Friday, March 28, 2008

Sesshomaru-sama's Battle Armor


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Sesshomaru-sama's Battle Armor

Though Sesshomaru is one of the world's most powerful and deadly demons, he is still subject to injury and can be killed if badly wounded. Being a demon of death,(or angel of death depending on how one looks at it) makes him one of the most feared demons known to man, which in turn means that humans gather up armies against him. If being a demon wasn't bad enough, being a warrior besides has made him even more enemies who seek his demise. All things considering, Sesshomaru often find himself pitted in battle against his many foes, and as such, the wearing of battle armor is constantly required to protect himself from harm.

Haramaki

Haramaki was a component of the samurai class attire primarily during the Sengoku period (16th century) of Japan. Haramaki are belly protectors, which obviously made them rather important. Haramakis were generally made of silk, and lined with various materials. Haramakis contained chain mail or articulated plates of iron. When the haramaki is worn, it is to be put on from the front and then fastened behind with cords.


Sesshomaru's Haramaki is made of a stiff black fabric, with unknown lining. It is skirted with four attached peplums resembling lotus flower petals and trimed with a tooled silver metal.

More than one Haramaki has been seen to be worn by Sesshomaru. As with the alternate kimono styles, the alternate Haramaki styles could be taken as a mistake on the part of the anime artists or as Sesshomaru owning multiple Haramaki.

If you wish to make the alternate Haramaki, here are the details:


Alternate Haramaki:

The alternate Haramaki, appears to be exactly the same as the one he usually wears, except that it is made of a rich purple instead of black, and the peplumes are longer and more fluid and drapible and not as stiff as the black ones are.


Heko-Obi

The Heko-Obi is a thin, highly decorative, brightly colored silk sash, tied at the waist to form a flower-like bow. It generally serves no purpose other than formal decoration of ceremonial wear.

Sesshomaru's Heko-Obi is a brilliant eye-popping shade of yellow, embellished with purple trim. It is uncertain if the purple designs are painted on, dyed, or embroidered onto the heko-obi.

Though highly decorative, Sesshomaru's heko-obi does serve a purpose, as he uses it to sheath his swords to his side.

More than one Heko-obi has been seen to be worn by Sesshomaru. As with the alternate kimono styles, the alternate heko-obi styles could be taken as a mistake on the part of the anime artists or as Sesshomaru owning multiple heko-obis.

If you wish to make one of the alternate heko-obis, here are the details:


Alternate Heko-Obi #1:

Alternate Heko-Obi #1 is the same as the one he usually wears, except for the color. This one is the same brilliant shade of yellow, but the designs on it are royal blue instead of purple.

Alternate Heko-Obi #2:

Alternate Heko-Obi #2 is also the same as his usual one, except for the color, which is a dark gold-yellow, possibly metallic, and has navy blue designs on it.

Alternate Heko-Obi #3:

Alternate Heko-Obi #3 is completely different from his usual wear. This one is made of a dark blueish-purplish cloth, which resembles a velvety material. The lower edges of it have a gold banner-like pattern which appears to be embroidered in. The ends of this heko-obi are trimmed with a band of long gold tassels.


Obi

In one episode we see Sesshomaru not wearing his usual battle armor. He is seen wearing neither his Haramaki nor his spiked plates. From this episode we know that underneath his battle armor and over his kimono and hakama, Sesshomaru wears a very wide, plain black obi, most likely to have been made of silk brocade.
Make Your Own Haramaki


I have yet to find a pattern for a Haramaki, however, looking at the shaping of the one Sesshomaru wears, and than looking for any pattern that looks similar, I did finally come across one pattern for a corset that is a near duplicate of the Haramaki worn by Lord Sesshomaru.

For women, I would recommend making this in at least two sizes larger than the size you would normally wear, because you will be wearing it over two Kimonos and an obi.

For men, I really do not know how to convert women's sizes to mens sizes, so you are on your own, at figuring out which size to use.

The fact that this is a women's pattern, however should not be a problem for most of you, considering that Lord Sesshomaru is usually played by a woman not a man, anyways.

There is more than one corset in this pattern, the one you want to use is the one they call "The Square Necked Corset".

You should make the body of it out of black silk, brocade, or leather.

Use white for the shoulder straps.

Use red ribbons for the strap ties and the back opening ties.

To make the Haramaki with the spike plates attached to it, use the following method:

Use grey, silver, or black for the left shoulder strap. Attach the metal spikes using the manufactures directions, directly to the shoulder strap.



Folkwear Pattern #267
#267 M'Lady's Corset
Misses Extra Small to 3X-Large. $16.95

Square-neck corset laces in back with purchased or handmade eyelets (instructions inside pattern).

The "Iron Corset"
The Haramaki was known as an Iron Corset in Europe. The reason for this was quite simple: it was made out of iron. It was worn to protect the wearer from being stabbed, shot, or otherwise slay by their opponent. It was also, very, very heavy.

There is an interesting discrepancy in exactly what type of Haramaki Lord Sesshomaru wears. In the earlier drawings of him in the books, his Haramaki is quite clearly the type also called an iron corest. This is the same type we see him wearing in the early episodes of the TV show as well. We know this because twice we see the iron corset shattered.


The first time is when at his father's grave dueling InuYasha. InuYasha is able to shatter the iron armor just before cutting off Sesshomaru's left arm.

The second time is during the battle with InuYasha that left Sesshomau crippled and near death, when InuYasha used the Wind Scar for the first time. The Wind Scar shattered Sesshomaru's iron armor and tore through his chest and fluffy tail. The badly bleeding, Sesshomaru fled into a nearby forest where he collapsed and remained in a near paralyzed state for several weeks until he recovered his wounds. It was during this time that he meet Rin. She was the girl who saved his life and took care of him, while he was in this crippled state.


