Thank you. :-)
I had big plans to finish this costume and try to get it approved by the 501st in time for Celebration, but 2012 has not been kind to my family, and the project had to be set aside too many times. I was determined to take it to CVI, though, so I did the best I could. I spent every evening in Orlando sitting on the floor of our hotel room, sewing and gluing and painting, and managed to finish it enough for a wearing on Saturday. I never got a chance to try on the whole costume until that very morning, so I was worried that something wouldn't work, or something would fall apart... but I wore it for six and a half hours with no problems. Murphy decided to be kind for a while, bless his mischevious little heart. There are pieces that were never finished at all (the blasters, the armor at the back of the neck), there are pieces that were strictly temporary (the silver forehead pieces were made of foam instead of being sculpted), and there are some things that just flat out need to be done over again now that I know a little more about what I'm doing. I owe my wonderful husband a huge "Thank you" for putting up with my lateness in finishing the costume, and for putting up with my stressed-out temperament over the past few months. He's the best.
My Eleena sister! This was the bright moment of my day. We had discussed fabrics and colors beforehand, so we matched quite nicely!
I know that Eleena has freakishly thick lekku, but I had no desire to sculpt something like that, so I made the sculpt thinner than the references. I wore the very first casting from my newest and thus far most successful lekku mold, and I was thrilled with the results when I pulled it from the mold. Sometimes it's nice to just sit there and smile to yourself when something works out the way you had hoped it would, and to know that hours and hours and hours of work paid off.
Fabric. I ordered over a dozen fabric samples, and never found the perfect one right off the shelf. I didn't have time to customize the fabric, so I settled for a temporary stand-in. It was a good color, but definitely wasn't glossy enough. And it snagged on EVERYTHING. Definitely something that will be upgraded in Eleena 2.0
Scott and I have dubbed this jumpsuit the Eleena Jammies. It just needs to have some feet attached. The black stripe on the legs needs to be lowered a bit (it showed above the belt about an inch), and it needed to be wider. The front line seemed okay, but I think it needed to go back a little bit further on the sides. I had trouble with the collar wanting to sag open at the front. I'll need to reinforce that to help it stand better. And, the invisible zipper in the front seam needs to be replaced by a lapped zipper opening. The reference images have that lump along the front seam that looks like a covering over a zipper. The arms proved a bit too loose and wrinkly, so those need to be tightened, and I think it would help to put a loop on the end to hook over my finger. I had a hard time getting the gloves on without pulling up the sleeve fabric.
Prepairing to make the mold for the front armor. The old Talon tattoo patterns on the body cast proved useful, because they helped me line things up on the armor sculpt and make sure that everything was even. I don't think I made the front armor quite wide enough... but at this point I'm not really sure I want to start over, just to add an inch or two to the width.
Sculpting the back armor...
Painting black latex in the back armor mold. It was tough to get all of the latex painted in and then backed with foam before the latex dried and began to shrink away from the mold. Once I started, everything had to be prepaired in advance and ready to move!
The belt box sculpt was made with a melamine core covered with pieces of styrene.
You can't get much done at our house without an overseer or two. It can get quite warm in our workshop during the summer, so I did most of my work in the evenings after it cooled off. I'd leave the door open, and His Highness soon discovered that the shop lights attract the big brown beetles that he loves so much. Every evening he'd glide in the door and keep me company while he feasted for a couple hours. (Few things can bring a person closer to needing a clean pair of shorts like having little talons suddenly land on your shoulder when you're utterly engrossed in using a belt sander.)
I cast the boxes in Smooth-On's Feather Lite resin to keep the weight down. The belt buckle was cast in standard resin. They were first spray painted silver, and then weathered with acrylics. I think the belt buckle came out a bit too big; I think I'll make the next one a little bit smaller.
The detonators started out as clear plastic Christmas ornaments. I drilled holes in the top and bottom of one, blocked the bottom hole with clay that caused an indention (to help me center the red button later on) and filled the globe with resin. I then drilled holes arround the equator, and used sewing eyelets and the rounded ends of rivets to fill them. The scalloped design was made with clay.
