Monday, January 19, 2015

Say hello to Beast Boy!

This weekend was MarsCon, and we did it up in style. Muffin Man wanted to be in the costume contest again, and chose Beast Boy as his character.

Our inspiration
Since we won the Beginner's Division the last time we entered, honor compelled us to enter in the Advanced Division this time.

Which meant we had to kick it up a notch. Or, actually, more than a notch. This time, more than half the costume had to be hand-made. And nicely made at that. This is not a Thrifty, Non-Crafty costume, people.

Muffin Man worked hard practicing his stage routine, to a soundtrack Mr. Spock put together. And Mr. Spock and I spent about 40 hours over several months on the costume.

Mr. Spock does the sewing in our family, and he went above and beyond on this costume. The purple leotard, the belt (including the device on the belt), the cuffs and devices on the gloves, and the cuffs on the shoes are all completely hand-made. He didn't even use a pattern. Engineered from scratch, folks. All the grey fabric you see is that color because he dyed it, It was all originally plain white cotton. The black body suit is an Under Armor compression suit. Mr. Spock added stirrups to the sleeves and leggings to keep them smooth and tight.

I'm particularly pleased that Mr. Spock was able to design this so it wouldn't need a zipper to spoil the line front or back.

Beast Boy Front View
Beast Boy Back View
Beast Boy Side View
I was, as always, responsible for the make-up. Which included painting the boots. For this performance of Beast Boy, the boots are played by a pair of Rugged Outback shoes from Payless. These were darn near perfect. They've got beautiful outlines right where I needed them. We removed the laces, I taped over everything I wanted to stay black, and then painted them with grey and amethyst leather paint.

After several coats of paint, we glued on the Velcro straps. I do think they came out rather well.


For Muffin Man's own make-up, I tested out the routine a couple of times at home, and found out that the ears and neck are tough spots to do, and that one should leave the nose for last unless one is going for a Rudolph look. Also, I realized I needed to brighten and widen the eyes, and that a base of chapstick on the lips does wonders.

First attempt at makeup. Including hair gel.
For the contest, we gave ourselves 90 minutes for hair and make-up. First, we pretty much swathed Muffin Man's body in plastic wrap, paper towels, and my own over-sized bathrobe to protect the costume. Then, I put gel in his hair to get that messy look. Next, I did his ears. I've never done prosthetics before, but I watched a lot of videos and did a pretty good job for a first timer!

Then, I used up a can of green hairspray, and deliberately got it on the ears and neck, see tough spots, above.

When I was satisfied with his hair, I began on his face. I used a base of Nyx green primer, all over his face and neck, covered by Mehron green pancake (next time, I'll try their liquid instead. The powder doesn't really last long enough). Because Mehron's green was a tad too dark for what I wanted, I did a highlight layer of Nyx green primal color (not eye safe), which is much lighter. Then I blended in the bright green on his ears with a mix of the two powders. When everything else was green, I put a thick coat of chapstick on his lips and then covered them with Mehron alone, to keep them slightly darker than the rest of his skin.

I used a Super Fat Eye Marker on his brows, and for that little crease between the brows. I brought his brow line out just a bit beyond where it naturally ends.

Through all this, I left his eyes alone. When I was happy with how the rest of the make-up looked, I used a green Jumbo Eye Pencil on his upper eyelids, and a thin darker green pencil next to his upper lashes, bringing the line out beyond his natural eyes. Then I used a white slim eye pencil on his lower lashes and a white jumbo eye pencil on his lower lid. Again, I brought the line out beyond his natural eye. I finished his eyes with a black Super Skinny marker just under where I'd drawn the white.

Then I put a boatload of transluscent fixative powder over the whole thing, and finished it all off by spritzing fixative spray over that.

Finally we unwrapped him and put on his gloves. And went down to be judged, and do the performance, and walk around getting photographed. Not necessarily in that order.

