Monday, 29 March 2010

Odyssey Concept Sketches: Carthage

Odyssey's Carthage bears a very limited resemblance to the historical Carthage (this is true of all five countries - the relationship isn't unlike that of Albion in any Arthurian story and the real Britain, but that isn't the point) and this is especially true when it comes to costume. Very little remains of real Carthage, given the various invasions and assorted defeats. From what one can gather, however, real Carthage clothing drew very strong influences from Rome and Egypt - something that is rather unhelpful in a world setting in which it is important to have very visually distinct cultures.

In some ways, Carthage was the most fun to sketch for since it was very much about the strings of beads and assorted danglings.

The man to the left is wearing a capelet (probably made of a thin wool), leather armour and trousers. A clutter of braided leather and strings of beads are around his waist. I suspect only wearing one bracer is somewhat less advisable in the actual game, but I think it rather adds to the asymmetrical look that he's got going on in there.
This woman (to the right) was the first Carthaginian sketch I drew, rather closely modelled on my own kit for a troll I play at the local live roleplay system. The basic premise of leather armour, furs, beads and lots of bones seems to be running on the same theme as Carthage and all that was missing were long flowing robes.

The Designer and myself attempted to put the outfit together (somewhat hurriedly) from what we had at hand at the end of our day at the Botanic Gardens. It pretty much amounted to hanging everything that was vaguely troll-ish off me whilst I wore some robes. More photos and discussion of that outfit to follow.

Oh, and the Mercenary learnt that she really can't draw veils.

A similar premise was behind this outfit: combining robes with leather armour and a spray of beads. The picture is of a man, but the Designer questioned the figure's masculinity and I do confess that the flare of the skirt makes the whole thing look more like a woman.

The armour in this particular sketch is based loosely on that worn by Mathayus, the titular character in The Scorpion King. Of course, he did not wear it under a giant black robe in the film.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Outtakes II

The Designer pestered me until I dug out the rest of the outtakes and posted them. Less with the dignity, more with the comedy gold.

So here they are.

To the left is the terribly dignified wuxia scholar revealing what's on her scroll of secrecy. It is a wonder I wasn't on the floor giggling for that entire shoot.

There is still a lack of any decent captions, so any and all suggestions welcome.

That expression is from the Designer (behind the camera) telling me to make love to the pocket watch I was holding at the time.

Needless to say, the "serious" versions of the photos are elsewhere on this blog and breakdowns of the costumes worn can equally be found.

Also, elves don't smile.

In Other News, the two prototypes (the Steampunk Shirt and the Elven Tunic) are available from Character Kit, should anyone be both be of the correct size and have an inclination to purchase it.

In Other Other News, if you happen to have a few thousand pounds hand, some beautiful painted prayer books are being auctioned off. A few rather lovely photographs of the collection can be found on the BBC website and hopefully some more will be glimpsed on the Christie website. I'm really just excited because I spent many years of my life oogling books of hours and writing about them.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Odyssey Concept Sketches: Greek

Here are some of the Costume Mercenary's sketches of costumes for Profound Decision's Odyssey, set in a fantasy version of the classical world. The first event takes place five years after Alexander the Great has tried and failed to conquer heaven.

We're starting with the Greeks, which are in part, have some of the more dull costumes. It was where I began and also where practicing drawing many women in long flowing robes (or chiton, wikipedia offers a nice little diagram as to how to construct one) and sandals.

I imagine the lady to the right to be an Oracle of Poseidon, the god of consequences as well as the sea. She's also wearing sleeves, which are more or less long arm-coverings "tied or laced around the forearm, wrist and hand... possibly with a hole for the thumb."*

The idea of garments depicting mythical scenes is a common one in epic poetry. In Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautica, for example, Hypsipyle gives Jason an elaborately embroidered purple cloak depicting many mythological scenes. Helen is found in her room,

"...weaving a large cloth, a double purple cloak,
creating pictures of the many battle scenes
between horse-taming Trojans and bronze-clad Achaeans,
wars they suffered for her sake at the hands of Ares."
The Iliad, Book Three: Paris, Menelaus, Helen, translated by Ian Johnston

Part of me is still convinced that the depiction of heroic deeds on garments is more of a literary device than it was a physical reality, but the temptation to draw such a garment was enough for me to make the attempt. The Designer and I spoke briefly of attempting to create such a garment through the use of batik (rather than embroidery, which would take forever) but are undecided if it would entirely be worth the effort.

