With all of our costumes complete some members of our team attended a costume fitting at Razzamataz on the weekend of the 13th of May. Below I have attached the final outcomes of the costumes I designed/made or sourced items for. I have covered the childrens faces to protect their anonymity. I am very pleased with the positive response that the costumes received and although some small changes may have to be made I feel this was an indication of a successful final outcome.
Today was our official making deadline and so it with a meeting to Hayley at 9am to present our nearly completed pieces ready for a costume fitting on the 13th. We talked her through the props and costumes explaining any functional details she needed to know and she was very pleased with the final outcome of everything which everyone was happy to hear. I also attended a meeting on the topic of cultural appropriation within the lion wig that had been produced by other team members. I think its very important to be aware of cultural sensitivity as designers and I found the meeting very informative and a good way to air our queries and concerns with how issues like this are addressed and handled within the course and I was pleased to be able to give my opinion in an honest and open way as was everyone else I think. I couldn’t be more glad to see the design changed and the situation rectified, i’m pleased to see an apology given and I hope the other raz group members, specifically those who designed/created the wig who it seemed felt quite personally upset at the situation have been able to use this as a learning experience and an opportunity as grow as designers and people as I know I have.
As the day continued I used this time as an opportunity to complete the finishing touches on the scarecrow, using the same methods as I previously described I did a little more distressing before I began to attach the punk style hand painted patches I created. I wasnt too precious when sewing them on so as to emulate the devil may care rockabilly/punk aesthetic I was inspired by, I also painted an extra patch, (a star inspired by sailor jerry tattoos and an iconic punk symbol that still felt appropriate for a children’s production) as I felt one of the legs appeared quite empty and I wanted a balanced design.
Emma also completed the hood lining for the scarecrow head piece this afternoon. We were in debate whether to do this but ultimately decided using a lightweight mesh material was a good idea to prevent discomfort for the actor as the harsh burlap could be quite uncomfortable to wear for prolonged time periods. However as the hood was unpicked to add the lining we found that some of the edges had frayed and so the bottom had gotten slightly smaller, still not being totally sure of the performers size I elected to leave the bottom of the hood undone to create a wrap effect so as not to risk the piece not fitting as the fitting tomorrow. We also faced some issues with the lining bunching and disrupting the shape of the hood but this was quickly fixed as we simply unpicked some of the bottom stitching to create a less rigid interior. Finally I ensured the headband was securely fastened and fit through the lining in the correct position to sit comfortably on an actors head.
I began the day by offering to paint the shelving and coat stand for the little shop of horrors. We had bought a wooden shelving unit to which we attached wheels so it could easily be moved on and off stage by performers as the nature of the show requires quick set changes. Once assembled the shelving unit was primed with black emulsion as a base. I moved this shelving unit along side the coat stand Conor had constructed to the spray room to begin the spray painting process. Using silver spray paint I strategically coloured certain areas using various intensities of paint to create the illusion that the wooden shelving was in fact metallic, I then repeated this process on the coat stand.
As the day continued I worked on the Camera props. I had the three cameras that had been created by the group as well as my own. The pieces had already been painted and so I just went over certain areas to neaten up some of the paintwork before glazing them to seal the paint and add a gloss plastic effect finish. I also added a plastic detailing to the lenses as a substitute to the original bulb plan that we established through testing was not safe.
Once this process was complete it was time to assemble the camera flashes. Emma had already begun this process by creating paper mâché curved discs in which the the flashes will sit. We had purchased some bicycle lights with a soft strobe feature to emulate the flash of a real camera. Because the lights are designed for bicycles the strobe is not too intense as to pose a health and safety risk to those with sensitivity to flashing lights (however we did discuss this with Hayley and their will be a disclaimer from the any members of the audience with light sensitivity disorders or epilepsy for the show happening regardless) We began by priming the disks with black emulsion and spray painting them silver. I also covered the light of the bicycle lights and sprayed the exterior silver so they blended well into the prop.
Once all of these elements were completed it came time to assemble the prop, I crafted various cardboard hyperrectangles on which to attach the flashes which i primed with black emulsion to mimick the cameras themselves, I then assembled the flashes using hot glue before attaching them to the cameras in the same way to complete the pieces. Im very please with how these turned out, the effect of them all flashing together is very effective and aesthetically exactly what I was hoping to achieve.
