Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Month of Pirate Festivals

October was a busy month.  And by busy, I mean we were out of town literally every weekend (except the first weekend, when we were putting up a barn. Well, Matt worked on the barn, I made chili and cornbread for the barn builders) But we did Tybee Island Pirate Festival, Southern Pirate Festival in Columbus, Georgia, and then the Pirate Gathering in St. Augustine, Florida. And you’ll notice that none of them are closer than a six and a half hour drive!  

Tybee Island was my first pirate festival, and it basically takes place on a stretch of road right next to the beach in Georgia, where pirates carouse about for three days. Matt and The Costume Boss both told me how hot Tybee had been last year, so I packed shorts and tshirts and not one sweater and naturally it was rainy and windy the entire time. It was so cold that I ended up wearing a full Georgian gown, and I was still so chilly I had to pull a giant leather and canvas cloak over myself. Stupid wind chill.

But the pirates didn’t care, partly because their outfits tend to be pretty layered, and partly because there was a beer truck at the event and several bars within stumbling vicinity, so they had a grand time anyway. Matt managed to be shirtless for most of the event, because he’s just determined like that.

On the second day of the festival, we arrive early, get the tent set up, and then mill around waiting for people to show up. I decide this is a good time to catch up on all that sleep I’m not getting on this trip (more about that in a later blog post)

Our tent was at the end of the row, near the performance enclosure and the beer truck. Which was an awesome spot, except the beer truck people inexplicably claimed the right wall of our tent for their banner. Unfortunately, this meant that we didn’t have any covering over that wall. So when it started raining sideways…guess which wall it blew in through.

If you guessed “that wall, AND THE CEILING”, then you are totally correct, and either a fellow vendor or a mind reader. 

I have put together a helpful illustration of the situation.  

It was also pretty adult…well, during the day time there were kids, and everyone was polite and friendly, but come nightfall, the Slutty Pirate s appeared in full force… I saw quite a few treasure chests and plenty of pirate booty, if you know what I mean by that incredibly unsubtle innuendo. Seriously, there was one lady walking around in a pirate coat…and nothing else. She kept bending over in front of our booth to look at socks, much to the delight of several dudes with cell phones. At one point, a guy was trying to take an upskirt (up coat?) shot of her, only to have a random passerby walk right in front of his shot. He fell to the ground with an anguished wail. “Whyyyyy! Why would you ruin that for meeeee!”

The Southern Pirate Festival, on the other hand, was a very different event. Held outside a Civil War Naval museum (way cool!), it was a day time only event that focused on music, kid-friendly events, and cannon firing. (which managed to catch me off guard once and scare the pants off of me)

It was also at this festival that we had…the bed bug adventure.

The bedbug adventure began when we found a rather dingy but super cheap hotel about 3 miles from the event site to stay in. In case you’re wondering, it’s the Rodeway Inn, 1600 East Highway 280 Bypass, Phenix City, AL 36867. We stayed there our first night with no problems, so the Costume Boss went ahead and paid (in cash) for another couple nights (and got a room for our friends).

All very well and good. We came back the second night, worked on some costumery, watched tv, and chilled out…then, right before I was about to tuck in for the night, I felt something tickling on my leg. I pushed back the covers and found… a freakin bedbug crawling on me.

For reference, a bed bug. 
We tore that room apart, ladies and gentlemen. We stripped those beds down like we were mining for gold. And we found, wouldn’t ya know, another bedbug! (also what looked like a bloodstain on the underside of the mattress. Notgonnathinkaboutit.)

Needless to say, we had a few things to tell the lady at the front desk. She told us the manager had taken the money with him when he left for the evening, so she couldn’t refund us, but she could offer us another room. Which was pretty reasonable. Except that when we scoped out the new room, we found…more bed bugs. And cockroaches and earwigs crawling on the walls.

PEACE OUT, BITCHES. We were not sleeping there.

Fortunately The Costume Boss was a Choice Hotels member or something like that (by this time it’s like 3am, I am exhausted and trying to sleep curled up in a little ball in the front seat of the suburban, so he could have been a member of the Justice League for all I was paying attention) and managed to get us another room at a Quality Inn about 1 minute further down the road from us and OH THANK HEAVENS it was clean, and really nice, and not infested with bedbugs. That last part was really important.

After we were out of the Room of Insect Hell, I did check out the google reviews (I always trust in the google reviews) for the Rodeway Inn, and found out that not only had every single reviewer left a one star review, two of them complained about bugs, and all of them seemed to indicate that the manager of the hotel would not be giving us our money back. You might recall, The Costume Boss had paid the guy in cash, which was all our hotel money for this trip. So if we didn’t get a refund, we were gonna be camping on the fairgrounds. (still preferable to spending another night in that hotel)

So Saturday morning, The Costume Boss left us in charge of the tent, and drove back to the Rodeway to talk to the manager. I cautioned him about what the other reviewers had said about their lack of refund.
“Oh, we’ll see,” he said cheerfully. You know how when the Joker is happy, it really means terrible things are about to happen? Let’s just say he had a bit of a glint in his eye.  

