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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Process makes perfect

Randy always makes a point of telling people how much of our jobs are research and development.

With permission from the delightful Designer (Annie Cody), here's an example of what we mean.

The design (for the innovative get-into the-action version of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Most of this rendering will be made by the main costume shop, but we, here in Craftlandia, are tasked with the wonderfully 3D looking epaulettes.

The designer wanted them to have this sort of feel to them
This vintage tinsel was perfect!......and unfindable.

But we had zero luck finding any, since it appears to be some sort of vintage tinsel product that is no longer manufactured, and is not even available on eBay.
He made a paper mockup, complete with curly dangly bits.

The mockup established that we really do need something awesome and dimensional. 
So naturally, Randy set about figuring out how to manufacture something that has he same feel to it.
He tried a number of things.

Here are all the initial tries, with their raw materials beside the finished product.

this was cool, but would bend out of shape easily. We also need the Wardrobe folks to not, yannow, HATE us for making them re-curl the epaulette fringies between every show.
But we really wanted that cool twisty look that the tinsel had.
The technique that came the closest was this:
Looks curly, dimensional, is squishable, is maintenance free!
All we need is some coppery yarn, and this will do the trick nicely!
 Here's how he made it:

He made a sortof hairpin out of extra heavy millinery wire

and he wrapped yard around it.

and around and around.

Then he took it to the machine. See video below:

pretty cool, no?

Friday, June 5, 2015


These are some samples of the headpieces for the Lost Boys in the Children's Theatre Company production of "Peter Pan" which ran in Minneapolis from April through June 2015.  The production was re-conceived making Peter Pan and the Lost Boys into birds, the Pounce Girls (Tiger Lily's gang) into cats, and the Pirates into sea creatures.  We hope to post separate pages focusing on the other groups of characters, as well as pages showing mock-up to finished product of sone of the individual pieces.

Lost boy headdress, made from painted Tyvek and actual feathers on a Fosshape base,
 with nylon rods for antennae
This one has buttons for eyes. You can see the nylon horsehair loops for pinning the headdress to the actor's hair.

The feathers were all made from cut and spray painted Tyvek instead of fabric.  Some are wired, some have their spines simply machine stitched, depending on how we wanted the feathers to stand.  The Tyvek was easy to deal with, and nearly impossible to tear.  All of the elements were stitched to small buckram or fosshape bases, much like making small fascinators.  
These were for two lost boys who were "twins"

You can see where we stitched the nylon rods down as spines for the feathers

The blend of actual feathers and manufactured feathers on this one worked very well
 The bird's nest in this one matched the actor's hair color, and so it looked like it was made from his own hair.

All of the headpieces had a few real feathers added, and shaded with acrylic paints.

The costume designs were by Linda Cho, and we had a LOT OF FUN figuring these out and building them!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What exactly IS "costume crafts?"

The costume crafts department is a division of a theatre's costume shop that creates all costume items that are not considered "main garments." This means hats, crowns, jewelry, prosthetics, squirting flowers, shoes, belts, masks, armor, ears, tails, wings, antennae, halos, and whatever a designer dreams up for a character to wear that isn't a garment, isn't a wig, and isn't a prop. The Crafts department also handles all dyeing, painting, and distressing requests.

Usually, only larger theatres have dedicated costume crafts departments, often consisting of one artisan only. CTC in Minneapolis, as one of the 20 largest theatres in the USA, has a costume crafts department with one full-time crafts artisan (Randy Rowoldt - who has been with CTC for over 20 years) and one part-time-regular crafts artisan/painter dyer (Truly Carmichael.)  All shop personnel are members of the professional theatre artist's union,  IATSE (local 13.)

Cool. So that's clear - now what are we doing HERE, exactly?

We, Randy and Truly (AKA the ear-hat mafia) realized that there are numerous innovative techniques, solutions we devised, processes we created, and new discoveries that we make every day, and we really want to share what we do. To our knowledge, there is no other online publication that offers this sort of glimpse behind the costume-crafts-curtain, and we decided to create this blog. CTC gave us the green light to use images of the pieces we make for their shows, and we ask each designer before using their renderings. (You would need their permission to use any of the images we post in your own publications, but you may feel free to link to this blog.)

We hope that our musings are of use to other craftspeople and of interest to anyone who is curious about how our part of the magic happens.

Truly and Randy