Since the dungarees had arrived a couple of days previous and I had completed the scarecrow headpiece I decided to begin the process of distressing the dungarees. As per my design I want a rugged distressed ripped effect on the legs of the dungarees. This not only makes sense for a scarecrow design but is also appropriate for the punk theming I have established in my design. As ripped jeans are very on trend right now I think this is also fitting for the modern edgy design Hayley had asked us to achieve.
I began this distressing process by using a stanley knife to slice into the denim, creating small slits. I then used sandpaper over these marks to create a rugged and natural distressed effect. I did this in certain strategic areas to achieve the effect I wanted. I then began to add the hay bursts. Using the straw I had previously created for the mohican I assembled a burst of hay which I hot glued together using a cloth as a backing to ensure it was comfortable for a perform and not scratching his legs. I then put a slit in the denim and positioned the hay which I secured with hot glue.
I also began to create the stencilled patches that I would sew onto the dungarees, the designs I had elected to go forward with were an ear of corn and a pumpkin (both rural scarecrow references as well as references to punk and metal bands Korn and The smashing pumpkins, a small but fun topical detail in keeping with my punk design) as well as the word OZ in green bold stencilled letters. I had also considered a crow but I thought these designs were bolder graphically and would be more effective when viewed on stage. I drew my designs free hand before cutting the stencils out with a scalpel, then on patched of black fabric I lightly dabbed over my stencil acrylic paint to create my design. I found that designs came out a little wonky at times due to paint running beneath the stencil however this was easily rectified with some quick touch ups of black paint.
Many of the items that had been purchased for Razzamataz remained to be distressed and so on the morning of the 9th I began by distressing the metal ladder we had purchased for the little of shop of horrors. This process began by denting and scratching the metal using a mallet and hammer.
The using black emulsion and brown painting I created an aged and rusted effect on the metal through a process of applying the paint in key areas then lightly dabbing/wiping it away. This effect was very effective and the ladder was transformed, I also dulled down the blue plastic elements of the ladder so they corresponded more with the earthy colour palette we had been asked to achieve for LSOH.
I think the transformation of this ladder was significant and i’m very pleased with it, I think details like this will really bring the performances to life and help create a more immersive experience for the audience.
I then moved on from the ladder to help Emma distressing the metallic trash cans we purchased to be used in newsies and Little shop of horrors. This process was much the same as the ladder, the bins were distressed using a hammer and mallet to create indentations. Because these props were not being stood on by any performers we could afford to be more dramatic in this processing without risking a health and safety issue.
The bin before being distressed
After the trash cans had been distressed physically the painting process began which again was largely a more theatrical version of the process I had used on the ladder, applying black emulsion (to ensure fireproofing) with a sponge as well as an ochre emulsion for rust detailing. Once this was drying we went in with some copper finish to add rust patches that added dimension and would be picked up effectively by the lighting on stage. We had been planning to glaze these pieces once they were finish to seal in the paint however when we tested this on a small patch painted within the bin lids we found that it smudges the paint and effects the design and so we decided against it.
Haley had also suggested the idea of having a glowing light effect in the bins to emulate a trash can fire. To achieve this Emma had purchased some LED Battery operated lights and we purchased some sheets of with coloured acetate to overlay onto them and achieve a fiery glow. However we were concerned as to the strength of the light and whether it was bright enough to be visible from stage and so we decided to test this concept. We began by placing the lights into the base of the bin however it quickly became apparent that (as we suspected) they were not at all visible. For the purposes of the test we balanced the lights on the two containers within the bin to see how visible they appeared when they were closer to the opening of the bin. We overlayed orange red and yellow acetate to create various colour effects, however it became apparent the lights were not bright enough and would not be visible when on stage and so it was decided they would be returned for a refund and this element would not be included in the design.
3rd May- I began the process of creating the finally headpiece for the scarecrow, using what I had learnt from my test piece I created I crafted a pattern for my hood which I then cut from a loose burlap. I sewed these elements together using a quick and basic blanket stitch so I could gage how it would sit on a performers head as well as where the face whole would be most appropriately placed. When I had established all of this I completed the hood by securing it using a sewing machine stitch, leaving a gap where the mohican would slot through.