The Beast Boy team, admiring our handiwork
We didn't win the contest this time, but we sure got a huge amount of audience approval and people wanting to take pictures. It was a blast! Plus, we got to see a wee little Dalek (won Best Overall), the cutest little cosplayer EVER (she won the children's division), and a Steampunk Buzz Lightyear.

I'll post a link to the performance video once they post it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Our tree is covered with ornaments we've made or been given, so it feels like love. I hope your holiday feels like love, too.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Konban wa!

Muffin Man came up with the idea for his costume this year.

He loves all things Japanese and wanted to be something uniquely Japanese, easy to recognize, but not a human.


I present to you, the Sakura tree (Japanese cherry tree)!

Here's how we made it:

First, we cut the flowers out of tissue paper (there's an origami fold for this). Three at a time works best.

Then we scrunched them into a pleasing shape.

Then we made the branches (this is three layers of out of a utility box glued together with hot glue. A finger may have gotten burned at this stage). 

Then we used a drill press to make holes for the harness, and hot glued on the flowers. A different finger may have gotten burned at this stage. 

Made the helmet. We scored the cardboard to make it bendy.

Added more flowers, put some reflective tape on the back of the branches, attached the branches to the trunk (attired in brown pants, an outgrown brown sweater, and a brown t-shirt), and the costume is complete.

Here he is outside: 

He's out right now with his friends. What costumes are happening at your house?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I love Amtrak (which is something I might have mentioned before)

I love riding the train to New York or Vermont or wherever* and making friends with my seatmates and the folks nearby. My most recent two adventures led to long discussions with: a professor of English Literature (the Romantic period) from Scotland; a professional rock-n-roll violinist; and a woman who lives less than a mile from my house.

My conversation with the English Literature professor involved us talking about Noel Streatfeild, Frances Hodgeson Burnett, Jane Austen (of course), Georgette Heyer, Josephine Tey*, The Bronte sisters, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, George Eliot, Reginald Hill, and World War One. She's not on Facebook or Twitter, but she said she'd check out my blog. So here, my dear new friend, is a post for you, with links galore. Thank you for talking with me on the train. I hope you have a terrific time visiting your friend!!!

*More links to related content contained therein

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Yesterday was blogging for LGBT families day...and I didn't know it.

But unrelatedly, Muffin Man came home from school with this poem he'd written, that he's going to read in front of the whole middle school later this week.

I'm so proud of him for standing up for his friends and the members of our family who are LGBT. I'm so proud of  him for already being the person I hoped he'd be when I imagined him as a grown-up.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get some dust out of my eye. Talk among yourselves. And check out Crunchy Granola's post from yesterday.

Monday, April 07, 2014


Yesterday was this blog's ninth birthday.

When I started posting here, my son was three. He's twelve now, and enough of a person that he asks me not to blog about his life - or conversely and much more rarely TO BLOG about his life. He emails his grandparents, he has his own phone.

When I started posting here, I was only involved in politics extremely peripherally. Since then I've earned the title of Doorbell Queen, been a candidate's spouse, and a candidate myself. I'm on the board of NARAL Pro-choice Virginia Foundation, and tweet politics daily.

When I first started posting here, I posted nearly every day. Well, that's turned into tweeting daily instead. Which isn't quite so nice for the blog, but it certainly fits into my schedule better.

I've written over 1500 posts, had over 60,000 visitors, talked about everything under the sun.

I don't know what will happen next, but I know that I love this blog even if I haven't maintained it well the last couple of years. I love the friends I've made here, some of whom I've met in real life. I love reading everyone else's blogs, too.

What I'm saying is, thank you for nine years. I hope to still be writing here, even if only on occasion, for the next nine.

Monday, November 04, 2013

What a weekend!

Jim Dean of DFA canvassed for me! JIM DEAN OF DFA CANVASSED FOR ME!

And in other canvassing news, Steven Colbert's brother canvassed for me too!

And I got to thank them both in person!!! And they are both so incredibly nice!