Tag Archives: perfectionist

Aperture Science: We do what we must, because we can.


In November, Ethan went to his first Convention. He was really excited and decided he wanted to cosplay, and chose to be an Aperture Science Test Subject from Portal. So I started to look at how to make him a costume and gun, and drumroll please…..




For reference, here’s the main character from the game, Chell.

chellVia the half-life wikia

We made it all, bar actually sewing the jumpsuit. I tried looking for an orange one to buy, but while there are plenty of American prison-style ones for adults, there aren’t many for kids. In the end I found a white one online (Amazon have it) and dyed it. Fun tip – check your fabric content. That suit is a poly/cotton mix, which need two different kinds of dye. I ended up having to do it twice. I’d try to get one that’s full cotton if you can find it, as polyester needs to be boil dyed too, and it stinks!

After that we used this site to print the aperture logo as an iron on transfer to add a little detail to the suit:


We also did the same for the full Aperture Science logo to go on the T-shirt he wore underneath.


With it being November, he couldn’t be barefoot like in the original Portal, so we also made him some ‘Long-fall boots’. With him being 6 I didn’t know if he’d have the patience to walk with some kind of bent bar of whatever I could come up with behind his leg, so we simplified. I bought him some white sneakers (super bargain, only £6.50 in the sale from Sports Direct):IMG_5049and made the back of the boot like a kind of reverse shin pad:


I did these the night before the con so they could absolutely be neater! It’s craft foam cut to shape and size, with elastic cuffs on the front. The stripe on the back is electrical tape for a nice neat line. The ‘bolts’ holding in the straps are just craft brads I had in my mending box. I continued the line on the back of the sneakers with another strip of tape, bonus, it peeled off really easily after and left no marks. IMG_5050

And that’s the outfit really. He kept the top half of the suit up most of the time as it was freezing, but he loves his T-shirt and wore it to school for non-uniform day this week. We also made the Portal Gun, but that is going to be picture heavy so I’ll stick it in a new post.


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Weeping Angel – Mask, Wig and Sleeves

Hopefully this one will be a little shorter!

The mask. I wanted to sculpt it myself like Penwiper and Kilayi but ultimately I ran out of time. I ordered one on amazon that looked like this.


It’s a vacuform one, so thin moulded plastic, with an elastic strap. The eyes are covered with a quite open weave mesh material, sort of like tights. I took it out, because it lay flat across the holes and there wasn’t any room for my eyelashes and it was irritating. The mask was also a little too big for my face – too wide, and too high at the top. Thankfully this kind of plastic needs only a small amount of heat to re-mould, so all I did was hold it over the gas hob for a very short time and then squeeze it thinner, and wait for it to cool. If you’re leaving the eye coverings in, be really careful, because they will melt too. At this point it’s a good idea to add breathing holes too. I used a hot pin to open up the nostrils a little, and poked half a dozen tiny pin holes around the mouth. I still had to whip it off now and then to get a few breaths in, but I think it was better than it would have been.

For the height, I trimmed it down to the ribbon part, which was enough as it then sat nicely against the wig. It’s painted in the same way as the wings and dress – dark grey, mid grey highlights, then light grey highlights. Again, I’d prepare everything and paint all at the same time to be sure of matching colours.


Under my mask for the eyes I used Snazaroo Dark Grey face paint. This way, for pictures all I needed to do was close my eyes to give the full stone effect, but I kept perfect visibility for moving around. It was a little tricky as when your eyes are closed you don’t know when the picture is done. I was listening out for shutter noises, or waiting for flash, but I probably held my pose a little longer than necessary but whatever.

The Wig.

I started off with this (fairly awful) wig from ebay.


When it came it looked quite thin and I was worried it’d be no good, but it worked out ok. First I pinned it to a polystyrene head covered in cling film. Then I sectioned off the front part, and tied the rest in a low ponytail. I tried to make a small bun out of it but it was tiny, so I wrapped half an old sock around the pony tail to bulk it out, then wrapped the pony tail around. Securing it was a nightmare, so at this point I added a bunch of glue and the headband. It was just a strip of fabric with the ends turned under, and I wrapped it over the top and the ends wrapped around the bun, with the front bits still hanging loose. Then I added more glue. I pretty much just spread superglue all over. The front pieces now come in – I took one side, draped it round the back, over the bun, around and under. Loads of glue. Then the same with the other side. Glue everything, and stick down any stray hairs.


