world record attempt.

My command red shirt (remember this is the next gen, red shirts don't die) and Melinda's science blue.

Destro DC Costume

OK, now on to Destro.

Destro has several pieces:
Leather pants
That red and black jacket
Ruby necklace
Arm gauntlets

Oh, yeah, and that darn mask. The mask is going to be the topic of several blog posts, simply because it is so darn hard to make. Here I am going to look at the parts that aren't the mask.

Boots. Not just any combat boots will do. These need to be special, and comfortable. Destro is a Scottish Laird after all, and you know he has style. Just look at that jacket! I spent quite a while looking over different boots. Doc Martens were my first choice, but honestly, they seem to have gotten lame in my old age. Then it hit me. Thanks to The Devils Panties, I had learned about New Rock Boots. Handmade Spanish and Italian leather boots. If you know me, you know I am a shoe snob, so these fit right in. It took a while, but I found the perfect pair. They look great with the pants and oh, are they comfortable. I just need to wear them a little more to break them in. I did wear them on a recent work trip to Herndon. They are surprisingly TSA friendly and it was a nice little secret wearing a pair of sh!t kickers in the office.

Pants. So, this was during the time where I was really doubting if I could actually sew. I had many failures with Melinda's costume, so I chickened out and took the pants project to my Mom. Oh, why didn't I just go out and buy a pair of leather pants? Have you ever tried to look for leather pants in the summer time? I could find them at bike shops, but they would have Harley Davidson or other logos all over them. Plus they are expensive. I could buy a lot of vinyl material for the cost of one pair of pants. They turned out great after some tailoring. The best comment was when my Mom first showed them to me "Crap! Is my butt that BIG!?" Apparently it is.

Jacket. After the first fitting of the pants, I spent some time looking online for a black leather jacket that I could add that red collar too. I wasn't having a lot of luck. I had found a few, but they were a couple of hundred bucks each, and I kept getting this nagging thing about keeping the cost down. So, I had a lot of material left over from the pants and I could either keep the material around and keep moving it from place to place, or try one more time to sew. This time a jacket. I really had nothing to lose. If it worked, I had a jacket. If it didn't, I didn't have to keep up with all the material. I took an old costume shirt to use as a basic pattern (arm holes are NOT straight). Cut out the pieces and started sewing and customizing. I updated the jacket a little, but kept the black and red. I like how it turned out. An updated look that keeps the heart of the old school jacket.

See, I kept the red collar. The pin is one that I found and really liked. I think it goes great on the jacket.

Ruby necklace. I have some ideas for this one and it may or may not make it to the final cut. I'm personally not that big on the old pimp medallion anyway.

Arm gauntlets. These unfortunately got scrapped due to time and I didn't think they would work with the redesign on the jacket. I did make the rockets and grenades and I love the grenades, so they may make the costume in some way. I took three racket balls, cut a hole in the top, inserted a piece of PVC pipe and cut to length. The add a piece of card stock for the pin, paint red and poof, you have grenades.

It's now August 18th. I've got 15 days to Dragon*Con. Melinda's costume is done. Mine is 90%. That mask is just kicking my butt, but I've got too much invested in it to give up now. I WILL make it one way or another.

The Baroness Costuming

The Baroness. This will be fun.

The Baroness wears glasses normally, so no big deal there for Melinda. Just have to come up with the costume. Now, I will admit, I know how to sew. Both my parents taught me. We've been needing a sewing machine for years, and now I have a good excuse to buy one. It has been years since I used one, but how hard could it be? (those words still haunt me)

After months of trial and error, lots of scrapped fabric, and many frayed nerves. I gave up on her costume. Making it that is, and we set out on a quest to buy the pieces and put them together.
Pieces needed :
Black top -- needs to be able to either be painted or have a decal of the Cobra logo attached.
Black corset -- going to be tricky to find the right one
Black Pants -- shouldn't be too hard right?
Black boots -- already owned.
Black wig -- easy
Weapons -- Airsoft and Nerf and a lot of paint

The clothes needed to look shiny. Something to resemble vinyl or armor.

The top came to an Under Armor long sleeve shirt. We were looking at these anyway to wear for comfort under the costumes. This one just gets to come outside the costume. I got the Cobra logo as a vinyl decal, and believe it or not, the sucker actually stuck to the shirt!

The pants we found at a store and they have a leather look too them and a really funky cut. I did take them to my Mom to have the tailored (I was still recovering from my total loss of sewing ability).

The corset Melinda found that through of all places. It is a black leather corset and works perfectly.

The weapons were fun to work out. I originally tried making papercraft weapons, just because it was different and fun, but soon realized that I would be spending way too much time to get them just right. So, we got Airsoft pistols for their realism and then I repainted them to add more personality. I did leave the blaze orange ends. It's technically required by law and I don't want to mess with the Atlanta PD walking around looking like we're armed to the teeth.

This will be going in the thigh holster we have for her. The orange tip is still there, just under tape.

This is the Nerf Long Strike, after a paint job. Melinda will be carrying this in order to snipe any Joes that may happen to be around. There is also an ammo belt that straps around her leg.

Honestly, it took us from about March until August to get everything together, thought out, and assembled. Now, admittedly, I was working on my Destro costume at the same time.

There will be more pictures of the complete costume, likely on facebook, when DC gets here.