Thursday, 15 August 2019

#DBW2019 - looping, or rather why I'm not doing it

The theme for Thursday in the #DBW2019 is DIY looping deholygrailed.

Now this is a technical subject, and I would be surprised if anyone reading most of the blog post on the subject, and who aren't living close to diabetes, would understand much of what is being said. Basically with today's technology, in first world countries with good health care systems, you can have access to an insulin pump and a continous glucose meter. Looping is when you combine these two so that the glucose meter senses changes in you glucose level, and the insulin pump reacts accordingly and either gives you more insulin, or stops the insulin for a while. This is called closed loop, when the technology don't need any human input and is probably the closest that you can get to a working pancreas. The thing is today on the market there are no closed loop systems. There are hybrid systems, where the user decides the dosage but the pump can stop or add the insulin if it's needed. DIY looping though is when you hack the hybrid loop system and makes it closed loop.

I'm not doing this, because I don't have a pump. And my costuming hobby is a big reason to why I don't have a pump.

This is an insulin pump. It sends the insulin through an infusion set that you have on you all the time. You need to have the infusion set, and you need to carry the pump with you as well.

Infusion set in my stomach under a pair of stays or a corset? No, I don't think so.

I don't see any space for a belt for the pump or a pocket in this costume either.

I'm sure that closed loop systems are the future of diabetes treatment, but until they are really here I prefer not having to worry about infusion sets or how I need to adjust my costumes to accomodate the pump. So with that I should say I'm not yet willing to work with a pump, but when (not if) I switch I am definitely going to loop but it won't be until there are working closed loop systems so that I don't have to work with DIY looping..

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

#DBW2019 - Diabetes and complications: present or repressed

The theme for Wednesday in the #DBW2019 is about complications. For most non-diabethics, and many diabethics, the main symptoms of diabetes is the emergency situations. When the bloodsugar drops so low or go so high that you need to quickly get it in check before going into a coma. Diabetes is an illness that takes a big toll on the body long term as well. If you have heard about diabethics going blind or having to amputate limbs, that's not something that happens over night. I would say a problem when discussing complications is that it's easy to paint a very dark picture, but it's maybe harder to talk about complications that have yet not become too severe.

I have had diabetes for more than 30 years, it's almost inevitable that you are going to have some complications at this stage. For me it's the eyes. I did not manage my diabetes well when I was a student. I thought I did, but in hindsight I definitely didn't. This is also probably where I would have liked it to be some better guidance for someone who got diabetes as a kid, into adulthood. I simply didn't know how diabetes worked, after all that information had gone to my parents not myself. When I first got the news that I had started to get changes in my eyes I got really scared. I remember to a friend that now I was going to be blind, and that I would loose my ability to see costumes and sew. See as a costumer that was my first thought, I just couldn't imagined a life without working with fabric, seeing wonderful creations and then trying to recreate them myself.

crazy detailed stuff like this needs good eyesight
Now the thing is, I didn't go blind. I have had a lot of laser treatments on my eyes, they were in a bad state, but my sight hasn't been affected. I have also not gotten any new changes due to better control of my bloodsugar.

But what about if I had gotten a bad eyesight, or neurological problems that wouldn't leave me not totally able-bodied. How does the costuming and cosplay community really treat people who are not  able-bodied? This is a discussion that has been on the outside of some other costumers' feeds that I follow and I think it's really important to look at one self in this. How welcome does a costumer really feel when they need to have different supports that you can't hide? Glasses, walking sticks or even wheel chairs are necessities for a lot of people in our society. In historical costuming circles it's also easy to sneer at someone sewing by machine, but one should remember that there are people out there who simply can't sew by hand due to their physical limitations.

I can take off my glasses if I want to, others can't
Drawing a line for what is accepted or not in the name of accuracy is a tricky question, and it is important that it is not just the able-bodied members of the costuming community that decide where that line is. As of now I count myself as able-bodied, but I'm guessing the fact that I am maybe a bit more aware than some people that things might change for me in the future makes me also more aware of this issue, and the importance of listening to the people who are the ones actually experiencing a lot more hurdles in their hobby than I do.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

#DBW2019 - diabetes and costuming

I happened to stumble upon the fact that this week it is Diabetes Blog Week 2019, and I figured it could be interesting to take part in that. This is a costuming blog though so I am going to filter the topics through my experience as a costumer.

I'm not sure if everyone who reads this blog knows about it but I have had type 1 diabetes since I was four. Like many others there is no specific reason why I got it, no genetics or stuff like that, one day my immune system just decided to kill off my insulin production and nobody knows why. I'm dependant on daily insulin injections that I take with insulin pens, usually it's 5-7 injections a day. I also need to plan my food intake so that I know that my blood sugar won't drop dangerously low. Skipping lunch at a convention or event is not an option for me.