Then it’s more painting again.


The sleeves. Another Penwiper/Kilayi idea – you take a pair of tights, and cut a hole in the crotch. This is the neck hole, and the legs become sleeves. With your hands in the ends, you pin between the fingers so you know where to cut. Then use whipstitch to make the fingers or the gloves. It will take a long time and be careful to only get the edges, or it’ll be too tight on your fingers. Put them back on, and if they fit nicely, use nail varnish to seal the seams. make a tuck at the wrists so they’re nice and tight, then turn them inside out and put them on. Add false nails to the end. Be sure to liberally put lotion or oil on your own nails so you don’t end up with everything fused to yourself. Then while wearing them, paint them and let them dry. This way they stay big enough to wear. If you want to have more stretch, you can use fabric paint, but I wasn’t going to spend the money on it.


Creepy right?

Kilayi and Penwiper also made a hood out of tights to cover the neck, and I made one, but it was so hot, I knew I’d never cope with it for long. So before putting anything on I used more of the Snazarro Dark Grey to cover my neck, around the edge of my face, and up halfway on my ears. The wig or mask covers the rest. After a tip online I sprayed all the face paint with hairspray to help it keep, and most of it did until walking back to the car in a light rain. Not bad for water based.

And that’s it really! I recommend wearing a vest top underneath to prevent any rubbing, then the tight/sleeves, then the harness, then the dress. Here you’ll need help – someone to put your wings in and zip you up. They go through the holes in the dress and into the harness. Then do the dress up. The mask goes on next, then the wig so the strap is hidden, but I actually had the wig fit under the top of the mask, so you still get the fringe bits on the mask visible as I couldn’t for the life of me think how to make the wig behave that way.

Done! Thanks for reading, it was loads of fun to do, and wearing it was amazing.

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Ethan, God of Thunder and Sam, God of Mischief!

Ta-da! I’m really please with how these turned out. I think I probably could have done better if I’d not left it so late to do, I was working on them right up until the morning of Halloween.

On to the making! Ethan’s costume was quite a bit simpler than Sam’s, because I already had the suit from Asda, leaving only the helmet and mjolnir (the hammer to you and me), which were very easy. The helmet started the same as Sam’s, paper mache and a balloon.

 Then I used this photo (found via good old google, I think it’s from the movie release posters) for reference to cut out the wings from craft foam – amazing stuff – and used my glue gun to add detail like so:

 Not too shabby! A tad wobbly, but alright for a kids costume. Then I glued wire to the back to help shape them. I could have used heat, if you heat fab foam a little you can re-form it and it’ll stay in the new shape. I forgot that until after the hot glue though. You can see the wire in the next picture.
 You can also see Mjolinr, which was really simple. I had the cardboard tube and a small cardboard box. Hole in the box, stick in the tube. Bang, done. I also put a layer of foam on the box because it was a little bashed. Then I sprayed, which was fun til I got some on the patio slabs and could smell it all day long.
A little more glue, and the helmet was done, really really easy. The handle of the hammer I just added some dark brown foam strips for the straps and handle. Ethan later asked me to take it off as he didn’t like the feel, but he kept it on for photos!

I also sewed a new cape for him as the one that came with the costume was pretty rubbish and thin, and had been hemmed so the shiny side was down. Simple enough job, buy a rectangle of shiny red fabric, hem the edges, sew on a bit of velcro at the top to attach. The suit already had velcro for the original cape so I didn’t even have to bother with that.

On to Sam. His costume wasn’t so much harder, but it had more details. This post shows how far I’d got with the helmet and jacket.

 Here’s the jacket after a coat of gold spray paint (which I now hate) for the armour. I didn’t end up putting more armour on the arms for 2 reasons – first, I ran out of time, and second, Sam had enough issues with the front piece! I used fabric glue from B&Q to glue it on, but I wasn’t happy it was held on enough so added some superglue, and later used the glue gun a bit to patch it up. I had some leftover green satin fabric from making bow ties, so I cut that to size, hemmed it, put velcro on it and the jacket, and voila, another cape.

Helmet. It actually turned out easier than I thought, once I decided to make it this way. I used long thin triangles of foam for the horns to make them slightly pyramid-y as that’s what they look like in most of the pictures I found, and glue gunned them in place. I looked at lots of other homemade ones, but didn’t use their horn instructions as they just didn’t look right. They are the place I discovered craft foam though which is absolutely brilliant.

