CosplayCraftingGeekeryWork in Progress

WIP Weekend: Death Eater

For the next installment of “My Friends Make Cool Stuff,” this Death Eater mask styled after the ones from the later Harry Potter films is just one part of what will eventually be a full costume.

My friend Flurgh had been hoping to have this costume finished in time for the “Cursed Child” book release parties, but realistically, it will be used for Halloween (“best holiday ever!”), other costume-friendly events, and hopefully some “Fantastic Beasts” midnight movie releases. “It would be a dream to get to go to LeakyCon with this costume, but that isn’t financially realistic right now.”

She first got the idea to build this costume at a midnight release of Deathly Hallows, where there was a costume contest but most of the participants were people dressed up in officially licensed Hogwarts school uniforms.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was a little disappointed that no one took on a less generic looking costume for the contest or tried to make one themselves. It’s a contest after all!”

She wanted to try making a Death Eater costume for a few reasons:

1. To make people happy

Okay, maybe people aren’t supposed to be happy when they see a Death Eater, but luckily (?) we’re not at Hogwarts and good costumes are great fun. She really enjoyed seeing peoples’ faces light up when they recognized a Naruto ANBU costume she made a few years ago. She got a lot of compliments from fans and seasoned cosplayers, which surprised her, but who doesn’t love the joy of shared fandom?

2. To learn new skillz

With the ANBU costume, she basically conscripted her mom into helping with the sewing; she felt guilty about that even though the costume turned out GREAT with her help. “It made me think that if I improved my weak/non-existent sewing skills that I could craft anything by myself. This costume has enough familiar crafting techniques (Dremel! Paint! Et cetera!) to push me towards learning to sew.”

3. To costume compactly

Though she’s impressed by the amazing costumers who bring multiple suitcases to conventions, she recognizes that it’s not something she’d enjoy since she likes to travel light. “I want to be able to swap pieces around for different things,” she says. Not only does she plan to repurpose parts of the ANBU for this Death Eater, she also plans to use pieces from the Death Eater in another project as well.

In making the mask for this Death Eater costume, she adapted the skills honed in her work making Harry Potter wands.

She even made a customized box to display the wand. What a gift!

She even made a customized box to display the wand. What a gift!

“For the past year or two, I’ve been tinkering around with making wands out of paper, a chopstick, an epic ton of hot glue, and various paints,” she said. “They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and don’t hurt like plastic or solid wood if you get smacked with them (I’m looking at you parents of young Potter fans). I had seen some instructables/how-to’s online for either just paper or just a chopstick. The final product looked like “decorated flimsy paper tube” and “decorated chopstick”. I just thought I could do something structurally better that also looked better.”

“So, from that project I learned how to use hot glue to create texture and detailing (I think of it as ‘reverse carving’). I learned how to layer paint to create certain effects. Some of the supply ideas were because I ran into problems and needed a free/cheap solution. I had the thick fabric paint/gel from a prior project and the applicator tip looked like it could be small enough for tiny details. I was just hoping that it would provide enough textural difference from the base mask. If it didn’t work I’d just wipe it off or sand it off before painting.”

Knowing where and how to start can be the death (haha) of any project, so she did her research to really pin down not only the results she wanted, but where to begin. Twitter and the obligatory Google search found some great photos from the Harry Potter villains exhibit and the studio tour, and she scouted out craft stores to look for potential supplies.

Death Eater masks are seen during a special preview of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton, AB on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Photo: Codie McLachlan/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency

Death Eater masks are seen during a special preview of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton, AB on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Photo: Codie McLachlan/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency

“Budget was a major consideration. A lot of things I wanted to do would not be affordable so then I had to think of ways that I could simulate or get close to the same end result. The same applies to my skills. I know I can’t make a mask from scratch like the pros.”

After looking at her inventory of random craft items and her existing clothing and costumes, she considered her skills and strengths to determine what else she’d need. She says she was incredibly lucky, since a local fabric store was closing and offering 70-85% off. Thrift stores and sales found her the rest, but she notes that “there’s no way I would be starting on this project now had those two things not happened.”

In progress: From the beginning to drawing on details to building up the raised decoration.

In progress: From the beginning to drawing on details to building up the raised decoration.

Testing paint colors

Testing paint colors

Adding the contrasting silver paint

Adding the contrasting silver paint

Both Instructables and the Harry Potter fan forums and sites were good resources for “what to do, what not to do, and what I wish I could do.” She credits her mother for being a wonderful resource, bouncing ideas and questions off her.

“She doesn’t make things but she’ll be honest with me if it is terrible or if it is really good.”

flurghinmask

Up next: the real robes!

So far, this looks pretty good! I’ll update here when the full costume is completed.

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Beth Voigt

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and public transit and is still on her first smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around.

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