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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Dawn's Nerdy Round-up

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Dawn's Nerdy Round-up

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Elves Are Cool
Last weekend, Mom and I went about making my Elfy costume for the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I've been wanting an Elf costume for about three years now, but Ren Fest season always comes with a myriad of excuses to postpone it for yet another year. Last year was scuba training, for example. But this year, Mom and I were determined that I would have my costume. So, through much rigmarole, we acquired a pattern and material suitable for an Elf costume. I already had the ears from last year, though I needed a bit more specialized makeup to make them look authentic.

All that was left was to sew together the costume. It was a huge costume, consisting of roughly 6.5 yd/m of fabric. On top of that, the pattern was wonky and required a major adjustment halfway through when we discovered that the top of the dress had about a 5 inch/12.5 cm gap in the back. Mom and I worked steadily for two days last weekend, then she finished it up this week. Aside from a bag I made in middle-school home economics class, it was the biggest sewing project I'd undertaken yet, but I had a lot of fun, and the dress turned out great.

So ... off to the Ren Fest we went this weekend! Of course, I made Bobby take pictures of the costume before we departed and I got sweaty/dirty/droopy-looking.

The dress, plain, without much in the way of adornment.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yes, the ears are a pain in the ass. They are prosthetic ear tips that fit over the tops of my ears. But they're much too pale, and I'm pretty damned pale, so they had to be painted first with costume makeup so that they sort of matched my skin. Then they had to be stuck to the tops of my ears with adhesive. Then the seams had to be hidden with flesh latex. And finally, the flesh latex had to be covered to match my skin/ears. It took about a half-hour, total, though I expect I'll get better at it with time.

Now, the dress with the red cloak that I got at last year's Ren Fest. This cloak was a source of angst for poor Mom, who had to listen to me worry over each fabric we considered as to whether it would "go with the cloak." Green materials were lamented for the possibility of making me "look too much like Christmas" while blues held the possibility of "looking like an American flag." We chose this material largely because it went well with The Cloak™.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A better picture of the ears and a 'gund-like silly smile.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My ears were a hit at the Festival. Only once before--and this was during the heyday of the Lord of the Rings movies--have I seen other Elves at the Renaissance Festival. At the Johnny Fox sword-swallowing show, a little girl gazed curiously at me, then appeared struck by a great epiphany. "They're over her regular ears!" she said with awe. I got a lot of compliments on the ears, which was nice, considering that I thought they looked pretty bad myself. I will do a better job of the adhesive stage since flesh latex isn't quite the miracle makeup I'd hoped for.

Anyway, the Festival was a blast besides that. Last year's was all but ruined by the Psychotic Cindy, who insisted on going into every blessed shop. Argh! Now the Ren Fest has some great shops, but spending a half-hour at the printmaker's or listening to Psychotic Cindy arguing with the poor leathersmith's son for twenty minutes while jousts and cool shows and much Scottish music is played ... that makes the 'gund very sad in pants. :(

Because it seems silly to make a separate entry for just two photos, I will also post pictures of the rather creepy spider that lives beside our sliding-glass door. I'm pretty sure s/he is of the genus Mangora, though the actual species eludes me, and after spending a half-hour staring at spider pictures on the Internet, I can't bring myself to care too much anymore. Once upon a time, a bad experience in Girl Scout camp turned me into a diagnosable arachnophobic for a few years, but I've since gotten over that ... or so I tell myself and anyone who wants to peg me as a girl scared of creepy-crawlies. Yet pages full of spider pictures still give me crawling sensations up and down my back. Totally irrational, yes, but I tell myself: also therapeutic.

Anyway, here is Mr. (or Ms.) Mangora. It is rather geeky to use one's very cool underwater camera for taking pictures of odd spiders, right? So these pictures aren't too out-of-place here in Dawn's Nerdy Round-up.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Every day, I walk outside and see the big creepy web just waiting for the big creepy spider to crawl into it and await its prey and think, Dawn, it would only take a broom and a second of your time to sweep that away. But no, I have a policy that outside critters have the right to be outside, undisturbed, unless they prove to be a hazard, and as big and creepy as my Mangora friend is, I don't think s/he is a hazard.

(By the way, the spider is not as large as portrayed in the photo. The abdomen is about the size of my thumbnail, which is big enough.)

Finally, for all you former (and current) D&D players, behold The DM of the Rings, a very funny comic where the characters from the Lord of the Rings movies are recast as a bunch of hapless and clueless role-players working their way through a D&D adventure. If you've ever played--and especially if you've ever DMed--it is hilarious. I laughed loud enough that I began to worry Bobby, and after putting up with me for eleven years now, that is a feat.

