SUBVERSIVE GURGLINGS.

Specially for the 30 strong Katamari Cousin flashmob happening at New Zealand’s Christchurch Armageddon con in April– here’s a tutorial on how to make your very own Katamari cousin head! (: Personally, Katamari is one of the best games I’ve ever played, and being able to spread the love like this is kinda special. Plus, rolling stuff up. Yeah. Yeah. So! Today I’ll be taking you through making Marcy’s head, which is this delightful cousin here:

MATERIALS
– 1 x foam mattress topper.
You can find these at The Warehouse for around $25, with dimensions 1830 x 900 x 30 for a single. They make two heads.
– 1 x hot glue gun, hot glue
– fleece/knit in appropriate colours for your cousin
Make sure not to use anything too see through (as it may show the glue/eyeholes).
– yellow (face frame)/orange (nose)/red (mouth)/black (eyes) felt
– 1 x polystyrene cone
These are at Spotlight in packs of 2 for~$3. It makes it a lot more cost effective to make cousins in pairs!
– peach tricot lingerie fabric
– fabric scissors
– 1 x sheet of plastic canvas
About $4 for an A4 sheet, this is to help keep structural integrity for your eyeholes.
– 2 x plastic dinner plates that match the circumference of your cylinder
– 1 x small polystyrene ball (if you can buy them in red, do it. If not, buy some red paint.)

STEP ONE.
Take your foam and measure out a rectangle 90cm x 80cm. Cut.

STEP TWO.
Curl the rectangle into a cylinder and hotglue the ends firmly together. I recommend pinching them together until the glue sets so that it soaks through the cells of the foam. After doing this, cut the hole for your head. Mine was 20cm wide and gives me just a wee bit too much room, but you’ll have to adjust this to your own head size. Just keep trying it on until it works for you and keep in mind the foam is pretty flexible.

You should end up with something like this.

STEP THREE.
Next task is to cut a space for you to see through! Put the head on and use a sharpie or pen to mark the rough level your eyes are at. Then mark the 40cm point at the head (the middle) and cut a wee rectangle something like 15cm across to see out of. Don’t make it too big, though.

STEP FOUR.
Take your plastic canvas and cut out a rectangle that will just overlap the hole you made for your eyes. This will make sure that the hole isn’t obvious and it helps to preserve the structural integrity of the cylinder. Hotglue it down around the edges and then cut a small amount out again for your eyes as the canvas is a little hard to see through.

STEP FIVE.
Cover your Katamari head as per your cousin! Once you’ve done the base, cut out the rectangle around the eyeholes.

STEP SIX.
Take the tricot fabric and cut out two pieces 20cm x 25cm. This is for your cousin’s face. Pin them at a suitable level and make sure you’ve got them centered (40cm mark). This photo was taken with only one layer of the fabric that I bought and because it is so obviously see-through, I used a second layer. Depending on the fabric you have, this may or may not be necessary. Hotglue it down, making sure you keep the fabric taut if stretchy.

Two layers!

STEP SEVEN.
Cut a square of yellow felt just slightly larger than the peach tricot square you cut out, measure 3cm in from the border and cut. This is the frame for your cousin’s face. Use the rest of the felt to arrange your Katamari cousin’s face accordingly– you may want to look up a reference of what their face usually looks like. Though they’re pretty much all happy… all the time…

STEP EIGHT.
Take your polystyrene cone and cover it in yellow felt, hotgluing the bottom by making wee cuts every 1cm or so.

Glue this to your cousin’s head. Then take your polystyrene ball, paint it red and glue it to the top of your cone. The antennae is done!

My flatmate was playing Ratchet and Clank 2. But that’s unimportant.

STEP NINE.
Finishing touches! Decorate your cousin’s head appropriately, take the two dinner plates and cover them with the right coloured fleece. If you want the ends slightly rounder, take some dacron or stuffing and insert it between the plate and the fleece for volume. Hotglue them to the hollow ends of your cousin’s head– these will also help you keep a solid cylinder shape.

