Black Hands: Using Alcohol-Activated Paint

Woohoo! I got my alcohol-activated paint in the mail and gave it a try. While it’s more expensive than the other solution I offered with the latex gloves, I recommend this method if you can get hold of the stuff. You put it on, it dries really fast, and then it doesn’t come off for anything short of 99% isopropyl alcohol.

I initially ordered it through Reel Creations but given that I live in Montreal, the shipping was going to be almost twice what the actual colour pot was worth! So I sent them an email asking if there were any distributors closer to where I live so that I wouldn’t have to pay crazy ridiculous shipping. They were exceedingly helpful and understanding and in a few days they got back to me with a distributor in Toronto: The Face Station. If you’re in Canada looking to buy unusual makeup and theatre stuff, I highly recommend these folks. They work alongside an actual theatre and special effects school so they’re able to give you tips and such on how to use their products.

The colour pot didn’t come with any instructions but instead of pestering the Station, I just talked to my friend who recommended the stuff to me in the first place. It’s ridiculously easy to use. So let’s get down to business and show you how it’s done!

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A Glimpse of the Divine

Any sort of artistry is scary. Oftentimes, our society’s expectations of the tortured, starving artist become a self-fullfilling prophecy. Perhaps that’s why so many young creative minds are discouraged by well-meaning parents wanting to save their children from a life of misery, telling them: “You’ll never make a living off of that,” only to have them fall into the arts anyway as though some capricious hand of destiny were shoving them along their path. A path only made harder by parental disapproval.

Am I afraid? Absolutely. I’ve been working for years on a project with no guarantee of success, no matter how good it is. A disturbing number of artists were only discovered and recognized decades after their deaths. Too late to enjoy the electric surge that is the audience peering through their metaphorical window and glimpsing something amazing, and exclaiming over it.

But I can’t stop. You see, despite my fear, I must continue trying to wedge that window open. Hopefully, my muse will be there for the effort.

Black Hands: A Drow Dilemma

One issue that plagues anyone dressing as a Drow (or any other creature which requires the skin to be a different colour!) is what to do about the hands. If you paint them, you will get paint all over everything you touch unless you get a very special kind of paint that is hard to come by. (Alcohol activated stuff.)

So I am making a foray into troubleshooting this perennial problem in a way that both works and doesn’t break the bank.

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The Book That Bleeds

Ever go to a convention and encounter the problem of your costume having no pockets? It’s a perennial problem but I’ve found a stylish solution for my Drow mage. What could be more natural than carrying around a spellbook?

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Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech

I keep this video on my bookmarks bar. One of my friends made me a beautiful cross-stitch of those three words and framed it; it hangs on the wall just behind my computer at eye-level. Whenever I lose the plot (in a book, or in life in general) I look up from the screen and remember what I’m doing, and why. I often finish blog entries or writers’ circle announcements with this iconic phrase.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend it. Even if it doesn’t do for you what it does for me, it’s some solid advice for all artists, be they literary or otherwise.

Have a most excellent day, and make good art.

Stepping Into the Scene: A Writing Exercise

So my writers’ circle had a meeting this evening and we did a really interesting exercise I’d like to share with you because it was extremely effective for me as well as the other members who participated. If you’re good at visualizing things during meditation, you’re already way ahead of the game here. If not, it might be something you’d like to try.

What we did was this: each of us picked a scene from a project we were working on. Didn’t matter if it was a main project or something pulled from the back-burner … or dusty broom-closet. Then, we designated a mat on the floor to be our working space. One at a time, we would sit while another member read out the scene we had selected while we sat, eyes-closed and listened, visualizing the scene taking place as clearly as possible as though we were watching it take place in the space of the mat in front of us.

Then, the author of the scene would step onto the mat, assume the position that the character was currently in and proceed with the scene from its beginning to its conclusion.

If it were just that, it would be an interesting roleplay/guided meditation session. But that was not, in fact, all there was to it. The other members of the group asked questions of the character to which the author (in the character’s shoes) responded based on what they could see, hear, smell, etc. They asked questions about what emotions the character was feeling, what they had done previous to that scene, what they planned to do afterwards and what was currently weighing on their mind, what they were wearing, what everything around them looked and sounded like, all while one member of the group took notes on everything the character said. (It’s a good thing we can all type really fast!) Together we wrung all the details out of that scene that there was to be had and saved the information to be used by the author later.

The beauty of this exercise is that one can squeeze precious details out of a scene that seems dry and uninteresting. One can connect with a character or a situation that feels distant or a bit fuzzy/unreal and bring the scene to life.

The end result? I stepped onto the mat with a vague character concept and a few bits of plot strung together and exited the mat with a fully developed novel plot and fleshed out character with believable emotions and motivations in 45 minutes. This was the equivalent of months worth of work for me. And it was FUN.

So, if you can find some friends to help you out with this endeavour, I heartily recommend it. Good luck!

How to Weave Japanese Waraji Sandals for Bleach Cosplay

One of the trickiest bits of a shinigami costume from the anime Bleach (aside from the hair) is the sandals. Unlike the quality uniforms that you can order online, the sandals that are available for purchase are pretty sub-par quality wise and don’t fit the feet of the wearer the way a custom made pair will. The good news is: they’re pretty cheap and easy to make once you get the hang of it.

I found a pretty good guide online for how to make the sandals here. However, I found the pictures to be a little unclear and some of the directions were incomplete such as how to actually do the weaving which resulted in quite a bit of trial and error.

So, I thought I’d present an updated guide for you to make use of. I hope you find it helpful!

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