Final Year Costume Blog
Today I've been working on the head for my dog costume based on the below illustration from the book 'Angus and the Surprise'. Before Christmas I had cast the basic shape of the head in clay and moulded it using a thermoplastic wadding. There were a variety of materials that I could use to create the dogs head. I considered using papier mache to create the head but I decided against this due to the shape of the dogs head. For me to be able to make the form out of papier mache, I would need to position the human head level with the dogs eyes so they could see out of them. As the papier mache is opaque, I thought that it would have been difficult to add mesh to allow the actor to see through it. Papier mache also takes a long time to build up and once the shape was done in the clay it could no longer be changed. As I have never done a costume like this before, I felt more confident making it out of something mouldable as it gave me more room to change the shape if my original mould wasn't correct. I tried the thermoplastic wadding first as it was cheaper than varaform and I had never used it before, I wanted to see if it would work as it would also be lighter than varaform.
After I had moulded the head from the thermoplastic wadding, I realised that the mould that I had done was too shallow as when it was on a person's head, the muzzle of the dog was on the forehead. This meant that I needed to build more on top of the mould so that the head was big enough to fit the entire head in. Once I'd done this I'd used modroc to make sure that the mould was hard enough to mould on top of. When I showed Emma the first prototype she suggested that I used Varaform instead as the thermoplastic wadding was too flexible and took a lot of heating to get it to mould. The Varaform would also make it cooler to wear. I had used varaform before so I was comfortable with the moulding and the way that the material worked.
The above images are similar to what I want my dog to look like. They are more realistic than the fursuit style of costume (below). The illustration that I am reproducing, although slightly humanised, still looks like a border collie dog that it is based on. It has dog-like expressions as opposed to cartoon style eyes and exaggerated cheeks.
This morning I moulded the head in Varaform. This particular Varaform was thinner than i had used before so it was very flimsy. I added plastic coated crin steel to the structure to support it. It worked well to strengthen it, but the more I attempted to mould it or shape it, the crin steel was not flexible enough so it distorted the shape quite dramatically. So I made the decision to remove it. After talking to Emma, she suggested that I double the layers of Varaform. This meant that I needed to block it again on the mould. If I were to do another head, I would have blocked the two layers initially as joining one layer to another was difficult without stretching the under shape too much. Once they were secured together I drew on the features of the dog as I was struggling to visualise the dog. Once I'd done this with a marker pen, I worked into the eyes a bit more to make it look more dog shaped. I also struggle with getting things symmetrical, so I spent some time shaping some parts in front of a mirror so I could see the full shape better.
As I'd decided to make the mouth move in some way, I'd moulded it separately to the rest of the head. I thought of how I would make it move and looked at some of the cosplay style fursuits for some ideas.
I found the above link was the standard way that the fursuits were made to move. The lower jaw was attached to the actors face and lined up exactly with the human jaw. As the jaw of my dog is extended outwards more than these examples I needed to try and figure out how I would create movement. I decided to add elastic to the jaw to create the hinge but the main issue was how to create the mechanism that would open the mouth.
The original idea I had was to add a dowel to the jaw and have the actors chin resting on it, then when the actor opened his mouth it would move the jaw down. This didn't work as when I put it on my head and opened my mouth the rest of the jaw/dowel poked into my chin and was extremely uncomfortable for barely any movement.
The next idea I had was to create a solid strap underneath the chin that would be comfortable to open. I made the above mechanism and attempted to use the dowels to open the jaw. This worked slightly better but it created a problem of how the actor would get the head on and off while the mechanism was there.
At this point I was getting very frustrated with the jaw as I couldn't see any way which it was going to work. I took a break from it and afterwards I realised why it wouldn't work. I was looking at mechanisms which were very close to the actors face. My dog head is positioned so that the actors eyes are level with the nose and the jaw is above the actors jaw. This meant that the jaw wouldn't open as the actors chin would. In order to make the jaw mechanism work I would need to move the actors head further up. It would then change the shape of the dog head and make it look less realistic and more like a Fursuit which I didn't want. I decided that the best way to go forward would be to make the jaw bounce instead of openly move. As the costume is based on a character from a children's book, I thought that it didn't need to be as complicated as most children would respond to the overall look of the character than focus on whether his mouth and words matched up correctly.
