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Team Up: Add Luminescence

25 Jun

Eleanor Lamb Subject Delta Helmets Bioshock Cosplay

With the helmets finally built and painted and distressed, all we had to do was add the lights. For some more experienced cosplayers this may not be a big thing but for us, the prospect of adding a lighting element to our project was incredibly stressful. We’d been planning and testing and researching for this critical step since the beginning of the process in June, it was currently March. Due to budgetary constraints and inexperience, much like the decision to ask for help with Eleanor Lamb’s suit, we decided to opt for battery operated Christmas lights rather than try to rig up our own lighting system. We landed on Christmas lights after days of off and on combing the internet and not liking the look of anything. We had to keep in mind that these lights would be mounted in our helmets and close to our faces so they needed to be small, bright and cool. When you don’t know what to look for, this can be a very daunting process. For now, as beginners, we played it safe. We bought a couple of packages of indoor mini Christmas lights that were battery operated and tucked them away until we were ready for them.

Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb Helmets

Since both of us have a back ground in theater, we decided to use theater lighting gels to color the visors of our helmets. You can see from the reference pictures above that we wanted a yellowy glow for Subject Delta and a sickly green glow for Eleanor Lamb.

Rosco Gel BookletWe used a Rosco gel sample booklet to concoct a mix of colors that would give us the desired color. For Subject Delta we decided on#12 Straw and #2003 Storaro VS Yellow and for Eleanor Lamb we decided on #4915 Lavender and #388 Gaslight Green in case you’d like to look them up. In the end, we ended up ditching the Lavender. I wanted it to help make the green murky but it wound up making it too dark. So we paired the Yellow with the green for Eleanor Lamb’s visor.

We cut the porthole shapes out of the gels and then hot glued the edges together so they would be easier to glue into the helmets.

Next came the long, involved process of gluing a webbed pattern of Christmas lights into the helmets. We had to be careful as we worked, we wanted light to spill out of the portholes but the lights themselves needed to stay unseen. This was incredibly difficult but we managed and silently hoped that none of the bulbs would burn out since, you know, we’d glued them into place.

Eleanor Lamb Cosplay with Lights

After several hours bent over with a glue gun into the small openings of our helmets, we finished. Hooray!

Subject Delta Cosplay Helmet Bioshock Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Helmet BioshockSubject Delta’s face is never seen. Not just because he’s the playable character in a first person game but even in all of the concept art and fan art. Turns out that most Big Daddies have a bio-chemical gel in their helmets that will react to their state of mind. That’s why you have different colors radiating from their portholes but never faces. From the photo above, you can clearly see Daniel’s face. So we bought a couple of Halloween invisible face masks so that we could still see but our faces would be obscured. Unfortunately, the black mask ate up the lights from the glued in bulbs so we ditched the idea for Eleanor and decided that it was more important that Subject Delta’s face be hidden than for the glow to be bright. And here’s our finished product!!

Subject Delta Cosplay Helmet Bioshock Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Helmet Bioshock

The moment we put the finished helmets on our heads was so amazing! Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb’s helmets were the first things we started working on and now that we were at the end of the project, they were the last thing finished. We were a little worried about the lack of ventilation and fresh air but, at this point, we were flying high on having finished them. — TCG

Subject Delta Eleanor Lamb Bioshock Cosplay



Level 4-5: Upgrade and Refine Weapon

24 Jun

Now that everything had been painted, we could move toward our finishing steps for Eleanor Lamb’s syringe. This particular piece had already gone through a revision stage where we agonized over the panel, built the panel, agonized some more and then built a whole new panel. Little did we know that there was one more hurdle to jump in building this gnarly prop. More on that later.

Eleanor Lamb with Helmet Concept Art


Before we could jump the unsuspected hurdle, we got to play with some resin! Check out the front view on the reference photo and you’ll notice the two gauges along the top of the syringe. At first, we thought we’d just have to purchase something that looked similar. It never occurred to us that we could actually build gauges until Daniel found this amazing tutorial on EPBOT, a blog all about fun, crafty, nerdy joy! She came up with a quick, easy and cheep way to make steam punk inspired gauges. We’ll show you our work as we followed her step-by-step instructions but you can find the tutorial for yourself here:

DIY Steampunk Gauges.

We started off with sliding closet door handles which you can buy at your local hardware store. The color we picked didn’t really matter as we planned to paint them before filling them with resin, which we did in our makeshift painting room, a.k.a. the kitchen.

sliding door handles pre-paint Gauge Backs Painted


Once the paint had dried, we could really have some fun. After all the months of papier-mâché and foam work it was very exciting to work with a different medium! Jen, the wonderful blogger who provided the process we used, put the gauge faces she used for her project up on her blog for others to print and use. So we did just that! We put the gauge faces into the sliding door handles and got our work space ready to go. Next came the epoxy resin.

