Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Holiday Cards

Good day!

This winter season I'm finding that I don't have enough time to make a new holiday card "from scratch", but I'm happy to say that I've managed to do a little re-purposing to make something simple, but something I enjoy, to send to my close family and friends.

I've gone back a couple of years into my archive of work to dig up an illustration which I didn't really end up sharing, cleaned it up, and added text.
Originally the image was intended to be a 2 page spread in a children's book. The theme was enchantment of frosted windows and finding imagery there. Can you spot some hidden creatures in the frost?

I've made two versions of the holiday card - one which says "Happy Holidays!" and the other which says "Season's Greetings!"
Font used: https://creativemarket.com/sizimon/1646582-Rosaline-Update



And now, the designs are available on my Society6 and RedBubble shops. I've also adapted other sections of the image to suitable for things like scarves, mugs, phone cases, and etc.


 




Finally, please find some of the creatures I've hidden in the image. :)

crab

fish

jellyfish

seahorse

squirrel
Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wig Is Fashion (WIF): LF772 Wig Review

Happy Wednesday to all!

Today, I will be reviewing the "26 Inch, Straight Light Blonde Lace Front Synthetic Hair Wig LF772" from WIG IS FASHION (WIF).

Style Code: LF772
Color: Light Blonde
Cap Size: Head Circumference about 22" - 22.5"
Length Available: 26"
Wig Type: Lace Front
Lace Type: Swiss Lace in Nude Color (1.5 inches)
Parting: Any Direction
Material: Synthetic Fiber
Heat Resistant: 150C Heat Resistant




















Becoming increasingly more interested in costumed portraiture, I was looking to start putting together a solid assortment of higher quality looking clothing, accessories and hair pieces. The goal was to have a wardrobe that would look more believable on film, both in still and motion footage.

The biggest hurdle for this was the wig quality for the times when a look with long hair was preferred. So, I began researching into getting a front lace type of wig which would be to have the versatility for parting the hair in any direction, creating a larger range of hair styles, and have a more natural overall look.


In March, I decided to try one of WIF's wigs - "26 Inch, Straight Light Blonde Lace Front Synthetic Hair Wig LF772". And after reading and watching some tutorials on how to apply lace wigs, I decided to take it out for its first quick shoot on my birthday.
For the first look, it was styled into a simple half-updo. I used a stocking style wig cap that was a beige colour, and did not use any wig tape of glue.

On first glance, the results were pretty good, but as I wore the wig more and more, some areas of concern started to reveal themselves.

The overall rating I would give this wig would be: 3.25/5 stars.
Please find a detailed breakdown below:

1. Product likeness: Upon first looking at it and trying it on, there weren't any obvious differences with what was represented on the website and what arrived. The hair was approximately the same shade and length as on the website.

2. Quality and Comfort: Putting the wig on was not too difficult and I immediately enjoyed that the strands were more silky and natural looking than those from the more inexpensive wigs I've previously purchased. It felt fairly comfortable and it didn't get too hot for me to wear it for long periods of time. I do have pixie-cut short hair though, so maybe that helped. :) I think the hair looks pretty nice in photos, not too obviously synthetic or wig like, especially with the addition of accessories such as wreaths, hats, and hoods. Some Photoshop retouching is required at times, but not too much.

However, it was definitely more difficult to style this wig than some others because of issues in product quality. 

-For one, after putting it on for the first time, a track of hair fell out immediately, which was quite a surprise. I decided to have it sewn back in rather than trying to exchange for a new wig, since the other wig hair seemed to be still securely attached. 
-Another reason I found it difficult to style was because the wig was sparse in places, and even doing a simple half updo, or by parting the hair a certain way, would reveal the stripy wig structure underneath. (Click pictures to view larger)

So, that made the styling options much more limited. Not impossible, but we had to be very careful and strategic about styling, so that none of the sparse sections could be seen. (I had to get help from my mom, because she's far better at braiding hair than I am)
Strategic braiding to conceal any spareness
-The next factor which made this wig a bit more difficult to work with than I expected was its weight. Though not particularly surprising, because the hair is long, the wig was heavier and because of the weight, it kept sliding back where the forehead is, which led to revealing the wig cap/my real hair underneath. I will definitely be experimenting with wig tapes and glues to resolve this issue. 

3. Versatility: As I already touched upon in the previous point, this wig so far has not been as versatile as I hoped, because of the sparseness which limits the styling options. 

Regarding the styling possibilities using heat tools - since I do not own a curling iron which shows the degree temperature of iron, I was a little hesitant to give my wig rigorous curling attempts at risk of damaging it if my iron was hotter than the recommended 150C maximum heat. Though, I once put my iron on a lower heat setting and tried to give one strand a few curls. The resulting curls were very weak and the most impact was seen only on the ends. 
Using my flat iron was successful in straightening the hair though, which was nice. 

