Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bast and Anubis

This year's costumes were the Egyptian gods Bast and Anubis.


I had a more clear vision of what I wanted for Anubis, so I started there.

I opted to build it on a baseball cap instead of as a mask to give the appearance of a longer neck, and that was definitely the way to go.

Clumsy paper template, edges removed from the hat bill, then a less clumsy paper template to get the basic shapes right.

Translation of paper shapes into craft foam shapes

Articulation of the cheekbones and brow ridges (so it wouldn't look so much like a duck).

Lights in the eyes: a strip of red LEDs wrapped around the baseball cap under the foam face. The foam cheekbones aren't glued down to allow access to the lights just in case it was needed. The LEDs are diffused by a few layers of packing foam. In real life you can see the points of the lights, but it photographs well.

Ears added, some black paper clay added to smooth out the shapes, then layers and layers of glues to seal it. Not as smooth as I would have liked, but looked fine from a distance.

The nose is paper clay that had started to dry, which gave it the perfect dog nose texture completely by accident.

Paint! Acrylic paint, gold glitter paint, and a thick spray lacquer. The LEDs were covered with masking tape during this step.

Headdress to hide the extra lights and give a little more Egyptian god flare, made of squishy foam to smooth the back of the head, covered in a royal blue spandex fabric.

Gold ribbon added to the blue headdress, small Velcro bit added at the cheekbones to keep the fabric close to the head but still allow access to the cheekbones and lights if needed.

Beaded collar. I started by tracing the front and back of a tee shirt to get the right not-quite-half-circle shape. Then I used a lot of hot glue and added shiny gold rope and short strings of beads. For the bead strings, I drew a line of glue, placed the beads in it, used a needle to put the beading string through the fabric, then hot glued the knot. If the hot glue gave out, the thread would keep it in place, and vice versa. Craft wire was sewn to the ends as a super simple clasp.


Another clumsy paper template, refined through a ton of trial and error (and modification of Anubis's cheekbone template). The forehead never quite worked out in paper.

The forehead was pure trial and error, but it turned out all right.

Shapes approved, make it again in black!


During the paint process, I added a headband. I had thought I was going to wear a black bodysuit and hood and attach the mask by magnets, but it didn't work out that way, so...headband!

I bought a variety pack of EL wire to help me decide which color I wanted to line the eyes. EL wire is great to work with! It doesn't do acute angle corners, but it's forgiving and easy to sew or glue. Nice and light, other than the battery pack. The batteries were too heavy to attach to the mask, but it worked out well enough being clipped to the back of my dress. It messed with my night vision, so I backed it with tan felt, and that helped.

I set out beads to figure out how I wanted it to look. At first I thought I was going to bead the entire necklace, but then I came to the realization that I had neither the time nor skills to do such a thing, so three cheers for hot glue!

The fabric shape was traced from a tee shirt collar (not quite a half circle, a little squashed), and then everything was both sewn and glued in place. Glue to mark the spot, short bead strings laid in the glue, then the thread was pushed through to the other side of the fabric, knotted, and glued in place.

Because I was going to wear that black bodysuit, clothing plans were to make myself a skirt and belt and embellish a bra akin to a belly dance costume, but that didn't end up working out. Husband opted for formalwear for Anubis, the color scheme for which tended toward black and red, so to be different I opted to emphasize blue and white. If I did it again, I might choose differently.

I got lucky and found a white dress with an appropriate fit on the clearance rack of a GUESS store.

The Egyptian look often has a wrapped skirt or belt with a flap hanging down the front from the waist. That was easy enough to replicate (at least enough to give the right impression), and this would also allow me to add a couple pockets to carry my phone and ID/money/etc.

I used some gold satin to make a belt, no pattern, all trial and error with wrapping and pinning.

The fabric hanging down the front lent itself best to pockets. One at the top for the phone, one along the side for ID, money, event tickets, and whatever else I might need to carry. I thought I was going to have the pockets stacked, but I didn't have time to plan it properly and ended up having to improvise a little.
Judging by the reactions I got when I wore this to the office party,
the pockets were the most exciting feature of the whole costume.
I was sure it wold be the lights in the mask, but no.

Bracelets and arm bands were made by the same method: cut foam into rectangles, line the top and bottom edges with craft wire to hold the shape, glue in sequins and fancy blue ribbon, and wear!

Then discover that the craft wire is incredibly annoying to wear and replace it with elastic (last image).

Details: heavy eye makeup (I didn't wear the mask over my face all the time) and teal/blue nail polish with gold sparkles.

All in all, I'm happy with how the Anubis head came out, but I don't feel like this has been my best work. Maybe I'll be satisfied with my efforts next year.

Onward, to next year's costume!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Peacock Wedding Invitation Suite

Last summer I designed and produced the invitation suite for my cousin's peacock-themed wedding.