The scorning of traditional Greco-Roman colour scheme of white, white and more white is more due to an inability to paint in white than any conscious design choice. To be honest, even James Laver's really very outdated Costume and Fashion: A Concise History* recognises the fallacy of using white marble statues as one's sole source of historical costuming, so I really don't think there's any excuse.

I have drawn some men, some Greek men at that and I'll post them in due course.


* Herbert Norris, Ancient European Costume and Fashion (1999); much of the inspiration for these costumes come from him as well.

* Laver's book is still on fashion students' reading lists everywhere and I've been reading it. I'll post a full review up at some point. I'm not sure being written in the 1970s is a valid excuse for quite all the errors it contains, especially since it has allegedly since been revised and updated.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Outtakes, otherwise known as Bloopers

The Mercenary and company come from the keep-taking-photos-one-of-them-will-turn-out-good school of photography. Which I'm assured is actually a style. Suffice to say, this leads to some mildly amusing outtakes as the camera keeps going when the model moves and a lot of not at all amusing bad photos. Telling one from the other is a subjective sort of process that has had me refrain from posting these photos so far. But mild amusement is sometimes hard to come by, so here are a few not very funny or very dignified pictures from the recent past.

The "humorous" captions could probably do with more work. Am open to any and all suggestions.

More outtakes under the cut.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Wuxia Scholar

We were going for much more of scholarly look to this set, hence the scroll (it's actually a free calendar from one of the many local Chinese takeaways) and the braid.

The surcoat is made of a coarse grey wool. The long sash and large robe are made of a pale blue linen-polyester. The white shorter robe underneath is the same as that worn with the red robes and is made of white linen-polyester.

The Red Wuxia robes are almost identical to the Blue ones, with exception of colours (obviously) and the way we've layered them on. They both have hidden pockets in the sleeve and due to similarity in materials, the same remarks about the rather useful non-wrinkling nature of the fabric apply again.

Wuxia scholars aren't usually female, though there is a huge amount cross-dressing in the stories. Needless to say, this dates back to folk stories such as Mulan and rather with greater relevance to the subject of scholars, Yingtai from the Butterfly Lovers. The great progenitor of the Wuxia genre, Jin Yong (aka Louis Cha) has countless crossdressing heroines, including Huang Rong from Legend of the Condor-Shooting Heroes. More recognisable to the Western audience is probably Jen's brief disguise in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

It's actually a mild problem that Western audiences are usually not very able to read the crossdressing cues in a wuxia film since both genders wear somewhat similar loose-fitting robes.

Wuxia robes are almost entirely about the layering and colours, rather than complex or even intricate design. The Mercenary was playing about with them at one point to try to apply the "steampunk" template to them and it didn't exactly go well, loose robes don't really mix well with Victoriana, corsetry and fitted garments. But we'll perhaps see the results when I get around to doing some photos of the results.

Any ideas from the readers?

Incidentally, we saw Phil Gates, author of Horrible Science book Evolve or Die, at the Botanic Gardens. It's not exactly a rare occurance, he does work there, but he does have three blogs, including Cabinent of Curiosities, a natural history blog from the North East of England. The Designer thinks there's good money to be made in trying to sell these Jade Vines to the Chinese - if only they aren't horribly endangered.

To commission a similar set of robes from the Costume Mercenary would cost something in the region of £80.

As always, more photos under the cut.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Pattern for the Beer Goggles

I'm utterly forgotten to scan the pattern for the goggles! Thank you, Nanairoacha, for reminding me. Here it is. I'm assured by the scanner that its correct dimensions are preserved, but I'm somewhat suspicious of this and I may attempt the crazy process of producing a .pdf of the pattern.