My slightly unfinished but extremely blindness-inducing cousin head.

AND SO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN KATAMARI COUSIN. Wear it out. Go to the shops. Roll some stuff up.

Ashe was such a monumental undertaking that I think there was always going to be a few blog posts about her wedding dress, considering how much time it ate up this year. I think there was just over a month spent on her (I technically finished it in two, but I was making her funeral dress for my sister at the same time), blood, tears, sweat– you name it, and it’s probably in the costume. Since it was such a gargantuan project though, I’ll write this over a few posts because otherwise 1.) you will get horribly bored and 2.) my fingers will fall off. ANYWHO.

Let’s talk veil and headdress!

Oh, Rasler. If only you had slightly more plot importance.

Before we begin, if you’re reading this because you’re planning this costume (or any other costumes of Ashe’s) I have to say that this website was insanely useful in this project! They have the concept drawings of her outfits as well as a large gallery of screenshots from the FFXII FMVs (which, incidentally, where the above shots are from), so yeah. Useful resource. Anyway, the veil was really what I was most excited to work on. Every girl dreams of being a pretty princess one day and, well, Ashe’s wedding veil is pretty impressive. I went scouting for tutorials on how to make hers and found Chica & Jo’s How to Make Your Own Wedding Veil perfect. However, instead of bridal tulle (which most veils are made of) I used an organza instead as I wanted it to flare out more like in the first picture– and organza has a bit more body to it than tulle without having incredible lengths of it. The first tier of the veil I made has straight edges, while the bottom two tiers had rounded edges so that it would sit all nicely.

Before any trimmings!

Everything had to be hemmed before I could continue and can I just say that hemming round corners on a material like organza is soul killing. Possible, but soul killing. At this point, the tiers weren’t sewn together, just pinned so I could test the length and see whether it was going to trip up people behind me. This was so I could do the designs on the veil without having to push 999 meters of organza out of the way! As for the designs on the veil tiers (like the circles on the top tier, the crosses on the second), I spent a very long time and a lot of trial and error trying to figure out how I could do nice, opaque golden designs on such a sheer fabric. I tried, up to and not including: acrylic paint, pens, golden fabric pens, fabric paint… and nothing was going to work. At least, it wouldn’t look pretty when you held it up to the light. However, I had a wee epiphany! Using the lightest, softest fusible interfacing I could find, I cut out the designs and ironed them onto the veil. Opaque, and it sticks!

Being ironed on.

IF YOU DECIDE TO USE THIS METHOD, I can’t stress enough, please make sure your iron is on a very, very low setting! I had a massive derp moment and put the iron down on the organza set for cotton fabrics and the baby melted straight through it, which kicks you straight back to square one. The more you know! Anyway, ironing on the interfacing only gave me an opaque white surface. From there, I then painted both sides of the designs with golden acrylic paint.

The finished result.

I was Extremely Pleased (TM) with this, as it turned out almost exactly how I wanted. You have to be a wee bit careful as to not abuse/bend the interfacing too much (because it will come unstuck if you put it through too much tension) but I’ve worn this costume three times now and my veil is still in near perfect condition. (: Then it was just a matter of sewing the right amount of accents on to the veil. I ended up using three to four different kinds of gold trim/ribbon so it would give it a bit of individuality.

For gathering, I just sewed the longest straight stitch my machine would do across the top and pulled the bottom thread, then handsewed it when it got to the point it was satisfactory. And that’s pretty much the entirety of the veil saga! Now for the headdress. I’m always scared of headdresses because there’s so many things to consider– the weight on your head (when you have to wear it around a con all day), how to attach it to said head without injuring yourself, etc. etc. And Ashe’s puzzled me for the longest time. For starters, the horn thingers that the feathers come out of have a really unusual shape– sorta curved. And in an endeavor to make the thing as light as possible, I opted for… EVA foam, cardboard from a tissue box and paper clay.