He came back a little while later with a full refund.  

But other than that, the Southern Pirate Festival was a really nice show, with lots of performers and some cool vendors. The weather was blessedly beautiful the entire time we were there. I wore pretty dresses and flounced about like a…tramp who normally wears bikinis trying to imitate a lady.

The Southern Pirate Festival was also the first event where I got to listen to The Brigands, a five-ish person pirate band, consisting of some rather talented and amusing musicians, most of whom I believe are related but I’m not too clear on this point. Anyway! Their performance was great, and they proclaimed Muppet Treasure Island to be the greatest pirate movie of all time. They have won my love.

After SPF, we barely had a couple days to catch our breath, though we did find some time to carve pumpkins with Matt’s family.

It's supposed to be a twilek dancing girl, apparently I cannot freehand these things...
Then it was back on the road, this time to St. Augustine.  

We got in to St. Augustine at about 4am, and then had to be up and out of there at 11am, because the show opened at 3pm, and we were supposed to be set up by one. Or it was open at one. Or we were supposed open at 5pm and we had to be ready by three. In other words, clear communication was not a strong point from the organizers (or The Costume Boss) at this faire. Eventually we got the booth set up and the faire was off to a galloping start!

Well, kinda. First we had to deal with the Fire Safety guy. Apparently we needed to show him proof that our tent was fire resistant. Now, our tent is made out of flame-proof canvas, and we always have a fire extinguisher with us at shows, within easy grabbing range, but apparently that wasn’t enough for this guy. We needed…PAPERWORK. 

Crap, we didn’t have any. So we had to call the mill that sold us the cloth to send this guy authentic proof of its inability to spontaneously combust. All the while he made vaguely threatening comments about how if we didn’t, we were going to have to go home (or buy some new tents while we were down there, or something). Now, we’ve done like, several dozen faires, and this has never been an issue, but every faire has its own rules and quirks and such…but what was biting my ass was WE WERE NEXT TO A DAMN TIKI HUT. As in, the thing made of sticks and leaves and highly flammable materials. And this guy is after us like we’re the fire hazard??

It was a pretty chill show, though – we had a sprinkle of rain here and there, but we had learned our lessons since Tybee and covered everything in plastic and put a rain fly around our tent – and there weren’t a huge number of people, but the people who were there were very dedicated costumers who were thrilled about lots of the stuff we were selling (which is always an ego boost)

Also I got to hold a parrot.
There were, however, three huge perks to this show.

#1 – WINE SLUSHIES. Yes, say it with me. Wine slushies. One of the booths near us, the  “Winey Wench”, specialized in slushies made with wine and oh my god, if all alcohol tasted that good, I would never sober up. Particularly if they were all delivered in slushy form. Yes, I am the kind of person who orders blended fruity frozen drinks with little umbrellas. Anyway, she had mango, orange creamsicle, sangria, strawberry kiwi, chocolate, and peach… I tried two of everything and we ended up buying three bags of slushy mix. It’s wonderfully simple, you use 3 cups wine (or any alcohol, they occasionally used vodka or baileys) and 6 cups water (or milk or what have you), add slushy mix, freeze, thaw for 30 minutes, and eat. No blender required!

#2 – Tammy and Robert Derwick. A married couple we first met at Tybee (at the encouragement of Matthew Morse), they are both fantastic and unique artists. Robert does glass etching on mirrors, and Tammy does mermaids, and their stuff is gorgeous! I have a secret fondness for mermaids (particularly the dark and deadly kind, though Tammy’s are much more pleasant looking). Also, they’re very nice, and when it was slow at our booth, Matt or I would slip away to chat with them. Check out their work here:

#3 – Pirate Bash! Saturday night, we went to the pirate bash, a giant dinner party attended by all the local pirate crews and some old school royalty annnnnd the Brigands! Hurrah! It was an excellent dinner (shepherd’s pie, absolutely amazing barbecue sandwiches, corn bread, coleslaw, macaroni….oh, I ate so much food…) and then after dinner, there was dancing! Pearl managed to teach a group of people how to do a fun old line dance, and there was a pirate boy who was very light on his feet who managed a jig. I managed to sway in one place, being quite full and content to watch.  

All good things must come to an end…and Sunday afternoon, we broke the tent down in record speed and hauled ass outta there…that 9 hour drive is no joke!

So now I’m back in town, catching up on lots of work (and missed meals, and lost sleep) and trying to decide how I’m going to spend my two month convention break. (Hopefully shooting lots of cool stuff and getting some costumes done)

But, now you know why I wasn’t around for pretty much all of October  ;P Would I do it again? Hell no, I missed all the good local Halloween parties. Also, I have bed bug bites on my hand.

<3 What did you do for Halloween? 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Chainmail Chick’s Convention Compendium

It's come to my attention that waaaay too many geeks and geeklings are in the dark about great conventions, both local and out of state. So I have taken it upon myself to do a quick write up of different shows. Get ready to mark your calendars!

