costume fabrication

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The Froud Workshop (creating a faery bust with Wendy & Toby Froud)

Published April 6, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Two weeks ago, I attended a weekend workshop at The Fernie Brae with Wendy Froud and Toby Froud where we made mixed-media bust sculptures of faery creatures. I was SO unbelievably excited for this event! I had already taken Toby’s amazing rod puppet workshop last year, but I had yet to meet his mother Wendy, who also happens to be a master doll-maker, writer, poet, and puppet fabricator, as well as one of my top art heroes. The multitude of art books that Wendy has created with her husband the legendary Brian Froud, as well as her instructional Gnomon Workshop DVD from many years back, Creating a Faery Figure with Wendy Froud, have been a major source of artistic inspiration for many, many years. Wendy was in town for just a short time, having flown all the way from Devon to visit with Toby and his family. I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for the workshop, and considering that I was more than just a little bit starstruck to meet the woman who was the fabricator of Yoda and the creatures of The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and pretty much everything that mattered to me from my young adulthood onward, I think that I behaved myself rather well. I couldn’t resist a picture with her on the last day of the workshop, of course, but that’s to be expected.

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The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a meet n’ greet Goblin Feast party at The Fernie Brae. Wendy, Toby, Toby’s wife Sarah, and Toby’s adorable son Sebastian were all there to sign books, take photos, and accept compliments. There were enough of Wendy’s gorgeous goblins and delicate little fairies for sale to make my fingers twitch, but I remained as fiscally responsible and steadfast as any millennial who has recently purchased their first home. It didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying them up close, however. I lifted a lot of these photos of the event from The Fernie Brae’s Facebook page, by the way.

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I was especially smitten with Yiren the Whining One aka Blossom, the scruffy girl-goblin on the far right.

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She was the first character that I acquired of my full collection of the limited-edition F.A.O. Schwarz Froud goblin plushes, after all.

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Ahem–anyway, the workshop! It was about twelve hours long in its entirety. The classes ran from around 10AM-5PM on Saturday and Sunday, with an hour break each day for lunch. Wendy and Toby both had brought with them a couple of examples of busts that they had either been completed prior to the class, or were still works in progress.

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On Saturday morning we started with a special guided meditation that was written for Wendy by Jessica Macbeth, the author of Brian Froud’s The Faeries’ Oracle. The theme of the meditation was the changing of the seasons; somewhat of a visual transition or a verbal release from the icy grip of Winter into the quickening of Spring, and of course the various fantastical faery creatures and spirit guides that one might personally associate with each. The idea was to stoke the creative mind and maybe spark some creative inspiration in the process. After Wendy read aloud the mediation, we were encouraged to sketch some of the characters we met or experienced within our mind’s eye. Most of the class either chose to design a Winter spirit or a Spring spirit. I myself had decided on a Spring variant of the Pooka, a shapeshifting trickster faery of Celtic mythology with blazing golden-yellow eyes that usually chooses to appear in the guise of a wild black stallion, a black goat, or a black hare…which is just perfect for Easter! Also I just might have just seen the classic 1950 Jimmy Stewart film Harvey for the first time shortly before the workshop, which only served as an additional inspiration to make some kind of strange oversized rabbit character.

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The six-foot, three-and-a-half-inch tall rabbit Harvey is apparently meant to be a Pooka in the film, but regardless of whether he really is or isn’t, I need to add that painting to my list of movie paintings that I want badly enough to paint for myself. I guess it wouldn’t be the first.

12799043_10101244627209287_3496249651384260762_n.jpg(Yep, that is the Boring Blue Boy from “Coraline.”)

I had even sketched a few rough drawings before that weekend just based on the description of the workshop that I had read online. I knew that I wanted to make some kind of Spring character that incorporated my ideas of creepy bunny rabbits, daffodils, and other seasonal blooming flowers.

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After the guided meditation, I had an even better idea of the type of character that I wanted to create. I saw in my mind a few more specific details, like hairstyle, teeth, facial expression, and lots and lots of freckles!

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Once we all had few ideas to work with, we began our sculptures by making an armature out of bent wire, aluminum foil, and masking tape.

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After this we began to evenly cover the skull armature with polymer clay, specifically a custom blend of a light flesh tone and white/champagne color Puppen Fimo, and map out the proportions of the facial features with a series of simple shapes and blobs of clay. Unfortunately, I got so heavily involved with what I was doing after this point that I completely forgot to take any more in-progress photos until I basically had a fully sculpted head, other than this great one that my friend Laura got of me…but she’s a much more fastidious photographer than I.

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Rest assured that the sculpting process was still very much the same as all of my other Froudian creatures that I’ve ever made in the past, including Toby’s puppet workshop last year.  Definitely have a look at that old post if you’re interested in finding out exactly how we like to do these things!