Steam Punk Gauges Steam Punk Gauges Epoxy Resin Supplies

Easy Cast Clear Casting EpoxyWe purchased a basic kit from Michaels and followed the simple instructions that came with the kit without a hitch.  A word of advice, make sure that you have a disposable cup and stirring stick before you start. There’s nothing like getting all excited to play with a new process only to discover that you don’t have the containers and tools that you need. Using the two plastic cups we mixed together the epoxy and then poured it into the sliding door handles. There were bubbles, naturally. Using my hairdryer set on a low cool setting, I swept it across the surface of the gauges which worked out the bubbles. I made sure to take my time and sure enough, we got really clear gauges!

Steam Punk Gauges with Bubbles Steam Punk Gauges Gauges Resin Drying


We let it cure for 72 hours and I was amazed at how hard they were! I love learning new crafty things! Again, the instructions that come with the kit were very simple and easy to follow but just in case you prefer a video here is a tutorial for you. How to Use Easy Cast

Gauges for Eleanor Lamb's SyringeNow for the hurdle, how to mount flat gauges on the curved surface of our PVC syringe. At first, we thought we could just mount it in some 2 mm craft foam and then wrap the foam around the pipe. The foam would account for the gaps and once we covered the sides it would look like there was a raised portion on the syringe were the gauges were mounted. This did not work out as planned. It was time for us to get innovative.



We batted around some ideas and finally decided that we would need to carve a hole into the body of the syringe for the gauge to sit in. Since we had a freshly painted, beautiful syringe we were reluctant to do this without testing. So that’s what we did. We took a spare piece of the PVC and drilled into it with the proper sized auger bit and, as you can see from the image below, the gauge fits into place quite nicely.

Syringe washers cutArmed with the confidence that comes from testing, we started work on the actual syringe. We got everything set up and Daniel was ready to cut in to our beautiful syringe when it hit him. The thinner PVC pipe we used for the needle of the syringe extends through the entire body of the syringe for stability. If we cut into the body of the syringe, we would risk damaging it a ruining the whole piece. Plus, the PVC pipe would prevent the gauge from sitting fully down into the space. This meant that we were back at square one.

We would have to figure out a way to mount the gauge on top of the surface of the syringe. First, we removed the panel and added some spacers to the body of the syringe. Daniel used a hand saw to cut them in half so that the panel would be raised and we could run leather strips around the syringe. In the whole trial and error process, we also decided that the leather detailing was more accurate than the foam. Daniel then cut some brackets out of 5 mm craft foam to help “square up” the round surface. The brackets also served to close the gaps on either side of the gauge and give the effect of a raised panel that housed the gauges. We used two strips of hand detailed leather straps and put the gauges into them. Then we put it all together.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe Bioshock Cosplay Eleanor Lamb Syringe Bioshock Cosplay


All that was left to do was put the panel back on, take care of any touch-ups to the paint job, weather it using the technique out lined in our Weathered Metal Effect Tutorial and add the ADAM tube which we purchased from and then filled with red body wash, pomegranate scented for anyone who’s curious. And with that hurdle behind us, we had finally completed Eleanor Lamb’s syringe!

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Bioshock Cosplay


Between the posts for the harpoon and the posts about the syringe, you might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned the gloves yet. Well here’s your bonus tidbit! We found a pair of gardening gloves that were a light-colored leather and then dyed them. We used Rit dark brown dye. First, I soaked the gloves in water until they were saturated. Next, I mixed up the dye and put the gloves in. I stirred them several times to ensure that the dye was taking evenly. Since the original color of the gloves was so light it took about 45 minutes to get them the shade that I wanted.

Dying Gloves Dyed Gloves

Once they dried, Daniel whipped up the metal plates for the top of the gloves. He cut the shape and the “rivets” out of 2 mm craft foam, sealed it with Elmer’s glue and then hit with some gold spray paint. Using Shoe Goo, he glued it to the glove and let it cure for 24 hours.

Cosplay Plated Gloves Cosplay Painted Gloves

Then we weathered the plates and gloves and now we’ve completed all of Eleanor Lamb’s “arm gear.” If you haven’t checked out the posts about the harpoon, which includes the arm guards, you can find them here! Thank you for following along! If you’re interested in more immediate doses of Those Crazy Gilberts, hit up or Facebook page: Co-Op Campaign Cosplay! — TCG





Level 4:4 – Stabilize Ranged Weapon

13 Jun

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon

When last we spoke about Eleanor Lamb‘s harpoon, we’d finished the initial construction and were gearing up to paint.

For the harpoon we used gold for the base, silver for the harpoon itself and the side tubes and then brass for the body and scope of the piece. We hit it with several layers of Shellac first and then, once that was good and dry, we used Rust-Oleum brand spray paint to add some color. Daniel worked in phases for this. First he did the copper, then the gold for the base and then the silver. Due to all the tape we had to use between each application, there was quite a bit of touch up to do. For the touch ups, we hand painted with some acrylic paint. It wasn’t a perfect match but, knowing that we planned to distress it, I beat my rampaging perfectionism into submission. If you’re interested in reading more about our spray-painting in mid-winter saga, you can do so here.

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon Top View

After having spent such a long time looking at our cosplay in multiple colors of foam and plain ol’ PVC pipe, it was magical to see it in it’s intended color.