For those who are mystified, I wrote a photo-chronicle/tutorial/ramble some time ago on my throwing together of some goggles from scraps around the house. It can be found in two parts: One and Two. Now, you too can make some goggles out of a ginger beer bottle and cans of Guinness!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Golden Elven Coat

This is hopefully the last lot of pictures with the golden coat and likely to be the best. It hasn't fared well, especially since its green counterpart has rather eclipsed it in previous attempts at photography. For one reason or another, we simply have more and better pictures of the green.

The coat has large, lily-wrapped sleeves, which apparently compel one to steeple fingers and scheme. The coat is golden in colour and is made of a fine faux suede, half-lined in faux silk. It's trimmed in jacquard ribbon of golden ivy leaven on a cream background. This trim echoes that on the Forest Cloak, though on that it is gold leaves on a green background.

Currently, all three sizes of the Golden Elven Coat (Small, Medium and Large) are in stock at Character Kit, priced at £75. It is also available in Green (photos of which appear here).

More photos under the cut.

My Victorian Fashion Plates

I'm being increasingly enamoured of the style and substance of fashion plates. In part, this is due to having enjoyed groping the fashion prints I bought from Sanders of Oxford not so long ago. (I'm still proudly showing them off to everyone who steps foot in my living room at present - I daresay my housemates are getting quite sick of that-advert-about-the-Victorian-children and that-ridiculous-article-about-pancakes.)

I'm slightly amused by the fact that though different, distortion of the human form is still distinctly present in Victorian fashion drawings. The women's waists appear about as wide as their heads and all sorts of contortion appear to be happening to allow for the back of the bonnet to be visible.

That all the figures have no waist also amuses me - though of course, in different ways, granted, but that is the only modes of waist in Victorian female fashion: waists that go down to tiny corseted nothingness and a sheer lack of waist as a towering mound of fabric.

Unsurprisingly, the fashion plates with the descriptions still intact were significantly (almost disproportionately) more expensive than the ones that were just pretty pictures (such as the ones I bought). Though apparently, it's surprisingly common for the descriptions to differ from the illustrations (especially as the colourists would quite happily replace one colour with another if they happened to run out).

The above clearly shows the a rather early example of lower sleeve fullness, triangular or V-shaped emphasis in the bodice, and a sloping shoulder line that came into ascendancy 1840s. The lady in the green-dotted gown in particular has a number of pleated panels at the breast.

Fashion history aside, I'm rather taken with the blue dress on the left. I confess to be beginning to contemplate something along those lines. Not entirely convinced by the pale blue with the yellow bonnet, but I'm not sure I consider the colours to be an accurate representation of what colour choices were like. Unsurprisingly, colours fade and these pictures are well over a hundred years old.

As an aside, colourists of lithographic prints (such as fashion plates) are usually educated women,
...who do not wish it known that they earn money by their labour: these carry the plates to their own homes (and eve nhave them sent to fashionable places of restor in summer), so that many a fair damsel trips along Chester street with a roll of something which seems to be music, but is, in fact, work.
Virginia Penny, The Employments of Women: a Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work, (1863)
I've not much to add to that other than that's fascinating and I'm waiting for that to appear in a novel sometime. I feel the urge to make some sort of quip about how my painting of the Designer's work is continuing this tradition of skilled men drawing and womenfolk tinting, but the words won't quite phrase in my mind.

I'm more than slightly tempted to try and mimic the art style of the prints in future sketching, but the Designer reminds me that the level of technical skill required is rather higher than that of my usual fare. I'll posting a little more on fashion plates on the internet another day, I'm beginning to hoard quite the collection.

Another Gentleman Adventurer

Behold, the chronicle of  Alistair Linsell: Gentleman Adventurer. His blog is home to exciting features such as "Rate my hat!", "Info on Roraima" "Letters to her Majesty The Queen". All this is in endeavour of him raising money for twelve environmental charities and hopefully to win himself a chance of being on the documentary crew of the Lost Worlds Project.

Today, he asks for you, dear reader, to Rate My Hat: Bowler vs. Top hat.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Red Wuxia Robes

It is probably apt that the Costume Mercenary is finally appearing in kit from her own culture.