Finally (finally), those who are awaiting the Green Knight story, I think I finished it tonight, so now it's on to a much-needed revise/rewrite. My goal is to start posting it by Wednesday, 12 September. If I set a deadline, then I am more likely to actually work on revising it versus procrastinating and hoping for  a helpful brownie to do it for me. It will be friend-locked for its own protection, so if there are any lurkers out there dying to read Dawn's non-canonical version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, now is the time to let me know so that I may add you.
  • Wow, nice dress! :D

    Urgh, spiders frustrate me because they're even worse than fungi with helping me identify them correctly for photo tagging. What's with this "some species look very much the same as others" or "there are so many friggin' species of arthropods that it takes forever to find the one you're looking for" BS?! :P

    Though I can't say I'm too upset that that's discouraged me from staring at zillions of photos of arachnids to try and get a correct match. Harvestmen are cute, but spiders, I prefer to appreciate from a distance. :P
    • Thank you!

      I agree with you on spiders, and harvestmen too, incidentally. I used to freak out other kids my letting a harvestman crawl up my arm and perch atop my head. Yet I still have a little squick to spiders, largely on account of a traumatic experience at Girl Scout camp, I suspect, involving a tent wall and a wolf spider.
  • Such a pretty dress! :D And the ears look okay, if you ask me... I've seen a lot worse (mine included if I could be bothered to actually attach them) - and I'm a teensy bit envious about the hair - at any rate, the costume looks fabulous, and you make a very decent elf. :D

    Thanks for the comic link... I haven't done any D&D yet, but enough systemless roleplaying (and I have enough roleplaying geeks for friends) that it was funny anyway. ^^

    And now I'll look forward to the GGK story. But first, bed. (Which might be the reason this reply comes across as slightly demented, I haven't slept all night.)
    • I'd tell you to go to bed, but since I'm almost two weeks in replying, I think I'm safe in saying that you have by now ... :^P

      I've gotten better with the ears. The secret (I find) is depending more on the adhesive than the flesh latex. So I spend more time on sticking them on properly with minimally visible seams than I spend trying to hide the seams. Flesh latex will work, but it's not a miracle by any stretch, I have found. Also, I paint shadows on my ears to match the ear tips. For that, I'm glad I've wasted spent so many years on miniatures painting! I can blend a flesh tone like no one's business! :^P

      Thanks for the compliment on the dress ... and the hair! If it's any consolation, I've been growing my hair for about ten years to get it to that length and fought with split ends for most of that time that made it look a mess. But I've always wanted "Elf hair," even when I didn't like Elves yet!
  • Excellent elf dress, ears and cloak! Yays!

    Shelob is damned ugly though, thanks very much. Reminds me of a certain E/G spider story written for me many moons ago... ;) Sadly, I have lost the link. *pouts*

    You gots the cutest dimple in your chin, elf lady.

  • Very very pretty. :o)
    You that is - the spider, not so much.... You know that dress you could probably use for more... un-elvish occasions too, eh? It´s a lovely evening gown, that is! Love the colour.
    • Thank you! :) Everyone keeps telling me what a lovely dress as just a dress my costume is. I would wear it for other occasions. Of course, I'm the same girl who last year went into a pizzeria where a family still costumed from the Renaissance Festival was enjoying their supper.

      Ren Family: Hello! I see you've come from the same place!

      Dawn: *glances down at lace-up shirt and red cloak* Erm ... actually, these are my everyday clothes ...

  • Awww, Dawn! What a pretty dress... and it does go well with the cloak too.

    Seeing pictures of my sister on the Internet dressed up as an elf gives me a strange mixture of befuddlement and pride... but mostly pride because I know how happy that day must have been thanks, in part, to your outfit. :) Very cool.
    • I think this may be the Coolest LJ Comment Evah! :^D Befuddlement and pride indeed! But it is a great source of pride that I can now put on prosthetic ears tips so well that, from a distance, they look like my real ears. :^D

      Thank you, though. It was cool indeed!
  • Oooohhhhhh elfies!!! I love the costume. I have a cloak and a dress similar to an elf dress that I'm going to wear this year but don't know if I'll do the ear thing. Last year I was a fairy so I think I can deal with being an elf instead of in the real ren theme. My friend looked like a pirate wench - with fairy wings lol And we got tons of attention especially from the kids so I had fun. My friend who had the whole Ren faire long dress with the underskirts, corsetts, etc was miserable in the heat so I was glad we went the fairy route. Where did you get the ears anyway? If I decide to go with real ears I don't even know where to buy them. hehe Beautiful costume - although for some reason I thought you'd be a fiery redhead lol
    • Nah, just my muse. I'm a dumb blond. :^P

      I'm so late catching up with comments that I don't know if this information comes too late ... The ear tips come from Party City. Do you have that store near you? They have a whole line of prosthetic pieces for Halloween. The ears are called "Small Space Ear Tips" (there are large as well but they are ... well, too large!) and are made by a company called Woochie. Here's the Party City page for the ears (though mine are much smaller than these; I think they mixed up the photos for small and large ear tips).

