Category Archives: costume

Universal Hollywood Wizarding World

I have so much to write about the garden and the animals, and I’ll get caught up on that very soon – but first I just wanted to blog about a quick little trip I took to Los Angeles. I primarily wanted to visit the FIDM museum’s exhibit of Hollywood costumes (I’m completely obsessed with this one canary yellow dress from Crimson Peak) but since Universal just opened a Wizarding World in their Hollywood park, of course I had to visit!

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I was a little concerned that it would be too crazy busy since it just opened on April 7th, but since we bought our tickets in advance, we were given admittance to the park an hour before the general crowd was allowed in. This made for a lovely visit.

It was just my friend and I – and a small handful of others.

The amount of detail was astounding. And you really had to pay attention to see it all. For instance, the hog’s head in the Hog’s Head Tavern was animatronic, but only sporadically.

There were animatronic owls in the Owl Post.

And this is the sort of thing I adore – there was fake owl poop underneath them on the floor!

Some of the shops lining the street were genuine, others just fronts, but all of them had fascinating displays.

This picture didn’t turn out well because of the reflection, but that’s a cat. Made out of a measuring tape!

The icicles were completely believable. Even though this was Southern CA.

Hogwarts Castle was fantastic, inside and out.

It was really too dark inside to take good pictures, but the detail and fantastic whimsy continued flawlessly.

And the rides were wonderful. The hippogriff roller coaster is worth riding, even though it’s pretty tame and clearly for the kids – you are taken past a recreation of Hagrid’s hut that isn’t to be missed. And the Journey to Hogwarts 3D ride is the best of it’s kind. So much fun!

While we were at the park, we also rode almost all the non-wizarding rides (the Transformers ride is particularly good) and took in the shows. I enjoyed seeing a trained chicken as part of the animal actors show.

We stayed at the Millennium Biltmore hotel for most of our stay in LA, and it was gorgeous.

And perhaps our favorite part of the entire trip, was seeing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder live on the stage.  I can’t even tell you how witty and fun this was – and it had the most brilliant staging I’ve ever seen.  If you get the chance to see it, absolutely do!

And if you have seen it, and wonder how the lead does all those amazing quick changes into different characters…watch this! Amazing costuming!

Cardiff and the Doctor Who Experience

From Bath, it’s a short train ride to Cardiff, Wales. And from the Cardiff train station, it’s a short walk to Cardiff Castle.

Cardiff Castle is, hands down, the most ornate place I have been ever inside. It’s mind-blowingly beautiful.

Literally every inch of the place is decorated. Look at these ceilings!

And the walls and floors are equally splendid.

Some of the details were so whimsical. Like this fish.

Cute little animals were sculpted in everywhere.

Stained glass, too.

I think you could live in this castle for years and not notice all the details.

The library was beautiful.

They have a small collection of birds of prey, too. I was especially taken with the owls. As I always am.

During WWII, the exterior castle walls was used as bomb shelter. They have a fantastic walkthrough, with it set up just like it was.

Canteens,

and metal bunkbeds.

Plus, they had sound piped in, of bombs falling, and sirens, and period music, and other things. I spent a long time in here, it was so deeply evocative for me.

Afterward, I walked along the Animal Wall. The story goes, that the owner wanted to put in a zoo, but the townsfolk refused to allow it, because of fears of the animals escaping. So he built a wall with stone animals perpetually in the act of escape. Some of them have glass eyes, and they are pretty creepy…in a completely awesome way.

This wall and its animals are definitely making it into the next book series I’m going to write.

Cardiff has several Victorian-era shopping arcades, with lovely little shops under a glass roof. This one, Castle Arcade, was my favorite. Largely because of the button shop. I bought a bunch of cool hobbit-y buttons there.

When I finished shopping, it was time to grab a cab to Cardiff Bay, and the Doctor Who Experience!  After you travel with the Doctor through an interactive experience, you get turned loose in an immense warehouse filled with costumes, props, and sets.  Nothing is behind glass – although they do have the occasional guard to make sure you don’t actually manhandle the treasures.

The TARDIS set was particularly cool, because you could walk around inside it.

There was creepy stuff.

And you always need to remain on your guard…

But I was thisclose to Ten. His suit, anyway. Guys, you don’t know the struggle it was not to reach out and touch…

It was awesome being able to get so close to all the costumes.

I took a billion pictures, including closeups of most of the costumes. You can find them here, if you’re so inclined.

I really liked Cardiff. It’s definitely on my list of places I’d love to visit again.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour – Harry Potter!

One of the most amazing things I did was visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. It’s a vast, incredible collection of about every costume and prop used in the Harry Potter films, as well as many of the actual film sets.  If you’re in the London area, it’s a must-see.

