Monday, November 1, 2010

EITM Halloween Bash pics

Pictures from Elliot in the Morning's Halloween Bash are now up!
See pictures not only of the phoenix costume but also the many costumes worn by other guests.
There were many excellent costumes chosen by judges to participate on stage in the audience vote. Photos #162-237,317-320
me: Photos #1,2,3,162,202,280

Elliot in the Morning Halloween Bash album
(no guarantees on level of taste, remember, it was Halloween)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Phoenix: Halloween 2010

Phoenix Costume 2010

I've finished the Phoenix Costume. It took a total of approximately 250-300 hours over 5 months to complete and, a mere $600 for absolutely everything.

I attended Elliot in the Morning's Halloween Bash 2010 in Clarendon VA on Oct 29th. I was awarded first place in the audience judged costume competition. The competition was run very professionally and handled smoothly. It was a wonderful event to attend and there were many very skilled costumers at the event. This party is the only in the DC area I've found that takes their competition seriously, even though it does not boast the largest prize. Venue, people, and party were great.

Phoenix Costume at Elliot in the Morning's Halloween Bash

Expect many more pictures and video clips to come!
I've held back on releasing any in-process information on this costume until after the competition as is always wise to do when competing when you don't know who else is on the field with you. As such, I've a flood of in-process photos and tips & tricks on how I created this costume, my most elaborate to date.

Yes, that is me in the costume
Yes, I made everything that I am wearing with the exception of the stilts
No, it is not heavy. the wings are about 10-15lbs, like a moderately filled backpack
No, I'm not from Harry Potter (although I do enjoy the books) The Phoenix is a long time favorite symbol for me. I've worked with the imagery in multiple media on many occasions and have not grown weary of the subject yet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


For any and all who are interested in a commissioned pair of wings I would recommend visiting my Wings info page before sending your inquiry.

Wings FAQs Page

Thank You!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Electric Shovel

Hangar Theatre’s production of “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” included a few more shovels besides Mary Anne. The costume for the bright and lively Electric shovel included two clamping shovels, which were my responsibility to create. Grill tongs, trash cans, dust pans and foam coolers did the trick. Thank you Dollar Tree.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel: Mary Anne

One of my favorite assignments this past summer was creating the shovels for the Kiddstuff show, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.” I really enjoyed working on the Kids shows which generally involved over-size and/or quirky and imaginative “junk art” pieces.

The script for our production of “Mike Mulligan” included four different kinds of shovels: Mary Anne – Mike’s steam shovel, Diesel, Electric and Nuclear shovels. Mary Anne was a straight forward design. The others allowed me to be a little more inventive since well, who knows what a nuclear shovel should look like anyway?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome to Edinburgh

Our first mainstage show, "The 39 Steps" required a lot of scenic props pretty much all of which were on casters: door frames, window frames, sign posts, and window & door add-ons. For the most part Tyler made the scenic props, but I did play my part by taking care of the surface treatment.

My favorite were the signs for "Edinburgh" and "Alt Na Shelach." The reason they were fun: 1/4" blue foam. It's been our friend for a number of projects this summer. SO much easier to cut letters out of blue foam then to try using a scroll saw (which we don't have).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Phoenix Begins

Phoenix Mask

Surprise, surprise, as busy as I am at the hangar this season I've still got a few side projects going on. For one, I'm already working on next year's Halloween costume (shock!), oh and, it has wings too. (of course)

I'll be living in an area with some pretty major costume contests this Halloween. Not only would it be a great publicity opportunity but, it may also help fund my graduate education *fingers crossed*

My first idea was to create a harpy costume but, I changed my mind and decided to work with a more familiar subject: a phoenix. For many reasons the phoenix is a better choice for me including...
- imagery, color palette & materials with which I'm very familiar
- more "flashy" and attention grabbing than a black harpy
- as much as I'm fascinated by dark imagery, I do not want to glorify it. The Angel of Death costume is quite dark and scary...As It Should Be! It was a portrayal of a terrifying yet beautiful character (which according to my own interpretation is in actuality a servant of God, not evil.) On the other hand, a harpy would simply be, um, dark and scary for darkness sake. It would be cool but not necessarily good - for me at least.

So, the first part I started to work on was the mask. I began with an oil-based clay model.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Kill to Eat"

In addition to making props this summer I have also been conscripted into making posters for the three experimental “Wedge Productions.” One more thing in the portfolio I say. The first show, “Kill to Eat” by Caridad Svich, takes place in a grungy, near-future city somewhere in (I would presume) South America at the time of Carnival. Dark and violent, oh and tattoos seemed to be a major symbol.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Exploding Sticky Fish!

First show of the season at Hangar Theatre and, once again, I found myself making fake fish. It was fun having the chance to revisit an old assignment and see if I could “do one better.” Consequently, what could be better than EXPLODING STICKY FISH!

Instead of searching endlessly for an acceptable, anatomically accurate-ish toy fish, I just built one out of clay. The plan was to make a plaster mold and from that create a latex fish. The first attempt was the most memorable. I set a few layers of brush on latex then, filled the whole fish with a sloppy mixture of latex and sand (knowing full well that it would take a long time to dry but, have a very realistic weight, feel, and “floppiness”) The outer layers cured in less than an hour and with the fish named “Roger” looking pretty good I popped him in the toaster oven (referred to as the easy-bake-fish-oven). Heat will hasten the curing of latex with little side effects, oh, unless it’s also packed full of sand in which case the unset innards will expand at an alarming rate, bursting through the thin seams and spilling all over the easy-bake-fish-oven-easy-removal-drip-tray. Thus is this summer’s fish story. Roger now decorates Adam's (ATD) work space.

