Making Imperator Peachiosa
(This post is rather long, if you’re not interested in construction and just want pretty pictures of the finished costume, skip to the bottom.)
As soon as Mad Max: Fury Road came out, I knew I wanted to make something inspired by it.
I mean, it spoke to me on so many levels.
Mostly this level:
I needed to be her.
However, as sure as I was that I wanted to be her, I was equally sure that everyone was going to do a Furiosa costume this year. There isn’t anything wrong with doing a really popular costume, but it adds a little more pressure to do it perfectly. I didn’t feel like I had the time to do a Furiosa costume to a level I would be happy with this year. I started considering mash-up costumes, but nothing was really striking me.
And then I saw this.
Mario Kart: Fury Road. Or Mad Max: Rainbow Road, as several of my friends dubbed it.
I knew what I needed to do. This was just begging for a Princess Peach/Furiosa mash-up. But how to do it? I knew I wanted a piranha plant arm, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the costume.
Luckily, talented artist, Jenna Brown, @cyanatar on twitter, had already thought this through.
Imperator Peachiosa (help me) pic.twitter.com/UG7Rzv9c7Z
— Jenna (@cyanatar) May 23, 2015
(Jenna also takes commissions and has done several other pieces of Imperator Peachiosa art through that. Check it out!)
So, I started drafting up a costume based on this. My first try was close, but not quite there. I quickly put together a bodice pattern I made for a previous costume and then added the skirt and ragged bits through draping.
This was close, but not quite right. The brighter pink was a little too intense for the look I was going for. Perfect for Princess Peach, but not quite right for a Post-Apocalyptic world.
I removed the brighter fabric and realized that I liked the dress/tailcoat thing better without it anyway.
That done, it was time to do the fun part – the Mario-inspired armor! This was a little out of my depth. I’ve used Worbla in a few projects before, but nothing particularly ornate or complicated.
So, instead of carefully researching, doing small projects, testing out the material, I did what every good Mad Art Labber does: I jumped right into the deep end. And over two weekends, I went from concept to full-armor.
Yes, I shaped everything on a ceramic head. I am not sure this is a required step for everyone, but it turns out that this poor guy was the exact right size for my pauldrons and plant hand.
Of course, this also meant that my pauldrons fit on my head perfectly and could be worn as hats. Which of course I did.
Then I moved on to yet another high-tech, special materials required step: painting. Which I did with nail polish.
I did this for two major reasons and one minor reason:
Reason one: I wanted paint that I didn’t have to mix, that already had a metallic look rather than faking it with painted on highlights, etc.
Reason two: I procrastinated about making this, so I had to finish it in a weekend. Nail polish happened to be on sale at the CVS down the road, so I went with what was available.
Third, less important, but still there reason: It seems to infuriate half the men I talk to that I paint armor with nail polish instead of model paint. However, I can’t get model paint at the CVS I can walk to, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
After this, I weathered the tortoise shells with black paint and then sealed with a clear coat. One great thing about making a post-apocalyptic costume? Any irregularities can be battle damage or “intentionally beaten up”. This fits well with two-weekend costume construction.
At this point, I feel the need to offer a look at what my living room looked like. WORBLA. WORBLA EVERYWHERE. My cat was in heaven, chasing tiny bits of plastic around the room and trying to sit on the amazon box.
Then it was time to put everything together, which was surprisingly easy. The shell pauldrons were attached to belts that went under my opposite arm. To assemble the piranha plant arm, I sewed the mouth/flower to a glove. The pipe parts just sit on my arm. I love it when things come together exactly the way I need them to the first time. That so rarely happens in a project.
AT this point, the costume wasn’t quite done. I didn’t have a belt yet, and I hadn’t figured out what to do with the crown. However, it was ready enough to wear at SkepchickCON at CONvergence. And it held up beautifully.
No, really. It held up better than I ever expected it to. I danced for about three hours straight in the Skepchick party room and the only problem was that one of the silver dots on the hand came off.
Rave Peachiosa! I had asked Ryan to make me a cast of his Furiosa belt, which I had attached (very temporarily) to a belt to wear that day. I also was given glow sticks. Which is probably not a good choice.
I didn’t manage to get any decent pictures, in between sitting on panels and spending time with all of the great people at that con. So I decided to remake a few of the things that I hadn’t quite finished and wear it at DragonCon.
The belt, based on Ryan’s fantastic buckle (it’s so pretty):
I want to wear this belt everywhere.
The last touches of the costume done, I wore this on Sunday at DragonCon. I had the chance to work with Matthew Sperzel Photography to get some great pictures of this costume, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!
(Yep, this is me trying to look badass while standing in a parking garage in downtown Atlanta with a lady in an SUV overtly staring at us. I think I pulled it off.)
You can see more of Matthews DragonCon photographs here: Cos Culture DragonCon Coverage. I would recommend getting photos with him if you’ll be at a convention he’s at!
I’ll end this post with my absolute favorite moment at DragonCon: While I was in this costume, a family with two little girls were standing near me. The younger girl asked “Are you a princess or a superhero?” and the older girl answered” She’s a princess AND a superhero! Can I have a Mario arm too, dad?”