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.
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.
The eyes were done using the exact same method as my eyeball roses, minus the veining, so check out that tutorial if you're curious.
I ordered an enormous curly blond wig from ebay, then spent an evening destroying it with a comb and flat iron:
I used spray paint to add sections of browns and grays to further dirty it up. Frankly, I'm a little annoyed that it STILL doesn't look all that bad up top. As with everything cosplay-related, you have to go BIG and over-emphasize absolutely everything to really make an impression.
You can tell Junk Lady loves her new 'do:
"Are those... bangs?!"
Testing her position on the new rolling frame:
She and her junk pile are removable from the rolling base, giving John and I the option of either wearing her on our backs or shuffling along inside the PVC frame. A lot of this will depend on just how heavy the finished product ends up.
I'd hoped we could use some latex zombie gloves for hands, but the Halloween ones we ordered were enormous and completely unusable. So, more sculpting for me:
The hands have a base of coiled wire covered in newspaper, masking tape, and paper maché. The tubes are place-holders for her rope straps we'll be adding later.
Veins and warts. Those veins were what finally made them look like hands to me, though of course I'm still not 100% pleased with them. (Discovering I friggin' LOVE sculpting, though. Who knew?)
Another test fit:
I'm completely ignoring all of John's work at the moment, I know, but you can see his progress on the junk pile here.
I will say we are striving for complete screen-accuracy, and John is building nearly everything: every chair, every satchel, every giant drum and toy abacus, completely from scratch. And what we aren't making from scratch we're finding at thrift stores and aging up with paint and sand paper and whatnot.
It's been an incredibly fun scavenger hunt, both in studying the film over and over to figure out what's IN the junk pile*, and then trying to find or make an exact copy here in the real world. That rug beater was an $8 find, and you'd think we'd just won the lotto with it. Ha! (We're also striving to keep the cost at "dirt cheap." So far, I think we're succeeding.)
[*FUN FACT: there is a live rat in there - can you spot it? Ours, however, will be a stuffed toy.]
I'll also say I've never seen John have this much fun with a project. EVER.
Me: "John, that toy desk-organizer with a built-in abacus on the back of her pile is barely visible even with the TV brightness set to max. Do you REALLY need to build one from scratch?
John: ".... " [already in the garage building one from scratch]
Though we're striving for total screen accuracy, John and I will also be hiding some Easter Eggs from the movie into the junk pile - and I am SO EXCITED about this part.
I've decided Junk Lady is 30 years older now, so of course she's picked up more things from around the Labyrinth, right? I won't spoil them for you yet, but suffice to say there will be plenty of mementos from other scenes for fans to play I Spy with when we're done.
And finally, I recently discovered Brian Froud has a similar Junk Lady in his Goblins of the Labyrinth book named Agnes, but it's unclear if this is the same character. So hey, anyone out there friends with Mr. Froud? Because I would love - LOVE - to ask him to name our Lady.
I mean, c'mon, Mr. Froud, how could you resist DAT FACE?
K, that's all I have for now. Next time I'll show you guys some build photos for a few of the dozens of props we're finding/building for the junk pile.
Also, believe it or not, we are planning to debut Junk Lady in less than one week at MegaCon. She may not have all her Easter Eggs installed by then, but she should be loaded up and ready to party regardless. Now, just cross your fingers she'll fit in our friends' van... and will fit out our front door. Ha!
'Til then, as the Dread Pirate Roberts would say, rest well, and dream of large, scary junk pile women.