By the end of the day, everyone had created a very fascinating and completely diverse array of faery creatures for Toby to bake in the craft ovens. Luckily I was able to snap a couple of photos of that.

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In case you were wondering, this one’s mine!

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On Sunday we returned to the workshop to find that all of our characters had been baked beautifully. We promptly got to work on the painting, wigging, and clothing fabrication process. I always totally love that part, but again was a bit too involved in what I was doing to take any photos. If you really wanted to know more about that process, then check out this recent post that I wrote about Mama Kringle, another personal project that I happened to finish during the same weekend as the workshop.

The last pictures I took from the workshop itself were the amazing group photos of the finished (or nearly finished) pieces at the end of the second day.

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They all turned out so very different and interesting that I kept thinking how I would love to see either a movie or children’s book that featured the entire group as characters!

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Note Toby’s Napoleonic goblin and Wendy’s ethereal forest spirit at dead center.

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Here’s a better view of them, with my Pooka (who I decided to name Padraig) in the far left.

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I really love the tongue on this last one!

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Well I suppose that’s everything as far as my workshop photos. It was such an amazing experience to quietly work on a sculpture right next to two of my artistic heroes, occasionally stopping to talk about mythology, art supplies, faeries, and pepper jack moon cheese (which is apparently a favorite Froud work-time snack…who knew!) I’m gonna cut myself off from raving any more about how awesome it was, but if you guys have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!

In my next post I will be featuring some more quality photos of the finished Padraig bust, so stay tuned for that!

 

Mama Kringle Work-in-Progress Part 2: Costume Fabrication

Published April 5, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Now I had created my 19″ posable polymer clay soft body Mama Kringle doll.

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She was finally all ready for some clothes and finishing touches! Costume fabrication is one of my all-time favorite parts of doll-making; probably tied with painting depending on how interesting the costume. Again, this is what I was going for:

Mama Kringle Design

For some reason I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of Mama Kringle just being skyclad underneath her robe, so I decided to make her a pair of cute frilly undergarments that you will never see (unless you’re a creep like me who has always had to look at what’s underneath dolls’ dresses.) For this purpose I have an enormous bag of antique lace scraps that I once was lucky enough to find secondhand. Then I was even more lucky, because I happened to find in the bag a crinkly Victorian lace collar that was the perfect size to use as a one-piece negligee.

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I fitted the front of the lace to her body, then wrapped the straps of the collar around her shoulders and down her back. It really was such a perfect size that I was able to create the rest of the onesie with just a couple of carefully-placed contrasting lace panels.

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I know the garters and tiny buttons were completely pointless, but I kind of had to.

Here’s the back of it:

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Before I made her robes, I also decided to give her a fluffy layered petticoat to add some more volume to her silhouette.

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Next I cut out her robe. I forgot to take a photo of this before I had already stitched most of it together, but I used this generic robe pattern that I found online as a reference.

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The fabric I was working with was a very messy, long-pile silver faux fur, so I didn’t bother with cutting a pattern out of separate pieces of paper. I just folded the thick fabric over and used it as a pattern for itself, cutting everything on the floor fur-side down with very sharp scissors at an angle in an attempt to make slightly less of a mess.

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It was still a bit of a fluff massacre, but whatcha gonna do? I also attached the white fur trim to the panels of the robe before I had sewn it all together, which was a little tricky as I had to fold the trim in half as I worked for the desired thickness. Since I don’t have a working sewing machine, I also sew all of my costumes by hand. I finally caved and bought my first thimble during this project because I had to use extra-large needle to get through this tough fabric, and after a while it was pretty brutal on my fingers.

In the following nightly work sessions I made her sleeves and feathered collar, which I embellished with antique lace and tiny real freshwater pearls.

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Next a few more finishing touches–more feathers on the collar, gossamer white eyelashes, a shiny red bead for a bindi, some additional delicate opalescent fiber strands in her collar, some perfect little round lavender Barbie spectacles that I found on eBay, lots of additional glittery winter twigs and flora in her hair, and a sprig of mistletoe in her hand/hair.

IMG_6495.JPG I didn’t have any mini mistletoe on hand, so I actually custom-made this for her by combining three different kinds of artificial plants together; the frosted heart-shaped leaves from one, the white berries from another, and the little yellow clusters from the third. I twisted it all together in a tiny bouquet to hide the drops of glue.

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And for the very last touch of magic…I wove a fine strand of micro LED fairy lights into her hair, and hid the little battery pack with the on/off switch in a slot in the back of her robe. I think the warm white glow when she’s switched on is really beautiful.

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Much like Lucia with her glow-in-the dark skin, she could also double as a night light! The shadows she casts of the wall are really cool; much like being in a forest at night.