 Then came the painting. Oh my goodness, how much do I hate the gold spray paint I used. I’m sure it was just a faulty can or other brands are better but grrrrr. The first can I used did the pieces on the jacket fine, and part of the helmet before it ran out (it was a small can). So I went and picked up another one. I don’t know what I did wrong but somehow that one separated! I got some gold bits but a lot of silver bits. Either way, it looked a mess. The shop I’d gone to for the paint was in Leeds and this was the day before Halloween and I didn’t have time (or the inclination!) to spend another £5 plus petrol going to get more. I looked through some shops here, no joy for spray, but in B&Q (again, awesome) I found some gold emulsion. Now, I don’t know who the heck would paint their walls metallic gold, but I grabbed a tester pot and went with it. It was ok. It was drippy and took an absolute AGE to dry, but it covered the patchy awfulness.

 Ta-da again! Here also is Sam’s staff of Loki, and of this I am quite proud. I tried to find pictures online but it’s a pain, as he has 2 or 3 different ones in the film. I eventually found This brilliant blog post where a guy has finished his own (MUCH more professional!) staff. It gave me a great point of reference for shapes and general ideas.

I started off with a long cardboard tube again, it had previously been a sword for a knight costume for Ethan. Sam had a blue glitter and water filled bouncy ball which I thought would do well for the stone. I wanted to stick a torch inside the tube to light it up, but couldn’t find one thin enough. Then I noticed on that blog that there was a sort of metal junction-y bit under the stone, and I had a torch small and thin enough for that. So…

There it is! the blade-like parts are all sprayed foam, the 2 sections under the ball are the torch. All glue gunned into place. It wasn’t the neatest glue job, but again, time. I made a small cut away it the top of the tube so I could turn the torch on and off as the switch was annoyingly on the bottom end, then covered it with a flap of foam.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the results. I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew with this, but it was all surprisingly simple once I’d got all the plans in my head. Sam didn’t want to wear his helmet much, and it rained on us while ‘trickle treating’ as Ethan calls it, but we had a pretty good time anyway, and they got plenty of treats!

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Robots and Spaceships and Aliens oh my!

It’s been a while! So, what have I been up to. I made another baby quilt, this one for my lovely friend Harriet’s teeny weeny new boy, the very gorgeous William.

Isn’t he scrummy? Also how gorgeous is this picture. You can completely see the total adoration, and it still doesn’t quite capture it. That house is bursting with love.
Here’s the blanket – I’m very pleased with this one, the fabric was such a good find, boys are difficult to shop for!

 The two materials came as a set too, perfect for a matching front and back piece. There was also a third pattern, like the front with the squares, but the pattern was much larger and so would have been great for a big blanket, but not a baby one. I’m very fussy about fabric. Even though the blankets are (so far) all for babies, I don’t like picking a fabric that’s too babyish, as my way, the babies don’t out grow the patterns too quickly! My boys each have one, Ethan’s was made by his auntie Sheri, and has dinosaur patterns, and Sam’s was made by my mum and has animals and palm trees and stuff.

Last weekend we took Ethan for a treat day – I read an article recently about how sometimes we can get so caught up on telling off our kids, that they don’t hear as many I love yous, and recommended treat days where the child gets to make the decisions and you get to just have a good time with them. I’m making it sound hippyish, but that’s basically the gist, and really, it’s about quality time together, with the focus on one child (the article recommended taking the child out without siblings if possible). It’s supposed to also help ‘reset’ the child’s behaviour and your responses to it, sort of a clean slate.

 So Ethan chose Sundown Adventureland, a children’s theme park about an hour away. We’ve been before with school so he was very excited to go, and asked if Daddy and Sam could come too, and off we went.

 First came the Santa ride. It’s open all year round and Rich was very excited, as he is a massive Christmas lover. The boys were excited too, and we went on it twice. There are actually two Santa rides there, but the second one only opens at the beginning of November. The boys were not impressed.

 Santa’s sleigh crossing the moon! The whole park is (dated) animatronics, so it all moves.
 Santa’s map. I’m not sure he’s getting the best time with this route.
 On the tractor ride, and apparently not impressed with my photography skills.

 Getting onto the Robin Hood ride. There aren’t any pictures of the ride in progress as I was too gobsmacked by the animatronics. At one point you’re practically flashed by Maid Marion!