Yesterday I spent an hour writing on my tackk to discover that it did not save and has instead been deleted. For my dog, I have worked on my head by building it up with wadding to make it symmetrical. I have also added features onto it making it look more exaggerated. I am struggling to visualise the entire costume as I have no experience doing these type of costume. I am slightly worried that the head will be out of proportion compared to the rest of the body or that it would look wrong. I have been putting off the bodysuit because I cannot figure out how to do it. I have been struggling to find anything online or in books that will give me a realistic looking bodysuit. I thought initially that I would create the shapes with foam then cover it with lycra before sewing it on the bodysuit. When I sat down to do this I realised that it wouldn't create the correct shape as this method wouldn't shape all sides of the legs. I asked Julia and she showed me a photo of a dog that had been made at the Stephen Joseph. This was a very similar costume to what I want to achieve but she did not know how it was made. I am struggling with this project because I am getting nowhere with the full costume. I am going to continue with my head first because I can actually make progress on that part.
For the last 2 weeks I have been working mainly on my design project. I have chosen to design for 101 Dalmatians and do costumes for Cruella, Mr De Vil and Mr & Mrs Dearly. I started with Cruella but I struggled to imagine the entire production as I wanted Cruella to be so different. I then switched to Mr & Mrs Dearly and designed them to get an idea of the overall look of the other characters. From my concept statement I identified the theme of family and community in the book. I needed to think about how to portray a family in the costumes of Mr & Mrs Dearly. I liked the idea of using knitwear to make them look gentle and comfortable. I also thought of linking them together by colour or by mirroring each others style of dress. I looked at images of dog walkers to give me inspiration and I chose the richer elements of the dress to portray their wealth and status. I am happy with the designs that I now have for Mr & Mrs Dearly and I now need to turn my focus on Mr De Vil and create a link with the ideas that I have for Cruella.
Today I'm doing some work on my Mata Hari before the photoshoot next week. I have learnt how to make realistic looking fabric flowers and have replaced the flowers on her hair braids for ones that look like fresh flowers. It looks a lot better so I'm glad Emma made me change them. I am also thinking about making a bouquet like the one that she holds in the photos as it would look really good matching with the rest of the costume. I also have 2 oversized fans that I bought for the show. In my research on Mata Hari, I found out that she often throws flowers then dances with veils. I wanted the fans to be held by 2 people then reveal her as she comes onto the stage. The fans need recovering but I'm not sure what colours to do them or what to put on them. I would have liked to have written Mata on one then Hari on the other but I need to find some visual examples so that I can visualise it. I'm looking at Edwardian style fans to see if anything jumps out at me. I have seen some fans made from lace or a see through fabric which might be quite nice.
I really like this fan. It is very sparkly and dramatic from a distance which would fit with the sparkle that is on the costume. It is also French and dates to around the mid-end of Mata Hari's dance career.
Below is a link to more information about the fan and zoomed images.
Yesterday I did a cast for the first time. I wanted to mould the nose of my dog in leather but I had only ever moulded leather freehand or using an existing mould. I remembered when I was on my work placement Vic told me that she'd had trouble scraping all the clay out of a complicated mould so I knew that I needed to mould my dog's nose in clay first. I used my original head mould as a base and sculped a nose on it. I then took it off and tried it on my varaform head to see if it was a good fit. It looked really good as it made the dog look more characterful.
Once I was happy with my clay model, I took it upstairs into the plaster room. I found a dish that the nose fit into and placed it in there. I then mixed up some plaster in a jug. I wasnt sure what sort of consistancy it had to be so I made it fairly thick but wet enough so it would pour into the mould. As I was about to pour plaster into the mould Glynis came upstairs and told me that I needed to vasceline the clay so I found some vasceline and put it onto the clay to stop the plaster sticking. She also said that the clay needed to be flush against the tub so that no plaster could leak behind it. As the clay mould had been sculpted onto my dogs head, it had a large V shape in the back. I tried to put clay in it to fill the gap but it kept distorting the shape. I instead got to clay to fit the bottom of the tub and placed my nose on top. I then smoothed the edges of my nose to the clay so that there were no gaps. I poured the clay into the mould then left it to set for about an hour till I could see the clay starting to pull away from the tub underneath.
