Archive for the 'CRAFT' Category

Costume Parade [Part Three]

Frodo at the Futureshop DVD Release Party

2003: Frodo

Frodo from head to tow, brandishing sting in his right hand, clutching the ring with his left
“The Fellowship of the Ring” inspired my son’s choice to become Frodo, which was possibly the most elaborate of all the costumes I’ve made. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think there were even mass produced Frodo costumes available at that time. I bought supplies at Malabars, which is where I found the elven cloak clasp and the batter operated “Sting” which glows blue when orcs are near…

But unquestionably the greatest resource that gave me guidance was an amazing Alley Cat Scratch website with an enormous amount of detail and advice about ever aspect of the Lord of the Rings costumes. From costume sketches, patterns, photos of the original costumes, discussions of the fabric and construction used by the production company…. this was an invaluable resource for making Frodo.

2004: Neo

3 views; hanging on the door
We were quite taken with the Matrix series, so naturally my son wanted to be Neo. The first step was to get a “Neo” haircut. Although Neo was armed and dangerous by the end of the Matrix, we agreed that any armaments would be inappropriate for inclusion in a school setting after the events of Columbine. And isn’t the underlying theme of the Matrix trilogy that guns are merely props; the real power is from within?
I had to learn to sew button holes for the coat (did I ever!). The coat was made with my favorite Arctic Fleece, but since it was used almost like a cape within the film’s choreography, I lined the skirt of the coat with a more rigid slippery fabric that added weight and allowed my son to do those classic Neo spin-arounds

2005: Zorro

my zorro poses at the movie theatre
I grew up watching a black & white Zorro on television. But as much as I loved Guy Williams, the Antonio Banderas’ Zorro was the one to emulate. This costume did double duty, as Hallowe’en coincided with the theatrical release of “The Legend of Zorro” which we thoroughly enjoyed.

2006: Captain Jack Sparrow


Johnny Depp deserved his Oscar for Captain Jack in the first (and only good) Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The richness of the character inspired my son to revisit the world of pirates.

This costume was another major undertaking, not least because I was emboldened to do far more original sewing than alteration work. It was gratifying that after Hallowe’en my son wore the pirate shirt to school more than once as part of his wardrobe.  This costume also required even more in the way of accoutrements than our first pirate outing had.

2007: Harpo Marx

collage: Harpo face, Harpo dancing with dog, detail suspenders amd coat  pocket

We began with a beige trench coat, but extra pockets had to be added to the interior so my young Harpo could secrete various bits of paraphernalia, magic tricks, a giggle stick and most important, Harpo’s signature horn. Even in black and white, it was clear that Harpo’s wardrobe was always bright, so we searched for the loudest shirt, and brightest suspenders we could find. We topped it off with a nice blond wig and top hat from a local costume shop.

In keeping with the characterization, my son wore the costume to high school, where he didn’t speak a word all day, only punctuating his non-verbal communications with honks on the horn. He was a little disappointed that only a few of the teachers even knew who the Marx Brothers were.

This article completes my overview of the costumes I’ve made for my son.  I expect to devote entire articles to the three most elaborate costumes, for Frodo, Zorro and Captain Jack. I am pleased to see that my son has taken to making his own costumes these days.

Costume Parade [Part Two]

left photo: the finished cat, right photo I'm face painting the cat

1998: Year of the Cat

Growing up with cat siblings, it was only natural that my son would want to be a cat one year. The cat costume made of thick fake fur was a particularly good choice for 1999’s bitterly cold Hallowe’en.

I left the face open and attached black raffia whiskers to the sides of the face. Large black craft foam claws were sewn to the costume’s front paws.

Two photos, one a head and shoulders shot and the other a full body shot of the pirate costume.ostume

1999: Dread Pirate

My son decided he wanted to be a pirate in the first grade.  For the hat, I transformed my wide-brimmed dressy felt hat into a traditional pirate hat, trimming the edges with gold ribbon to make the outline stand out. I used a sheet of white craft foam to cut out a skull and cross-bones.  The piratical striped shirt and bandana was part of his ordinary wardrobe already.

The cape is trimmed with the same gold ribbon, and held together with a chain clasp.  I also made a shoulder “swag bag” to hold all the accoutrements,  The two main weapons were a plastic cutlass, and a reproduction antique pistol (a non-functioning lighter).

