Thursday, May 28, 2009

Looking ahead

There are apparently several Renfaires in Anchorage (thanks Amy G. for the sleuthing!), and I'm already psyched. I will admit I'm already spending a lot of money in my head with improvements to the costume - namely, getting feet and probably commissioning a custom face. NF mentioned to me that they'll be making the "large dragon muzzle" eventually anyway, so that would mean I'd only have to pay the additional fees for mold-making, sans sculpting costs. Seems good. I'll also look into getting a set of realistic claws for use when I don't want to wear my gloves. Three fingers look awesome, but they really reduce your grasping ability.  That's still a ways off yet - next June - so I've got some time to work it out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wings and tail

This should be the last blog entry about the costume for a while. Now that I've posted the conclusion to this part of the grand adventure, I shall post the middle XP.

We debated for a while over how to build the tail. This is where we had major creative differences; Mom was hoping for a snakier, smaller tail, but I like much more massive tails. The smaller one would be easier to build, obviously, but it would be so much further down on the awesomeness meter. So we turned to the issue of the curve - no self-respecting dragon has a droopy tail.

Making an appropriately-shaped sock and stuffing it would be a pain, so I found an old ground pad for camping, rolled it up, and hacked away at it until I got the right shape. Mom covered this with some black vinyl on the underside, and the scale pattern on top. We made the tail blade (one of the major visual cues for "dragon" IMO) out of my old, worn-out foam kneepads. A little trimming and some tape, and they worked nicely.

Meanwhile, I constructed the armatures for the wings. Those were 1/2" PVC in a V shape, with an extra 45ยบ joint for the thumb. Straightened out, the wings were slightly longer than my arm and hand. For the fingers, I used spokes from an umbrella a la Evil Mad Scientist. These were wired through a hole in the PVC just behind the thumb. Mom made it clear that she didn't know what I was planning for the wings, so I was going to be doing this one myself. Ho boy. (Nervousness)

Armatures and umbrella for reference. Tail is approx. 4 ft long without blade.

Relative lengths of the stretched out arm and umbrella. These are fairly realistic proportions for a bat's wing, or so Google tells me.

For the wing skin, I used what I thought were some old shower curtains from the thrift store. Turned out they were circular plastic tablecloths. That was fine, too. I glued that to each of the four wing spars, and to the armature. I found out by experience that superglue does not stick to these tablecloths at all. Thus, I had to use hot glue - less fine, but more manageable. For fleshing out the wings, I used pipe wrap from a failed project a couple years ago. There was one layer on the forearm, two on the upper arms. I also used some scraps to make the elbow look more natural and less like an elbow and a 45. I took two rectangles of the fabric, one for each segment, and covered them, placing the seam either facing my back or against the wing skin.

If you've been watching Facebook, you've likely noticed Mom saying how often she has glued her stuff. In fact, there was one very humerus incident (sic) where she walked into my office with my tail blade hanging from her fingertip, laughing hard. I think the fumes may have gotten to her. Now I know what she felt like. Whoo, that was a lot of glue stuck on me. In the end, it was late, I was tired, my Blue Man Radio widget had gotten a lot of mileage, and I had a completed set of wings. Well worth it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Media dump, with style

I promised some media in the last post, so here it is! In snappy music montage form, to boot!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Faire, play-by-play

Okay, I know I haven't talked about building the tail or wings; I'll detail those later. We finished those literally in a day, so I haven't had time to process the various media. Also, the camera cable recently turned up missing, so no pics from the faire just yet. These will all likely come in one big dump.

For opening at 10:00, we got up at 7:00. I started putting on my prosthetic, while Mom showered and such. Over about 45 minutes or so, we got my makeup on, then we loaded up and left at about 9:16. Waxahachie is an even hour away, so we made it into the parking lot almost right after they opened. On the drive up, all I had on was the costume clothing sans tunic and cowl, and the makeup. Even before I stepped out of the car, a family parked next to us and asked to get a good look at my face. They were all impressed, so I considered that a good sign. I hadn't even gotten started yet :) .

So I donned (read: "had put on me") my wings and tail, which were held on by suspenders. We covered that with my tunic, which has two slits in it to accommodate my wings. From there, we added my green belt and a leather pouch (an old craft from my first summer camp, finally reclaimed from the recesses of my bed), and lastly my cowl. It had been finished, with the horns poked through, and a final leather strap added. The strap even had an old raccoon's pelvis (another scout souvenir), a broken section of chain maille, and an elk antler tip dangling from it. Lastly, I had a smokey quartz necklace, made with a rather large crystal (from Alaska) wrapped in wire and hung from a leather scrap.

