Monthly Archives: October 2013

Setting up our Carnevil

It’s been a while since we’ve set up a proper Halloween display. We decided that this is the year to get back into the swing of things.

We set up a full tunnel and covered bridge haunted walk. We built it out of reclaimed fencing and steel caging. Everything is black light reactive with the 6 black lights and dozen or so strobe lights. We have a team of 10 actors dressed as demonic and creepy killer clowns. We have various creepy carnival sound effects and music. The best is that one of our clowns has a chainsaw and comes and slams it against the fence. Don’t worry: no blade. ;) years ago we had made cemeteries, and gallows and things of that nature. But this one takes up the whole yard and incorporates actors and scarecrows and good old fashioned scares. Grab your best costume and come on out.

Keep an eye on our contest on the Ottawa Gothic Designs page on  Facebook. Hope to see you all there!



Cosplay trends

Cosplay enthusiasts are easily becoming some of the most industrious artists practicing today. Most are employing advanced tailoring and special FX techniques to accomplish their creations.
It used to be that for a convention or cosplay party or LARP one would simply make an effort to go as their favorite character made out of old garbage bags…cardboard and bristol board with hot glue and a ton of paint. Well not anymore. You can’t walk ten feet in any convention without seeing a movie quality hand made creation out of leather, metal, vacuum formed plastic, hand casted prosthetic and world class airbrush jobs. Prime examples of this trend can be found within the ranks of groups like the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion Star Wars reenactment crews. Up front and present at all conventions i can personally attest to the fact hat they spend thousands on their costumes and they are very…VERY…picky on the details. Since their appearance in the convention circuit more and more groups have been popping up all over the world daring other cosplayers to try their hand at bigger and badder builds. Its no longer about just going as your favorite characters. It is now all about building the impossible. I have personally fallen victim to this trend as I take it as a personal dare to construct things with the most insane amount of detail just for the gratification of the reactions it brings at cons. A perfect example of this would be Judge Master Gabranthe. Now I don’t play Final Fantasy. Can’t stand it. But when I saw that armour I knew that I had to be the one to build it. 3 months later I unveilled Judge Master Gabranthe on stage at G-Anime in 2010. We also unveiled Scorpion, Frost and Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat, Father Abel Nightroad from Trinity Blood, Taki from Soul Calibur and Tifa from Final Fantasy. Since then it has been a consistent challenge to out do ourselves and when we look around at cons we are no longer towering over the crowd. Our work is still incredible but the crowd is catching up. People are learning how to do things for themselves. It may not be the same caliber of work but damn it if it doesn’t look amazing.
The days of pipe cleaners and glue are long gone guys. Hand tailored costumes and high end paint jobs and more and more expensive and durable materials are now the norm. Better keep up. ;)

So how ’bout it guys. Lets see your best costumes, your best work! Steam punk…comic..anime…abstract…whatever. Gimme your best shot!

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Dying Techniques

With the advent of more talented artists taking up leather working and making it their own has brought with them newer and certainly more interesting ways to dye and finish leather.

For decades oil based leather dyes applied with daubers and foam brushes has been the standard. At the most hand toll painting brought with it at least some details in vivid colour but it wasn’t really good enough. Water based  and acrylic dyes have a similar finish but they don’t penetrate the leathers surface well enough to last any measurable time. These days, however, we have far more versatile options. I know I’m skipping over a great many other products but for the type of work that I do I have to stick with Zelibrand pigment dye. It adheres to the surface very well and mixes beautifully with not only other colours but with createx airbrush paints as well. A useful trick should you find yourself, like me, creating incredibly ornate leather armour is to mix metallic createx paints in with your black pigment dyes to add a nice subtle metallic sheen to your pieces. Also, no need for those foam brushes and daubers anymore. pick yourself up an airbrush and a decent air compressor and you can run the pigment dye straight through the airbrush for a streak free finish on all of your work. This allows for more detail, brighter  colours, and far smoother transitions from colour to colour. The best part about the pigment dye is that once its been clear coated it is candy finish hard but until then…if you make a mistake…take some simple deglazer and wipe it off and start again. People are always asking me how we get our colours so vibrant. Well there’s my secret guys. It’s all about the pigment dye.

So lets see what you guys can do. Go and grab some pigment dyes and lets see what you’ve got.

Zelibrand Pigment dyes and airbrush applications have rendered the old dauber and foam brush techniques obsolete. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.


New School Leather Tooling

Traditional south-west leather tooling has become a thing of the past. Over the years the number of leather crafters drifting away from the same old boring flowers and stag heads in terms of graphic styles has increased. The old styles have been replaced by subculture style leather work with heavy metal and gothic styles incorporating a more tattoo style influence. Tribal designs, skulls, horror influences like zombies and vampires ect. Stag heads and cow skulls have been replaced by dragons and gargoyles. In essence, new school artists have sought out a new medium and found it in a very old one. Leather crafting is a particularly challenging art form as the tools available are generally geared towards the old school style. But it’s nice to see the old ways shining through. The styles may have changed but the fundamentals of clean work and maddening detail remain. It’s nice to see the industry growing.

Movies, fashion and pop culture have been displaying many new forms of leather tooling and embossing in recent years. From Selene’s corset and Victors trench coat from Underworld to the many exemplory pieces displayed in shows like Spartacus and Game of thrones. The simple boring and traditional plate armor that one would expect from such period pieces has been embellished with tribal tooling and lavish colours and finishes that have been airbrushed as apposed to toll dyed by hand. Celebrities like Lady Gaga are known for adorning themselves in one-off leather pieces that are anything but traditional. This has given rise to a new breed of leather smith. One not bound by the simple and tedious restraints of conformity but rather one that pushes the boundaries of their talents and uses this age old medium to actually create something original. Bags, belts, cases, clothing, armour, all reimagined for a new age of style and expression.

Leather crafting and tooling may be centuries old in it’s roots but it’s still relevant. It has been adapted and indeed perfected for and by a new age of artist. The new school edge has met the old school techniques for a match made in heaven.

So, I want to see your work. Send me a link to your leather work. I want to see new school style but I want to see clean work guys. Show me your best!