Dressing the nursery.

When we purchased our new home two years ago, I had the pleasure of a few solid months of decorating, followed by a long stretch of just enjoying the results (with the occasional update here and there!). It was extraordinarily satisfying and gratifying to make a space that really suited my husband and me.

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Above: IKEA LERBERG shelf in dark grey; Union 4-in-1 Convertible Crib; assorted DiY frames & prints.

 

Now, with baby boy on the way, we’re finishing up one last major room… the nursery. We began choosing colors and major pieces before we knew the sex, wanting to go with a neutral color set that focused more on design and less on gender. We purchased Valspar’s Low-VOC paint in three colors: a pretty delicate grey called Owlet, and accent colors of dark navy Gentlemen’s Grey and a sunshine yellow (this was actually another manufacturer’s, the name of which I can’t recall!). The walls were completed with the Owlet light grey, and the yellow and navy accents show up elsewhere in the room, in addition to similar colors.

Furniture and fixtures, when they can’t be matched exactly, are at least in the color families, with accents of metals like the shelf above. As is our way, we’ve purchased a lot of items from Ikea, including the above mentioned standing shelf and the yellow metal wall shelf and star wall sconce below. We’ve felt really lucky to have access to Ikea for modern-look products at a really reasonable cost, even for baby!

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Above: IKEA BOTKYRKA wall shelf; IKEA SMILA STJÄRNA wall sconce; metal basket on clearance at King Soopers; art print from artist Mike Maydak, purchased at Denver Comic Con.

 

We also love unique and fun art – the rainbow house print from Mike Maydak was a purchase we made several years before we were even planning on having a child, but the whimsy and brilliant colors lent a brightness to the room we really loved.

Of course being a nursery, everything in the room is safely secured to the walls (such as the Lerberg shelf, which includes pre-drilled holes for securing to walls), including loose cords (the original Smila lamps were actually recalled previously due to a strangle risk with the cord). Though this little one won’t be mobile for some time, getting the safety taken care of immediately is reassuring, and was made easy with cord kits also from Ikea.

 

Cosplaying while pregnant.

So I’m speaking to this subject from a sort of bizarre place; I haven’t TECHNICALLY been IN cosplay while pregnant yet. I’m finding it difficult enough to just get a costume FINISHED at this point! But as (probably more than) half of cosplay for me is in the creation, I imagine I’m speaking a little more to that!

Cosplay has become delightfully broad and rich in recent years, a fact I’m proud of for individuals and the community alike. When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, in addition to the usual delight and trepidation, I felt strongly that I wanted to continue to enjoy cosplay with our growing family (and my growing belly).

 

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At 19 weeks, I shared this photo to celebrate one year to Star Wars VII! The sign says “This is me (and Padawan Baby) one year from The Force Awakens.”

 

My efforts in cosplay have slowed significantly in recent years, but I’ve never planned on stopping, and the expected change in my body was inspiring! When my first trimester became particularly tumultuous and difficult health-wise, I decided to resign from my teaching position early (a plan we had in place for when baby is born, anyway), and that left us with a significantly lowered income far sooner than we’d expected or planned for.

So besides just the illness associated with my early pregnancy, I faced guilt that came along with no longer providing for my household – who am I to make costumes (even if I felt well enough to do so) when there isn’t really any extra money around (and we still have all these things to buy for baby? Nursery planning and painting and stuff and THINGS)? So I didn’t. And I didn’t feel well enough to do so until late 2014, well into the second trimester.

 

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Baby boy at 24 weeks!

 

Fortunately, many health issues and some financial issues began to resolve and I felt a lot better, finding the energy to do more not only for my family and baby, but for me, too! But another problem presented itself… I was GROWING. So I typed in the funniest combination of search terms I can think of: pregnant cosplay costumes!

A lot of fun and famous results popped up, and one of my passions was included: Star Wars! Padme Amidala of course spends much of the third prequel sporting a cute bump, and her tan dress quickly went on my list. It was practical, didn’t require a massive amount of materials (unlike many of her other dresses!), and showed off that cute belly! Other suggestions came from friends, and while I don’t know if I’ll have time to tackle all of them (with just 10 weeks left now!), it was absolutely a fun conversation. So that’s in progress, and getting a little closer to completion every day (taking it in small, slow bites here!). I’m also still working on a White Mage costume that I’ve (embarassingly) had the materials for for over a year. Because it’s a big, loose robe, I can certainly wear it comfortably while bumpy (and comfort is a big consideration these days)!



