Vanille Cosplay: The Beads

I recently finished a part of Vanille’s costume that I originally had a lot of concerns about: her beads.  Vanille’s costume actually has a lot of these little buggers, but the beads I mean for the sake of this post are the ones she wears around her torso, which I must admit is a bit…weird.  Being such an unconventional article of clothing, I found myself putting this task off, but it had to get done, and, well, now it is.

First off, I learned when shopping for beads initially that the main type you typically see is called a pony bead.  I bought a bunch of white ones and a bag of assorted colors, as some of the colors I wanted were not sold in bags of their own.  This worked for many of my beads, and for any beads where I didn’t have enough colors, I had to paint white beads (as I had plenty to spare) the correct color.  Let me tell you, painting beads is a very time consuming task.  I would recommend avoiding such a fate whenever possible.

Aside from the pony beads and some longer oval ones, which were wooden beads I painted, I also noticed she has a large white bead on her chest and four animal fangs.  The large white “bead” is made of white clay, Sculpey brand because their stuff is soft and easy to mold.  I made the shape, and then I made a few small, flat triangles and pressed them onto the front side.  I then flipped the bead over and attached two loops of clay so that I could string it up later.  The teeth were made with brown clay (I think the exact color was “suede”, I believe) with clay loops at the top.

I got these after wrestling a grizzly bear.
I got these after wrestling a grizzly bear.

When I started putting everything together, the middle part that goes down her front is made up of three strings of beads, with the big white clay one on top.  The bottoms were tied, super glued, then, I added a ball of hot glue at the bottom of each to make super sure there was no way the beads could fall off.  All beads were put on a brown hemp string because I liked the color.  I later realized that the dark gaps between each bead was not actually a gap at all like I had originally realized (it was in these “gaps” that I mistakenly spotted the fabled brown string), but rather, dark colored beads.  Oh, well.  Brown string will work just fine.  It gives a similar effect when the beads slide apart.

Just the middle beads, before things got crazy. And just a tad wonky.
Just the middle beads, before things got crazy. And just a tad wonky.

Now, before I continue explaining how I did the other strings of beads that loop around her, I must point out that Vanille has a large…thing hanging on her back, which appears to be attached to the same loop around her neck that holds the beads up.  This thing, whose construction I will get to soon, was too heavy, however, and it kept pulling everything back.  As a result, I kept these two pieces separate so they would no longer affect each other.

So, the beads were held up by a thin, leather loop that goes around my neck.  It is attached to the string the beads were strung on at one end, while the other end has a lobster clasp.  This attaches to a loop of string I tied to the beads, so I can easily attach and detach everything.  I then have three more strings of beads, one of which has the clay teeth.  One tooth broke off of its loop at one point, after repeated abuse as I worked to ensure the string of beads was the correct length, but I was simply able to super glue it back together.  I love when a problem can be solved quickly like that.  Anyway, these strings of beads are tied to the middle group of beads on one end, with a lobster clasp at the other end.  This clasp closes over the middle string of beads to close.  Just make sure these aren’t too tight, or you won’t be able to breathe very easily.  I also suggest using stretchy string so the beads can expand with each breath.  I wish I had done this, but by the time I thought of it, I didn’t want to go in and restring everything.

The lower loop of beads was a bit different, however.  Since they had to be attached where the beads branched off into three strings, if I attached them on a string on the left or right, that string would be pulled to the side.  Instead, I actually tied it around all three strings, made sure it started at the middle string, then, super glued it in place.  This symmetry ensured strings weren’t being pulled one way or another.  The other end has a lobster clasp once again which I accidentally super glued shut when I was using the glue to ensure the loop of string attaching the clasp wouldn’t untie.  I fixed this by adding another clasp to the middle strings of beads, so now that clasp can open and attach to the one that got glued closed.

I also added lots of short strings of beads to the main bottom string for extra adornments.  They were, of course, given the triple treatment of security.  Tie, super glue, hot glue.  There is no chance they will ever fall off.  And that’s it for the beads.  They look rather complicated, but they are actually quite easy to put on now.  Since everything is essentially detachable, it makes it easy to put each piece together.  Just be aware that they will not stay up as high as they do on Vanille.  Vanille’s beads seem to be immune to gravity, but on a real person, they will slide down a little in the back no matter how tight you make them.

All the beads... Does this look like it was annoying? It was.
All the beads… Does this look like it was annoying? It was.
Close up, including the white bead. All beads in this picture are their original color, thus the sheen.
Close up, including the white bead. All beads in this picture are their original color, thus the sheen.

Next, I must explain that back part.  I don’t know what that thing is that she wears on her back, but I learned when making her belt that rope was a good material for it.  I bought thinner rope for it than what I used for her belt (which will be explained in a future post), and I made a pattern on paper to make the process easier, both in the correct shape and with lines to show how the rope should be arranged.

It’s rather tough to explain, but I spent hours slowly hot gluing pieces of rope together, from the inside out, in order to form this strange shape.  It starts with triangles lower down with short pieces of rope extending straight up from the top for the initial shape, and then later, I just used longer pieces of rope around the entire shape, with each piece making the shape just a bit larger.  I had to expand it and make it larger several times because it kept being too small.  Eventually, I was at the final rope, but I had something special to do.  This thing has beads hanging from the bottom, and it needs a loop of leather so I can wear it around my neck.

First, I tied my strings of beads around the bottom rope, then, I attached it to the main frame with hot glue, making the beads that much more secure.  I did the same thing when I reached the top, where I added the leather loop, complete with lobster clasp to close over a small loop of thread.  (Quick note: I used loops of thread for the clasps to attach to so I would use less clasps.  Otherwise, there was a chance I’d run out.  All you need is one side to open, so there was no problem that the string couldn’t open as long as the clasp could close over it.  This allowed me to use half the number of clasps.)

After that, I hot glued some brown fabric on the bottom so the ropes wouldn’t scratch my back.  I also hot glued some foam painted silver, along with a blue gem made of resin, on the outer side of my rope contraption.  This gem was made by putting a piece of paper in the correct shape on top of some clay and tracing it with a butter knife.  I then used that knife to help me remove a lot of clay from where I wanted a mold, and then I used the rounded end of the handle to smooth the clay down so it wouldn’t be lumpy.  This created a pretty accurate shape for the gem, but for some reason, my resin has been turning out really dull, so the color didn’t turn out as nice.  I added a lot of blue dye, but the end result was almost colorless.  I’m not sure why, but at least I was able to use some of the shiny blue fabric used in Rosalina’s dress to put behind it.  This made it a little blue.  I also had trouble getting all the clay off of the gem, so it kind of looks dirty.  Hey, maybe I recently excavated it from the depths of the Earth!  You never know….

The...rope-thing, in its completed form. What the heck is it!
The…rope-thing, in its completed form. What the heck is it!
The fabric on the back, to prevent scratching. Don't you turn your back on me, mister!
The fabric on the back, to prevent scratching. Don’t you turn your back on me, mister!

I was definitely happy when this part of the project was done.  Vanille didn’t look like she’d have a tough costume, but don’t be fooled by her minimal clothing.  Those beads and other accessories are a real pain.  Everything looks pretty good, though, so my hard work paid off.  I’m also happy that the back part I made out of rope turned out as well as it did.  Other people use foam or fabric, I hear, and I’m rather proud to say my version might be one of the most accurate yet.  If not horribly tedious!  Anyway, I’m no nearing the completion on Vanille’s costume.  Steady as she goes!  Or something like that…

The Duck’s Brow Had More Than One “Bead” of Perspiration by the Time This Project Was Done

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