The right angle is the tissue box and the top is the foam, which allowed me to get a curve but still have some structural integrity. The curls at the end of the horns and the rounding at the front were done out of paper clay (which I have yet to find a substance it doesn’t attach itself to) and sanded. You can see in the photo above my incredibly primitive way of attaching the headdress to my head– I ran some thick, bendable wire through the bottom of the entire thing and fashioned it so it’d hook into the wefts of my wig. Not fun. The feathers were the next step, and after much poring over the screenshots, I decided I didn’t want to use real feathers. Not only could I not really afford to spend much more on the costume, but I also doubted I could find feathers that would look as close to the ones in her picture, so… I again went for EVA foam and bendy wire! Two things I couldn’t live without.

Each ‘feather’ was two layers of EVA foam hotglued together with a length of wire running through it for two purposes– one, to hook into the wire running across the bottom of the headpiece so that the feathers could be removable for transit, and two, so that once I was finished painting them, I could bend them into the curve that they have in Ashe’s headdress.

The hook!

Better view of the contraption.

I love acrylic paints! They’re so versatile. Next step; painting. I think the most difficult thing about this stage was the fact that they had to be fairly symmetrical and, well…

Left side!

Veil + headdress, without feathers attached.

Since the bottom would be hidden by my head/wig, I just hotglued the veil to the bottom in a semicircle. Here’s the whole thing together! It shows how the feathers ended up bending/sitting, which may be useful if you ever want to use this technique. Keep in mind that acrylic paint does take some punishment, but if you bend it too far, be prepared for cracks. :9

The ornaments under the headdress were another story entirely. The white underveil (I don’t even know what I should call it!) was made out of two layers of organza and then attached to each other through 3D FABRIC PAINT which was then painted with acrylic. The ornaments hanging down were all EVA foam, painted with gesso primer and then acrylic. They’re attached to the organza underveil by gold jumprings and bronze thread (and the mini ornaments underneath them are the same, with pearl drops glued between the foam layers.) This was an incredibly painstaking process, and was probably one of the things that took the longest on the costume. Photospam!

The drawing out & cutting stage. Sharpies never let you down.

Painting! The foam was the only thing the paint wouldn’t stick to…


Primering. I was also working on Ashe’s choker, here. :9

Threading together.

Finished!

So, I guess the moral of this blog post is that armed with acrylic paint and foam, anything is possible? More will come on the actual costume/chest armour later!

I was going to do a post on Lightning’s gloves instead, but since I don’t have enough photos, SERAH’S SHOES IT IS. Serah seriously has the most frustrating shoes in existence. For one, they have a small heel, but then they also have black soles, sawtooth lacing, an odd tan colour, a weirdly odd hi-top and… well, you get the picture. Literally.

Actually, her shoes were what scared me the most about the costume (apart from the chiffon shift) simply because they were so simple but so easy to screw up. So, the first step was to acquire a pair of shoes that I could mess around a bit with. In the end I got a pair of plain white sz 38 Converse-lookalikes off TradeMe, which were perfect due to the lack of the silly Converse logo on the sides of their hi-tops.

Something like these, although mine were a weird Chinese brand.

Next step was to make them tan! Having had mixed results with Dylon dyes before (and many, many stressfits), I wanted to try a different brand of dye that’d hopefully have better results. Since the shoes were made out of canvas and therefore a natural fibre, I went with the Procion MX Acid dyes which actually turned out to be extremely awesome. They were easy to use, quick to fix/set and the colour was really vibrant… a little too vibrant, actually. For Serah’s shoes, I picked their Straw colour, though in hindsight I should’ve fixed a duller tone because they ended up too yellow. This problem arose from picking a colour off an old coloursheet! So always be careful.