I really AM hoping to get Padme all finished up before go time (in May), perhaps attend Starfest (and present the documentary I’ve been working on since last year!), but now into the third trimester, health and just general fatigue are getting to me again. As a woman with pre-existing high blood pressure, pregnancy can be a high-risk scenario for me and baby. Fortunately we’ve been able to manage it with good medical care and drugs, but that doesn’t stop a mama from worrying. I’m very lucky to have a great doctor (who says DO THINGS and GO PLACES!), a supportive husband, and a growing small business that is able to provide at least a little extra income! This whole experience has been exciting and (obviously!) life-changing, in so many ways it’s almost impossible to count!

Next up? Dressing up this little boy (at least until he has the wherewithal to say, “Stop it, Mommy!” Hehehehe.)!

Crafting Product: Spray Adhesive

I’m a big fan of adhesive in costuming as it can make it easier to apply applique and work with fabrics and other materials. I have a deep and abiding love for fusible webbing (like Heat’n’Bond, for instance), but when completing work on my White Mage costume, I felt like I needed something a little different.

Because I was already looking at adding a good amount of fabric with the large triangles at the hem, I didn’t want to add more materials to weigh down the costume – not to mention having to cut MORE triangles after I already cut these ones! Fusible webbing – even lightweight – can add additional bulk to fabric and stiffen the same way interfacing will, and I wanted to avoid both of these effects. But I still needed something to hold the triangles secure while stitching them to the main robe! I didn’t feel pins would be as effective or efficient for me, soo…

 

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Ready to spray!

 

I turned to a temporary fabric adhesive! I purchased Odif USA 505 Temporary Fabric Spray Adhesive from Amazon.com and found it works brilliantly!

It worked great, holding each triangle securely while I used a blanket stitch to fix it permanently to the robe. The blanket stitch was intended both a little decoratively (it seems suitable for the slightly rustic style of the Tactics costumes, in conjunction with the black contrast stitching added later.

 

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What the spray looks like on fabric.

I covered my ironing board with a layer of craft paper and sprayed directly on the reverse side of the triangles I was applying – I didn’t want to stick to any overspray on the main robe. I then just picked up each triangle and affixed it in the position I wanted! If I made a mistake or didn’t get it where I wanted it, it was easy to re-position – I could usually move it without spraying more adhesive.

 

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Ready for sewing!

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With secure blanket stitch.

 

The adhesive itself sprays on a little bit dry (not much of an odor, a great benefit as I’m pregnant at the moment and SUPER sensitive to smells) and looks kind of like that window snow spray people use in winter for decorating doors and windows. It doesn’t take much! I focused on making sure the edges had a good coat, but never enough to dampen the fabric. They’re entirely accurate when they say it doesn’t gum up the needle, a big plus that I’ve found missing in some other temporary adhesives.

Specifically, I wanted to avoid bulk at the hem of this robe, namely that of adding more material using something like fusible webbing. I also wanted to avoid the excess time and bulk hemming each individual triangle would have added. This particular adhesive solved both of those problems and streamlined the process very well!

The 5.6 oz can was about $12 at Amazon.com and I have TONS left for future projects.

In which I paint stuff.

We have this marvelous open stairwell and entryway in our home.  It’s filled with light most of the day and was the first thing about this model that struck us as “home.”  While we love it, the height and volume of the space begs for some control.

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In the stairwell portion, I had the idea to paint the outer wall surrounding the window with a navy-to-white ombre.  I haven’t quite had the gumption to get that project off the ground, but I wanted something in the meantime to help anchor the space.  I’ve gotten excited about painting recently and decided to do a pair of large-scale paintings to add to the space and sort of test my ombre-paint theory.

Here’s the result!  The left is the navy to white I initially wanted, but feeling I wouldn’t be able to make a quality duplicate of it, I choose to go with a similar piece in yellow and white.  The yellow ties into some yellow highlights in the living room, and the two colors play nicely off each other.

