Sarah Connor

In my last post, I showed how I painted this ENORMOUS toy gun.  I realized at the time that the gun really was the costume.  I just needed the appropriate character to carry it.   I settled on two possible options – Ripley (Signourney Weaver) in Alien, or Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in Terminator Two.  It was really just a race to see which outfit I could put together faster.

Ripley would involve a gray flight suit, whereas Sarah Connor would require black cargo pants, a black tank top, mirrored sunglasses and some sort of black boot.   Sarah won.

I won’t go into all the details on putting the costume together – because there are very few.   The remaining pieces (pants, top, shoes, belt, etc) were very straightforward.   I went to the thrift shop and the next thing you know, I have everything I need.  (Less so with the gray flight suit.)

Here is the final result.


Sarah best

And here are a couple other photos to show the relative size of the gun, and how it was strapped to my back.  These are not great photos – but they’ll give you the idea, at least.     As you may remember, if there is a critical prop involved in a costume, I like to be able to physically wear the prop.  Otherwise, I’m likely to put it down during a party and lose the whole concept of the costume.    Since, in this case, the gun pretty much WAS the costume, it was essential that it be with me the entire time.

Sarah back

Sarah 1













The one thing that I would do, if I had more time, is to change the location of one of the rings for the strap on the gun.   You’ll see that the strap connects to the very front of the barrel (good) and then about 3/4 of the way along the top (not so good).   If the strap connected to the very very back of the gun (at the “top” of the gun in the picture on the right), it would lay along  my back almost vertically.   As it was, I was knocking the back end of the gun into people, doorways, etc. etc.

But now I’m nit picking.    I got plenty of compliments on the weapon, the paint job, and the costume as a whole.   So I’m satisfied.

The Huge, Ginormous, Amazing Gun

Last year some time, while thrifting, I found the largest toy gun that I had ever seen.

Unpainted cropped
Remember the Space Gun paint job that I did before?     I bought this gun, thinking that I would paint it, too, sooner or later.  That day has come.

Using the great ideas in the Steam Punk Gun Tutorial (which I previous saved), I set about transforming this amazing weapon.

First step is to photograph every part of the gun.    I’ll spare you all those photos.

Then, draw an outline of the gun on cardboard or paper.    When you remove a screw, tape it down onto the outline in the location where it belongs.   Like this …

Disassembly 1

As you take the gun apart, continue to photograph it as each piece comes out.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  I thought that I had taken just about every photo that could possibly be taken of this thing, until I tried to put it back together.    Because I was unable to get each piece in place exactly right, it no longer fires, the front end doesn’t come off anymore, the back end is not spring loaded, etc. etc. etc.     You can’t take too many photos.  Seriously.

The next step is priming this bad boy.   I asked my friend, also known as The Handiest Man in the Primer
Universe, what I could use to de-gloss the plastic, he recommended “Self-etching Spray Primer.”  I struck out at Home Depot, but did find it at an automotive supply shop.     I thought that the best part of this stuff would be that the top coat would stick well, or that the paint wouldn’t come off easily.   But no.   The best part was that the color was just perfect for a military-style weapon.   Perfect.

So I set about painting the disassembled gun.  Most of it remained this grey color, but I chose to paint some parts black, and some chrome/silver.    There were also a couple of parts that were already grey that came off easily.  I didn’t bother painting those.   Here is the picture of the first layer of primer.

Disassembly 3


Finally, I wrestled the whole gun back together again – or almost together again.    There were springs that I couldn’t figure out, a barrel that I KNOW I put in backwards, etc. etc.   But overall, I’m happy with the results.  Here is the final product, plus a before-and-after.

Painted 1



Various Era’s – Saved here for reference

You know I like period costumes – but it can be hard to find “the look” that you are trying to emulate and how it differs from other decades.

I stumbled across – okay, Facebook stumbled me across – this video showing ” 100 years of fashion in 2 minutes.”   I just know that I’ll want to look at it again later, so I thought I’d stash it here for safe keeping.

Quick 1980’s Costume(s)

I was invited to a 1980’s themed surprise party, scheduled for the same weekend that my sister was in town.  So we hit the thrift shops, confident that we could find something.

My original intent had been to find a long-sleeved dress with shoulder pads,  a large white bib and elastic at the waist and wrists.   Like with the prohibition-era outfit, I wanted to put something together that was at least vaguely age-appropriate.   Bangle bracelets, tutu’s and head bows (think Madonna) were certainly popular, but really only in the 25 and under crowd.   Professional women were wearing big shoulder pads, and were commuting wearing tennis shoes.

Unfortunately, we struck out on the 1980’s professional wear – but instead found numerous “preppy” outfits.      And what makes this costume really excellent, I think, is that there were two of us.   There is something added when two or more people come in costumes that match.  Even if the costumes stand on their own – as these do – the fact that we arrived as our own little clique added an extra element to the costume that would not have been there if one of us had come dressed as Madonna and the other as a professional office worker.Preppy 1

The Colander

This year, I’ve just been too busy to put together a new costume – but I do have an old stand-by that I haven’t yet discussed here.    The Colander!

Full Face Colander

Here’s a rather poor full-body shot, just to give you the whole affect.

Full Body Colander
Not exactly sure where I got the original idea for this – but as long as the lab coat is big enough, this costume is one-size-fits-all and thus extremely loan-able.    Basically, it’s a lab coat, a colander, a long leather belt (ideally really beat up) and a whole bunch of electronical-looking thing-a-ma-jigs that are wired, taped, strapped or zip-tied to the colander.