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I’ll make one more post for the finished photos!

Back from the Grave (Post-Halloween)

Published November 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I’m back, guys! Here’s a very brief recap–the Kickstarter campaign ended at 134% funded, I was able to order 150 books from the publisher Bookbaby instead of just 100 because we totally KILLED the original goal, and then I channeled the souls of multiple personalities throughout the month of October, because Samhain aka Halloween is actually my holiday despite my somewhat out-of-character choice to write my first children’s book about Christmas. Writing all about October would probably take several long posts and I’m sure that nobody really wants to read that, so I’ll just rapid fire a bunch of choice photos from the past month that you may or may not have already seen if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

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I’ll also include a couple of distant past flashback photos to wrap up this manic Halloween montage, because they are pretty special. This one is from our very first Halloween together (and the very first incarnations of the same Sarah and Jareth costumes in the photos above that I resurrected for one last ride to The Fernie Brae.) This was now TEN YEARS AGO!!! Just look at it–I think it was even taken with one of those ‘digital cameras’, remember those?!

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The last flashback photo I will include is one that I probably post every year, because it’s one of my favorite pictures from our wedding four Halloweens ago. Our anniversary is October 31st, 2012.

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We were both working so much all throughout October that I was actually worried that we wouldn’t get to celebrate our anniversary or the best holiday ever, which thankfully did not turn out to be the case! Before I was certain that we’d have enough time set aside to celebrate our special day, I had booked a room in Eugene for the following weekend. The plan was to spend a day exploring the town and then to go to the Eugene Witches Ball at night. We’ve decided to keep our plans, so this weekend is now going to be like Halloween part two! I have a lot more to write about regarding some exciting news about my book, but for now I will wrap this up and save all of that for another post. I’ll be posting again very soon…I promise!

 

Lucia the Puppet: Final Photos!

Published April 26, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the final photos of Lucia, the rod puppet that I made at the Toby Froud workshop last week!

Lucia Full Body

Upper Body with Ear Visible

Bust

Birdseye Three Quarters

Hairbow Close Up

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Back of Hair

Close Up Bodice and Hand

Close Up Basket

The crazy collage I made of all of those close-up shots:

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A silly one of her looking shocked and horrified in front of my bureau mirror, because she does that so well:

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If you remember, I made Lucia partially with FIMO Effect Nightglow. Here is the best picture I could get of her glowing in the dark, which was really hard to photograph and looks way more creepy cool in real life…lately I’ve been using her as a night light!

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That’s all folks!

 

 

Lucia the Puppet: Painting and Costume Fabrication

Published April 22, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Over the past week I’ve been working on my puppet that I made at the Toby Froud workshop mentioned in my last post…and now she’s nearly finished! I’ll probably do another post or two later because completing her takes many steps and I’ve been taking a lot more pictures of my work in progress this time.

Also I decided to name the puppet Lucia, which is a Latin name that means “light.” I just figured it was appropriate for a ghostly albino faun creature that literally glows in the dark. I’ve tested her out by turning off all the lights after she’s been under my bright desk lamp for a while and she looks amazing. The glow in the dark polymer clay was pretty thoroughly mixed into the flesh tone Fimo so she has these really interesting thin swirling line patterns all over her face that light up in a pale fluorescent green in the darkness, and since her little antlers were made with pure unmixed Nightglow Fimo they light up brilliantly. At some point I may attempt to somehow take a photo of this, but for now I guess you’ll just have to believe me.

So after the workshop was over I wanted to continue working on Lucia as soon as I got home, so the first thing I did was clean up her paint job a little. It looked pretty good before but I added a couple more freckles, lightened her eyebrows a little, smoothed out the shadow color around her eyes, and added some clear nail polish to her nose and lips for a glossy wet look.

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Painting dolls and puppets is one of my favorite parts!

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Next I had a look at her and the unfinished body stocking, that thin layer of fabric that covers the batting and the puppet mechanism underneath. You can kind of see it a little bit in the pictures above but I think those are the only photos I have of it. Anyway, something about it just didn’t sit quite right with me. I think it was a combination of her arms being too long and the batting being wrapped too loosely around the mechanism so that it would keep sliding down, which then caused her to not really have shoulders anymore. The more I tried to figure out how to fix it, the more I realized that it probably just wasn’t worth it and that I should just redo that part altogether. I ended up stripping her down to a skeleton again so I could shorten her arms and adjust where her shoulders should go…so this is kind of the “before” photo.