This was one of my top five best experiences, as well. Before I even got inside, they started playing the film music, and my friend Bonnie and I just instantly broke out in goosebumps!

As a costumer, there were a few of the costumes I was especially looking forward to seeing in person…this one, the Grey Lady, is one I’ll be attempting to reproduce, as close to screen accurate as possible.

The detail on it is so beautiful.

I also got extremely close to Jason Isaacs.  Well…his hair, anyway.

The full sets were amazing – especially when you consider that these are the real thing, not a reproduction like in Universal’s Wizarding World.

The detail was astounding.

Look! There’s the sorting hat!

Voldemort is alive!!!

Some of the effects where amazing. This is not real fire, although it looked exactly like real fire. Light and vapor. Incredible.

So many things had animations.

The most surreal experience was Diagon Alley. So perfect, down to the smallest detail.

(The pictures of me were taken by Bonnie.)

The filming model of Hogwarts was immense.

But when you got up close, every detail was finished.

It left me wanting so badly to just run through onto Platform 9 3/4.

And board the Express to Hogwarts.

I had to settle for some Butterbeer. It tastes like cream soda, with a very thick, sweet, and mustache-making topping. Seriously, it’s impossible to drink without getting a ‘stache.

And some shopping. Even the store was immense. If it had anything to do with Harry Potter, it was here.

And it was decorated with wonderful things!

I took over 500 pictures at the Studio; if you’re interested, you can find them here.

Geeky Fun

Last Saturday, a friend and I went to Emerald City Comic Con.  Since we both had missing costuming mojos, we hit the thrift store and I went as a MiB agent, and Betsy went as as undercover alien tourist.

We also visited the EMP museum and the Star Wars Costume Exhibition.

More words (and pictures!) are on my other blog: http://www.dragonflydesignsbyalisa.com/apps/blog/show/43217191-emerald-city-comiccon-star-wars-costumes

On the Nature of Geeks

So apparently, the Seahawks won the Superbowl.  This is something I know only because my facebook wouldn’t let me not know it.  I am most decidedly not a Seahawk, football, or other team-organized-sports fan.  The only time I like sports is during the Olympics (individual sports only, like Snowcross or Ice Skating) or if it’s played on a broom.

I don’t have a problem with that.  To each her own, right?

What I do find…interesting…is that this is not considered geeky:

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Or this:

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While this:

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And also this, are:

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They are all cosplays.  They are all worn in support of a fandom, they all cost money/time to make, and they are all worn out in public.

Why is it socially acceptable to know (and be able to quote from memory) all the stats for your favorite sports team, but not acceptable to know Klingon or Elvish?

The tide is turning a little in favor of the geeks, and Comic Con is the New Cool Thing, but there’s still a feeling of geeky/not geeky among the general public.  My aunt, for instance, burst out laughing when she heard I’d gone to see the Doctor Who special in the theater in 3D.  I doubt she would have the same reaction had I paid big bucks for fancy seats at a football game.

I don’t get it. People who like football are football nerds, and they are just as nerdy as people who are nerdy about other things.  If you doubt that, just check my facebook feed.  Nerdy little geeks, the lot of them.  And that’s cool.  It just would be cooler if my ‘sport’ got the same positive reception from the world.

Personally, I think I’ve got the cooler fandom(s), but that’s just me.  😉

Whoo!!!!!  Way to go Downton Abbey!!!!  Grab that…er…tea cup!!!  And here comes the Dowager for the goal!!!!  Can you believe that save by Mr. Bates????

Steamcon V

I just got home yesterday from Steamcon V, and it was a blast, as usual.  Only thing bad about it?  It went by in such a blur that it almost feels like it didn’t happen.  Usually time slows down and stretches out when I’m at these costume events, but not this time.

One of the two things I was particularly excited about was meeting artist Brian Kesinger.  I have been in love with his Tea Girls for awhile now, and I adore his new book about Victoria and her domestic pet cephalopod.  So sweet and funny!

I brought my book, and he was extremely nice and not only signed it, but drew me an Otto as well!

I am utterly charmed by geeky artists.

While I’m speaking of art, I’ll share a couple of prints I bought from awesome artists I met.

This one is by Robin E. Kaplan.  I actually bought four of hers, but I love this one the best.

This one is by Jessica Van Hulle.  Ferrets!

And, of course, I got all of them signed.  Super lovely people.

The other thing I was most excited about was the concert.  Abney Park, Frenchy and the Punk, and Professor Elemental.  One of my friends admitted to having a just a bit of a crush on the Professor.  I’m sure you all know about my feelings for Captain Robert of Abney Park.  I think this concert made all of us happy.  I know I have sore calf muscles today from all the jumping I did with Abney Park, and even though rap is normally not my thing, the Professor was charming.

