Apr 302015

We finally got around to building Isaac’s shoulderpads for this convention. And it was a lot easier than we expected! We bought some wonderflex, which is a polymer material made by the same people that make the fosshape I adore so much for ears. It’s super easy to work with now that we’ve bought a heat gun.

Step one: Chaos made a mold out of poster board that fit his shoulders correctly and had the right amount of curl to it.

Step two: Chaos draped the wonderflex over the mold, heating it with the heat gun until it softened. It was super important here to keep the mold bent; laying it out flat would let it flatten out and not give the correct shape, so he ended up hanging it to keep the right bow shape. A more sturdy mold would have worked better, but we were experimenting here.

Step three: Now you have shoulder pads:

The spine, resting in my lap

The spine, resting in my lap


Edge-on view to show the bowing

So it’s time to cover them with something! We could have painted them for a metal look, but we decided to cover them in faux leather instead. I traced the posterboard molds onto the faux leather, added about half an inch all around, then cut four pieces. I stitched pairs together to make a pocket, then used hot glue to anchor them onto the spines (to ensure they curved correctly) and seal the seam.


Shoulder pad

Shoulder pad

I then took some more of the faux leather and, having measured the length from shoulder to hip on Chaos and cut out four wide strips. I then folded each strap in half, stitching it shut, then stitched the straps at right angles at the hip. Finally, I glued the tops to the shoulder pads (you can’t stitch through wonderflex).


The strap


Step Four: I stitched on some quick pockets so he could hold his wallet 🙂




I had him try them on over the robe from last year’s con:


Armor over the robe

Armor over the robe

Just like the spec… but way too ren faire. Not nearly steampunk enough! We ran out and scrounged up some other pieces in a last-minute shopping flurry. I think the result works well, don’t you?



Oct 032014

Since we knew we wouldn’t have time to do the full costume, and because the Symposium’s theme this year is “Steam Wars”, we decided to make Isaac a basic green Jedi robe and then trick it out with accessories.

When searching for patterns, we narrowed down the choices to two: this excellent detailed post from SithariRog or this Instructable by MrTinkerer. We decided to go with the Instructable because it looked easier to adapt to Chaos’ plus-size frame, and because I hate math. Not that the pattern for the Instructable didn’t involve enough math already 🙂

We took Chaos’ measurements and jotted them down. I added an extra measurement for girth, since the model for the Instructable was built skinnier than Chaos is and I wanted to be sure the thing closed. I then attempted to map the measurements onto the pattern like so:

Image (2)

(Sorry for the wrinkles, it almost got thrown out before I scanned it).

Once we had the plans on paper, we used graph paper (and tape!) to measure out the pattern; I find graph paper helps me keep the dang measurements accurate, whereas a measuring tape often slips sideways and a ruler is too short. I guess a yardstick would work 🙂

By the time we had everything cut out, however, I didn’t feel confident at all about the size. So we went to Dollar General and bought some bedsheets — a cheap, quick source of fabric for prototyping.

Thankfully, it fit just fine, and we were able to stitch up the real fabric next:

A Boy and His Automaton

All done, and just in time for the con!

May 152014

So since our hat block turned out to be a complete failure, I still needed a hat to mount the ears from the fosshape tutorial onto. Since I’ve made mini top hats before, I decided to adapt the process to make a full-sized top hat.

This is going to be pretty brief, so check out the gallery below:

It’s not the sturdiest hat in the world, but it’ll do!

hat pinnable

Apr 232014

This is just a quickie; I know I’ve been missing frequently over the past month, it’s been crazy trying to get everything ready in time for the Symposium! One of the things I needed was a lot more belt pouches, some in specific sizes and some more for looks.

For Isaac’s belt, I just wanted some pretty pouches, so Chaos went to the thrift store and got some purse. I got the idea from this tutorial and basically followed it:

For Laika’s belt, I needed specific-sized pouches to fit the electronics, so I made boxes out of fosshape; these basically followed my messenger bag tutorial, but sized for the electronics I needed to carry. Like so:

And there you have it: two ways to make belt pouches! Our pinnable today brought to you by Lady Val, our newest steampunk:


Aug 112013

Louisiana is a state rich in heritage and history, ripe with potential for a steampunk world. For Chaos’ second character, we decided to explore that heritage.

We thought about doing the classic voodoo doctor route:

But decided that with Princess and the Frog so recent, we wanted to go a little more original. There are two major French-catholic subcultures we looked into: the Creole, who are descendants of the melting-pot of Louisiana combining French, Spanish, and African cultures, and the Cajuns, who are the descendants of a specific group of French-speakers from Canada being chased all the way down south. While Creole seems more typical for someone of African descent, the Cajun have a legend that struck me as useful: the legend of the Rougarou.

Now, I’ve been looking to introduce supernatural elements into the world I’m creating on this blog. Supernatural is what I’m familiar with, and frankly, it’s what I like best. I love steampunk, but I love it more when it comes combined with the sort of low-fantasy elements I tend to read and write. This character build, as Chaos and I kicked around ideas, became more and more the distinct point at which magic would be introduced to the setting already in progress.

The Rougarou, like the Loup-garou (silent ‘p’), is a type of lycanthrope; in this legend, he is said to haunt the swamps of Louisiana, formed by breaking lent and sent with a mission to devour naughty children. What would anyone want with a beastie like that? To study it. To become it. To kill it. The answers are many and varied.

Chaos is a scientist by trade, so the idea of studying it seemed like it resonated well with him. The idea of becoming the monster is a favorite cliche of mine; but why would someone want to study a rougarou’s source of transmission so they, too, could become a monster? Perhaps the monster is immortal-until-killed, as many werewolf legends hold them to be. Immortality is a fairly universal goal among mad scientists. My thoughts were drawn immediately to the Fountain of Youth, claimed by Ponce de Leon to be in Florida, but perhaps sought among the swamps in Louisiana when Florida’s everglades proved unfruitful. So. This doctor, this mad scientist, this studier of the supernatural, craves immortality. That I can work with.

But what does he LOOK like?

There’s an archetype for a Catholic who studies and fights monsters; the holy Cleric of DnD fame. So I wanted to work in a holy motif. Mad scientists tend towards lab coats with many pockets, while those who braved the wild west tend toward (Kae’s favorite) dusters. And of course, if you’re going up against a werewolf, armor might be nice. Guild Wars 2 has some images Chaos liked:

Distilling all of this down to individual elements, we have: a floppy hat, a large prominent cross, some kind of robe or coat with many pockets, armored shoulderpads, and lots of belts with pouches. And maybe some gloves. Badass armored gloves.

Now let’s talk a moment about color. I don’t think I’ve touched on this yet on this blog, though I’m getting forgetful in my old age of a quarter century. I try to keep the color palettes of each character fairly distinct, to make things easier to design: Erika wears blues-into-purples, and while Lucas runs the gamut of colors, Bob is dominated by primarily browns, with Nettie wearing all red-and-black. In this instance, Chaos himself volunteered a color palate without my having to ask, so I immediately accepted it: “He seems like the kind of guy who wears dark greens a lot.”

And there you have it: Isaac (after Sir Newton) Gautreaux was conceived.

Sketch of Isaac design