Handling Your Costumes with Care

By Thursday the 2nd of July, 2015 Conventions

When you spend hundred of hours creating a one-of-a-kind costume, one from a movie or video game you love, that resonates with you and looks totally kick-ass, it’s completely natural to treat it like your baby. You take extra care when putting it on, are sure to check your corners as you move around the convention floor, and always ask for help if your hands are full. In general, handling your costumes with care is an essential part of any convention trip.

After a number of wears though, you become more comfortable handling your costume. It feels easier putting it on and taking off, and you tend to forget just how delicate your costumes and props are. I unfortunately have to admit I learned my lesson about this the hard way in April.

Even to this day I can replay the half-a-second long scene in my head. It was awful. Like watching those slow-motion clips in action movies where you’re not quite sure if the hero will pull through. It started to slip – I tried to keep it in my clutch – grabbed at it like a desperate mad woman – but CRACK! Down went the helmet right on to the antlers in the middle of a busy showroom floor.

Here is the aftermath of the incident:

Nord helmet repair, both broken antlers pictured from above.
Close up of Nord helmet antler damage
Close up of Nord helmet antler damage, right antler showing tin foil underneath.

It doesn’t feel good, let me tell you! I consider myself lucky, though. It could have been much worse! Knowing I would be able to fix the antlers eventually was my little slice of solace. I knew it would be a pain; that it would take valuable costume-making time, delicate care, and lots of love, but I knew repairing it was possible, and that kept it from ruining the rest of my day at the con! And some more good news? Once you learn this lesson, you’re not like to need to learn it again. You’ll be handling your costumes with care from that day forward.

Which brings me to the next point – Keep your chin up, kid! If you made your costume to begin with, you can fix it too! Here’s what I did to fix the antlers after the spill:

Skyrim helmet repair, shot of the stand rigged to hold the antlers up as the glue hardened.
Nord helmet repair, close up of the stand I rigged to hold the antlers as the glue hardened.

To fix the helmet’s antlers, I had to rig up a little work station to hold everything up and in place. As you can see, I settled on a shoe box and some towels, and it actually worked out better than I originally would have thought! I wanted to be sure I got a solid bond on the broken sections, so I decided I should go all-out with some gorilla glue. As you may or may not know, gorilla glue does not set instantly. It takes a few minutes to become very tacky, and another few to begin to hold up on it’s own. So, I slathered it on (in highly excessive amounts – you know – just to be safe) and sat there patiently holding the cracks together until they were stable enough for me to let go (about 7 – 10 minutes).

Second helpful tip about gorilla glue – it’s sandable! Yay! Once the pieces were glued back together, I was able to sand them down to a smooth finish. Here they are after being sanded:

Skyrim Nord helmet repair progress, close up of both antlers after being gorilla glued and sanded.

You can also see in the right hand photo the gorilla glue expanded to fill in all the inner pockets, giving it a great amount of hold from inside, but allowing me to smooth down the outer edges. Next it was time to add some paper clay back on top to cover up the now smooth bits and missing sections. I was so happy to see these begin to look whole again! I let the clay set up over night and painted them the following day.

Skyrim Nord helmet repair progress, close up of left antler's new coat of paperclay.
Skyrim Nord helmet repair progress, close up of right antler's new coat of paperclay.
Skyrim Nord helmet repair, close up of antler tips after being recreated with paperclay

Ahhhh, it feels good. Like it never even happened!

Skyrim Nord helmet repair completed
So remember kids:

Avoid unnecessary heartache by handling your costumes and props with care. But in case you don’t, remember: you’re awesome and you can always fix them!

Signing off for now. Erei un grind!