Making of My 2019 Costume: A Skesis

During my life I have always loved costumes, Halloween and cosplay. The biggest attraction for me is making the costumes myself. For about a decade we were attending a variety of Comic Cons where we were able to have fun and showcase some costumes. I have written about costuming a few times including a couple of weeks ago where I shared photos of previous outfits: Get Those Costumes Ready

I also hinted at how I was going to push myself and this year’s outfit. Here is my work for this year. I spent about twenty hours building it. After this Halloween, I’ll probably use it as a prop for decorations in the future.

I present to you, my Skesis build. MmmMMMmmm

It started years ago when I wanted to build a Skesis outfit for Calgary Expo. The only downside was we didn’t have room in our vehicle to transport such a large piece from provincial to province. With five of us in the SUV and a metric ton of hats to sell at the show (My wife is still making hats, but we aren’t traveling any more for it. You can still buy online at Ningen Headwear FYI) we didn’t have room for extravagant outfits. My love of The Dark Crystal returned this year when Netflix did a prequel series. It was time to make this costume.

Research became a quick obsession. Viewing others who had made this costume, searching images, watching behind the scenes footage- you name it and I looked for it. I had to settle on what was going to be feasible in my spare time and what I could afford- my budget ended up being $30. Seriously. I had a lot of the materials readily available from previous Cosplay, thank goodness.

It started with some designs and foam. Foam insulation boards glued together and a roll of foam floor mat. My artistic ability is mediocre at best. My hope was that doing some of it and taking a break periodically would inspire me. Advice from my family was also key.

Making the inner framework was a challenge. I needed it to be sturdy and light weight and fit me inside. PVC tubing and a couple of straps are the basic inner workings. I used a heat gun to mold and form the “outer shell”. I also suffered numerous hot glue gun burns to my fingers throughout the entire process.

Once the foam for the head was dry, it was time to cut out the shape of the head. I mostly used an exacto blade and craved off laters if foam. I used a Dremel to smooth out the edges and add some facial features. The head still seemed blocky at this point. Adding teeth and ping pong ball eyes helped a bit.

To get the features more realistic, I formed a thin layer of sculpting clay around the head. Once it was dry, I used acrylic paints to get a good base coat of colour onto it. The features were beginning to POP but it was looking far too cartoon like.

Getting advice from my daughter, I added some dull fading to it and was throughly pleases with the results.

After spray painting the back shell with black and red, I hot glued it to my fingers the frame and began to add fabrics. Old bedsheets, curtains and sheer material have given this guy some life. I’m happy with the results so far. All that’s left is to try walking around in it. I should be able to see through the black sheer, but this thing might weigh more than I’m expecting.

I enjoyed the process along the way. I know some things I’d do differently if I were to make this again. I also know that it can look pretty good as a stationary piece later on.

Hopefully this Halloween, I can get some candy for all my hard work!

Take The Compliment!

The toughest critic on you is yourself.

I love creating art. I think I make decent art things. But I’m also hard on myself and find all the flaws where I could have done better. What’s worse is I enjoy showing it off to people, but I don’t take compliments very well.

My art of choice varies on my moods and the seasons. I’ve always been crafty and creative. This time of year I enjoy carving pumpkins. I can’t wait to get my hands on some and let the creative juices flow! I’m also excited about showcasing my costume. I’m a bit worried that the more I talk about it, the less it will be amazing when I show it off.

I don’t want to show it off quite yet, but I also want some advice on a few parts of it. Argh. Silly brain isn’t being helpful. I’m sure people will tell me it looks good, but I want better than that!

Ack. Argh. Ugh. Just take the compliment Joe. It’ll be fine.

Black Canvas

I took my daughter to the local craft store yesterday and I ended up buying some black canvases for the both of us. In exchange for me giving her a couple of canvases- she lets me use her acrylic paints and borrow her brushes. I’m not an amazing artist, but I enjoy experimenting a bit.

As I blended colours and tried to make my own version of the aurora borealis- I enjoyed the mix of whites and greens on the black background. Blending blues and purples to create the night sky added to my joy. When painting- I always see where I could improve. But I also have to know when to stop. Sometimes less is more, right?