The outer robe is made of a crimson linen-polyester, as is the shorter white inner robe. The long black surcoat is made of pure linen. Under all that are some beige linen trousers.

I had some reservations about the linen polyester, but it does have the advantage of not wrinkling - as can be seen in contrast to the black sleeveless surcoat.

There are also two hidden pockets up the sleeves of the red out robe. The red sash is long enough to tie thrice around the waist.

The photos, as mentioned in the preview post, are taken by the puny bamboo bushes at the Durham University Botanic Garden. I was rather disappointed we didn't managed to borrow the Dragon Katana from Character Kit (last seen with the Gothic Coat), though that said, it'd probably annoy me on some level to be holding a katana whilst in a wuxia robes.

This was, surprisingly, one of the most difficult photoshoots. Being told to try and resemble Xiao Long Nu is strangely more intimidating than imitating Arwen. Though I was predominately obsessed with western fantasy, classical mythology and fairy tales during my impressionable childhood, I also absorbed much of the wuxia from the culture around me. The daily tv serials showed me the world of the rivers and lakes, a world of flying martial artists, ethereally calm swordswomen and wandering heroes.

But isn't really to all that these costumes come to exist, but rather from a Kamakuran character I played some years ago at Maelstrom. I just felt like reminiscing.

It did come up in Rule7 thread some time ago, but due to the reliance on hand-to-hand combat and the predominance of flying, wuxia translates rather poorly into live roleplay (that said, you could probably argue flaming walls and castles translate poorly and players are still capable of imagining). And I would still very much like to see an attempt made (and not simply because I would very much like to peddle you some kit for it).

A set of robes like the one the Mercenary is modelling in the pictures would cost something in the region of £80.

More photos under the cut.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Steampunk Sketches ("Gas Mask Woman")

The Designer and I have been talking over ideas for a number of things. In due course, I got out the paints (well, metaphorically, they sort of live on the dining room table now) and we played around with them.

The idea was for a underbust-corset-like-thing with a row of buckles going down. Something like the back of the steampunk dress, only in the front and with much bigger, chunkier buckles.

The skirt is supposed to be made of quite a stiff material with mesh between. Something like an Irish dancing skirt, apparently.

And the woman is wearing a shirt, it just happens to be white.

Why exactly she is wearing a gas mask is more or less unknown, likewise with the spiky helmet. The Designer felt it appropriate and I painted it before he rethought the decision. It more or less adds to the steampunk quotient of the sketch.

Note the signature: I've finally managed to convince him to sign one of his sketches. Though, this one, like many others is technically a collaborative effort (I painted Gas Mask Lady, though he inked and sketched her). The Designer hovers over a lot of my sketching, offering suggestions - if you see something cool, it probably came from him.

The the dress came from a flippant remark from the Designer concerning the replacement of buckles for buttons wherever possible in steampunk clothing. We were watching Sweeney Todd shortly thereafter and the idea came about to apply this principle to the clothing therein. In particular, Johanna's blue gown with triangle cutouts.

Here, you see a red and black gown with triangle cutout and instead of buttons holding overlap together, we have buckles. Instead of ruffles on the skirt, I essentially drew the skirt from the Steampunk Dress.

It seems attractive enough, but part of me thinks this has more to do with how the shapes work together and that the tails from the buckles would rather detract from that, but it was fun to draw.

Click Me Pictures...

Not so long ago, the Costume Mercenary was frustratedly writing product descriptions and now, perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm frustratedly making banner adverts. Some of you (or so I hope) might even have clicked onto the site via one of these mutated creations of mine.

Funnily enough, making one is harder than it looks.

Picking the right picture (I know I have millions, but only a handful are good enough), getting the picture to fit the allotted space, getting it to look right and getting the right sounding text... these are all recent headaches and I'm not quite sure I've in any way succeeded, but such is the way of things.

I'm welcoming any suggestions, advice and suchlike on graphical design.