But first, bookmark this page. Seriously. It's your quick handy-dandy guide to the southern fandom scene -- it's got most every con in the southeast listed by month, with a link to the website, and it's the easiest and best way to scope out what's going on around ya. 

Also, I stole pretty much all of my links from them. <3! 

January 13-15 -- illogicon -- Raleigh, North Carolina
*this is an up and coming show in Raleigh, so I have no review for it, but it's run by cool people and their mascot is a giant plushie cat named Professor Schrodington*
Logic melts in the face of adorable kitties. 
Feb 4-6 -- WhatTheHellCon – Greensboro, NC
This is a great show for: People who like FREE events where you are bound to make a few friends, college kids, people who like objectifying geek boys (they have a geek auction!) This con is a favorite of Jennie Breeden (author of the webcomic "Devil's Panties") so you know it has to be good. Held on Guilford college campus, it's a laid back event that has tons of fun events, from College Iron Chef to fire dancing performances -- and of course, the infamous Geek Auction, where audience members can bid on geek boys (and sometimes girls!) to raise money for charity.  
Geek auction, bidding on Captain Jack Sparrow!
February 17-19 -- MegaCon -- Orlando, Florida
This is a great show for: Costumers, anime fans, comic fans, people who like to see famous movie stars, people who like big conventions. Costumes and media guests abound in the Orlando convention center - it's a pretty big con and attracts some pretty big names! Not to mention all the unrelated touristy stuff you can do while you're in Orlando. Not as much after hours events as I'd like, but always a fun show with lots of cool people. 
I just adore this picture.
March 2-4 -- StellarCon 36 -- High Point, North Carolina
This is a great show for: People who enjoy a chill con with fun after parties. This was one of the first NC cons I went to, and while it fluctuates a bit each year with different administrations, overall it's always a great event. This year, they're going to have some AMAZING writing guests, including Michael Stackpole, Timothy Zahn, and Patrick Rothfuss (author of my current favorite fantasy series EVER, Kingslayer Chronicles) Enjoy browsing the dealer and art rooms, which usually boast some great local talent, and then hit up the different room parties at night. 
That's about the face I'd be making if I were posing with him too. 
May 4-6 -- Outlantacon -- Atlanta, Georgia 
This is a great show for: People interested in LGBT issues in geek culture, relaxed conventions. By day, it's intellectual discussions of everything from Dr. Who to romance novels, and how LGBT folks fit into the fandom. By night, it's drag shows and band performances! Also, this con had some of the best hospitality suites I've ever been in. Let me put it to you this way -  the con kicked off with a chocolate-themed meet and greet. 
This terrible blurry cell phone picture does not do justice to the chocolatey goodness 
May 12, 2012  -- Fanaticon – Asheville, NC
This is a great show for: Costumers, comic fans, families. A fun FREE one day show at the Asheville Art Museum that boasts a pretty sizeable turnout and some really cool vendors and guests. And, after the official day events are over, the local clubs sponsor some fun geek-themed nightlife. It's a drive out to Asheville but it's so worth it. Plus, Asheville is beautiful that time of year!
Signs posted inside the art museum

May 24-27 -- Animazement -- Raleigh, North Carolina
This is a great show for: Uhm...Anime fans. Duh. The costumes are absolutely fantastic, the dealer room is loaded with treasures, and the con has been steadily growing. Bring some Pocky and you will instantly make friends! And if you're not an anime person, don't worry, quite a few comic book and Star Wars costumers make an appearance every year.
Picture from this guy's blog
May 30-June 3, 2012 -- Origins Game Fair – Columbus OH (last weekend in may/first weekend in June)
This is a great show for: Old school gamers! Origins has a ton of board/card/pen and paper/dice/train/etc games, and you basically get to come and binge game, as well as vote on the best games of the year (you can even check them out from the "library" and play them if you hadn't tried them out already) and there are plenty of people to play with. There's also a ton of gaming companies, big and small, demoing and promoting their games, so it's a great place to try new games. (and then you can tell everyone you liked it before it was popular)
In case you're wondering, all the people are tucked away in the gaming rooms already
June 1-3 -- ConCarolinas -- Charlotte, North Carolina
This is a great show for: everyone! Bring the kids! Bring your costumes! Bring your dice! Be it gaming, partying, zombie walking, droid hunting, or costume-contest-ing, ConCarolinas has something for everyone! They've done a wonderful job of attracting all sorts of interesting guests to a North Carolina con,  and there's a great selection of panels covering everything from paranomal events to writing sex scenes to costume building. The Mando Mercs and the 501st both run events and there's an awesome dealer room to browse through. 