I was waving at little kids even as we walked from the parking lot.

When we got in the door, first thing I did was get my picture taken with Sholo the Nubian, a really big guy with tough-looking armor. One of the program vendors said I had one of the best costumes he'd seen. (score!) I had fun bantering with some of the vendors and other people who called to me, occasionally shaking off an invitation to come to their booth (since I spent all I intended to spend just getting to the faire in the first place)

We soon ran into a guy with a partial costume like mine. ( a "partial" costume, I learned in my browse for instructions, is one with only head, gloves, and tail/wings - leaving the wearer to wear their own clothes to fill in the gaps. A "full" costume is exactly what is says on the tin.) Difference between us being, this guy had a very nice fox head. Okay, no hesitation, we're getting a picture with him.

A little ways down, in the corner by the food courts, there was another costumer, who had recently purchased a very nice fox mask from a shoppe across the way. I think that was the first time somebody actually wanted a picture *with* me, not *of* me. We did a loop on some of the left-hand section of the faire, then stopped in to see Dr. Kaboom's first show. That was when the weather turned sour. The shade screen did nothing to hold back the rain. Most of my costume was vinyl, so I didn't have to worry about it, but my face - not so much. Water-based makeup obviously wouldn't hold up. I ended up under the pavilion in front of a fish-and-chips booth while Mom fed me fried veggies. I could probably have fed myself, had had more time beforehand to refine my aim. Poor Dr. Kaboom's audience dissolved like a sugar cube in hot tea as soon as the rain started.

It was at this point that the flaw in my adhesive application became obvious: Pros-aide is resistant to most water-based attacks, but sustained suction caused by drinking and eating loosened the adhesive on my lips. This didn't mess up the outward appearance of the prosthetic, but it did make me uncomfortable. When the adhesive is set, it feels like a natural extension of your face. When it loosens, it rubs and flops about. We tried a few times to patch the adhesive, but with my breath only adding to the increased humidity in my face, it wouldn't cure enough to get a hold. Ultimately, I just gave up on trying to fix my lips, because they were too hard to reach. As an interesting twist, they cured and adhered perfectly at a random moment a few hours later. The adhesive holding the flaps of my gloves also failed during the rain, but I had long sleeves that hid that.

We tagged along behind the parade for a brief bit, along with a woman who had gotten a picture with me before. At this point, I was having to walked a bit hunched over to keep my tail out of the mud, especially on the downhill portions. Then we broke off to see the rest of the faire.

I obviously didn't go in to the glass blower's shop; with a four-foot tail and wings going to either side, there was no way I was going to go into a shop full of expensive breakables. I did go into the shop where the fox-girl earlier had gotten her mask. There I had a nice chat with a couple of wizard and sorceress. Crossing the bridge to the other side, we browsed that part, looking at places like the swordsmith's, the bronze-fountain-maker-dude's, etc. The highlight of that side was running into a faerie, who gave a very good silent reaction. She had just finished playing a tune on her double flute for some other people when I went up to her for a picture. She jumped back in nervous surprise, furtively reached inside her bag and pulled out a shiny. I, being mesmerized by it, slowly approached and picked it up, and she seemed happy. That was possibly the most fun encounter I had all faire.

The women at the StarDrake stationery shop had me pose in front of me and asked a lot of questions about my costume. Noobler the tinker gnome was similarly curious. A man at the contact juggler's tent also liked it. I got the most attention from kids, though. I had several come up to me and get hugs, and a whole bunch had their pictures taken. More to come on that in the media dump.

After we'd gone all the way around the faire, I had Dad put my wings, tail, and gloves in the car so I'd have enough mobility to go in the shops. This time I actually got to go into the glass blower's, the chain mailer's, the leathercraft shops, and the juggler's tent. I ended up buying the juggler's DVD on impulse, since I'd been interested in it from when I bought Dralion on DVD many moons back (and had since forgotten about it). It was handy going back there when I actually had all 10 fingers in play!

While Dad browsed the glassblower's again, I saw three full-costumed dragons as they were leaving. Unfortunately, they were already partially (or fully) undressed, and pretty much just wanted to leave. I wish I'd run into them earlier, before they had finished their run.