After about an hour once the plaster had started to cool down and the clay started to separate from the mould I started to bang it against a hard surface to loosen it. I slotted some scissors between the side of the tub and eventually the mould fell out. I pulled the clay out of the plaster mould then left it over lunch to make sure that it was really dry and hardened.
To start moulding the leather I soaked a piece in warm water until all the bubbles had stopped coming out of the leather. I then shook off the water and placed it in the mould. I used some blunt scissors to push and scrape the leather into the mould. I worked the leather for about an hour as I needed to make sure that the leather is fully pushed into the mould and there are no wrinkles in the leather. I left it to dry for a few hours then went back to it and worked it a bit more. I then left it overnight to dry completely.
I next attempted to do the teeth of the dog out of leather to see if it would work. I cut small triangles and squares out of leather, soaked them, then rolled them freehand. I then put them into the dogs mouth to see what it would look like. They need painting an off-white colour then they would look more real. I like the teeth in the jaw as it makes him for characterful.
Below is the video I made showing the tiny bubbles coming out of the leather when it has been soaked. Once these bubbles stop, it means the leather is ready to be moulded.
This week I've made quite a lot of progress on my bodysuit. After struggling to figure it out, I asked Julia her advice. Instead of using foam which I initially thought that I would use, she recommended that I use wadding because it would bend round the body easier when padding sections such as the chest and back. Also as my dog is fairly humanised, it would be better for creating gradual curves instead of having exaggerated fursuit-like padding.
I had already made a lycra bodysuit for my model but she recommended using a tshirt and turning the bodysuit into trousers. I put the bodysuit on Rachel and marked in the areas which would create the straps for the trousers so they didn't fall down when they are being worn. I took the straps away from the joints so it would be more comfortable to wear. I also added stirrups to the bottom of the ankles so it wouldnt ride up.
For the shirt I marked where I wanted to take the cuffs up to and removed them. Using this spare fabric I made a gusset so that the tshirt wouldnt ride up.
Julia told me to mark where I wanted the haunches and the bum padding to start and finish. I then had to measure between these marks so that when Rachel took off the suit, I would know how much it stretched when it was on.
I also marked on the tshirt where I wanted the chest padding to go. I cut a long slit into the back of the tshirt and added a plackett onto it, then added velcro so it would be easy to get in and out of. It also allowed the back of the suit to fasten flush the the back as opposed to hook and bars which would pull or a zip which would catch on the fur.
Once I'd done the basic alterations to my tshirt and bodysuit, I started padding. I had to put the bodysuit on a mannaquin and stretch it so that it matched the measurements that I had taken from Rachel whilst the suit was on. Once these measurements matched, I knew that any padding that I put on would not snap if Rachel put it on.
I then cut a circle roughly the same shape as where my marks are. I cut two (one for each side) so that it would be even. I pinned it on then cut a smaller circle out of the same pattern and pinned that on. I did the same until I had 3 layered up and pinned on. When I was happy with the shape I trimmed the edges so that they were more of a gradual slope rather than a step. I then used a large whipstitch to attach them to each other and the bodysuit. It had to be tight enough to hold them but loose enough to not leave indents in the layers.
Once I'd done this padding I put it back on rachel and made sure that it was even before marking out the other places for padding. Once I'd padded the calfs, bum and haunch on the bottom half, I moved onto the tshirt and padded that to elimate the bust and give it more of a dog curve rather than a chest and hips.
I'm really surprised at how quickly the bodysuit is starting to come together. I thought that it would be a lot more complicated to do and it would take a long time. I'm not particularly good at judging shape by eye but i think that now I have learnt to pad, if I practice, I will become more accustomed to how a sihouette can be padded and which parts to pad. I was really worried about this costume before, but now that i have my bodysuit padded up halfway, i can see the entire dog coming together so I'm feeling more confident about having to do the rest of the costume.