Attempting to release King Arthur’s sword. There were lots of other rides and play areas, but I’m terrible in that I always forget to take pictures and end up with random insights to the day 🙂

So here’s the skinny – I’d definitely recommend it, it was perfect for the kids, the rides were not in the slightest scary or fast, and it’s not too expensive. £11 for adults and kids, and under 2’s are free. There are 2 indoor play areas with food available, again, fairly cheap, and really good. Best of all, once you’re in, the only things you pay for are food (although you can bring your own) and the gift shop, assuming you want to stop there. That too is reasonable.

All in all it was a brilliant day, we had loads of fun, there was no tellings off from us, and his behaviour was brilliant, with no whining, which recently had become pretty epic. A win I think!

Next time – an update Sam’s Loki jacket for Halloween, it’s going well so far!

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 So in the last little while we’ve had:
  Sam waving back at Sir Chris Hoy on his lap of honour after winning gold.

 My sister Amy and I making pool noodle horses for the jousting at Hayley’s (my niece) birthday party.

 “I call it Nude Descending a Staircase” Sam thinking he is Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes
 Ethan and Sam meeting Peppa Pig in Asda. Sam was completely amazed, Ethan was amazed and slightly scared!
 My boys cuddling 🙂 of course 30 seconds from this they were wrestling like you wouldn’t believe, but there we are.
 Sam and his amazing climbing abilities. I keep having to find new ‘out of reach’ spots! Here he’s waving about a homemade wand (yes another one!) that I thought I’d tucked away on a blocked off windowsill. He climbed up a chair, then a table to get to it. This one was destined to be a surprise for another child, until I found out they already had one!

So once again I had a sad lonely wand sitting about my house! I was just waiting to see if anyone wanted it when today we went to Rich’s parents for dinner and to celebrate Mel’s birthday (sister in law). She’d asked for no present (what?!) so we’d just given her some money – you can’t have nothing! Only then she mentioned that she’d seen the other wand on facebook and really liked it. So I snuck out and went home, did a quick age wash to finish it (luckily it dries almost instantly) and hastily wrapped it in brown paper and a ribbon. 
She actually squealed when she opened it, I love that part!

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Ollivander Update!

The magical post made it through the muggle system, Hooray! Seriously, sometimes I think it’d be more reliable to invest in (and then train of course) an owl.

Robyn was, I’m told, absolutely thrilled 🙂 I love it, I got to make kids happy with just normal (ok, slightly on the geek side, but that just makes it better!) childhood things!

To be honest, the pictures speak for themselves without my waffling, so here goes…

 Look at that grin!
 Finding the wax seal
Is that not the happiest excited face you’ve ever seen?
After doing Robyn’s wand and letter, I saw on facebook that another friend, Rachel, was doing a Harry Potter week in the summer holidays with her kids and they were making wands, so I offered to send them Ollivander letters too, congratulating them on their wandmaking.
 This is Izzy, who also happens to be friends with Robyn, so in her letter I mentioned that she shouldn’t tell muggles, but that I’d already written to Robyn so it was ok to tell her 😉
And this is Alex (7), who apparently, along with his little brother Sam (5) was completely taken in by it all, love it! Rachel told me that Sam also quietly asked her if the wands would work when they were finished, bless him!

While pilfering (with permission!) these pictures from facebook, I’ve also seen that Robyn has instructed her mum to buy a frame for her letter! Makes me feel like I really did a great job!
Thanks to Rach and Mel for letting me share pictures of your gorgeous children x

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Being Garrick Ollivander

So, I have a bit of a thing about making stuff – I love to fiddle, make, draw, paint, sew, pretty much anything that keeps my hands busy. Not long ago I found Instructables and I love it! So many projects!

One of the first ones I spotted that I wanted to make was the Harry Potter wand tutorial. I am a Potter Geek, I had just finished the whole set again (I’ve lost count how many times, I just love them!), and I loved the idea that I could make it in under an hour, and with stuff I already had around the house – Those kinds of crafts are great, impromptu quickies. So, I got cracking a couple of weeks ago and…

Ta-da! The tutorial is really easy, and I think an older child would be more than able to manage it, Though it does use hot glue, so they’d probably need help with that. Basically it’s a long thin cone of paper filled with the hot glue. The filling part was tricky trying to work the glue right down into the cone as it does cool quite fast – I held the outside of the wand against a hot iron to remelt some of the glue and forced it down with a spare glue stick from the packet, and still had a small air pocket in the middle!

