Part 3 is on the way

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Wow! In the last month, I’ve had so many emails and messages about my centaur costume.

Thanks to all my friends on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter, word has spread about my centaur costume. I appreciate the complements and questions. I love to talk about projects I’ve worked on, especially the process, so I am delighted that so many people want to use my design and instructions to make their own.

Imitation is the best form of flattery.

There are other centaur costumes online, and some rather scanty or incomplete tutorials, but I am very flattered that people are choosing mine because they say it is the most detailed or even, the most practical or best looking design.

I will say this, mine is doable, especially for novices. After all, I was no master builder or seamstress when I made it–still not. But I learned as I went, and I am so happy to share with you all the steps, tips, and tricks necessary to complete your own project.

While I am happy to give one-on-one advice via email, I know this may not be enough help for those of you who would like pictures and the step by step process of making the harness and assembling the final touches, so I will get part 3 out this week. That means I will dig my costume and all its parts out of my closet and take pictures during the assembly project.

If you haven’t read part 1 and 2, they can be found on my blog.

If you are making your own, please send me pictures. Let me know if the tutorial helped, or even where you deviated from my design.

Getting into Character

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Between firing/hiring a new team member at my work, writing, cosplay, and my son’s surgeries, I haven’t had that much time to go to the gym. I’ve got to make time now so I can turn my body into a warrior bod for the film.

Watching Wonder Woman really inspired me to take my workout to a whole new level. I even do Gal Gadot’s workout on Wednesday (Wonder Woman Wednesday). Feel free to try it yourself. Get on a rowing machine followed by bear crawls, crab walks, burpees (lots of burpees), dead lifts, pull ups, and a bunch of other barbell stuff I don’t remember the proper names.

Getting into character with me is my sister. Since we are both in the same film, we are going for a similar look, which means identical diets, identical workouts. Just like everything else we do, my son isn’t left out. While he goes to the YMCA mainly to play on the computers, he does run and walk a few laps around the track with us as a family.

It’s nice being inspired, but even better to inspire others. Another woman, intrigued by Wonder Woman’s workout, decided to join us. We worked out together and talked. As a woman, one of my greatest joys is to empower other women.

Speaking of woman empowerment. Thursday I started taking a tribal dance class. I’m not very good yet, but I could feel the feminine energy flowing through the room. It was invigorating and inspiring.

Channeling this character will be fun. Figured I’d start on the outside. Won’t be able to channel her internally until I get the full script.

Stay tuned.

 

Labyrinth Cosplay:Week Three Progress

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This was a week of ALMOST. I almost finished my shiny Bowie shirt.

It looks finished, but I still need to sew the buttons in the back. I found some really pretty buttons from JoAnns but they didn’t have enough in stock, so I have to wait for more to come in. At least the sewing part is done. I’m really happy with the way the shirt turned out. I think my sewing level might have increased from beginner to intermediate. I still can’t master zippers, but there’s always an alternative to a zipper.

I almost finished Rylee’s Hoggle pants. I just have to sew the patches and a button on them.

Other than that, my sis bought the clay to make Hoggle’s accessories. She hasn’t been feeling well, so that is as far as she got.

We also looked at fabric again. Monday, I’m going to buy the fabric for the jacket.

My goal is to finish the pants Monday and start on the jacket and finally cut the pattern for Sarah’s dress. There’s still so much to get done. I just realized I need to make the brooch that he pins on his ruffled shirt. I saw one online, but the colors of the beads are wrong and it’s 50 dollars. I could probably make it for 10-20. So another thing to add to the to-do list.

Stay tuned for next week, when hopefully, I have some more photos to share.

Read what sells: Write what sells

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I was reading one of those “How to Write” books when I came across some interesting advice. “Read what’s currently selling.”

So I got on Amazon to check out the best selling books and here’s what I’ve deduced.

Fantasy readers want:

Vampires, shape-shifters, assassins, time travel, forbidden magic, and dragons.

Ok, my book has . . . none of those things.

I know I’m not selling myself now. On the plus side, some of the top selling books were more like Game of Thrones or Fools Quest, books mine might be comparable to.

You know what I saw none of in the top 100 list. Elves. I guess people aren’t reading about elves anymore. I guess I can see why. The books I’ve read recently are just dreadful and hokey.

For those of you who thought the vampire fad is dying out, go check out this list. It seems like the logical thing to do would be to turn my elves into vampires or shape shifters and–tada–I’d have a best-seller.

But I can’t do that. I don’t like to write about vampires.

So what’s a girl to do.

Time travel is big now with Outlander and The Winter Sea.

So … a time-traveling vampire falls in love with a shape shifter.