June 21-24 -- ConTemporal – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
*this is an up and coming steampunk con in Chapel Hill, so I have no review for it, but HOLY CRAP this is their first year and they have some amazing guests! Definitely don't miss this one*  

August 16-19 2012 -- GenCon – Indianapolis, Indiana
This is a great show for: Gamers, but everyone else too! GenCon is similar to Origins but with an additional focus on electronic gaming and cosplay. It's a really cool location, right in downtown Indianapolis (parking sucks) and there is tons to do, whether it's gaming, attending one of the concerts, going to the parties, or doing the epic True Dungeon event (a live action puzzle solving, monster fighting dungeon). 
Tardis love!
August 23-25 2012 -- Celebration VI – Orlando, Florida
This is a great show for: Star Wars fans and families! Hands down, C5 was one of my favorite shows. For a Star Wars fan, there's nothing quite like seeing the life size sets and scaled set pieces and the myriad of absolutely amazing costumes from all corners of the galaxy! I walked around as giddy as a kid in a candy shop. If you get tired of shopping for memorabilia and gawking at costumes, they have Stormtrooper Laser Tag. Or the Hoth-themed ice bar. Or the droid museum. Or the movie/tv show screenings. Or the panels. 
Pikachu held up for size comparison :P
September 2-5 2011 -- Dragon*Con -- Atlanta, Georgia
This is a great show for: everyone, unless you can't handle huge crowds. It's getting kind of expensive and tricky finagling the hotel reservations, but Dragon*con is a classic. The level of craftsmanship (and creativity!) in costuming is off the walls. And it's a non-stop party for 4 (going on 5!) days. I think everyone should make it out there at least once! 

Oct 8th-Nov 20th, 2011 -- Carolina Renaissance Faire - Huntersville, NC
This is a great show for: Ren faire lovers, pirates, belly dancers, knights, anyone who likes meat on a stick. While it's not technically a convention, the CRF has become one of my favorite fall events. Between the dedicated and hardworking cast and a location transformed into a medieval village, you really feel like you're temporarily stepping back in time (but to an alternate reality where everyone had all their teeth and no black plague)

November 11-13 -- MACE -- High Point, North Carolina
This is a great show for: Gamers! A small local convention that features a full weekend of nothing but gaming. Good way to meet people and get your gaming fix, whatever that may be! They have larping, miniatures, rpgs, video games, card games, and board games. MACE is run by Justus Productions and has been helping run gaming events in the Carolinas since 1996, so trust me, they know their stuff. 

December 18 -- Charlotte ComiCon -- Charlotte, North Carolina
This is a great show for: Comic book collectors. It's a very small one day show but it's cool getting to talk to the artists there one on one, and it's a good place to buy/sell/trade comics. 

The following are cons that I have not personally attended, but friends have said great things about them!
January 5-8 -- Ichibancon -- Charlotte, North Carolina  (anime)
January 5-8 --  Mag Fest X -- National Harbor, Maryland (music and gaming)
February 17-19 --  SheVaCon 20 -- Roanoke, Virginia (Multi-Media Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror)
February 24-26 --Mysticon -- Roanoke, Virginia (general geekery)
March 16-18 --  All-Con -- Dallas, Texas (general geekery)
April 4-6 2012 -- PAX EAST -- Boston, Massachusetts (gaming) 
April 13 - 15, 2012  - RavenCon – Roanoke, Virginia (Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror)
June 22-24 -- HeroesCon -- Charlotte, North Carolina (comics)
November 5-6 -- NCComicon -- Morrisville, North Carolina (comics)

One last note -- people frequently ask me how to cut down their convention costs, so they can maximize their con attendance. Here's my quick tips:
1) Volunteer for the con. For local cons, this is a great way to get in for free/cheap. Check out the con website and see what the requirements are, but in exchange for a few hours of helping out, you can get a reduced price badge! If you don't want to lose precious nerding hours, buying your badge in advance can also save you money.
2) Go with friends and book through to reduce the costs of hotel rooms. Also, carpool.
3) Eat at the con suite (lots of small local cons tend to have one of these) and bring your own sandwiches and snacks.

Now, with all of that said... I hope to see more familiar faces at cons! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Making of Darth Talon (Dragon*con 2011 version)

Maybe this is how she keeps those boobs up:
perpetual free fall!
About a year ago (maybe longer?) I decided to tackle Darth Talon as a costume. She’s super evil, she looks damn good jumping from a speeder bike, she sleeps with wangsty borderline Jedi Cade Skywalker…okay, well, she’s not perfect, but she is fierce and I love those freakin tattoos.  My friend Cord decided to do Talon’s hulking man-brute counterpart, Darth Stryfe, and we attempted to rope a bunch of other friends into doing the rest of the One Sith group. One guy, Sean, put together an impressive Maleval costume for Dragon*con, but everyone else decided to hold off until Celebration VI.

We'll get you eventually,  my pretties. 

For someone who doesn’t wear a whole lot of clothing, Talon’s costume is tricky. I divided it into the major components: 

1.       Bodypaint/tattoos
2.       Bikini and Armor
3.       Lightsaber
4.       Lekku

I got my Sith contacts from Coastal Contacts (the "Vader" style) and they fit great. Do note, if you order prescription contacts, you *will* need to provide your doctor's prescription. In the US, prescription contacts cannot be legally sold without proof of prescription! I found this out the hard way (ie, six days of telephone tag with my dr's office and coastal contacts). 