I’ve put a few close-ups of the just the colander, so you can get a better look.

Colander Only 3

Colander Only 2

Colander Only 1

Among the things on there are:

a) A whole mess of colorful capacitors that I bought salvage on eBay.

b) A very long, loose spring that is just looped around the edge.

 c) Some fishtank tubing, shoved into some of the larger holes in the colander and then looped around.

d) Brightly colored alligator clips, connected to various wires and items.

e) Colorful wire nuts, capping some groups of stray wires.

f) Some telephone cable, taped around the edge of the hat with black electrical tape, with the ends stripped and wire-nutted to stuff.

g) An old electrical outlet with one outlet and one switch.

h) A 15-Amp fuse.

g) A small light bulb.

 To attach things to the hat, I used black electrical tape, some of that silver, super-shiny tape used on dryer vents and heating ducts, zip-ties, wire nuts, twist ties, and whatever bare wires were sticking out of anything.   Duct tape or white bathroom caulk would probably also work well.   Anything that makes it look like it was made in someone’s garage.

A note about the stocking cap.    When I put the capacitors on, I basically just shoved the wire on each end of the capacitors through the holes on the colander and bent them over.   This makes it very uncomfortable as it rubs against my head.   I looked around for a  surplus-looking stocking cap to keep my hair (and perhaps skin) from snagging on the wires while still keeping the general made-in-a-basement-lab look.

I’m really pleased with the way that it looks, and it meets all my “costume criteria” – I can eat and drink in it, it always fits, it’s pretty immediately recognizable as a mad-scientist, I can wear it all night long, and it doesn’t require me to drag around a hand-held accessory.

Where’s Waldo – a great costume idea!

Somewhere – perhaps Facebook – I recently ran across a story about a man who attended Fashion Week dressed as Waldo:

If the link is broken, no matter, because what I really wanted to do here was capture the idea and describe what I really love about it.

This costume meets all of my costume criteria, for starters.  The costume is very easy to wear.  You can walk and move and sit and eat in it.   This guy even has the cane, but you could lose that and still be immediately recognizable.  He’s not spending much time answering questions about who he is dressed as.

The costume is quite easy – particularly if you are a tall-ish, slender man.    Red and white striped shirt.   Red and white striped winter hat.   Dark pants.   He had the round glasses and the cane – but I’m not sure that those are even necessary.

Most importantly, this costume it also adds the element of approach-ability.    Everyone is excited to “find” him.    He’s practically a celebrity.    And since most folks really LIKE Waldo, they have no problem coming up to him, speaking with him, taking photos with him, and so forth.

My experience with dressing as Minnie Mouse showed me how willing people are to interact with you if you are dressed as a lovable, recognizable character.   Much more willing than they would be if you were just dressed normally.  It’s an odd thing that the same stranger somehow becomes safer because they are dressed as someone safe.

Several years ago, a friend of mine came to one of my costume parties dressed as Flo from the commercials for Progressive Insurance.    As soon as she was in the door, I overheard someone say to his wife “Look honey, it’s Flo!”    And everyone wanted to speak with her.   They felt like they knew her – or at least that she was someone safe to talk to, friendly, and worth getting to know.

Flo 2

Steam Punk Gun Tutorial

A friend of mine recently posted a series of photos showing how he modified a toy gun to become a “steam punk” gun.   It seemed like a good compliment to my Space Gun posting, and I wanted to make sure that I kept his photos so that I could refer back to them in the future.   So here they are …

This first picture shows what the original toy gun looked like.    Notice that there is a trigger handle thing near the back of the gun, and then a second grip near the front.  (My lack of gun terminology is showing, but you get the idea.)   In this picture, he is tracing around the gun so that when he disassembles it, he can keep track of which screws go where.  (Very smart.)

SG 6

Here you can see that he has followed through on the idea of keeping track of the screws – taping each one down near the location where it was removed.   This is particularly important if the screws are of different lengths or sizes.

SG 2

Next, you can see the gun after it’s been disassembled.   Rather than coming apart in two matching pieces, this one comes apart into two PAIRS of main matching pieces – plus some other parts like grips and what not.      And this is where the paint job starts to get really interesting.

SG 5

Rather than just painting the whole gun a brass or bronze color – which would be a typical steam-punk style thing – he’s chosen to paint some of it a bronze color and some of it a dull steel color.   This makes the gun MUCH more visually interesting, and adds to the impression that it’s been crafted out of multiple metallic pieces and parts.    Also, by having kept the screws carefully identified, he can choose to paint them to match – or to contrast – because he knows where each screw will go.

SG 1

Next, he’s found some gear or cog like bits from a necklace at a craft store.   Again, very smart.     I’m wondering if you couldn’t also find buttons, or game pieces, or cardboard cuts outs that would also work.

SG 7

He then just sort of sprinkles these gears around the gun to make it look … well … more steam punk.   Here’s a picture of the completed gun.   You can clearly see the two different metallic spray paints and how that makes the gun look more constructed.    And the gears have been added onto contrasting colors, so that they stand out clearly.

SG 8

I really like the look of this weapon.    There are some other things that might be interesting to try – metallic paint pens, perhaps, to add the appearance of more parts.   Or perhaps tubing of some sort.  Or dials / gauges?     I’ve never done anything steam-punk before, but this seems like a pretty straightforward strategy for making a pretty authentic-looking steam-punk weapon.