Having gone over some of the squares again I decided that the dye was not going to work and I didnt want to leave it as a light red as it would look rubbish against the bright yellow and green. I decided to do some more sampling with different products. I didnt want to go back to using acrylic paints with the fabric medium as it was too stiff. I tried food colouring which coloured well but it was too dark. If I ever needed to make a kilt in muted colours I would use that. I then tried red calligraphy ink to see what that would do. That dyed it a bright colour but as it was drying I noticed that it was very stiff. Once I'd ironed it, I softened but a lot of it rubbed off on the ironing cloth so I thought it was best not to use in case it rubbed off en mass on the final kilt. Finally I decided to try the Dylon fabric paints in case they were softer than the acrylics and this worked really well. It did stiffen it a bit but once it was ironed it softened it a lot more than the acrylics. I decided to go ahead with this and I repainted all the red squares. Once they were dry, I zigzagged all the yellow ribbon on. I then painted yellow around the red squares and outlined them with the ink as this was better for detailing. I ironed the ink against some calico so it didnt rub off. The painting and ribboning took about 6 full days to do in total which is a long time but I expected it to take longer. The green ribbon was frustrating because every organza ribbon I came across was not quite the right colour. Eventually, I decided to paint them because I painted the ribbon on one of my samples and it gave it a sketchy look like the illustration which I liked. I wanted to complete the kilt for the photoshoot but I needed the lower half of the bodysuit on a mannaquin to see how wide it needed to be and I had left it at college over the weekend which was annoying. I decided that I shouldn't guess the measurement because i would make more work for myself. For the photoshoot I had the jacket pretty much done and the shirt and bowtie were complete. I just needed to fasten them all together so I pinned them on for me to sew on this week after the photoshoot.
It was really good seeing my costume in the studio. Although it was only the upper half, I liked the way it looked with the head. When I initially furred the head and it grew in size, I was worried that the body would look ridiculous but it seems to be in proportion. I'm really pleased with my dog as aside from my Mourning dress in first year, its the only costume that I really like. I have always found prop based costumes a lot more impressive as they are a lot harder to make than regular clothes and it feels really good that I've not only managed to make one, but I've managed to make one that looks good. One of my main worries at the start of making this costume was that I would do it wrong and it would look ridiculous. On my work placement I made a chicken puppet which went wrong in places and it's eyes are wonky so being able to have my dog looking good is a massive achievement for me.
This week I have made further progress on my dog costume. I decided that the thighs were not large enough to create a dog silhouette so I built up the sides and bum area more with one whole piece of wadding so that it would show under the kilt. Once I'd done that I decided that I needed to cover the wadding to strengthen it. I found that the more the costume was taken on and off, the more the wadding stitches didn't hold. I wanted to put another layer over the top of the wadding so that if any stitches did break, the wadding would stay in place. To do this, I pinned lycra over the top of the wadding and stretched it over. Julia suggested that I dart it so that the lycra doesn't squash the wadding flat. Initially I was going to hand stitch the lycra covering on using the stretch stitch that Ruth had shown us before. However, Julia said that it would be best to machine it on so that it was stronger. I machined it on a zig zag so that it still had the stretch in it. I had to put loads of pins in it to hold as the wadding gets squashed into the machine. The small sections such as the calf wouldn't fit into the machine so I hand stitched those sections making sure I tied a knot every 5 stitches in case one snapped. I also need to finish covering the chest of the dog which I will do in one whole piece so that it looks smooth on the outside.
I'm starting to think about the clothes on the dog now. Talking to Emma last week she suggested that I try and paint the kilt the correct colours. My fabric medium came today so this afternoon I am going to do some sampling of that. I also liked the idea of sewing ribbon onto parts as the stripes and zig zagging coloured stripes on top. I think this would make it look more interesting and cartoon-like. I will also do a sample this way to see what it looks like. I could also print sections of the kilt. There are a few drawbacks to doing this as I would need to have several large screens exposed at once. There is also a possibility that the binders would make the fabric too stiff and they might miss sections. I could print with dyes but they are notorious for running into other colours and this would be a disaster with something like this. I am slightly reluctant to print the entire kilt for these reasons, but I am thinking that I could possibly print the large background pieces and paint the rest of the stripes. I would need to see how long the painting takes me and how effective it is.
