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04 September 2008 @ 02:43 pm
Beware the Weeping Angels  
Y'all might have noticed that your friendly community moderator has been slacking a bit lately. No updates. No organizing. What the heck was she doing that kept her so busy elsewhere?!


(I don't know who to credit for this picture - my brother-in-law emailed it to me. If you recognize it, please let me know so I can credit!)


This past weekend I went to DragonCon, one of the largest sci-fi conventions in the world. It's absolutely massive, and filled with some of the best, most talented costumers you could imagine. I wanted to make something nifty, challenging, and Doctor Who. I love the episode Blink, so despite being a little intimidated, I decided to give it a try.

I don't know how many on this community are costumers, but the following is a far-too-detailed breakdown of how I made the costume. If you want, you can
skip this and go to the 'in-costume' post over here on dw_cosplay.

The Dress
Materials: Polyester suiting fabric, acrylic/fabric-medium paint, hula hoop, velcro

The dress is constructed from two layers. The first layer is an underdress that provides structure and support to the overdres. It is basically fitted, with a zip up the back, then flares out towards the bottom in a cone shape. A hula-hoop sewn into the bottom hem provides rigid support.

The fabric I used was a dark grey polyester suiting from the dollar bin. It's got a nice smooth finish (no woven texture) and has enough body to hold the folds well.

The overdress is made from two full widths of fabric sewn into a giant tube and draped onto the underdress.

The down-side of sturdy fabric is that it doesn't drape very well. All those folds are held into place with dozens of individual stitches.

The back has a secret panel that will hide the center support of the wings.

And here it is painted. The paint used was basic acrylic craft paint, with fabric medium added to make it flexible and washable. To create the impression of stone, I used the old trick of highlights and lowlights. First the entire dress got a coat of the darkest grey paint. The I went back with the medium grey and painted most of it, leaving dark grey in the shadows and recesses. Finally I used the lightest grey paint to just hit the highlights.

The effect is pretty convincing - people kept coming up and asking to touch the dress so they could feel that it wasn't stone! For all those who asked me how flexible it is: here's a picture of it in a heap:

And on the inside, we have one of the most important parts o any costume - hidden pockets. Wallet and phone go in one, and a bottle of water went in the other.

From the back, you can see how the hidden wing panel blends right in.

And a little touch all my own. I figured any statue is going to end up with graffiti, right?

The Wings
Materials: Foamcore posterboard, craft foam, galvanized wire, foam, hot glue, acrylic paint, backpack strapping and buckles

Here's a peak into the work behind the work: reference images. To get the wings accurate, I went by screencaptures. I saw how far the wings extended on the actreesses, then measured myself to get the proportionally right size. Guidelines drawn onto the reference image help me design the wings to the right size and shape.

Patterns were drawn on newspaper, then transferred to my wing base. The core of the wings is foamcore board. Normal sheets of foamcore were too small, but fortunately there are giant display boards designed for kids' science fairs. Those have folds in them, but by using two layers of foamcore and lining the folds up so that they wanted to fold in opposite directions, they cancelled each other out and remained sturdy.

Each wing has two pieces: front and back.

The pattern was cut apart into individual feathers, with enough extra added to each feather so that the pieces could overlap nicely. The feathers themselves are made from craft foam and glued to the foamcore.

The support structure for the wings runs between the layers of foamcore. The panel between the wings was made from two layers of a stiff upholstery-type foam. Sewn between the layers and extending out on both sides was galvanized wire.

Fabric was draped over the whole structure and sewn on, then the excess fabric was cut away. The fabric gives the glue something to grip.

Massive amounts of glue were applied to the wing halves, and the wire supports were sandwiched between them. I was very lucky to have the perfect thing to weight them with while they dried - a marble-topped coffee table.

Once they were fully assembled, I draped a little extra fabric from the dress around the base of each wing, to help the base blend in with the dress.

