Do you ever wonder what it is like to be surrounded by a family of the most creative, accurate and highly detailed costumer makers? I do! Tell me this family is not amazing!
I am more than excited to introduce from Merritt Island, Florida “Simple Tricks & Nonsense” otherwise known as Becky, John and John Sr.
When did you get interested in costuming as a group?
It had always been fun to dress up for Halloween but years ago we noticed when we dressed as a group everybody had more fun.
How do you decide on the next big project?
Philosophies changed over time. Instead of wanting to do every new thing that came out we worked backwards and focused on characters we’ve liked from decades ago. A Bucket List of costumes if you will. There’s also usually a challenge or new unlearned discipline involved. Often the big projects that make their way from the back burner to the front are the ones we get to learn something new by making.
What are your current medium obsessions and what are your least favorite materials to work with?
Sculpting and latex casting was one but I feel we’ve become so proficient at it that we could start a full head sculpture on Friday night and by Sunday we’re molding it. We’re very comfortable with plastics, heat forming and fabricating but the sanding and dust generated can get annoying. Currently we’re teaching ourselves animatronics and starting off small but one day I want to build animatronics into our creature costumes to really bring them to life. Sewing vinyl is probably the most worrisome and aggravating material. Having to force it through the sewing machine or lubricate the machine with baby powder (we don’t have a Teflon foot for our machine) strains both us and the machine.
What fuels your passion to keep creating more costumes?
We go to conventions and see all kind of costumes. Some that are awe inspiring and occasionally some from properties we love and have waited to see someone make. Often there is this feeling of something missing like “why hasn’t anyone done _______ costume before?” Those costumes are extra enticing because its like exploring unclaimed territory.
What are the hardest parts, biggest mistakes and worst things about costuming for you?
The hardest part would be not getting ahead of ourselves and rushing to complete something when we know we want it to look its best. Biggest mistakes? Does a full sized Creature from the Black Lagoon costume which took $500 and 3 months to make only to end up in the trash count? How about a semi-animatronic Skeksi costume with mechanical mouth, animated eyes and puppeteer hands which also ended up in the trash? Somethings you get so involved in making and rushing to complete that you make 1 compromise after another. Eventually those compromises lead you so far astray from your original intention that you can never be happy with the end result. Worst thing about costuming would be the “mannequin illusion”. What looks good on a mannequin doesn’t always look good on you. Skinny legs, love handles, sloping shoulders, pot bellies all don’t help costumes look flattering.
What’s the best part of your journey in this craft?
It gives you insight and a respect for the people who made the original costumes and for the people that had to wear them. It gives a sense of accomplishment when you’re problem solving skills pay off and your approaches prove to be correct. It also feels good when you’re needing an ego boost and you do a search online for something and a photo of you in costume appears.
We would also love to know if you all have won any awards or have any publication that you would like to share with us?
John won second place for the Jim Henson 60th anniversary costume contest at Dragon con.
Becky won second place at Space Coast Comic Con as well as judge’s choice award for Spooky Empire.
Becky’s Metropolis robot was featured in Cosplay Culture magazine.
What advice would you give to someone that is new to the costuming world and wants to get started?
Research, pick your battles, plan, problem solve, discover your intent and be ready to make mistakes. Plug your character into a search engine and see what pops up. Has anyone else made that costume? How well do you think they pulled it off? Is that costume readily available for purchase somewhere online? Is this something you want to wear once or a dozen times? How much time do you have? Realize there are multiple ways to accomplish the same end result and no 1 method is absolutely right.
Sorry folks they all just do this for fun so they have no links to follow.
Thank you so much for taking the time to let me interview you!
Behind the scenes~
I had my T-Shirt Quilt Class at Rosewood. It was awesome!
My next big class is just before Mother’s Day, All you can eat scones, tea and embroidery with all supplies included.
Thank you for reading,
Dream it, Sew it!
Latest posts by Tracy McElfresh (see all)
- Hand Tool in Sewing Tips in Under a Minute w/ Tracy McElfresh - August 21, 2019
- Directions for the T-Skirt - August 19, 2019
- Taking Your Stash Inventory in Sewing Tips in Under a Minute w/ Tracy McElfresh - August 14, 2019