Curling attempt
 Another thing I noticed was that after I had some of my wig strand braided, left them braided for a long time (weeks/months), and then un-braided them - there was a gentle wave present. I'll be experimenting more with this in the future. 



4. Durability: So far, my LF772 is holding up pretty well. I haven't worn it too many times, maybe just 5 times for a few hours each, and haven't put it though bad weather, or anything like that. I think some of the ends aren't as smooth and silky as they once were, but this might be due to how long the hair on this wig is, making it more prone to tangling. 

Summary: At this time, I'm quite reluctant to purchase one of these types of wigs from Wig Is Fashion again, but I do see them having sales and promotions fairly regularly on their website, so maybe if the savings were tempting, I'd try again. For now, I'll just keep experimenting with the piece I have.


Thanks for reading!

Also seen in the photos from this post:

-Periwinkle coloured outfit: created by my mom, inspired by one of Legolas' outfits.
-Silver elven headpiece: created by SweetElvenChestnut

Till next time!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

ArmStreet: The "Knight of the West" Archer's Bracer Review

Hello!

I'm quite excited to share some photos and thoughts on some of my newer cosplay additions. Today, in particular I will be providing feedback on the "Knight of the West" Archer's Bracer from ArmStreet.

Before we begin, a big 'thank you' goes out to my family and boyfriend, who support my costume collecting. Many of the pieces form my cosplay closet are their generous gifts.

And now, let's get the photos and review.
The bracer I received was with the brown leather and stainless steel accents options, sized to the measurements of my arm. In a way, because of its long and treacherous journey this was the most anticipated of my costume pieces. (*Feel free to skip to the paragraph directly below, if you're more keen on the review itself)



The order was placed on November 23, 2016 and the piece was dispatched from the creation studio in Ukraine on December 13. Understandably, due to the custom and + hand made nature of the order, the holiday season, and the distance it needed to travel, it wasn't an expectation for the parcel to arrive before Christmas or New Year. However, when January 25, 2017 rolled around and there was no sign of the parcel or a tracking updates, we started to get a little worried and contacted ArmStreet. The customer service staff were very nice and talked through what could be done next.
When my boyfriend went to a Canada Post office with the tracking information we've previously had no luck with on the Canada Post website, the lady working was able to find some updates through her computer system. It seemed the parcel arrived in Ontario on January 9th, then at the British Columbia, Richmond facility on the 13th. Then, for some reason, the parcel was back in Ontario on February 2nd. There was no record of attempted delivery, or further information. Calling the national Canada Post number didn't help, and the representative on the telephone was far less informed and helpful than the lady at the local office. 
But then, somehow the bracer arrived a few days later, and exactly why it had so much trouble being delivered is still unknown. All the address information on the parcel was legible and correct. Maybe some things just need to happen to keep us on our toes?

Next, of course, the question is whether after the anticipation the piece met my hopes and expectations. The short answer is - yes
The long answer - I was very happy with the piece, but there were a couple of small things I thought could have been even better. Please find a detailed breakdown below:

1. Product likeness: The photo representation on the website is definitely in line with the product I received. Just like in the official images, the material quality was high and everything looked like it had been carefully made; from the design on the metal to the lacing and stitching. The biggest difference was the visual definition in the etched design on my bracer versus the one in the website photos, but this was a result of the material selected. As is indicated in the product description section - if this item ordered with the stainless steel option - the stainless steel accents will be non-blackened, as blackening cannot be performed on stainless steel.
That is absolutely fair enough and something I was expecting. But in that case, I think it would be nice to see images of this steel variant on the website for utmost transparency and to help with the decision of which metal is better for the purchaser's vision.

At work, where there are the most enemies.
2. Size and Comfort: The bracer was of excellent size and comfortable fit, with the right layering underneath. It became a little loose fitting and less comfortable if worn on a bare arm, but technically that's not the right way to wear this bracer anyway, as it should be worn with a gambeson or other under-armour gear. Nonetheless, I have worn it on bare skin a few times, without any resulting chafing or bruising.



3. Authenticity: Though, I'm certainly not an expert on what makes historically accurate weapons or armour, I'll say that for me this bracer had a solid medieval/fantasy inspired aesthetic, and I think it is great for various re-enactments, LARP events, costume contests, and cosplay. The piece also feels very durable - both in the sense that it could protect from some real-life force and that it could serve for many years of modern-day enjoyment, without much deterioration.
My only small concern was that the thread on the inner side of the bracer (the one used for lacing the bracer tighter) had a bit too much of a satin finish. Thought not particularly notable in the photos, in person it takes away from the realism of the ensemble. However, for anyone with this concern, it's not terribly difficult to go to a fabric or craft store and get alternative thread or leather which is sturdy and replace that portion of the bracer.