We started with the invitation.
Below are possible concepts, the one on the far left was chosen.
Border photo by Rose Mendoza, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

 From there, I visited local art supply stores and found some paper that complemented the color scheme and used that to make custom petal fold envelopes.

Ribbons in teal/blue/purple/green were chosen to add accent colors, along with gold string and iridescent beads.

Peacock feathers were ordered in bulk.

Many, many hours were spent tying beads on gold string in just the right places so all eight would be visible on either side of the bow on the front of the envelopes and tying multiple lengths of satin ribbon in careful bows.

RSVP cards with a different peacock photo, but keeping with the photo block motif.

Possible program cover designs (center was chosen):

Printed, cropped, folded, embellished, tied, and ready to mail.

Thank You notes:

Total time appx. 70 hours, half of which was the beads on gold string and satin ribbon around the petal fold envelopes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Childhood Photo Recreation

For our mom's 70th birthday, she had a modest request: she wanted to visit her sister in Maine and eat lobster. Wish granted!

For a gift, my sister and I made her a photo album of childhood photos we recreated as adults.

My sister wrote a very thoughtful poem for the card:
One has their father's eyes,
the other their mother's grin.
Two little girls, hand in hand,
laughter in the wind.

You fostered independence,
and taught us to be brave.
You let us run, you let us fly.
You held us when we fell and cried.

Our roads diverged, some years ago.
You loved us deeply, and let us know.
Around the world and back again,
we've come here, where it all began.

Recreated memories
have become something new.
We’ve touched again our roots
in a salute to you.

What's old is new, what's new is old
And oh what fun this story holds.
We hope you laugh, and hug us tight.
We love you Mom, with all our might!

So enjoy your lobster, your family, and some fun
We'll be here with you, looking forward to seventy-one!

She read the poem aloud and I think we all teared up a little by the end, but it turned into gales of laughter very quickly when they saw the photos.

We weren't sure which one of us this was, so we both did it.

Original from 1981

Original 1982
We didn't realize the one in the red overalls wasn't her until after we'd done this one and it's too funny not to include.

Original 1984

The two of us with our cousin, date unknown.
Also unknown: why we are so serious

Original 1984

Original 1985

Original 1985
We think I'm holding a mouse or a baby bunny in the original,
and my sister found a ceramic bunny in the house for the re-enactment.

Original 1985
Yes, it's the same garden cart. I don't know how the brand got easier to read over time, but that's what my parents told us.

Original 1985

Original 1986

Original 1986
Yes, it's the same bear.
I still can't believe I found that checkered dress.
Shout out to The Garment District, my favorite local thrift store. It was on their 1970s dress rack.

Original 1986
Gradient on right added in Photoshop
Original 1987
Yes, they are the same stuffed animals.
Original 1988
I'm certain that the shirt on the left is supposed to be a giraffe with a sun and a flower,
so that's what I did for the one on the right. And I thought puffy-painting the shirt would be the hard part,
but balancing grapes on one's eyes is much harder than it looks.
Yes, it's the same wallpaper.
I didn't properly appreciate how awesome it is that my parents turned
an entire wall of my childhood bedroom into a rainbow. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
The flower-patterned dress on the right lightened in Photoshop, but it's just as unflattering in real life.

Original 1989
Original 1990

Original 1990
The panda on the right is sheets of felt cut into shapes and hand-sewn onto a pink sweater.

Since this is a crafting/design blog, here's some behind-the-scenes stuff!

The idea first came up in February 2015. I was still living in Tokyo, but I started thrift store shopping when I moved back to the US a couple months later. (Three cheers for thrift stores!)

We managed to get clothes, props, and each other together for Thanksgiving for a couple photos, but most of them happened on one day in March 2016.

I tried to keep photo editing to a minimum, but we didn't have an orange blanket.
Original / Edited

And I couldn't find red overalls in an adult size.
Adjusted levels and clothing color
Adjusted levels, clothing color, and edited out the light switch and outlets
Adjusted clothing color
Hi-C doesn't come in cans anymore, so I made the labels and taped them over pineapple juice cans.
I learned that if you do an image search for "80s Hi-C labels" you get a surprising number of results.
I downloaded one to use as a template.

The flower headbands are white and brown with ribbon hot glued on, and flower hair clips on the side.
The necklace was made of sheets of craft foam and put on a spare necklace chain.

The mermaid shirt is just a paper mermaid glued to a black shirt, but the neon shirt was properly craftsy. I printed out just the part of the shirt that was visible so that it filled a piece of paper and traced the design into my sketch book. Then we put a blank tee shirt over a cardboard box and slid the page underneath and I traced the design again with fabric markers and puffy paint.
Sketch in marker and highlighter, trace with black fabric marker, add puffy paint.
I know the real shirt doesn't say "BodyWoo" but it's sure as heck what it looks like. Close enough.

With some luck, maybe we can recreate a few more before Christmas...