We used some more of the hand-detailed straps mentioned in our posts about Subject Delta’s suit to secure it to my arm. We decided to use functional buckles and straps for authenticity, not taking into account how difficult this might be to change in and out of. More on that at a later date. We selected some copper-colored screws so that we could keep up the metallic motif.

The first time that I tried on the finished harpoon, with the bolts from the strap screws poking my arm, I realized that I might need some sort of cushioning between my arm and the stabby bits of the prop. So I whipped up some foam arm guards out of 5mm craft foam.

Arm Preparing to PaintSadly, I didn’t take any pictures of foam before it cut it and this was a hasty bit of foam crafting to say the least. I simply measured my forearm at the thickest part for width and my forearm from the wrist to the elbow for the length. Then, using those measurements, I cut a square out of 5 mm craft foam. Since I was working with a simple square, there was unsightly, uneven overlap as I wrapped it around my forearm. I could have that, so I whipped up a piece of 2 mm foam that would look like a bolted on plate to cover the seam. Here it is before painting. You can see that I’ve rounded the edges as well as cut out little “bolts” from 5 mm foam for some visual interest. Also pictured is the acrylic paint I used to paint the piece.

Once I had it all painted and hot glued together I added two long strips of Velcro, one to the edge of the large 5 mm craft foam square and the other to the 2 mm thick plate. I secured the Velcro with hot glue. We’ve pulled up the edges here so you can see how we’ve got this set up.

Arm seam

In the picture above, you can see the faint outline of the base of the harpoon pushed into the foam. The snug fit of the harpoon base kept it steady while on my arm. However, after several days of taking the arm guards off and on, the hot glue holding the Velcro started to go so I reapplied the hot glue and then tacked the corners and middles of the Velcro into place with a needle and thread. Who says you can only stitch cloth?!

The final step in crafting Eleanor Lamb’s harpoon was the weathering. We used black acrylic paint and the process outlined in our Weathered Metal Tutorial on both the harpoon itself and the arm guards. We didn’t get a great picture of the harpoon before and after weathering but we do have a great one of the arm guards for you to check out. The arm guard on the left hasn’t been weathered yet while the arm guard on the right has been weathered.

Weathered Arm Guard Top Weathered Arm Guards Bottom

And here’s our finished product!

Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Harpoon Pic

Thanks for checking out our posts on Eleanor Lamb’s harpoon even though we didn’t have a lot of pictures this time around. Can’t tell you how excited we are to finish up some of the pieces of our Cosplay, we hope you’ll check out some of the other posts as well! — TCG

Level 7:2 – Upgrade Footwear

13 Jun

Eleanor Lamb Back of Boots

Last time, on Co-Op Campaign, we had assembled Eleanor Lamb‘s boots. Just as a reminder, when talking about her boots were also talking about leg braces and knee pads. This will be a pretty brief post since were only dealing with the final steps in the crafting of this particular element. Yay!

Daniel did a quick paint job by taping off the cloth parts of the boots and spray painting the soles and tops with Antique Brass spray paint. If you’re interested in the painting saga, you can check it out here. Once they were dry we had a fine-looking pair of metallic shoes. Now it was time to add some details.


Eleanor Lamb Boot referenceFirst up, we needed to add the last of the gazillion leather straps.  Luckily these were not going to be functional straps so we could just slap them on and only worry about the aesthetic. According to the reference photo, we needed three straps but when we started laying them out on our boot, it looked a little excessive so we decided on two straps.

Boot with Strap Close

Eleanor Lamb Boot DetailFor Eleanor’s boots, we decided to use some upholstery tacks to both secure the leather straps and complete the bolt detailing you can see in the reference. Since the soles of the boots were so darn thick, just like the washers for the leg braces, we could just tap those tacks directly into the shoe.

Lastly, as with all the other pieces of this cosplay, we weathered it using the technique described in our Weathered Metal Tutorial which you can check out here.

Now that the piece is complete, let’s discuss the actual process of putting them on.

Eleanor Lamb's Boot Weathered Boot Covers

We’re working with two separate pieces, the boot with the leg brace and attached knee pad and then the boot covers with all the functional buckles. Because of the way that the knee pads are attached to the bars and the way that the straps from the boot covers have to go out and around the bars, I realized that there was no way I could easily put them on myself.

I wish we had captured this on film but let me try to describe the process of putting on the boots. Before I even put the boots on, we ensured that the bars were rotated forward toward the toe of the shoe and, as I tugged the boots on, we made sure that I didn’t bend the plastic bars or twist them in such a way as to pull the bolts from the shoes.

Once I had them on, we put the leather tongue in place and, as I stood, I held the boot cover up to my calf, all the while trying to keep my leg as straight as possible while Daniel, kneeling in front of me, pulled the leather straps out and around the bars to buckle and tighten them.

Then, once the buckles were fastened, I had to straighten up while Daniel Velcro’d the knee pads shut behind my knee. Quite a production if I do say so myself. But the great thing about having those bars attached functionally to my knee was how it effected my movement. It forced me into this incredibly accurate lumbering walk. The only problem with that is when the cosplay contest stage has narrow stairs to climb to get to the stage!

