Introduction: Beware: the Weeping Angels
This is my representation of a Weeping Angel (from the awesome series, Doctor Who). It took me 5 weeks to make and I am very proud of it :) Everyone who has seen it loves it (even though a large number of those individuals were also terrified of it...)
The Weeping Angels are an ancient race of Quantum-Locked Humanoids, which means that when observed by any living creature (even other Weeping Angels), they turn to stone, making them resistant to harm (because you can't kill a stone). The Weeping Angels have the ability to turn to stone at will as well, which happens whenever they believe they are being observed. It's a bit of a Catch-22 though; Their main form of defense ends up working against them, resulting in them being the loneliest beings in existence. In that respect, the Doctor appears to pity them. When they aren't being observed, the Weeping Angels can move and it is at this point where you are most vulnerable. Don't blink. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And most importantly, don't blink. In the words of The Doctor, they are “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely.” They kill you by zapping you into the past to let you live to death, then they feed off your potential future energy.
There are a lot of components to this costume - the wings (paper maché on a wire frame, then painted and ModPodged), the dress (multiple layers with several panels), the face (created from a life cast, then formed with colored latex) , and the hair (a cheap wig painted with latex and then coated in Make It Stone).
I used a 5” plastic figurine of a Weeping Angel as the model to build my costume.
The first step was to purchase all the required materials for constructing my costume. Some of the stuff I already had (leftover materials from previous Cosplay outfits), but for the stuff I didn’t have, this meant a trip to the special effects shop and a couple of different fabric/craft stores (or rather in my case, several trips to the fabric/craft stores...)
This included several yards of fabric, fabric dye, thread, elastic waistbands, fabric paint, acrylic paint, paint brushes, two kinds of ModPodge, brown mailing paper, Claycrete, Lifecasting supplies (Ultracal-30, Alginate, plaster bandages, Latex Rubber for mask making), a pair of plastic hemispheres, door hinges, hex nuts, a roll of hardware cloth, a can of spray starch, some cheesecloth, temporary hair color spray, fake fingernails, plastic fangs, a couple of cans of Make It Stone, some grey tights, a cheap wig, a pair of flip flops and some toe socks.
I started with the dress, which consists of several yards of fabric that I actually already had, but none of it was quite the right color... One piece of fabric was pink and the other was kind of a sage green. The sage green fabric was 100% cotton and the pink fabric was a poly- cotton blend. I found this out when I tried to remove the color and dye them grey...the sage green turned out to be a nice shade of grey, but the pink one didn’t fare quite as well...it came out sort of...brown. But that’s OK. I was going to use fabric paint on it anyway to make it look like stone, so it didn’t really matter what the color was at this point.
I made the dress completely from scratch. I didn’t even use a pattern. I guess I sew just like I cook - I just start making stuff with an end result in mind and keep at it until I get a result that I like...
The skirt was basically just a ginormous pillowcase with some waistband elastic sewn into it that can be pulled to make the waist the right size. My husband saw it hanging up and asked me who I was making it for - he answered his own question with “The Pillsbury Dough Boy?”
Anyway... I got it all dyed and painted and put in some plastic poly tubing I purchased at a hardware store to make a hoop at the bottom of the skirt. My husband said it didn’t drape like it was supposed to, so now it is the underskirt and I made an overskirt for it to help it drape better. I had dyed some more fabric pieces for the overskirt - Again, they were different colors originally -one was sort of cream colored and the other was white. Both took the dye OK, but turned out to be not quite the shade of grey that I had hoped for (these turned out sort of lavender, even though they were in the grey dye for a really long time). Again, I figured that it was ok because it was just a base color and was going to be painted.
ï¿¼The blouse also needed an extra “layer”. There needed to be some panels to hide all the stuff holding the wings in place... There is a panel in the front as well as several in the back.
Speaking of wings, those were somewhat of a challenge. Not so much in actually making the wings, but figuring out how to build a harness to hold them so they wouldn’t flop all over the place.
The wings of a Weeping Angel are very large - probably close to a meter in length. As such, they needed to be made of something lightweight. I had consulted with the owner of Special FX in North Salt Lake, and he suggested using a wire armature in between two pieces of polyurethane foam (like the kind people use for camping mattresses). I looked into that, but to get a piece of foam big enough and thin enough would be kind of out of my budget (as I would need to buy 4 pieces that were at least 4 feet long and 3 feet wide...). So I found this stuff called Claycrete when I was at the craft store. Essentially, it is ideal for paper macheÌ - all it is is paper pulp and you just add water to it. When it dries, it is pure white and is super light (perfect!) I consider myself an expert at paper macheÌ in the traditional sense (I’ve made many things out of old newspapers...) but this was the first time I’ve used Claycrete, and I plan to use it again in the future. It does take a long time to dry - I think it took about a week for each wing to dry completely before I could do anything further with them.
To start the wings, I did a freehand sketch on a big piece of brown mailing paper. It was on a roll and very curly, so I had to weigh it down with whatever I could find around the house (which in my case were small folding TV trays...)
I cut one wing out and used it as a template to trace the other wing (so that they were the same size and shape).
I purchased a roll of 1/4” grid hardware cloth (the stuff you use in the bottoms of garden boxes to prevent critters from absconding with your veggies when you aren’t looking...) I placed the brown paper cutouts onto the wire and held them in place with binder clips to prevent the wire and the paper from rolling up on me. I cut out the wings with a pair of wire cutters. This is the base for my finished wings that provide structure and strength.
Once cut out, I left the clips and the brown paper on and placed the wings under several folding TV trays in hopes to flatten them out a bit...They stayed there overnight. It helped a little bit, but not enough.