But that’s not enough.

This is the book I should write.

9734da2af1e6154e709fc711dca5e25dA vampire, hired to assassin shape shifters (because their power is forbidden), falls in love with the shape shifter he is hired to kill (using dragons that travel through time.).

 

There you go.

I wouldn’t read that, so why would I write this.

This is why I believe in write what you want to read. Hopefully at the end of years of hard work and the birth and death of many words, someone will be interested in reading it too. So if you like the vampire assassin, traveling through time on his dragon to assassinate a shape-shifter, my book is not for you.

But if you like adventure, epic fantasy, battles, dynamic characters, romance, epicness, and awesomeness, you will like my books when I’m finished.

For those of you who haven’t checked out Amazon’s best seller rankings, I encourage you to do so. You won’t find my books on that list … yet.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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It is a beautiful sunny Friday, or at least it is if you’re looking on the bright side of life, which I do. My sunny optimism might just be why I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award.For starters, I want to thank Lee for nominating me and for following my blog and posting such nice praise about my recent cosplay project. I have enjoyed following you back and I found some more people to follow because of your post. Please everyone check out Lee’s blog Tolkien Read Through 

So let’s get down to business … to defeat the Huns.

Rules:

– Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. Check
– Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. Will Do
– Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
– List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. Check

Here are the Questions

I just love these types of questions.

1. What is your favorite book ever?

This is a tough one. It’s between the Silmarillion by Tolkien or Empress by Karen Miller. I’d probably  have to choose the Sil, not just for the stories, but because of the author’s love of the book. It really strikes a chord with me that it was his pet project that he never finished. I have a pet project of my own. Like Tolkien, it might be a little too ambitious, and I’m afraid I will never get it done.

2. How did you get into reading?

I used to watch my mother read. She read all the time and made it look like so much fun. It was the one thing she did, aside from watching soap operas, that we were not allowed to interrupt. I wanted to be able to read chapter books with no pictures like she did, especially Les Miserables. I passed it in a library as a child and thought it was huge. I asked my mom about it and she couldn’t tell me anything about the story, except that it was old and looked depressing. I was intrigued by the girl on the cover and wanted to see what it was about. I own it now, but I’ve yet to read it.

3. What was the first book you read?

I’m pretty sure it was Suki the Kitten, which is a book I got as a child from a garage sale. I liked cats. I remember struggling to read the word, window. My mom made me sound it out and she wouldn’t help me with it. I saved it for my kid. It was one of the first books he read. I’m hanging onto it in case he has kids.

4. What is your favorite quote?

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

I have to say that I like the way the movie worded it better, but this is still true today. What a greedy world we live in. This should be posted somewhere in every corporate office.

5. What is your favorite atmosphere for reading?

No favorite atmosphere. I could read in a plane or on a bus or on a train. I could read here or there. I could read anywhere. In a box with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.

6. How do you prefer discovering new books to read?

I really don’t have a preference. I just like them to jump out at me: an ad on twitter, a book  on the shelf that captures my eye, a dusty book in the bottom of a box at a garage sale. It doesn’t matter. A referral from a friend is always good. My sister told me to read Empress. My ex told me to read Game of Thrones (before it was cool). I enjoy both books. Sometimes your favorite stories are forced on you. Two of my favorite books, I was forced to read in college. Well, I wasn’t forced. It was the story of Gilgamesh and The Iliad. I just keep re-reading the Iliad hoping the Trojans will win …

7. Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I like ebooks because I can take them to the gym, but I do prefer physical books. I like to look at them on my shelf. I like to hold them. I like to smell them.

8. What inspired you to start your blog?

I had a friend start a blog. Sarah Wright. So when she was visiting, I checked out her blog and started my own. It was so fun getting to share my thoughts and interest and connect with other readers, writers, and geeks.

9. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

My blog post is obviously making a play on rite of passage. I was basically writing about my writing journey and the process. It’s then evolved to include my other interest.

10. What are the things that inspire you?

I’m not sure what initially inspired me. But reading inspires me. This particular story was inspired by a fanfic, I’m not ashamed to say.

I also get inspired by my own experiences and the experiences of others.

I think your feelings, your beliefs, and your passions can inspire you. Your stories need to convey something, have a deeper meaning, and what better than something you are passionate about.

I usually touch on ethical themes about hate, violence, war, and human rights, which are things that are close to me. I also like to touch on family issues, so my family inspires me a great deal. The feelings I had when my brother left to join the military; how close all four of us were as children and how time rifted us apart, the close bond I have with my mom and sister, how devastating it was to be separated from my sister for the first time during college, my conflicts as a mother, how you can love someone and hate them at the same time. Family and love are complicated and I like to show relationships in a real and honest way.