For the jacket of the dog I am thinking about using the same fabric as the kilt and dyeing it grey then spraying into it to create the patchy look that is in the picture. I think this would tie in with the handmade style of the kilt as opposed to it looking too clean and humanistic.
Yesterday I decided that I wanted a break from covering the dog and I spent the day mounting up my portfolio. I had a lot of my costume plates ready to be mounted so I made a good start on that. I really enjoy doing my portfolios so it was a nice break from the rest of the work and it still allowed me to be making progress. It is quite nice to also see the progress that I have made since I started this degree. My costume plates have vastly improved since first and second year and I'm finding that things like samples look a lot more impressive mounted up than they did in my sketchbooks. I am also looking forward to seeing Polly's photos from our previous photoshoot because I really want to see how my Mata Hari looks posed as opposed to in college. I was pleased with how the photoshoot went so I am hoping that the photos will be really good.
For the past few weeks I have been flat out working on my dog costume. I have finalised the way that I am going to create the kilt on the dog. I sampled with a variety of methods including acrylic paint and fabric medium, dyes, different coloured wool and ribbon. My initial sample was acrylic paint and fabric medium but I found that this method made the fabric extremely stiff, even when pressed. I attempted to really water the paint down and it created a nice effect, however it didn't look like the illustration. I then tried a sample where I painted some of the main squares with dyes. This worked really well on the wool as it stayed flexible and the colours matched well. I liked the idea of having the kilt look like the cartoon style it has been drawn in so I decided to use ribbon as some colours as it gave it a less homemade and more professional look without eliminating the cartoon style. I also tried starting off with a coloured wool so that i wouldnt have to paint as much colour. I spend ages dyeing the wool red but it took a lot of dye to achieve the colour wanted and it eventually felted and made the wool thick. I also tried it on an already dyed blue wool fabric but it affected the colours on top and made the kilt look very murky. My favourite sample was the one which was done with a combination of dyes and paint. For a final sample I tried where every colour was dyed and it worked really well so I decided to do this. I masking taped up my wool into squares so that I could paint the blue background first. I had to really push the dye into the wool using a paintbrush so it took a long time. When I brushed it on it didnt absorb so once it was dry the colour was really faded. I also made the mistake of not consulting my sample before I started painting. I checked my length of wool and realised that there was a front and back to the wool. One side being slightly fluffier than the other where you can see the knitted pattern. I decided that I would paint on the flatest side as it would give me an easier surface to paint on. However, once I'd finished dyeing the first colour, I realised that the dye was running out of the lines that i had painted. I then checked my sample and realised that I had painted on the fluffy side and the dye had not absorbed entirely through the back. The side on which I had painted must have meant that the fibres absorbed the dye and spread to the fluffy strands on the reverse side. This meant that when I painted the red dye next to it, some of the blue underneath affected the colour of the red. Once it was dry another problem had occured. The blue dye was the correct colour but the red had faded quite considerably. This was really strange because I used the same batch of dye that I had used on my sample and it did not fade. I put this down to using the wrong side of the fabric.
I am really getting frustrated with this website. Every time I write on it, it decides not to save. There is no save button so unless the website decides that it will autosave and it deleted every thing. I have lost hours worth of time rewriting things on here and I have just noticed that half of my last post did not save.
I cannot remember what I said in my last post but I know that I was discussing how pleased I was with my dog costume. I have found that my dog costume is probably my favourite costume that i have ever made. I was really worried that i was not going to be able to do a good job of it. Especially as the errors on proppy style costumes stick out and can ruin the entire thing. I have always had a slight problem with getting things symmetrical and I really didn't want my dog to end up with crazy eyes or one leg smaller than the other. I have always found prop based costumes to be more impressive than regular costumes. I feel as though we have had enough training in regular construction that I could give a pretty good shot at making anything. During Ark of Animals, I never got the chance to make a puppet on my own and I think that in first year I did not quite understand what we had to produce for that project nor what materials were available to us. However, after learning the techniques from that project and from making a puppet on my work placement I felt that I had enough basic knowledge of materials that were used to make something similar to my illustration. I decided to go for it and make the dog. I have learnt so much from that one costume it blows all my others out of the water. I'm really glad that i chose to do the costume because it has given me an overall knowledge and the confidence to take on a costume of this type in the future. If I hadn't have done the costume, it is unlikely that I would ever have taken a commission for this type of costume. The amount of work that has gone into this costume is more than anything I have ever done and I am really pleased with how it has turned out. I did not want the head to look fursuit-like or like a cheap mascot and it doesn't. When I look at the dog's head on the table next to me, I am really proud of how it looks. It looks professional and I love it.