In Other News: Whilst here are various very pretty things that I would very much like to post about (including a strangely swirly greatcoat, a new cloak design, a tudor gown and some dresses) The Designer (who also takes photographs) has recently become a lot busier during the daylight hours and I'm currently also scribbling pictures for Profound Decision's upcoming live roleplay event, Odyssey: The Great Game

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A Hundred and Fifty Year Old Paper

Found it!

After a far too lengthy search for it, I have finally found the cardboard documents tube of 1850s newpaper prints I bought in Oxford. For long paranoid weeks, I had thought it was accidentally taken out with the recycling. It turns out, of course, that it had actually rolled under one of the many bookcases in the living room and despite many frantic efforts, remained at large until about two hours ago.

As the story goes, I was passing through the city of dreaming spires and I passed by Sanders of Oxford. I peered into the window of their 16th century building and they happened to be having a sale. Aside from beautiful and really expensive old things, they also sold beautiful and not very expensive old things.

For less than the cost of a pack of glitter pens each (yes, I bought some new glitter pens - actually the Designer bought me some glitter pens - dull anecdote, will stop now), I bought some old newspaper clippings. I wonder now if these scraps owe their existence to all Victorian craze of scrapbooking that tore apart medieval manuscripts for the purposes of entertaining small children. Look, little Timmy, here is a five hundred year old book! Why don't you cut out all the pretty pictures for your scrap book! 

There are utterly irreplaceable manuscripts that have been carved up in this way. The destruction of books is a heartbreaking topic, so I won't go into how visitors to cathedrals used to have their pick of which historiated initial they wanted to take home as a souvenir (some of these have since been reclaimed and sewn back in).

My scanner is a standard A4 size and the full-pages of The Illustrated London News are closer to a modern B4 (read: my scanner is not big enough), so some clever patchwork may have to happen at some point. But here is a brief glimpse of the various bits and pieces I've scanned this morning.

Dear reader, I'm afraid you will have to brace yourself for the deluge of scans from my collection and consequent gushing about it.

More photos under the cut.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Preview: On Adventures Botanical and Oriental

Spring is supposed to be here and weather has been distinctly improving. Despite having said that circumstances have been conspiring against photos of the kit from happening, the Designer and the Mercenary managed to find time today. As always, here are a few preview photos and the rest will be up when I've sorted through the two hundred odd photos that were taken.

We were at Durham University's Botanic Garden, mostly in the bamboo grove (the bamboo I'm peering from, for example,  is Yushiana anceps, commonly known as Pitt White). I was actually rather disappointed in what I had considered rather wimpy bamboo after seeing it grow in huge thickets by the road near where I used to live in Hong Kong. The Designer's memory of the place proved to be somewhat flawed as he forgot about all the little educational red signs that littered the place. Trying to keep them out of shot was quite a feat and lots of strategic posing had to be undertaken.

Accusations of spring are perhaps unjustified as the sakura blossoms weren't in existence yet. It is, perhaps, just as well since the costumes are wuxia in nature which is Chinese rather than Japanese, and though cherry blossoms are still important to Chinese culture it certainly doesn't dominate it the way it does the Japanese. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, attempting to look serene is very difficult. We didn't manage to borrow any of Character Kit's swords in time for these photos and trying to look murderously serene without a sword is even more difficult.

The other problem was trying to find a setting for the "Carthaginian" outfit that we had thrown together for Odyssey (incidentally, bearing very little resemblance to the fashions of the historical Carthage). We had attempted a range of places, including the Alpine Garden, which the Designer remembered to resemble "a quarry in Wales" (it is somewhat less impressive than that description may suggest) and the South African section of the hothouse. Both he and I are rather dissatisfied with how those photos turned out, by more on that when I post them properly.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Prospect of a Horse

I've been discussing doing some photos on horseback with an ex-housemate of mine. She knows (among many other horse-related things) how to ride sidesaddle and we've been talking about getting the Gothic Coat out for arranging over the rump of a horse.

(Incidentally, these photos of the Gothic Coat constantly tempt me to play about with them on photoshop and there is a great and very pretentious desire in me to caption them with quotes like I am half sick of shadows in an overly swirly font. And yes, the photo the the left is indeed photoshoped. To death and back.)