 Eleanor Lamb's Boots Before and After

Thanks for following along as we finish up yet another element’s worth of blog posts! Any feedback or suggestions for how we might have executed this better or just want to tell us how awesome it looks? Leave us a comment! — TCG



Side Quest Unlocked: Apply Color

12 Jun


Finally, finally, FINALLY – we got to paint!!!

That meant we were so close to completing our first Cosplay project!!!

Ideally, we would have liked to have built our pieces and then painted them as we went. However, we didn’t (and still don’t)  have a dedicated work space which made that a little hard. Plus, we waited a little too long and, when the time came to paint a few pieces, the weather had turned. So in an attempt to wait it out, we kept building and planned to paint everything at once. With no more building to do, it was time to put some color on ‘em! Time to transform them from foam and paper into convincing, hard metal objects.

We had two options when it came to painting. We could hand paint everything in the relative comfort of our apartment or spray paint our pieces in one of the common areas of our apartment building.

Hand painting would have let us paint whenever we liked as long as we laid something down to catch the paint and opened the windows with fans for ventilation. However, we thought it would have taken a long time to paint everything; especially if we wanted nice, smooth, streak-free finishes. I figured spray painting would eliminate that concern. Plus, I’d had more experience with a spray can. So, we chose to do the majority of work with spray paint but for some detail work, touch-ups and distressing done by hand.

Now, the first problem with spray painting in Chicago is that it’s illegal to sell spray paint within the city limits. We’d only been living in the city for three years at this point and who would have guessed that this was an actual law!? It exists to combat graffiti and tagging within the city; but, if you’ve ever spent a day in Chicago… lots and lots of graffiti… So the only thing this stupid law really does, it make it very difficult and annoying to procure spray paint. The nearest place for us to get some was at a  Home Depot on the border of Chicago inside Evanston’s city limits. That’s a 45 minute train ride, plus a 25 minute bus ride… Through out the course of the this project I had to make three separate trips to the suburbs for paint.

Oh well. On our first trip, we made the trek and the paints we decided to use were: Antique Brass for the base tone of the brass pieces, an Antique gold for the highlights on the brass pieces, Dark Steel for the steel pieces, and a Leather Brown for painting some of the rubber pieces to appear leather. “What about the primer,” you ask? Well, as much as I would have liked to have given everything a nice primer base coat we were very limited on time and I didn’t want to have to do any more spraying of harsh chemicals then need be in an apartment complex. So, we decided to skip it.

Paint in hand, it was time to… well, paint. Wouldn’t you know it? This was one of the harshest winters in recent US history and Chicago was hit pretty hard. Ever heard of a Polar Vortex? Here we were, well into March, and the temperatures were still right at or just below freezing. With C2E2 just around the corner we had to paint or we risked not having the costumes ready in time. So we decided to do the worst thing imaginable… spray paint indoors.

I know, I know… don’t get me started. We all know how this ends.

Spray Painting Inside?We decided to set up a small, make-shift painting room in the kitchen. We laid painting tarps on the floor, hung some from the walls, opened the kitchen window, and used a floor fan for ventilation. Surely, this would be sufficient.

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon Pre-paint


We started off with a couple of small test pieces and everything seemed to be working okay. First, we sealed all of the foam with Elmer’s glue. We do this so that the Shellac won’t eat into it. Next we hit the pieces with at least three layers of Shellac and allowed it to dry completely before moving on to the paint. I sprayed in light layers in very short sessions. The open window and fan did the trick for adequately getting rid of the paint fumes; however, after a couple of hours, I noticed that it was not so efficient for getting rid of the residual paint particles that did not adhere to the cosplay pieces. Instead, it was falling in a fine layer of dust all over everything… :/

 A couple of hours of cleaning later and only a small percentage of Cosplay pieces painted – it was back to the drawing board.

C2E2 was creeping up faster and faster and still we had constant snow fall and below freezing temperatures, painting outside was still out of the question. We were so desperate that it forced us to be creative. So, after a late night of — social hydration — I decided to use our common laundry room as a new paint studio and to knock out all of the spray painting in a few marathon sessions. It was the only indoor common area that was anywhere near warm enough and had proper ventilation.

Subject Delta's HelmetEleanor Lamb Syringe Eleanor Lamb's Helmet

I didn’t want to piss off the neighbors or get the land lord called so I waited until 2 or 3 am before beginning. I crept as quietly as possible down three flights of stairs to the basement where the laundry room is located. I laid out my painting tarps over a couple of tables and lined up as many pieces as I could that were going to be painted the same base color. I did this every other night or so for a couple of weeks until all pieces were painted with their base coats.  I even spent time after each painting session wiping down any surfaces that might have collected residue; including but not limited to the washing machines and bikes stored there.

Subject Delta's Drill

Seeing everything in living color was really really cool. No really. Really cool. It was amazing to see everything in it’s intended color. They looked real for the first time and I could tell that we’d really done good work. Really. I had a day off work when I did all the big major pieces and I sent Sara so many texts with pictures because it was so exciting. Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb were really coming together.