Yesterday I was emailing the graphic designer who is handling our brochure and he sent me through some forms to fill in that corresponds to the blurbs in our brochure. I passed them on to the rest of the class to fill out by Tuesday when Phil comes in again. I wrote mine up straight away and was pleased with what i wrote. The fact that the sections are capped at a maximum of 80 words is really useful as it allowed me to be concise about what I want the reader to know about my costumes. I found it specifically helpful when writing about my design project. I had to describe the concept behind the costume in a few sentences and it helped me focus my thoughts on what I want my final costume to portray to the audience. The costume that I have in my head will hopefully correspond to the concept that I want the audience to understand.
I am getting really agitated over how little time we have left before deadlines. My dog costume was a much bigger project than I initially anticipated. Making the dog was one thing, but I did not expect to have to hand paint all of his clothes too. That is what has taken the longest. In a way I feel like it is two costumes in one. I could dress someone in the dog costume and dress another person in the dogs clothes and they would both be complete costumes. I was pleating up the kilt today and was pleased with how good it looked once all the pleats were in. That is probably the biggest textile piece that I have ever done and it does give the dog a more characterful look so I am pleased that I did it.
I am hoping to start cutting my Cruella costume next tuesday as I have my dog formative on Monday. The dog is pretty much finished besides his tail which is taking some working out in my head. Julia gave me a monkey tail to look at which was fastened to a block of wood and elastic. I was planning on making my tail the same way, but today she told me that i had to cut a hole in the bodysuit and attach the tail from the inside. i dont know how that would work with her tail design as I would either have to make the hole really big to be able to thread the tail through which I think would be a big mistake, or the other option would be to keep the wooden block inside the bodysuit which is going to be uncomfortable. I am planning on doing some sketches this weekend to try and figure it out because its really stressing me out.
I am late starting my Cruella costume which is a worry but I know that I can produce a costume in the remaining time. I am a pretty quick worker when I know what I need to do. I am planning on cutting my Cruella on Tuesday for the jumpsuit and the jacket. I have ordered the overlay fabric for my jumpsuit so I can start to cut that out. I also have my leather already and can cut my jacket out fairly soon. I don't like the idea of being behind with it but because i know that I can get going I'm not in full panic. It's the dog that is worrying me. I want to get it completely finished so that I don't have to do anything to it and can focus solely on cruella. I finished off any remaining alterations on my Mata Hari costume on Tuesday, including all my files so that is done. I have the majority of my portfolio mounted and am waiting for the latest photoshoot images till I can do anymore. My dog file is up to date so as soon as I finish the dog, I can finish my tech file the same evening. Aside from my Viva, I can focus solely on Cruella and my costume plates for the final weeks.
The last few show rehearsals have gone well. Me, Glynis, Alice, Louise and Freja rehearsed and choreographed the montage as the rest of the group did not come in. We are happy with what we have done and have started the show off with something that will get the audience going. The next Montage rehearsal should go pretty smoothly with our models. During my rehearsal, I showed Emily what I wanted for my Cruella and I stepped in as the dog because Rachel had gone home. I checked the visibility of the dog on stage and it was good. I also checked it with the lights dimmed and you can still see through it well. The only issue I had was with the downward light that was coming from the fire exit signs. It was difficult to see when the light was shining directly onto the mesh. Sarah said they were covering the signs anyway during the show so that should not be a problem. I couldn't choreograph the Mata Hari scene yet because I wanted the song chopping quite a lot. On Tuesday I was in the sound box from 1pm till 5.10pm with Rob learning how to use the Qlab software that changes the music for the show. I then had to teach Sarah how to use it so that she could cut everyone else's music. I managed to cut my Mata Hari song to what I wanted it to be and merged the 6 sections together so that they were as seamless as possible. It was a long afternoon but I would not have got my music done otherwise and could not rehearse without it.
