Friday, October 16, 2009

Dark Elf / Drow Costume (Pop-Tab Scale Mail)

I am of the ecological generation. We talked about saving the planet when I was in first grade. We had paper recycling in my fourth grade classroom. I yell at people who throw away reusable or recyclable things (and watch out if I catch you throwing garbage out of your car!). I want to recycle everything.

Back in 2005, when I went for the first time to a week long LARP, I noticed that some warriors wore pieces of Mail Armour made of Pop-Tabs! What a marvelous idea! It's easy to obtain, ecological, light, original, and, bonus, it'll will bother the LARP snobs of the place, I thought (we never went back to that LARP, so I never got to see their reactions - oh well). The only problem is, I barely drink any Sodas or juice from cans. The solution was easy: most of my co-workers drank one or two a day, so I brought a jar at work and asked everyone to contribute.

Of course, the following year, I had to show them what I did with all of those Pop-Tabs. I decided to make a bra and skirt and I planned to have them in time for Halloween 2006.

Pop-Tab Bra in the making

After looking on the Internet for pictures of Pop-Tab Scalemail (to figure out how to make it), I decided to go with the aluminium ring technique. I ordered 2 lbs of Etched Aluminum 12ga 7/16'' rings (meaning about 2000) from The Ring Lord, made a quick geometrical pattern and set about assembling rings and pop-tabs in April!

Gwenyver as Serekiel the Drow

The idea was that I would use my pop-tab scale mail as part of a Drow costume. Some Drow matrons would wear just the scale mail and use black make-up on the rest of their bodies, but I'm a little too modest for that AND it was for October 31st! I choose to wear a black top (incidentally, it is the same I wear for Irish Dancing these days), black leggings and my black Prom gloves for the "skin". As for clothes, I made a red pleather bodice using McCall's 4549 (but instead of a zipper in the back, both sides lace up with brass eyelets). The pattern for the matching pleather vambraces and leggings was designed by me. They also both lace up.

The make-up I used is Snazaroo face paint in Black (it is really great makeup to work with - it is easy to put on with a sponge, like a creme foundation). As for the wig, I got it from Wow Wigs (but I like my eBay one better).

I wanted to get a pair of Sai to complete the look, but that was the year of the Dawson Shooting (my Fashion School is nearby and some of my Irish Dance friends were students there, so we were very affected by what happened), so I figured it was not a good idea to show up at work with weapons. I had to settle for a pair of plastic toy Sai. Not as cool, but no one call the cops on you!

My Sweetheart and I, OP Valhalla 2008

Last year, my Sweetheart organized an Airsoft game around the theme of Valhalla. Nancy-Raven and I and another player's girlfriend got to play Valkyries. Whenever players died, we had to go collect the and bring them back to Odin, so their valour would be judged.

Gwenyver as a Valkyrie, OP Valhalla 2008

For a quick Valkyrie costume, I mixed and matched a white t-tunic (which I usually wear as an under tunic - I felt naked) with part of my Drow costume, namely the bodice, the vambraces and the scale mail. I added a black leather circlet, a brown leather disc belt (I have one in almost every colour) from which I hung my Sweetheart's old sword (decorative only) and I wore my red and grey wool and silk blend cape (present from my Sweetheart). The lovely goggles are mandatory to protect your eyes from flying BB pellets - although I never felt one, nor were any of the Valkyries shot; apparently, wearing white in the woods while everyone else wears camouflage makes you easy to avoid shooting.

I remember it was on that day that I realized I was starting to have a little tummy (being four months pregnant). Due to the day-long morning sickness I had throughout the first trimester, I actually lost weight during my pregnancy (by the time I truly needed to buy maternity clothes, I was six months pregnant). So at the time, I was about 10 lbs lighter than when I made my scale mail, yet it took a lot of effort to manage to tie it around my waist.

Nowadays, my aunt is the biggest contributor to my Pop-Tab stock: her friend has a dance school and she gathers them for me from the cans her students drink during break. I have more than I need. I soon will have to make another project to use some of them (maybe a dress?).

For my next Recycled LARP project, I'm thinking of riveting metal discs to a leather Cuirass to make another type of scale mail or a ring armour. And where might I get these discs? From frozen juice cans!

You can sigh. It's OK, really. My Sweetheart does when he sees the freshly washed pile next to the kitchen sink.


  1. I could also contribute by collecting popped metal discs from Masson cans..... those I can't use again for sterilazing (arghhh don't remember the orthograph).

    I got two :p

  2. Thanks, but I want them all to match (and I like silver tone better than gold).

  3. funny... they are indeed silver tone XD

  4. Not trying to be rude, but perhaps a different material for the bodice? The red isn't stiff at all so perhaps a strong canvas backing or a cloth material? The ripples and wrinkles in it makes it look cheap.

    Again, sorry, but a bodice or corset has certain criteria and is ultimately used to suck in and pull up... I'm a faire geek and a lover of costuming. And I really hope it doesn't offend you, just trying to be helpful.