How I made my Cyber Dragon Staff for the 2019 Hawthorne Hotel Masquerade Ball – a #tutorial

When I first decided to do my Clever of Dragons Doctor Who/Game of Thrones mash-up for the Winds of Winter masquerade ball I figured since it was going to be pretty obscure I needed some sort of prop to make it fun and to have something to tie in to the theme. The concept of a Cyber-Dragon staff seemed interesting and fun! And totally something Mr. Clever would carry.

 

Obviously, it was going to be silver, and I knew I wanted its eyes to be blue to match the blue lights on my cyberplanner. I had never worked with props of this nature before and the process proved to be a little bit more challenging than I thought especially since my craft area is not very conducive to making anything larger than a cyberplanner.

 

I also don’t have space away from my cats. Which is a whole other challenge!

 

I started with a roll of wrapping paper and I decided to make the basic head shape of the dragon itself out of paper mache. Mind you, I have never worked with paper mache before, not even as a child. The reason for this is that newspaper is part of the long list of things I am allergic to. So I wasn’t able to do work with the paper mache as well and as long as I had first planned. I did the best I could with it, and ended up filling in the gaps with aluminum foil and tape.

 

Not really looking the part yet.

 

At first, the shape looked way off.

 

Slightly better with the eyes.

 

 

Each individual dragon scale was made out of thin craft foam. Initially, I wasn’t going to cover the cardboard tube completely but that just got a little bit away from me. I started cutting out a few scales here and there, sometimes in bed, sometimes at the hair salon, sometime while I was waiting for laundry to dry – wherever I could. So I figured, well, I have all these scales, might as well glue them on.

 

Much better

 

The plastic that I ended up using for the eyes and the chestplate actually came from a Quidditch set that CJ got me for Christmas. The set came in a box, with all the Quidditch balls, protected in this one piece of plastic. I got so excited because I realized that the plastic was the perfect shape and size for the eyes and chest. It was also the moment where I realized that I went full on cat, as I was more excited about the packaging that I was about the product.

 

 

I carved out a hole in the wrapping paper tube for the chest plate, then cut out the eye holes in the head, put the plastic in. Found blue LED lights and strung them through. I then cut out a hole in the back of the tube for the lights’ battery pack. After that I just used a glue gun to glue the rest of the scales around the remaining openings.

 

Scales and eyes.

 

Finished!

 

To finish the head, I covered it the best I could with the rest of the scales, aluminum foil spikes, and window insulation around the eyes. I covered the entire thing in silver spray paint…

… and off I went to the ball. Except I forgot to cover it in sealant and my hands were covered in silver paint the entire night of the ball. I fixed it later, sealed it, just in case I ever use Fernando again. Yes, we have decided that his name shall be Fernando.

 

Mr. Clever has the Iron Throne!

 

I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a tutorial! Stay tuned for more on future projects! 

 

Recreating some Mr. Clever fan art

One thing that I really enjoy and admire is cosplayers that recreate fan art in their photoshoots. So down the rabbit hole I went into searching for Mr. Clever fan art! There still isn’t a lot out there, but recently I stumbled across a few lovely pieces that I was able to incorporate into a recent shoot.  Most of the ones I found had various companions in the piece- mostly Clara, obviously.  My wonderful friend Kelly agreed to fill in for Clara in those instances, and those pictures will be posted soon!

For now, here is one example of a solo shot that I was able to do.

 

This was based off of this fantastic drawing that I found here on Deviant Art.

 

 

This was something new for me and I really enjoyed doing it and look forward to doing more!

11 Days until 2019!

 

Only eleven days until 2019! See what I did there? That means only 11 days until I can get my butt in gear and write a Year in Review, too. So many things have happened in 2018.

 

Also, who else is excited for the Doctor Who special? I am very curious to see what happens.

Behind-the-Scenes at my latest photoshoot

One of the many things that I enjoy about doing photoshoots is getting to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a fabulous photo.  It certainly takes lots of patience, a certain charm and a great sense of humor to work with someone like myself.  I am notoriously uneasy when I am getting my photo taken, yet always a bit rambunctious at the same time.

It was a great pleasure to work with Sauvage Photo and Edit again.  She always puts me at ease and makes it a very fun and productive day! This time around I had my good friend Kelly as my NiS Clara along with my wonderful spouse taking some photos of us while we worked.

As per usual, I brought all my props – chess board, chess set, trigger, Clara’s gun. And perhaps a few more things.

I thought it might be fun to recreate some fan art that I had seen. This proved to be a little tricky, as you don’t realize that illustrations and photo manips, no matter how good, are still not real people.  Getting some of the angles correct was bit challenging.