For the New Zealanders using this blog, I bought mine from Tillia Dyes & Fabrics which had great customer service, plus they have a wee dying tutorial on their website which was really useful! Postage was fast and they have a pretty decent range of colours to choose from as well. Plus they supply soda ash at a very reasonable price (which is needed for fixing the acid dye.) So, the shoes! They were dyed, but turned out a bit too yellow, after much deliberation.

GOSH MY FLOOR IS MESSY

Since Serah’s shoes are much duller/tan than this sorta beige colour, I spent a long time trying to figure out what I could do to dull them. It was a week before the convention, so ordering more dye would be useless as it wouldn’t get to me in time, plus then there’s the drying/fixing stage– so, as a last resort, I dyed the shoes with tea. Plain black tea. I was EXTREMELY SKEPTICAL about whether or not this would work, but it actually turned them amazing! The exact colour I wanted.

Here’s the method I used for tea dying.

1.) First, soak all the fabric and make sure it’s wet through. Warm water is probably best, though I think I did mine in cool. This is to help the dye adhere evenly to the fabric.
2.) Get a vessel that’ll fit the item you’re dying and put in about a litre of warm/hot water, as well as half a teaspoon of salt (to help fix the dye from the tea).
3.) Put in 3-4 teabags for a mild colouration and wait for them to steep. If you want an even colour on your fabric, remove the teabags before putting your item in the water.
4.) After that, I then kneaded the fabric for a wee while to make sure everything was mixed evenly, then I left them for about 6-7 hours with one teabag left sitting in the water.
5.) When they’re done, just wring them out and wait for them to dry!

Visibly duller, and everyone can go home happy.

After that ordeal, the next task was to make the soles black. Our Hope and I went through a number of options (as we both needed to somehow blacken the soles of our shoes) that we could go for. Acrylic was one, but it’s pretty poor at staying on when faced with friction, so that was ruled out. We were at the point of losing hope (PUN) when she discovered something magical– TYRE PAINT. Yes, the paint you use to make your car tyres all lovely and shiny. We used that on the soles of our shoes and it stayed on through the whole convention which was much more than I was expecting, and it had great coverage! I only wished it came it more colours, it’d be incredibly useful for other shoe alterations.

The laces were placed with black ones and then done up with the sawtooth method (though Serah’s have them going opposite sides!) A tutorial for this is here, with a pretty diagram that makes them way easy. (:

Since I finished this a wee while ago and went through a rather amazing amount of trial and error, I thought I’d write up a bit about the process so, if anyone comes across this, they don’t need to suffer the same amount I did from my own stupidity. First of all, this was what I was aiming for;

Since this costume was supposed to be quick and easy (hahahsdlfkjalsdk), I lacked the time and skills to make a helmet that good from scratch, so instead I bought a plain black helmet from NZ’s local auction site, TradeMe. As far as brand goes, I have no idea what it was, but it was a size L which seemed to a.) fit my head okay (not that I think I have a particularly… large head), and b.) gave sufficient room to balance the weight of the additions to it. The visor was clear, but that’s a horror story I’ll go into later in this post! So, here’s the not-so-wee helmet before I start mangling it;

Sensibly, I thought the first task would be to mask anything I didn’t want dust/spraypaint/various crap on, which actually turned out to be a good idea. I MUST STRESS THOUGH, please buy good quality painter’s tape! I bought some cheapo green crap and the spraypaint bled underneath it because it didn’t stick well enough, so make sure you clean the surface you’re attaching it to and actually get decent tape. Otherwise, there’ll be bleeding everywhere, and not the normal kind. Masking away! Definitely take the time to get all the annoying wee corners and stuff on the edges of the visor– you’ll thank yourself later. In hindsight, I should’ve also masked the vents on the helmet– the black rectangle above the visor– because if you don’t and you begin spraypainting, you’ll be breathing in spraypainting fumes forever. Seriously, they never go away.