With that introduction here comes my first post of #dbw2019 (I missed Monday)

Tuesday - things I would have liked to know when I was diagnosed

Here is the tricky point. I don't remember what it is like to live without diabetes, I was simply too young when I got it. When I was diagnosed all the information was given to my parents, I simply learnt to live with all the new routines without really thinking about it.

What I would have liked to know more about though as I got into the costuming hobby is how to work with the stress of events. Stress makes it really hard to regulate your blood sugar, and with stress I also include the adrenaline rush of just being at an event with new people, new stuff happening and basically just having fun. Here is a secret though, most people don't notice this, simply because for me stress basically raises my blood sugar, and that doesn't give any dramatic symptoms (unless it goes really bad) just a general nausea, being thirsty and headaches.

The medieval diet is good for diabethics, these were my best days of the whole summer
One thing I definitely would have learnt more about though is to actually talk about diabetes itself. I have never had a problem saying that I have diabetes, or that I need to take my insulin, but it has taken me a really long time to be able to actually tell someone that I'm not feeling ok, that I'm either too low or too high and that I need to take care of it. This is especially true on big conventions or events where you meet a lot of people, but maybe not people that you know very well.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Obelix belt, arm braces and vest

It is time for the last of the accessories of Obelix. These accessories is what makes my version of Obelix closer to the 1999 film version than the comic. There are several reasons why I chose to go after the film version, but one is that it is a lot easier to recreate something that has actually been made for real and not just tought up by the creator of the comic. The belt is definitely a lot easier.

Gerald Depardieu as Obelix in 1999
For the base of the belt I used cotton canvas. On top of that I used EVA foam, 5 mm. The foam part is in three sections, which helps with the bending of the belt when I wear it. I glued the foam to the canvas, but I didn't trust just the glue so I used cotton string to sew through both the foam and the canvas. I also added some extra stitches that would later be hidden by the ornaments.

The back of the belt, it's closed in the back with velcro
The ornaments are round circles of foam. The middle one is larger than the two side ones. To build up some height I made the circles with one base and then an outer ring in the same foam, the  middle cirlce also has a centre and it's built up a bit extra with foam clay as well, also to give it a more natural and irregular look. 

The front of the belt with the base circles.
The belt was painted with brown flexpaint. It was the first time that I worked with flexpaint and it has both good qualities and some worse qualities. The bad is that it's very thin and the colour that I though I had ordered (brown) was more of a beige. It was ok, but a friend who ordered green flexpaint got a paint that was more of a deep turquoise. It's also very thin, so you need to add many layers before it gets a good coverage, this also makes it hard to hide brush strokes. I didn't mind that my belt ended up a bit uneven, since it's supposed to be leather, but it is a lot harder if you wanta perfect finish. The flex paint also stays sticky, you need to cover it with either a special lacquer (I used that) or something else (there are tutorials out there on the web).

There are a lot of things with flexpaint though. The main thing is that it's flexible. You can bend the foam as much as you like, and it doesn't crack in any way. You can also mix in a lot of other acrylic paints to get the exact colour that you want. In the belt I mixed in a lot of acrylic paints in the colours burnt umber and ivory black. My friend who got the turquoise green was able to get a proper green by adding a lot of yellow paint to it. You also don't need to prepare the foam in anyway or with any kind of primer. The flexpaint is its own primer so it's just to start painting with it.

The centre roundel

The roundels were spraypainted gold and then glued with contact cement to the main belt.

The finished belt
Just two days before Närcon I decided to also do the pair of armbraces. This was a fun project, that in the end only took an evening, and then I was sooooo satisfied with them.

I cut out a general pattern in paper, and then in canvas, and finally in foam. This time I used 2 mm foam. The roundel is made of one layer of foam with an inner circle and a ban of foam that I just glued around the edge. The surface markings of the brace is made by heating the foam with a heatgun and then pressing aluminium foil into it, this gives it much more of a creased leather effect. I had run out of burnt umber, but thankfully the colour of the braces are different to the belt so I managed to get something close to it by mixing some other browns that  had. The roundels in the original also don't have the same metallic apperance as on the belt, and since they would have to be flexible I mixed the brown flexpaint with acrylic gold paint. I loved this result, it definitely looks liked golden leather, and I'm not curious on what other projects I can do to get this colour. I also painted the canvas with the same golden brown colour.

The finished belt and braces, one open andone closed
The last piece of the costume is actually the piece that I finished first, and it's his vest. I used a longhaired fake fur and just cut out a general shape for the back and the fronts. The only seams are at the sides and shoulders. Once it was finished I cut it to the length that I wanted to have. In hindsight I should have kept it longer in the back, to act as a cushion for the metal back pack that I carried the menhir in.

