Alice, what have you not done?!

Posted by on 6 Jun, 2011 in American McGee's Alice, Behind the scenes, Projects | 0 comments


These are the behind the scenes photos of our Alice shoot. The pictures of Sanchez as Alice sitting on a bed are from when we first tried out the costume, so the costume wasn’t fully finished.

Why:
Sanchez and I are co-workers, and for several years our job has sent us to work at a Japanese pop culture convention, and we’ve made it a tradition to always dress up for these occasions.
We usually aim to do a group cosplay, but being a bit too optimistic when it comes to time and workload tend to disrupt our plans. This year was no exception.
The plan was for Sanchez to dress up as Alice and me as Sam from Gray Matter, but it ended up being just Sanchez as an almost finished Alice. Feeling that it was a shame not to do a proper Alice with a vorpal blade and taking some photos of it, I asked Sanchez if she wanted to join the Incognito project and do a photoshoot.

How:
Alice really isn’t an advanced costume, but it’s all in the details whether it will look good or not. Finding a fabric with the right shade of blue proved harder than I thought it would be. The dress is partially lined and was made in two pieces, a normal bodice with puffy sleeves and a circle skirt to get the right fullness and flow. At the hem of the skirt I hand stitched on a lace border.  The apron was made of white muslin that I had lying at home, in hindsight I wish I had used something thicker for it, and the signs on the pockets were drawn on by Sanchez with a fabric marker.
The ribbon and belt are detachable. I used a very light interfacing to get the right rigidness for the ribbon, so it would stay put but still droop a little. I almost forgot the skull, I remembered it the day before the convention when I went shopping for fake blood. I had planned to do it in paperclay, but realising that I wouldn’t have time I bought a small plastic skull, cut it in half and painted it. It turned out rather well, so I never got around redoing it for the photoshoot. It’s attached to the ribbon with a safety pin.

The first omega necklace I did was rather rushed. It was made out of paper clay just days before the convention. I usually don’t work with clay, so I forgot that it warps when drying. The shape was twisted, and when I tried to fix it I manage to break it. With a little glue, sanding and paint it turned out ok. For the photoshoot I redid it, making it bigger, remembering to put a light weight on it while it was drying and painting it with spray paint.

The vorpal blade took the longest to make. I haven’t really done that many props, and never done a blade before. It was a fun experience, and I learned a lot from it.
I started by using Featherweights tutorial for blades. It went so-so, me and the glue gun can’t really seem to get along, but I really recommend Featherweights tutorial.
Anyway, I ended up with a glue covered base that had a nice shape, but wouldn’t get smooth enough.  Rummaging through my material stack I found papier-mâché powder which I used to cover the blade. To get the right shape for the hilt I wrapped it with foam (used in furniture) and normal scotch tape, and then I covered it with papier-mâché. When it had dried I started sanding it, but I still felt the surface wasn’t smooth enough. Cue fine grade plaster. After using plaster and some more sanding, I finally had a really smooth surface.
After achieving a smooth surface it was time to start to think about the markings on the sword. I wanted them to have depth, and not just be painted on. I started by sketching out the markings with a pencil, on the first try I did them too big, luckily the blade has two sides, so on my second attempt I manage to draw them in better proportions. To solve the problems with having identical markings on both sides of the blade, I erased my first failed attempt, copied the good marking onto a baking paper with a pencil, and then placed the paper on the other side of the blade and rubbed the marking onto the other side. After that I started to carve out the markings.
When I was finished carving, I spray painted the blade, and shaded the markings with a slightly darker silver colour. For the hilt I decided to alter the shape by applying paper clay on top and try carving out the proper markings while the clay was soft. As you can see by the result, I got bored and just free styled various patterns. When the clay was dry, I spray painted it, and shaded with a darker gold colour.

The night before the photoshoot, Sanchez came over to my place and we did the finishing touches. Sanchez did the signs and the keyholes while I started packing everything.

Heather did, as usual, a fantastic job with the make up for the photoshoot. She used Beckysblog tutorial as inspiration, aiming for a sick look, not sexy or cute as many seem to aim for when cosplaying Alice.

Lessons learned:

  • spray painting indoors is messy, you’ll want to scrub your floor asap
  • when you think the paint has dried, it hasn’t
  • don’t wash your clothes in the last minute, you might regret it
  • always store papier-mâché in a sealed box in the fridge, otherwise it will stink
  • don’t use varnish over metallic spray, it ruins the shine

Other:
Special appearance by: Pompadour
Nailpolish: Luminelle Ciel Capricieux
Cookies: Chocolate dipped chocolate chips cookies with nuts
Drink: Summer drink (Apple sourz + Bacardi Apple + Sprite)
Music: Beatles – When I’m sixty four

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