I used the Flagship Eclipse as my main resource for creating a (semi) accurate Talon costume - it's definitely a great place to get ideas, learn from other cosplayers, and find reference material! I've included a list of links at the bottom of this page.

I’ll give a quick really wordy explanation of how I did each part.

1.       Body paint/tattoos

To answer everyone's burning question: The body painting took 1 makeup artist, 2 design students, and one engineer about 7 hours to paint both me and Cord. Bless their patient hearts! Also, their paint-filled lungs.

This was the easy part for me, because I assigned the body paint to my sister, Lyssa, who is a terribly cunning and artsy design student. She did my body paint for Celebration V, and after spending three days meticulously hand painting me white, we both agreed that we’d much rather use an airbrush for Talon (and subsequently Stryfe). Our good friend and costuming mentor Charlie lent us his airbrush for our endeavors.

This is actually what I normally
look like in the mornings
We asked around a number of sources about the best paint to use. We wanted an alcohol based paint, which doesn’t come off if you sweat. At first it seemed like we’d have to go with Reel Creations or Skin Illustrator – both very nice brands, but both crazy expensive. I was trying to figure out how to justify dropping a bunch of money on airbrush paint while my student loans continue to loom over my head, but we lucked out! After talking to one of the True Dungeon makeup artists, we found a brand called Kustom Kolor Custom Body Art, which worked extremely well and was considerably more affordable. Victory!

So we ordered a lot of red and black Kustom, as well as a small cake of red Snazaroo (the paint I used for my white Twilek), and a translucent setting powder. The Snazaroo was for doing touch ups over the body paint (applied in a swirling motion with a Kabuki brush) and the setting powder was brushed over the whole paint job to help keep it clean and dry. Also good to have on hand – rubbing alcohol and wipes to take the paint off afterwards. (and extra people to help clean those hard to reach spots on your back) When I say it didn’t come off, I mean it did NOT come off. Not when I lay down on the ground, not when I hugged people, not when I showered...I was scrubbing for two days!
Am I preeeeetttyy yet? :D
No? Okay lemme add more red paint.

To create the tattoos, Lyssa created vectored versions of each tattoo, using - I kid you not - DarthHell’s VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK artwork of Talon. (okay, here's *one* SFW picture) DarthHell kindly rendered us a series of reference shots, since it’s extremely hard to get a high res, clear picture of Talon’s tattoos (hell, it's about impossible to get a consistent picture of her tattoos), and they worked beautifully. Then, she lasercut them into templates on sheets of 0.05 Mylar.

After that, she airbrushed me with red Kustom, touched it up with the Snazaroo, and then verrry carefully airbrushed on the black tattoos (frequently with someone else holding the stencil down). Those were touched up with a fine tipped paint brush dipped in Kustom.

Please be sure to use the airbrush (as instructed) in a well-ventilated area… we did not, and let me tell you, there is nothing more disconcerting than sneezing red and black paint! Also, be very careful using alcohol-based paint around the eyes – we left a largeish gap during the airbrush process (see the earlier picture) and then hand painted that in with Snazaroo and black eyeliner.

Pictured: One Sith Lord,
possibly high on paint fumes
Edit: I forgot to mention – I actually did pick up a pair of red tights for my legs, so I could sit/move without worrying about the paint. Given how well the paint stayed on, that might not have been entirely necessary, but it gave me peace of mind!

2.       Bikini and Armor

Ahhh…the fun part.

I commissioned my dear darling leatherworker Ribbons and Rivets (who also made Cord's magnificent Stryfe armor) to make Talon’s top for me – he’s got considerably more experience making women’s tops out of leather and I was not taking any chances with wardrobe malfunctions! Talon's bikini does *not* have straps - an oversight that I absolutely loathe. I refuse to believe the highly advanced technology of "bra straps" does not exist in the Star Wars universe.  

The rest of the armor was pretty straight forward – she has two rectangles of armor on each arm and leg (which, according to the CRLs, are metal…) so I cut out the appropriate sizes in pre-dyed black leather and some sheet aluminum, dremeled the edges of the metal like crazy, and then riveted the leather, metal, and a leather strap with Velcro on it all together. I attached the Velcro with rubber cement, and while that actually held up for the whole day, the pre-dyed leather doesn’t soak up the rubber cement as well as regular leather, so by the end of the evening the straps were starting to come apart slightly. Next time I’ll try a few different adhesives and test drive them before hand. (or, just rivet the Velcro down!)

The gloves and knee high stockings that go under the armor were ordered online, and the boots I already had in my closet. They’re pretty comfortable and I can pose in them without falling over, which were pretty major requirements for me! (also they make me look ever so slightly taller)

Talon does/doesn’t have a small half- headpiece, depending on which image you look at. I opted to use it, because it helps hide the seam/runaway hair in the back. The head piece was cut from pre-dyed leather and velcroed onto the lekku – I also made small black ear cones for the head piece. 