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Original Elven Coat

This was the original Elven Coat, designed and tailored to fit a woman, made in black faux suede and black linen. It's heavily inspired by Arwen's battle costume which never made it into the Lord of the Rings film, but that said, it also differs quite significantly, not simply in colour and material choice.

The photos are taken by the modern art structure by Prebends Bridge. It's called Reveal, and is done by Richard Cole. The stone is from the cathedral pinnacle, "recycled" here as art. Cole has various things to say about, but to me, it's awesomeness lies in the fact that it looks to me to be the visible tip of a great buried citadel, that has been buried there. It reminds me of the ancient lost and sunken cities, it hints at a whole, well, cathedral, just under our feet. Hence my associating it with elves, the ever fading and waning race.

That said, the Designer told me that he sees no such resonances in Reveal and that it's just me.

What do you see?

(These photos were taken when I was really quite under the weather. Forgive the haggard appearance and try to think of it as the eons catching up with an aged elf or something. Or just berate me in the comments.)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Various Sketches of Dresses

I've been playing watercolours again (several boxes are all sprawled across the dining room table in a sort of artistic chaos) and here are some of the results.

The sketch to the left is partly for Loretta (who was behind most of the Hong Kong photography), since she'd been toying with idea of a gown along those lines for a while. The intention, if I recall correctly, was to use a cotton print sheeting for the outer dress (she had her eye on a cream with red roses much like that pictured) and probably a pale coloured muslin for the underdress.
The Designer suggested the buttons on the zone front dress to the left. I'm still not entirely sure about it, but the concept is growing on me. There isn't much to say about it beyond it'd probably look good in a rough silk, and that it's reasonably Georgian and I'm quite fond of it.

These sketches are done in watercolours, then inked with a 0.5 gel pen (nearest black pen I had lying around). They're done on 110gsm paper, which accounts for the shadows in the background - the paper is thick enough to withstand being swamped by watercolours, but it does wibble it somewhat.

I feel the urge to apologise for my use of fashion templates. It almost feels like cheating. They're not remotely proportioned like actual human beings (even models, for that mater), but I've gotten to the point of thinking of it as concept art. These sketches are to real clothing, what concept art in video games are to the actual level design.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

On the Set of Harry Potter

That wall behind me, is not a real wall. It is not made of real stone.

And it isn't just any fake wall.

It was part of the Harry Potter set, as a corridor in the great Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The wall hides a dry riser inlet that needed to be masked for the shooting of the film. Due to it looking really quite good, the fake wall was kept and it is a piece of the purpose-built set still standing, to this day, in Durham Cathedral. You too can experience the thrills of knocking on it and hearing the hollow sound.

More information about Durham Cathedral's appearance in the early Harry Potter films at the HP Lexicon.

The coat being worn in the photo is the Red Rose Coat.

Friday, 5 March 2010

A Practical Coat

It was, in theory, designed with practicality in mind: nine-tenths sleeves, narrow cuffs, slit down the back, one hidden breast pocket in the lining and buttoned pockets on the outside. The buttons are of a brass-coloured alloy and they adorn the cuffs, the pockets and the front of the coat. The buttons are only only on the outside of the cuff, so as to prevent it catching on the coat.

The coat is made of a thick wool-linen blend (like many of the other cloaks and coats seen on these pages) and is lined in real silk brocade. It has long, decorative buttonholes and is edged in the brocade lining.

The coat isn't actually black, it's actually a midnight green. That said, unless in direct sunlight, it does look more black than green.

Whether or not it's actually practical, is of course another matter. After all, silk brocade isn't very machine washable, but it is cut to be out of the mud unless a truly horrific site.

In other news: The new Character Kit website is live! Many broken links now litter the Costume Mercenary blog. Please be patient as I rummage through the archives and straighten it all out again.

To commission a similar coat from the Costume Mercenary would cost in the region of £90-110.

More photos under the cut.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Prototype: Buckled Gambeson

The Buckled Gambeson prototype was previously glimpsed in a blurry photograph from the really early days of this blog. Now, it appears again, worn by an axe-wielding hero.

