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?

 

Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story has its cosplayers!

In addition to my own crafting and cosplay, I’m currently producing a documentary focused on three Denver-area cosplayers.  I wanted to do this because there’s just SO much talent and passion in the mountain region that tends to get skipped over just because of the inconvenient location – despite the fact that we have one of the biggest comic cons in the country happening in June!

The cosplay contest – aka the Shindig – at Denver Comic Con will be the terminus of our project as we follow three cosplayers on their journey there.  From concept to competition, I wanted to capture what the creation process is like in our unique and wonderful community.

 Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story

The cosplayers who are participating have just been announced at the Juxtapose Facebook page, and you can keep up with the action there, at the website, or on Twitter.

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!

Havin’ some feels and things, because reasons.

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged (okay, a lot discouraged) by some of the attitudes brought out by Heroes of Cosplay, etc. First, criticisms from folks who haven’t seen it. That doesn’t seem fair to me. We say in elementary school that it’s only fair to refuse something after you’ve had a "no, thank you" portion. IOW, you gotta TRY it at least.

And then, from the folks who have seen it who are so negative about it. Maybe I’m just trying to stick to the old "if you don’t have anything nice to say" adage, but I also didn’t see it as negative. I saw it as real. It’s one of the most realistic reality TV shows I’ve seen in a long time.

I was SO in every one of those positions and perspectives at some point in my cosplay ‘career.’ Now, they’re not all healthy, but they’re part of the reality. I don’t understand hiding what it can really be like. People are saying that it is or is going to give cosplay a bad name, but I don’t understand that. To me, it wouldn’t be right to say it’s all rainbows and unicorns (besides the MLP cosplayers, hurhur ^.~) all the time – that would be a lie, and a great disservice to those who aren’t familiar with cosplay.

It’s like anything else. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. There’s conflict. There are amazing moments of synergy and cooperation. There’s anxiety and triumph. There’s disappointment. The show displayed some great positivity; it also showed some of the most negative reactions.

Yes, it was majorly about competitions. That’s going to carry a lot of dramatic weight and make for exciting television. Some people love to compete. I love to compete because I love to be on stage – I have a background in music and it shows. That’s MY perspective, but I would never expect everyone else’s perspective to be the same. The feeling of winning is gratifying. And I have had those moments where I was upset because I felt someone won who didn’t deserve it (I like to think that’s in my past, but who knows what the future will bring?). I’m so impressed that some of the participants in the show had the balls to come out and admit that! It’s an ugly feeling (for me at least), but it’s also real.

And the time and cast is limited. They can’t cover the hundreds of thousands of cosplayers out there. They have six (six? Did I count right?) [Edit: Nine.  I read the synopsis, durhur]. They have to be on coasts because that’s where TV happens. Maybe if this is successful, there will be more and better coverage. There are a lot of things that are the way they are because that’s how TV is made (I’ll tell you what, I wish there were more home decorating & landscaping shows in the US interior, I could sure use some help!). They can’t speak for everyone. But they took a good sample. Hopefully there will be more.

[Edit: It was identified that the cast is mostly white females, which of course doesn’t make for an appropriate cross-section.  I was referring to the sample of perspectives, attitude, and areas of expertise.   Food for thought.]

And at the last, some semantics. Those cosplayers ARE heroes. Each one of them, for their own reasons. But EVERY cosplayer is a hero. It takes guts to put on a costume. It takes heart to put yourself out there. And any one of those people who were on the show would tell you that every cosplayer – every level, every perspective – is a hero.

Maybe it’s me. I’m an optimist. I see the good in things, most of the time. It’s a perspective that works for me. But I’m also a realist, and that can still jive with the optimistic perspective. I can go back 15 years and see from that perspective, and see these important folks having to make the same difficult choices as I did, I can watch them feel anxious and triumphant and appreciated and afraid, just like I did – and do. That made it very positive for me, to know that all those feelings I had and still have are out there in other people’s brains. To know that my perspective was always valid. That makes the show itself valid. They did a great job.

[Again compiled from FB posts, etc.]

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode One

(As compiled from several Facebook posts and subsequently edited to make more sense and follow some kind of grammatical logic.  Hurhur.)

I love it. I love the vast variation of skills and experience and perceptions and behaviors. All the feelings, all the experiences, all the perceptions, it was all so VALID. It honestly reminded me of my earlier days in cosplay, when competing was a priority for me.

No, it wasn’t all pretty. Anyone who’s cosplayed for any amount of time KNOWS it’s not always pretty. No, I wouldn’t have made the choices that others would have made, but that’s why it’s so awesome – it’s another perspective! And each one of them is valid. The joy of success. The tragedy of disappointment. Priorities and perspective are totally different for each person.  That’s real.  Some of it was hard to watch because I KNOW THOSE FEELS.

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My first costume, Super Sailormoon from Sailormoon, made in 1998 (Photo from NDK 1999).  I had on two wigs. For realies.

I swear I’ve been every one of the competitors shown over the last 15 years that I have been cosplaying. I felt like I got gypped, I felt like a performer, I felt successful, I felt like I swept, I felt like I had a rockin’ good time and that was all I cared about. All of those things. All of them.

And I’ve been the bitch. And I’ve been the one hurt by the bitch (or bastard, as it were). I’ve been the grown-up princess with the little girl who loved me for who SHE thought I was. I’VE been the little girl meeting a princess I love. I’ve been incomplete, overdrawn, stressed, blissful, grateful, exhilarated. I think HoC portrayed that perfectly, honestly.

And on top of that, there were any numbers of really amazing tips and tricks – costuming at a professional level!  Automotive paint, head moulds, embroidery machines.  So much to learn and try.

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Rosa of Final Fantasy IV (DS) done in 2008 for Dragon*Con.

It was inspiring. I want to go up to my studio and work. I want the back yard to be done so I can convert the garage into a shop. I want to compete again. I want to be on stage. Yaya Han & company, you should be proud. I am.  I am proud to be a part of this beautiful, fun, dysfunctional, nutty and nerdy community.  I love it.  All of it.

Also love DJ Spider’s take, and I can’t agree more.  Read it here!

Watch the show Mondays on SyFy.