Edit: It should probably go without saying that her costume is pretty intensely uncomfortable -- the top is basically corseted on and puts a lot of pressure on  your chest, the armor pieces have to be pretty tight to stay on...  I have scars from this costume! And not the emotional kind! 

3.       Lightsaber

I was really tempted to try and make my own lightsaber, but ultimately didn’t have time for it, so I ordered the “Dark Initiate” saber from Ultrasabers (great lightsabers at affordable prices that will hold up to you ), and then customized the hilt using sculpting clay. This didn’t work too great. The clay shrinks and becomes very brittle when dry, so I ended up having to constantly re-glue pieces back on. Also, due to the large number of lightsaber battles I partook of, the hilt got pretty chipped and beaten up by the end of the con. I’m going to try something more rubbery next time, I think.

4.       Lekku

I also reeeeally wanted to make my own lekku. I have a pair that I bought from Twilek Pam, which look amazing, but Talon’s lekku are actually quite long, and I wanted them to be more mobile, in case we tried any acrobatic poses, haha. I started on a pair using a long process of rubberizing stuffed cloth lekku, but the challenge of attaching them to my head was a bit much, and I decided it’d be better to go with the safe bet and use Pam’s. I spray painted them red and then added the tattoos using black latex enamel paint (and a really lousy paint brush)

As a side note, I tried wearing the lekku with a swim cap to keep my hair covered, and nearly passed out from brain squeezing/dehydration?/whatever. The whole thing was so tight on my head that we had to slit the lekku up the back to give my poor head some room. My suggestion would be to try wearing the lekku around a bit beforehand to make sure they’re comfortable!

We tried disguising the forehead seam with some red latex paint, which worked so-so. That'll definitely be another area to work on for my next run of this costume. (That, and petition the Darth Talon artists to add a) bikini straps and b) a full coverage headpiece. You guys sure don't make it easy for the costumers!)

*someone pointed out I completely failed to post a picture of the finished outfit....durrr!*

I hope this write up helps! Please feel free to email me if you have any questions :)


Body Paint:





References and Information

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GenCon 2011

Ahh, one of my favorites! GenCon is a fantastic con, a great mix of gaming and cosplay, with some fun after hours activities. This year, like last year, I was working for True Dungeon, and I brought Kelly (2nd year) and my sister Alyssa (1st year) to come work with me. We were also joined by Marilyn (our roomie from last year and returning True Dungeon npc), Matt (Ribbons and Rivets) and on and off by my friend Doug.

Con for us started on Tuesday. Lyssa, Kelly, and I drove up from NC…alllll the way to Indy through Ohio, which is horrendously boring and filled with more corn and 55pmh highways than a state really needs. On our way up, though, we did some brainstorming on my new project (to be discussed in a later post! I will tell you it involves hot girls, costumes, collaboration, and photo awesomeness) We check into our hotel, grab some steak and shake, and mooch wifi in the lobby (side note – why is it that expensive hotels never provide in room wifi? Is it *really* that difficult?)

Wednesday is training for True Dungeon. If you’ve never been to or heard of True Dungeon, imagine giant life sized Zelda puzzle dungeon meets D&D – you have a party of people with different skills that runs through a two hour adventure, trying to solve all the puzzles and beat all the monsters before facing (and hopefully triumphing) over the final boss. They set up a huge maze, full of moving monsters, NPC actors, traps, and clues, and people turn out in droves to participate. It’s incredibly fun, and incredibly challenging. Last year, the final boss was a red dragon, which ate an untold number of parties.

This year, I reprised my role as an elven cleric, with Alyssa joining me (though she was always a different shift), and Kelly and Marilyn were NPC bosses. We helped with some final set up in the dungeon, worked on our lines, and scoped out all the rooms the players would be facing. There was some mild-moderate (okay, pretty severe) panicking when I found out my costume had not arrived yet... Organic Armor shipped it to us, but it was nowhere to be found. And since I have to go on at 9am Thursday, I kinda need the armor ahead of time.

(Fortunately, we found it -- they had delivered it to the room of Jeff Martin, the head of True Dungeon. which is sorta nice, but mostly completely out of line with their package policy and let's not do that again.) 

Also we went to Victoria’s Secret, because elven clerics need bikinis. I have a horrendous time bathing suit shopping but glory be! I found a suit that fits! I put it on hold and we go back to our hotel. (this will be important later)

Thursday morning – I have first shift in the dungeon. I am SUPER NERVOUS. I actually stayed up muttering lines to myself and woke up every hour, on the hour, convinced I was going to oversleep my 3 alarms and miss my shift. My job is to introduce the players to the adventure, and drop some hints about what they need to do. Of course, because I'm an NPC, it's hard to get them to give me the time of the day -- NPCs have feelings too! 

What do we want! Actual hit points! When do we want them? Now! 