And with that I was finished with the whole Obelix project. It was fun and for me it was the first time that I worked for real in materials like EVA foam and styrofoam, and that was pretty fun as well. I still prefer working with fabric, but I can definitely see me working with more EVA foam in the future if it's needed.

(The flask on my side is filled with water not magic potion.)

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Obelix trousers and shoes

It's time to sum up the finishing parts of my Obelix costume, and in this post I will talk about the trousers and shoes.

I didn't take a lot of photos of the trousers, while I was working on them unfortunately. The first issue with the trousers was to find a striped white and blue fabric. I didn't find anything close to those broad stripes, and I didn't even find a suitable blue fabric at all. I then decided to make my own stripes and to dye my own blue fabric. I worked with a thin cotton satin from Stoff&Stil. I like this fabric because it's thin and easy to work with. It wrinkles a lot though, so if you want to make something more elegant it can be annoying. For a soft summer garment it was perfect though. I bought a lot of natural coloured cotton satin, and then I dyed half of it using the regular textile dye that I can buy in the local paint store. I dyed the fabric by hand, and it did get a bit blotchy, but nothing that is noticable when you cut it up into strips.

I then spent a lot of time ripping the white and blue fabric into strips and sewing it together into a striped fabric. When I had a fabric that I thought was wide enough I took my 1890s bloomer pattern and used that as a guide. Basically I used the crotch area, and then I just took the pattern out to the end of the fabric, I also lengthened it both upwards and downwards. I then sewed it all together, and it was way too tight.

Or rather, I had make a perfect summer jumpsuit. It was flattering and so comfortable to wear, but it wasn't exactly the big trousers that Obelix would wear. I don't think I've heard the term sexy Obelix before, but that was the main comment when I tried them on. I had to rip them apart, and trace the pattern so I still have it for when I want to make summer jumpsuit, and then I added 2 more stripes on each side.

Now the trousers were gigantic at the top and legs though. I simply had to take in all the seams to get it into something more managable. A bonus with this is that you get the tapered look of the stripes that Obelix has in the comic. The finishing touch was to hem the top and the bottom and since I don't want any serious costume malfunctions I added a pair of shoulder straps, that I fasten with velcro. The shoulder straps will be hidden by the vest, and is one reason why I wanted to do the film version with the vest. 

Obelix also needed some kind of shoe. Also since I'm not really tall I wanted to add some height in my shoes, and thankfully it's quite easy to find sandals and shoes with heels. In the end though I went with an old pair of wedge heeled sandals with a thick sole that I had planned to throw out after the summer since they were starting to get way too worn.

I used a fake stretch suede fabric and started with simply tracing the shoe on the fabric.

The fabric is folded in the back, so the only seam is the middle front seam.  I depended a lot on the fabric being stretchy so I didn't have to be very careful.

Then I put the shoecover over the shoe and attached it to the lace of the sandal. It's easier with a curved needle.

I added some hot clue to fix the fabric to the side of the sandal, but the sole is still just the sole of the original shoe. It's not a perfect pair of shoes, but they worked since they are mostly covered by the trousers anyway.

I'm not that much taller than Ann-Sofi, as Asterix, but she's wearing medieval leather shoes that are very flat and I'm wearing my sandals with a bit of heel and that is enough to make a noticable difference between us.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Närcon 2019 meet-up photos

This is a dump of photos from the two meet-ups that I was part of: Game of Thrones and Star Wars.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

NärCon 2019 report

I'm back from NärCon with sore feet and a tired body, but loads of happy memories.

NärCon is easiest described as a cosplay, gaming and creativitiy festival, and it's the biggest cosplay event in northern Europe. It is on the campus of Linköping University, and it being outside and spread out is the reason for my sore feet, I clocked around 30 km of walking on asphalt, cobblestones and stone floors over 2,5 days.

This is just an overview of the most central part of the campus. The weather decided to go with the hottest days of summer, with temperatures reaching 30+ in the middle of the days. There are worse heatwaves out there, but it was.

Anyway this is my day by day report:

Tom picked me up at 8 on Thursday. It felt strange but I had actually been able to pack and be finished early in the evening on Wednesday, no stressing last minute fixes to be done. We got down to Linköping, had lunch, checked in and managed to be at Närcon at around 2 pm, which is a new early record for us.  I left my bags in the Nordic Legions' changing rooms and then went to see Mathias and Ann-Sofie, they had driven down with their caravan the night before. With my excellent skills in orienteering I managed to go to the wrong camping and got an extra km or so in the sun. Then it was time for me and Ann-Sofie to suit up as Asterix and Obelix.