Painting used the same highlight/lowlight technique as the dress, and the same paint, just minus the fabric medium. You can also see here how I cut notches into the foam feathers to make them look more real.

Finished wings:

Strap assembly. I'm going to redo this so that it's possible to get into the wings/dress without assistance.

The Mask
Materials: Paper-mache mask, paperclay, acrylic paint, Elmer's glue, plastic gumball machine thingys, pantyhose

For the masks, I started with pre-made paper maches masks, then sculpted onto them with paperclay. I hadn't ever sculpted before, so that was a challenge!

The eyes are made by cutting lenses out of those plastic capsules you get from gumball machines. I covered them with grey pantyhose and hot-glued them into place. The inside of the mask is painted black to cut down on light reflection.

To give you some idea of the resulting visibility - here's a shot of my neighbor's car through one eye in broad daylight. The visibility was MUCH worse at night. But I could see enough to function.

The masks were painted using the same technique mentioned earlier, though I used a little more care since the face would get more attention. Note that I glued the lenses in AFTER they were painted.

The mask just goes on with an elastic strap. I plan on remaking the mask - it looks pretty decent on the mannequin, but it's just plain too small for my fat head.

The Wig
Materials: Pantyhose, yarn, acrylic paint/fabric-medium, fabric

I'm sorry I don't have any in-construction photos of the wig - I was getting pressed for time and forgot. Basically, I cut the legs off a pair of pantyhose and sewed the rest into a cap-shape, then stitched yarn down the center seam. The yarn was then styled and held in place with 2.5 bottles of fabric glue, and a fabric hairband added. Painted with acrylic paint w/ fabric medium.

A shot to show the internal construction:

I'm planning on remaking the wig. It ended up too small for me and too inaccurate. I think I'll try sculpting a wig next time.

Arms, neck, feet
Materials: Opaque tights, acrylic paint/fabric-medium, nail polish, artificial nails, toe-socks, thrift-store sandals

I know I don't have any makeup skills, so I wanted some sort of gloves for the arms. I bought two different pairs of gloves before giving up and making my own.

First, I took a pair of ladies' opaque tights and cut out the crotch. This became the neck-hole. I pulled them on, one arm down each sleeve, then used pins to mark the divisions between my fingers.

I cut along the pins, then sewed the fingers together by hand using a whipstitch. After that, I took a little tuck in the wrist area of the gloves to smooth out some wrinkles.

As soon as you pull the gloves on after this, dab some nail polish along the seams - this will stabilize them and prevent the tights from running. Then turn the gloves inside-out so that the seams are on the inside (at this point, the right glove will become the left glove and vice-versa).

To increase the illusion of fingers, I glued artificial nails to the gloves. You have to do this while the gloves are on to get the correct placement - to prevent the glue from sticking to you, rub some oil or lotion into your fingertips/nails before you pull the gloves on.

Paint the gloves while you are wearing them and let them dry on you, otherwise they will shrink. I used the same old acrylic paint/fabric medium mix. Before painting the gloves, I gave the nails several coats of silver nailpolish so that they wouldn't show pink if the paint scratched.

They look really freaky when you aren't wearing them.

But once on, the illusion is very convincing.

The neck area is covered by a sleeve made from another pair of tights. Again, use nailpolish to control running.

And in one of those touches no one will notice: just in case anyone caught a glimpse of my feet, I added some fake toenails to a pair of grey toe-socks. The sandals came from a thrift store and were given a coat of grey paint.

And if you made it this far, that's pretty much it! Now maybe I can get back to being a halfway-decent moderator. :)

This is the 'making-of' post - if you want to read the 'in-costume' post, it's over here on dw_cosplay.
(Anonymous) on October 9th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC)
Hi there! This is such a fantastic homemade costume and I was hoping to re-create it, but I'm obviously not as amazing as you so I need a little help!
Did you spray paint the whole dress with a dark grey and then layer with mid and light grey spray paint or did you brush over with mid and paint high and low lights by hand?