      Woochie, it seems, also has a website. Here is their ear page. (They actually have something called Elven ear tips ... but these look exactly the same as my small space ear tips. Odd, that.) Unfortunately, the ears don't begin to even look real except with much makeup and TLC. What it recommends to buy on the package really is needed to make the things look realistic. All together, I think mine were about $20 (including the makeup, flesh latex, adhesive, and adhesive remover). It took me about 20 minutes to do the initial "painting" to match them to my skin tone, and takes about a half-hour to put them on each time, disguising the seams with flesh latex and makeup. But they do look realistic; most people can't tell how I have them on.

      I hear you on the Renaissance costumes being much too hot. I get overheated in my Elf dress with wearing my butt-length hair down. I can't imagine how women survive in corsets and underdresses ... ai! Or Bobby; he now goes in full chain mail, though he claims it's not particularly hot. I'll keep my Elf costume, thank you! :)
  • Oh, Dawn! That was a long stop. I wanted to quickly check my friends’ page before getting down to serious work. Then there were the lovely pictures of the elf-dress: great work! You and your mom are good. The ears do seem complicated to get right. My daughter insists you should mold your own (that's what I get for asking her). Pretty awesome spider too.

    However, what killed the biggest amount of time was you sucking me into the LOTR game! I never played anything like DM, but my son did (the one I call the Avari) and he talked about it a lot with a friend of his in ear range. Anyway, I decided that I now have renewed respect for Aragorn and Frodo after that exchange over Lego Lass or Leggo of my Ass. Frankly, I thought Legolas handled the whole thing with quiet dignity under the circumstances or whatever. Great stuff... Anyway, I am not quite finished have to go back and read the last few. Thanks.
    • Weeks later ... I still haven't finished the DM of the Rings either! I'll save it for January, when I'm cold and depressed and uninspired.

      Does your daughter have any suggestions what I could mold the ears from? I am a pretty decent sculptor ... well, on the teensy-tiny scale. I would attempt that. I'm getting better with the prosthetic ears. At least, I assume I am since most people can't tell how I have them on! But it still takes about a half-hour to do my makeup, most of which is putting on the ears.

      And thanks for the compliment on the dress. I'm still just the apprentice; my mom is the pro! She's currently designing herself a costume for our haunted house-warming party. Then we'll be making SCA costumes. I hope to be as good as she is someday; she has years of experience, so I have a good teacher, at least. :)
  • You make a pretty elf!

    I think it's normal for those prosthetic ear tips to be off-colour and generally a pain in the ass. No matter what colour you get, it's never that of your skin. And no matter how "one size fits all" the ear tips are, they never fit, either...
    • Awww ... thank you! :^D

      I'm getting better with the ears. To me, I can still see the difference in skin tone. (Relentless perfectionist? Me?? Nah ...) But people now boggle over the ears and ask how they're attached, so I guess I'm getting better at it. I've discovered that the secret is to try to hide most of the seams inside my ear, and then paint any inconsistencies (rather than try to adhere them to my lumpy ears) to mimic the light and shadow of normal ears. Now that I have a video camera, I should do an ear-attaching tutorial for new Elves! :^P
  • Fun dress! I am completely jealous of the cloak. I'm glad that this year was better and that you got to do other things besides look in shops.

    No cloak or any other costume for me this weekend! I prefer to stick to my jeans while working with horses. ;) (w00t!!!) Still, I am very excited!
    • Pretty icon! Where's it from, if I may ask? It reminds me of the movie Mirrormask.

      I still count myself unbelievably lucky to find that cloak for the price I did. Anyway, I'm learning to sew, so if you ever want a cloak like that, you have someone to make it for you, provided we can find the perfect material. ;)
  • My endless admiration for people who can sew such a lovely dresses. In the dress and cloak you look right ready to ride off to Formenos. I suppose that Elvish hair could cover up any imperfection with the ears.
    I loved the background: that's your garden, isn't it? Great! Even if it contains dangerous beasts like that monster spider. For the record, I'm terrified at all bugs and similar creatures (cockroaches paralyze me) so I would have taken the broom or more likely, I would have got somebody to get the broom. In theory, I agree with you about outdoor beasts of this creepy kind, but when actually dealing with one...
    • Yep, that's my garden. :) It's covered in leaves now! (Weeks after your comment ...)

      I almost caved on that particular spider and swept it down. I was pretty relieved when, a few days after taking this picture, the spider disappeared and I could get rid of the web without feeling guilty.

