Sunday, February 28, 2021

Breast Collar Update

Since I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm following instructions I find on YouTube from professional cosplayers. After I had all of the pieces cut out for the breast collar, I heat sealed them with a heat gun.

If I remember correctly, heat sealing them closes the pores so the pieces will take the paint better. I then primed each piece with Mod Podge.

Unfortunately, I was a little too heavy-handed with the primer and you can see the brush strokes through the paint. I doubt any of our pictures will be focused only on her armor, so no one will notice. (I hope.)

Once the Mod Podge dried, it was time to paint. I'll admit I'm not very good with spray painting, but I eventually got into a rhythm and got the job done.

They're not ready to attach to the breast collar, but I had to lay them out to see what it would look like. I need to age them a bit with black to make the pieces look battle worn. Jay will definitely have to help me with that, as he perfected the technique while painting his Boba Fett rifle.

I'd ordered some stockinette to attach the pieces to, thinking I could then just slide the stockinette over each 'arm' of the breast collar, but the size I ordered was far too big. I donated that stockinette to ARC rather than deal with returning it, and ordered a smaller size. The stockinette will stretch and probably want to twist, so I think I'll stitch a strip of cloth to it that I'll then attach the pieces to. My hope is that it'll help keep the stockinette from twisting around.

I'm excited to finish this part of her armor so I can put it on and see what it looks like from a distance.

Saturday, February 13, 2021


I'm learning so much! I had no idea that the face guard in horse armor is called a chanfron. Or that horse armor is actually called barding for that matter. Hmm, all wanted to do was make Skeets into a War Horse (or courser, if you prefer).

Real cosplayers probably already knew that, but I didn't. Learning new stuff is never a bad thing.

When I braved the -2*F to grab her breast collar off her saddle, I also grabbed Skeeter's bridle. It's far too cold outside to be messing around with trying to make a pattern on a real horse, but I thought I could maybe get a mock-up done. 

This was a lot harder to wrap my head around than doing the pieces for the breast collar. But, once I thought about it, I realized that the bridle fits Skeeter, and if I just use the bridle and some reference pictures of her, along with the cosplay reference pictures I could probably figure it out.

Since I didn't have paper big enough to go from cheek piece to cheek piece, I decided to sketch out only half and then make a mirror image.

The sketch kind of looks Iron Man-ish to me at this stage.

I followed the reference picture as well as I could, I'll have to make some modifications to the chanfron as we go to account for the fact that the bridle has a brow band (and the fact that I am not taking any actual horse measurements).

I cut it out, made a mirror image, and taped it to the bridle to get an idea of what it would look like.

Cut out, it vaguely resembles the Punisher

Oh no, this isn't terrifying. At all.

That's as far as I can get on this project until it's warm enough for me to want to stand outside and mess with Skeets. I also need to buy some thinner foam - the 6mm is far too thick. I'll need probably 4mm or less for the base, as this will have layers of armor.

I'm so stupid excited to get this done!

Friday, February 12, 2021

So It Begins ... Breast Collar Armor

It's cold outside. -2*F. I'm anxious to get started on my cosplay project, but it's too dang cold to go outside and measure Skeeter.

But, like I said, I was anxious to get started on my project and decided that I could start on the breast collar armor. Her tack is already fitted to her, so all I needed was the breast collar off her saddle to start getting measurements and working on the pattern. 

My plan was to just grab the two bits of tack I needed and then get started on the pattern. Except, it's been a long time since I've cleaned the tack and there was no sense taking measurements and making a pattern for the tack if the tack's dirty right?

I felt like this happens with every project around the house. In order to even get to a starting point, you have to do another project first.

Once I was done cleaning the breast collar, then I felt better about getting started on attempting a pattern. I know absolutely zero about making cosplay patterns, but I watched a YouTube video of Adam Savage making foam Ringwraith Gauntlets, so I'm basically an expert. What struck me about making the gauntlets is that some of the pieces were so small and tedious to cut out, so I wanted to get the tedious part out of the way today.

I stole some of Jay's sketch paper, blew up the reference pictures I had, and went to town. 