Eleanor Lamb and Subject Delta Helmets

We did all of our touch ups with acrylic paint. It wasn’t an exact match, which was frustrating. Luckily, we were going to distress everything so that would help. Plus, the differences in color can give the impression that something has gotten dinged in battle and been patched up. Even though it all worked out, next time we’re going to try to avoid the spray paint.

Subject Delta's Air TanksThere were a couple of pieces that we painted by hand that turned out looking really good, which also served to sway me toward hand painting in the future. Included in this category was the trim of both Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb’s helmets, the tanks for Subject Delta’s pack and Eleanor Lamb’s arm guards. And for weathering, we used black acrylic paint and the process outlined in our Weathered Metal Effect tutorial which you can find here.

Despite some major stress, sleepless nights and a whole lotta time in transit, we got everything painted and it looked amazing. We were so close to finishing that we could taste it! C2E2 was under a month away at this point, so we were beyond happy to have gotten to this point.

Thank you for following along as we learned a thing or two about spray painting and Chicago winters! — TCG

Level 8:2 – Armor Damaged!

5 Jun

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

As most costumers would tell you, it’s not enough to have a good-looking suit, you have to wear it. I might take that a step further and say that it needs wear and tear to complete it. Thanks to the help of an amazing friend and her superb, sewing skills we had Eleanor Lamb‘s suit but it was up to us to give it a story.

The first step in removing the shine of our new suit  was a couple of rounds of tea staining. First, we soaked the suit in water and then put it into some fresh tea. We left it to soak for about 2 hours, swishing it around every half hour. The picture below is from our test strip and you’ll notice that not all of it is submerged. That’s why we rotated the suit around in the tea soak, we wanted it to look “patchy.”



Once it dried, we added the serial numbers. Check out the reference photo above, on the right side of her chest you can see some tiny, faded numbers. Hard to read aren’t they? It took us a long time but we finally found an action figure that has the numbers prominently displayed; 726. We decided to use spray on fabric paint which we tested prior to using it on the suit.

Daniel free-handed the numbers and then cut the stencil into some scrap foam we had lying around and we were set to spray our suit. We started by laying out a painting tarp and putting cardboard between the layers of the suit to prevent bleed through.

Suit prep for spray


Next, we positioned the stencil and proceeded to cover the rest of the suit in cardboard to prevent any wafting paint particles. Then, using long sweeping motions, I sprayed the paint across the stencil.

Numbers on Eleanor Lambs Suit

After the numbers dried, it was time to add the blood and the rust. First, the blood.

Eleanor Lamb Suit Blood EffectWe decided to use acrylic paint primarily a Venetian Red. Since we’re not dealing with fresh blood, we added some brown as well. First, I put down a layer of paint and then hit it with a spray bottle of water. I wanted to get the look of actual liquid running rather than trying to fake it with a paint brush. Interested in the nitty-gritties? Head on over to our Rust on Cloth Effect Tutorial.

Once I got the look I wanted, I went back in with deluded paint to make it more pronounced. I did the same thing with the smaller cut on the stomach and the arm.

The rust proved to be a bit trickier.

We did a little digging around for a tutorial but didn’t find a whole lot for rust of on clothing aside from rubbing the suit on a rusty piece of metal. So we decided to use chalk for the rust.

Here’s the nifty article we found about using chalk.

Using the same technique as the blood, I started working on the rust. Since copper oxidizes differently than, say iron, I decided to use green, yellow and brown instead of a typical red, orange and brown. Feeling encouraged by how well the blood effect went, I started working the chalk into the suit.

Eleanor Lamb's Suit Rust Eleanor Lamb Suit Rust Wet

The only thing I didn’t account for, is how dark the chalk is when it’s wet and how light green and yellow chalk are when dried. Imagine my frustration after spending hours hunched over on the floor only to find to find out the next day that it’s not nearly dark enough to be noticed. It was also very difficulty to get the coverage right. I would try to dry the chalk with a hair dryer before putting on the damp suit and then the helmet and having Daniel take pictures so that I could see where the lines needed to be adjusted. A mannequin would have so come in handy right about now.

Eleanor Lamb's Suit with Rust

It took about ten hours total to get the effect that I wanted but, in the end, it was worth it.

As I was working on the rust effect, I also noticed that there are faint brown lines around Eleanor Lamb’s waist and thighs. I assumed that these were markings from the leather shorts and leg wrappings that Big Sisters typically wear. So I used more brown chalk to suggest a faded line where the wet leather might have marked the white suit.

Last but not least, the final detail to Eleanor Lamb’s suit, the oil stains. For this, we used charcoal and a wet paint brush and tried to copy the smudges from the concept art and viola; a distressed suit!

And here’s our finished product in full production!

Photo by Geek Behind the Lens Photography

Photo by Geek Behind the Lens Photography

Thanks for following along! Hopefully, you found this helpful and maybe a little entertaining! — TCG

Level 8:1 – Construct Suit

14 May

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

Cosplay can be very daunting when you don’t know how to sew or own a sewing machine. When we started working on our Bioshock 2 cosplay, we were banking on being able to purchase both of our suits and the modify them to fit our needs. Daniel found the suit for Subject Delta easily enough at a uniform surplus store but Eleanor Lamb’s suit gave us considerably more trouble.

