Oh, my poor little blog…between work, class, and shop orders, I have had almost no free time the past couple of weeks, and what I have had has gone into putting on a Halloween party this weekend (yay!). This post is about a costume I worked on last year for the Halloween party but I never got around to posting it. My friend is wearing the costume again this year (with a lot of improvements she has made), so I am going to get some good shots this time around. The photos I do have from last year are mostly cell phone shots, but we were in the heat of craftiness at the time and couldn’t be bothered to stage photography.
Spoilers (well, year-old spoilers)…My friend is the one with the sword and brave pose.
My friend is a big fan of Thor and a strong, muscular, horse enthusiast to boot. It wasn’t long before she decided on being a valkyrie. In Norse mythology, valkyries are fierce armor-clad women sent by Odin to traverse the fields of battle on horseback and take the worthy souls of fallen warriors to Valhalla. The first thing we needed was the armor-clad part, and so we set about making a breastplate.
Well, we didn’t have a form to make it on, so we borrowed knowledge from the internet and decided to make a duct tape dress form. A cheap cotton shirt, 2.5 rolls of extra strong duct tape, way too many childish giggles, and two hours later, we had my friend’s torso molded in silvery goodness. But word to the wise, think about how many layers you are applying, as the form will ultimately need to be cut off of your subject. In the end we had to resort to a freakishly huge (like #22 equine surgery size) scalpel blade to cut the sides, which is firstly the biggest friendship trust exercise out there, and secondly, still not very effective at slicing through a quarter inch of duct tape.
I loaded my friend’s extricated bust into the car and drove home (with the windows down), to begin the infinite cycle of applying paper mache. Our mix included wood glue, flour, salt (to stall mold growth), newspaper strips, and water. My morning constitutional for a couple of weeks was adding another layer of paper mache. Eventually the assemblage was pretty sturdy and my friend and I removed and trimmed the new paper armor.
The next part required four bricks of Paperclay, which is paper pulp and water that dries into a lightweight yet rigid material. I rolled the clay into thin sheets and applied them with a little water on the newspaper to get them to stick. It took three days to cover the armor but it was really starting to look good…lumpy, but good. This photo has the first day’s clay applied, which required a little extra support in the form of string tied to a coat rack to hold up the flopping shoulders. My friend also wanted some extra va-va-voom and six-pack abs, which I tried to give her. Next came a few good hours of *sigh* sanding. It was ironic for me having spent so much time adding mass to the armor to then remove most of it. There are no photos from this step because it was just me on the porch, my face swaddled in cloth for protection, bits of sandpaper strewn about, and a good quarter inch of white powder on myself, the armor, and everything in a five foot radius. My savior was a can of compressed air (the dust remover stuff for electronics). One puff and the armor was powder free, with a cloud of white drifting over the banister to confuse the neighbors. With prolonged use the canister got very cold (thanks, Physics), such that my fingers became iced to the metal before it was all over. The sanding step was probably the most important, as it determined the final shape and sheen of the armor.
A quick coat of sexy black gesso for priming and it was back to my friend’s house for painting. You can read my rant on gesso in the Tardis post. She had chosen electric blue, black, and white for the costume, and at this point I left things pretty much in her hands. She put everything together in record time because it took me so long to get the armor ready that she only had a couple of evenings to make it work. We were literally assembling the costume at the party.