It is interesting to note, however that after this, (in both the books and the show) Sesshy's armor looks different, and appears to be of the type that is made of silk and lined with metal plates on the inside.


We particularly notice this change in the TV episode where Sesshomaru battles the Sun God and his armor is easily slashed and torn by the Sun God's claws. Note that though the older iron Haramaki shattered when destroyed, the new fabric one tears instead.


It should also be noted, that in the book, Sesshy's metal armor is a greenish-gold plated iron, while on the TV show it is a matte black; and later on his silk covered armor is black in both the book and the show.
What Wikipedia says:
Metal corset (also known as iron corset) is historical type of corset made mostly or entirely out of metal, usually iron.
Due to large amount of metal used, such corsets were heavy and more uncomfortable that ordinary fabric corsets. They were also padded underneath like armour. The metal corsets also worked as a bulletproof vests, because assassinations by knife in heart were a common risk at the time.


Making the Haramaki Yourself : Corset Based Method
The easiest way to make Sesshy's Haramaki, is to use a corset as a base. To the upper edge and left shoulder would be added the silver spike plates. Rather than attach the lotus flower peplums to the lower edge, it would be simpler to attach them to a wide waist-cincher-type belt, worn under the corset.

Using this method you have two options:


The first would be to buy a ready made corset, which is what I would recommend. A good quality corset costs from $85 - $300.

The second is to actually make the corset from scratch, which is an art form all of it's own, and should not be undertaken by someone new to sewing.


Corsets are lined with metal plates called a "busk" and metal, wooden, ivory, or plastic panels called "bones", in order to stiffen them. There are many ways of making them, but usually the bones are padded, and inserted into a muslin inner-corset, which is in turn sewn into another stiffer layer; this being sandwiched between the outer layer and the lining. The corset is cut from many tiny strips of fabric sewn together to mimic the shape of the body.

A well made corset will be very stiff and hold it's shape, thus forcing your body to mold to the shape of the corset.

A poorly made corset is not as stiff and will mold to the shape of your body, rather than the other way around.

It should be noted that if you have never worn a corset before, that you may want to consider buying a training corset to wear for a few weeks or even months, before you make an attempt to wear a real corset. The training corset well get your body used to being forced out of it's natural shape, without the extreme pressure of a real corset.

The advantage of wearing a corset-style Haramaki is multi-fold. For one thing, it'll look more accurate than any other method, as it is the style Haramaki worn by Sesshomaru throughout most of the series.

For another thing it is going to have a very dramatic effect on how you walk, and this for an actor who want to get into character, is a big plus. For those who've paid much attention to Sesshomaru, you know how he walks: very stiff, very straight, very proud, with his shoulders thrown back, in a manner that says: "I'm the greatest, best looking , most powerful demon you've ever seen, now grovel at my feet." A corset when worn correctly, is meant to improve your posture, which is why they are so stiff. Wearing a corset is going to throw your natural posture out of whack, and cause you to walk the same way Sesshomaru does wither you like it or not!


What Will I Do?

I am using the ready-made corset-as-a-base method. The link below is for the corset I am ordering for use with this costume.

If you want to build the armor using a ready made corset as a base, I would recommend you use this one from Drac-in-a-Box. It closely resembles the Haramaki he wore later in the series, and is made of black Chinese Silk, very much like his would have been made of.

When buying a corset of this type, measure your waist, and than buy the size 2 inches smaller than your waist measurement. For example I have a 28" waist, and thus have ordered corset size 26.

This corset is designed to be worn by women, which for most actors playing Lord Sesshomaru, is not a problem, as due to his highly feminine appearance, Lord Sesshomaru is usually acted out by a woman and not a man.

This corset is not ready-made, as Drac-in-the-box, custom makes them to order, and could take from 6 to 12 weeks to arrive after placing your order, so be sure to allow for that time frame and order it well in advance of the event date when you will need the costume to be finished!

Corsets can be made for men, but they can be a bit harder to find, usually you will have to get them custom made. Drac-in-a-Box, does custom made items, so you could ask them if they make male corsets.


Sesshy-type corset from Drac-in-a-Box

Chinese silk brocade gothic corset from Drac-In-A-Box Gothic Clothing UK
Chinese silk brocade gothic corset - Steel Boned Corset Gothic Black Paisley, Chinese Silk Brocade. Corset Has Front Busk Rear Lacing. Corset Lined Cotton Drill Strength Comfort. Designed Stream...

Finding Supplies to Build Sesshy's Battle Armor: Spikes
The bane of Sesshy CosPlayers everywhere are those super wicked, hard to find silver spikes. It took some doing, but I found them!


Spiked Plate

This is an unusual piece, and one that CosPlayers curse more than anything else, both because it is very difficult to wear and also because it is next to impossible to recreate without the help of a blacksmith. Most CosPlayers make do with cardboard and silver spray paint.

I can find no historical referance to Japanese warriors ever actually wearing such a piece, and must therefor assum that it a piece of complete fictional fantasy, created to give Sesshomaru a fierce and foreboding look.


The spiked plate consists of a large horseshoe shaped strip of silver colored metal that rises up above Sesshomaru's left shoulder, presumably to protect his injured (dismembered) arm. This plate has large sharp curving spikes somewhat resembling claws, protruding out of it. The is an descrepancy as to how many spikes are on this shoulder plate; in most pictures we see 6 spikes approx 4" long each. However in a few images we see 8 spikes instead of 6.

A second metal plate is attached at the top of his Haramaki running along the breastplate. At each end of this plate are arrow shaped designs decorated with red silk tassels. The breastplate has two upward-turned claw-like spikes.

