Sep 27, 2012, 11:20 AM - White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
Thus far I haven't seen anyone working on this costume, so I thought I'd make a thread. You'll have to forgive the photo quality, I'm using my cell phone.
The White Witch (Jadis) is Tilda Swinton's character in the most recent film version of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She has several really beautiful costumes throughout the movie, but this is the one I wanted to replicate:
Eventually I hope to build all the components of the costume myself - skirt, vest, ruff, wig, crown, and wand. The wand is probably going to come last. It used to be available from Museum Replicas, but even if they were still selling it the price tag is a little steep for me. I'm hoping to cast it out of clear polyester resin. I won't be carrying a sword, too much trouble at cons.
The first challenge I tackled was the wig and ruff. Jadis has a big ole pile of hair up top on this costume. Throughout the movie you see that she has dread locks, and here she also has a lot of free-flowing hair on her head. The ruff is a lion's mane attached to her collar. My hope was to make all of this out of one type of fiber.
This is Kanekalon braiding hair. I ordered it from I Kick Shins. Much cheaper than buying a lion mane from NFT, and it's often used to make artificial dread locks.
I started off making the dreads. Here's a before and after:
To make the dreads I followed this Instructable. The Kanekalon I bought has a very slight kink to it, so it locks really nicely. I don't know if it's just because I'm a beginner or what, but making the dreads took a REALLY long time. I sealed each lock with a ceramic hair straightener.
After I finished a small pile of dread locks, I looked to the rest of the hair for the head piece. Essentially I just needed it to be a little crunchier than the natural texture of the Kanekalon. To work with the hair without it going everywhere I used a clothes hanger hook and tied an overhand knot, which I then attacked on all sides with hot glue. This makes manageable locks that don't come apart. By tying the hair off in the center I got the length I wanted for the head piece. This braiding hair is about 48" long in total. For the collar fur I simply cut the hair in half and tied it off in the same fashion.
One thing I would strongly recommend if you decide to work with Kanekalon is to comb it out almost continuously while you work it. The stuff tangles insanely easily, and it's a pain to keep pulling out knots.
To crunch up the hair I used a solution of Elmer's glue in water, about 1 part glue to 4 parts water in a spray bottle. I lightly spritzed the hair and then steamed it with the flat iron. This is the same process I used to texture the hair for the collar, though for the ruff I used more of the glue solution to get an even stiffer texture.
Here's some of the super-crunchy hair for the collar:
The hair for the head needed to be big and poofy, too, so while it was still slightly damp I went at it with a hair dryer on high.
Once I had a big mound of hair prepared, I needed to get the crown ready so that I could attach the hair to it.
Sep 27, 2012, 11:36 AM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
I initially thought to build the crown out of polymer clay, because I've been using a lot of it lately. Major failure. It's just not strong enough. These folks made one out of leather. Eventually I decided to use Wonderflex.
First I drew out a stencil and cut two identical pieces of Wonderflex, followed by a third piece that just makes up the center portion. I fused them in a 200-degree oven.
Next I cut a single layer of Wonderflex for these:
I shaped the main body of the crown first, using a heat gun and several rolled pieces of poster board in various circumferences. Then I fused the side pieces in and placed a small tab at the back of the head to help the crown balance when I'm wearing it.
It's sitting a little off on the skull, but you get the idea.
Here's the inside, where I put the support tab.
Today I'll be painting the back side with spray paint, and then deciding whether I want to use the same paint on the outside or use Rub N Buff, based on how the paint looks on the back.
Sep 27, 2012, 11:53 AM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
Very cool!! Can't wait to see the finished product
Sep 27, 2012, 2:16 PM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
I finished painting the back side with Rustoleum Hammered Finish, and it looked so good I decided to do the whole thing with it. It's drying now, so I'll be able to get a photo soon. The paint felt really tacky to the touch. I think that would have gone away if I had let it set overnight (I painted over a cast iron bench in black Hammered Finish last year and it's not sticky at all), but I decided to go over it with a clear gloss coat anyway.
Sep 27, 2012, 2:19 PM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
I wouldn't have thought to go the wonderflex route! Looking good thus far.
Sep 28, 2012, 10:29 AM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
Sep 28, 2012, 1:02 PM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
This is looking fantastic!!! Dreads will take a long time in my experience, just the nature of the beast.
I had a question about the crown in the painted product, can you see where the side pieces attach to the main piece? If so, what about filling that in with bondo to give yourself a smoother uniform look?
Over all I REALLY can't wait to see how this comes together! Brava!
Sep 28, 2012, 1:25 PM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
I don't think it will be visible once the hair is in place. I'm using the crown as the base for the whole headpiece, rather than doing a wig and setting the crown on top of it.
Oct 1, 2012, 12:09 PM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
When I made my other White "Witch" from Epic Movie, I had to do dreads as well. I went the wrong way about it but ended up working out okay because they weren't supposed to look nice. I took the hair in sections, backcombed the crap out of it and then used the hair dryer to sort of melt the hair in place. It feels sort of nasty but a lot of wearings and years later, and it's still holding up. And yep, they took me a long time as well. Although, I suspect it felt a lot longer than it actually was because let's face....it's not the most exciting task.
It's on my list of costumes to redo since I love it too death so I'll be checking out that link you posted on how to do dreads. Thanks for sharing it! Best of luck with this costume. It really is a fantastic one to do!
Oct 1, 2012, 2:11 PM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
What kind of fake hair did you use? The Kanekalon didn't seem to melt at all even with pretty high heat applied. Following that Instructable I just wet the finished locks thoroughly and then steamed them with a wet-dry straightening iron on a high setting, and they seem to be holding well.
Oct 19, 2012, 8:13 AM - Re: White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Battle Costume
Sorry for the lack of updates! I've made some progress on the crown - all the hair is attached, and I'll get some photos soon. The crown still needs some minor tweaking, like trimming the hair so it's flat across when I'm wearing it. I've also started on the chain mail skirt.
After much deliberation I've decided to fake the chain mail with a textile solution. I'm knitting the skirt in the round in stockinette stitch, which when flipped inside out looks remarkably like chain mail. The material is a single-strand black acrylic which I plan to paint lightly metallic.
I'm not expecting it to hold up to very close scrutiny, but I think it will read well from even just a few feet away.
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