All Work and No Play

painting the scalesThis week and weekend have been so busy! And not just with sewing and furiously trying to complete everything in time for Atlanta. As I mentioned before, I had been working on Toothless over at Robert’s house most of last week – meaning I’ve seen little of my own house (and my cat) for the past few days. I did, however, manage to get a number of things on my list knocked out. So, here’s an update:

The head for Toothless is almost finished. It took about two and a half days of work, but I finally finished painting all the daggone scales on the head. I started on the scales that ran down the center front on the same day I finished sewing all of the seams, but I hadn’t yet posted pictures of it. I wanted to make sure they still looked acceptable when all the paint dried. Upon my return to the workspace the next day, I was pleased that they stood out just enough from the black felt of the rest of the head.

the splotches, after being attacked by a wooden stick

the splotches, after being attacked by a wooden stick

Originally, I was going through the paint job, trying to paint each individual scale with the miniscule tip on the bottle of fabric paint. Keep in mind, of course, that each scale is a mix of two types of paint: slick and metallic black. This was obviously going to take way too long, so I came up with a much simpler way of covering a large amount of dragon head at a time. I took the bottle of slick black and just started making random splotches and dots in the general area where I wanted a scale. Then I went through with the bottle of metallic black, and added a little squiggle or dot of it to each “scale.” Then, I took my handy dandy paint-spreading stick (which was just a really short wooden tongue depressor-like stick), and smoothed out the splotches into something more closely resembling a dragon scale. This method really cut down on the time it would have taken me to paint the scales, and it was a lot easier to mix the two types of paint and get even coverage.

Finished paint job!

Finished paint job!

The rest of the painting took two additional days, as I had to paint all of the “top” scales and let them dry overnight before I could go back, flip the head upside down, and complete the “bottom” half of the head. I only managed to glue my hair together with fabric paint (by inadvertently leaning against some of the scales while painting) on the first night, and didn’t get any paint on my clothes (though Robert’s table might have seen a few drops here and there), so I consider the paint job a win!

The head still needs eyes and some foam inserts inside to make it fit a little more snugly to my head, but it is, for the large part, done. I had it safely stowed in my trunk on Sunday, and pulled it out to show one of the kids after church. As I pulled it out, another car with some more of the youth population passed by, and everyone easily recognized it as Toothless. Again, another win! Also, I feel like I get bonus points for being the cool priesthood member who makes giant costume heads of cartoon characters.

Sunday afternoon was spent working on the body of Toothless. I had availed myself of the giant empty floor space at Robert’s house earlier that weekend, when it came time to cut the patterns out. The pieces went together swiftly when I was back in the sewing corner in my house, but, upon trying on the suit, it soon became apparent that there was a bit of a problem…

The sleeves were HUGE! It was really quite ridiculous. I used that pattern for the basis of both Kowl and my Popple costume, and I don’t remember the sleeves coming out that enormous. I might have thought it was because of the fabric I was using, but Kowl was also made out of felt, and the arms just weren’t that big. Or at least, I don’t remember them being quite as large. suit pieces

I hopped upstairs in the costume (turned inside out, for ease of adjusting seams, of course), and enlisted the help of my Mom. This meant standing in the living room, holding my arms up and out for what felt like eternity – but was, in reality, probably only 20 minutes – as she pinned and adjusted and generally tried to make the arms look less silly and more dragonesque. Eventually, we wound up with something more closely resembling the shape of Toothless’ arms, and I skipped back downstairs, where I then had to deal with the unique costuming challenge of getting out of a zippered costume where the zipper is on the inside (it was inside-out, remember?), and there are a bunch of pins along the arms. Miraculously, I managed to not gouge a million holes in my arm, and eventually wiggled out of the suit. Alterations were made, things were turned right side out, and I moved on to the next challenge.

The tail.

underside of the tail fin

underside of the tail fin

The tail actually wasn’t as difficult as I was anticipating. I had set aside some scraps that were plenty long enough to create the tail, back when I cut out the jumpsuit pattern, and just sort of eyeballed the right shape and length. The thing that I figured would be the trickiest was the tail fin. I decided I was just going to make the original, scarred tail, and wouldn’t worry about also creating the tail extension that Hiccup creates. That can come later, if I decide it’s needed. I wanted the tail fin to stand out a little more from the rest of the tail, so I didn’t want to use more of the same black felt. I remembered seeing some felt back in a section of my stash, left over from an original Halloween costume I had made years earlier. I had later used some of the same material on the handle of my homemade lightsaber, and I thought “Might as well continue the trend.”

Of course, when I pulled the fabric out, I found that it had become a very popular place for mice. They had chewed a number of holes in it.

finished tail

finished tail

Because of the way it was folded, these holes were pretty evenly spaced through the whole scrap, and I was worried there wasn’t enough unmarred fabric to make the fin. After it was cleaned, and I took a better look at it, I was able to figure out a cutting pattern that would give me two pieces for the tail. I sewed them together, and stitched in boning channels, which would look like the bones of a bat/dragon wing. I inserted two pieces of thin cable tie plastic in each channel (one in each was too flimsy), and made little channel “anchors” on the bottom strip of the tail. I then inserted the fin into the opening I had left in the side of the tail, and stitched everything together and closed. I stuffed the tail with fiberfill, and attached it to the back of the jumpsuit. I think I’m going to add some waist tape to the inside of the suit and anchor it to the back of the tail, so that the weight of the tail won’t make it pull out and away from the back of the suit.

I’ve already started making the little dragon claws for the hands and feet. I started them in church on Sunday, and have brought them to work with me today, in case I find myself with some free time on my hands. Tonight, I’ll finish closing up the ends of the front “paws,” and work on finishing the feet for Toothless.

Before (left) and after (right)

Before (left) and after (right)

I’m also going to be spray-painting the dice for Oogie Boogie. I wasn’t originally going to bother with the dice, but I found myself with some extra time on Saturday night, while I waited for the paint on the dragon head to dry, and I started carving out the designs on some foam dice I had purchased from the Dollar Store. The dice turned out to be the perfect size for what I needed, and the carving has been coming along quite nicely, for not having the best idea of what I was doing.

One thought on “All Work and No Play

  1. I would like to mention that my mother is the coolest, most supportive person. She is at the fabric store, looking for felt to finish the wings, while I’m stuck at work. Thank goodness for having loved ones who keep their eyes peeled for needed supplies and props, and who provide incentive and encouragement (and, occasionally, a much-needed kick in the rear) to work on costumes!

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