The first thing we looked for was a work suit or coveralls for women. We thought that maybe we could have it altered to fit my short frame once we found it but, as it turns out, there aren’t a lot of coveralls made for short women and there are even fewer that come in white.

Our next thought was to search for a bio-hazard suit. Those come in white and there should be some that are made for the shorter folks in the world. Turns out, most of them are disposable and come in a one-size fits all variety.

Next, I started searching for catsuits which are defined as a one piece garment that covers the torso, legs and sometimes the arms. Spot on, right? Wrong. If I wanted  purple one piece leotard with fur cuffs I would have had no trouble finding what I needed. But, alas, we’re not going for sex-kitten here.

Probably the closest thing we found was a flight suit we stumbled across at the army surplus store. They didn’t come in white, but they were available in my size and came in tan. We thought that maybe we’d bleach it.

But then Daniel, who never tires of Google searches, came across a website that sold an even better version of what we needed. It was light weight and came in a light shade of khaki that could easily be bleached. Plus, it was made for women!

It was, by no means, perfect. But it was the best of all the things we’d found. I placed my first order back in November. I won’t give the name of the company but I will say that they are a retail outlet vendor operating out of China. If there are any seasoned cosplayers from the US reading this who are now groaning and shaking their heads, believe me, I learned my lesson.

I ordered a small size and, when it arrived about a month and a half later, I couldn’t even pull it up over my thighs. No exaggeration here. I’m not saying this to mean that it was so tight that I had to roll it up over my knees and onto my thighs and then I could barely move in it. I literally mean that I could not, even with additional help, force it up past my knees. Disheartening? Yes.

At first, I thought about returning it and exchanging it. But, I would have had to have paid for shipping. Shipping to China cost more than the suit itself. I didn’t find this to be an unreasonable request from the vendor but it made more sense for us to just eat the money and order another suit. This time I ordered a large.

Another month and a half later, I received my large. Allow me to put this into perspective for everyone. I am 5’2 and my pant size can range anywhere from a 6 to an 8 depending on the store. Yes, a small might have been ridiculous but a large should have been a safe bet. I was able to roll the suit like panty-hose up my legs and then hoist the top of the suit up over my shoulders as if they were a tight pair of suspenders. I could get my arms into the sleeves but there was no way that I could button the suit. I thought that maybe I could stretch it a bit but, as I lunged, the inseam ripped. Even as I’m typing this months and months later, I can remember how frustrated I was. It was time for a new strategy.

Let me introduce you to Adina.

This is her in her amazing Alana cosplay she built just in time for C2E2. If you dig her style, hit up her Tumblr. She has posted her own work as well as a wealth of tutorials there for your perusal.

Alana Saga Cosplay

This is her in her amazing Alana cosplay she built just in time for C2E2. Eleanor Lamb’s suit would not have been possible had she not swooped in and offered to save the day with her mad sewing machine skills. I was especially grateful for her help since we were a mere four months away from the convention and the time it would have taken me to learn to sew and purchase a sewing machine might have resulted in calamity!

She picked out an appropriate pattern – Kwik Sew, pattern KSP3052 which was, of course, a catsuit. She let me accompany her out to purchase material, we chose a stretch knit fabric in an off-white color and she went to working her magic. She even went above and beyond to add the patches to the suit. When I got it back, I couldn’t have been happier. After going through so many disappointing purchases and trips to fitting rooms, the feeling of trying on a suit that fit so beautifully was the best feeling in the world. Here’s a couple of pictures for comparison.

Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Eleanor Lamb screen shot

 Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Once again, I want to express my gratitude to my friend. Her generous assistance made my cosplay possible.

This was quite a wordy post. Thank you for letting me vent my months old frustration! I can promise you that the next post will have more than enough pictures and processes to make up for everything! Next up – weathering and distressing the ever-living hell out of this pristine suit! — TGC


Level 4-2: Checkpoint Reached – Replay?

13 May

When last we spoke about Eleanor Lamb’s syringe panel, I was obsessing over what some might call a minute detail. While it may seem that I had settled on a solution and crafted something I was pleased with, every time I looked at that darn thing my dislike grew and grew until I couldn’t stand it any longer. Something had to be done.

Even though Daniel said that he had liked the old, boxy abomination, he must have been saying that to make me feel better because it was him that brought the blue prints for success to the table. Below you’ll see the old, hated panel after it had been taken off the syringe and then the blueprint for the new panel cut out of butcher paper and placed on the body of the syringe.

Old Syringe Panel New Syringe Panel




I don’t know about you, but I was already loving the shape and I hadn’t even cut it out of foam yet! I happily threw away the old bulky panel and got to work on this new lovely piece.

