Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Captain Elizabeth Britworth


So, you may or may not have figured this out by now, but I love cosplay. I love seeing pictures of it, I love hearing people's stories and seeing how they put their outfits together, and I love coming up with my own cosplays. So, while I don't exactly care one way or the other about Halloween in and of itself, I'm super excited for an excuse to put my ideas into practice. Last year, I stalked the night as a Mistborn and then wandered the wilds of my residence hall as an elven adventurer. And this year, I stepped out for adventure as an original character from one of my favorite genres . . .


Introducing Elizabeth Britworth: inventor, captain of the skyship Windrunner, and one of the first people to travel in time, along with her friend and colleague, Dr. M!

I've been planning this cosplay for a while now-- a very long while. However, I didn't quite know how it would come together until Fall Break, when my roommate (aka Dr. M) and I had a shopping-and-crafting weekend to create our costumes. The end result is a little different from what I originally envisioned, but I like how it turned out overall.

The base of the outfit- shirt, skirt, boots- are all items I either had already or, in the case of the shirt, needed to acquire anyway. I originally planned to wear a second satin-y skirt under the tan one, but decided, on the advice of a friend, that it detracted from the overall look. So, I switched for a different skirt that wouldn't show but would give the tan one a little more texture and volume.

The vest I created from a men's shirt that I picked up at Goodwill. Semi-following a Pinterest tutorial, I cut off the neck, arms, and extra length and took in the side seams to make the vest a little more fitted. It was a little trickier than I expected, but didn't take terribly long overall. I spent much more time on my accessories, namely the goggles:


I don't have a proper tutorial or in-progress pics, because I didn't exactly come up with these on my own but rather combined ideas and elements from various tutorials. The base of the goggles is a pair of mason jar rings, connected by a copper pipe strap for a nose bridge, and some brown vinyl for the eye cups. Then my roomie and I raided the hardware aisle at Home Depot to acquire wingnuts, bolts, little gear-looking things, and other miscellany for decoration. We aged the mason jar rings and the coupler using watered-down black paint (paint it on, wait a moment, rub it off; repeat to satisfaction), then created lenses using some scraps of excess laminating from my sentence patterns poster. (Hey, if the library is going to charge me for the extra six inches at the top— for which I don't blame them— I might as well get some use out of it!) We tried making the lenses out of clear report covers, but that turned out too thick and obscured our vision too much. Then we used hot glue to attach the lenses and the decorative elements. I went for a more low-key look: two wingnuts on each goggle, a line of tiny gear-things, and three bolts on underside of the left-hand ring. My roommate, on the other hand, went all-out:

After that came the eye cups, which was absolutely the most frustrating part of the whole process. Because the jar rings are so large— much larger than the couplings used in the Epbot tutorial I based the cups off of— finding the right shape for the cups took a lot of trial and error. My first effort put the goggles out too far from my face, and even after I trimmed it down, they didn't flare enough at the temples to actually stay in place. So I tried again and eventually found a shape and position that worked well enough, though not perfectly. I attached those with more hot glue— honestly, the whole assemblage is basically held together by the stuff— and added a vinyl-and-elastic strap.

Overall, I think the goggles turned out pretty well . . . except for the fact that one of the rings kept coming off the nosepiece no matter how much I hot glued it. Eventually I had the thought to lengthen the strap by re-sewing the elastic slightly closer to the end of the vinyl, and I think that solved it, but my goggles still spent most of last night held together by desk tape (which kept them in one piece as long as they weren't on my face). At one point I tried wearing them around my neck:

Lousy lighting + cell phone camera = not a great picture. On the upside, you get to see my trench coat.
However, with both the goggles and the necklace . . . it was too much. So I perched them atop my head for a while, then attached them to my belt, then finally just carried them. Depending on how well my modification this morning works out, I may or may not look for something stronger than hot glue to attach them with.

My other accessories were a lot simpler to create, thankfully.


