I am currently writing this part of this blog on a flight back from SLC. There has been some less-than-desirable turbulence going on so if I make inappropriate jokes and don’t go back and edit them out, know I use humor to work through uncomfortable situations. Smiley face.
I know I have a back log of blogs to go back and edit and create but I’m working on doing the write ups when I’m inspired so they are more enjoyable to read for you. You’re welcome.
So. Bat Family. We (Project Hero) have been trying to work on getting a few group costumes of big name, easily recognizable characters together so we have a wide range of options when doing charity events. This was a long time in the making as we have some big Batman fans in our group. Since PH already has a Catwoman, I decided to try another character, (don’t worry, Catwoman will be re-made and I have some fantastic ideas from making Batwoman to use on it) one that isn’t seen too often, Batwoman.
I had started reading Batwoman when it first came out because of the absolutely gorgeous illustrations that J.H. Williams did for the books. I’m a sucker for tactile media in comics, so him using water colors sealed the deal. I love the contrast of all of the different blacks next to the stark, bright red. I knew I had to tackle this eventually.
The whole group had decided they wanted to do a more Arkham Asylum themed group, so we finalized our designs and started working. Garrick decided on a more armored looking version of his Returns Batman (since his cowl is so pretty and oddly enough he looks a lot like Michael Keaton when he has it on).
Since Batwoman is usually shown very striped down as far as details go, I wanted to add a lot of subtle variations in the textures of the materials I used and in the variations of black materials involved. She is ex-military so I wanted this to look more practical and real-world (surprise, surprise, most of my other stuff is the same way, I like it ok? I pick characters that would feel the same, deal.) I referenced many femal motorcycle gear, the new moto inspired fashion that’s trending, and military BDUs. I landed on a design that is both challenging and interesting to make for me, while still being streamlined and detailed upon closer inspection.
I tried a few new techniques I hadn’t before on this including set pleating, and a ton of free-handed top-stitching (bet you wouldn’t have guessed if I didn’t tell you that I didn’t use a twin needle!). Deb and Paul had found some 4-way stretch carbon fiber material that I wanted to incorporate for the texture and for the variation in color. I decided to add that into the elbows and knees to look like the asymmetrical moto knee padding. The rest of the suit was made out of a matte 4 way stretch black spandex that is thicker than the normal matte black 4 way I have used in the past. I ended up adding in a lot of detail just to that material to try to make it more visually interesting. This included some top-stitched stripes going down the arms and sides of the suit, top-stitching the outline of abs (added bonus!), and an underbust cut out that I was experimenting with since it’s what they use to emphasize the bust in plug suits (those shall also be a thing soon). All was successful and went together pretty quickly.
I quickly created a pattern for the cape (also went together surprisingly well) used the thinner matte black material to cut down on weight, and sewed a thicker red jersey material to the underside. Seguay for a sec, do you know how hard it is to match reds? Yea as hard as it is to match any other color including blacks. Don’t ask me how they do it, but SAS always seems to have hidden the perfect material every time I need it. I found the exact length I needed too!
Once all of that was done, I ordered a wig, some boots, and some gloves. I wanted to make the gauntlets and originally Garrick and I were going to cast the fins but Deb found these kid Batman Begins gauntlets and they looked so good I couldn’t resist. Short cut much needed, as this ended up taking more time than I thought. I made two tone gauntlets to put these kid ones on the top was plain vinyl I sprayed with bright red Meltonian and the bottom was a series of 1.4 in pleats I created out of the carbon fiber material to give it more texture and make it look more tactical. This was an exercise in patience. You know what else is an exercise in patience, not screaming at people on this plane to stop passing gas. Planes are basically big fart-tubes, this flight is only an hour and a half; I think for the air quality of everyone else, you can suffer and hold it. I am typing one handed with my mouth covered, resisting the urge to break a window just so I can get clean air.
Anyway, those came together alright. I would like to redo them and make the zipper a curved shape. I had drawn the pattern out to look like that but I had a moment and cut the fabric wrong. It turned out ok, but it wasn’t exactly what I initially had planned. Was on a tight deadline so I had to go with it. I made boot covers out of the same vinyl and painted that as well. That’s all that will be said about the boot covers, there was one embarrassingly frustrating night involving me losing patience and making bad decisions. I’ve said too much already…
I had initially sewed a belt thinking I wanted a simple design, but then I succumbed to peer pressure again and ended up buying one of those Batman Begins belts because as much as they’re over-used, they look so damn good and I didn’t want to be left out of the cool kids group. I comforted myself by using a different belt buckle. Garrick made a cool contraption to make that work as well.
Garrick made the symbol out of cut matte board. He made a mold then cast it out of resin and heat formed it to the female chest form we have. It’s beautiful. He also came up with the cape harness system which used Chicago screws to keep everything in place. Tried it out an hour before the shoot and they worked like a dream!
Now comes the mask…. I was so worried about how I was going to pull this off, so being the responsible adult that I am, I saved that till the end. Like 2 days before the end. I panicked, made a snap decision that it was going to be made out of leather. Don’t know why I decided that as I have never in my life worked with leather. In fact, it grosses me out. I had been vegan for 6 years in a past lie and the thought of wearing something else’s skin on my face made me feel too close to Buffalo Bill for my tastes, however I had made a decision and had to go with it. My wonderful father-in-law has everything and lent me some mask making leather he had lying around and I went at it.
The internet is a beautiful thing. I watched a few tutorials and was on my merry way. My first attempt was a success until I put it on and hated the white eyes. Good idea in theory and works really well on masks that you don’t see any part of a human face. Made another one, added some more lines that I burnt into it with an old soldering iron and added more texture with a small leather working stamp, then I wet formed the whole thing over a kids batman mask and added the details I wanted. Still grossed me out. I think it was all in my head, but I also felt like when it was wet it smelled like cigarettes, old boots, and burnt coffee, but maybe because I was thinking of cowboys when I was working on it.
The second one was a success, I stained and sealed it black and reinforced it with fabric so it didn’t lose it’s shape. I did wear eye black underneath it as it was necessary, but I am super pleased with how it came out.
We took some fantastic pictures at a gravel processing plant up in Flag at night. We were lucky enough to have a photographer that was willing to get dirty to get some great shots and had a fantastic eye for composition. He even knew how to shoot in low light! I was beyond excited to be able to try out some different ideas, poses, and locations.
Hopefully i won’t type more of these posts on planes!
Photos at the bottom by: Venesky Photography