Current Projects

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hamilton - King George Crown: Finished! (?)

It's been two years in the making, but this dumb sucker is finally finished.

I promised an unveiling, so how about an unwrapping?

This paint is no joke.
My fears about the texture from the primer were substantiated, and a lot of the surface is kind of grainy so then the chrome finish didn't turn out as well as it could have. But the top piece was the cleanest and painted the best. This is just three light coats of the Montana gold chrome on plastic and I can hardly even believe it.

And tada!
Kind of hate how dull and flat everything - even the velvet - looks here, but okay.
Up until the literal moment that I tore the plastic bags off, I was really underwhelmed. After the paint, I felt "eh" partly because of the inconsistent application, but also for reasons I couldn't really pin down. After I pulled the puffy paint mask off the rhinestones and saw those with the paint, I still felt mostly "eh." Maybe it was having been working on it and looking at it in just bits and pieces for so long, maybe it was losing perspective. Don't know. Then when I pulled the bags off and got to see the paint and the rhinestones with the velvet and fur, it suddenly clicked and I fell in love.

I still want to make an improved Version 2.0. That impulse hasn't changed at all. I'd never made anything like this before, and when I started I really wasn't sure how I was going to actually do it and if it would even work. I improvised a lot during the process, learned a whole lot too, and now there's a lot I know how to do better or differently altogether. Just for another challenge, and to be that much more extra accurate, I kind of want to do one in metal. Given how heavy this one is already, one made of metal would probably be for photos and display only, not wearing out to events anywhere. But it would still be pretty fabulous.

But at the very least, I will be making another one with pretty much the same exact materials and overall process. Most stuff I had to buy in more quantity than I needed, so I would only have to reorder a few little things. I can scale the pattern down a little to fit continuously on the 24" length of the plastic sign, so it doesn't need an extension piece and will fit the base hat and my head and frame a bit better. I can also be smarter with painting: get the good sandable primer again, then go straight to black base and the well-proven Montana gold chrome, and glue the rhinestones on last.

Having this done and feeling good enough about the whole process that I'm willing to make a duplicate has also given me the confidence to make another crown of very similar design for a costume that made its way onto my list quite unexpectedly last week, so that'll happen someday too.

In the meantime, with this out of the way, I'm getting back into what's next on this incredibly long haul project. Stay tuned!

Hamilton - King George Crown Part VI

George is still kicking, I promise. And we're in the home stretch.

Last I worked on the crown, I had tried using the DecoColor Premium gold paint pen and the whole thing failed kind of epically. Having an airbrush or being a better painter would have made a difference, but as is it just wasn't happening.

So I had sanded it down as much as possible to get ready for another attempt with something else, and I was considering gold leaf versus spray paint. I was initially leaning towards gold leaf purely for the amazing finish it can give, but I've been hesitant because I kind of doubt my ability to get that kind of finish, especially using it for the first time and using it on an item like this with so many small, fussy areas (rather than more open areas that would be easier to access and burnish). I was recently reintroduced to Montana spray paint, specifically the gold chrome which I saw someone use on an Iron Man helmet to great effect. When it goes to plan, it seems to have as close to the color and finish I want that I'll probably be able to get with a spray paint. So I decided to track that down.
This is the sixth gold paint in general (and fourth spray paint) I've bought for this project, so I'm really hoping I can use it effectively enough and it can give me something I'm happy enough with. (I've also seen some good results with Rustoleum Specialty Metallic, so that's a possibility too if I really have to.)

Going back to a spray, I also had to test some methods of masking the rhinestones. My criteria was that it had to be something I already had, and would both mask the rhinestone enough to block the paint but also remove cleanly without sticking to the stones or fouling the paint finish. I asked around in some crafting communities and got a lot of good suggestions, ultimately narrowing it down to Vaseline, liquid latex, mustard, and toothpaste. From my own ideas I added Tacky Glue and puffy paint, and did tape too as backup. I did a test piece using the 3mm rhinestones (being the smallest and most fiddly, I figured anything that works on those will work on anything larger).
Birthstones for crafters.
Everything masked the paint well, so the decision really came down to cleanup. The Vaseline and toothpaste smeared too much, both seeping into the stone setting and getting on the paint. The mustard was a little better, but still too messy. The tape didn't want to stick, so that had too much risk of falling off mid-painting. The Tacky Glue stuck too much and was hard to remove. So the best contenders were latex and puffy paint. The puffy paint peeled off a little cleaner and was easier to apply in the first place (small nozzle tip on the bottle, and thicker so didn't run and didn't need layering) so I chose that.

In the meantime I cleaned up the stones to make sure all the little gold smudges from my messy paint pen application are gone. I might have to do a little touch-up after spray painting too, depending on how effect the masking ends up, but the less clean up I have to do around the finished paint job, the better. The masking went pretty quickly, and I decided to mask all the large stones too instead of doing those with tape.

