This is truly my most expansive project. My *only* expnsive project, really. My masterpiece as a costumer, but I'm already nitpicking the hell out of it and there's SO much I'm not happy with now. I've never been much for making my own stuff. And this project made me realize why--not so much for lack of skill, but lack of willpower to push through the 150+ hours and sacrifice of life it took me to get this done in time for Celebration 5. (And maybe a little bit lack of skill after all, on second thought.) Never again, lol. (I know, I say that now...) This is kind of long and in depth so stop reading now if you don't care. And excuse my grandiose way of speaking, I just write like that lol.
Also, I've learned that I hate sewing. I will take sculpting and plastics and leather over sewing any day of the week.
Anyways. To those unfamiliar with the character of Tenel Ka Djo, she is the daughter of Prince Isolder (the Fabio guy from Courtship of Princess Leia) and Teneniel Djo. She is the princess of the Hapes Consortium, half Dathomiran force-using witch, best friend of Jaina Solo, and love interest of Jacen Solo, the twin children of Han Solo and Princess Leia.
I did pre-accident Tenel Ka. I didn't really want to, I had intended to build a mechanical arm but I simply ran out of time. And I refuse to do the "hide the arm behind the back thing" cause it just looks cheesy. Maybe I'll photoshop my arm out in some later photos at some point, who knows.
I'm a huge Jaina Solo fan, and I remember getting really excited when I saw a girl doing Tenel Ka at Celebration IV. I did the old-school original Tenel Ka design. It's suuuuper 90's, with the shorts and high-cut leotard.
Here is a list of every reference shot I used:
And there you have it, every photo I used! Which is still sort of a lie, because I only found that third one right before posting it, so I only really used the first 2. Whups.
While the list of references to Tenel Ka's Young Jedi Knights-era outfit are limited, remarkably they're pretty recognizeable. Probably because those first two photos were the only references to Tenel Ka for about 10 years. Now that she's become a much more crucial character than she was back in the YJK days, I'm hoping it'll be even more recognizeable come Celebration V.
A year ago, I made the pauldrons out of croc print leather hide and wonderflex. Had a little help from SithCamaro holding it in place on me, and suggestions on glues and such.
Sure it was sorta cool, but nothing really impressive. Also made the gloves:
I'm not sure what on earth posessed me to hand make a pair of leather gloves, but I will tell you...I will probably not make that mistake twice. Or at least I hope not. And I didn't even have to make fingers, yeesh.
Missed my deadline for Dragoncon, by a LOT, and the project went dormant for a few months. Then I finally picked it up again. I bought reptile print stretch PVC for the shorts and bolero, and whipped those together. I bought green scale armor to sew onto the shorts. It was a huge disaster. I only got about 10-15 sewn onto the shorts in a 45 minute span and was ready to set the whole thing on fire. It took too long and looked wicked cheesy.
Luckily I was watching Farscape while building, and I realized Scorpius had lots of gator hide on him. I wondered if that would be a good look on the pauldrons I made. I gotta say, it was the best decision I made on the costume.
Put the fabric parts down, and I started sculpting scutes for the pauldrons, loved them, and pretty soon it was the main theme of the costume. (For reference: scutes are hard bony plates found in many reptile groups, most noteably archosaurs like Crocodiles/Alligators/etc. and Dinosaurs. They're the large, rigid scales on the back of a crocodile. Since Tenel Ka's Dathomiran heritage pulls heavily on symbiosis with Rancors, and her costume was fairly reptilian to begin with, I thought this was a good direction to take it.)
20 hours of building, end result of the primary pauldrons:
25+ hours of building, primary and secondary pauldron:
Lot of things I would have done differently in retrospect. Mainly on materials used. It's a learning experience though.
So I quickly realized I was having a great time sculpting and it looked better than the scale armor so I trashed the scales idea and jumped to scutes. I added them around the base of the shorts and to the edges of the bolero.
I made the leotard out of 2-way stretch leather-look PVC. My skating coach helped me start the process making the leotard and my friend Jessica helped me out further down the line when I needed guidance and some assistance. I did the sewing, and did the measuring and protractoring of the vertical lines. I still wonder if there's an easier way to do it than I did. I was initially going to put boning in the leotard, but surprise, the Joanne's Fabric near me doesn't sell boning that fits within the bounds of the double needles they sell. Not very convenient. And I could have just sewn 2 lines for each bone but I figured that was just a recipe for disaster so I left the ribbing as is.
The lightsaber I did not make. I purchased it from Nocturne Armory. I did buy a swarovski jewel seperately however.