In my mind, I'd made out the breast collar to be a much more complicated pattern than it turned out to be. I was worried, but then when I calmed down and actually *looked* at it, it's really just a leaf shape over and over again, except for where it comes together and even that's not too bad.

I made a quick sketch, cut out a couple of paper pieces and laid it out. Not bad. I could see what I needed to do, so I broke out the foam. I probably should have gotten 4mm foam, but bought 6mm instead. It's a bit thick, but I think it'll be okay for the breast collar and the leg guards.

I bought a beginner kit off Amazon with sheets of 6mm EVA foam, a cheap knock-off exacto knife, and a cutting mat, plus a handful of other crap I'll probably not use. It took a few practice cuts with the craft knife for me to get the amount of pressure right to cut smoothly. After about six or seven pieces, though, that craft knife got pretty dull and didn't want to cut. I didn't have high grit sandpaper to sharpen the blade with, so I went looking for something I could use.

I remembered that in my scrapbooking kit, I had a disposable scalpel that I used for paper crafts, so I pulled that out.

What a difference! That disposable scalpel cut through the foam like butter, and the difference in the edges of the cuts are like night and day.

Crappy exacto knock-off on the left; disposable scalpel on the right

Crappy exacto knock-off cuts on the bottom; pretty disposable scalpel cuts on top

After cutting out the first piece with the disposable scalpel, I set it down, picked up my phone and ordered a whole pack of #11 blade disposable scalpels from Amazon. The crappy craft knife went into the sharps container - I have no room for it in my life.

It didn't take as long, nor feel as tedious, as I thought it would to get everything cut out. Part of that is because the "scales" of the armor are horse-sized, not human finger-sized, so it went a lot more smoothly. In no time, I had all of my pieces cut and ready to lay out.

It kinda looks like the Chicago Bulls logo (for now).

I didn't pull up my reference picture when I laid this out, so there are some adjustments that will need to be made before it's assembled, but I've gotten as far as I can with the breast collar today. Tomorrow, when we're in town, I'll pick up a heat gun, primer, spray paint, and sealant. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Skeeter's Gonna *Love* This!

My 50th birthday is coming up this year, and I've been trying to figure out what I want to do to commemorate it. I played around with a couple of ideas, but one of my Posse-mates did a horse photoshoot for hers and I fell in love with the idea. She and her horse were warriors and the pictures were so beautiful, I had to steal the idea.

I've been playing around with the idea of horse cosplay for a few years. Every now and then, I threaten to attempt something, but was kind of half-hearted about it. However, once I saw my friend's photos, I knew I had to do it.

I, like so many women my age, grew up with Wonder Woman. The recent movies have reminded me how much I really like her. But, I am no Gal Godot, and, I don't know, WW seemed too ... much? Like, hallowed ground I shouldn't tread on. But, her Aunt Antiope, now, she's a great warrior and horsewoman, so I decided to loosely base my cosplay on her.

Do I know anything about cosplay?


Do I know anything about building horse armor?

Also no.

Do I want to torture my horse and make her go through this with me?


Here's a bit of what her armor is supposed to look like, though I'm kind of anticipating a "Pinterest Fail" - at least at first.

I'm not crazy enough to take on learning medal work for this, so I'll be using EVA cosplay foam and I'll be tapping into Jay's artistic skills for hints on painting the armor. Skeeter is going to be my test subject for this. Despite being a mare, she's pretty good at letting me torture her, so I don't see that wearing the armor is going to be a problem.

The Pegasus wings on the other hand, well, she might have an opinion about those.

Wait? What? Pegasus wings?

Sometimes I can be a bit extra, and I know that, but from the moment I brought Skeeter home, I knew I wanted to make her into a Pegasus. As I was talking to Mrs. Mom last week, I lamented that while I really wanted to do a warrior photoshoot with Skeets, a small part of me also wanted to do a Pegasus one and I was having trouble deciding. As she's known to do, that sistah from another mistah, asked why I just didn't do both.


Damn it. 

I don't have a good answer as to why I couldn't do both. I mean, I am already making a costume for both me and Skeeter. I already have to book a photographer for the day. Why not do a costume change as well?

Well, shit. Guess who, in less than ten seconds, decided it would be a good idea to tackle not one, but two, cosplays for herself and her horse?

