Things I never could have predicted.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am the person who helped Tronguy  (Jay Maynard) build his suit. Jay is an old, dear friend who asked me to help him with his suit so he could potentially win a costume contest at Penguicon (he did win, btw.) .  Of course he did much more than that, and the thing exploded into a media frenzy, making him a permanent part of internet history and culture.

Even during the hard parts (and there were several weeks at the beginning that were very,very difficult- I defy anyone to handle them with more grace than he did. You’d fail- the amount of horrible venom that was directed at him for no real reason at all was not to be believed.), he has always maintained a sense of humor about himself, and the suit. He even attended the Bravo A List awards wearing it (I know, I was with him at the event.)

I think it’s because of that that people still ask him to do appearances and interviews and now, apparently commercials.  Way to go, Jay.  I had NO IDEA it would turn into this, but this is wonderful.  😀

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Tardis Corset Technical Notes Part 2: The second version.

With a proof of concept, if not much more, in hand, I set about making a second version.  Nikki suggested printing the panels on paper and using the paper.  My printer was out of ink at the time (I have a fancy printer and the ink costs a mint.), so I borrowed a printer, and set about doing that.  What eventually appeared was a sandwich:

clear plastic

frosted plastic

paper

clear plastic

This took a fair bit of time in photoshop, since I had to make the panels look exactly correct. So an hour or so per panel to make sure it all looked the way it was supposed to.  But I was having printing problems- the panels weren’t printing at the right size and it wasn’t my printer.  Concerns about ink usage arose. After several attempts I finally managed to get all the printed panels in my hands and make the sandwiches.

While this looked okay- certainly better than the previous attempt, it had a flaw- it was very hard to make the sandwich stay together.  I spent a lot of time gluing and gluing.  The glue has to go SOMEWHERE and there was nowhere to put it on the panel that it was well hidden.  I had lots of problems with the panels coming apart. I kept gluing them back together.  But I was rapidly running out of TIME.  I shipped the panels overnight to Philadelphia.  They were supposed to be there by noon the next day.  Nikki would then have one full day to get it all together.  This was the second round of panels:

In the mad rush I cut the door opening to the sign on the stomacher backwards. Oops.

The USPS lost the package.

They misrouted it and it didn’t arrive until a day later.  Then Nikki had the same problems I did with panel separation.  She’d had a really, really awful week (for various reasons) and in the end just couldn’t build the corset in time for Defcon.  We then were focused on a new deadline- Wicked Faire on August 13.

So we were getting there, but we weren’t quite there yet.

Tardis Corset: Of Sonic Screwdrivers and Doors

Nikki forwarded a question on to me asking if it would be technically possible to build a sonic screwdriver capable of opening the door on the corset.

This led me to ask what a sonic screwdriver WAS.

Once I got that explanation out of the way (and Nikki stopped laughing), I told her I’d post the answer here:

 

Yes, but there’s no real good reason to want to.

From a *technical* standpoint what you’re really looking to do is basically apply the same principles as a garage door opener, or the push button electronic lock on your car door.  You basically turn the sonic screwdriver into the remote control for the door.  It’s a pain in the ass, but technically doable.

However in this particular case it’s an awful lot of work (and added expense) to the garment for no really good reason.  if you’re using it on yourself, it’s really just almost silly when you could just, you know, open the door. 

If you give the controller to someone else it makes all kinds of sense from a fetish corset standpoint.  But it would really require the doors be placed far more strategically- which they’re simply not on this garment.

It’s just not worth the hassle or expense to do it for this particular design, but yeah it’s *technically* possible.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Well. I believe it’s gone viral.

The Tardis corset seems to have gone viral(who knew?). I know boingboing picked it up and apparently ion and some other stuff. 

It’s a strange feeling of deja vu, reminiscent of the whole Tronguy experience years ago.

I’m still working out technical kinks. I just sent an email with photos and sketches off to Nikki to solve some of the problems I still see, going forward.  She’s so tired she can’t concentrate on it now, but when she’s had a little sleep she’ll have a look.  I’ll continue to post the technical details here, once they’ve been cleared by her.

So hey, about that Tardis Corset.

If you’re a Dr. Who fan, you’ve likely seen it by now- the Tardis Corset Nikki Cohen of Mayfaire Moon is in the middle of building. Nikki is a friend of mine.  She is a professional corset maker, and very good at what she does.  What she isn’t, is an engineer of wacky technical matters.  But she knows someone who does that sort of thing.

Me.

I seem to have a history of doing this(I’m also the same person who helped Jay Maynard build his Tron suit) but… I’m the one who made the panels. I’ve seen some comments not understanding a few things.  I’d like to clear those up, for the record.

1. The corset is nowhere near finished. The photo that’s now gone all around the internet was the shot of the practice placement of the stomach panels. It’s not nearly a finished product.  It’s barely even a partially finished product.  Please for the love of small fuzzy creatures stop judging it as if it were finished product. The photo in question is here:

Calm the hell down, people.

See the pins at the top of the panels? They were there to temporarily hold them in place.  It’s just a process shot, okay?

2. There are six panels in total, not just the two. Here, look, I’ll show you:

3. The reason they’re plastic and not an integral part of the corset body itself is they will be lit with EL wire. The corset body itself is silk and therefore, quite opaque and cannot be lit in the same way. Hence, the acetate.

4. The little door is clear because there will be something behind it. I had offered to paint it white as a temporary move, but Nikki declined.  It will be rigged with a little sound mechanism that will play whatever it is that’s supposed to play when you open the door. (I have personally never seen a single episode of Dr. Who.), and some kind of image on the inside of the door.

5.  These panels were the second round of prototype panels(you can see the first set at my flickr account).  Since my building them, I’ve figured out a way to solve the last remaining problem- the windowframes, which are too inexact for my taste.  However, the solution takes more time than we had to build *this particular* physical corset. It will be solved in the next one.  We know the windowframes are not perfect- really, I promise, no one knows better than we do.  However we were on a very tight time frame with this particular garment.  It will be fixed in version 3.0.  Look, it took 10 Tardises (Tardises? Tardii?) to get to this model. It’s only taking me three to perfect it. Give me a break, here. 🙂

I think it’s awesome that so many people like Nikki’s idea(and for the record it’s entirely her idea– Im just helping her engineer it.)  She’s a wonderful corset maker, and a lovely person.  I’m amazed(and so is she!) that this single image has traveled so far. But like a game of telephon(tardis phone box? I don’t know, run with it.), it’s sort of gotten distorted in the process. It’s a work in progress.  We will perfect it.

We promise.