I cut the shape of the body out of 5 mm craft foam. I had to test it several times to make sure the hole was big enough for the 90 degree conductor could fit through.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe PanelI wanted to add depth to it so instead of trying to add a thin border to the piece, I cut a smaller shape out of 2 mm craft foam and put it on top of the panel.

I also added a piece of 5 mm craft foam to the back-end for a bit of visual interest. I also cut out a little ring of 2 mm foam to cover up the ugly, too-big hole I needed to fit the panel around the conductor.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe Panel Eleanor Lamb Syringe Panel

With the faucet handles added to this new panel, I was finally pleased with the look of it. Hooray!

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Built Panel

Now we were ready to move forward.

You’ll notice in the picture above, that the yellow gear from last post has been replaced with some PVC pipe coupling. It’s the same material we used to add the “little hat” to Eleanor Lamb’s helmet. If’ you’ll look at the reference photo below, you’ll see that the panel extends up past the elbow. For our spin on this look, we opted for the coupling to extend the back of the body of the syringe. This helped to balance the weight of the syringe on my arm. Syringe Reference

 We had some trouble gluing the rubber of the coupling to the PVC plastic tubes. In typical Crazy Gilbert fashion, Daniel really slathered on the hot glue and we made sure to never pick up the syringe by that part of the body.
Eleanor Lamb with Helmet Concept Art

Before we could proceed with mounting the panel on the body of the syringe, we needed to examine the valves on the inside of the syringe. Take a look at the reference on the far left.

If you stare at it long enough, like Daniel and I did, you’ll notice that there are gaps between the gauges and the actual syringe panel. It appears as though the gauges are mounted on strips of leather, which are probably covering metal beneath, and then the faucets are attached to the side of the valve mounting. Our next step was clear, we needed to elevate the syringe panel and find a way to wrap the pieces holding the gauges around the body of the syringe.


Check us out next time, we’ll be talking about how we made these amazing looking gauges and then secured them to the syringe. — TCG


Level 7:1 – Construct Leg Support

6 May

Hello Co-Op Campaign fans! Thank you so much for checking in with us. C2E2 was an amazing success and our costumes went over so amazingly well! We were received so warmly and enthusiastically, all of the months of work were worth it. You may have noticed a change in the layout of the site. Since we’ve surpassed the original goal of C2E2 it made more sense to organize our posts by cosplay piece rather than chronologically. Let us know what you think in the comments section!

I’m going to bring you up to speed on some hardcore footwear: Eleanor Lamb’s boots.

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

Big sisters have brittle bones. This is due to the amount of ADAM they ingested while acting as little sisters roaming the tunnels and corridors of Rapture. Also as a result of the ADAM, their bones heal unnaturally fast so if they break a leg and aren’t able to set it immediately, the leg will heal crooked and have to be broken again so that it could be properly set. Ouch. Because of all of this, Big Sisters have metal bars that run along the sides of their boots and are secured at the knees. Since Eleanor’s getup is compiled of bits and pieces of big sister armor, she’ll have to deal with the braces.

When we talk about Eleanor Lamb’s boots, we’re also talking about boot covers and knee pads. But before there can be shin guards and knee pads, there must be boots. Daniel and I spent a very long time looking for the perfect boots. We looked through many websites and stopped into many stores without finding exactly what we needed. We came very close to buying some steam punk inspired boots for around $60 but something told me to wait. And I was certainly glad I did.

Base for Eleanor Lamb Boots Perfection! We found these at a thrift store for $8. With these shoes as the base, we could start shaping Eleanor Lamb’s boots. The first thing we had to do was stretch them out. While the left shoe fit like a dream, the right shoe was like torture to get into. So I took some old socks and soaked them in water until they were completely saturated. Once they were saturated I rolled them together and shoved them into the shoes. The water makes the socks expand and so it will stretch the shoe while wet.

Next, we stripped all the tan from the cloth part of the boots. It looks like it had been painted on once before since it started flaking off the first time I tried to pull them on. So rather than try to repaint them that tan color again, we decided to strip it all off. All it took was some vigorous finger scrapping and it flaked right off. I”m still finding bits of flaked off shoe in the living room.

Before I could start planning the metal parts of the boots, I needed to see how the bars would lay. Just as we did with Subject Delta’s drill, we used plastic hangar strip to craft the bars and then we used a set of washers, one large and one small, to highlight the spot where the bars connected to the shoes. Since the soles are so thick, we were able to drill right into them and then secure the washers and bars.

Boot with Washer Heel

Once I knew where the bars would hit the shoes, I could start working on the shoe covers. I knew that I wanted to work with layers of craft foam and that I would need to incorporate all the buckles in the world. So I started by cutting all the layers that I wanted out of butcher paper. I was then able to pin them to the boots so I could see how they would lay. Note the rolled up towels I used to fill out the shoes.

Boot with Cover PatternThen, once I had the dimensions I wanted, I pinned each piece of butcher paper to craft foam and cut them out. I knew that I wanted the base piece to look like leather, but I didn’t want to use the same leather we’d been using for the straps. So I poked around and found this amazing tutorial for using an iron and shoe polish to make brown craft foam look like leather. You can view the tutorial here.