The Pegasus is going to be a little more challenging, but I think I've found a method that might work. Mrs. Mom suggested using a surcingle to attach the wings, but I don't have one of those and I'm not paying for one just for a costume. But, I think I can use the idea of a surcingle, and just use an elastic band around her barrel to attach the wings to. Maybe. It works in my brain, let's hope it works on my horse.

Anyway, I'm certain Skeeter's gonna love her mom's latest hairbrained idea. <grin>

Stay tuned for updates.

(Human cosplay updates will be over at Another Perfect Day, but not beginning until May or so. I've still got some weight to lose before I start sewing costumes.)

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Almost a Week of Rides!

 Well, maybe not a full week, but four out of five days is pretty good.

LE rides way more frequently than I do, as she takes lessons across the way at Inspiration Riding Academy a few days a week. I, however, am 100% a fair weather rider. I did my time riding when the weather was shitty and choose not to any more. 

When I got back from Arizona a week ago, I had to go into quarantine because Jay was sick. That meant I had to work from home. While I generally *despise* working from home, it does have its perks. Namely, the ability to ride in the afternoon if the weather is nice.

January 29

We had a short little ride in the back yard. It had been a couple of weeks since I'd been up on Skeets, so we kept it easy. I'm never really afraid that she'll buck or do something stupid when we've had time off, but sometimes it takes a ride or two to get back in the groove after we've not ridden for a while. It was a nice ride, nothing terribly spectacular about it, but good for getting her moving.

January 31

Since our beginning ride went so well, and Skeeter was being pretty much a rock star, we decided to take our show on the road. The farm road, that is, and ride in the big field to the east of us. Skeeter was feeling pretty good and *trotted* up the road. More than once. Now, as a general rule, she's lazy and won't expend any more effort than necessary, but she was feeling good.

We did have an "oh shit" moment when leaving the property. She veered to the left of the road, right where the irrigation ditch crosses. That wouldn't be a problem, except that there's an old metal grate that sticks up and I was afraid she was going to step down into the ditch and impale us both on that damn grate. I managed to get her stopped and moved over, but I wasn't too pleased. Then she trotted out nicely behind Miss Pearl and I forgave her. We spent a good bit of time in the big field, just walking around. 

Skeets has a big problem with wanting to rush back home, so we spent some time working on slowing down and turning away from home. We did some slow, long zig-zags away from home. In a word, she was amazing. And I don't say that about my mare often.

February 1

No pictures from this ride. I had my hands full with a naughty mare. I should have known things were going too well. She didn't want to be caught, which is rare, then she didn't want to stand tied, which is not rare. Over the last couple of years, she's turned into quite a pull-back. I'd been working around it, but I know she needs to be able to stand hard-tied anywhere, for any length of time, so I came up with a game plan.

She does not pull-back because she's afraid, as most people assume. She pulls back because she doesn't want to stand tied. Now, for the most part, I can just loosely wrap the rope around the hitch rail and fake tie her, and she stays where she's supposed to. Except when she doesn't. She's pulled back when hard tied and gotten away only a couple of times, but that was enough for her to think if she pulls back, she's going to get away. In the vein of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard, I came up with a game plan. Every time she starts to pull back, she gets put to work: backing, quick circles, yielding her hind end. This requires me to only tie her loosely (for now), so I can get to the lead rope before she pulls it too tight to release. Even using a quick-release knot, the girl can throw her head up and pull back fast enough to make a quick release a no-release knot.

(I know people will tell me to let her stand hard tied and fight until she realizes she'll not get loose. Except that doesn't work with her. I watched her pull back and fight for almost an hour when tied to a trailer once. Another time, she managed to get herself bound up tighter and bloody her nose. She's got a stubborn streak a mile wide. If I hard tie her and allow her to fight it out, she's one who will end up hurting herself.)

Anyway, I had this grand plan to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. The hitch rail is her resting spot. Man, that worked so well! I only had to correct her twice, then she stood like a mannequin while getting groomed and saddled. I mentally patted myself on the back.

Once we were both on the same page, we had a lovely ride. A bit shorter than we'd hoped because we had to do more on the ground than usual, but it was still a win.

