Tuesday, December 16, 2003

In honor of the last installment of Lord of the Rings opening this Wednesday, I've picked this time to post the pictures of my Halloween costume.

So, how does a normal looking girl turn... into an elf?

legolas costume

Like I said in my original post, I can't remember the day where I stood up and proclaimed, "That's it! I'll be Legolas for Halloween!" In fact, the first time I saw the movie, I was annoyed by the elf, always the worrier and just kind of a pretty boy type. Not that I mind pretty boys, but I wasn't sure why he was there and that elves were supposed to be fair. The movie had been in theaters for a long time, and I was driving home one night. I figured I might as well see it in the theater and pulled into Westwood where it was playing. It was around 7pm, and I took a chance that the movie was starting about this time. I'd read The Hobbit when I was about twelve, so when the ticket guy told me that the movie was five minutes into the start, I asked if I would understand having missed it. After he assured me I would, I bought a ticket. Luckily, they were still in the description parts about the ring, so I wasn't entirely lost. I was very taken by the incredible story and incredible filmmaking. However, I didn't know a thing about the characters, and when I learned more about Tolkien's elves and that they were not just pretty pushovers, Legolas grew on me. Especially in the second one where he flipped over that horse. Very cool. I have since read the Hobbit again, as well as Fellowship and Two Towers.

I think I was also going through a time where I wanted to transform myself into something larger than life, fierce, but elegant. I thought of being one of the girl elves, but I was drawn more to the challenge of transforming myself into a male character and lets face it, they are a lot more fun than just wearing frilly dresses. I also wanted to be something that was recognizable and well, cool. And it paid off, because I had a hell of a good time.

But first, MAJOR props to these people who so carefully documented their own creations for the rest of us to benefit from. I'd have been lost without their careful documentation of their own creations. You guys rock. Please visit their sites and see for yourself.

Alleycatscratch The end all be all to LOTR costume research. Painstaking documentation and great tips for construction.
Jedi Elf Queen. Incredible artist, her tips were extremely helpful in building the bow.
Megan Helped immensely with breaking down the elements of the top. Great documentation and a very talented woman.

Okay, now that the proper people have been credited, I can go on.

One day I just started building the bow, thinking that the rest of costume would be a pretty easy one. I must have been insane. I won't lie and say it was a breeze. It wasn't, but because I started early, I was able to prioritize. A few things I didn't get to finish, like the leg things, some of the detail work on the costume, and the vambraces (arm guards) but I was able to throw them together to look pretty good.

legolas costume
I took this picture at 3:00AM and had to digitally remove some splatter (made when I was applying the costume before work) from the mirror. However, it gives a good idea of the costume. I used my real hairline by flipping my hair over the wig, spraying white hair effect on it, then blonde effect which also helped hold it in place. I DID have to chemically lighten it substantially to work, but it was only the front under parts and it's just hair. I braided the side braids by using my own lightened hair and working it into the wig hair, to give it a seamless natural look. The rest stayed my natural dark brown. The blue eyes and dark eyebrows are all mine. ;) Click the image to see a larger version.

Heavy metal meets Middle Earth. This picture was taken at work in our music department on Halloween night. Roger, on the left, and his brother Eric on the right dressed up as AC/DC. Don't they look great? I'm in the center as Legolas. When I asked my grandmother (whose eyesight isn't the best) to pick me out of the group, she picked Eric. Okay, I know I�m dressed up as a dude, but c'mon grandma. Click the image to see a larger version.

This is me and my coworker Rebecca in the music department in a really funny shot. She is dressed as a fairy, also with pointy ears, and looked absolutely adorable. When we were posing, I was in the middle of saying something and Roger saw the photo opportunity and went click! The result, a photo where it looks like I'm looking right at Rebecca's chest and exclaiming something like, "You fairy chicks are HOT!" I call this the Lecherous Legolas photo, and yes, I know that will send me some weird Google referrals. Rebecca and I lost it when we saw this, and it was just too good not to post.

I didn't bother digitally removing the splatter here. Too much work on the first one where I removed the lovely mirror crack as well. This is the back of the costume, showing how the quiver hung. It is a mirror shot, so it is reversed from how it really was. The arrows and quiver tilted toward my right shoulder whereas this one looks like they go to the left. I made the arrows and quiver from scratch, and drew the design on the back. Click the image to see a larger version.

This is the bow and quiver from above taken in my apartment. Like the moody setting I set up? And yes, that's an original Victorian marble fireplace behind it. Thought that made it a little more authentic. As you can see, I still have detailing to do on the bow and work inside the quiver to finish it off. The arrows stay in there through Velcro attached to the inside of the quiver, so as not to fall out when I move around or bend down. I ran a belt through the quiver that goes over my shoulder and connects in front.

This is the quiver from the side, showing how thin it is.

lothlorien bow detailThis is a close up of the Lothlorien bow detailing. I used a wood epoxy putty and sculpting tools to get this look. Once I painted the bow I started with this detail work that I have yet to finish. Tricky, because it dries fast but great because it is an epoxy that sticks to the surface and is moldable, then dries hard as a rock. Great effect for that wood carved look.

This is the detail of the middle of the bow, with lots more work to be done. This is the most detailed part of the bow and I was only able to make a dent in the design application.

Sometimes you say YES to WIRE HANGERS. This is the humble beginning of the bow. Wire hangers taped together and bent into shape using pliers. I cut the hook part of the hangers off. After that, I wrapped the hangers in tin foil to give it depth, then and shaped it. If you've ever eaten at a restaurant that gives your to go food in the shape of tin foil animals, you know that tin foil is great for sculpting. After that, a couple of layers of masking tape to hold everything in place and finish off the shape. Then, the next step.

This is the bow and quiver in progress. The bow is still bendable in this stage. The strips of newspaper are applied using decoupage (a fancier papier mache technique). I added a layer, let dry, added another layer, let dry. After that, I used wood filler, NOT the epoxy putty, but filler to give it that wood look. Then, I sanded it down using a medium grade sand paper, then finishing touches with a fine sand paper. Again, a several step several application process. After I was happy with the shape, I painted it, then applied decoupage glue to seal it. You can see here that I used the tape measure to make sure the bow was even throughout.

The beginning of the Fellowship Brooch. I sculpted this from sculpty clay and didn't have the sense to place it on a more suitable surface to photograph it. This is on a baking sheet, just before putting it in the oven. At the time of the costume deadline, I didn't have time to paint it, so did a very rudimentary job.

This is the painted Fellowship Brooch. It could use some glaze and fine tuning, but I'm happy with it for now. I bought a strong clasp and glued it to the back of the brooch. Strong, so it could withstand the weight of my cape.

I will update this post later, but wanted to post these pics for now. Stay tuned for more pictures, as I'll be adding them over time.