Tardis Corset Technical Notes 1: How I got here.

Before I forget all this, I’m writing it down.

As I’ve said previously, Nikki is a friend of mine. We had been speaking on Skype one night as she told me about her idea to make a tardis corset.  She had a client (Nicole) who had a credit with her and  Nikki wanted to get her in a tardis corset in time for Defcon.  While she had already built the pieces for the corset itself (since you know, that’s her actual job and all), she was stuck on how to turn it into a tardis (jokes about it being bigger on the inside notwithstanding.) and time was rapidly running out.

There’s two things you need to know about me:

1. I don’t sew.  In fact the only reason I own a sewing machine (I do own one, I have no idea how it works- it may as well be a nuclear reactor) is so my tailor/costume designer/all around saver of the day Jay Reeder from Knightly Endeavors doesn’t have to drag one to my house to do alterations from three hours away. So sewing issues are completely baffling to me.

2. Sorry for the heresy, gang, but I’ve never watched Dr. Who. Not ever. Not once. I have nothing negative whatsoever to say about it- it’s just not the direction my geekery goes in.  So understand that all this knowledge that others have about the show, and the tardis and all manner of other Whovian mystery is… well a mystery to me. The closest I get to Dr. Who generally is playing Rotersand: Exterminate Annihilate Destroy during a DJ set.

But Nikki was really worried about figuring this problem out. She knew what she *wanted* to do, but didn’t know how to get from point A to point B on it.  Not her skillset, as it were.

Luckily, it’s my skillset, so I offered to help out. What the hell, I like puzzles.

Understand that design is a process. That’s hard for goal oriented people.

No one is more goal oriented than me.  I am very much on the J of that J/P divide.  But design– a process that largely takes place in your head, not in the outside world, is very much a thing of process and perception.  It’s a journey. The project completion is the goal.

It is frustrating for people on the outside who only care about the goal to see or care about the process. But the process exists whether you like it or not.  It has to- or you get really shitty design.  It is VERY rare for an idea to pounce out of someone’s head fully formed like Athena from Zeus, and when people cling to the first idea they have, they usually wind up with really lousy results overall.

So, I first told her I would help. I have experience with this sort of geekery- as previously mentioned I’m the lunatic who helped Jay Maynard build his Tron suit (and I promise I had NO IDEA it would become as famous as it did- I did it to help Jay, who is also an old friend, win a costume contest at Penguicon. I didn’t set out to help create an internet meme, and no one was more shocked than me when it happened.)

Nikki sent me a ton of photos and information about the this particular tardis(I didn’t realize there were different models.) and explained exactly what she was trying to do.  She also mailed me her original drafted pattern, that I copied onto bond paper on my lightbox. She explained to me that ultimately she also wanted the tardis to light up.  This meant the panels could not be fully opaque (otherwise, what’s the point?)  they had to be translucent in the places you wanted lighting- in this case, the windows. I saw clearly that two windows on each side were frosted, and the others were  not frosted but darker. The tardis itself being made of wood, ostensibly, is opaque and the police box sign needed to light up as well.  Nikki indicated that the front panel needed a little door where the “free for use of the public” sign was- that she wanted to paint some sort of swirly thing behind the door.  Later on I learned she also wanted the door to trigger a sound mechanism.  It was all a bit complex. Technically doable, but not all of it was going to get done in the time frame we had.

At first, my idea was to get custom plastic pieces cut at Canal Plastics. The night before I was going to do down there I realized I was an idiot- I didn’t need to go to Canal Plastics, all I really needed to do was go to Target.

Yes, Target.

Because what I really was after was vinyl, since it was flexible and very thin.  You know where you can get plain and frosted (for the frosted windows) vinyl sheets easily?  Target.

All I needed was a couple of shower curtain liners.

So I grabbed those, brought them home and set about cutting out colorforms, basically. Rerun was trying to be helpful.

 

Nikki’s original pattern was designed to draft the corset itself, and was rough on the details of the tardis parts(since that’s not what she was building).  So I made the window outlines clearer on my copies. You can see her original copy on the right.

 

Originally, I thought of painting behind the clear vinyl(so as to keep it safe if people touched it), and attaching the frosted bits to the back. So I used photoshop to create a painting guide.

This was a good idea in my head- it didn’t work out in practice.  Since the plastic isn’t porous, the paint wouldn’t dry, and it was really messy. There was no way to make the letters look good.  It was just a complete disaster.  But I did manage to get the basic idea going. Two windows were frosted, the others were not. I had glued the frosted vinyl to the back of the clear vinyl after it was painted.

Failures teach us things about how to proceed.

The first attempt:

So that was how I got to the very first prototype.  Understand that the panels that exist now were the third go round at solving the problem.

It’s about the process- how you get from an idea to a finished product.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Just wanting to say I always enjoy your design process entries, and this one is no different. Also, you are not alone in having not been exposed to Dr. Who.

    • Thanks very much. It’s become clear that some people don’t understand how process works- or that perhaps you should only show completed work without showing process at all.

      It’s nonsense, and I’m not going to do that.

  2. “It is frustrating for people on the outside who only care about the goal to see or care about the process. But the process exists whether you like it or not. It has to- or you get really shitty design.”

    –applause– Magnificently said. Sometimes the greatest truths are the simplest!

    • Thanks. It’s just the plain truth. Thinking you’ve gotten it all right the moment you think of an idea leads you to shitty products. It really does. You have to be able to learn from the process itself and let the failures teach you the way to move on to the next step.

  3. Your brain is amazing. Please continue to allow us glimpses of the amazing wonderland that exists in there….

  4. This is so awesome!

    <3 Mockie

    P.S. Also I forgive you for not being up on the Whogeekery. No one's perfect. XD

    • Thanks, sugar. Actually it’s probably better that Im not. I dont get mired in the geekery of it and can just focus on the technical issues.

  5. hey,
    You guys should know that Nikki will be putting on a fashion show at Dorian’s Parlor on September 11th. It will be held at the Double Tree in downtown Philadelphia. Feel free to check out more info at http://www.doriansparlor.com!!

    • sept. 10th, not 11th, my bad!!


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