Here’s how we did it. We used brown 5 mm craft foam, Kiwi brown shoe polish and an iron.

Set your iron to the highest setting.

1. Set your iron to the highest setting.

After running the iron over the foam, note the color difference.

2. After running the iron over the foam, note the color difference.

After pressing the foam, here's what it will look like from the side.

3. After pressing the foam, here’s what it will look like from the side.

The foam on the left has the shoe polish applied to it. Note the difference from the normal color of the foam on the right.

4. The foam on the left has the shoe polish applied to it. Note the difference from the normal color of the foam on the right.









BC Unpainted





Next, I arranged the other pattern pieces I’d cut out of 2 mm craft foam on the back of the 5 mm craft foam. I slapped on the thin cross-bar and the two circular “cap nuts’ so create some more visual interest. Then I sealed it with Elmer’s glue, added a couple of layers of Shellac and then Daniel hit it with some silver spray paint.  We used Rust-Oleum Dark Steel which looked great! Once it had thoroughly dried, I hot glued it to my pressed foam base.

Before I started the process of constructing the boot covers, I had cut and started stitching the straps I would need to wrap around the boots. Now that I had everything ready to construct, I could cut the straps and finish stitching them. I also added backing to the tips of the straps so that they wouldn’t curl up after being buckled. A tip for you: get a thimble if you don’t have strong nails. If I hadn’t had a strong, thick thumb nail, I would have destroyed my fingers trying to push the needle through this material.

Boot Strap Backing

Through a lot of trial and error and tape, I figured out where to position my straps and buckles. I was just a few hot-glue sticks away from finishing my boot covers!

Back Boot Covers FoamAll that was left to do was the knee pad for the metal bars to attach to. I cut them out of leather. At first, thought that I could cut it out of a simple rectangle but the shape didn’t work with my knee. There was just too much gaping. So I went back and tapered it around the knee cap.

Once I was pleased with the shape, I added a small square of 5 mm craft foam to the sides so that I could attach the bars with a screw and washer to connect them to the shoes. I covered the foam in more leather which I stitched into place. Then I cut out a little hole so that I could drill the screw in place without twisting the leather. I used strips of velcro along the ends to close them.

Knee Pad Cut with Foam


Here’s what I ended up with!

Eleanor Lamb Front of Boots Eleanor Lamb Back of Boots









You’ll notice the drooping in the knee pads. This is because the wide shape of them wouldn’t follow the contours of my knee. I tried trimming even more from the leather to try to mimic the round shape of the knee and then the skinny back of the knee but it just wouldn’t lay flat.

Finally, I decided that I needed to try working with elastic. This was particularly scary since I haven’t worked with elastic since making pajama pants in my first costuming class and I don’t remember those turning out well at all. But I bit the bullet and started working.

Knee Pad Working on Elastic

I wound up anchoring two pieces of elastic to the inside of the knee pad. Then I attached Velcro to the end of the elastic. Next, I attached the other part of the Velcro on the inside of the knee pad. This would allow me to raise the bars on the shoes and close the knee pad around my knee. So. Much. Hand-stitching.

Knee Pad Elestic BackHere’s what it looked like on. For the last step, I trimmed the flaps of fabric a bit and then used Velcro to cover the strips of elastic with a flap of leather. I felt like such a craftsman when I finished working on these. If you’re questioning whether or not you should try to sew something, just remember how I did this through trial and error. You can do it!!

This gets us caught up to the painting of the boots and then the weathering step which I’ll leave for next time. Thanks for checking in and I hope you found this helpful! — TCG


Co-Op Campaign: Status Report

28 Mar

Hola fellow Cosplay citizens!!! It’s been far too long since our last post… a month to be exact… but rest assured that it’s not because we haven’t been hard at work. As of our last post, the submission deadline for the Crown Championship of Cosplay was fast approaching and we wanted to have as much of the costumes completed as possible.  We built as much as we could, almost daily, and there were quite a few nights of painting that lasted well into the wee hours of the morn. But all of the efforts were well worth it! One of Sara’s work friends graciously offered to take some high-resolution photos for our submissions – and now for your viewing pleasure… our mostly complete costumes:

Eleanor Lamb:

Eleanor Lamb Front

Eleanor Lamb Back

Subject Delta:

Subject Delta Front

Subject Delta Back

Sadly… we were not accepted into the competition.

You: What!?

 ThoseCrazyGilberts: I know, right!?

Le’ sigh… 😥

Oh well, that’s okay — because it was never about the competition to begin with and while it sucks to have not gotten in we’ll still be struttin’ our stuff at C2E2 and sharing our hard work with the rest of the Cosplay community and other fellow Con-goers!

We’ve still got a lot of work left to do, for as they say — the Devil’s in the details.

Additionally we’ve also finally gotten around to creating a corresponding Co-Op Campaign Facebook page to make it even easier to follow ThoseCrazyGilberts and their Cosplay adventures.

If you’re on Facebook, like us here:

Co-Op Campaign Cosplay

As always, thank you for reading and be on the look out for a series of catch-up post coming your way in the next week. — TCG