Monday, May 30, 2016

UPDATE: Our Junk Lady Won Best In Show!

I'm still recovering from the awesomeness of MegaCon last weekend, but as our dear Junk Lady is rapidly making the rounds online, I figured I'd throw together a quick update for those of you not on FB and/or Instagram - and also answer a few FAQs from around the interwebz.

First, we decided early on to go ahead and call our Junk Lady Agnes, so I could call instructions to John (who wore her most) without breaking character in the crowd.

Here she is with Roxy the Rancor:

It was an ordeal just getting Agnes onto the con floor, since she's too tall for average elevators and of course can't handle many stairs because of balance issues. We had to bring her in through the back loading docks of the center both days. I won't bore you with details, but suffice to say this was incredibly stressful. o.0

pic by @Dwayne1977

(The Blue Worm on the back was a hit; I like having a fun surprise for folks who take the time to look all the way around!)

Agnes definitely commanded more attention than any of our previous cosplays, to the point on Friday afternoon where I actually started to panic - and I wasn't even the one in the costume. We just couldn't GET anywhere, period. Literally every 5-10 feet we'd be stopped. Add to that the fact that I kept getting lost (I swear that enormous vendor room looks the same from every angle) when *I* was supposed to be leading, and it was, again, rather stressful.

By contrast, when I wore Agnes for the last few hours of Friday it was quite fun and even relaxing, since I had a built-in bubble to hide in, and could rely on John to lead me around. John wore Agnes for all the really strenuous stuff, though, so I didn't have to field many obstacles.

Being Agnes' handler is a full-time job: I was continually scanning the floor for bumps (even the tiniest crack would pitch the cart forward, since it was so top heavy), clearing the crowd, answering questions, directing John for photos, watching out for pranksters (one older guy - like, gray-headed older - actually banged on her drum. >.<) and generally taking the lead. I originally thought I could take photos of other cosplayers while doing this, too. I was wrong. Heh.


You guys, it was so dang fun.


The interactions we had with everyone were priceless, and even as handler, I really enjoyed playing my part:

I'm fascinated by the different emotions you can evoke with cosplay. With Dreamfinder we get tears and squeals of joy, with Lady Vadore we get a little awe and admiration, and with Agnes we got... well, a huge mix, to be honest. The range literally went from folks wanting to kiss her (and a few did) to many backing away in fear. Most were somewhere in the middle. Kids found her fascinating, I think because Agnes is their height, and I loooove how many little ones broke into delighted smiles when she moved. (As I said on that video up there, we never chased kids; I don't want any childhood trauma on my conscience!) I like that everyone had a reaction, though. It's so fun to just interact.

Someone over on Reddit saw Agnes in person, and is now insisting that she was fully articulated with a moving mouth, eyes, etc. Of course, Agnes' face is a static sculpt, but the fact that our movements fooled someone so thoroughly is just plain awesome.

In fact, a few FAQs:

Friday, May 27, 2016

MegaCon 2016 First Photos: Thursday Is The New Friday!

This is the first year MegaCon here in Orlando will last four days, so most expectations were low for Thursday's attendance yesterday - which meant we were pleasantly surprised at how many fans showed up! Still perfect shopping conditions, but also plenty of folks to give the con a fun, full feel.

 Always a good sign.

These queue lines will be full soon enough!

I will say the new MegaCon owners devised a strangely convoluted ticketing system, wherein you fill out a form in the main atrium, then follow an unmarked maze of curtained-off paths inside one of the exhibit halls to find the "ticket counters." Convention staff sent us on a wild goose chase, there were no directional signs anywhere, and I worry tomorrow's heavy crowds will find pure chaos. Fingers crossed they get this fixed soon!

In happier news, the relatively empty vendor floor meant I got some great shots of Roxy the Rancor's newest friend:

 The Luggabeast from The Force Awakens!

Roxy is still there, too:

 She's a hugely popular photo op, so by tomorrow it will be MUCH harder to get a clear shot of her like this.

But back to that Luggabeast:

I don't think they let anyone sit on it, but man, I want to sit on it.

Elsewhere on the floor, Anovos has a nice display of some of their officially licensed costumes:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Quick Craft: Hoggle's Captured Fairy Jar

I just finished another Easter Egg for our Labyrinth Junk Lady cosplay, and thought you guys might dig this one as a craft on its own. 

Now, yes, on the outside it looks totally creepy/ugly/scary:


Watch this:

It's a captured fairy!

Sure, fairies in the Labyrinth are pests, and Hoggle delights in spraying them, but I figure maybe he captured a baby one for Sarah. Or he just likes tormenting them. Whatever. The point is, I really just wanted to make a fairy jar.