The ears were the next task. To be honest, they were what scared me the most about this whole thing because I have this terror of how expensive good materials are, and being a university student one always tries to do things cheaply (often to one’s downfall)– so I decided to go with paperclay. I used two types; a putty-like one to do the bulk of the ears and a grainer one you could easily see the paper fibres in to cover it with. Hence spending hours standing in front of the stupid thing trying to see whether they’re symmetrical, asking the opinion of anyone easily accessible, etc. I found it a lot easier to judge evenness after I put a strip of painter’s tape down the middle of the helmet– it worked wonders. Some rather ugly progress photos; see how lumpy and cracked it is!

The putty clay stage.

Covering it with the harder, more resilient grainy clay.
(Incidentally, drawing a face on the tape makes the helmet go faster.)

It was about this stage that a few tears were shed. Happily, I’d sculpted it to perfection, then I came back the next day and there were cracks. Obviously I had forgone the thought that paperclay shrinks when it dries, simply because of the moisture in the material– but all was not lost! I just patiently filled it in with more clay, waited for it to dry and all was fine again. I did find the putty clay took a lot longer to dry than the grainy clay though, which was rather annoying. After finally getting this done, it was time to sand FOREVER. If you can, wear gloves when you sand– I did mine with my barehands and accidentally sanded most of the skin off of my index finger, which ended up being more sore than I thought it would. Be prepared for a gratuitous amount of sanding, so if you have a mouse sander… go for that. Then it was a matter of priming the surface!

IT’S SNOWING

… for some reason, I love primer. It makes everything look neater. But because it was windy, I also ended up primering part of our backyard, too. Envious of people with garages! After primering and sanding, spraypainting. I’ll just say now, I am NEVER using gloss enamel spraypaint for anything I do ever again. I used it on this helmet and it was an absolute nightmare. Probably my inexperience and part doin’-it-wrong but the paint ran, it took forever to dry (in fact, it’s still a bit sticky, and I made this helmet in July), it mixed with the blue and just… was extremely ragequit inducing. Definitely going for acrylic next time.

First coat of yellow!

After the yellow coat was done, it was time for the blue accents. I masked the outline of what I wanted with this awesome cruddy painter’s tape (which, at this point, I thought was amazing), and did a few lines back– which wasn’t enough. Mask the whole thing if you’re spraypainting outside, or attach a plastic bag to the edges of the tape so no paint will mix because it is a TERROR trying to get it back off again, especially on a short time frame. So, I merrily did my blue coats, but– SHOCK, HORROR.

More tears are shed. There was no way I could touch this up with spraypaint, so in the end I just went over the edges a million times with an acrylic and a brush– which is also what I used to do the blue accents and ‘S’ detail on the front, and the black in the vents at the back. It was tedious, but it worked, and in cosplay? That’s all that matters.

Mid-painting!

As you can see here, the visor is black. Not because it’s tinted– because I got fed up and painted it black with acrylic. Originally, I had this awesome idea that I could put that limo window tint on the clear visor and just squeegee it on, but it didn’t occur to me that the surface was actually rounded, unlike a car window, and that plan failed, miserably. I suggest, if you buy a helmet without a tinted visor, just BUY a tinted a visor. It will save years off of your life and they’re not difficult to install. Plus, you’ll be able to see in it, unlike me and my helmet (to some degree).

OKAY, SOME TIPS.

– When spraypainting, make sure you’re keeping the lever action of the visor free. It’s important to be able to put it up and once spraypaint dries, hard to budge it.
– Only use gloss enamel spraypaint if you’re less of an idiot than me.
– I wanted a third tip.

In the end, I was pretty pleased with the thing– but it was an emotional ordeal. And so ends my first blog post!

chekkit mah ipod touch


  • Lucy Morris: I'm super glad it was of use to you! Do you have any photos of your cousin? (:
  • DHB - Jaeger: Thank you for this tutorial. I "borrowed" a few ideas from it to make my own KD cosplay, which premiered last weekend ^_^
  • serafiki: I got them off of my country's local auction site, TradeMe. (:

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