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I adjusted the shoulders, added an extra piece of cross-wire to acted as a brace and join the shoulders together so they wouldn’t shift around so unevenly and independently of each other, and added a couple of wires across the chest and hips as a stand-in for a basic sternum and pelvis. I of course forgot to take a picture of this but I did get one of her after I finished rewrapping the batting again. You can see here that I also reinforced where the three small dowels from the neck controller connect to the base with a two-part epoxy.

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This time I wrapped the batting a little tighter so it pretty much stayed in place on its own. Instead of making another body stocking like before, I decided to skip that and just make the undermost layer of material be her shirt. This brings us to my other most favorite part of the doll and puppet making process: costume fabrication!

I bought this great crinkly ivory colored fabric at Jo-Ann’s that was just perfect for a floofy old-timey Victorian blouse. I started with the front and back panels and sewed them together with two seams at her sides.

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The back of the shirt was made in two separate parts because she has another big wooden dowel controller coming out of her spine that controls her shoulders. The lower half of the shirt comes up right beneath the controller, and I made the top portion of the shirt extra large and flowy like a capelet so that it partially covers up the controller but doesn’t restrict any of the movement beneath.

Next I started on the sleeves. I did an image search for Victorian shirt patterns for some inspiration, cut out one sleeve and then used it to trace and cut out the mirror image for its partner. I was able to sew most of the sleeves wrong sides together before I turned them back right side out (for a more realistic and professional looking seam) and then slid them over each arm. Once the sleeves were on her arms I joined them to the shirt torso.

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After I attached the sleeves I gathered them in a few spots to create that frilly Victorian silhouette. I also added three big cherry red buttons and some pretty pink and white lace trim to the collar and cuffs.

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Something about the combination of her ghostly coloring and those big red buttons reminds me a little of a poisonous plant.

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After the shirt I started on her lower half. First I gathered some more of that crinkly fabric around her from the waist down to cover the remaining exposed batting. I forgot to take a picture of that part but it kind of resembled a little pair of bloomers.

To create her skirt I kept adding layers of fabric to her waist and building them up from the thinnest and most sheer material on the bottom (for the petticoat) to the more opaque and decorative fabrics on top. First there was a fine white crinkle tulle that was leftover veil material from the custom cake toppers that I sculpted for my best friend’s wedding.

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Then a ragged pastel pink lace leftover from my fairy wings. It was actually shredded especially for me by my sister’s Jack Russell Terrier, Bridgette. She used to love it whenever I would give her that job!

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Next I added a little metallic chartreuse crackle pattern tulle. I did my best to mimic Bridgette’s shredding artistry to give it a more organic texture. It reminds me of sparkly moss. And yes, that is “Creating a Faery Figure with Wendy Froud” on my laptop in the background.

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Getting into the top layers now, I also had purchased some of the same fabric that I made her shirt from but in pink. Then I draped some pink and white pinstriped stretch t-shirt knit over that, cinched in her waist, and tied it all up in the back with a big bow.

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The pink crinkle had kind of an looking unfinished edge so I later decided to add more of that lace trim that I’m holding in the picture to the hem.

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I also decided to use another small fabric scrap make the neck controller a little prettier. I padded the bottom of it with some thick felt to keep it from breaking and tied with a matching ribbon!

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After the skirt was all finished I made her bodice with that same thick red felt material that I picked up at SCRAP.

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I forgot to take a whole lot of in-progress pictures while I was making it except for this one I guess. This was after I had already finished the front panels, laced them together with that thin metallic gold elastic string, and added that gold and red rope trim. I’m not sure what that scrap of felt fabric was originally from but it still had some interesting white fluffy piping on one side, so I used that edge for the underside of the bodice to make it look like it has sheepskin lining at the opening. When I took the photo above I was finishing the hem of the bodice with some jagged white stitching. I do this kind of stitching to a lot of my pieces–it’s almost become like a trademark. It all started with me being bad at sewing until I decided that my anarchic stitching actually looks really cool and that I should purposefully put it on everything that I make!

Here’s a picture of Lucia after the bodice was completed. Also pictured is the tattered shawl that I made to drape behind her shoulders and cover the rest of that controller.

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Close up:

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The very last thing that I’ve done to her so far is giving her little pearly white doll eyelashes. This took the fancy gel Superglue, Krazy Glue, and A LOT of patience and finesse:

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Yes, they were quite a pain to apply but now they’re really stuck on there and I think that they look awesome. I bought them a while back on eBay as a small roll of eyelashes trim that you can cut to size. I’ve been planning on using them when I make my Mama Kringle sculpture (my next big polymer clay project is to make pose-able dolls of all three of the characters from my children’s book.) Anyway now that I’ve tried them I think that they’re really great and I can’t wait to use them on my other projects!

Here is Lucia as completed so far on my art desk just begging for me to give her some hair and finish her up.

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Come hither.

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You complete me.

Ok, that’s it for now–but more soon!