They were a big sucess! We couldn't move many meters until people came up and wanted to take photos with us and it was so much fun. The menhir worked fine, but for some metal thingies in the back of the metal frame. This first time they weren't too bad, but every time I wore it I felt more and or that they pressed into my back. I also had a bit of moustache problem. I had glued it on with mastix, but it fell off when I tried to drink or talk too much. It got better later, I'm guessing that I built up a layer of mastix on the moustache that made it easier and easier to stick. We walked around until about 11 pm and then it was back to the hotel for a shower and some sleep. Thankfully this year we were in an hotel with AC.

On Friday we arrived at NärCon at around 11 again. NärCon is a festival and goes on 24/7, but there isn't much activity before lunchtime.
Tom as Luigi on Thursday and Friday
The Nordic Legions decided that it was too hot to troop in the afternoon, and we were going to concentrate on the evening instead. So I changed into Melisandre and walked around in that costume. Unfortunately I got some blisters  from my sneakers, the same sneakers that had taken me through Medieval Week in Visby and Star Wars Celebration in Chicago without a problem, so now I started to get some sore feet.

Most of the Cosplay Dalarna gang with Harry Potter costumes on Friday
There was a Game of Thrones meet-up on Friday afternoon. There were some official photos taken at the meet up, but I only have one on my own phone.

William and his family had really great costumes.

After that Tom had told me that there was going to be something called "garbage" cosplay, I told some other people and we went there. Basically it was a competition where you made up teams, had 5 minutes to decide what you should do and then 35 minutes to build it out of a pile of rubbish that they had placed on the floor. It was a manic wrestle for the rubbish, but our team (which was basically a Cosplay Dalarna team) managed to grap two big rolls of bubble wrap as our main loot.

The result

Linus as "Deal with it Gandalf the White". The judges were impressed that I had managed to make two functional garments, bascially a classic chiton held together with pins made from cardboard and a square cloak, out of the bubble wrap, and that we had so many details (pipe, staff, brooch, sword, ring and tobacco pouch). Yes our team won the whole competition. Go Cosplay Dalarna (and Sergio)! This was probably my favorite event of the whole convention, also bcause it was so unexpected and spontaneous.

There was a Star Wars meet-up in the evening as well, and the Nordic Legions decided to join. We surprised everybody else, who apparently thought that the 501st and Rebel Legion is just all about being serious. They were so wrong. We showed our totally unstructured way of organizing photos, and then there were a bunch of photos and films done. The photographer has promised to post the photos from that in the coming days and I'm really looking forward to it. After that we led the whole bunch of Star Wars costumers in a parade all over the festival area, and it was really cool to be around 30 people, with me and the other officers first, followed by stormtroopers, our rebels and then all the other costumers which were mostly dark and light jedi. The timing was so right with it being dusk so that the lightsabres really showed, but still light enough that people could take good photos.

Admiral Daala leading her troops
Overall the Friday evening was just perfect, with a lot of pure fun cosplay events.

Saturday I woke with some really aching feet. I had slept with them high over the night but it was obvious that this was going to be a tough day. I did get some time to go around the Artists' Alley and I found two prints of Ola Art that I just had to buy, it was tough to choose though. He basically takes cheap paintings that he finds in fleamarkets and changes them and add some funny texts to them.

In the afternoon I was responsible for a presentation of the Nordic Legions. It was a simply presentation about who we are, and then we showcased our costumes and what they are made of, including stripping down a biker scout and a stormtrooper to their black undersuits. After 30 minutes we asked the audience to come down and talk with us directly and ask questions. There were actually quite a few in the audience so I was really pleased with it. Since this was about showing what we do behind the scenes we broke our own Nordic Legions' rule and had both our buckets off, I'm wearing my glasses and we had two of the same face character. The important thing was to show that we are humans and fans and that it's not an impossible goal to become a member.

In the evening I skipped parading with the legions, I simply wasn't sure how far I was going to be able to walk. Instead me and Ann-Sofie did another round of Asterix and Obelix, with a lot of breaks, but in the end my body simply said no. It was a combination of sore feet, the metal thingies from the menhir into the back and the heat. The Obelix trousers are really comfy, but then I wear a big foam belt and a fur vest over them, and the menhir is made out of isolation material that reflects heat. When I took the belt off I could wringe out the trousers underneath. So I packed up my stuff and went civil. We met up with Tom and then it was a slow walk, due to talking with people not due to pain, until we left the area at around midnight.

On Sunday we simply had breakfast and got into the car and drove home. It was even hotter on Sunday than on Saturday, and the AC in the car can't handle those temperatures, so we had to take a lot of breaks just to get some air into the car. Still I was home at around 4 pm, which is the earliest that I've been home from NärCon, and it is nice to come home early in the evening from a con.

On the way back I also come up with a new project for next year's NärCon, with a focus on comfortable shoes and cool clothes, we will see what happens.

And finally here are some other cosplayers that I met and took photos of