11. When you write something, do you prefer to do it by hand or type straight away into your blog?

I just type it straight into my blog. My handwriting is so bad, I wouldn’t be able to read it. But sometimes I still write my book in a notebook. There is a special and direct connection that your brain can make with your pencil that it cannot make with keyboards, because your fingers leave the keys, which interrupts it.

Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate: this was a hard list. So many more people I’d like to include. Please check them out.

1 Sarah Wright: Blood & Ink

2 Staci Reafsnyder

3 Carrie Rubin

4 Rachelle M.N. Shaw

5 Jon

6 Lori Maclaughin

7 Shannon Noel Brady

8 The Story Reading Ape

9 Middle-earth Reflections

10 Jane Dougherty

11 Ali Isaac

Vikings Cosplay: Final Week

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With five days left before the con, this will be my last post until after the event. Just wanted to update you all really quick on what we got done … and still have to do.

Shirts Complete

All shirts are finished. This took longer than expected after embroidering and embellishing, but I think they look so much like the character’s outfits. Here are some side by side comparisons so you can see how we matched the fabric and details.

Here is Rylee’s shirt, and what I’ve completed of his vest so far. As you can see, the shirt is the same color and similar pattern, and we found a vinyl that replicated the square pattern of Bjorn’s vest. All I have to do is clean up some raw edges and put the grommets in the front and his vest will be done.

This is the best picture I could find of Porunn’s shirt without her armor. I’m not sure if you can see, but we matched the color of the fabric. Even though the sleeves and collar will be hidden by the armor for the most part, we did recreate the look, complete with the trim. We like to capture the nuances of an outfit, even the parts you won’t see.

I couldn’t find any pictures of Lagertha’s shirt without her armor. I actually had to pause the show to see what it looked like. This gives you an idea though. Embroidering the lines on the shirt took forever.

Armor and Gauntlets

I’m sorry to say I didn’t pause to take pictures of our progress so far. All of the fake leather is cut and just needs sewn. Above, you can see what Rylee’s looks like for his Bjorn costume. His is almost done. Kylie and I are finishing our vest this week. We did start our gauntlets over the weekend. I don’t have a picture of Porunn’s gauntlets, but I have  a pic of a partially finished Lagertha vambrace.

These were so fun to make, but it took five hours to get this done, and I still have one more to do!

Other than that, our swords are done, and I’m sad to say, it was late so I didn’t take any pictures.

What’s Left

With five days left, I’m not sure if we’re ahead or behind schedule. We still need to finish our armor, gauntlets, and Kylie’s belt. Other than that, we would like time to make scabbards for our swords. I may or many not have some more chainmail to link.

It does and doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. Each item just requires so much individual time. That’s where the worry comes in. But I’m still optimistic we can get everything done on time. I have some days off this week to get everything done.

I can’t wait to post pics after the con. Please let me know what you think so far and wish us luck.

Vikings Cosplay: Week Three

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Let me just start by saying, this was not a fun week. We ran into some snags and realized things are coming along slower than they should. With only three weeks before the con, we need to start wrapping up some of our projects. But let’s not focus on what didn’t get done and focus on what did.

Shield Wall Complete

We are finally ready to make our shield wall. Bosses are attached and edging stapled in. All they need are something round to cover the staples.

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Swords

I’m really proud of how the swords are coming along, except how long they’ve taken to make. I was really anxious to make weapons, and I debated whether to make them out of foam or PVC before settling on wood. I’m really glad I decided to go this route instead of buying something from a Halloween store. Sorry I forgot to take pictures. I will next time.

It’s Sew Time

So, I’m finally sewing. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Turns out, most sewing machines are the same, so it didn’t take me long to figure it out. I modified a pattern to avoid having to use a zipper. I DON’T do zippers. It turned out great. I’m using the children’s Rey pattern to make Rylee’s shirt and leather vest. I took an 8-piece pattern and turned it into a 5-piece pattern by attaching several pattern pieces together that should have been separate. This eliminated so many steps–and the pesky zipper. His short is almost done. I just need to add the grommets and lacing and it should be done.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but here is a picture of the fabric. Just look how well this matches Bjorn’s shirt  in color and pattern.

I know that was kind of a short update, but just didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures. I’ve got to get back to sewing. So hopefully more to show next week.

Vikings Cosplay: Week Two

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Two weeks down: four to go. So what did we get done this week?

Well, let me start by saying this was a tough week; I used tools I haven’t touched in over fifteen years and tried some I’ve never used before.

