Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Normal" is Just Shorthand for People You Don't Know Anything About

So I'm out of town for a little while visiting the Lady Shawnon over the holidays.  But since I'm a busybody and I'm perpetually running behind on everything, I've still found ways of tinkering on various costume projects while I'm away.

The other day I ended up going for a walk to get some fresh air as well as a bunch of supplies.

Among the stops I had to make were the fabric store and the hardware store.  Since I try to plan my errand-running routes as efficiently as possible, these were both on my way back home. 

The fabric store was first.  I picked out a few different things, but most importantly I grabbed one yard of each of their most believably realistic fake animal furs.

When I went to the checkout counter, the nice lady who rang me up apologized for the fact that they were out of the larger size of shopping bags (this being the Christmas season) and would instead have to put my huge pile of fur into a large, clear trash bag so I could carry it home.  Since I would be on foot and it was likely to start raining before I finished the walk, I figured any bag at all was a good idea.

Then I went to the hardware store.

Picking out the handful of items I needed was only a matter of minutes.  Then, as is often my habit, I wandered around the store for a while to see if there was anything on the shelves that would seem like a solution to any of a number of problems simmering on the backburner of my to-do list.

The staff at this particular store was exceedingly helpful.  In fact, I was asked "can I help you?" so often that it started getting annoying.  Eventually I realized that this wasn't the "I'm asking because we have great service" version of "can I help you?" so much as the "would you please leave my store because I don't want you here" version of "can I help you?"

Somewhere along the way I also noticed that people were giving me occasional dirty looks.  Things were getting weird.  Had I left my fly unzipped?  A quick, discreet check verified that it wasn't the problem.  Was I wearing a t-shirt with something on it that was considered offensive by the locals?  No, I glanced down at a plain black sweater.  Did I match the description of some locally notorious sex offender?  I had no way to know.

Feeling unwelcome, I made my way to the cash register.  The girl behind the counter was courteous but curt and things still felt a bit strained.  Then, after rushing to get me out the door, she finally asks me, "What's in the bag?"

"It's a bunch of fake fur for a costume project," says I, "why?"

"Oh my God," replies she, "the manager said there was some guy wandering around the store carrying a bag of dead animals.  Looks like he was wrong."

I guess I can see where he got that idea:


Apparently it's not unheard of for folks to bring roadkill into the hardware store.

If nothing else, the reactions I got from a handful of strangers made me appreciate the suppliers and local shops that I normally deal with.  Every time I walk into the local shops back home, the folks on staff tend to ask what I'm working on and no matter what my answer is, it's never too weird.  Whenever my the representatives from my various supply companies stop by the workshop to discuss new products, the conversation is always fascinating, off-the-wall, and nobody ever bats an eye.  

That said, I kinda miss the little bits of shock value that used to come with the normal goings-on in my projects.  I think I need to start making things weirder.  Or weirder things.  Either way.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Building Captain Phasma Part 1: the Helmet

Alright, so I have a problem.  I told myself I wasn't going to make anything from Episode VII until I'd actually seen it.  Then I made the Flametrooper helmet.  I'm pretty happy with it.

But it turns out I can't just leave well enough alone.  Mixed in with all of the other awesomeness in the trailers was this beauty:


A chrome stormtrooper?  I'm listening...

 Folks who've known me for any length of time know that I used to drive a little car that was chrome.  Not the whole thing, mind you, just the outside.  So when images of the chrome stormtrooper started popping up online, I started getting flooded with messages from folks asking me when I'd be starting this project.  Clearly it was right up my alley.

Still, I resisted.

Some time later there was a photoshoot which showed off a lot of the neat new things from the upcoming movie.  The best part was that they actors names were listed next to each of the characters.  This is when I found out that the chrome stormtrooper was named Captain Phasma and was being played by none other than Gwendolyn Christie.  If you don't know who she is, she's the actress who's best known for playing Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones:

So not only is this a chrome stormtrooper, she's woman.  A tall blonde woman.  And they didn't do anything silly to make the armor look sexy or feminine.  No nonsense, just the same gear that the rest of the troopers wear in a different color to make it clear that she's in charge.

Now I was hooked.

After that, all it took was having the Lady Shawnon offhandedly mention "I'd wear that." and I was off to the races.

So far the helmet is done: 
Finished Phasma Helm Front Left

For details about how it was made, read on...