I spent very little on this fun project!  The ‘canvases’ are simply thin MDF sheets that are readily available at your local hardware or home improvement store.  I ‘primed’ them with a little of the leftover house paint and simply used acrylics to smooth on the ombre.  They’re pushed away from the wall and given some additional structure by adding 1×2″ sections of wood to the back in an I shape – this also serves as the hanging mechanism.  I used E8000 glue, but with some foresight I would screw them on through the front then lightly patch any of the screw showing through the front before painting.

Do you make your own wall art?

The Subtle Nerd

I relish my nerdiness.  I delight in my geekiness.  I also like modern style and fashion and tend toward a more Anthropologie-styled look – very bohemian, soft, and layered.  My home tends to be similar as well, with a strong industrial-modern flair (I like to think our Bexley bar from World Market exemplifies our home style), but I still want subtle bits of our passion for fandom to show through.  While retailers like Black Milk have fantastic and quality garments, their sleek sheath dresses aren’t really my style and don’t work for my everyday school-wear as a teacher.

I am a scarf-wearing fiend.  So this multi-fandom organic cotton infinity scarf really tickles my fancy!  Featuring a whole host of beloved fandoms, it’s sure to delight any hippie-nerd (nippy?  herd?) with the aged print style and gauzy fabric.

My husband would not consider himself fashionable, but I like to pick up tee shirts for him pretty regularly, and nerdy shirts are never turned down.  His (and my) favorites are the subtle nerd humor styles, such as this “Ski Hoth” shirt emblazoned with a 70s style skiing advertisement.  Fortunately tees like this one are very trendy and can even be found at retailers like Target.

 

Retailer Her Universe specializes in geek chic for women and girls.  Envisioned by the charming Ashley Eckstein, actress and voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Her Universe has put forth a great collection of clothes and accessories from all our favorite series.  I’m especially fond of their jewelry line, simple and elegant pendants that can add that subtle bit of flair to any everyday outfit.

 

My husband and I did the same thing with our wedding.  We wanted a very sweet, traditional event, yet we couldn’t help but include a few references here and there.  My “something blue” was a Jedi Order temporary tattoo in place of the more traditional garter; Nick gifted his groomsmen with Star Wars themes cufflinks.  I made the little wooden cake-toppers.  I walked down the aisle to “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts.

Finally, we received this absolutely perfect gift last Christmas from my sister-in-law, this adorable set of Han & Leia silhouette prints.  They now reside charmingly in our master bedroom.

How do you show off your nerd?

 

Millionaire’s Bacon… Delicious times a thousand. I mean, a million!

So when husband and I discovered the phenomenon known as Millionaire’s Bacon, we knew we had to try it.  I mean, it has everyone’s favorite things – sugar, salt, and spice.  It’s the kind of thing you want to eat when you want ALL THE FLAVORS and can ignore the calories.  Or are at least willing to ignore them.

I chose to forgo measuring because who does that anyway and just piled my bacon with brown sugar, freshly cracked black pepper, and red pepper (alas, I did not have cayenne pepper in the house, which was tragic but red pepper was acceptable).  In the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees and we were treated to a gooey, sweet-and-savory delight for our breakfast-for-dinner.  Laying deliciously next to the eggs and homemade toast, there was very little argument before we decided this was the best breakfast ever.  For dinner.

For Denver diners, if you’re interested in something similar, try the Steubie Snacks at Steuben’s in Uptown.  Made with pork belly instead of bacon, you still get a delightful and sinful treat.

Doggy Dining

I’m excited to share this fun little project I did this weekend.  More modern-style raised doggie feeders are kind of hard to come by, so I decided to make a set of my own!  We have two retired racing greyhounds, and it’s recommended to feed them from elevated dishes to make them more comfortable and possibly reduce bloat, a medical condition that can be quite serious.