Labyrinth fairy. The full grown ones fit in the palm of Sarah's hand, so I figure my jar specimen is approximately baby-sized.

Plus your fairy jar doesn't have to be nearly as grungy mine. 

So let's make one!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our Labyrinth Junk Lady... IS ALIVE!

After a panicky sprint toward the finish line, John and I have managed to get our Junk Lady about 95% done  - which is good enough for some pictures, right?

Let's start with a quick video of this "poultry in motion:' [snerk]

(See the chicken?)

Now some still shots:

(Taken with my phone, sorry for the not-great quality.)

I'm sure you've already spotted my most obvious Easter Egg on the back, right? ('ELLO!) Closeups of that to come, further down.

Now let's break down some of these prop components, because you NEED to see John's workmanship on this stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

New Super-Secret Project Reveal: Bringing The Labyrinth's "Junk Lady" To Life

I generally hate sharing process photos before a cosplay is finished, since I'm semi-convinced it jinxes my ability to ever finish the thing, BUT... I think the time has come.

So let me walk you through the life-consuming project John and I began about three weeks ago, on the very day we learned there was going to be a Labyrinth Ball during Dragon Con this year. (A moment of sadness, however: the Ball tickets went on sale a few hours ago, sold out in less than 2 minutes, and we didn't get one. S'ok, though; this has been way too fun to let that get us down.)

As with all our previous cosplays, John and I wanted to do a character that's never - or very rarely - been done before. We also wanted a challenge we could both work on, which meant both structural elements for John and more creative, free-form elements for me. Plus it had to be something really over the top.

I think you'll agree this lovely lady fits all those criteria:

So. Let's begin.

First, a quick PVC frame:

With mandatory "head" jokes GALORE. (Just look at that grin.)
John continued work on the junk pile while I took over for the head. It's a big a Styrofoam ball, so I covered it with masking tape before re-attaching it to John's ingenious neck pivot:

She won't be a puppet, but she WILL move. Hopefully enough to seriously startle some unsuspecting con-goers. ;)

Then I sketched in features:

It's Balloony from Phineas & Ferb!

Adding crumpled tissue paper and more tape to rough out the more prominent features:

The eyes are a ping-pong ball, cut in half. 

A coat of paper maché for strength:

Which we placed outside to dry and/or scare the neighbors:

 Now on to sculpting with paper clay, since weight is a concern:


My only sculpting tools are from a $2 plastic cake decorating kit: a small spatula and a few pointy sticks. I think I'm ready to spring for something nicer now.

I only covered the visible areas with clay: her face and a little of her neck.

Next, paint!

I base-coated her with a sickly pale flesh tone, then stippled on areas of pink and lime green. (All of my paints are the 89 cent acrylics from the craft store.) At this point she's looking pretty zombie-like, but we're not done yet! Next, aging:

 A watered-down wash of brown really brings those wrinkles to life.

At this point I'd been literally nose-to-nose with this lady for maybe a week, and wasn't particularly phased by her nightmarish visage.

Then I added the eyes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

This Is For Posterity: The Moobly Movement

I love posting "quick" snippets on Facebook sometimes because I feel like they're less commitment and you guys are more forgiving if my thoughts come off kinda silly over there, but then the FB machine gobbles them up and a lot of you don't get to see *any* of my posts there so I feel bad for excluding anyone from random silliness they maybe want to see. 

Which is my long-winded way of saying here's a post I put on Facebook last night. It turned into a pretty cool round table discussion in the comments, and you guys made me LOL a lot, so I want to remember it.


Here's an interesting contrast between Life Online & Reality: Yesterday I got some (loving) flak from a few commenters for referring to myself as "chunky," saying I was most definitely NOT overweight.
Today I had my cardiologist take both my hands, and (again, very kindly) tell me I'm not overweight, I am, in fact, OBESE.

I think there's an interesting discussion to be had here. I mean, I can still like my body and admit I'm overweight - a lot of us can. But well-meaning friends and loved ones are always horrified - HORRIFIED - if we use the dreaded F word (fat), or any variation thereof. 

If the Body Positive movement is teaching us anything, though, it's that beauty comes in every shape, every size, every color and configuration. Fat can be just as beautiful as skinny. Chunky can be, too. You know this. I know this. It's just going to take a little while 'til we figure out how to talk openly and honestly without all this stigma and shame attached to every single word that means "overweight."

Hey, maybe we should just invent a NEW word for it. Like moobly. Moobly sounds fun. No one could be mad if you called yourself moobly. Or dimplish. Or hugtastic. Which is kind of already a word, but whatevs.