How long did the whole process take, or atleast the dress? I may make some smaller wings just so I can go to parties in it and not be afraid of smacking people all night. I hope you can help me, thanks!
penwiper337: Psmithpenwiper337 on October 9th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)
Hello! All of the paint was sponged on by hand - it's just ordinary craft acrylics with a bit of fabric glue thrown in for flexibility.

How long it took... well, if I started right now I could probably get it done by Halloween if I did nothing but work, sleep, and work on this costume and stayed up til 3am several times. But it would be a really tight schedule!
Barbara Filgate-CobhamBarbara Filgate-Cobham on October 16th, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
I linked this to my daughter's FB last night and she was so excited to try it! Thanks for sharing this. :)
just_a_footnote: pic#112676757just_a_footnote on October 20th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
This is so awesome! I'm currently trying to do it myself and that's when I truly realised how much work it is and how accurate you have to be...(I'm nowhere near your perfectness, but I think I'm doing a halfway decent job :D) Thanks for detailing it, it really helped me, although my costume differs from yours because of my laziness :P =)
Joanne McAlpineBroadcastSunny on October 23rd, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
You are super talented! Very Impressed!
ext_1687367 on March 7th, 2013 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tutorial. I'm only making a mask and wig for a masquerade dance, but this was very helpful!
Vincien: Vincienvincien on April 30th, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)
Did you use a pattern for the dress at all? Or just cut out the pieces and (in my case) hope for the best? lol
Rebel Scarlett YellRebel Scarlett Yell on August 10th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
Can you make the dress for me I'll pay
castinbronzecastinbronze on October 6th, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely brilliant work! Contemplating a weeping angel for halloween but not sure i have enough time >.
Warren Zvon on September 13th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
Best Halloween costume eveh!
Ronja LotteRonja Lotte on October 25th, 2014 12:43 pm (UTC)
I love it and wanted to tell you that I linked your costume as a part of my "Best of Halloween costumes"-post here: http://nur-noch.blogspot.de/2014/10/best-of-halloween-costumes.html
Heather McDuffy TristanHeather McDuffy Tristan on September 27th, 2015 08:04 pm (UTC)
Angel Paint?
I LOVE your cosplay costume. It is incredible and the effect is perfect. My daughters, 8 and 4, desperately want to be weeping angels for Halloween so I know I need to get hopping to make this happen for them. Our final product won't be anywhere near as perfect as yours, but I do love the way your painting of the dress came out. Do you by any chance know how much paint you ended up using? I'm hoping to just buy tons of black and white and then mix them to come out with the three shades of gray I will need. What do you think? Do you have any idea how much you went through? Also, I noticed that the head/neck portion of the tights appears to be painted the same way your gloves were - how did you do that? I might be able to get away with painting my kids' arms with acrylic paint, but I think someone at their school will notice if they show up with grey heads and faces ha ha! I know you are super busy, but I'd love any tips you can share. (Their Dad and I are still waffling between Doctor/Amy or Doctor/River for Halloween but those are easier costumes ha ha!).


penwiper337penwiper337 on September 27th, 2015 11:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Angel Paint?
Oh, cool, you sound awesome for doing this for your daughters! I honestly don't remember how much paint I used, but I do remember that I didn't use as much as I thought I would. And how heavy you make the paint will depend on how good a color you start with for your base fabric and how heavy the coats you need to cover it. I think for a 4 year old and 8 year old you probably would start with those larger size bottles of acrylic craft paint - a couple tubes each of black and white. Thinning it with a little water helps it sponge on a bit better (and stretch farther).

Yeah, I wouldn't recommend painting the necks on your actual kids - I ended up pretty grey! I'd try stretching it over rolled-up towels or cardboard or something and painting it that way.
FelicianoVargas NoelleGilliamFelicianoVargas NoelleGilliam on January 16th, 2016 09:17 am (UTC)
This is a great guide to making what you need for the costume, Though i was wondering what's a good way to transport the wing's if your going on a plane?