The fake gutted fish was a very convincing piece of propage especially when it was still hot out of the oven and all squeezy inside. Seeing as how a fake gutted fish was not called for in “The 39 Steps” prop list though, I made a second fish, this time with just a latex skin, fully cured in the oven, then filled with poly fiber and sand - you know - the normal way to make fake fish. La Sigh….the other way was more fun.

Soon to follow: pictures of the actual exploding sticky fish – this one is the fish used in the show.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Great Blue Heron: Pt. 2

Here is the very nearly completed model of the great blue heron. The legs are sketched in and the feet have yet to be added, other than that, the rest is finished. The body will be cast separately from the feet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Great Blue Heron: Pt. 1

I’m long overdue on giving an update on the work I’ve been doing. One project in particular that I’ve invested a lot of time on I’ve had to wait to reveal online as it was commissioned by my grandmother for my grandfather’s birthday.
I have been asked to make a great blue heron garden sculpture. I decided to make a cast resin piece that stands 27” high. I chose to model in oil-based clay, which I would then make a mold of in silicone. From the mold I will cast the final resin piece.

The base structure didn’t look like much to begin with. I started out with just a soda bottle and some pipe insulation.

I then built up the form using one of my favorite understructure materials, spray insulation (Great Stuff).

I then began building out the form in clay. This was a very time consuming part of the process as I had to soften the clay in order to work with it, and it always seemed I needed to add more.

Once the major forms were where I wanted them I began adding minor forms such as the primary feathers, tail, and beak.

After that the real fun began: Details! Here I’ve started adding the strand of feathers around the neck and belly and penciling in the detail on the head.

I really got into the detail work. More to follow soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Angel Wings Commission Complete Pt. 2

The Angel Wings are now 100% complete! They are all rolled up and ready to package and ship. In total this project took just under 100 hours to complete and, after all that, I’m still not tired of making wings. In fact, I’ve already begun drafting new frame designs – there is always room to improve.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Angel Wings Commission Complete!

The Angel Wings Commission is 99% complete now. The final 1% is just some final touch-up work and a little bit of tweaking.

The articulated frame is hand operated via draw strings. These draw strings are fitted with swivel hooks so that when clipped into place the wings can be held fully open, hands-free.

Some of my other wings have been longer when fully closed. I redesigned the frame for this pair so that the wing tips would be further off the ground when the wings are folded. Greater length makes it very difficult to go down stairs. (In my Angel of Death costume I had to walk down stairs backwards.)

Overall I am very well pleased with this design. There are many improvements over the last pair of wings I made. I would be happy to make this model of wings again and would probably make very few alterations to this design.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Harness and Frame

Low Temp Setting Thermoplastic Harness and Wood Latice

It’s been quite some time since my last post. I’ve been exceedingly busy working on two commission pieces and putting together a portfolio for this year’s USITT conference. Progress on the wings commission has been steadily paced. I’ve completed all the necessary calculations for the harness, frame and cable system that will be used to open and close the wings. Construction of these components is now underway and should be completed in the next couple weeks.

I’ve decided to use a low-temperature setting thermoplastic for the harness this time. There are a number of advantages to using this material instead of fiber-glass. First, it is very easy to work with and fast setting which saves a tremendous amount of time. Second, it is more cost effective. Third, In the event that it does not fit the wearer comfortably it can easily be heated and reformed by the wearer at any time. Usually I would want to do a life casting of the wearer and form the harness in that mold. In this case I can not do a custom fit so it is nice to use a material that the wearer can adjust themselves if need be.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Angel Wings and Things

Angel Wing Back

The commissioned angel wings are coming along nicely. All of the hand-made feathers are completed and sewn into place. I’ve started to work on sewing down the layers of turkey and ostrich feathers now. I’m glad to say that this part of the process is going faster than anticipated now that I’ve got a system for doing it. I feel much less stressed now that I have one half of one of the wings completed. Now I’ll be able to start on the other commissioned pieces I’ve got on the backburner.

Valkyrie Helmet Parts

Like always, I have more than one project going on right now. There are two or three other commission pieces I need to start drafting up including a pair of fairy wings and possibly a life-casting project. Right now I give myself a break from all the wings by working on the Valkyrie costume here and there. The cuirass is still half completed, as I ran out of steam making all that piping, but I have amassed quite a pile of scrap junk and have started piecing together what will soon be a helmet…of sorts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Angel Wings Commission

Angel Wings Draft

Lately I’ve been spending most of my time working on a commissioned pair of angel wings. They are going to be a 10ft wingspan with an articulated frame. I’ve made a few modifications to my previous design for the Angel of Death costume and I’m convinced that this pair will be my best yet. The materials are more durable, realistic and, easier to work with.

Hand-Made Secondary Feathers

I’m off to a good start on the assembly of the hand-made feathers. In order to create wings of this size that are proportional and have an accurate arrangement of feathers, the primary feathers must be at least 30” long. Since, to my knowledge, no primary feathers of this length and style exist in nature, they must be made by hand. The addition of ostrich feathers should give the piece a richness that it was lacking before.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Valkyrie Cuirass: Assembly

Valkyrie Articulated Cuirass

Starting this week I’ll be able to spend considerably more time working in my home studio. Today I was able to put in a decent couple hours work on the Valkyrie costume. I’ve got the technique down for creating the finish I want on the articulated cuirass, now it’s simply a matter of sitting down and doing it. To finish off the assembly I plan on using elastic links between the plates so that the pieces will be able to slide over each other when I move. It seems like a durable means of linking the pieces without having to build on top of a fabric base.