Great. Now I'm just going to be brainstorming new words all night. GAH.

Like I said, sooo many great comments (you can see them all on the original post), but here's a  sampling of the top-rated ones:

Somehow you guys always know just when I need an infusion of level-headed positivity from the internet. You're like my Book Club on life. I like it.

Also, related update: after 4 rounds of doctor visits & exhaustive testing I can finally say my heart is perfectly healthy, and I am cleared for cardio! Which would be a lot more exciting if I didn't, you know, hate cardio. (Does Tsum Tsums count?) o.O

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My New Rabbit Hole: Mori Girl Fashion

I'm about as far as you can get from a fashionista; I hate trying on clothes, so my closet is a museum of ancient Ross and thrift store finds, and most of the time I'm just wearing jeans, a geek tee, and matching chucks. BUT. A big chunk of my heart belongs to ruffly skirts, flowy shirts, lots of layers, and, well, this kind of stuff:

I would wear that post-apocalyptic Lolita thing on the right (made by Stilecht) EVERY DANG DAY.

In fact, I've had that outfit Pinned to my woefully bare "Fashion" board for years, so a few months ago I went back to it and checked out Pinterest's "Related Pins."

That's how the obsession began, you guys.

I quickly discovered something called "Mori Girl" - which I now know is Japanese for "Forest Girl" - and fell in love. It's a fashion sub-culture that's checkin' all my boxes: loose frilly skirts, an A-line silhouette, lots of layers, boots, and NO HEELS. (Can I get an "hallelujah?")

One of my favorite examples of Mori style is Mai Magi up there of Shortcut To The Stars (a Tumblr site that's gone now, sadly):

Mai's rockin' a "Dark Mori" variation here, which has a more goth vibe with lots of blacks and gray.

Loooove this silhouette.

Classic Mori Girls wear lots of white linens and lighter colors, though still with an emphasis on natural fibers and muted colors:


 Of course heavy layering is tantamount to heatstroke here in Florida - or most places during Summer - so next I went on a mission for lighter Mori looks.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

MegaCon Is Coming! So Here's Your 2016 Artist Alley Checklist

MegaCon has definitely lived up to its name, as Orlando's biggest convention has outpaced even Dragon Con for attendance, and is still growing. (Just you, me, and 70,000 of our closest friends!)

The Orange County Convention Center is basically event heaven, though, and its enormous halls and common areas make Mega doable even for agoraphobes like me. (Lots of open places to escape to.) Contrast that with the cramped hotels and suffocating skyways of Dragon Con, and these crowds will actually feel smaller - and I say that as someone who loves Dragon Con.

(Even though Mega has better crowd flow, you may want to check out my tips for dealing with anxiety at a con, just to be safe.)


MegaCon has new owners this year, and they're extending it to 4 days for the first time ever. (YAY BONUS THURSDAY SHOPPING) They also put on MegaCon Fan Days last November, which you might remember from my review. The attendance flopped a bit, but Fan Days was run so well - and had such great guests - that I have high hopes for Mega this year. Not to mention this will be my first year attending with a Press pass, so fingers crossed that unlocks a secret room with chocolate fountains, a ball pit, and Shatner in the corner singing Rocket Man. 

 (WHAT. A girl can dream!)

Speaking of guests, this year's lineup is INSANE, but I'll let you peruse that on your own. I'm just here to make sure you guys see all the best art, because priorities, people.

Full disclosure: I love the following artists. I mean, I started out loving their art, but now I've met and become friends with most of them, and they're just all fabulous human beings. So now I want you to meet them and love their stuff and become totally biased with me. Deal? Deal.

And for those of you who can't go to MegaCon [sad panda tears], I'll be linking to everyone's online shops, so you, too, can spend ALL THE MONIES.

Heeeeere weeee gooooo!

Dana Elliott (of Elliott's Wands)
 Table A37
(Dana dresses in character and puts on a mini-show to help your wand choose you! It is SO COOL.)

Table A38
(Yes, THAT Christie: mermaid, cosplayer, & artist. It'd be annoying if she wasn't one of my dearest friends.)

Kit Steele (aka Silvertales)
Table A91
(Kit has a giant box of originals on her table you need to flip through.)

Table A93

(I love this woman. And her art. That is all.)

Nathan Szerdy 
Table PR8
(Don't let all the pinups fool you: Nathan does the BEST cutie art - remember our baby Toothless? And baby Darth Vader? And baby Harley? Plus, Nathan doesn't sell prints online, so stock up!)

Kate Carleton & Josh Dykstra
 Table A121