A third metal plate is attached at the upper edge of the back of his Haramaki running along the top edge of the Haramki and just below the shoulder blades. At each end of this plate are arrow shaped designs decorated with red silk tassles. There are no spikes on the shoulderplater.

Way to Make The Spike Plates:

There are multiple ways in which you can make these plates, varying from simple to extremly complex. Here are a few of your options:


Option #1

The quickest and nearly easiest option, is to purchase 1" - 3" wide dog collars, 15" - 24" long, and encrusted with silver metal studs on top and bottom edges, and a row of 2" spikes down the middle.

While this is the quickest method, it is the second most expensive method. You will need two dog collars for this method, keeping in mind that a cheap spiked collar is $25 to $30 a piece, while fancy ones with longer spikes can cost well over $200 each.

It would not be very difficult for you to fasten one to the front and one arching over the left shoulder, and just leaving the back plain, as it would not be seen through the fur tail and long wig anyways.

Doing this, you will in effect has created a very realistic spike plate, which uses both real leather and real metal spikes. This method would also be relativly lightweight and moderatly comfortable to wear.

Option #2

Most CosPlayers find it easiest to take a sturdy cardboard box, and cut it to the shape of the three panles, than spray paint them silver.

For the spikes they may use styraphome cones, shaped cardboard, polymar clay, or screw-on metal spikes.

While this method is the cheapest and easiest method to do, it also is the least realist, and can be quite uncomfortable to wear.

Option #3

If you have experiance in soft sculpture and cloth doll making, you may want to try useing silver lame fabric, cut to shape, and than stuffed and sculpted.

This method, can create the illusion of real metal, an accurate shaping of the plates, aand is relativly lightweight and easy on the wearer.

Option #4

The best and most accurate method, but also the most exspensive method, is to actualy make (or have made) real battle armor.

For this method, you will need to know the craft of black-smithing, silver-smyth, or some other form of metal working and you would be creating the real thing: the silver metal, spike encrusted plates.

If you do not know anything about being a metal smyth, but still want the real thing, you have the option of contacting someone who is a metal smyth and commisioning them to build these metal plates for you. Be warned, however that this will cost anywhere from $200 to $5,000, depending on the metal used and the ammount of detail that goes into it and the commission asked.

While this method is the best looking and most accurate, it does have a major drawback (other than cost). It is very, very, very heavy. I repeat: REAL METAL ARMOR IS HEAVY! This can not be over stated.

The real warriors of fuedal Japan, were very fit and had a great upper body strength. They trained for years and years, starting at very young ages. They started out with light weight bark armor, moving on to heavier weight wood armor, and than step by step up from light weight metal plates, to the final heavy battle armor. They did not wake up one day and say: "I want to dress up like a warrior." They trained for many years, and as a result had the physical strength needed to wear heavy metal armor plates.

Before you go through the exspence and trouble of making or having made, a real metal plate, you need to consider this fact: Will you be able to actually wear it? Unless you work out and lift heavy weights on a regular basis, the answer is more likly than not, to be no.

This is not saying that you can not start training and working up to wearing real armor. If that is you goal and you have 7 or 8 months or more, before you have to wear the costume, than you can certainly set a goal of excersie and training and building up enough upper body strength to wear the armor.

All I'm saying is, know what you are getting yourself into before you spend the money to have real battle armor made. While you may be able to put it on and walk around for a few minutes, consider how hard it will be for you to walk or even breath, 3 or 4 hours later. You don't want to be half way through a show and have to drop out from fatigue, or stop wearing sections of your costume. It is better that you know this now, because you do not want to find out the day before the show, that you are unable to wear part of your costume.








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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sesshomaru's Hakama: Karusan-bakama


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Sesshomaru's Hakama: Karusan-bakama

Hakama are a type of wide, skirt like pants worn by men. There are many types of Hakama, wore during various periods throughout history by different classes at different time.

Lord Sesshomaru is both a warrior and nobleman, a wealthy and powerful Feudal overlord (daimyo) and much feared aristocrat and as such wears a style of ceremonial Hakama which is only worn by the elite few of his social standing. The type of Hakama worn by Sesshomaru is known as the Karusan-bakama or Sashinuki Hakama.

Karusan-bakama

Some hakama during the Sengoku period had the hems made narrower than the body in imitation of the ballooning trousers worn by the Portuguese. This style carried on into the Edo period and became called Karusan-bakama. In addition to the taper, they had a secured band of cloth - looking rather like a pants cuff - sewn around each leg's hem, so the ballooning fabric would not open out like regular hakama.


Sashinuki are a type of hakama that are meant to be worn blousing over the leg and exposing the foot. To accomplish this, they are somewhat longer than normal hakama, and a cord is run through the hem and drawn tight, creating a "ballooning" effect . To allow for the body required, more formal Sashinuki were six-panel hakama rather than four panels. Technically, this cord around the ankle makes sashinuki a type of Kukuri- (tied) hakama. The earliest forms of sashinuki were cut like normal hakama (albeit a bit longer) and have a cord running through the hem of each leg. These cords were pulled tight and tied off at the ankle. This was the form commonly worn during the Heian period. Sashinuki were worn by court nobles with various types of leisure or semi-formal wear.


Hakama Patterns, Tips, & Info
Here is more info and a few sites that offer help for making hakama; a few sell the pattern, and at least one has a free pattern you can download off the site.

When is comes to hakama, you have two options.

Option #1: Buy Them Ready Made

They are not difficult to find. If you have a martial arts school in your neighborhood, than most likely you can get a hakama from them or they can tell you where their students get them. Additionally you can often find them for sale on Amazon or eBay.

It should be noted, however, that while finding ready made traditional white hakamas is pretty easy, finding the formal Karusan-bakama or Sashinuki style Hakama, which Sesshomaru wears, will not be easy. As of yet, I have been unable to locate any place on the Internet that offers them for sale.