Let me start off by thanking my friends for loaning us some of their tools and letting us use their shields as reference. I bought you a new 1/4 drill bit because I wore out the one you gave me.

Also I wanted to thank my son who has  been eager to help this week.

 

Lastly, I want to “thank” the cats for all of their “help.” Laying on the fabric and biting my chain mail rod and knocking stuff off of my work desk is shaving hours of time and layers of stress from this project.

So everyone pitched it, and I think it shows.

Preparing to Sew

Yes, preparing is progress. It takes me a week to “prepare” a sewing project. Aside from buying the fabrics, patterns, and thread I have to literally psych myself into it. I hate reading patterns and sewing. Just hate it. It’s nerve wracking and tedious–probably like surgery, I imagine.

You might think I’d be less stressed sewing shirts, vest, and pants after sewing a centaur costume. I mean, at least there are patterns for shirts, right. You won’t find a centaur pattern. I had to make it out of a tablecloth. Believe it or not, this might be more daunting because I have to sew three shirts, three vest, three sets of bracers, a set of leg bracers, and a pair of pants. Luckily my sister bought a pair of pants for her and Rylee. While I’d like a majority of this project to be handmade, it doesn’t all have to be. This will save me hours of work, and the pain of sewing pants.

On a happy note, the fabrics we got are wonderful. I forgot to take pictures so I’ll share in a future post.

Shield Wall: Almost Complete

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Last week we cut out the shields. This week we cut out the hole for the boss as well as drilled the holes for the handle and the boss. We also got to the part I’ve been looking forward to all week long: painting. I love to paint. The colors of Lagertha’s shield are so bright and contrasting: that green with the black. I love it. Went through a lot of tape to get the lines straight. I can’t wait to see it done. Sis is still completing some final touches on hers so I don’t have a picture of it yet. Rylee’s shield is done. He even helped paint. He had a lot of fun. It’s been nice having little projects he can help with. I hope he learns a thing or two about wood working, painting, and sewing by the time this is done.

Weapons: Almost Combat Ready

Last week, along with the shields, we cut out the swords and the ax. This week we started shaping them. Bare in mind this is with minimal power tools, so we’re shaping them mostly with hand-sanding, an electric sander, flush saw, chisel, and file. Honestly the electric sander is almost useless. The swords still need another week’s worth of work, but the ax is finished, painted and waiting to be assembled. I’ll try to share a better picture. This was taken at night without flash, because I turned off my flash for some reason.

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That’s our progress so far. Other than that, still working on chain mail. Technically we’re on schedule, except for the chain mail. I’m falling dangerously behind. I should have had the other sleeve done by Sunday. Oh well, I scheduled off an extra day this week to get ahead (or catch up).

Stay tuned for next week’s progress. This week I start (pause for dramatic effect) sewing.

Back to the Beginning

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What’s worse than starting at the beginning? Starting all over again.

Beginnings are hard, usually because they start at the ending of something else.

This year marks the beginning of my 30’s and the end of my 20’s. My original goal was to publish a book by the time I turned 30, but alas, I am only starting–or rather starting over yet again.

How could I not finish a book in a decade? Well, I did, actually. I completed a draft for book one and two. I spent hours outlining, researching, writing, re-writing, falling in and filling in plotholes.

So why is there not a completed MS?

I believe your twenties are for discovery and learning.

What I discovered: There were a lot of plot holes in my writing.

What I learned: This story was good but it could be better. I also discovered that my major supporting character should really be my main character. That changes everything.

So after starting all over on the outline, yet again, I finally began the first chapter for hopefully the last time.

So I didn’t accomplish my original goal. I thought I’d be finished by now, not starting over. I didn’t publish, but I did accomplish something. With diligent research and outlining and planning, I think I will be able to write the best book I possibly can by the time I’m 40.

 

Be the Centaur of Attention (Part One)

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If you want to be the center of attention at a con or costume party, dress as a centaur.

As many of you know, I built a centaur costume for my role in the Ole Olsen production of The Lion, the Wtich, and the Wardrobe.

This was going to be one very long post (a very, very, very long post), but I’ve recently decided to break it up into several smaller post outlining–in detail and with pictures–how to create a walking centaur costume from start to finish.

I recently had someone contact me wanting help creating a costume. There’s so much advice and information to give, it only makes sense to start at the beginning.

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Create your Concept

The first thing I did was what anyone would do … consult Google of course to see how other people mastered this challenging costume.

And boy was I not disappointed … in the number of pictures of finished projects, that is. What was lacking was a detailed how-to instruction. No where in the infinite interweb, could I find a complete guide, not even on YouTube.

When Google and YouTube failed me, I read forums and watched videos to develop my concept.