I changed the plan up a little and decided to add the fur trim before painting. I initially wanted to save that for last so I wouldn't have to cover the fur up for painting, but I realized that gluing the trim on might require more direct handling than I want to put the finished paint through (being an unsealed chrome, it's going to be hard enough to keep fingerprints off it anyway). I also scrapped the original plan of cutting out small circles of black faux fur and gluing that into the white for the ermine spots. I did try it, but it was too messy and clunky. So I just colored in the spots with a marker like I should have thought of in the first place.

I ran out of sandable primer the first time I prepped this thing for paint, and I ended up getting a different brand this time which I'm regretting a little. It sanded fine, but left a bit of a texture rather than the extremely smooth finish the other stuff had. Lesson learned, and hopefully it doesn't impact the paint job too much.
I went over that with the usual black paint+primer.
Then the moment of truth and I sprayed the gold.

Stay tuned for the unveiling!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hocus Pocus - Back From the Dead (AKA Version 2.0)

I've been obsessed with Hocus Pocus since it first came out (25 years ago!) and I've always wanted to do the costumes. We did somewhat slapdash versions of Mary and Sarah Sanderson for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland a few years ago, and they served their purpose and actually went over pretty well considering the rushed effort, but I was underwhelmed with my attempt. I've been wanting to revisit/revamp/redo the project and do it properly ever since, but the timing was never quite right.
Until now.

We decided that it was time, and we're tentatively aiming to bring the witches back for Labyrinth Masquerade 2019 (can you imagine a better place?). Because we're committing to do things properly and with as much attention to detail as possible, but still on a budget as always, we're not locking ourselves into that deadline. We're just planning to work on them as steadily (and calmly!) as possible - if they're done by then, fantastic; if not, that's okay too and we'll finish whenever we finish.

Even though it doesn't really matter, it's a little hard doing these costumes with only two people. But there are ways around it. In thinking about them we've tried to do combinations that make a bit more sense. Mary and Sarah work a little better maybe than Winifred and one of the others, and we've also considered the option of making a "Hast thou seen this witch?" sign for whichever sister we're missing. Winifred and Billy, or Sarah and Billy, work great as a pair too.

During our first attempt, my friend was Mary and I defaulted to Sarah because another friend was going to be our Winifred. That fell through, but by then it was too late to change my own costume. I wasn't comfortable wearing Sarah for a lot of reasons, so rather than just make her again, I decided to go for Winifred like I wanted to in the first place.  I'll be upgrading my friend's Mary as a backup, and just on principle at this point, but pending SFX makeup our plan A is to make her a Billy Butcherson. We were all set on just going as a duo again, but we had the great fortune to meet an Instagram costuming friend at Labyrinth this year. We broached our costume idea with her and asked if she wanted to be our Sarah, and we were so pleased that she said yes! So as it stands, we'll have all three sisters or Winifred-Billy-Sarah which also works great (we're already planning some girlfriend-boyfriend-other woman meme photos).

That's a big ol' text wall, so have some photos of the meager progress I've made so far.

Technically the first thing I started on was Winnie's spellbook. Here's a little tease:

It's almost done, so I'll save all that for its own post.

In the meantime I also made Winifred's necklace, kind of on a whim. I'd done some searching to see if there was anything already available, and I couldn't find much readymade. I have a ton of random jewelry and craft supplies, so I got out some wire and beads and tools and sat down one day to see if I could make the thing myself. Turns out I could. No progress photos, because I kept improvising stuff until suddenly I had a finished necklace.

This was 100% a zero-cost stash-busting project. The wires for the circular pendant thing were a thin gauge from my ongoing King George III and a thicker gauge salvaged from an old notebook. The stone in the center of it was lifted from a pair of earrings I haven't worn in ages. The black beads are from an old jewelry-making bundle I bought probably 15 years ago, and they're strung with yet another King George wire. The little spirals were the same wire shaped around a paintbrush. The jump rings are also leftovers from King George. The small bit of chain in the back and the lobster clasps are extras from the Pirates of the Caribbean medallions I made a while ago (and never posted?). My friend sculpted the little scarab bead, and I painted it with some greens and yellows. The spirals were painted with a mix of red and brown (I might go over it with a glossy paint), and all the other wire was painted with gold. I love the result, and for being completely free and less than a day's work I love it even more.

I really like doing prop and jewelry work like this, especially as a break from the yards and yards of fabric I'm usually dealing with. I figure getting some small, cheap, easy costume pieces like this out of the way is also a smart way to go about things on a project like this.

I can't say when I'll be making more definitive progress. I've been steadily ordering swatches, but I'm saving that up until everything's in hand and decided on, so it might be a while. I was hoping to have the spellbook done by Halloween just for kicks, but progress on the last few steps has been slow. So no deadline, but I'll post on that soon. Otherwise right now it's a lot of research and construction planning.

Stay tuned!