I thought it before the prequels, and even with the crazy things they did with sabers in the prequel trilogy, to this day, I still think Tenel Ka's rancor tooth lightsaber hilt is the coolest lightsaber in all of Star Wars.
Saber by Nocturne Armory
Sadly, it's solid resin and I am hesitant to do any mods whatsoever even just to add a static blade. EL is totally out, but I'm scared of cracking the resin even attempting to attatch a blade. Perhaps at some point I'll go back and make my own. Cool biology to note about the saber--it's really well made, it's more of a mammilian type tooth with that really long root and ridge, and the only noticeable problem is that the sharp ridge is on the wrong side of the tooth. It's sort of like having the flat edge of a knife dull, and the serrated edge curving around the top. Doesn't work that well. But that's something only biologist (and paleo types like me) are bothered by lol. Otherwise, these guys sell a darn good hilt.
The wig is full-lace human hair dyed strawberry blonde. I didn't go with a real firey red because I always felt that was more of a Mara Jade trait, and she was more...celtic, sorta. I back combed and dreaded some of the hair before braiding it. Her newer styles are much tamer, but I was sticking closer to the first design I posted. But I went a little more wild-indigenous-witch with it. I drew upon some knowledge of the Jack Sparrow wig so there's a bit of influence there, including a little tooth I made and tied into the wig.
But the boots are my real crowning achievement on this costume. I would never, ever have even attempted this insanity were it not for Toby, so I am hugely grateful for his guidance and encouragement. I'd seen his Jack boot tutorial and asked what he thought, he said go for it. So I bought a hide of croc print leather--a large hide--and used the whole thing, trying to align the print the way I wanted and so that they would match on both boots. He suggested a pattern for the side and drew one out for me, but I added strips up the front and back to add to it. Toby did help me out gluing the pieces down after that (since I needed 4 hands for the job), and helped me hold my spats in place during heat forming, and let me borrow his equipment to add the straps, and when I flew back home I had them stitched by a cobbler, but the rest was all my trial and error.
The humble beginnings of the boots, $30 at Off Broadway:
The boots post leathering:
I originally planned to put scutes all over them, but I came up with a more interesting idea. I decided I'd put a large talon, and the scales of the distal phalanges, on the boot as a heel. It's modeled to look very dinosaur and avian.
Sadly that was a mockup in sculpey, I only made it to get a better idea of what I was doing and where I was going with it, and have a size comparison for the other boot, I had to tear it all off after I finished the apoxie sculpting on the second boot and resculpt that in apoxie. >.<
The second boot, with final apoxie sculpt. This took a long, long time. I made and placed the scales individually.
First completed boot, painted.
I added a slight edging on the bottom and pronounced lip to the top of the spat in plastic, to sort of somewhat match the 2nd illustration.
Then did it all over again for the 2nd boot. I think I shaved my time on the next boot in half, since I had a better idea of what I was doing.
If you're wondering "can you walk in those? Is the claw going to break?", I made sure that the talon curved and ended before the base of the heel. This way, the apoxie doesn't ever touch the ground. The only thing that gets close to the ground are what originally did. And if I ever wear the heels down (yeah right like I'm gonna wear these that much) I could just pop the heel ends off and have them replaced. And if you're still wondering "yeah but can you walk in them?" the answer is no. No I cannot. lol
I can actually walk, but they're extremely stiff.
And if you're wondering why I gave a Jedi knight heels...I figure, a jedi can jump off a skyscraper in Coruscant and land on a moving vehicle, fighting in high heels should be easy. That's my story of justification and I'm sticking to it.
Also made the satchel, necklace, and earrings. My ex gave me a stick, my dad drilled some screws into the top so I could sculpt up around them (I am not comfortable around power tools, no sexism comments please ), and did some hemp wrapping around it.
Random aside: Can anyone figure out what the hell that stick is?! She doesn't *actually* have a stick of any kind, in any book, but everyone draws her with this damn two pronged stick like it's actually something she uses. I don't get it.
I finally finished everything up today, and had a photoshoot with Bill Hicksn (HUGE shoutout to him for doing it on short notice, and for editing those photos, he did a magnificent job) to preserve in images the work I did before it totally falls apart at CV because I'm sort of a moron when it comes to building things meant to last. *sigh*
My finished costume:
A few more photos that will better showcase the costume are still to come, this is more of a preview.
So thanks to Jessica (Onyx Roses) for all the help on the leotard, and major thanks to SithCamaro for being someone I could always go to and say "Did I just screw up? Is this right? Did I screw up again?"