The Buckled Gambeson is made in a brown-green faux suede and padded with two layers of cotton. It's lined in a thick black linen, which also trims the edges of it. It has a very slight standing collar and a row of buckles down the front. The straps of the buckles are made of real leather.

The fantastical sleeve-caps are actually have some grounding in historical costume and were inspired by the decorative "wings" of an Elizabethan padded jerkin. These wings were used to obscure the join between detachable sleeve and the garment. This purpose is somewhat lost in this incarnation since there are no sleeves to attach and the Mercenary is still rather of the opinion that they do look like they belong more between the pages of a Dungeons and Dragons book than in serious history.

Due to it being padded with cotton, it is very warm and is also fully machine washable.

Again, we seem to have the lone hero fending off the demonic tree (it appears to be something of a running theme during this photoshoot).

The Buckled Gambeson is available in medium from Character Kit £75. The live roleplay weaponry can also be found there at very reasonable prices.

It has been suggested that there is a certain cyberpunk potential to the Buckled Gambeson (mostly due to its wonderfully ridiculous sleeves) and the Designer and myself have started to toss around ideas. Any ideas on how kit seen on these pages can recombine (Transformers-eque) into a cyberpunk outfit?

The caped cloak seen worn in the photos is made of a thick black wool-linen. It's lined in a dark blue fake silk, which picks out the dark blue of the swirly trim. It's buckled over the chest with a floral brass buckle. It will soon be availiable for £85 from Character Kit (the saga of website updating continues, not problematic, merely lengthy).

In other News: the Costume Mercenary has finally gotten around to rejuggling her sidebar. The sidebar editor in blogger is painfully user-unfriendly when it gets beyond about five items in length, which seems rather strange since it offers something in the region of a zillion gadgets and widgets. I currently hate the whole system with a rather searing passion.

More photos under the cut.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Preview: One Man against the Tree

The debris from Treasure Trap's annual Banquet (and adjacent socialising) still litters the living room, but the the ridiculously good weather was too good to pass up. The Costume Mercenary awoke to a bright and brilliant day, much to her bleary-eyed horror and despite every fibre of her being rebelling against the thought, the day must be seized.

Our wonderful, wonderful models were mustered and we set out with the intent of photography. We used the back of St Giles Church (also appearing in this set of photos, where last we saw that dashing Steampunk gentleman adventurer and the travel-weary elf) and the College of St Hild and St Bede, which has a number of rather attractive buildings, including the now de-consecrated Chapel of St Hild.

St Giles Church is as lovely as before and the coincidence of shadows meant we were able to take this rather spectacular shot of one man fighting off the demonic tree and its long shadow. (It seems somewhat less heroic once I realised it was slightly reminiscent of the awful cult classic, The Evil Dead, but nonetheless, I am still fond of the shot.)

The above, also rather dramatic shot, is somewhat hindered by the fact that I'm quite aware that our highwayman (or as they were otherwise known, knights of the road) is holding at pistol-point the terribly menacing tree (whose shadow looms over the man in the buckled gambeson in the first photo). Somehow the words Stand and Deliver doesn't quite sound as heroic when one is saying them to plantlife.

St Hilda of Whitby, for whom the college of St Hild and St Bede was partly named (it used to be two single-sex colleges - the edge of it seen in photo to the right), has a number of more mundane facts associated with her - advising of kings, converting England, involvement with the Synod of Whitby - and also some much more exciting, fantastical stories. Such as the sea birds dipping their wings in her honour as they fly over her abbey and the plague of snakes she turned into stone. St Hilda's nuns feature in Sir Walter Scott's epic poemMarmion: A Tale of Flodden Field in Six Cantos and her snakes-to-stones miracle is briefly recounted therein:

Of thousand snakes, each one
Was changed into a coil of stone,
When Holy Hilda pray'd:
Themselves, without their holy ground,
Their stony folds had often found.
(Marmion, II.245-9)

I'll be sorting through the photos in the coming week and individual posts will follow in due course.

The swords, shields and axes seen in these photos are available from Character Kit.
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