Once I had the clay cleaned up as much as I could get it, I made a mold and created a hard master with tooling resin, which I then spent quite a few hours with sandpaper and a set of files, trying to get the lines straight and the scallops even. From there, I made another mold and cast them in hollow rotocast resin. (Again, trying to keep down the weight so my belt wouldn't weigh a ton.) I'm not happy with the final results yet... I didn't build up the top and bottom enough to adjust for the added width created by the scallops, so the detonators look a bit oval in shape. I'm going to try building up the curve of the hard master again, and see if I can't make them more round.
The gloves are lambskin, which proved fairly easy to sew. I had a really hard time with the slit on the upper part of each gauntlet. If there had been a seam at that slit, it would have been a lot easier! I couldn't make the gloves as tight as the references... any smaller, and I couldn't get my hands into them! Here's my glue station. While working on the gloves and boots, I spent a lot of time going back and forth between my sewing mashine and this sheet of plywood on the floor nearby. Sew a seam, put a bit of contact cement on the leather, pound it flat. Sew another seam, repeat, repeat, repeat...
They're not perfect, but I'm pleased with the final look. I put some elastic in the wrists to try to keep them from looking too baggy. It did help a bit.
I used melamine to make forms for the leather pouches. It's slightly wider on the top than the bottom, and the sides are rounded. The smaller pouches were made with a single piece, while the bigger pouches were formed over a stack of melamine that had been glued to make a deeper thickness. The leather was wet-formed over the melamine and left to dry. Then, I pulled out the forms, sewed the seams, and used contact cement to reinforce everything. E6000 was used to glue the pouches onto the fabric. I had to wear the jumpsuit while gluing on each pouch to make sure that they were placed evenly, so I slid a piece of plastic under the fabric in each location to make sure I didn't glue the pouches to myself by accident. I then used strips of stretchy fabric to hold the pouches in place while the glue set.
The leather turned out a bit more colorful than the references, but it was the best match I found so far. I haven't figured out how to make the teardrop shaped spots on the pouch closures yet. Still trying to decide if they should be painted, glued, or cut. They look like indentations to me.
It took three tries before I found a pair of shoes that had the right shape toe and heel that I could use for the base of the boots. This pair was the closest, and though they were a little bit tight, they served me well. First, using a heavy canvas fabric to make the muslin pattern.
Hair/quilting clips work well for holding leather for sewing. This was a heavier cow leather, and my sewing machine had some trouble with it. I had to hand-turn the wheel quite a few times when the machine motor just didn't have the umph to get through the leather on its own. Since the brown topper has an opening in the back, I put the zippers in the back. I didn't want them to be too visible back there, however, so I used invisible zippers in the seam. It looked great.... but the zippers started failing after just a few test-wearings. I had to replace one of them before I'd even finished making the boots, and the other gave out at Celebration. They worked well for my day of trooping, but at the end of the day one of them jammed up and I ended up having to pull my foot out of the boot without unzipping it fully. Not easy! The plastic links of invisible zippers just aren't made for the stresses of boots, and I also found that having the zipper in the back made it REALLY difficult to get the boots on and off. I'm going to have to redesign them, with metal zippers placed on the inside of the leg. That means that the brown top will have to be adjusted, but I'll experiment with it a bit and figoure out the best solution. Most likely, I'll just use a partial zipper, or make the brown section removable on one side so that it can be closed after the zipper. I found that the boots tended to sag a bit under the weight of the brown toppers, so my options to solve that are to make them a bit tighter, or to put some boning inside to hold them upright. I don't want to attach them to the pant legs; I'd prefer that the solution be in the boots themselves.
The brown leather was wet-formed over the boots, and I used pieces of stretch fabric wrapped around it to hold the leather in place while it dried. Then, I trimmed away the excess leather, and began gluing the leather onto the shoe one section at a time with E6000. I used the stretch fabric again to hold the leather in place while the glue dried.
Blue painter's tape was used to help me line up the silver pieces on the top of the foot. Those pieces were sculpted in scraps of styrene, molded, and then cast in hot glue. I'm not a fan of hot glue for costume pieces, but in this case I needed something flexible, so it served its purpose.
And, that's where things stand so far. I still need to give this costume a lot of attention. The headwrap and forehead decorations need to be properly sculpted and shaped. I need a different fabric for the bodysuit, and bits and pieces need more attention all over the costumes. Many people didn't know who Eleena was at Celebration, but those who were familiar with the character seemed to appreciate the effort that I put into the costume, and their reactions were kind. I'll be looking forward to finishing the costume, and hopefully, someday, getting it approved.