Monday, August 25, 2014

It Takes a Village(r)

Here we are, the last week before school starts, and my mind turns to ... Fan Expo Canada. As I've written about before, Fan Expo Canada is an-end-of-summer tradition with my family. This time, in 2014, my daughter will be attending all four days as a Deluxe Pass attendee. Some of those days, she'll be on her own. She won't be completely set adrift to fend for herself solo - my dear friend Denise Colby will be at Fan Expo, and we just bought mother-daughter cell phones so we can keep in touch via text. (Big thanks to my little brother for doing all the research and helping us make a good choice.) This won't be her first time alone at a convention, but the last event was a much smaller venue (Reverse Polarity). This independent trip is good practice, for her and for us parents. My daughter is starting high school this year and she chose to attend one that is a bit of a distance away, so she'll be taking the bus on her own. We've raised her as best we can. It's time to let her test her wings.

Fan Expo Canada also allows me to test my creativity. I love to dress up and Fan Expo gives me the chance to build and wear costumes. Halloween is just one day a year, but Fan Expo Canada is longer! This year, I plan on going for two days. On the first day, I'll re-use my Anna from Frozen cosplay that I originally assembled for my school's So You Think You Can Dance extravaganza. On the second day, I'll wear my Minecraft Villager. I made it on August 19 and took photos to document the process.

Step 1: Collect the boxes and plan

I first decided to make another Minecraft character when my husband bought a new vacuum cleaner. He saved the box for me and I spent some time considering what to make. I thought about being Steve and buying another pre-formed head (like my creeper, on the left) but I wanted to be different. I also had to consider "the arm issue". Creepers don't have arms, so I could hide my real arms inside the thin box. Other Minecraft residents have working arms and I wasn't sure how to get that to work and still look good. Villagers have their arms folded across their chests, so in the end, I decided to make a villager. We bought quite a few shoes while we were on holiday in the U.S.A., so I saved two boxes, used the box that held my Canadian Children's Book Centre review copies for the head, and added two cardboard cubes from my summer school Build Zone for arm additions. It's like my whole summer was represented in this costume!

Step 2: Find models and sketch

My son and daughter helped me figure out what kind of villager I wanted to be - the garden variety. The original box I was planning to use for the nose was too small, according to them, so I found another. I located a clear illustration of a villager so I could get a sense of the colour scheme and ratios. I tried on the boxes, marked spots for my eyes, and moved things around like a jigsaw puzzle. I went to Michael's and got the right colour of paper for the body and nose. I was extra happy because it was on sale. My entire costume probably cost about $6.

Step 3: Measure and cut

My tools were quite diverse. I used my scrapbooking materials, like the straight edge cutter and the square maker, pictured to the right. I also used household items like scissors and knives. I cut out holes for the eyes, squares to represent the eyebrows and eyes, and holes in the vacuum cleaner box for my head and arms. I had to re-cut several times because my head was too big to fit through the original openings I made. The arms were tricky to cut because of the fake arms nearby. To be honest, if I had a chance to do it over again, I'd probably make the arms higher up, so that they don't interfere with my real arms and the space for them to come out through the flaps at the sides. I try not to use my arms too much while wearing the costume, as it distracts from the overall visual, but I've got to be able to use my hands!

Step 4: Wrap and cover

I had a limited amount of dark brown paper. (I bought out all the supplies at my local arts and craft store.) I measured how much I would need and cut them all out in advance, to ensure I had enough for what I needed. I could see the progress I was making, especially with the face, so it kept me going. I really wanted to finish it all in one day. My creeper costume took longer because of all the cutting and pasting of those tiny squares all over the box. This was a lot easier!

Step 5: Glue (and glue fast!)

I couldn't take a photo of me using the hot glue gun, because speed was essential. I had to cover enough of the surface so it'd stick, but do it and attach it quickly before it dried and hardened. Preparing all the pieces in advance helped a lot. I had to be extra cautious with the arms - I didn't want to glue the wrong side facing up, as these boxes weren't wrapped all the way around. (I had to save paper somehow!)

And here it is, the final product! My villager will be a lot taller when I wear him, because my legs will be his legs. I'll take plenty of photos while wearing him, and he will do double duty as decor for the many Minecraft workshops and presentations Liam, Denise and I will be giving as part of our Ministry of Education TLLP grant. It took a villager to remind me to bring Makerspaces to my school library some more this school year, to let my students take the lead in doing things that excite them and authentically problem-solve.

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