Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Sew Master and Commander Jack Aubrey Costume

JoeRanger in his Jack Aubrey costume
JoeRanger's Jack Aubrey Costume
People sometimes tell me that, since they can't sew or don't have a machine, they can't make a costume. Well, this post proves that you don't have to sew to make a great costume!

JoeRanger, the creator of this costume, contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know that he had made a Jack Aubrey costume like mine for a party, only he did it with no sewing! I was impressed and asked if I could post about it here to give some ideas to others who might want to make a costume without having to sew. He said yes and sent me these photos.
Left: A reproduction Royal Navy uniform from DeborahLoughCostumes on Etsy. Right: JoeRanger's uniform and accessories.
It's not easy to find an inexpensive Royal Navy costume online. Most of them for sale out there are historically accurate reproduction uniforms meant for films or reenactors and cost thousands of dollars. I have a feeling that's way above the budget of most people who find this blog, who are looking for something inexpensive they can wear for a party, Halloween, a convention, etc. Most of the supplies JoeRanger used were scrap, thrifted or purchased on eBay; in total it looks like it cost him around $50.

For Jack's uniform coat, he started with a 60/40 cotton/polyester tan trench coat ($9) and dyed it a dark royal blue with Rit liquid dye.
Costume before adding trim and buttons
He cut the trench coat to match the shape of Jack's coat which meant cutting away the lower front parts of the coat. I believe he folded the raw edges inside and glued them together with hot glue.
Costume with trim and buttons
The trim and buttons (plastic with anchors; $5 from eBay) were glued on as well. An alternative would be to use iron-on fusible tape to finish the edges, which could also be used to attach the gold ribbon trim.
Trench coat lining and excess pant material remade into a vest
For the pants, he found a pair of khaki pants for $4. He cut them off at the knee and used the extra to alter the liner that came with the trench coat so it looks like Jack's vest.

JoeRanger's progress photos
The shirt was an old dress shirt with fabric glued on the front, the boots were left over from a Han Solo costume ($30 on eBay) and he constructed the pistol and sword from scrap in his workshop.

Thanks for sharing, JoeRanger! I hope that these photos are enough to show those of you out there who want a Jack Aubrey costume that, if you're willing to get creative and put in some effort, you can find a way to make an inexpensive costume without having to sew.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Top Gear, MST3K and Arrested Development Etched Pint Glasses

First of all, let me say how difficult it is to take photos of etched glasses! I did my best but the photos below aren't great and don't reflect how they look in real life.

Top Gear
"Rawsdower saves us and saves all the world!" from Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Final Sacrifice"
"Big McLargeHuge," "Punch RockGroin" and "Buff DrinkLots" from Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Space Mutiny"
"Illusion, Michael" from Arrested Development
My brother just finished his master's degree and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 glasses were for him. The Top Gear and Arrested Development glasses went to my husband on his birthday.

I used this tutorial from The Yummy Life which explains how to do the lettering and this video from ashram6 on Youtube which shows how to use adhesive contact paper to make images.

Supplies needed are:
  • etching cream (at any craft store),
  • pint glasses (I found individual glasses for less than a dollar each at Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • letter stickers (the smallest ones I could find were in the dollar bin at Target)
  • adhesive contact paper (usually found with shelf liners in home stores)
  • painter's tape (I used Frog Tape)
  • popsicle sticks
  • safety glasses and gloves
I'll explain the process briefly, but see the tutorial and video above for more details.

How it's done:
  1. Clean the glass thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and try not to touch the glass afterward.
  2. Place the letter stickers on the glass to form words. Make boxes around your words with painter's tape.
  3. For images: Draw or print out an image the size needed. Trace the image on to the contact paper, cut out and put on the glass. Use painter's tape to box off any negative space around the image.
  4. Make sure everything is stuck on well so the etching cream won't sneak underneath.
  5. In a well-ventilated area (this stuff stinks!), put on your safety gear and use a popsicle stick to put the etching cream on the glass. Leave it on for about five minutes, using the stick to move the cream around twice during the wait.
  6. In a stainless steel sink (the cream can damage other types of sinks), wash off the etching cream with hot water and remove all the tape and stickers. Wash the glass and you're done!
Etching cream isn't perfect and the results won't look store-bought. You can tell from my photos that it doesn't etch evenly. The bigger the area you try to etch, the more evident the unevenness is. The etching cream is caustic and dangerous so it's not a good project for kids, though they could decorate a glass and then an adult could take over when using the cream. Still, with some planning and patience a custom etched pint glass can make for a unique personalized gift.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Craftsman-Style Lamp Makeover

Before and After

Though we've been out of college for years, my husband and I are still using those cheap flexible desk lamps next to our bed. Now that we're only a few months away from moving into a new home, I thought it was time to invest in some actual lamps.

I saw the below lamp online and fell in love. It's a custom pottery lamp with a mica shade made by William Morris Studios.

They don't list a price which to me says that it's probably more than I'm willing to pay, so I decided to try to make something similar. I found the brass lamp and paper shade in the top left photo at Target. I thought about buying a lamp with a mica shade there, but the reviews I read online said that the cheaper mica shades sometimes melted or caught fire so I decided against it!

Step 1
Step 1: I taped and covered the parts of the lamp I didn't want painted, then gave it a couple coats of Krylon Primer in white.
Step 2
Step 2: After letting the primer dry, I gave the lamps several coats of Krylon Satin in Jade. I let them dry overnight.

Step 3
Step 3: The spray painted color was okay, but I wanted it greener and I also wanted to give it some depth and texture. I tested out some mixing glaze on an old cookie tin and didn't like the way it looked. I ended up using watered-down acrylic paints and mixed my own color.

I dabbed the paint on to the lamp with a sponge then spread it around with a rag while wiping off the extra. It took practice to get an even coat. I screwed up the first time and ended up with an unfixable splotchy mess but I just spray-painted over it and tried again.

Step 4
Step 4: I added some touches of gold using Liquid Leaf metallic paint in Florentine Gold. Once it dried, I did a top coat of Valspar Perfect Finish clear sealer in Satin. I'm not 100% happy with the sealer as it gave the lamps a bumpy texture, but it's only noticeable to the touch and looks okay.

I'm still debating about the lampshade. It would be great to have a mica shade instead of paper but I doubt I will be able to find one that I can afford and that will fit the lamp. I would like to add ginkgo leaf details like in the Morris lamp, but I can't find a way to do it that looks good and will not be affected by the heat of the bulb. Acrylic paint gets soft with heat so that's out. I've experimented with stencils and ink on paper bags but I didn't like the way it turned out. I think decoupaging real or cut-out leaves on to the shade would look best but I don't know how well that would hold up with the heat from the lamp. I think I'll use the shades as they are for a while and see how I like them.

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