Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Costume creation : Part One

So what is it that I do, what are my skills? Mmmmmmm. Well I make costumes, ok... but how does that happen... why don't I give you an example. I will use the last costume that I made for a production at Toi Whakaari.

Righty, the first thing that comes my way is the drawings from the costume designer. In this production Emma Ransley was the costume designer and I was allocated the design that I was to build.

Emma's costumes were based on the premise that you are made of what you do. So for my design of the characters costume is a cape of wigs from old dead judges that have gone before.

The first thing to do is research. I went to see if I could find images of real judges wigs and saw different types and the history of them too. Then asked Emma lots of questions. What does it looks like from the back? Real wigs or materials that just reference wigs? Is one wig sitting on his hand? Is the wig on his head separate? Colour to be the same as the drawing? Level of break down?

You ask these questions until you feel that the designer is comfortable and you now what you have to get done! Then you would assess what materials you have, time for completion and of course the needs of the performer.

I went to rehearsals to see how much movement the performer was to do, did they use the costume in any other way apart from wearing it? What would help their performance or hinder and how to minimise the later.

Your costume supervisor for the production helps with questions and answers heaps too, they are so important!

The materials that were available to me was Dacron... pillow stuffing... unspun wool...spray glue calico...organdie and paint. Real wigs would have been very expensive and after talking to Emma this is not what she wanted. Big, bold shapes. The first thing I did was to make a small sample, a mini wig if you like and then I made a base waistcoat.

I decided on the base waistcoat to provide some way for the performer to easily get this costume on and off. Plus it would act as a base to layer my fake wigs. I tried the waistcoat on the performer and then set to work on my Dacron rolls.

During my samples I found the best way was to get a thick Daron sheet, split it into three layers. I would take one of the layers and run the iron over it with steam (with press cloth on top). This made it flat and provided me with a base layer to attach the rolls onto and hide the calico and organdie waistcoat.

Then I went and laid the other sheets flat, sprayed them with spray glue and then placed thin layers of wool strands over the top and pressed down! I waited for them to dry, turned them over and then spray glued in sections then rolled up to the thickness the rolls needed to be.

I made lots of these. Some I used to make the head wig and I secured the ends with stitches before I put them on to a Dacron fused base shape.

I then started to attach the Dacron rolls onto the waistcoat layer. I started slow and took Emma into view my progress regularly so I knew I was still going in the right direction.

Below is my first real stage of development that really looks like the design I was given.

That's the end of part one. I did this in parts, three altogether, so its not a scroll-a-thon for you. Plus I may get you show some of the new garments I have been making myself, at last!


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