Unlike regular hakamas, these two ballooning style hakamas are not exactly easy to walk in. They are very "theatrical", difficult to wear, impractical, and basically only worn today, by re-enactors and CosPlayers, who make their own. And that brings us to:

Option #2: Sew Your Own

A hakama is relatively simple to make, once you know how to make them. They can be made from start to finish in less than four hours.

There is a remarkable difference in the amount of fabric used, from if you are making traditional hakamas or ballooning style hakamas. The traditional style with the wide flaring skirt-like legs, takes from 3 to 5 yards of 45-inch fabric depending on how tall you are and how wide you want the pleats to be.

One the other hand, the ballooning styles like Sesshomaru wears, can take up to 7 yards or more of 45 inch fabric, nearly double the amount of fabric used for the traditional style.

You can use any traditional hakama pattern to make a ballooning style.

The differences are as follows:


You will need 6 panels instead of 2, this makes the legs twice as wide.
You will need to bind the hems to the ankles in some manner, either by sewing a "pant cuff" or adding a casing and drawstring or by using a 3-inch wide ribbon to bind the hems to your ankles.


I have found a simple pattern on the Internet that works well. (link follows) It is for the traditional style hakama, but is simple to edit and customize for use in making Lord Sesshomaru's formal style hakamas.

Important Note Before You Wear Hakamas!

If you are completely new to the art of wearing hakamas, than you may not be aware of how they are worn. There are no fastenings on hakamas: no zippers, no buttons, no snaps. They are worn much the same way as a Scottish Kilt, by folding and pleating them to your waist, than tying a sash around you waist to hold them in place.

For modesty's sake, a hakama must be worn over a long kimono, of at least knee length or longer. Why? Quite simple reason, actually: because, unless you have drastically altered them, a hakama is open on the sides at the hips, and also there is no crotch in a hakama.

Since the hakama is tied directly to your body, it is quite difficult to remove them and put them back on again, causing a bit of a problem if you have to "go", thus the reason for the openings. If you are not comfortable leaving them open, these three openings are easily "filled in" by adding the addition of triangle shaped gussets sewn in. You'll just have to get used to spending a long time in the bathroom when it comes to taking them off and putting them back on again, something you may want to take into consideration, before you plan on wearing this costume to a convention.


Folkwear Pattern #151: Hakama
#151 Japanese Hakama & Kataginu
Hakama for men and women, all sizes based on waist measurement. This pattern gives you complete instructions for cutting and pleating the traditional Hakama in any size and includes pattern pieces for Small, Medium-Large, and Sumo-Size Koshiita (Backboard) and Koshiita Triangles. For contemporary sportswear, pattern also includes instructions for optional side panels to fill in the side-seam gaps that expose the underlying kimono in traditional wear.

As I mentioned, hakamas are not exactly easy to wear, especially not if you are someone used to wearing khakis and jeans. It can ruin your day if you are all dressed up but not comfortable and thus can not have any fun. Since wearing a hakama is something that does require a bit of practice, most CosPlayers are content to just wear a pair of wide legged white pants. Harem pants are another common option. Your best bet, if you want to look like you are wearing a hakama without actually wearing one, is to wear a Tribal wear Belly Dance Tribal Pants. (I have included a link to the best pattern of this type below.)

There are many reasons why a CosPlayer would wear pants instead of a hakama:

1.) Pants are going to be cheaper to make, requiring only 2 yards of fabric as opposed to the 5 to 7 yards needed to make a hakama.

2.) If you are buying instead of making, you could buy white pants from your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart for $10 - $20, as opposed to the having to search high and low for a specialty shop that sells hakamas which typically sell for $60 to $400.

3.) When wearing pants there is no worrying about a hakama's inconspicuous openings or inadvertently flashing the crowd, a definite problem for CosPlayers who partake in battle scenes re-enactments.

4.) Unless you wear hakamas, palazzo pants, or floor length skirts on a daily basis, pants may be just plain easier for you to walk around in.


Well, whatever your reason may be, for most CosPlayers who take on the role of Lord Sesshomaru, wearing pants instead of a hakama may be a better option.

So, should you choose to wear pants or a hakama? That is a choice that is entirely up to you.

What am I going to do, you ask? Well, considering that I haven't worn pants in over 20 years, and that my daily wear consists largely of ethnic costumes and medieval gowns, you know that for me, pants are NOT an option! I'm going with the hakama. As a general rule, everything I wear, was worn in a time before pants were invented, and since I am a living re-enactor (meaning I wear re-enactment clothing 24 hours a day 7 days a week), for me, wearing anything that is not historically accurate is not an option. I won't even consider it.

The difference between re-enactment and CosPlay is re-enactors wear the cloths as their normal daily wear, while CosPlayers wear the cloths only one or two days a year to parties and conventions.

So when considering which route you should take in making this costume, you need to ask yourself, why are you making it? When will you be wearing it? How long will you be wearing it? What will you be doing while you are wearing it? And how important is it to you personally, to be historically accurate? There is no right or wrong answer here, and the only answer you should go with, is the one that is best for you.
Alternatives To wearing a Hakama:
If you are looking for an alternative to wearing a hakama, which looks as though you are wearing a hakama, than I recommend the tribal pants of Folkwear Pattern #144.


Folkwear Pattern #144
#144 Tribal Style Belly Dancer
sizes Small to 2X Large; garments are gathered or tied to fit. $19.95 This pattern is the perfect starting point for creating your own stunning style whether you are a dancer, historic reenactor, or lover of exotic fashion.