We had a lot of fun making all the pirate accoutrements for this one. The spyglass was made from two different sized thick cardboard towel rolls that could nest together with a clear Pringles lid attached as the “lens”  Then I made a piratical treasure map, which was painted it with lemon juice and baked in the oven so it would acquire the patina of antiquity.  There was also a pirate flag made with leftover black fabric hung on a bit of bamboo.  I made white foam skulls in appropriate sides to adorn the back of the cape, the flag, and the spyglass.

Harry flies his Nimbus 2000 through the graveyard on Hallowe'en

2000: Harry Potter

My son wanted to be Harry Potter before the first movie was made.  So research for this costume required my return to the source material of the books.

We needed a wand.  Since a visit to  Ollivanders Wand Shop was out of the question, a nice hollow piece of Bamboo — painted gold — was just the ticket.  Next insert a nice Phoenix feather (either a found bird feather, or one purchased from a craft supplier) and tamped down with an appropriately sized glowstick. The glowsticks I used were intended as earings, so there were two to a package, found at the Dollar Store. One of these glowsticks will last out the night, but it is always handy to have backups, particularly as such inexpensive glowsticks have a higher incidence of not activating).

The key element of clothing for Hogwarts students was a nice back wizarding robe to be worn over ordinary street clothes.  To make the costume more Harry Potter specific, I decided to make a Hogwarts crest for young Harry’s book bag.   There was a beautiful black and white line art rendering of the Hogwarts crest in the books. Since this drawing was uncredited, I assumed it to be the work of author J.K.Rowling (which seems now to be the consensus on the Internet). The books told me which colours were required for each of the Hogwarts houses.

I transformed a small straw broom into a Nimbus 2000 by removing the stitching to make it flat, then binding the straw in a circle. I stained the handle and painted “Nimbus 2000” on the shaft, then varnished it.

He loved the costume, but his biggest disappointment when Trick or Treating was that most people had no idea who Harry Potter was.

This costume was reused again later, when he attended a Harry Potter book launch with the addition of a Griffindor crest to the wizarding robe, which was somewhat shorter now, as he’d grown in the intervening years.

Left: sitting outside Wordsworth, reading the new book; right top, with Hagrid, bottom, full costume

left: aiming the long bow toward the sky, right: wielding the sword

2001: Robin Hood

For my own amusement, my son’s Robin Hood costume *had* to be based on the Errol Flynn costume from the Warner Brother’s classic. My research for this one involved searching through the film and making sketches of all the necessary bits.

I chose to diverge from the movie, following convention (and the movie poster) in making my son’s hat green, rather than brown. We used a fairly spectacular found feather for the cap. The crenelated tunic was a little bit finicky but not so difficult to sew. I am not the world’s best seamstress, and I try to make costumes durable, I use fabric that doesn’t fray and unravel easily, and it is always a bonus if the stitching can disappear into it.

I put gromets into the v neck of the collar to thread leather lace through, but the gromets never gripped the soft yielding fabric, and started pulling out from the start. After I had to remove them, the laces stayed in the holes just fine on their own.

Both Historically and cinematically, Robin Hood’s weapon of choice was the long bow, so that was an important bit. Since a long bow is almost as tall as it’s user, I pruned an appropriately long and skinny branch from the hedge, and used green twine for the bow-string. I wound a scrap of black leather around the centre of the bow to make a grip. I also sewed him a leather scrap wrist guard, such as are still used by traditional archers today, to protect the shooting arm from bow-string chafing.

I made a quiver out of green fabric, and by slitting the wide ends of some skinny bamboo garden stakes, I was able to push in large green craft feathers to fletch the arrows. The pointier tip ends were pushed into corks for safety. (Before letting him loose on the world I asked him to shoot arrows a leaf bag target, and after seeing how gently they flew, I asked him to shoot some at me for photographs. Even the ones that hit didn’t really hurt.

(Still, when he wore the costume to school for the fourth grade Hallowe’en party, he knew he would lose the weapon if he so much as pulled an arrow out of the quiver.) Sometimes a cork would break on impact, but then the arrow had to be retired until it could be re-tipped.)

He wore this (without the fleece under layer) later to attend the Robin In The Hood Festival.