In all, great day. I loved getting my pictures with the less inquisitive kids and, yes, getting hugs from them. The adults were great too, but the kids generally made for a more fun time. Generally, the whole experience was a blast, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And we're sitting in the airport

Flight leaves at 1:30 local time, giving us another several hours until we can even check the bags. Fortunately, Ted Stevens Int'l has free wifi. We're all getting done all the internet stuff we couldn't do at the new AK house (more info about which can be found at Jim's Wild Ride). And my computer;s running a little hot, so I'm having to shift constantly to ensure I don't bake myself. Owie.

The new place is great. I want most of it. Mom and Dad can have one of the front rooms near the door, and THEIR VERY OWN BATHROOM WOOHOO! I like the little basement room with a built-in desk and shelves, but it's too small for an office. So that means I need a bedroom and an office, like I have now. The one with the big closet, yeah! It's one of the ones by the door, leaving someone else the other one. But before that, I had to see the loft Mom has been desperately trying to claim. I went up the stairs and WOW. There's this awesome room, a decent closet, and the bathroom off to the right is great. The shower has two nozzles (though, as I figured out this morning, the handles are not connected the same way on each of them, in case you want to use them in tandem w/o the "fire and ice" treatment), and the triangular bathtub is actually big enough to fit inside! Way better than the one at home. I claimed that first, but Dad had to give it to Mom (playing favorites I suspect :) ). So I went for Door # 2: room/office package. No to that, too. Apparently, we need a guest room. So I had to go with just the bedroom on the middle floor.

Then there's the current claim I'm trying to make: the under-the-stairs closet. It's only about 5 feet high, and it's currently covered with a curtain. It's situated so you have to walk past it on your way to anywhere in the basement. Well, when we first stopped by the house, I hid under there before Mom came downstairs. Then I jumped out at her from behind as she came downstairs. That was awesome. No jumping, no physical reaction. Just her personal best scream. I know, it sounds mean, but it was really funny at the time. Now she has to keep making such a big deal out of it (rolls eyes). Anyway, what I realized last night is that it's bout right as my own personal cave/lair. Not "room" by any stretch of the word, but for watching TV or the goings-on in the basement, maybe with a pile of shiny things to lay on, it could be quite cozy. Maybe some rare meat to snack on while I'm in there. Seriously, sounds fun. I've just gotten chuckles and eye-rolls at this point, but I don't think they realize how serious I actually am. Very serious.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

a poll thing I pulled from another person's blog... thought I'd fill it in

What were you doing 10 years ago?
Being 8 XP. Figuring out I wanted to play the fiddle.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Going to AK and camping on the Char Vic property (funny, cuz I'm in AK again), and going to PA for a scholar's conference.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. cake, most kinds. No red velvet, yuck...
2. Mochi ice cream
3. chicken fingers
4. cold pizza
5. Eda mame.

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to :
1. Ebay - Weird Al
2. Pinch Me - BNL
3. Sing Along - BMG
4. The Storm - Blackmore's Night
5. Hanging Tree - Blackmore's Night

Five things you would do if you were a billionaire:
1. buy some top-notch instruments.
2. commission a WHOLE bunch of prosthetics from NF
3. buy Maya or C4D
4. Buy a 6-cylinder car.
5. buy a Kayak

Five bad habits:
1. bad posture
2 hands MUST stay busy.
3 Obsessive about my face
4 That about covers it.
5 Really, it does.

Five things you like doing:
1. Cook
2. 3D model
3. Photography
4. browse wikipedia
5. read

Five things you would never wear again:
1. braces
2. my old jeans
3. My clothing style never changed much.
4. a buzz cut.

Five favorite toys:
1. Lego
2. Laptop
3. new dragon costume, once it's done
4. Maya/Blender
5. D1X

The goal is to share with you all 8 things you don't know about me.
1) I'm an only child
2) I'm more secretive than you think
3) I can't draw.
4) Economics is the most enlightening thing I've ever studied.
5) I am largely unaffected by anything I see on TV. I'll LOL, but I never cry. I thought the Reavers were disturbing, though.
6) Birds pwn all other pets, except maybe fish. Unless you don't have time for the birds, in which case the fish could be better :).
7) I like being isolated, and I'm not much of a conversationalist.
8) I'm the only white guy at my work. One of my coworkers seems to be amused with that fact.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Name and pictures, by request.