I have some plans for the other canvases I bought and I hope they turn out. My daughter has chosen to make an outer space image which she is really proud of so far. Using a black canvas is different than a typical white. It really makes lighter colours pop.

Do you enjoy painting? Ever use black canvases? Or do you have any tips for using acrylic paints? Let me know in the comments section!

Grain Car Graffiti

A while back I mentioned how I think that Graffiti is Art. I still believe this. But over the past few years, I haven’t seen much in the way of new art. Until this week at work. Some of the new grain hoppers my work has brought in have been tagged out in the Prairies. Naturally I took some photos.

Obviously there is some raw talent out there. I noticed many of these artists tend to write their “Alias Name” on the cars. I love the shading and use of colours to make the image POP off the cars.

Sometimes the cars are humorous in what is written as well. Or a bit offensive. But it’s an expression of the artist at the time. I understand that what these people are doing is illegal. On a moving canvas that garners more views as they travel back and forth across the country- I’d rather see that instead of tags on someone’s backyard fence or on the wall of a small business.

I encourage the expression of art in many forms. In fact, our daughter is attempting some graffiti as well, but on a canvas with acrylics. She has a ways to go, and she may not continue with this style. And that’s totally fine. At least she’s expressing herself artistically.

Photography Runs in the Family

I loved taking photography classes back in high school. When Instagram came around- I fell in love with the idea of quickly manipulating photos and sharing them. Our oldest daughter has also been taking photography classes in school as well as being on the Yearbook committee. Over the past couple of months, she has gotten the Photoshop bug and has taken to creating some fun works of art.  So much so, that she requested that I write about it and share with you some of her pieces.

Back in November, our daughter had bought herself a brand new laptop. She had been saving up for months to do this.  Naturally, she has been using it to work on photos and music.  The photos she wants me to share mostly come from a site called Pexels that allows people free use of the images.

She loves blending colors and overlaying numerous images on top of one another. She is quite good with her use of lighting and shadows.  Her and I often discuss different techniques such as line of sight or even point of view.

sunset on the mountains

Her Photoshop skills have an air of fantasy about them. With many alternate views of reality or the world around us. One of my favorites is the one of her and her little sister from when they were younger.

Reading

I love how our children enjoy creating music and photos to share with others. If you wish to follow her skills as they grow and become better- she has a public account on Instagram under the name Frigid_Spark613. She would love to gain more followers.

Workplace Toys

Working in an office on a regular basis, one needs to add a bit of “flair” to make it more personalized. Since our work is a 24/7 operation- we share a workspace. As professional as we are, we still need a little break to show our humanity. So… we have toys scattered throughout the office.

Our fandoms get expressed in small doses. Just a friendly reminder of what we work towards- from gaming to movies. There’s a goal at the end of each day that keeps us laughing and going.

Even a missing ceiling tile gets a little buddy to watch over us. If it brings a even a brief smile to our workspace, it’s worth it.

Sometimes our doodles and artwork get put up. The moments of fun is what makes it all worthwhile. There is a plethora of talent here as well.

How do you decorate your workspace? What do you have that keeps you sane?

Painting Number 2

I had never taken an interest in painting growing up. I did the occasional project in school- but I never bought any art supplies for myself. I tinkered a bit with pencil crayons and sketching, but never really with painting.

I enjoyed decorating my children’s rooms over the years, so I at least made some attempts at art on the walls.

On canvases however, I’ve only ever done two pieces- one was a pencil sketch I made for my wife years ago for her 40th Birthday. The other was my first real attempt at acrylics A month ago– A painting of some planets and a sun. I also used some spray paint on it to liven it up. I was rather pleased with the final results. So I decided to buy another canvas and steal my daughters’ paints and brushes today.

I’m rather pleased with myself this time around and remembered to take a few photos along the way.

I started with a quick background coat of primer gray spray paint. Then I pencilled in my idea.

Then I got started on my trees and bushes. I enjoy blending colors to give it a more natural feel.

