St Alban’s Comiccon

I had a very long day on Sunday, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns and guested with Squad UK at St Alban’s Arena. We had a table to display props, so I grabbed as many as I could and loaded up the car. Lady M has unfortunately got the summer cold thing that flattened me last week, so I left her sleeping and pootled around the M25, not entirely sure what I was going to do for parking – but determined to wing it.

Once I’d parked in the Maltings and ferried boxes and cases to the venue I eventually managed to find the others in the pre-opening set up confusions and we set about sorting out the table.

Now, I enjoyed the event immensely, but there were issues with the venue. It’s a theatre, not exactly designed for bustling stalls and tables. There was no air conditioning, though we were lucky enough to grab a window location so could get a breeze or two. Far worse though was that the venue was totally unsuited for people with mobility issues. Access routes were narrow, we were on the first floor with no lift access, and I only saw one disabled toilet in the building.

The staff were friendly, even if some of the organisation was a bit…vague… but most importantly we had a good turnout, and I rarely stopped talking all day with families about our props – and how simple techniques and tools could make outstanding items.

We had masks and headdresses, bodices and pieces of Halo-style armour. Cigars and cigarettes, wands and guns, hearts and sunglasses – and people were amazed at how light but sturdy most of these items are. All day long we talked about layering fabrics or working with foam and card – and encouraged people to take photos of friends (or selfies) with the props.

By the time we packed up and hit the pub afterwards my voice was croaky, but it has resparked my enjoyment of cosplay and events far more than I thought it would.

And I have a new challenge. I’ve agreed to make a new gender-bent cosplay: Poison Ivy. Watch this space…

Experimenting with Props

I started using the discarded card inners of wrapping paper to make a cosplay prop recently. I have some vague idea of making a Wizard’s Staff, possibly with a knob on the end – so it needs to be reasonably solid but not actually usable to hurt anyone.

I was inspired by the fun I’ve had making wands, so the approach I took was to roll several layers, secured by tape and nest them like a lamination, with outer layers then smoothing the texture out a bit.

I’ve got it to about six foot, and started painting it black to prime it and see what the tape looked like in terms of surface change – and all seemed to be going reasonably well when I spotted a weakness about two thirds up. It meant that while the rest of it was sturdy enough, it would likely snap if the top hit something in transit – fortunately there was a thicker card tube to hand that had a smaller radius than the staff.

It took a bit of swearing and surgery with scissors to cut through painted tape, but I managed to access the hollow core and insert the tube deep enough to reinforce from the inside.

Moral of the story, thicker card on the inside of props, and don’t underestimate toilet roll tubes…

Geeky Weekend

Lacking energy to go out much, I’ve split time between games, catching up on tv shows, helping Lady M stitch a hula hoop into a dress, and starting to paint a prop gun for the Harley Quinn costume.

Netflix and Amazon provided the Defenders and Preacher shows – talk about a contrast in styles – while Mass Effect Andromeda continues to be a good distraction. I particularly enjoyed the shout backs to the original games this weekend as I finished unlocking the protagonist’s locked memories.

As for the prop gun, I’m still blocking colours now I’ve properly undercoated it. I’m going for a mostly red and black colour scheme to match the rest of the costume. The black will likely get a bit of a metallic tint to it eventually, but I’m looking to create something a bit cartoony in style anyway, hence the steampunk stylings of the prop. There have been a couple of false starts and repaints along the way, but I should have a finished piece in a few days.

Props and Cosplays

We’re going to MCM Comiccon in October, and the cosplay bug is enveloping the household. Lady M is ransacking fabric shops and swearing over the sewing machine, while I’ve been experimenting with prop making and customisation.

Lady M has been engaging with various groups online as mothermafiacosplay – she’s definitely the more socially adept of the two of us in that arena – while I quietly assemble or build components.

Yesterday I broke out the hot glue gun for the first time and decided to make a wand. I’m not sure what or when it’ll see the light of day, but it was a good exercise to get used to how the glue gun works.

The basics of the prop are simple. I took a double spread of a magazine and rolled it from one corner to make a wand shape. I did a second smaller one and inserted it to add strength, and then used the hot glue gun to draw rings and criss-crossing patterns up and down the length of it.

I also sealed the open top of the wand with a glue blob, and will now be painting and drybrushing and detailing to see what works. I’m not sure where I’m going with the colour schemes yet, but will see what suggests itself as I go.

The second project is a repaint of a steampunk-style pistol as a Harley Quinn props, so there should be a lot of red and black involved in that.

It’s all a good distraction from everything else. The characters I’m aiming to take to the con are: Karnak of the Inhumans, a gender-bent Harley Quinn, and an escapee from Azkaban – so no pressure or anything…