Folkwear Pattern #119
#119 Sarouelles
Misses 6-18; Men's 32-44 $14.95 Three comfortable and timeless pants designs from Turkey, Africa, and India, with elastic or drawstring waist and ankle variations. Full and
flowing easy-sew styles are perfect for casual wear, yoga, belly dancing, or costuming.




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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some Thoughts on CosPlaying a One-Armed Character


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Sesshomaru the One Armed Demon

Or Some Thoughts on CosPlaying a One-Armed Character

For those not in the know, early in the series, Seshomaru lost his left arm in battle, which posses an interesting question for CosPlayers who take on the role of Lord Sesshomaru: How do you deal with acting out a one armed character?

If you are not familiar with the series than you may end up confused when one day you see an episode where Sesshomaru has both arms: answer, his lord demoness has wizard-like powers and had made a few strange attempts at cutting off human arms and useing them as his own, but this never works for long and soon he's back to being a one-armed demon again. Eventualy he does grow his arm back by the end of the series, but that's like 130 episodes later.

So the question placed on the CosPlayer is this: When playing Lord Sesshomaru, and you have two arms, how do you explain this to the mobs of crazed fangirls that hunt you down at the conventions?

Do you tell them you are acting Sesshomaru before the battle that lost him his arm?

Do you really get into character and tell them you've stolen yet another human arm, and that if they don't get their sorry pathetic human bodies away from you, you may take their arm too just in case this one doesn't work out?

Or do you tell them you are playing Sesshomaru after having regrown his arm?



Or is it that the fangirls are just so out of it that they forgot all about the fact that Sesshomaru only had one arm 90% of the time so they never noticed and thus never asked you about it anyways?

I guess the question really is, just how far into character do you really get, when you are in character as Lord Sesshomaru, and if all the little details are so very important, than why don't more Sesshomaru CosPlayers, have their left arm, bound and hidden within the folds of their costume?

I know, I'm weird, but like I said, I obsess over details when I make a costume, and dealing with a one armed character played by a two armed actor is one of those details that I find myself obsessing over.

Any thoughts on this?




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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beware the Demon with the Venom Claws!


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Beware the Demon with the Venom Claws!

Ouch! Even for a one-hand demon, Sesshomaru's hand is not one to take lightly. His claws drip a deadly poison.

Sesshomaru is not one to waste his magic powers on an inferior opponent, and he likes to say so whenever challenged by such a person. He'll scoff at your foolishness and walk away. If you had any common sense at all, you would do best to let him walk away and count your blessings. However, anyone foolish enough to challenge Lord Sesshomaru to a duel is usually also foolish enough to not just let Lord Sesshomaru walk away. Instead they will follow him and insist that he accept their challenge.

The beautiful and deadly Lord Sesshomaru, however, will only draw his sword if the challenger is what he considers to be a worthy opponent, all others fall prey to his venom claws.


The fool who challenged him, never got a warning and never stood a chance, because by the time they saw him start to move, he will have already driven his hand through their chest and out their back, pulling their heart out along the way. That alone is enough to kill them, however that alone is not all they get, for Lord Sesshomaru's long talon-like claws are filled with a venomous acid, and if by chance they survive the blow through their chest, they don't survive for very long, as their body quickly dissolves into a liquefied bloody mass.

When you have claws like that, it makes you wonder why one would need to carry a sword as well.

Of course, there are those who think that keeping their distance will keep them safe from Sesshomaru's deadly venom claws. We must pity the fool, because they forgot all about the lightening whip. Not a whip in actuality, but rather Sesshomaru's ability to shoot the acid venom from his fingertips and manipulate it like a whip, so as to wrap it around your body and send your now mushy remains flying in countless pieces in all direction.



It's best to just not get this guy mad at you, and leave him alone, but there always comes along those who think they can beat him.

Now, for the CosPlayer, it is very unlikely that you will have been able to grow your fingernails out to such long lengths or have them filed down to knife like points, so what do you do? Why, fake fingernails, of course!

You can not just run down to Wal-Mart and buy a package of fake venom claws however, so it may take some searching on your part to find them . . . no wait, I've done that for you. It seems that making Sesshomaru and InuYasha costumes is in such big demand, that they have risen up, nail saloons that specialize in creating InuYasha's blood claws and Sesshomaru's venom claws, especially for CosPlayers.

Another option you have is to go to your local nail saloon and see if they make custom commissioned fake nails. If they do, than tell them you want them to resemble dog or cat claws, with point files tips extending from ½ to 2 inches long (depending on how long you are comfortable wearing them, keeping in mind that the longer they are the harder it well be for you to do ordinary things like button your coat or typing on a keyboard.) For the color you want them to be a milky opaline white, preferably glow in the dark if possible.





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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Demon


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Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Demon
...or how to really get into character.

In his humanoid form, Lord Sesshomaru's eyes are a bright yellow with very thin, cat-like pupils. It seems however, that his eye color is constantly changing with his mood.

In a calm, relaxed, peaceful state, we see his eyes as a very pale icy yellow, the color they usually are while he is talking to Rin.

In his more alert state, such as when sniffing out Naraku or challanging InuYasha, his eyes are a brilliant, almost glowing bright yellow.

For the CosPlayer who wants to really look like Sesshomaru, you will want to invest in some special effects theatrical contact lenses. The design commonly called "Yellow Cat's Eye" is the one you'll will want to look for.
Seeing the World Through the Eyes of an Angry Demon
...or how to look positivly prime evil.
As Jarkan once said, don't let Sesshomaru's cool deminur fool you, inside he is seething boiling, demon, always looking for fresh blood and looking for a kill.

We have already looked at his eye colors when in a calmer mood, now let's look at the colors seen when he is not quite so calm.

When angered they darken to an orangish, redish, yellow. We see this color often, especially while he is locked in a duel against InuYasha.

