Author Spotlight: Tatterhood




Kris Sayer goes by tatterhood on Instructables, and is writing a graphic novel around a spirited character by the same name. As an author who creates amazing costumes, she is exceptionally talented at breathing life into many whimsical characters - so it's no wonder she's a talented game designer off the site, and has skills fighting with giant wooden spoons! I had a chance to ask her a few questions about the costumes she designs, where she finds inspiration, and what projects are in the works. 

How did you discover Instructables and what inspired you to start posting projects?

I came across Instructables so long ago, I can't even remember how I discovered it - but I'm going to wager a guess that I was looking for inspiration for costume projects! For well over 6 years I lurked in the shadows, admiring all the Instructable-y goodness from afar. It wasn't until Penolopy Bulnick reached out to me in 2012 and said I should post my Liara T'soni costume that I finally decided to join and start posting tutorials.

Of all the projects that you have posted, which is your favorite?

I *love* my Ryuk costume. If it wasn't so uncomfortable I'd wear it all the time! That project was both challenging, fun, and a true test of my skills - plus I ended up working with such a wonderful range of materials. I got to sculpt with clay and Sculpey, cast both latex and resin pieces, draft sewing patterns, do pyrography on leather, and play with a whole bunch of feathers.

How do you choose which costume to build next?

I actually have a spreadsheet dedicated to future costume construction that I'm constantly adding to or editing, where every project is given notes on things like 'it'll cost this much to do this' or 'you need to learn how to do this first.' I sometimes feel compelled to make *everything* at once, so I have designated costumes to be built within a certain time frame. Sometimes this means I have 3 years left to get my act together and start building a certain costume. Other times this means I have to wait a while until I can begin one; I can't wait until I am 84 to start on Discworld's Vena the Raven-Haired. I also try to alternate between making quickly-constructed, comfy, cheaper-costumes and insane, time-sucking, sometimes-money-draining ones.

Is there anyone who has been particularly influential towards your work?

My mom has been the ultimate influence when it comes to costume construction. She learned how to sew just so she could make Halloween costumes for my sister and I!...and hey, that's why I learned how to sew (and sculpt. And work with latex. And, well, you get the idea). My uncle influenced me too - when I was a kid he was recruited a few times to help make some paper-mâché Darth Vader helmets, which really put me on the path towards mask-making. There are also artists on (and off) Instructables whose work inspires and influences me greatly - HonusModMischiefMissMonster and Volpin!

How long do your costumes usually take to make and come together?

"2 months" seems to be the magic number. For some costumes, that time includes getting all the supplies and working on the build on the weekend, with an hour here or there put in after work, over a course of two months. For others, that time-frame doesn't included getting all the materials, and it means that every day, after work, I am putting in at least 5 hours on a costume. I usually like to start on projects at least 2 months before a party or convention but often big builds start further back. I have two major costumes I'm planning for conventions next year and I've already acquired most of the supplies and have started doing fabrication tests.

In the intro to your Princess Leia Bikini Instructable, you talk about long, long ago attempting to make the same costume, but failing. Are there any projects you’re ready to try again? Any you’re keeping on the backburner until you refine specific skills?

There have actually been several costumes I've gone back to and redone or changed. I made a Katara costume (from The Last Airbender) 6 years ago, that I think was one of my first sewing attempts. It was an ill-fitting, poorly stitched broadcloth tunic, but I was so damn happy with it. This year I decided to revisit the character, so I made a completely new costume, from head-to-toe, including making "hair loopies" and boots! This time around I made it out of wool and faux suede, slightly aged it, did a bunch of bead-work and made a bone pendant. The Leia and Katara reconstructions were the most meaningful to me, because the originals were the first costumes I made by myself. Even though I cringe a bit to to look at them now, I loved making them, and the reception they got from people was fantastic. I think that's part of the reason why I went back to revisit them.

I would love to make a new Darth Vader costume one day, but I don't think I have the skill (or the workshop) to do it just yet - though it might be fun to remake it as it was exactly made for me as a kid (with paper-mâché and Legos!).

Have you always been artistic?

I've always felt a need to draw and create. I could be perfectly happy anywhere so long as there were paper and pencils. I'm really fortunate that I have a job where I get to draw all day being the lead (well, only) artist at Dingo Games. After work I continue to create - either making comics or, depending on the season, costumes!

In your projects we’ve seen you sculpt, paint, sew, and sketch. Are there any other artsy-tricks up your sleeve? What would you say is your favorite medium to work in?
Heh heh there are a few artsy-tricks I'm just learning, involving craft foam, cardboard and latex. If everything works out, I'll have to create a new Instructables for them! Outside of drawing - either digitally or with a real pencil - I love working with clay/plasticine. I'm not that good at it, but there's something so fun and de-stressing about sculpting, and if you 'mess up', you can just rip off piece and then slap down new clay!

Your costumes all feature beautifully sculpted masks. How did you discover resin/latex casting? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

I decided to be an Asari in 2008 for Halloween, and figured the best way to make their unusual head crest 'wiggles' was the make a latex headpiece. That year I learned all about making a head mold, armatures, ultra cal molds and latex casting! My brother-in-law came to me wanting to make a Terminator mask out of resin, so that's really when I learned about resin casting! A tip...especially when dealing with resin and silicone products you buy: Read the directions! Now read them again. If you don't understand something, ask questions. And always keep an eye on your resin if you have to swish it around to keep it thin - that stuff sets fast when you're not looking!

If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?

'Keep at it'. You're going to fail, and things will go wrong, but that's one of the best ways you learn. You will have to practice a lot, you will have bad results, and there will always be someone better than you. But you have to focus on doing the best that YOU can do, so keep at it. And you will create great things.

Any creative projects planned for Halloween this year?

After many, many hours of ruffling and sewing nylon chiffon, I am almost done my 'first' Halloween costume - I'm going as Björk in her swan dress (or, depending on how old you are, just a swan!). I'm also making a head and tail for my niece's The-Life-Aquatic-with-Steve-Zissou jaguar shark costume, helping a friend make a bionic-styled arm for his Star Wars original-character costume, and possibly aiding in the construction of costumes (such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail characters, barbarians, etc) for some friends from a sword-fighting academy. Then if there's time after party-planning and pumpkin carving, I'll make my 'secondary' costume - an evil sorceress complete with a goat-skull mask. And hopefully well before Halloween I'll post some new tutorials for some past costumes!

Your profile also lists “Vikings” as an interest. Tell us more about that.

I'm really into reading and learning about the 'Viking Age' and Scandinavian history! The people, their clothes, houses, weapons, technology, religion; I find it all fascinating. I've traveled to Denmark and Iceland just to visit historic sites! It's inspired me so much that I'm (continuously) working on a graphic novel, set near the end of the 'Viking Age', based on Norse Mythology and Scandinavian (primarily Norwegian) folklore.

Who is Tatterhood? And why is she your namesake?

The graphic novel I'm writing is called Tatterhood, named and based after a character from a Norwegian fairy tale of the same name. The character herself is...a bit of a handful. She's a loud, spirited, spoon-wielding, goat-riding, troll-fightin' gal. The development of the story/character continues to motivate me to conduct various types of research, driving me to travel, meet very interesting people and take up some very awesome activities. I mean...I went to Háafell, a goat farm, to learn about and study the Icelandic goat. I took a blacksmithing course, horsebacking riding lessons, and learned nålbinding. In the name of this comic, I commissioned a giant wood spoon (carved by Colin Johnson) and learned how to fight with it (at Academie Duello with Devon Boorman). So why not have her for my namesake - let's see where she leads me next!