I'd like some feedback (don't matter negative and positive) on the armor I created. This is the first time I ever created armor, and the first time I ever made a costume based on an anime character, Teresa from Claymore.
I started in January of 2011 with research. I had to learn how to make armor, and what can be used to make it. I wasn't going to start construction until around Feb/March when I got my movie check from the IRS.
In February I started experimenting with different kinds of techniques and materials, from craft foam, styrene and fiberglass. I figured at this point I was going to do vacuum forming with Polystyrene to get the desired results I found at a local Tap Plastics in my city (1 block from my job) where I can easily buy styrene cheaply and cut to size.
March I went on a mad spending spree on buying the selected material (styrene) and all the tools I needed, this includes all the PVC pipes and couplers for things like the sword. That month I also built the vacuum former which I used to shape the pauldrons from a mold I carved from X-30 Expanding Foam. I then learned how to use the vacuum former, by melting the styrene in the oven and failing a lot of tests (which became costly over time).
By April I had some early casts, but they weren't my final ones. I just needed them to assemble quickly to test on my GF's body for sizing. This armor was made for her body type and height. My goal was to make sure that it fit her, was comfortable and have it look convincing (not something just slapped on her). The armor would have the appearance and momentum of thick/heavy armor, but it was lighter than my biggest cat.
During May I rebuilt all casts out of thicker styrene because the thinner ones cracked and warped during gluing, but I intended to rebuild them anyway. I also got into assembly and had to figure out the physics of everything working together. Every piece of armor had to have it's own movement, to way she walked and moved her arms -- they were very dynamic and not static.
The day before Fanime, I finally got to priming the parts and painting them chrome, they come out excellent, it looked like REAL metal. (So many people at Fanime thought it was until we told them it was styrene).
4.30 am Friday, Day 1, I'm at home working on 2 hours of sleep the day before, I finished the sword and sheath, and they were functional -- as in the sword can be sheathed and it would actually hold it in place. I finally worked my first piece of fabric, the cape. I had to build the cape holders to be able to hold the cape and stay in place as gravity and momentum moves the cape in all directions. I also didn't want them to bend and bounce around as my GF makes sudden moves, but I nailed it. Finally got to bed around 4.30 am. I woke up around 11am, dropped my GF and her friend off at Fanime, and I had to come back home and spend the rest of the night building my Steampunk costume between 7pm - 12am. (Eventually I made it to Fanime Day 2, 1am.
On Day 2 of the con around 1pm, we had a crisis, first it was our fault for not testing this at home, but when she put the armor on, it was fine. However, when sheathing the sword, the armor slide down her back. NO!!!!!! I was devistated for a few minutes until I realized, I brought some straps, 15 feet of it. I took a dremel to the armor, and drilled some new (hidden) holes into parts of the armor covered, and screwed in the straps. We put them under her shirt, and tied them up to her belt. It worked! Quick mod saved the day. Although, the end result is that it made my GF look bigger than she actually is and she hated it, but she was too excited to worry about it, she still went out.
Took it out to the con, the compliments were outstanding. I was happy to finally see the armor in action, and people's reaction to it. Months of work which caused so many gray hairs on my head, ended up being worth it. We had a few things to repair along the way, but they were minor. Because my GF was having comfort issues with the boots, her feet started getting soar, so she ended up wearing the alternate costume I made for her, Steampunk Girlfriend, since she could wear her normal shoes under the skirt. It took 2 hours to build her Alt costume to keep her in cosplay mode. On Day 1 of Friday, I had finished up 3 costumes, at the same time.
The last few weeks were the most stressful weeks ever
for me. I don't know if I can do it again, however I'd appreciate feedback on the work I did pull off. Thanks!
Here is my FB Page with the beginning to end of building
the Claymore Teresa Costume (yes you can publicly access it): http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150184505426679.375688.657926678&l=3a9565de95
After priming on Day 0, I did the first pauldron in Chrome. I was so happy it came out smooth and reflected in the way I wanted. I left a lot of dents and warps in the pauldron, to capture the darker reflections, in an attempt to create a real-life version of the chrome shadows in the anime/manga armor.
This $10 Walmart shoe got converted into a boot later on, but every piece of armor on it is individual and moves individually to her steps.
Here are the leg and arm cuffs and paudrons, but you can see the sword I made. I spent more of Day 0 early AM creating the guard and painting the sword, it was the last major piece of the costume I made. The sword guard didn't come out like I wanted, so I had to go cheap and off the original design just to make it work (to support the sword when sheathed).
I took pics of the top armor in different lighting to show how it reflects it's environment. I was so happy it came out awesome in pictures in any kind of lighting.
Those $10 Walmart shoes above became boots. The boot cuffs are actually 3 pieces, the smaller back piece can't be seen here. The two you see at the top are layered. To create the boot effect, she wore some cut up chromed leggings found off ebay for $5. She stuffed them in the armored shoes to make it look like a boot. Since the anime/manga boots are skin tight, I was able to get the same effect here.
Sorry for the lack of full pics, I'm not good at picture taking. But you can see some of her in the armor in the hotel room and at the convention, many other people took pics of her so hopefully we'll find them online!
And the last pics is of her alternative costume, Steampunk Girlfriend, I was her Steampunk Boyfriend I might post later. I worked on her smaller gun piece for about an hour, I created her hair flower piece, painted it, even added bolts on it (not seen here). The larger gun piece she is holding is then one I used for my own cosplay, but on Day 1, as I remained in the room in the morning to work on the Claymore costume some more, she went out with my gun and had some fun!
Thanks for viewing!