Then came time to begin the mohawk itself. As we had established that for health reasons straw could not be used and I had already tested the paper shredder and found it ineffective I elected to simply shred paper manually which I found I could do quickly using a stanley knife. I wanted to create a range of different tones to create depth within the piece that would pop on stage (this is also one of the reasons I elected to not use shredded burlap, I felt it was important for the hay to be bold and to easily differentiated from the hood). And so I painted some large sheets on thick white paper using various shades of browns and beiges. Hayley had also asked for some gold hay and so I also purchased some antique gold spray paint which I used to colour some paper. Once these were all dry I sliced them up into my hay pieces and crumpled them to add an authentic texture
Then came the time to create my actual mohawk. I began by creating a cardboard base following the curve of the mannequins head (which was roughly the size of the performers head). Then I gradually began to add my “hay” using hot glue, layering it piece by piece and attempting to create as much volume as possible. It became apparent as I was doing this that my initial estimation for the cardboard base was slightly wrong and for a more realistically mohawk shape I should have the back of the piece reaching the performers neck, and so I expanded the length of the mohawk, as well as adding more cardboard to the side to add more volume that I felt was needed. Once I had done this I continued the long process of attaching my hay until the whole mohawk was covered creating a theatrical and effective hay illusion.
Finally I had to find a way to attach my mohawk to my burlap hood, and most importantly find a way to do this while ensuring it would stay upright on the performers head. I elected to do this by purchasing a simple plastic alice band which I hot glued to my piece. I also created a wider base to for the mohawk to sit on, again following the curve of the performers head and using cardboard. Once this was all done it was simply a case of securely gluing the mohawk and headband into position and repositioning/ attaching the burlap around it to create the effect of hay bursting through the sack.
I am very pleased with the end result as not only it it an accurate realisation of my design but it is an effective and well functioning costume piece with a thoughtful considered design. I have received much positive feedback on this piece from other group members and I think it is what we had all had in mind when envisioning the scarecrow. We did one final test in which another group member tried on the piece and moved her head and body to gage the comfort, movability and functionality of the piece. In all areas it was deemed effective and i’m proud of how its turned out.
Over the course of these days I also completed the process of distressing the shirt. Initially when the shirt was dyed green by another team member I was concerned as despite this being my intention when the item was purchased it was much more neon than I had intended and I questioned how this would fit my punk design and compliment the rich colour scheme I had be utilising. This problem was rectified by using another darker dye and so after this piece had dried I began the distressing process. I created bursts of hay using hot glue on a cloth backing which would appear coming out through slots in the shirt to create the illusion of the scarecrow being stuffed.
28th April- I began to test how I might create my scarecrows headpiece. Due to allergy issues real straw could not be used and so we considered the possibility of using shredded paper. I located a paper shredder within Uni which we could use to to create our hay. However after shredding a test piece it became apparent that this would not work as the paper was shredded into small scraps rather than the long strips which we needed and so an alternative would have to be found.
2nd May- I began to research balaclava construction as well as calculating an average head circumference for a child age 6-8 as I had not been provided with these measurements. While I was unsure as to how I wanted the piece to fit and so I thought the best thing was create a quick test version so that I could understand the design in a physical way. I was quite pleased with the end result of this hood however I felt for my final product I wanted a looser fit to emulate a scarecrow hood which should appear loose and stuffed, then secured with string. When creating my final design I will alter my pattern to extend the neck area so it will fit the performer more comfortably and achieve the loose look i’m aiming for. I also felt that the burlap purchased by some of the group was too tightly woven for this piece. It was stiffer than I was anticipating and so my final piece I will use a more movable hessian which I have sourced freely and so did not unnecessary waste the budget.
I was also responsible for sourcing the scarecrows costume and had already attempted source the dungarees locally to no avail. And so I looked into dungarees online, being told I should attempt to spend around £15 by the budget coordinator. I had previously managed to find a perfect pair for £20 which since other than the dungarees the scarecrow costume only cost £2.50 I thought would be fine as they are the primary element of the design. I also considered the amount spent bringing other peoples designs to life eg £50 on hair to create a wig for the lion. I was told these dungarees would be ordered over the weekend however when I asked on monday I was told that it had been decided they were “too expensive” and they were planning to purchase a pair of jeans and then attempting to find a similar denim from which to attach a panel, creating a dungaree effect. We had previously discussed this as a last resort in the event we could not source dungarees however I felt that this would take more time and wouldnt achieve what I had envisioned when I designed the costume,and would ultimately not even save much of the budget. This is one of many cases in this project where other people took it upon themselves to make decisions without consulting me, even when it directly affected my work. I found an alternate pair which for £5 which (being significantly under budget yet again) I was approved to purchase, however because of the delay created by the lack of communication the estimated delivery date was past our deadline. To combat this I corresponded with the ebay seller and after a brief interaction she agreed to post them first class rather than economy so they would arrive with plenty of time to spare for the distressing process.