Now that I have finished cutting music for the show, liasing with Phil and the printers, sorting out everyone's Don Carlo orders, I can finally get on with the last bits of my dog this weekend. Phil will be back in on Tuesday trying to gather everyone's forms and photographs and I will hopefully have some more images to get printed.
Today I have been sewing the pleats into my kilt. I knew that I needed to sew the pleats down on the top section of the kilt. I initially planned to lift the fabric pleat at the back and sew down the fold on each pleat then cut away the excess. I had a google to see if I could find any further advice. I found multiple articles that said I should sew down the edge of each pleat on the right side of the fabric. I decided to do this as it seemed to be the correct way to do it. However, once I had done it and cut the bulk away, I found that the sewing lines have caught multiple pleats underneath and there is still bulk underneath the lines. I have cut away as much bulk as possible but in future I would have done it the way I though initially. I have also finished the dogs shoes today. I had to cut the faux leather out and create the tongue flaps using some collar canvas inside the front. I then sewed the shoe up and top stitched the part round the back of the food so that I imitated a real shoe. I have left a bit of sock showing so once the foot is in, it looks as though there is no join. I have glued and stretched the leather on so that it is as flat as possible. They are comfy to wear which is good. I need to find something to create a sole with. Julia said that it had to be something rubber like a car mat or some sheeting but after looking at car mats, they are too patterned and misshapen. I was thinking of using plastazote or a yoga mat on the bottom as it will not make them overly heavy either. If the plastazote is too slippy, I may use non stick matting on the bottom.
I have also been sorting out peoples entries for the brochure. Phil needs all the write ups by Tuesday including the majority of CVs which we promised him in March. I have had people asking me what photos they gave Phil so I had to email him and get him to send me a copy of the brochure so far. I have then spent 10mins typing out everyone's entries onto our Facebook page so people have no excuse not to meet this deadline.
Whilst I am online responding to another email from Phil, I am looking at ways in which to do my tongue. I vaguely think that I could do it by painting liquid latex into a mould and painting it but I do not know this for certain. I have had a google and the only thing that seems to be coming up is people making human tongues. They suggest carving it out of foam then painting with the latex, or others have suggested cotton wool dipped in latex. This would be good for a human tongue but the dogs tongue needs to be thin and long so I'm not sure that this method would work.
This week I have been doing final bits on my dog. I had my formative today which went okay. There is a lot of things that I need to do in the next few days to perfect him. Emma suggested that I paint into the shoes of the dog. I was really pleased with the shoes, and although I know that she is right, I was still slightly nervous to do it. When I came home I was doing my dog technical file and was doing the section about the shoes. I decided that I would paint into them so that I could put the photos straight in. I started painting into them slowly with black paint. However that dried clear so i had to be more brave an use a more obvious colour. I painted into them with a dark grey, then light grey and then white. I am really happy with the result. I was thinking about how in the past two years I wouldn't have known what to do if someone told me to 'paint into it', now I can do it without really thinking about it.
Yesterday, I started cutting my jacket for Cruella. I have managed to recreate the shape of the collar that I wanted. I am a little nervous at making the jacket from the leather. I have never used leather before and am a little reluctant to sew it together as I would any other jacket. Especially as there will only be enough fabric for one jacket. I think I am going to have a look online in case I can find some advice about sewing with the leather. I machined on one of my samples so I know that it will go through the sewing machine alright. The thing that I'm more unsure about is how to seam it. I cannot press the leather very well because the patent side is very rubbery and I think it would melt the coating. Hopefully, I may find some research on the subject.
