Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Giant Squid Sandals

Specifically requested to go with a costume: 

Shannon wanted some sandals, like my purple octopus sandals, to wear with her Giant Squid costume at Norwescon.  We made a few key changes to the design - most importantly shortening the ankle strap, omitting the toe loop, and adding both an arch cookie and anchor straps at the back.

To give a bit of an idea of how the pattern comes together, we started by wrapping Shannon's foot in some quilters cotton I had laying around, then covered it with masking tape.  A sharpie made the design we wanted:

Which was used to make the paper pattern pieces.

We traced the sole of a pair of sandals she had (and liked the fit of) for the insole pattern.  The insole was cut from 7oz veg-tan leather.

And the straps from 3oz veg tan.  The straps were tooled, and holes punched for crystal rivets.  Turns out, Tandy was discontinuing the green crystals, so I had to get them shipped in from California.

All the pieces were dyed green.

And I gave Shannon the choice of three different buckles I had in stock:

 Here's how the pieces looked with the crystals, and slotted through the insoles.

At this point, we did a fitting.  I taped together the(undyed) insoles, green straps (cut extra long), arch cookies, soles, and heel lifts with masking tape to sort-of hold them all together, and she put them on.  That allowed us to adjust the placement of the cookie, adjust the straps for better fit, and cut the ankle straps to the correct length. 

For the soles, I used sole bend (very thick, hard leather - I cut it with my jig saw).  Made an arch cookie out of EVA foam, and inserted a thin foam layer as well.

Stitched the pieces of the straps together....

And put the tabs through the slots.


In the thin foam, I cut channels, so that the tabs wouldn't make bumps under the foot (as much). 

Then glued the upper to the sole.

The edge was pretty rough, but that was ok, since I was going to sand it smooth on my sander anyway.  Added a couple of heel lifts:

And made it all smooth and pretty, with the sander.

Dyed the insole and the sides of the soles, and we were done!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Chairman's Meow

In the category of "other things"....

That would be a seven foot tall cat sculpture.
It's for the photo op area in the main lobby at Norwescon 39, and it's called, "The Chairman's Meow".  Our convention chairman, Kathy, thought it would be nice to honor our Writer Guest of Honor with a huge cat sculpture, since cats feature in many of her books, and I was dumb enough to say, "I could probably make that."

There is *way* better info on how to do awesome paper mache at the  Ultimate Paper Mache website  - that's where I got all my info, and I totally should have watched her cat tutorial one more time before I jumped into the head on mine.  But either way, here's a quickie photo montage of how the cat came together.

First step, actually, was to mount a piece of galvanized pipe to a plumbing flange on a piece of plywood.  Then, we ordered a couple of new desks at work, and they came packed in these nice, large, pieces of styrofoam.  I found a photo of a cat online, and gridded it up, and came up with this:

I know, stunning, right?  If only it wasn't so.... two dimensional.

I buy masking tape in the Contractor's Pack!

Once it was mostly the shape I wanted, I covered the whole thing with blue paper shop towels and wallpaper paste.  I have celiac disease, and don't want to have wheat flour in my house - so I bought a big jug of the pre-made stuff.

Then I made a batch of the air-dry paper clay (toilet paper, joint compound, elmer's glue, cornstarch, linseed oil) and started sculpting the face.  This is where I learned that I really should have watched that cat tutorial again, because I really just wasn't getting it.  On the other hand, it ended up looking cat-like, so good enough.

Next, some trials with texture.  I wanted the ears and head to be less furry, so I went with toilet paper, joint compound, and glue. 

Then back to the blue shop towels for the lower, furrier parts.

Once the head was mostly done, it could go up on it's base - a 2 foot tall box. 

The fur texture was done by first painting on a layer of joint compound mixed with Elmer's glue (half and half).  Then, a diagonally torn towel was painted on one side with the mixture.  The wet side was applied to the cat, and the towel scrunched up until it looked like fur.  Then more of the joint compound/glue mixture was painted over the top.

Once it was all covered, it went up to the garage for a coat of paint.  Two coats, actually.  A first coat with a slightly more textured spray paint, followed by fourteen cans of "Caribbean Sand" colored stone texture paint. 

On the Tuesday before the convention, the fantastic transportation team stopped at the house and loaded it up. 

They took very nice care of the cat, and it was enjoyed by many in the main lobby of the convention.

And now, it lives somewhere in or near the Tri-Cities.  Because it wasn't coming home with me.