King Richard kneels to the left of young Robin Hood, gripping the sword

2002: Captain Jean Luc Picard, U.S.S. Enterprise,
Star Trek Next Generation

By this point I had pretty much established that my son could be anyone he wanted to be for Hallowe’en so long as I there was enough advance notice given. For this one, his dad sent away for a Star Trek Next Generation badge/communicator which provided a lovely touch of authenticity to what was essentially a simple costume..

For the tunic and pants I again used my favourite costume fabric, arctic fleece, which has a bit of stretch capability but is quite forgiving for those of us who really only take on one of these projects once a year. Unlike most of the other costumes I’ve made, this one had to be pretty form-fitting, so it wasn’t revisited in later years.

It seems my son is as much a purist as I, as he insisted on having his head shaved for this one. The hairdresser was uncomfortable going all the way, so after a buzz cut the final close shave was undertaken by Dad. Even then, my son’s dark roots were clearly visible under the translucent skin of his perfectly smooth scalp, so a layer of flesh tone make up was required.

Standing in front of a poster of the starship Enterprise

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Forward to Part Three

Costume Parade [Part One]

One of my main reasons for starting this blog was to have a place I could share the cool costumes I’ve made for my son over the years.

Sewing isn’t really my thing, so buying articles of clothing have often saved me time and energy in costume making. With the variety in pre-owned clothing stores, from Goodwill to Value Village, if the right clothes aren’t part of your child’s wardrobe, quite often they can be purchased quite economically.

Full shot of my one year old wearing his first Hallowe'en costume

1993: Mickey Mouse

When Aunt Cindy came back from her Disneyland vacation, she brought my son Mickey Mouse ears with his name embroidered on them. This became the first piece of my son’s first Hallowe’en costume.

For Mickey black tights and a long sleeved black cotton turtleneck were essential base pieces.

We wanted the classic original Mickey look, so my son’s red shorts were just the thing. I just needed to sew two large white buttons on the front, and another two on the back, where I also attached a piece of (untwisted) black raffia for the mouse tail.

Mickey wears 1930’s era white gloves, so I altered a pair of the little stretch gloves that can expand to fit adult fingers. Since Mickey (like many cartoon characters) has only three fingers, I removed one finger from each glove, so two fingers have to share a finger in the glove. Then I used a black marker to draw three black lines on the back of the hand part of the glove.

Opa and Oma helped out with the classic Mickey Mouse shoes. Using stuffing and yellow felt, they made over a pair of toddler slippers into the bulgy yellow shoes Mickey Mouse wears.

my son in Thunderbird costume, and detail insert showing the International Rescue logo on the sash, and the pilot hat

1994: Scott Tracy, Thunderbird One Pilot
Both my husband and I grew up watching the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson supermarionation “Thunderbirds” television series. As a science fiction fan, I had been looking for a chance to see it again for years, but it was only reissued here when our child was small, so he grew up watching it too.

Blue turtleneck and sweatpants formed the costume’s base. I used a vinyl fabric with a fuzzy white backing to make the sash, and glued on velcro for the closure. The sash also had a belt loop to hold tools (a yellow flashlight went there) and a plastic friction-spark gun was just perfect to serve as Scott’s ray gun that fills the holster on the other side of the sash. The glue did not hold up very well, and has been repaired with clear packing tape at this point. More of the vinyl became boot covers, which can be pulled on over ordinary shoes.

I used acrylic paint to recreate the International Rescue logo on the sash. The oval IR logo on the hat was made by painting the black outline over metallic silver paper, then glued onto the pilot hat. The hat was fairly simple to make for a novice. The hardest part was incorporating more blue vinyl as piping. To help the hat stay on, I attached a bit of elastic that ran unobtrusively behind his head under his hair.

He was very proud to trick-or-treat as Scott Tracy, but was annoyed at how many people had no idea who he was supposed to be.

Being held in the air by Kookoo the Klown at Pizza Hut

1995: Mickey II

Two years later, when he had a better grasp of Hallowe’en, since we had moved (and had a new audience) my son chose to reprise the role in the new neighborhood. The slippers no longer fit, and he chose instead to wear ordinary running shoes. After trick-or-treating, we went to the Brampton Pizza Hut Hallowe’en Party, where he’s pictured above with KooKoo the Klown.