The necklace was my first experience using chain and jump rings, but I'm actually super happy with how it turned out. I put the clasp low for visual interest and so that if I wanted to loop it over my belt or something, I could do that more easily, and the key is attached a couple inches above the clasp. Conveniently, when I actually wear it, my collar hides the ring attaching the chain for the key to the main part of the necklace. The pocketwatch does open properly, but there's currently no face in it, so . . . yeah. I'm hoping to fix that eventually. Then I made the little vial thing- which is actually just a chain with a gear on one end and a key on the other. The chain is pulled through the gear to form a loop, which holds the vial in place when I loop it over my belt. (See the first picture.) The pistol is part of a Western playset; I spraypainted the whole thing bronze, aged it with the same black-paint-and-water method that I used on the goggles, and painted the handle brown. It's not super steampunky— I originally wanted to acquire, modify, and repaint a clearance watergun or even some kind of Nerf knockoff that would look a little more unusual— but apparently I looked too late in the season for that. Oh well.

Reactions to my cosplay were pretty interesting. I wore it first to my major's Halloween party, which was fine, but didn't work quite as well as I hoped. Part of the problem was that I didn't associate my cosplay with any particular character, original or otherwise, very well, though unexpected goggle issues didn't help either. Then I returned to my dorm, made another go at emergency repairs, and headed out again, roommate in tow, for the dorm-wide trick-or-treating-style event. This went much better, partially because I'd given up on actually wearing the goggles and partially because I could get "in character" to a degree, asking for the date and the year and then getting excited over the answer before introducing myself and my roommate, still in character. Some people seemed a bit confused; others played along quite well. However, there was one interaction in particular, with an RA dressed as an Arabian lady (equally in-character) and another girl costumed as Ms. Frizzle (who may or may not have been in-character), that particularly stood out:

(Note: dialogue has been slightly dramatized. The roomie is referred to here as Dr. M.)
Arabian RA: *as Dr. M and I approach* I am afraid I am out of candy.
Me: *in a very bad British accent* That's all right, but could you perhaps tell us the date?

Arabian RA:
Of course; it is October 30, 3017.

Me: 20— 2017?

Dr. M:
You're certain?

Me:
You're not playing a joke on us, are you?

Ms. Frizzle:
*walks up behind us* No, actually it's 1927.

Me:
No! No, we missed it!

Dr. M:
*dramatically sinks against the doorframe* Alas, we have failed!

Me:
But— but we still traveled! We still got somewhere!

Dr. M:
True! Our calculations must have been off . . .

Ms. Frizzle:
When did you come from?

Me:
Why, 1917.

Ms. Frizzle:
Well, that's still ten years. I'm here from the future, actually.

Me:
Truly? When?

Ms. Frizzle:
2011.

Me:
Indeed? Please, tell me— what is your time like?

Ms. Frizzle:
It's boring, really. Too much technology. Well, good luck! *walks off*

Arabian RA:
Alas, I am afraid that although you have come such a great . . . distance? I have nothing to offer you.

Dr. M:
It's fine. Discovery is reward enough on its own.

Arabian RA:
True. Would that you could leave your attitude here when you return to your own time.

Me:
We shall do our best. Good evening to you!

Arabian RA:
*doing a little bow thing* Good night, and may you be blessed in your travels.
So, yes. I had a few other interesting encounters, but that was the absolute best bit. I'm very grateful to have such an amazing hall and an amazing roommate who actually got just as into this as I did.
Did you, or are you going to, dress up for Halloween at all this year? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


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4 comments:

  1. Those goggles (and the rest of your steampunk costume) look amazing!! We don't have Halloween where I am, but it would be nice to have a cosplay excuse occasionally... ;)

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    1. Thank you! And yes, Halloween is good for that. You're not missing out on the rest of it, though.

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  2. That sounds so fun! :D Your costume looked great, and excellent work with the goggles and other props. Even if the goggles didn't work out like you'd hoped, the look awesome.

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    1. It was very fun! And thank you! I think I've fixed the goggles now, but we'll see if it actually worked.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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