Summary: Yes, there is a little room for improvement. Honestly, where is there not? But I definitely think the product is good and the value for the customized, handcrafted work is certainly worth it. I definitely wish to acquire for more creations from ArmStreet in the future.


Also seen in the photos from this post:

-Wig: by Wig Is Fashion (WIF). It's the "26 Inch, Straight Light Blonde Lace Front Synthetic Hair Wig LF772" style.
-Daggers: "Daggers of Tauriel" prop replicas by Weta Workshop. (with DIY customization by me).
-Green Ring: by Badali Jewelry called "Lady's Elven Earth Band" in silver.
-Top: "Alexa Brown Brocade Steampunk Overbust Corset" by Corset Deal.

Thanks for reading!
More costume pieces + props will be reviewed soon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Memorial Portrait

Hello there,

It's been some time since my last post, and I hope that everyone's summer has been a nice one.

I've been very fortunate in that the circumstances in my life had finally worked out in such a way that I was finally able to visit Iceland, which was a dream of mine for about 10 years now. It was definitely a much needed getaway and a very uplifting trip. Though I did not do any plein air sketching or painting, I took a large number of photos and perhaps in the near future I'll use these for a fantasy illustration.

In more sad news, a month ago, my beloved childhood cat Toma (nicknamed Tomcat) has passed away at the age of 18. Although she passed peacefully, it was (and is) still very hard to come to terms with. Rationalizing that she had a healthy and comfortable life did little to ease ease feelings of loss, regret, and pain. So, I just tried to do something nice to honor her memory. I was very nervous about how it would turn out, but in small steps I worked towards painting her portrait. In the end, I'm pretty happy with the results.


Looking through all the photos we had of her, I picked a reference which I thought would work best for the composition I had in mind and would come closest for the expression and mood I was hoping to capture.
As usual, I started with a pencil sketch. Then did some ink with my micron pens to map out the main features and stripes in the fur.


Next, I tackled the background. I wanted it to have an impressionistic feel; suggestive of some of whimsical, forested area, but keeping the focus on Tomcat's face. I wanted to believe her spirit lives on somewhere green, lush and happy.


Then, I worked at building up subtle layers of colour to illustrate the softness of her fur, finishing off with touches of white gouache for the whiskers, eyebrows, and eye glimmers.

close up
For the final touches, I added a little bit of gold paint to add some accents to the eyes, fur, and the background. It's by no means an addition that has a visible impact on the finished piece after digital reproduction, but I find it to be a pleasant, understated feature of in person viewing.


 (I apologies for the lesser quality images of my in-process work. Unfortunately, I did not have the scanner conveniently within my reach, so all the work in progress photos are made on my phone.)

1999-2017
Anyways, if you enjoy the piece, there are now art prints and post cards available for sale. Profits from the sales with will be donated to two local cat charities which I like to support - VOKRA and Katie's Place.

Please find prints available on:

-Society6
-RedBubble
-InPrint
-TeePublic
-DesignByHumans 

Media: Pigma Micron + Prismacolor fine line archival marker pens, Koh-I-Noor (waterproof) drawing inks, watercolour, Acryla gouache on Strathnore "Mixed Media" vellum surface paper.
Paper Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
Painting Size: 5.5 x 6 inches

Thanks for visiting! In farewell, I leave you with one of my favourite pictures of her.

"Outside seemed better from far away."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Atomicon + New Art

Good morning!

The news this week is that on May 12th I'll be sharing a table at Atomicon and selling some art!
The event is free, so please make the journey if you can.

"Over 30+ artists will be showcasing their talents and selling prints, buttons, fan fare etc as well as their artwork.
Feel free to dress up in your cosplay outfit and win a $100 Prize!
Contest at 8:30pm sharp!


The venue is 18+

Come support local art!"

Atomicon takes place at the Anza Club Vancouver from 6:00-11:00pm.

I'll have some buttons, cards, prints, and maybe some tote bags available. Most exciting, at Atomicon I'll be showcasing pieces from my new art series which is based on some things my friends and I wish were socially acceptable to say to people. Directly below, please find two of the completed images. Three to four further images are in the works. 

I'm Sorry You Misunderstood
Thank You For Leaving






Cards, prints, notebooks, and posters are available on my RedBubble and Society6 shops.
 
Buttons with the elvish tree set will also be available. 



Well, that's it for today.
Hope to see you at Atomicon!