Archive for October, 2013


These WILL be angel wings when I'm done. I think.

These WILL be angel wings when I’m done. I think.

The wings.

Ah, the wings. Honestly, when I was first planning this costume, I thought the wings would be the easiest part, because I was going  to be repurposing wings I already had and not making anything from scratch like the dress or the wig. I was pretty far off the mark.

The dress was the easiest and now I know I can sew from-scratch garments decently.

The wig was next easiest, and it only missed being the easiest because there aren’t as many webpages out there about making yarn wigs as there are about making dresses so the planning was more difficult. The wig took longer to make because I had to let glue dry and set between rounds of working. Plus, you know, manufacturing hair.

The wings. Ah, the wings.

So my plan was as follows:

  1. Reshape the existing wires of the wings to more fit the shape of angel wings.
  2. Use pipe cleaners to connect the existing wires into the final shape. The idea was that these pipe cleaners would connect the spaces between the wires and finish the general outline.
  3. Use toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls to create the rib along the upper edge of the wings.
  4. Papier-mache over the whole lot. First layer would be covering the framework and the second layer would be the shape of the “feathers” to give the impression of carved feathers after painting.
  5. Paint the dried papier-mâché wings using highlights and lowlights as needed to give depth.
  6. Crochet covers for the straps that hold the wings onto Pynni since they are green.
  7. Voila! Wings.

IMG_1588The reshaping went well and worked better than I thought it would. The pipe cleaners, not so much. They were much flimsier than I needed them to be and so I ended up doubling them to make them sturdier. They weren’t supposed to be integral to the structure of the wings, but more guidelines for the paper-mache, but the wings, after being reshaped, weren’t as  sturdy as I thought they would be. Moving the wires around compromised the integrity of the structure, making the green nylon stretched over the frame loose and unable to help the wires hold their positions. I had to have the paper-mache do that job, but it was tricky to get the wings to stay put while the paper was applied.

The toilet paper/paper towel rolls were a little more difficult to apply than I had envisioned. They needed to go around a curved edge. I employed a version of lobster armor by laying narrower strips of the rolls, over-lapping one another along the curve, and had to cut slits in some of the pieces to make a sharper curve than the lobster armor technique was allowing. I tried to hot glue everything as I went, and ended up having to tape some of the pieces because the glue wasn’t holding them exactly the way I needed them held.

I’ve papier-mâchéd before, but it’s been a while and I needed the end result to be fairly light weight. So I did the research on papier-mâché to get all the info I could before starting this part of the project. One of the resources I used suggested using tissue paper to make a lighter project so I bought a bunch of tissue paper.

I sat down and laboriously tore that paper into strips (which doesn’t tear all neatly like newspaper) and dipped it into the paste I’d made before sitting down. The paper practically dissolved before I could pull it out. I tried several pieces of varying length and width and it fell apart every time. It was something I thought would happen when I was reading the article, but I gave it go anyway. The author of the article must have used thicker, more expensive tissue paper than I had, so I had to go buy newspaper before my paste started drying out.

to be continued…

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The costuming has been going much slower since the first big push with Pynni’s Weeping Angel dress. Last week, I was able to eek out some time to work on the wig. This was surprising because I was keeping Abshie and Timmus while my brother and his wife were out of town, and they are public school attendees. So here I was, thinking that I would be too busy with my normal schedule plus morning and afternoon carpool topped with homework and extra baths.

All my time concerns were for naught, though, and we were able to keep a tight schedule that allowed for the PS kids to have playtime with the HS kids, and THAT gave me time to work on the wig.

I started out crocheting a beanie with a flap around the ears and back of the head to better mimic Pynni’s natural hair line. Then I created bundles of yarn about 18 to 20 inches long that I tied along the center line of the beanie every two rows or so. This created the center part.

I looped yarn “latch hook” style (a’la amigurumi hair) all along the front, inside edge of the beanie  so that when I pulled the yarn up into the twist, there would be no beanie parts showing. Next I created two, much fatter bundles of yarn of similar length to the attached bundles and braided each of them. One of those braids, I rolled into a disc to attach to the back of the beanie to be the base of the messy bun. The other braid, I glued along the small space between the first bundle of yarn in the front and the amigurumi hairline. The Weeping Angels have some sort of ribbon wrapped around their heads and through their hair, and I thought this would fit the bill while also filling in gaps and covering exposed beanie.

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I wrapped a styro head with plastic wrap and worked the, now, yarn covered beanie onto it. I couldn’t decide, up until actually getting into the nitty gritty of this part of the project, what I was going to use to secure the yarn down on the wig. Originally, I thought I’d use fabric glue, but that is made to be flexible. I was wanting stiff because this is supposed to be statue-like. So I thought I would use Elmer’s glue. This would dry clear and stiff and, maybe watered down a little, would make a good over-all treatment to make the whole thing stiff. When I started gluing, the Elmer’s glue was a failure. It didn’t dry fast enough to be of use for securing large sections of the wig, so I had to try something else.

I settled on my glue gun and got to work. This worked exactly as I’d hoped, if a little more painfully. Did you know that glue gun glue is HOT? Yeah, me, too, but I burned my poor fingers over and over because yarn hair isn’t very solid and glue oozes easily into the spaces. I tried using tools like popsicle sticks to maneuver the hair around in the glue, but they just stuck to the glue. Whatever. It got done sans a few fingerprints.

Not really, no fingers were permanently damaged in the making of this costume (disclaimer: yet).

I glued down the braided disk and the head band type braid and then, beginning on the left hand side facing me, I began twisting the “hair” along the hairline toward the back and wrapped the “hair” around the braided disc. Along the way, I glued and secured the “hair”, leaving some of it down to create curls along the hairline after the main part of the wig was done. I, then, worked on the right side facing me and repeated the process, making sure the hair was a symmetrical as I could make it.

Then I trimmed the remaining “hair” and wound it into “curls” and glued and pinned them into place. I discovered that Elmer’s glue had it’s uses. In the end, there were ends of yarn that didn’t want to lay flat and weren’t long enough to tuck in anywhere hidden, so I used Elmer’s to glue the ends down and pins to hold them in place while the glue dried.

I also decided to forgo the stiffening of the entire wig. I’m not making the dress stiff so why would I do that to the wig? It doesn’t flow around her shoulders or anything. All the tresses are glued in place so the illusion of stone should hold without any extra gluing.

Things I learned during this process (yay bullet points!):

  • Hot glue is hot. Go figure.
  • Elmer’s glue dries aesthetically better than hot glue. Hot glue is shiny, not matte, this is problematic when imitating stone.
  • I should have used LESS yarn in the bundles that I tied down the center, as the yarn I used was very bulky when all gathered in the back.
  • I should have gathered the hair down one side and then the other BEFORE swirling one side and attaching it to the bun disc in the back. It was difficult to work the second side into the previously glued and dried half done bun and I ended up with WAY too much yarn for the bun in the back.
  • If I’d done the previous bullet point, I could have thinned the yarn out as I worked my way down the sides of the wig OR if I’d done bullet point 3, I might not have had to do even that.
  • I should have found grey yarn to make the beanie out of. I thought the black would be fine if there were gaps in the “hair” yarn, but it’s very visible. Yes, I needed a soft acrylic, but I should have looked harder for something closer to the “hair” color.