All the materials came from Ikea, so I suppose this could also be considered an Ikea hack!  I do apologize for the lack of progress photos – I’d just gotten the rotary cutter and I was so excited about it I forgot to take pictures. XD

I started with one $4 Ekby Tryggve shelf and four (red!) Ekby Stodis brackets for $.50 each.  Since the shelf was more than long enough, I used a circular saw to cut it in half – one half for each diner.  Then I used a newly-purchased Ryobi Cordless Rotary Cutter to cut out circles – just big enough for the bowls to fit and catch on the lip.  I added the brackets to the shelves first – normally I’d put the brackets on the walls and then add the shelf, but this made more sense as they were small and going to be low on the wall.  I anchored each of the screw holes in the wall just in case a dog gets excited and decides to step up on the little ‘shelf’, and then everything was installed!

I like these because they’re easy to clean by just wiping them off, as well as keeping messes off the floor (mostly).  Even if they do make a mess, with the open space beneath it’s easy to just swipe under there with a towel or broom (or to pick up the rug under Zelda’s because she still thinks the wood floors are lava =p).

The shelves are ‘permanent,’ but no more so than a screwdriver and a little spackle will take.  And even though they’re attached to the walls, they have a lower profile than the other raised dishes we had.

Cute, modern, and tidy raised dog dishes for just $3 each?  I’ll take it!

What are they thinking?

Judges, that is.  Costume contest judges of all kinds.  Those you drop your hard work and dedication in front of for scrutiny.  Those judges.

A friend prompted this post by asking about “unwritten” requirements in masquerades and cosplay contests.  What are the expectations for each level?  For presentations?  For anything?

First off, the written rules are the only ones you need to worry about.  Those are designed by the coordinators or chairs in order to make things fair and – most importantly – keep you safe.  They also remove any liability from the con if you choose to ignore those rules.

Second…  You’ll never know the unwritten requirements. You’ll never know what each individual judge really wants to see. You can’t know that stuff, all you can know is that you love what you did and you did good work.  You might be able to learn them by looking at past winners and participating in the contest – but only maybe.  Those unwritten expectations change from year to year, convention to convention, judge to judge.  They’re always different, and that’s part of the fun!

As an example, the question of wearing colored contacts came up.  Lots of people love to wear them to complete a look.  I do it on occasion too – and I’m in the market for some circle lenses soon!  But is it necessary?

As a judge, I like it because it’s a detail that’s been considered. It’s just like taking the time to choose the right colors or finish your seams. It means you put thought into it. But it’s only one piece in a thousand that indicate your skill and interest level – there are plenty of others to work with.  It’s an extra: like adding a delicately sugar-frosted cherry on top of an already intricately decorated cupcake, but the lack thereof isn’t going to deduct points.  When judging, I wouldn’t be looking for it – but if you did it (and pointed it out, as it’s not always obvious) with the intention of providing just that one more detail, I would love it.

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As a cosplayer, I love the look – especially if the character’s eyes are distinctive – and the way it can really complete a costume.  I don’t regularly wear contacts, though, so it’s a challenge I reserve for distinctive costumes.  OR sometimes it’s an added detail to a costume that’s otherwise rather simple: Princess Emeraude, for example.  I wore blue contacts with her costume – a non-competition piece – because first of all she’s MADE OF EYES, and second because with her simple white shift, it was a detail that I felt really defined the costume.  I love details; I’m a detail fiend.  That’s how I choose to create costumes.

If you don’t, no biggie!  You costume based on what you need and want.  If you can’t wear contacts, focus on another detail that’s important to you, and make sure the judges KNOW it was important and intentional.  There are thousands to choose from!  Finishings, makeup, wigs, accessories, shoes, even music and movement for your presentation –

– tiny tangent here, I just did a fully-fleshed out, dramatic presentation in 40 seconds.  Most of my presentations are under 1 minute.  One minute in stage-time is an ETERNITY.  The music/SFX are super important, and I use them for the utmost effect.  Anyway –

… anything that makes you memorable.  Give the judges a good reason to remember you and your costume, whatever that reason is.  Make a statement, and make it yours.  Enjoy!

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 5

I love this episode, too!  So much excitement and – yes indeed! – drama!

One of my favorite things was the emphasis that Yaya put on the performance aspect of their competition entry.  I love the idea of a big reveal for Riddle’s Alice/Meat dress.  Watching Yaya move in their skit rehearsal really demonstrated her dedication to the theatrics of a skit like this.