February 2

Ride four. Man, I could get used to this riding frequently thing. Except, between weather and work, it's not always easy.

I thought we'd had a break-through with tying the day before, but in true Skeeter fashion, she had to push it to see what she could get away with. She did lots and lots of work before standing nicely at the rail to be groomed and saddled. If nothing else, she's going to build some really nice butt muscles from all of the quick backing she's having to do.

Again, we had an issue with her gravitating toward the death grate by the irrigation ditch, but we got past it without impalement. The mares took turns being good and less-good. If Miss Pearl was acting up, Skeets was being an angel. If Skeeter was acting up, Miss Pearl was being an angel. Those two definitely keep us on our toes.

I wouldn't call Skeeter barn sour, but she does like to find second gear on the way home. In the past, it had turned into a fight, where I felt like I was ripping her bottom jaw off. (Figuratively speaking, not literally.) LE suggested that I slow her down and then release the reins rather than getting into a fight with her. Perfect freaking solution, wish I'd've thought of that! Turns out, we get along much better if I just remind her to walk and not fight.

Because I don't want her thinking that the ride is over when we get back home, I continued to ride around the back yard. Little missy took exception to that and decided to have a little temper tantrum. We were trotting in what was supposed to be a circle (it was round-ish) and I felt her think 'I'll show Mom!' just before she attempted to break into a lope. Problem is, she's not athletic. Not even a little bit. While she thought she'd break into a lope as part of her temper tantrum, she forgot to tell her feet what to do. The mind was willing, but the body said, 'huh?'. What should have been an awkward at best trot-to-canter transition ended up being, hell, I don't know, stumbling and trying to stay upright. I blew my right stirrup, but managed to stay on and get her pulled to a stop. I couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Her derp ears went straight out to the sides and she had the good grace to look embarrassed while LE and I laughed our butts off. I'm so sad we didn't get it on video, because I know how silly it felt. I can only imagine how it looked.

I made her walk a couple of more laps around the backyard before calling it a day.

Sadly, we haven't had a chance to ride since then, but I'm looking forward to more riding time. In fact, I have big plans for us this year.

Friday, February 5, 2021

First Ride of 2021 (Jan 3, 2021)

 Well, it seems I say this on the rare ocassions that I post, but dang, it's been a while!

I didn't even get our Christmas pictures up. Ugh. Sorry about that.

LE and I have had plans for a while now to ride in the snow. The problem is, when there's snow on the ground it's also cold and I don't like to ride in the cold any more. Last week, I was stranded in Arizona while they had a freak snow storm. It was still warmish, but 20" of beautiful fluffy snow on the ground. Now that's the kind of snow I want to ride in.

But I digress, LE and I finally got to sort-of ride in the snow in January this year. AND... Mom and Beel came down to play as well. When you see the pictures, you'll see that it was only snow riding in the most technical sense. There was (some) snow on the ground and we were riding.

Yes, Skeets, I know. I feel the same way.

Beel slipped at fell at his side hustle a couple of months ago and jacked up his shoulder, so he's on injured reserve. But he came down and hung out with Alloy, and who got to play wrangler horse while Beel adjusted Mom's stirrups.

Alloy's a good supervisor.
Stupid blogger won't let me move this picture. Pretend it's at the end of the post.

We rode around in the back yard for a little bit, before going up the farm road a tiny bit to ride in the "big" field to the east of us.
Alloy bringing up the rear.

LE and Miss Pearl in the 'snow'.

Sorry, all of the pictures are out of order and I can't fix them. Guess that's what I get for not posting in 13 months - I've forgotten a ton.

It was a short ride - only about 20 minutes, but it was still a good way to start the year. Since then, LE and I have been riding when we can. The weather is supposed to be good on Sunday, so I think Mom and Beel are going to come down and ride. I'm supposed to be in class on Sunday, but am awaiting my covid test results. I'm fine, but was exposed and don't want to inadvertently take it to class. If I get my results and they're negative, I'll be in class while everyone else is riding. If I don't get my results, I'll be keeping my distance from everyone, but still going for a ride.

PS, I'm way better about keeping up to date on our FB page. If you'd like to follow us there, click here.