My DIY project just became a FIOY (Figure it out yourself) project.

It is my personal theory that cosplayers fall into two categories:Those who like to keep their ideas and techniques a secret and those who like to teach others.

Apparently I will be the first person to share a step by step tutorial from beginning to end.

From what I could tell, other people used chicken wire, metal or PVC pipe frames, and hinges for the joints. They then crisscrossed wires from the horse legs to their own legs.

All of their ideas seemed to work …but

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After trial and error–many, many trials and errors, I decided against chicken wire and attaching the wires to my legs, or using drills or hinges of any kind.

By creating my own design, what I ended up with is a lightweight, walking centaur costume that is fully washable that can be assembled with only one step requiring another person.

What You’ll Need

  • PVC or CPVC piping. I don’t know what the difference is. I just asked the guy at Lowes which one cuts easier. You will only need about two pipes. 1 inch or 3/4 inch pipe.
  • A pipe cutter or hacksaw. I got a cutter for $10 I like the cutter because you can cut them in the house without messing up tables or floors. Got it at Lowes.

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  • PVC pipe joints, tees, elbows, and bushings (I’ve included photos of which ones) You’ll need 4 T’s, two larger T’s, 8 elbows (2 90 degrees, 4 45 degrees), 2 caps, and 2 bushings.

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  • PVC glue (cement glue)
  • Marker (for marketing–duh)
  • Measuring tape
  • 1 inch poly foam. I got a big roll at Hobby Lobby
  • Fabric for body. roughly a yard to a yard and a half or two, depending on how long. (I recommend a spandex, rylon, polyester variety–something that stretches four ways if you want it to move naturally like skin) Go to Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • Material for a harness (I used the material you find on backpack straps). I bought several yards.
  • Black faux leather (for hooves)
  • Panty hose or tights (not for your legs. doesn’t matter what color)
  • Parachute buckles and strap adjusters
  • Rubber chair tips
  • Faux fur
  • Knife
  • Clear tube (optional)
  • Metal wire (optional)
  • Wire cutters (if you use the wire)
  • Fishing wire (10 or 15 pounds)
  • Fake hair or wig
  • Stuffing
  • Batting (optional)
  • Tylenol or Aleve. I really like Aleve for headaches
  • Alcohol (don’t mix with the pain meds)
  • Music or show to play in the background (the longer the better because this could take time)
  • Bandaids for boo boos

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Make sure you have a large area to build this. Remember, you’re making the butt of a horse. You’ll look like a weirdo, so I recommend making it outside where your neighbors can see. Weirding out neighbors will make the project more fun. Also you won’t have to worry about getitng marker, glue, or cuts on your nice floor, carpet, or other surfaces.

Now that you have your supplies, let’s go ahead with the next step.

Measuring

I can’t just give you measurements because how long you make it or how tall depends on your body.

Have you ever been told, measure twice, cut once? Take this advice.

First I measured from where the frame would rest on my lower back to my feet (if you’ll be wearing highheels or platforms for hooves, don’t forget to factor that in. Measure how long you want it and how wide. Make it thinner and shorter than you want the finished project to be. This is only the skeleton. Remember you’ll be adding height and thickness with your foam and stuffing.  I made it waste high so the straps would come around my waste like a seatbelt.

 

Building the Frame

Now you are ready to start making cuts in your PVC pipe. Measure and mark and then just cut.

 

This is the basic structure for the body.

After I laid them out, I attached the pieces with the fittings. DO NOT GLUE.

The section in the middle is for support–also to hold the foam in place (we’ll cover that more later).

Next I cut out the legs.

To make the legs, I drew an outline of the legs and cut the pieces so that when they were jointed, they would make a shape like that of a horse.

Fit all the pieces into the fittings and do a trial walk. DO NOT GLUE.

As you can see, the front of the skeleton is held together with 90 degree elbows while the back has T’s. This is so you can attach the legs. I’m not sure if you can see in the pictures, but the big T’s are for the legs. This is how I created a joint so the legs move back and forth. Because the big T’s are larger, They fit over the little T’s. I put a piece of pipe through to connect them and put a cap on the end so it doesn’t fall off. What I like about the way I did this is that it requires no screws or drills or hinges. If for some reason, the costume breaks, it is fixable. If you use a hinge or screws, once it breaks, it’s harder to fix. The picture on the end shows the bushing that you attach to the big T so that the fitting will hold the smaller PVC pipe (that way you only have to use one size pipe).

I hope this helps you get started. The next post will show you how I sculpted my costume using foam and stuffing.

If any of these steps are confusing, or if you  need a deeper explanation, please contact me in comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Stay tuned.