If you want to go for this fiercer, but not quite evil look, you will want to buy contact lenses in the design commonly known as "Red Wolf" or "Fire Wolf" or "Devil" or "Banshee". These names are used for yellow eyes with red or orange outer edges. These often come in either round or cats-eye pupils. You will want the cats-eye pupil for Lord Sesshomaru.

However...

...if you get him really, really mad at you, say if you took his sword or threatened Rin's life, Lord Sesshomaru's eyes turn a bright bloody red, the pupils shink to near invisable pin-prics, and the whites of his eyes disapear entirly. This is your warning sign to run like lightening, for he is about to transform into his true form: a firece, blood thirsty 40 foot tall giant white dog-like creature. Once you have gotten him mad enough for him to transform back to his true demon form, you would be lucky to live, as he'd likly eat you.

If you want to go for Sesshomaru's most demonic, blood-thirsty look, than you will want to buy contacts in the design commonly known as "Vampire Red". These come in several styles, but the one you will want to look for is the style that changes not only your iris to red, but also your whites as well; for this you'll need a "Blackout" style in red.

It is an interesting thing to note, that while CosPlayers commonly use yellow cats-eye contact lenses to achieve Sesshomaru's calmer yellow-eyed self, you never see a CosPlayer go for his more evil demonic red-eyed self.


More Things You Should Know
Sites to Read Before You Buy Theatrical Contacts
FDA WARNING:

It should be noted here that in the USA it is illegal to buy theatrical contact lenses without a prescription, even if you do not wear glasses or contacts normally. This law went into effect in 2005, after several incidents of misuse of these items, which in turn resulted in serious medical conditions, including blindness. It is recomended that you order them directly through an eye doctor.

Most companies require your eye doctor to fax them proof of a medical exam and/or a prescription form, before they will allow you to place an order. BEWARE of any company whom does not ask for your eye doctor's info!





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Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Silver Haired Warrior


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The Silver Haired Warrior
Here is an interesting challenge for the CosPlayer: Lord Sesshomaru's hair. Now, not knowing how tall he is, it is a bit difficult to say exactly how long his hair is, however knowing that his hair comes to about 3 inches above his ankles (nearly to the ground!) and assuming that his is 5'7" - 5'9" (he is very tall for a Japanese man, and stands 2 or 4 inches taller than any of the other characters in the series), we can come to a rough estimate of the fact that his hair is approximately a whopping 65 inches long!



To realize just how long 65" of hair is, consider this: when you see a woman with long hair, usually her hair will be 15 - 18 inches long, or falling to just above her elbows. Lord Sesshomaru's hair reaches down to his ankles and nearly sweeps the ground as he walks. This guy has got a lot of pretty silver hair to manage. Speaking as a woman with 20-inch long hair myself, I can tell you, that it takes a lot of care to manage long hair, and the longer it gets, the harder it is to care for.

For the CosPlayer who likes to really get into character, here is something to consider: Lord Sesshomaru is a warrior. He fights battles. He can fly. He does a lot of flying. He does a lot of fighting. All that jumping around in battle and than all that flying around in clouds (and clouds are humid), is complete and utter total murder on your hair, and yet, this guy has got the shiniest, smoothest, most perfect, silky smooth, untangled glossy hair the world has ever seen! There's only one answer to that: this guy spends A LOT of time combing, brushing, and washing those lovely silver locks of his, and when I say a lot, I mean a lot, we're talking 4 or 5 hours a day here. Sure, we don't see that in the show or in the books, that'd be boring, but think about it: we've seen him standing there bored out of his mind, twiddling with his hair, while he rolls his eyes as he listens to InuYasha yelling at him, than he flicks his hair in a very Cher-like manner, pulls out his sword, chops everyone up, flicks his hair again, puts his sword away, and than walks away like nothing happened. Uhm . . . how many other warriors in the show, do you see stopping to flick their hair between chopping people up? None, Sesshy is the only one who does that.



And let's take this notion one step farther. Who here is a major fan of his? All hands raised? Good. Now I ask you, which one of you doesn't know what a pompous peacock he is? Oh I know, fan girls don't want to admit it, but come on, just listen to how this guy talks! I mean, he not only is the best looking most powerful demon, he knows it and he'll tell you so while stomping you into the ground, because you are so far below his social standing. How many times have we heard him complain about half-breeds and low-lifes and his favorite phrase: "pathetic humans"? The first time we ever see him, he's commenting on what a waste of his time it is to bother with anyone below him. This guy thinks way too much of himself, which ultimately becomes his downfall and results in the death of the only person he ever did care about.

Well, knowing how vain and smug he is to begin with and than combining that, with the fact that he's got this mega-long ultra perfect hair . . . that sure spins a new light on his already undying vanity!

But how does all this affect you the CosPlayer?



Well, for starters, it affects how you would act while you are CosPlaying. The best CosPlayers not only look the part they are playing, but they act the part convincingly as well. Lord Sesshomaru's hair is just yet another sign, in a long row of other signs, that this guy has a major vanity problem.

Moving on.

Playing Lord Sesshomaru is a role of many problems. From a difficult costume, to a difficult personality, there is no problem harder for the CosPlayer to overcome than finding a wig that actually looks like Lord Sesshomaru's amazing 65-inch silver hair.

Have you ever gone shopping for a wig? I have. If you are someone who wears wigs often, than you know that the longer the wig is, the harder it is to wear.

I was 12 when I got my first wig. About 15 when I got my second, third, and forth ones. My teen years I lived in them. A curly brown Tom Baker wig (Yes I'm also a mega Doctor Who fan, thank you.); a neon blue wig (later replaced with blue hair dye); a frosted Tina Turner wig, which btw was whopping 32 inches long and I wore it every day!); and my least worn wig: a Lily Munster wig, at a near Sesshomaru length of 40 inches long.