The tutorial was for a generic wand, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I went online to find pictures of the wands from the movies. I wanted to make Neville’s as I love the character, but it looked quite tricky, so I chose to try Hermione’s first:

Which was really really easy. The pattern around it is just glue gun glue squirted round it And then I painted the whole thing with acrylic paint, and did a dark wash (watered down paint painted on then rubbed off so the crevices look darker) to age/distress it a bit, and basically stop it being one flat colour. It’s slightly greeny brown, because that’s what the pictures looked like!

Now here comes the fun part. A friend, Mel, tweeted that her daughter Robyn is Harry Potter obsessed, and was spending the day being Hermione (her favourite character) having plaited her wet hair the night before to make it curly. It made me smile as it was totally something I would have done on a whim as a child (Had HP been around then!) and I kept remembering it for a day or two. Then I remembered my Hermione wand sat on the top of the kitchen cupboard, not quite finished, looking a bit abandoned. So I offered it to Mel, and offered to do a letter from Mr Ollivander to go with it. Cue craft number 2, wizard’s stationery in the Oven! All I did was print up a letter unique to Robyn, including how the wand she had was broken by her sister, and the properties that her wand has – Mel checked what wand had chosen Robyn on Pottermore and I matched it as well as I could (I had to change the length slightly as the wand was already finished and a bit long). Then I soaked the paper in very strong coffee. We don’t drink coffee so it was good to get my moneys worth out of the sad little jar that I’d bought to have in the cupboard in case of builders and parents of the children’s friends, but had never been opened!

I actually tried 3 different letters (again, perfectionist). The first I soaked and tore the edges slightly to age it, then tried to dry it on a baking tray. The raw edges baked to the foil and it ripped coming off. Rubbish. I tried a second torn edged one and dried it on the oven shelf like this:

 But it just didn’t look right, and I tried again with the straight edged version you can see up there. The problem with putting it straight on the shelves is that the water evaporates unevenly, giving you stripes from the rack, which I really did not like at all. Gah! I actually re-soaked that one – I’d run out of copies as we’ve got no printer at the moment – and dried it on an upside down baking tray, and huzzah! It worked! But I still wasn’t done, as it dried quite warped and wrinkled, and very brittle. I was actually too scared fold it into the (also coffee stained) envelope! I tried steam ironing it, so it was flatter and not quite so totally dried out to a crisp. It worked really well and left the paper just feeling like stiff paper (or parchment, which was what I was going for) rather than crunchy dried out leaves.

 Then I decided I wanted to put a wax seal on it. Much harder than I thought. It’s incredibly easy to do, if you have a stamp for the seal, or something you can improvise to a stamp. I did not, but I couldn’t not do it after I’d decided I wanted to! I spent maybe an hour melting wax and shoving stuff in it to try and find something like the design I had in my head, and had to keep simplifying it or changing it, but I’m happy with how it worked out. If I do it again I think I’ll go rubber stamp shopping first to see if I can find anything I like, because I made this with 3 different implements (read household objects) and was a right faff. In the end I wanted it to look at least vaguely like a wand casting a round spell, as the circle would therefore also be an O. I think it turned out ok, I did the same seal on the back of the envelope as well.

 So, there you have it! I wrapped the wand in a piece of purple velvety fabric and made a cardboard box (not nearly pretty enough for a picture) to protect it in the post, then put both the box and the letter in a jiffy bag, which I made 2 more ‘parchment’ labels for, adding a HP twist to the address with the location of Robyn’s bedroom, and a scrawl on the back saying “Owl injured in transit, use Muggle post” and now all there is to be done is take it to the post office.

I’m really excited to hear and hopefully see in pictures how Robyn reacts when it gets there, I really enjoyed doing it so hopefully she’ll love it!

Things I have learnt:
Don’t use your ironing board as a surface. I practised making the wax seal on it as our table space is limited, and I slipped and smeared crayon wax on it. I needed a new ironing board cover already so I’m not too cross, but now I really need a new one.

Don’t use crayons for wax seals. They melt to a very thin liquid which doesn’t led itself to stamping, as it cools hard quite slowly. Candle wax is better. Sealing wax is obviously best, but you’d have to buy it, as it isn’t the kind of thing that is just lying about the house. And I’m cheap 😉

My next planned project:
Thor helmet for Ethan and Loki costume for Sam. It’s for Halloween so likely won’t be finished for a while and probably not started for a bit either!


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