I’ve really been enjoying this aspect of cosplay coming out.  When I started, the first skit I did in 1999 was literally a bunch of people I’d met at the con that day in Sailormoon costumes and we were making it up as we were in line for the contest.  I’m so delighted in the change to these well-written and planned out skits with music, voice, even special effects!  That’s so exciting, and really just adds to much to what cosplay already is.

Everyone also really seemed to be pulling out all the stops and trying something new.  Building props with friends is some of the best cosplay-time I can remember, and I feel like Jessica, Holly & Rebecca really represented that.nausicaa-warrior02  One of my own proudest moments in cosplay was made possible only by the huge effort of my friends Jake & Tom who built Nausicaa’s mehve glider for me.

Seeing Chloe & Jesse find success with their costuming was heartwarming.  Jesse, who had worked so hard, put so much expertise and effort into his truly professional-level costume, was really gratified by his award – a position I really understand.  Though we persevere despite a lack of recognition or praise, there is a great feeling that comes from the accomplishment of getting an award.  We can know we’re good, but outside recognition means something different.  Maybe not better, but different.

Also hello Jessica & Holly as Riker and Picard, I mean come on.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Old and out of touch…

I’ve been feeling a little bit lately like I’m out of the cosplay loop.  Part of it is just that I WAS out of the loop… getting laid off and finishing grad school and being a first year elementary school teacher and a major 3 month illness will sort of do that to you.  Oh, and getting married and buying a house with said A youthful Beverly in 2002.new spouse, those things will all do it, too.  All of that stuff happened to me in the last three or four years, taking away my attention from a community that’s been changing in major ways, right under my nose.

I never really stopped cosplaying, but it did take a major back seat in my life for a while, and that’s left me reeling a little as I’ve come back to the scene full force.  It’s been good in a lot of ways: I’ve grown in both skill and attitude.  I’ve done more ‘traditional’ costuming, working from a number of different material sources (books, for instance).  I’ve gone to more kinds of cons than just anime cons – I have to say that was a great experience, and I’m really fond of Costume-Con and the scifi-fantasy con scene.

It took me until last year to get up a cosplay Facebook page.  It seems like that really became the thing to do while I was on my not-really-a-hiatus, and I totally missed the boat.  I was surprised to see it a point of contention that how many ‘likes’ you had was so important, as if it was a way to measure your worth as a cosplayer.  Then again, it sort of didn’t surprise me at all.  It was that way for years with photo comments at cosplay.com or comments and friends on Livejournal.  A new method to old madness?  Could be.

The word ‘professional’ is bandied about quite frequently.  There’s no hard and fast definition (because how can you have a hard and fast definition of any job in the arts?) but I love that people are making what they love into a career.  That’s a dream so many have, and I’m impressed that people are pursuing it with such passion.

A more mature Beverly in 2013.My attitude is really different now.  I think that had less to do with cosplay itself than with me learning more about who I am and what’s important to me…  and while cosplay is definitely important, I think I have a better idea of, well, HOW.  I learned a lot about my former bad attitudes – limiting others (at least in my head) by gatekeeping, keeping a list of what the criteria for “good” cosplay was, that sort of thing.  I had my eyes opened to how damaging those ideas are really only within the past year, and I’m proud to have broken those incredibly destructive attitudes.  Unfortunately, I still see it happening in the community, and I feel like teaching more positive attitudes is now a priority for me.  I guess it’s a throwback to my chosen career, education, and how much I want our community to be strong and welcoming.

Cosplay IS mainstream now, there’s no denying it.  When Conan O’Brian uses the word regularly on his show, it’s mainstream.  The definition of the word itself has changed in the last few years – cosplay is a synonym for costuming.  There’s no difference now.  Cosplay is nothing more than wearing a costume, whether you made it or bought it, whether it finds it’s source in Asian pop culture or American comics or English literature, whether it’s a customization or genderbend, whether the design is yours or someone else’s.  It’s all cosplay.  And it’s so beautiful.

I take it back.  I don’t feel out of touch –  I feel inspired.  I don’t feel old –  I feel rejuvenated.  I’m so proud to be part of a growing, learning community.

I’m so happy to be back.