Here I am back with my costume.
This painting was much more of a challenge. The most peculiar part is the pauldrons on the outside of the coat. There are a couple of ways one can interpret the painting. 1. There is a coat and there are indeed pauldrons on the outside of it (the way I went)., then there is a breastplate under the coat and a gold gambeson under that. 2. It could also be interpreted that that the “coat” is really a long vest, and the paracountess is wearing a red gambeson under her breastplate/pauldrons, and a gold shirt under that. On afterthought, I think the second version would have been a bit easier.
The photo shows the costume well enough. I do need to remember to have my tall husband sit when he takes pictures of me so I’m not looking any more short and squat than needed by the angle 🙂
The pauldrons are also small in the image and for them to stay in place they need to be bigger or have some type of odd harness to get them to be where they are. I had straps under the arms and two across the back.
I bought a jumbo sheet of Worbla for this experiment. I got it at cosplaysupplies.com, it comes with free shipping. This was 100 cm x 150 cm. I had this and a little left of the small sheet that I had initially ordered. At the moment, I probably have about 2 square feet of it left. Out of this I made bracers, a breast plate, pauldrons/spaulders, and a cutlass, plus the staff for Ezren. It cuts with a large pair of scissors (think regular sewing shears), and it is moldable like clay (rather hot clay, since it has to be heated before you can form it).
There is no secret for how any of these were made: it was trial and error. I used thin cardboard (beer boxes) to make patterns. I did reference various armor tutorials online and I’ve seen my share having once been a member of the SCA. Cardboard doesn’t quite move like heated Worbla but it does the trick.
Once I cut out the worbla after finessing the cardboard patterns, I needed to decide how thick it had to be. A tutorial on the worbla website had how to avoid using a complete sandwich of worbla/craft foam/worbla and I was able to cut down on how much I needed. You can see the technique here. You can also see how I rigged the strapping. I used plastic clips to hold the straps where I didn’t use elastic bands.
To heat the Worbla, I used a regular heat gun that you can get at any hardware/home improvement store. I also used the sun, since we had a few 90+ degee (F) days and I just let the Worbla sit in the sun. Small pieces can get too warm, and I literally had to lift some of them up with a spatula. The larger ones just got soft enough for me to only need a few seconds with the heat gun to finish the forming. One tip I have to offer is to use baking parchment (paper infused with silicone) to use under your worbla parts. Then they won’t stick if they get too hot. The paper can also show you when you are getting too enthusiastic with the heat gun since it turns brown at around 400 degrees (F). It *will* burn.
After forming the pieces, I sanded them with fine sand paper and then coated them with a thick coat of wood glue. It’s the quick and dirty way to get a fairly smooth finish. I would like to try some of the other recommended techniques, especially the one with the self-leveling adhesive. Once the glue was dry, I painted with spray metallic paint, did some detailing with acrylic and then gave the pieces about three coats of satin finish clear coat spray.
The sword was a estimated sketch from the drawing (taking scale into account from my measurements compared with the drawing). I cut out two layers of worbla and then stabilized the sword, and gave it some thickness, with more craft foam and a fiberglass rod (used to mark the end of driveways that I got from a home improvement store). The texture on the hilt is from taking strips of worbla, heating them and then rolling them like snakes to create more dimension. The hot worbla (you need asbestos hands for this), stuck to the flat layers.
The cloth costume bits were cobbled together from other patterns. The coat is a slightly modified (the lapels) version of the pattern that was published after the Catwoman movie with Halle Berry. It’s a nice princess seamed coat. The vest was a modified pattern from a quick and easy coat from McCall’s. I was going to do the paned slops for the pattern but then gave up and just wore black pants. Patterns go in and out of print a lot so if you are looking for a certain one, places like eBay are good sources.
The red fabric is a stretch cotton sateen. I could have gone with all satin with this but again it would be so very shiny. I think really shiny works as a stage costume but for a hall costume, I think the sateen reads much more as “real” clothing. The various trims were left over from old projects from when I was doing the SCA thing. A very good place to get trims is at cheeptrims.com, though they only sell by the spool/bulk, not the yard. The gold fabric is windowpane pleated satin. Another tip: when searching for fabric, remember colors and textures interplay. A light brown satin will often read as “gold”, a dark gray velvet will read as almost black but give you some interest in your costume rather than going all “ninja”. So, if you’re looking for “gold” fabric, try some other search terms.
The cuffs on the coat and the boots are just truncated cones. The buttons on the boot cuffs are courtesy of a button making kit by Dritz, found in about any sewing store. It works far better than I thought possible. Boots are just fake gray suede from some catalog I get and the pants are just black and strechy.
The belt below the breast plate is a great thrift store find. It’s a Brighton belt and had 5 more heavy silver plaques on it, which can be removed and replaced. These belts usually go for around $100, and I got it for $3.50. (you can get them for some decent prices on eBay). This will also be pressed into service into a cavalier shoulder sword belt at some point since it has a lovely large buckle.
Well, that’s about it. As before, if the reader has any questions, please ask.