For about an hour or so I added in my flowers and lanterns. I was starting to really enjoy the piece but knew it wasn’t quite finished.

With the final details added, the painting was ready to be hung up. I put it above my wife’s computer, maybe she will notice it later on.

I based the painting on a few photos from our trip to Tokyo. This one was my biggest inspiration:

I don’t think I did too shabby considering it’s my second piece. Of course I see many flaws and realize what I could’ve done differently. In the end, I think I may have a new hobby blossoming.

I Made a Painting

Our daughters are really into painting and making art. My wife and I always encourage them to express themselves. And they express themselves quite often:

No matter what their skill level, if they like what they are doing- I encourage it fully. We also enjoy showcasing their pieces. More often than not, they keep their beloved work to themselves in their bedrooms.

Sometimes they allow my wife and I to showcase their work. Those are the times that I really cherish. When a piece of their soul is put out for the world to admire. As parents, it’s hard to tell them if it’s not good…

Ya. I said it. Not all of their art is good. But that’s okay. We’ve also taught our children to adapt and take criticism seriously. Not insults. But actual criticism- where they could improve and what they could try next time. And they do.

Personally, I haven’t really painted in years. This Saturday was me getting my feet wet again, so to speak. I’m not good by any means. I’ve learned some techniques over the years that I wanted to try. Most of the techniques are from artists I admire, especially those who work hard at conventions. Some of these artists blow me away.

Here’s my piece during the process (minus the first step, I forgot to photograph that). What you see first is lots of glossy black:

When I first started, our oldest daughter gave me a 5×5 inch canvas to play with. So I used some of their acrylic paints and smeared some colours around. Then I marked off some spots and spray painted a black acrylic gloss over it. Here’s the removal:

I tidied up the piece with some more colours and some other spray paints that I had. I wanted it to pop.

I added some minor details and kept wanting to add more. At one point, I had to stop and say it was complete.

I threw my usual signature on it and the date. All that’s left is to get back into painting again and make more art that I love. There’s an entire universe out there for me to paint.

May you be inspired by whatever brings you joy. For me- it was seeing my children work hard at creating art. They are my universe, my everything. I can’t even begin to create something as wonderful as they are.

Feel free to share your paintings with me. I need to get back into it. Like Bob Ross said:

Stick Village Maker

Our daughter has been spending time in our backyard being creative. She reads, writes, and draws while enjoying the fresh air. I’m proud of her for keeping her creative juices flowing. I also think she is quite talented. She loves to share her stories and art with everyone.

Sometimes when she is sitting on the lawn and at a loss for inspiration- she builds what she calls “Stick Villages.”

At least four of these “villages” have cropped up in our yard in the past week. She finds small branches and stabs them into the lawn. It’s cute and fun. I don’t mind if more of these show up in the yard.

The best part of all of these “Stick Villages” is she has to clean them up because she is the one who mows the lawn. So in the end, she gets to destroy them like a giant.

Artsy Joey

I’m not artsy, but I try. I have some talent I guess. I really enjoy writing. Mostly memoirs and opinion pieces. Hence this ongoing blog about the most important thing in my life– me. — I mean— family and friends.

I like to construct things, mostly if there are some guidelines or instructions. I really enjoy making things that remind me of something wonderful. Like Disneyland or our trip to Tokyo. I also enjoyed making prop replicas for the cosplay for our kids.

A few years ago, I made an art piece for my wife’s birthday. It was a pencil sketch on a canvas of our favorite spot in Disneyland California Adventure. I drew it from pictures we had taken from our vantage point. It’s one of the few pieces I’m really proud of. It’s almost perfect.

Creating perfection is my biggest flaw. If it’s not perfect, I don’t want it shared. Today was one of those days. I worked hard on a chalkboard piece for fun.

Now as our guests arrive, they can log into our WiFi network. I used a chalk board and did my best to write on it. Those days of fawning over Pinterest paid off. Side note: I used the same font as I did on Ningen Headwear.

It may not be perfect, but it is fun. Time to paint some pallets and short 2×4 pieces to build up that “Country Sheik” look.