The Lily Munster wig was my least worn wig for a reason: it was hell, absolute and complete total hell to try to go outside wearing a wig that long. All it took was a breeze so tiny you didn't feel it, to fill every strand with a million and one knots, and it was murder trying to brush them out of such an amazingly long wig.

Now that Lily Munster wig, is still a good 20 inches shorter than the wig you will need for an accurate Lord Sesshomaru costume, and believe me, finding a 65 inch long wig is not going to be easy. I mean, have you ever even tried finding a 65" long wig? I have, and it's not an easy task, and unless you are Crystal Gale, chances are you don't have naturally 65" long hair to dye silver, so you really do have to buy a wig to pull the effect off.



Your best bet will be to search for what is called a Lady Godiva wig or a Rapunzal wig, but even than these are hard to come by. Unfortunately these almost always come in only one color: a very fake looking golden-honey yellow, and for Lord Sesshomaru THAT JUST WON'T DO, NOT AT ALL, NOT AT ALL!

Never fear though, all is not lost. You will just have to settle for drastically shortening Lord Sesshomaru's hair, that's all. . . and than pray he doesn't bite your head off because of it! LOL!

Finding a 30 - 40 inch long wig is not very difficult. You may have to do a bit of Googleing to find one, but they are common enough to find after only a couple of searches.

Here's the thing: You may have a difficult time finding the right color. And what color do you need? A pale silver-blue-whisper-white. His hair is not white. His hair is not blue. His hair is not grey. His hair is pale silver. Have you ever tried to find a wig this color? I have searched and searched and searched and I have yet to find one. Don't use a grey wig, cause you'll just end up looking like an old man, and even though he is 250 years old, he did stop ageing at around 19 or 20 years old and so still looks very young, which he is, considering he has a lifespan of a few thousand years.



And even though his hair is silver, NEVER EVER use a silver tinsel wig! You don't want to make him look like a Cyberman out to get Doctor Who!

Most CosPlayers opt for a white wig, and that is what I would recommend. If you can find one a white glow in the dark wig, would look even better, unless of course you can find a whisper blue one, which would be more accurate.

Another option is to dye the wig yourself. Get a white wig and some brush-in pale blue hair dye, and lightly brush in streaks of pale blue into the bangs and around the tips.

A nice finishing touch would be to add some silver glitter flakes, thus making his hair look silver, without looking like tinsel.


Finding, Buying, and Costumizing a Lord Sesshomaru Wig:
Where to buy mega-long white wigs and how to customize them to match his silver-blue tint.



Searching for mega long wigs is a pain. Since I'm doing that kind of searching, I'll show you what I found, so that you won't have to spend countless long hours searching high and low for the near impossible.

While working with wigs you will discover they have many problems and frustrations; nothing big, just lots of little things. When working with a Lord Sesshomaru wig you well run into 2 rather nasty problems, that you would not have come across had you chosen to play some other character.

1.) Long wigs tend to run much thinner than real hair, giving it a desperately fake appearance, and the longer the wig, the faker it looks.

2.) Light colored wigs tend to "disappear in the light" and can give an unsightly appearance of of being near invisible. White is the worst color of all for doing this.


Both of these problems can be cured in one quick and easy step: buy 2 wigs and sew them together. Simple turn the upper wig inside out, and without cutting the hairs, cut the netting/lace along the weft lines. Now placing this wig over the other wig, hand sew through both layers, attaching the cut stripes to the netting of the lower wig. Finally, pull several of the wefts from the bottom wig, up though the hairs of the top wig, and brush them together.

This well make the wig much thicker, fuller, and give it a much more realistic appearance, and being thicker, the light does not go through it as well, either, thus curing both the problem of thinning hair and light go-through at the same time.

The links below, will take you to professional wig dealers, all of whom sell at least one wig suitable for use with a Lord Sesshomaru costume.


CocWorx Wig Shop
CosWorx by Cosplay.com wigs, cosplay supplies, fabric, photos and more:

Note: I recommend buying two wigs: one Ivy in white, and one Amanda in white. Sew the Ivy wig on top of the Amanda wig. This will give you the mega length of the Amanda wig, and the bangs of the Ivy wig. By doing this you will not need to cut either wig.

Sakura Wigs - Custom Cosplay Wigs: Unstyled Wigs Online Catalogue
Unstyled Wigs Product Catalogue

Welcome to our catalogue of unstyled wigs. Sakura Wigs offers unique and exclusive colors that other wig retailers do not carry! No more wasting time trying to color/dye your wigs to match a character!

We offer two lengths in a wide variety of colors: 60cm and 120cm.

NOTE: Their 120cm wig in white, has bands (an oddity for mega long wigs) and is near perfect as is and can be used without any editing at all; due to the thickness of Lord Sesshomaru's hair, however, I would recommend buying two of these wigs and sewing them together to get the right fullness.

Also, if asked, they will create custom-made one-of-a-kind wigs, if you want to go all out and get the ultimate Lord Sesshomaru wig, but be prepared to pay the price required to have a custom one-of-a-kind wig made, they are not cheap!

High-Quality wigs for cosplay, Halloween, clubbing or just for fun.
High-Quality wigs for cosplay (manga and anime), Halloween, clubbing or just for fun!

NOTE: I recommend using their Enchantment wig, but buying 2 of them, both in white, and than sewing the two together one on top of the other, than cutting bangs into the wig.

CosWorx Wig: Amanda
COSWORX EXCLUSIVE!
48" wig with skin top, made of the finest quality Kanekalon fibers. This is by far the best extra-long wig you can buy in party colors (red, blue, white, green, purple, etc) and it is only available here at CosWorx!
We had this wig specially made to our specifications, with cosplayers in mind!