Since Lyssa/I and Kelly/Marilyn are all playing the same parts, different shifts, we have a weird time coordinating with each other. But it works out so someone can always get the others food, which is good – you don’t need the final boss to be evil AND extra hungry. But we take turns exploring the dealer room (really huge and really difficult to get through in costume, haha. It felt like it closed really early every day, though) checking out the gaming (I have an awesome picture of me and Lyssa and Marilyn awkwardly playing Dance Central, haha. We didn’t get to jump in on any really long rpgs, like I would have liked, because of the scheduling stuff, but everyone tried out a lot of short demos in the dealer room)

After-hours stuff turned out to be interesting this year – usually one (or two or three) of us was finishing their shift after 12am… so we were crazy late to the parties. BUT WE WENT. Boldly walking in random directions around Indianapolis in outfits a stranger described as “brothel, school girl, chainmail…thingy and Babylonian warrior” (last one was me, ha!) White Wolf throws some low key (well, by the time we got there) but fun parties.

We also made sure to find time to lounge in the hot tub… after a long day at conventions, hot tubs are like the bacta tanks of our time.  And speaking of hot tubs…

So, Friday evening we book it for Victoria’s Secret, because I have to have my bathing suit before we hit up the hot tubs. Except… we’ve just come from the con, so you have me, in my evil-ass Organic Armor succubus bikini and stripper heels – Caitlyn in a very regal barbarian queen outfit, complete with fur cloak – and three assorted guys in nerdy tshirts (and one steampunk Han Solo outfit). Oh, and Matt, who’s in full black leather armor, with a cape. We very calmly walk through a gaggle (a flock?) of tween girls gaping at us and track down my bathing suit. I find the right size top. We go to the register.

Finally one of the sales associates can’t hold back anymore and asks: “Are you guys doing that…larping…thing?”

I scoff. “Larping is for nerds.”

She looks confused, because really, what else are we? I helpfully clarify that we are just avid costumers, which is somehow way cooler. She and the other sales lady take some Organic Armor business cards, and I tell her that most people will probably identify as “cosplayers”. I leave with bathing suit and they have a story about uppity geeks now. Hehehe.

We took about a zillion pictures, which will honestly give you a better idea of what the con was like than my out of order recap, but here’s some highlights:
  •           Running into some absolutely gorgeous costumes including an Aasari (marry me, cosplay girl!) , Danaerys Targaryen, and an awesome queen who just felt like dressing up (she was one of the nicest people and had gorgeous white hair).
  •       True Dungeon was in full swing this year! It looked amazing (underwater themed, with so many cool light/sound effects) and I'm really eager to see what they do next year. 
  •           Ryan Sohmer, of Least I Can Do/Looking for Group/Gutters, gave me an absolute heart attack by giving me a box of books to hand out to passersby… then acting horrified and telling me I was supposed to sell them, after I’d handed out like half a box. OH MY GOD MY LEGS GAVE OUT. He thought it was hysterical.
  •           Photoshoot with Echo Chernik! I’ve been a huge fan of hers and dying to model for her, and we finally got around to it. We nabbed a crazy evil looking helmet and did an impromptu shoot, and I can’t wait to see what she does with it.
  •           Pictures with Matt and the troll. Matt has a tendency to show up and take all of my pictures from cute/interesting to “mildly steamy”, so I’m trying to be this sweet Elven cleric of goodness and light and then I’m suddenly being seduced by this dark knight in front of the cameras and people get way too much amusement out of it! (….admittedly so do I!)

Some anti-highlights (lowlights?):
  •           Gencon rearranged itself! Everything was even more spread out…which meant it took even longer to get anywhere….
  •           I accidentally ripped my chainmail garter during a picture, like a classy bitch.
  •           My younger sister is really cute and I had to grit my teeth every time guys hit on her because I have not yet lost that overprotective big sister instinct.
  •           Shoes… killing… my feet…
  •           Still haven’t actually seen the costume contest, but the costume parade (in the hallway) caused a major traffic jam and it was hard to get pics. 
asAnyway, we drove back Sunday, just in time for Lyssa and I to come down with major con plague (from which we are mostly recuperated). PEOPLE AT CONS, WASH YOUR HANDS. Or I will become the Sanitizing Avenger! 

FetishCon 2011

Warning! This blog post is about a con called FetishCon. Not FluffyBunnyPicnicCon. Do not read ahead if you are easily scandalized. But don’t read ahead if you’re expecting a really steamy description, this is more of “a newbie’s impression of FetishCon”. (Pics from the con are mostly sfw and are here)

Chained Elegance (my chainmail dealer) and I decided to collaborate with Ribbons and Rivets (leather worker) and hit up FetishCon this year. I’ve done some fetish shows with Chained Elegance before, and I think they’re a lot of fun! We normally do pretty well sales-wise, everyone is very friendly, and there’s a lot less “why is that girl wearing such a skimpy outfit” glaring (that I sometimes get at conventions, ren faires, and other such family friendly events) and a lot less "hey that girl is wearing a skimpy outfit let me hit on her awkwardly" (that I also get at cons, faires, and family friendly events.) People at fetish shows are more polite and have this sort of "live and let live" mentality. True story, the most creepy guys I've had to deal with have been at regular cons or events. 

