AniMinneapolis 2017

This past weekend I attended AniMinneapolis for the first time. Another first for me was entering the masquerade! I’ve never entered a masquerade before, and I thought, “Why not?” and gave it a go. The past couple of weeks I’ve been working on V3 of the belt and glittering a new pair of boots (tutorials to come later) so I’ve been a little absent from blogging and posting on my Facebook page. Sorry, everyone!

Friday I went as General Hux, which was fun. I tried to make an angry face before I left home.

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Still trying to master the “Are you not using a coaster?!” face. It’s harder than it looks.

Saturday was masquerade day, so I put on my Rebel, Rebel Princess costume and headed to the con for pre-judging! That process was more fun than I expected. It’s fun to talk to people about the creative process! The judges seemed impressed with my makeup and with the fact I hand-sewed most of my gown.

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That’s my pre-masquerade run-through nervous face.

Masquerade was immediately after run-through, and my boyfriend took video of my appearance. Only issue is that my gown is so white that the light just reflected off of me and I look kind of like a blob. That’s okay, you can kind of get the idea.

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The music is part of “The Princess Appears” from “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Rebel, Rebel” by David Bowie. My friend Jonathan put it together for me, and I love it. Especially the pew-pew at the end!

I didn’t win anything, but I’m glad I got to compete. Now that I’ve done it once, I might do it again.

Sunday I just dressed normally – well, sort of normal. I wore my twinkling stars skirt from ThinkGeek and I swear I’ve never gotten so many compliments on an item of clothing. I guess if you want a conversation starter, that skirt will do the trick!

MSP ComiCon & St. Paul Saints Star Wars Night

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I’ve got a busy weekend ahead! On both Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be at MSP ComiCon (“SpringCon”) at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. I’ll be volunteering at the Minnesota Force booth off and on throughout the weekend, but you can also find me wandering around trying not to buy everything. More info can be found at the MCBA website.

On Saturday, the Minnesota Force will be at CHS Field for the St. Paul Saints Star Wars Night! There will probably be about 30 of us there, so it should be super fun! Check out the Facebook event for more info.

Poe Dameron Wig

There’s a downside to having short, red hair: it doesn’t work with very many characters.

Up until very recently, I went without a wig when I cosplayed as Poe Dameron, which didn’t really sell the character very well. It looked more like General Hux stole Poe’s clothes. (Maybe he did. I don’t know. Poe’s generous with giving people his clothes.)

I found a wig on Arda Wigs’ website that was definitely a good starting point – the Benny Classic in Natural Black.

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Thankfully, Arda Wigs sells wigs that can be heat-styled, so I went to Target and bought some foam rollers and other supplies since I haven’t really had to buy any hairstyling stuff since I was a teenager. I guess that’s what happens when you have short, straight, boring hair.

This is what the wig looked like when I received it:

Definitely more Sherlock than Poe at that point.

The best part of this project was finding reference photos.

Poe DAMNeron, amirite? Ahem. Anyway…

The first thing I did was use a curling iron to kind of straighten out the couple of big curls in the front, since I knew I’d have to curl the hair differently anyway, and it was just easier to start with all of the hair pretty much straightened. Then, I started from the nape of the neck and up, and used the smallest foam rollers to curl the hair. I actually used my Jamberry mini-heater to apply heat to the hair since it’s small, quiet, and doesn’t blow everything around like a hairdryer does.

The wig took really well to the heat, and the foam rollers worked perfectly. It was a long process to curl the hair, but the end result was pretty decent.

When I tried on the wig, though, it looked a little bit like I was an old lady who dyed her hair black. Not quite the look I was going for. I made a few adjustments to the wig by trimming it a little and taming the poofiness in some areas, and ended up with this:

It definitely looked a lot less old lady-ish after that. When I tried it on again, it looked a lot better, but the part was too far over, so I did a little more work to get it just right.