NOTE: This wig does not have bangs, if you choose to use this one, you will have to cut it and style it to create Lord Sesshomaru's spiky bangs.

CosWorx Wig: Ivy
COSWORX EXCLUSIVE In Stock! 37" long from top of scalp. Cosplay.com wigs, cosplay supplies, fabric, photos and more.

NOTE: A bit on the short side, for Lord Sesshomaru, by a good 20 inches, however, the long bangs on this one are perfect for styling to match Sesshy's. This would make a great topper wig if you plan to sew 2 wigs together, using a much longer wig underneath it.


...and what do I plan to do?

I'm still researching Sesshy's wig, so I'm not entirely certain what I will do in the end, and I still have a year to go before I need to decide, however as it stands right now, here is what I plan on doing:

I plan to buy two wigs, both from Sakura Wigs, both the 120cm wig. I will be sewing the two together as stated above.

However, as Lord Sesshomaru's hair is not white, but rather a blueish silver color, I'll be useing wigs of two differant colors. The upper wig will be the Sakura 120cm in white, while the lower one will be the Sakura wig 120cm in lt blue #B05.





The following links are sites (including live chat message boards) where you can get advice, info, and help in customizing your wig:



Common Questions About Wig Styling - Cosplay.com
Common Questions About Wig Styling Costume Discussion: Wigs and Hair

Amphigory: Customer Wig gallery!
Gallery of our customer's custom wig creations! With brief info on how they created their costum wigs

Wig Styling with Ishida Uryuu by *behindinfinity on deviantART
Blog post about creating custom CosPlay wigs

Tutorial: Putting on a wig. - Cosplay.com
Tutorial: Putting on a wig. Costume Discussion: Wigs and Hair

CosWorx Wigs in Action! - Cosplay.com
CosWorx Wigs in Action! Costume Discussion: Wigs and Hair

CosWorx Wig Color Photos - IVY - Cosplay.com
CosWorx Wig Color Photos - IVY Costume Discussion: Wigs and Hair

How to Cut Bangs Video Tutorial - Cosplay.com
How to Cut Bangs Video Tutorial Costume Discussion: Wigs and Hair

Dyeing w/ Sharpies - Cosplay.com
Dyeing w/ Sharpies Costume Discussion: Wigs and Hair

Wigs Too Fake For You? Taking Drastic Measures
Living with Lord Sesshomaru's Hair Everyday

If you are a life actor (one who lives in character, 24/7) you may want to go for the most drastic means possible: transforming your real head of hair into Lord Sesshomaru's Rapunzal-like locks.

The best looking thing you could do, if you want your hair to look real, is to not wear a wig and have you natural hair altered to look like Lord Sesshomaru's hair. (I am seriously considering doing this, by the way, as I totally love his hair and would love it if my hair was like his.) If by chance you decide to go without a wig and use you own hair, you will have to go through some drastic changes to your hair, which I would not recommend being done at home. Head to a salon that specializes in Gothic, EMO, or Punk hairstyles, taking along with you several pictures of Lord Sesshomaru, especially ones that show his hair from good angles.


What they will do is a series of bleach washes, you may only need one if your hair is light, but several will be needed if you have darker or black hair. This can result in serious damage (including 100% hair loss) to your hair if done incorrectly, so be sure that you are dealing with a salon that dose this kind of this on a regular basis, as a salon that does not, may very well do it wrong. It can not be over stated that you MUST find a salon that specializes in Gothic hairstyles as they do this sort of thing every day.

Once your hair is completely and totally stark white, they will next build up you hair length through the use of hair extensions. The next step will be the coloring, dyeing your hair in varying shades of silver-grey and whisper-blue. Finally it is time to actually style it.

Once you have transformed you hair, this look should last most people three month before you have to have the roots retouched and the extensions reattached.

If you know what you are doing and willing to take the risk, you can bleach your hair at home, however I would not recommend it unless you have enough experience is hair styling and dyeing to make such a drastic change to you hair on your own.

Manic Panic: Bleach
NOTE: This will only lighten your hair, not turn it white; you will need to use a whitener after bleaching.




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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Youkia Facial Markings


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Facial Markings

The cresent moon and stripes are natural facial markings, found on White Dog Demons. All demons of this type have them. It is not certain why only the White Dog Demons have them, while no other type of demon in the InuYasha series has any markings at all. Like the fluffy Mokomoko, it is assumed that these markings are there as a warning to others that this is a higher level and thus more powerful, demon.

To create these markings on your own face is not difficult, and should require very little training to get right.

Step #1: White Face Powder
Use on face, neck, chest, hands, and arms to whiten your skin.

Step #2: Prusian Blue Cresent Moon
Build up with a dark shade as a base, than a lighter shade on top.

Step #3: Magenta Stripes
Apply a lighter shade fist, blending a darker shade on top.




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Welcome

Welcome to my writing blog! If you have visited before, than you will notice some changes, namely, that the theme has changed. My long time readers well recognize this theme: Yes, SHIVER is back, and I'm am now working on my pet project once again.

For those asking "What is SHIVER?". SHIVER is my ghost story project that has taken me several years to get written down, but is finally seeing an end in sight. SHIVER is soon to be published by The Twighlight Manor Press and has a planned release date of: October 2009. Watch for it!

NaNoWrimo 2008 is just around the corner and so this blog is rising from the grave to return once again for iit's third year as my official NaNoWriMo blog.

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About This Blog:

I Won in 2006I've signed up for this year's NaNoWriMo 2007 (my third year at NaNo!) and this is my blog for it, where I talk about my thoughts about writing, my ideas for NaNo, and the progress of my contest entry for this year's National Novel Writing Month contest.


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