Spiderman (Bakshi animated version)

1996: Spiderman

The costume is based on “the real Spiderman” which to me is the Spiderman from Ralph Bakshi’s animated 1970’s television series. Conveniently, my son agreed. The costume was created from a red sweater that Nanny would have sent to Goodwill had we not snagged it. Blue sweatpants formed the base, and I cut up the sweater into bits I then sewed into the head, sweater, boot covers and gloves. I used a bottle of black silk screen paint to make the web detail work.

Preparing to fly in a red satin mask, a dark blue sweater (with a red letter across the chest) and a red satin cape

1997: Superkid

At this age my son often spent time drawing pictures and making up stories about his own super namesake, so that was who he decided to be for next Hallowe’en. This was kind of fun because I had a lot more freedom of design.

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Forward to Part Two


19th Century Advertising: Seagram Distillers sign

When I was a child I didn’t much like downtown Waterloo because of the pervasive smell of the Seagram’s Distillery that hung over the city core.

Those days are long past, as manufacturing that decreases the quality of life is better relegated to more isolated locales. Waterloo today enjoys the reputation of being one of Ontario’s more livable cities.

Seagram loft windows with cheery blue probably decorative shutters

The Seagram industrial complex was remade into upscale loft housing some years back.

Barrel Warehouse Park sign

Originally there was an enormous pyramid of old barrels out front, making a wonderful historic bit of historic public art, but that has now been replaced by the more sedate “Barrel Warehouse Park”.

Seagrams Public Art

These days the park is graced by public art consisting of a few gigantic bits of miscellaneous machinery that presumably were once employed in the distillery business.

manmade waterfall in concrete

There is also an odd little man-made waterfall cascading out of a featureless concrete wall…

walled on the left side and at the back, a sloped concrete floor goes down to where a forlorn puddle forms beneath the waterfall

… to the floor of a sloped concrete enclosure. Presumably the puddle at the bottom is intended as a wading pool for local children.

ows of windows under the brick dentition at the top of the original exterior wall

But it is the ranks of identical windows flanked on one side by identical blue shutters that provides the real art to this architectural gentrification project.

rows of shutters

Driving Photography

I’ve been playing around with taking photographs when driving.

Of course, only when I’m a passenger.

the sun is setting behind three hydro towers at the side of the road.

I expect taking photos while driving the car would be even more dangerous than driving while on the cell phone 🙂

Sunset photographed from a moving car

The twin advantages digital photography has over film is that you can see immediately if what you’re doing is working…

Zooming past a tree with the sun behind

…and you can take zillions of photos until you get what you want.

Sun sets behind a bare tree and a highway traffic sign frame

I’ve been known to shoot a few thousand pictures on a two hour drive. So I thought I’d share a few.

Sometimes you capture the most extraordinary images:

an aerial view of the traffic and pedestrians in my wake reflected in the glass of the new addition to the ROM.

Or stumble on a serendipitous moment:

the biplane dives past a highway light standard headed for the trees

close n the biplane diving for the trees

A red biplane marked "Lucas" trails smoke in a deep dive

And sometimes even ordinary scenes can appear extraordinary…

rainy street at night; the traffic lights reflect on the road and in the raidrops on the windshield

… or provide a new way of looking at things.

looking at the following traffic reflected in the side view mirror

I love it when I catch a glimpse of art

A mural adorns the side of a corner building in Chinatown (cc by

or even architecture.

disgorging traffic on the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition

There is always something.

this pgoto of the CN Tower dome has been enhanced and filtered to make it brighter

Because art is all around.

city scape of Toronto at night

They’re Baaaaaack…

title over fire
The 22nd annual Waterloo Busker Carnival is on right now in Uptown Waterloo.

riding the triple unicycle through the crowd

I had an opportunity to catch some of the acts last night starting with that tri-unicycle madman Bob at Large

working on the sidewalk chalk mural

It was interesting watching the recreation of this masterpiece rendered in chalk by Chalkmaster Dave. Seeing his progress is one of the reasons for going back to the busker Carnival for an encore viewing.

carnival rides at night

There are carnival rides for those who like being both shaken and stirred.