Much better! I did a quick test run with the upper half of my costume just to make sure I looked Poe-ish enough (please disregard my normal cat-eye makeup):

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Not bad. Here’s the before and after:

And here it is in action!

Still has a little more volume than it probably should, but I think it looks pretty decent. It’s weird to see myself with dark hair! I kinda like it.

Wizard World Comic Con Minneapolis 2017

Well, I had a busy weekend attending Wizard World Comic Con in Minneapolis, that’s for sure! I had a pretty great time and got to see a lot of friends and familiar faces.

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All shall bow to the First Order! (Costumers: Kris Heding, Aaron Lilyerd)

On Friday, I worked at the Star Wars booth where we were representing the Minnesota Force, the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs, and Costumers for a Cause. I wore my General Hux costume and Aaron wore his First Order Stormtrooper costume. It was fun!

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Saturday I wore my newly-updated Poe Dameron costume with my new pants, shirt, belt, wig, and blaster! I’m really happy with how everything turned out. The pants are still not quite the color I want, but I think they work just fine. Only downside to the wig is that I wish my actual hair was as thick and voluminous as the wig. Sigh. I attended the Peter Capaldi and John Barrowman Q&A panels, and both were highly entertaining and made me love both of them even more than I already did.

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I got a huge kick out of the action figure packaging backdrop. I’ve always wanted to be an action figure!

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On Sunday, I wore my Scarlet Witch costume, which I’ve only ever worn twice (once at MetaCon last year, and once on Halloween) so I figured I should wear it. With all of the Star Wars costuming events I do, I don’t very often get to wear my other costumes. Anyway, they had giant Hulk and Iron Man statues that I had to take photos with. Because reasons.

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Imagine cool red swirly magic happening between my fingers. I look a lot cooler that way.

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Fighting crime, or just doing some sort of synchronized dance routine? Where’s Star-Lord? We should have a dance-off.

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Again, use your imagination for the cool magic swirly stuff.

All in all it was a great weekend! Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello when I was working at the booth!

Poe Dameron’s EL-16HFE Blaster

When I started putting together my Poe Dameron cosplay early last year, I searched everywhere for a way to make his EL-16HFE blaster, or for someone whom I could commission to make one. I found nothing. Granted, at that time not many people were even attempting to put together this particular costume, but I wasn’t able to find anyone who could track down a blaster, either. That’s why when I’ve worn the costume previously, I’d either go for “post-interrogation/pre-crash on Jakku” Poe with the bloodied-up face, or I’d drag around my little BB-8 with me. But, really…I just wanted to have the blaster so badly.

The search never stopped, and I did find someone on Etsy who was selling 3D printed blasters, but they didn’t have photos of a finished product, and that left me pretty wary. I found a couple of other people who made blasters but they weren’t quite what I wanted, so I passed those up. Finally, I found that Do3D started selling 3D print files of the EL-16 and EL-16HFE blasters (sold together) so I bought the files and commissioned JGPenland Props to print out the blaster for me. He was awesome and sent me update photos all the time showing the progress of the printing (which, for a blaster of this size, took about a week) I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and I was like a little kid on Christmas. I was so excited to finish it!

Since this was my first major 3D print finishing project, I took the advice from some of the more seasoned prop-finishers in the Minnesota Force and they recommended Bondo Glazing & Spot Putty and Rust-Oleum Filler Primer to smooth out the printing ridges and fill in gaps. I also bought sandpaper in several different grits, and used a couple of metal files I had.

This is how my blaster looked when I brought it home:

Pretty straightforward. Gray. 33″ in length. (I told you it was giant.)

I picked out any pieces of flash that were remaining (not much, though, since Jonathan did a great job of prepping it already) and used Bondo to fill in small gaps and areas where the printing ridges were a bit more severe. I sanded off the extra Bondo and this was how it looked:

Progress!