I am also getting nowhere with my design project at the moment. I need a good few days to sit and design but I can't seem to find time to do it. I was hoping to do it this week but after my formative, I will be working on my dog all weekend. I am struggling to think of a way of doing my costume plates for this project too. They are very modern designs and I'm not sure what style to do them. I have printed out some book pages from 101 dalmatians that I like the idea of doing my plates on those but I won't know what they will look like. I am not a confident drawer when something is not in front of me. I redrew my costume plate for my Infanta a few weeks ago and struggled to draw it without a photo. It is very frustrating as it makes me struggle with design even though I can see the costume clearly in my head. Over the weekend I am hopefully going to draw one of my plates out to see if I like it. It usually takes me a full day to do a costume plate so I need to start doing them now.
It is now the beginning of May and I am getting worried about the little time I have left to finish my costume. If I only had to complete my costume that would be fine, but I have other things that feed into my time immensely. I have been finishing bits on my dog this weekend so hopefully by Monday I won't have anything major to do on him. I spend a lot of time last week in the evening updating my files so I am fairly on top of those.
I have been on pinterest sketching out ideas for Cruella. I really wanted Cruella to have a harsh shape and I was thinking about corseting her. I have been reluctant because of the time I have to make the costume but I have decided to try. I can make a bra in half a day so I am hoping that once my fabrics arrive, I shall be able to make the bra and corset that I have in mind fairly quickly. I will leave the textiles/decoration till last in case I do not have time to do it. I already have my fabric for my jumpsuit and I have emily's measurements so on Tuesday when college reopens, I am going to flat pattern cut it to her measurements which won't take me very long. The jacket is still playing on my mind. I have already cut the pattern and the toile was fairly easy to do. It is the actual material I am worried about. I had a look online earlier and only found references to normal leather or vinyl. I already sampled sewing the leather on the machine and it sewed fine. It is the seaming that I am undecided about because the leather cannot be pressed as it will melt. When Glynis made her buffcoat she backed it first which I will probably have to do so that i can herringbone the seams flat. I am not sure how I would line the jacket. Is it an outercoat style jacket so it must have to be lined in some way. having looked online, they seem to be lined the same way as normal jackets but my leather is thicker than the examples. I think I will have to do it this way and use top stitching as a substitute for the harsh pressing.
I found the below article about making a patent leather bag which is interesting. They seam the bag normally and press the seams to one side and top stitched it. I think this might make my jacket very bulky so I may try pushing the seams flat and top stitching both sides separately instead of together.
I've had a google to look at images of patent leather jackets to see if i could see how they are constructed. The majority of the images that I found look as though they are all top stitched. This makes me relax slightly as I am a bit more confident in how I am going to sew it together.
I am beginning to wonder whether I am overthinking this leather as I did with the bodysuit on the dog. I just don't want it to look really rubbish and lumpy. I have decided that I am going to do a few seaming samples to see which one looks better then just go for it.
For the past few weeks I have been working on the final bits of my design project and my Cruella costume. I wasnt sure whether I liked my Cruella until I saw it in the studio shoot we had with Mike Ambler. When I saw it in full make up and with the bone in her hair I was really pleased. It looked really theatrical and I think it fullfilled the concept that I had in my head. I wish I had had time to experiment with the leather a bit more as I found that towards the end of making my jacket, I discovered easier ways to sew it and it was neater. The initial parts of the jacket arent as neat as I would have liked because I had so much trouble with it jamming in my sewing machine. I am happy with my Cruella costume now as it looks better on the model than it does on the mannaquin so seeing it in the studio cheered me up. I was disappointed with the images Mike chose as there were a lot of good shots that he didn't include. It's a strange feeling after having everything handed in but I'm glad they are because I need to focus back on my portfolio.
I have the majority of things already mounted up. I enjoy doing my portfolio so I have been doing sections when I need a break from the rest of my work. I'm finding that my first and second year work looks more impressive when it is mounted up.
Today I started putting up my exhibition at uni. We have all painted the boards as much as we could and now it is ready to go up. I've been in today and put my costumes on a mannaquin in the area that I have been allocated. Me and Glynis went to her barn to look at props we could put in with our costumes. I wanted some sort of animal for Cruella to drag on stage and luckily Glynis had some skins. I chose the reindeer skin as it was large enough to drag and would also look good in my exhibition behind Cruella. I have also managed to design my own business cards and had them printed with the rest of my photos so I have these to put in my exhibition somewhere.