I was anxious to get started, so even though the wings were a bit curly still at this point, I didn’t care. I lay down some plastic and mixed up the Claycrete. I left the brown paper on - I started on the paper side and spread a thin amount of mixed Claycrete all over the wing. I left the paper on because I didn’t want to lose any of my mix through the 1/4” holes in the hardware cloth. 2-3 days later, it was dry enough to flip it over and do the other side. I repeated the process (though this time the Claycrete was spread over bare wire - it was OK because there was paper on the other side to catch it all and fill in all the small holes at the same time). Another 2-3 days passed and both sides of both wings were FINALLY dry! (YAY!) The next step was to put a thin coat of ModPodge For Paper on each side to strengthen the wings further. ModPodge dries faster than Claycrete, but it still took a day for each side to dry enough to start painting the wings.
Once both sides of both wings were dry, with a pencil, I drew an outline of feathers on both sides of both wings. Then a base coat of grey acrylic paint was applied. Once that was dry, I took a bottle of white puffy paint (for fabric) and drew in all the feather outlines. Once that was dry, I went over it again and painted each wing with a more detailed stone appearance, first using some watered down white puffy paint mixed with some black acrylic (non-puffy) paint in a very thin layer. Not sure what the effect is called, but when it dried, it looked like stone, but it was a little too dark for me, so, I made a lighter shade of grey (using more watered down white puffy paint and black acrylic paint) and went over it again. It looked much better now. Once I got both side of both wings completed, I put a thin layer of ModPodge Hard Coat over the top to prevent the paint form chipping, to act as a sealant, and to make the wings even more sturdy than before.
ï¿¼ï¿¼ï¿¼ï¿¼ï¿¼The next step was to actually attach the wings to the harness. I purposely left a small amount of hardware cloth/wire exposed when making the wings, so I would have something to attach the harness to.
I ended up using two sets of door hinges on each wing (one on the front side and one on the back side of each wing) and a hex nut for each wing to hold the each wing to the harness. For extra strength, I added more metal tubing and wire to hold it on (I used the wire that was wrapped with the hardware cloth to keep it rolled up at the store...
To keep the exposed wire from bending too much and breaking off (resulting in the wings themselves falling off..) , I added a thin layer of paper macheÌ to both sides of the harness to add an extra layer of support without adding too much extra weight. I also added a thin layer of latex to add extra flexibility of the wings.
Making the face required some help from my husband. He helped me do a lifecast of my own face, since it isn’t something I couldn't do on my own. I purchased a bald cap, a bucket of alginate powder, some plaster bandages, and a vat of Ultracal-30 to make a replica of my face. Alginate sets up very quickly (under 5 minutes)-we had a few extra minutes due to the fact it was mixed with ultra-cold water. It’s pretty gloppy messy stuff, and most of it ended up down the front of my shirt or on the floor rather than on my face... It took three attempts to get it right.
Once we had the alginate on my face, on came the plaster bandages. These were dipped in hot water to speed up their drying time. I only had my nose holes to breathe out of for about 15 minutes. It actually wasn’t too unpleasant - only the 2nd attempt was - alginate kept getting up my nose and so I was not very happy about that.
Once the plaster cast was dry, it was peeled off my face very carefully. Luckily the alginate stayed true to form in this last cast (the first one flopped into the center and broke into a couple of pieces, rendering it useless...) and I could mix the Ultracal-30 and pour it into my face mold. I made WAY too much and it solidified in my plastic bucket so I had to throw away the bucket... I still have a large amount of this stuff that I will need to use for another project in the future- I must remember to mix it in a rubber bucket next time.
I allowed the lifecast to sit overnight to dry completely. At least that was the intention anyway. I sanded down the positive cast and had planned to do the latex mask that day, but I got busy and didn’t get around to purchasing some Mask Latex until several days later, but I got that bit done, even though it took longer than planned. In a small cup I mixed together the latex with some black & white acrylic paint to get the base color (grey).
I built some fangs by using a pair of plastic vampire fangs and coated them in latex and allowed them to dry overnight. Once dry, I removed the plastic fangs and attached the latex relief fangs with a thin layer of latex and allowed to dry overnight. Once dry, the excess latex was trimmed off.
I cut out eye holes and then took some acrylic hemispheres and covered them in a single layer of cheesecloth, holding it on with rubber bands. I then sprayed a thin layer of heavy duty starch spray over the cheesecloth to make it stiff (and in the shape of an eyeball). I used a #48 size hemisphere initially, and I thought it would be too big, so I purchased some that were smaller (#36) from Special FX in North Salt Lake. It turns out I needed both sizes, so it’s good I purchased both. I allowed the eyeballs to dry overnight, then placed a thin layer of latex around the edges to help attach them to the inside of the completed mask.
I removed the large hemispheres, placed the cheesecloth inside the mask, then to hold them in place while a new layer of latex was added (to act as glue to bond the inside of the mask to the latex on the eyeball), I used a #36 hemisphere for each eye, and allowed that to dry overnight.
Once the eyeballs were in place, I flipped the mask over and sprayed another thin layer of spray starch on the cheesecloth to stiffen it further. Once dry (a few hours), I painted the eyes with some grey paint (designed for stained glass...)
At this point I added some additional latex appliances to decorate the face (wrinkles, curls, etc) to emphasize the scary nature of a Weeping Angel when it is in full Attack Mode.
For the hair I purchased a cheap 1920’s style blonde wig. It didn’t really matter what color it was, as I coated it in latex and then took a can of Make It Stone and coated the entire wig with it.
I purchased a pair of silver flip flops and some grey toe socks. Both of these also got a coat of Make It Stone (however, it doesn’t stick well to rubber shoes, so it all flaked off. So sad...