I’m not crushing on him yet, but I definitely saw the appeal.  His free-style rap was pretty amazing – he had people in the audience hold up objects and he’d work them into a song.  He got everything from steampunk’d light sabers, to goggles, to a banana.  I’m particularly thrilled about the banana.

Frenchy and the Punk’s drumming were awesome.

And, of course, what can I say about Abney Park?  I was a little sorry that Robert didn’t do his normal bantering with the crowd, but their energy is always so infectious.  And I was happy that they did quite a few of my favorite songs, including Dear Ophelia.

For my concert outfit, I wanted something light and easy to wear, so I cobbled together parts of my steampunk saloon girl costume and the red velvet birdcage costume.

This was on Saturday night.  On Friday, I wore my Airship Pirate costume.  This was my first-ever steampunk creation, and I get more people writing me and wanting to buy this one than all of my others combined!  I have worn it several times, but never to Steamcon.  It was time.

That is my little pet cephalopod, Oswin, on my shoulder.  I’m totally taking him to England and Scotland with me when I go, and photographing him in famous places.  Brian Kesinger wants me to send him photos of Oswin’s adventures!

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My friend Melinda wore the relaxed version of her Ottoman outfit and looked fantastic.  You can read about her costumes on her new blog.  She does impeccable work.

I’m trying to convince her that we should do 1830-1840s steampunk next year.  Enough bustles!  Let’s have big skirts and hilarious sleeves!

One interesting thing Steamcon did this year (to go with the theme of Around the World) was give us all passports.

And then we could collect stamps from vendors, artists, etc.

One person embossed her stamp.  Pretty cool!

The best costumes come out on Saturday.  I wore my Steampunk Mummy costume.

I’m particularly pleased with how the skirt came out.  And the headdress was entirely sculpted by me, and has real beetle wings as “feathers”.

I had the fabulous silhouette cutter Kerry Cook do my portrait.  She asked for a picture of me in my costume afterward and had me sign a model release.  She’s working on a book, and might like to include my portrait and costume!

Melinda wore the fancier, teal-ified version of her ottoman – I love it when a costume can be worn several different ways!

Besides her costume, some of my other favorites were:

A Steampunk Ravenclaw!  I love this, because last year I did the Steampunk Hufflepuff, and it’s cool to see another Potter-geek doing their own version.

I love the back.

Lady Loki.  Those horns were incredible.

Asian steampunk.  Always a favorite!

Another Ottoman steampunk:

A TARDIS hat makes a gentleman 100% more dashing!

Great color combination on this one….

But my absolute favorites were this couple.  So gorgeous!

I also met up with my favorite stalker (kidding!) Teya and her SO Jon.  They are fabulous people who want to get chickens and maybe raise quail.  I stole this picture from Jon’s site, he has lots more from Steamcon and he’s a better photographer than I am, so go check them out.

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Sunday is pretty relaxed at Steamcon (everyone is recovering from the concert and other parties and balls) so I wore a mainly-thrifted outfit.  The only things I made were the waist cincher, the striped bustle, and the hat. (Tyson, that’s the Octopus pin you gave me!)

Oswin got to come out to play with me, too.  😉

My three panels went well, and were fun.  One of these days I’m going to see if they’d like me to do panels on either distressing costumes or using beetle wings in costuming.

And…what else?  There didn’t seem to be nearly so many ribbons floating around as usual – I only managed to net four (but one was a Hall Costume Award, so that was cool!)  Even the folks that were actively pursuing ribbons didn’t have the long, long, long, loooong collections I usually see.  Last year one woman had over 200!

But at least I got my Effin ribbon!

Steampunk Ladies Who Hunt Monsters

I’ve been secretly working on an exciting new project, and now is the time to reveal it to all of you.  You all know I’m into writing, steampunk, costumes, and monsters, right?  Well, I’m putting all those things together and creating a book.

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It’s a full novel, about a female steampunk monster hunter named Philomena Dashwood.  She travels the globe in search of exotic monsters, romance, and that perfect little pair of goggles.   My partner-in-crime and I are calling it “Jane Austin meets Scooby Doo” because it is such a perfect mix of humor and manners, mingled with some very real scares.  It will be illustrated with photographs taken by Tyson Vick, and he and I are creating over 80 costumes for the models and actors to wear.

The first chapter is up on our website, and I’d love to hear what you guys think!

AND, I need your help.  We need pay models, fund travel costs to photoshoot locations, and buy fabric for all those costumes, so we’ve put up a kickstarter.  You can find it here, and we have some pretty good incentives to donate to the project.

If you’re going to be at Steamcon this year, come and find me – I’ll have special ribbons and postcards to hand out, AND I’ll be modeling one of the costumes that will be featured in the book: The Steampunk Mummy.