collage of preparation and baking the pizza in a wood fired oven

And there are things to eat like this very tasty pizza cooked in this very cool… er hot… wood fired pizza oven. I can vouch for the Hawaiian Pizza created by Bread Heads Wood Fired Pizza

road sign

If you’ve never been to a busker festival, although admission is free, be aware that these performers are putting on a show. They don’t call it a “pitch” for nothing. This is what these entertainers do for a living, and they all have a patter designed to remind us that they expect fair payment when they pass the hat at the end. If you’ve got a steady income, drop some of that cash in the hat. All of them quite understand when funds are tight to non-existent, a good thing during these recessionary times, so if that’s the case at least pop round at the end to tell them how much you’ve enjoyed the performance.

the escape artist swaddled in chains atop a ladder over the crowd

My favorite of the evening was British escape artist Rob Roy Collins, whose polished act kept the audience rapt throughout. This is the first time I’ve seen an escape artist in the flesh and he did not disappoint. (I enjoyed the performance enough that I even coughed up up for the DVD.)

juggling fire

You might think a skateboarding fire eater and juggler might be a little flashy… and you’d be right. Fire Guy presented lots of sparks to end the evening on.

I’m definitely heading back out to see some more of the buskers, as the Carnival runs through Sunday, August 29th, 2010. Maybe we’ll see you there.

[Note: I know it’s frowned on to add material to a published article, but this was slapped together fast to help promote the Carnival, and didn’t have time to find links for the buskers with web presence. Today I took a little time to inserted the links I could find. If you’re one of the named buskers and prefer a different link please let me know and I’ll amend it. I did manage to get back for more and I hope revisit the 2010 Waterloo Busker Carnival in at least one more post. —lothlaurien]


Today a serendipitous photo blog.

Front of the tiny Finer showing the cool "take out" sign

I picked up a hand cut french fries, awesome burger with fried onions
and an A&W root beer (woo hoo!) from Mark’s Downtown Diner
(beside the Gaukel Street bus depot) in Kitchener,
and was minding my own business having lunch
in Kitchener’s idyllic Victoria Park…

looking way up at the statue of Victoria

…when the afternoon was shaken up by the rumbling of loud engines.

atrio of propellor planes flying formation

It was at that point I remembered that tomorrow

Saturday 19 June 2001

is the first day of  the

as they roar over my head trailing ornamental smoke

Waterloo/Wellington Flight Center’sAviation Airshow & Expo

Three fly over, two trail smoke

In the early days of aviation flyers would travel from town to town
putting on shows and selling rides.

To whip up excitement they would buzz around and capture the attention of the townsfolk.

The three planes fly away again.
Just like they did today. I haven’t been to an airshow in years,
but this one has caught my fancy.

Not only will the Snowbirds be there, but the most famous
“celebrity” plane in the world –the Memphis Belle– will be there too.
This airshow runs both Saturday and Sunday.


Macro Vision

The Victoria Glen Forest

The Victoria Glen Forest

We came to Victoria Glen Park
to preserve the forest.

It was such a beautiful day I had a great time taking pictures.

Victoria Glen Park is an important part of our community.

Victoria Glen Park is an important part of our community.

The leaves are starting to change colour.  Must be fall.

The leaves are starting to change colour. Must be fall.

Nothing seems to match the beauty of thistle purple.

Nothing seems to match the beauty of thistle purple.

They call it royal purple.

Playing around with the camera settings can be interesting.

Playing around with the camera settings can be interesting.

Looking closely the white fuzz is actually a mass of spider web.

Looking closely the white fuzz is actually a mass of spider web.

Its hard to beat the green of clover

Its hard to beat the green of clover

or the white of Queen Anne's Lace

or the white of Queen Anne's Lace

or the rich yellow of goldenrod

or the rich yellow of goldenrod

or the blue of this little guy.

Or the blue of this little guy.

I wish I knew the name of this blue wildflower. It’s really beautiful, but I have no idea what it is.   It’s funny, pretty much all the plants I know by name are ones my Dad taught me. For the most part the names of plants I’ve tried to learn since go in one ear and out the other.

I love taking macro photos because it makes me look at the world differently.

For information on how to help preserve Victoria Glen please visit Preserve Victoria Glen Park

Go back

Lord of the Rings Party

This interview took place in Toronto at Future Shop’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King DVD release party.

Interview with Frodo Baggins   (Notice the Orc in the background.)

Interview with Frodo Baggins

And this is of course the seriously cool Frodo costume.

Everyone wanted to hear all about Mordor

Everyone wanted to hear all about Mordor

Go back

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