After some looking on a Norse surname website, and a fairly fruitless request on Facebook, I have settled on a name for myself. I'll be Ormgeirr. (Ormr is the root word for dragon, and Geirr most likely means spear)

As for piccies, there's been a good bit of progress, but not much that we've taken pictures of. I got my good adhesive, so I was able to test fit the muzzle last night and try out the makeup.

My claws and horns are done, and as you might have guessed, I typed my last blog post wearing them. They're quite comfy. Now that they're glued into the gloves, which are extensively tampered-with work gloves.

The gloves are in the process of having the skin glued onto them. Once we get one done, I'll post pictures. At this point, Mom has found out that we'll actually be able to do everything but the thumb in one piece, rather than separating the little scales for flexibility.

I think Mom is starting to get in to this a little more, now that we've got some tangible progress.
I'll post pictures in a bit. Now, breakfast.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How hard is it to type with claws?

Not as hard as I expected, but still not so easy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More about claws

I have now learned the hard way that you don't put items to be varnished on a sheet of newspaper, coat one side, then coat the other later. if you make one wrong move, you rip portions of the paint right off. I had to partially repaint both horns and about four of my claws, sand them, then finish them again - one of which peeled off again. They'll be dry when I get home tonight.
Thanks Mom for letting me use your rack to keep them elevated and damage-free!

Monday, May 4, 2009

What color is your dragon?

Initially, I planned on going as a green and gold dragon - the classic coloring. I'm fond of green and silver, or maybe purple and copper, but there wasn't a shade of vinyl in green. I had planned on making my gloves and tail out of green vinyl, with some gold on the tail. But then, one Friday, Mom and I stopped at the Joann on the way home to decide on fabric and maybe buy enough to get started.

For me, it was pretty cut-and-dry. Get some green vinyl and some brown linen for clothing. Go home.

Ignorance is bliss. Take it from me, because I know nothing about fabrics or sewing. Mom pointed me to some nice gauze, which was actually light and quite cheap. We almost had that picked out, then something else showed up, and we decided to go with that. Then it was on to skin fabric. Mom didn't want to do the vinyl, because it didn't stretch. She had a point, but there were a few things i liked about the vinyl - it didn't look like fabric, it was in a good color, and it was cheap. Mom suggested I look around, and I found some nice swimsuit fabric that had a bunch of shiny dots on it. It didn't look too bad, but Mom pointed out that it had no durability. Also, the green was ridiculously shiny, and the only non-blinding color, navy blue, was abyssally dark. So we ditched that. We had almost decided to just get the vinyl when Mom noticed the crocodile skin fabric in brown immediately next to the vinyl. That stuff was pretty, but a) it was stiff and b) it was brown. Painting it would get rid of all the lovely color gradations in it. Even more, it was $30 per yard. Daaaaaaaaaang. Hour-long story short, we went with the brown and ended up getting another 65% off the 50% sale price because there was a rubber cement stain on one of the pieces. We also got a burlap remnant, in case the rabbit cowl proved too warm.

How about the clothes? We didn't use any of our original plan because we found some nice stuff at the Salvation army - a knit shirt that would become a tunic, a pair of patched-together hippie pants, and a green belt. The nice thing about the pants is that they have enough room in them for padding on my legs to give the, a digitigrade look. We also have a long-sleeved shirt from before that I have underneath the tunic.

On the claw front, I have finished sanding and have produced painted hand claws and a pair of matching black horns. I started sealing them yesterday; once I get home, they'll need some more sanding and another coat. The finish on one horn is damaged because somebody tripped over it; last night the finish hadn't dried enough to move them. I slapped a little more paint on it before I left this morning, and we'll see how it looks when I get home. Mom has also started modifying some work gloves to accommodate claws. We're kind of waiting on the finish to get that done. We'll see how long it takes to get the desired finish after we get them mounted after that.

We also have a pair of canvas shoes to make into dragon feet later. We're trying to figure out an appropriate design, but I'm certain we won't be able to use the paperclay claws there. Stuffed vinyl is probably the best bet.
We've also decided to use an umbrella for my wing fingers, because that already gives the proper number of fingers and a nice premade finger setup. THey even have a little bit of organic curve to them. We'll see how that works, since we have yet to actually start messing around with the wings yet.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Now that I have some liquid latex, I was able to test fit the prosthetic. Here's what came of it. Obviously, the latex won't work for the final result, because it only holds for a minute. Hopefully my adhesive will get here soon.

((sings) Burn, baby burn! Dragon inferno!)