We managed to get some great shots, and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product!

Upgrade in Progress Wednesday

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Upgrade in Progress. Or should I say UNDEAD in Progress? Cyberplanner part all ready for Zombie Clever!

I wanted to make it look broken, beat up, falling apart, wires falling out, only one light working – and with minimal blood and more motor oil looking colors. I am very happy with how it turned out, especially given my allergies to latex and silicones.

Look What You Made Me Do

I haven’t written a blog post in a while. Recently I uploaded some new photos from a photo shoot and there were a few comments that could only be described as trolling so I thought it was time to get something off my chest.

It wasn’t just the trolls that made me decide to write this. After a few “Facebook friends” made their comments, I doubted myself, so in a moment of weakness, I deleted the whole album.

 

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Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Ma.

Doing that shoot was incredibly hard for me. You may not realize it when you see me running around a con with grapes and rope but I am very self-conscious. And I delete far more than I post. And in that brief period of self-doubt after the trash people thought they had a right to tell me what I could or couldn’t wear, I thought it was just easier to delete it, delete myself, off the screen, and deal with all later. Or not, depending on how I felt.

After some soul-searching, and some convincing by my close friends, my partner, and the wonderful photographer, the album is now back up.

The reason I reposted it isn’t just because I didn’t want the trash people of the internet to win, but the larger reason is that when I see these photos I am reminded that even though these pics are “of me” they aren’t just about me.

I think a lot of people in the cosplay community will agree with me – when I see a professional cosplay photo I see a team effort that goes into making those beautiful photos. And when I share mine I am not only sharing my own art (like the cyberplanner) that I have painstakingly created (with the emphasis on pain) but the art and skill of my friends and colleagues.

 

 

 

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“Tell me, does it have a sort of remote triggery thing?”

There are so many people that have helped me over the years, that have also invested time and talent into helping me make Mr. Clever come to life in these photos and in person.

 

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“Me. Cyberplanner. Mr. Clever”

 

The insane number of amazing photographers alone. It is not easy to capture (and edit) a wonderful photograph. It is even harder to work with someone like me, who has severe anxiety in front of the camera. Cosplay photographers often go unnoticed and are truly the unsung heroes of our community. The photographers that I have met and worked with over the years deserve a medal for putting up with me. Many times, they have worked with me for free, so yes of course, I am going to share their photos everywhere (and give them credit as often as possible).

Or the hair stylists that have helped me over the years. Running into the salon with pictures of Matt. “This is the color I need”. And the random make-up artist we met while in NYC for NYCC that color matched me and taught me how to put make up on for photos. Never would have known any of that if not for her.

And the friend who felt bad that I couldn’t wear the Abbyshot coat who went and got fabric for me. And the other friend who made me the coat that I wear now. This coat is amazing. The curator from the DW experience loved it. The person who made it should be proud of herself.

 

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Just my standard warm up pose.

 

Even down to the tattoo artist who worked with me to make my cybermite tattoo come to life.

And that doesn’t even cover the emotional challenges that people help me work through: how hard it is for me to overcome the fear of cameras, the challenge of my body image issues, getting into character, overcoming the severe pain that I am in all the time now, and with this shoot in particular there was the added fear of because of my injury I was terrified that I was going to be unable to move.

 

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Resting after a long day of Upgrading.

 

Everyone knows how much this character and cosplay means to me. I have lost much in 2017. For a fleeting second, there was the thought that I could lose that too, and that was devastating. And I know there are people that don’t get that Mr. Clever is both my first and last cosplay. It is who I am and I cannot imagine cosplaying as anyone else.

 

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Hammond Castle, Gloucester, MA

 

But trolls will be trolls and after battling my own demons and winning, at least this time, I have taken the trash out, and that album is back up. Not just because I need it, or because Mr. Clever is who I am, or because I don’t want to let the haters win, but because all those other people deserve to have their work talked about too.

 

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Great shot of my tattoo.

 

So the last thing I want to do with this blog is thank (some) of those many people and give everyone who reads this a way to connect with them and make some of that cosplay magic for yourself.

 

Above photos were taken by the amazing Vignette of

https://www.facebook.com/sauvagephotographystudio/

Not enough “thank you”‘s for the Rodster, Rodney Brown. The first photographer I met, always supportive and always got my back.

https://www.facebook.com/1stpersonshooter/

MAJOR hugs to my stylists over the years – Ashley, Alicia and of course

https://www.instagram.com/saraibyday/

And my very first professional shoot:

https://www.facebook.com/JuarezFilmsandPhotography/

And of course John of

https://www.facebook.com/creativenorthshore/