FetishCon is roughly a four day show, so we drive down Wednesday night (after fellow booth girl Ginny gets out of class and Matt gets off of work), get a speeding ticket in some crappy speed trap town on the highway, arrive at 4am, and decide that we’re never starting an 11 hour drive at 6pm EVER AGAIN.

Between Thursday and Friday we manage to get the booth set up, sleep a bit, eat some real food , and pop down briefly to the meet and greet. Tampa, much to my surprise, is actually quite a clean, nice city. Our hotel is within walking distance of the Hyatt, where the con is, so we spent a lot of time trucking it back and forth in high heels.

The Hyatt itself is a really neat hotel; it has this crazy twisted staircase/waterfall/planter box thing going on near the bar (where Photognome and I snapped some shots!) The vendor room, seminars, and art gallery are all up the escalator (tucked out of view of the poor normal people who happened to venture through) The vendor room is pretty packed with all sorts of demonstrations, booths, models, and artists – we were actually right across from a guy doing suspension tying –  and then there was the main stage slash clips 4 you booth, where they had (in no particular order) a diva drag show, some sort of bondage race, sybian demonstrations and super heroines. Apparently the sybian has the power to take girls from 0 to orgasm in about....well, under five minutes, so make of that what you will. I remain mildly skeptical.

Oh! One major highlight of the show -- I got to meet one of my favorite models, Mosh. She's a faaaabulous alt/pinup/fetish model, and I'm just in love with all of her photos. They're very sexy but still elegant at the same time. It was kinda intimidating to talk to her, because she is actually just as gorgeous in real life as she is in photos (unlike the rest of us, hahah) so I had a minor celeb freak out moment and I don't actually know what we talked about. I'm pretty sure my brain was on auto-babble mode... but she was very nice! 

I’m not gonna lie, Ginny and I went kinda nuts over the clothes and shoes. Whatever your feelings about the fetish scene are, you cannot deny that it produces some hot ass clothing. And with all the models and attendees walking around in their latex-y/lingerie’d/corseted best, the atmosphere felt pretty glamorous.

Our booth was pretty dolled up too! Chained Elegance had brought along the lovely ladies of the Succubus Sorority, so our poor mannequins weren’t burdened with too many outfits. They were a lot of fun to have around, and did a great job of showing off the chainmail.

Speaking of which – we have new chainmail buddies! There was another chainmail vendor there, and we were excited to see their stuff. Now, you might be surprised to hear this, because chainmail is a pretty niche hobby and an even more niche market, but chainmail vendors either a) get along famously because they share this random weird hobby and swap tips and ideas, or b) badmouth each other, try to undercut the other’s prices, and start catfights over the most inane things. (We had one vendor try to tell us one time that *he* had invented the chainmail bikini, so we couldn’t make them…what? Really?)  Personally, I don’t understand the latter mindset – it seems so small minded and pointless.

But the good folks at Poly’s Pleasures were wonderful! They have a very different style from us, with a big focus on bright colors and rubber rings, and it was really cool seeing all the gorgeous stuff they’d come up with. Their jewelry was actually probably some of the best I’ve seen in chainmail, because their use of color is just fantastic.  

My one gripe with Fetishcon was the after party – the “Vamps and Vixens” ball at the Castle. First we  heard that the Castle was really cool and they were gonna have a great show. Then, when we showed up to take the shuttle, people returning told us not to bother, the line was around the block, and the place was so jammed it wasn’t fun. Ahh…disappointing. But hey, pool time! Ginny and I had very firm plans to soak our poor abused feet. (The Venn diagram for "hot sexy shoes" and "comfortable to wear for 14 hours at a time shoes" does not have much of an overlap) Naturally, about 5 minutes after we get our toes in the water, a vendor friend texts us to let us know that vendors get in free, hint hint.


So we truck back down to the shuttle, take it over to the Castle, get in line… and are promptly informed that while it’s entirely possible vendors get in free, the door guy doesn’t know for sure, and he can’t let us in. The only guy who can let us in is… the guy in charge of the party. Door boy’s suggestion is that we wait by the re-entry door and hope that Head Party Guy shows up and approves us to come in. Our vendor pal comes out to try and talk to the door guy, but gets the same song and dance. We spend a while waiting by the re-entry door, watching them deal with angry drunk people, but unsurprisingly, the busiest guy at the party doesn’t happen to stroll by and wave us in.

Now don’t get me wrong – I understand that the door guy has to deal with people trying to weasel their way in all night, and that it’s not a fun job. But seriously, you can’t call the head guy, or call a higher up, or do something other than suggest we hope a miracle happens? We paid $700 to attend this show, I’d think that should cover the damn party ticket. We wait around long enough to realize that our feet are absolutely miserable and take a shuttle back to the hotel.

Other than that, though, it was a fun show. Everyone there was really nice, very polite, and we did pretty well for our first show. I think we’ll definitely be back next year…possibly with more comfortable shoes.