      My endless admiration for people who can sew such a lovely dresses.

      All my mom! I'm just the apprentice, still very much learning. I'll get more practice in making SCA costumes, but currently, I'm lost with some of the steps in following the patterns. This was a pretty ambitious project to start with, though.
  • Agggghhhhrrr!!!

    I have arachophobia, thank you very much.

    Congratulations for the wonderful dress. I have always loved cosplay, but I´m useless at doing it myself, and too lazy to search for all the complements (and too poor to try it on a regular basis). So I´m rather envious of the people who manage to do it.
    • Eek. I'll start warning before posting pictures of creepy-crawlies, then. Sorry. :(

      Congratulations for the wonderful dress. I have always loved cosplay, but I´m useless at doing it myself

      I've not yet made much of an effort to stay consistently in-character, so we'll have to see how well I do at it. But I'm a ham and have been performing (in skating shows) for many years, so I think I'll learn. :)

      And thank you! :)
  • You look great! And the dress is just beautiful- I can't sew so I'm very much in awe. The ears (although having been a pain) are nonetheless endlessly cute. *pokes* (No earrings?) The Festival sounds like a lot of fun and I'm glad you had a better time than last year!

    I got an eyeful of the spidey picture first because of my hasty scrolling. Ack. *hides* And I definitely agree that it's big enough!

    • I'm still just learning to sew, so you're not much above me. :)

      The ears (although having been a pain) are nonetheless endlessly cute.

      Thank you! And I'm getting better with them; now, people do a double-take thinking that they're my real ears. :^P So many skills I have learned as a nerd ... like putting on prosthetic ear tips!

      (No earrings?)

      Unfortunately, no. I can't wear earrings on account of having a blood/injury phobia. I tried for years and used to black out while putting them in. I even tried a new piercing at the top of my ear ... that is now gone.

      I'm a hopeless wimp!
  • The dress and its occupant are fabulous, simply fabulous! As noted above (I think), the frock could do double duty as an evening dress. Beautiful color, too, and it complements your complexion and lovely hair nicely. You really do have skater's posture, don't you!? :^)

    Thanks so much for letting me use the arachnophoto on the Refuge! It got quite a number of hits. And your account of running into the web...eesh. That brought back memories.
    • You're welcome! Very belated but ... yikes. Real life has not been something to mess with.

      You really do have skater's posture, don't you!?

      I do! :^D And I'm not 100% sure that I can blame skating entirely. When I was in my second year, age 12 (I was a late starter), my teacher swore that I must have studied ballet. I wondered, did two lessons count before I quit? (I wanted to learn to dance; they wanted us to run around in circles holding hands. I was serious about my hobbies even at age 6!) But she claimed that I had very good posture. The T-stop, though, I definitely think comes from many years on wheels, trying not to roll away.
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • BTW, I read this article and thought of you and Bobby doing your trail hiking. Fancy a trip to Texas?

    • Wow! I'm not sure if I'd really, really want to see that or be too creeped out to approach. I still have a visceral avoidance of spiders that can't quite be overcome, even if it's not clinically "arachnophobia." That's fascinating, though. Spiders are such interesting little critters.
  • You look absolutely beautiful in that dress! As for the elven ears, my best friend Firsa has become quite handy with those elven ears, I need to dig around to see if I can find any of hers and every year when the Elf fantasy Fair is being discussed she wants me a) to go, b) in the Lotr dress I once started on but never finished c) want to give me those elven ears too.

    I am so happy to hear this year was such a blast. I remember last year and how much you looked forward to it.

    And be nice to Miss Shelob there. ;) Spideys kill mosquitos and I don't think she has you planned for a snack ;)

    The DM of the rings is hilarious btw *grin* Backstory? What backstory?

    It will be friend-locked for its own protection, so if there are any lurkers out there dying to read Dawn's non-canonical version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, now is the time to let me know so that I may add you.

    Yes please :)
    • Thank you! :) I'm getting better with the ears. I've learned to hide whatever seams I can inside of my ears and to spend a lot of time on the adhesive for the seams that I can't hide. Then the seams can be made invisible with the flesh latex, but this only works if they are adhered properly. What seams I can't hide, I use makeup to create the illusion of smooth skin. It takes about a half-hour altogether, but they look pretty good when finished. :)

      And be nice to Miss Shelob there. ;) Spideys kill mosquitos and I don't think she has you planned for a snack ;)

      She ended up disappearing on her own accord a few days after I took these pictures. Then I tore down the web without guilt. (It was tattered by then anyway.) House spiders--not of the palm-sized variety!--I love, though. They kill the nuisance bugs, and I give them Elvish names and talk to them while in the loo. Oh, wait. I probably shouldn't admit the last part in public, should I ...? :^P
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