Over the next couple of days, I sprayed several coats of filler primer on the blaster. Since I live in a rental unit, I don’t have a garage and I can’t really leave things unattended outside because of the neighborhood kids, so once the blaster was no longer tacky, I brought it inside to fully set. Let me just say that even with the windows wide open, the fumes were terrible and I got really nauseated from it. I really should have done a couple more coats, but I just couldn’t deal with the fumes anymore. I used a little wood putty to do a few more touch-ups after the filler primer dried. This is what it looked like after the filler primer and wood putty applications:

All ready for painting!

So…painting! I wasn’t quite sure what colors of paint I’d end up using since the blaster is kind of a mix of various metallic hues, so I went to Michael’s and bought pretty much everything. I’m not kidding:

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Heh. Well, at least they’re pretty inexpensive. The first thing I did was paint the entire blaster with a coat of DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Shimmering Silver, since that seemed to be kind of the “base” color of the blaster.

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Then, I basically just used a few of the colors I bought:

I thought I’d use more, but those three seemed to do the trick.

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I used various sizes of paintbrushes, and watered down some of the applications depending on the look I was going for. I used paper towels to wipe off excess paint and to help create a weathered look. I used Q-Tips for adding some highlights. Basically, I just took it one section at a time and looked at the few reference photos I had to try and make it look as accurate as possible. It took me about four or five days to paint, but every moment was so much fun!

After the painting was complete, I sprayed the blaster with a couple of coats of matte clear acrylic spray and a coat of matte Mod Podge to help protect the paint. Hopefully that will do the trick.

I now present to you my finished masterpiece!

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Reference photo.

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My finished blaster!

I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. I didn’t expect it to turn out so well, so I’m kind of giddy over the whole thing.

Here are a bunch of photos of the finished project:

I also made a strap for the blaster. I bought some 1 1/4″ cotton webbing in “Moss Green,” a 1 1/4″ gunmetal slide buckle, and two 1 1/4″ gunmetal swivel hooks and made a basic strap. To give it an aged look, I soaked it in a tea dye bath, and when it dried I used small ink pads (like the kind used for rubber stamps) in dark brown and black to dirty it up a little. Then I washed it by hand with some dish soap to soften the look a little.

I actually made two straps – one in Moss Green and one in Khaki because I wasn’t sure which one I’d end up using. I used the Moss Green one, and the photo on the right is what it looks like after “aging” it.

Here it all is together:

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Well, there you have it! My labor of love, my pride and joy…my very own EL-16HFE blaster!

Minnesota Vixen Home Opener

On April 29th, the Minnesota Force/501st Legion attended the home opener for the Minnesota Vixen, the longest continuously operating women’s tackle football team in existence.

It was kind of windy and chilly, but for most of us it was comfortable since costumes get to be pretty warm most of the time. The Vixen won the game, and the crowd was awesome!

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The Dark Side. (Photo by Alex Hall. Costumers: Kris Heding, August O’Meara, Kimberly Fuchs)

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The whole group! (Photo by Steve Fuchs. Costumers: Phil Glover, Kimberly Fuchs, Steve Fuchs, Alex Hall, Aaron Weiss, Amanda Fineran, Kris Heding, August O’Meara)

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(Photo by Alex Hall. Costumers: August O’Meara, Aaron Weiss, Phil Glover, Kris Heding, Amanda Fineran)

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Just hanging around. (Photo by Alex Hall. Costumers: Aaron Weiss, Amanda Fineran, Kris Heding, August O’Meara)

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Rooting for the Vixen! (Photo by Alex Hall. Costumers: Steve Fuchs, Kimberly Fuchs, Amanda Fineran, Kris Heding, Aaron Weiss)

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General Hux surveying the gameplay. (Photo by Alex Hall)

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*cue badass music* (Photo by Alex Hall. Costumers: Phil Glover, Amanda Fineran, Steve Fuchs, Kimberly Fuchs, Kris Heding, August O’Meara)