Tag Archives: tips

Latex and Spike Crown Tutorial

7 Feb

This is one I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but the shoot I’m going to use this for has been rescheduled several times and it seemed like a better idea to wait. I got impatient last week and decided to just go ahead and make it anyway – and, of course, to make a tutorial to show you how to make your own!

What you’ll need:

  • latex (0.8 mm to 1.2mm – I chose 1.2mm as I used fairly large and heavy spikes)
  • rubber cement
  • rubber cement thinner
  • spikes (size depends on the look you are going for)
  • fabric hole punch
  • gel pen (silver or gold work well – see extra tips below for more info)
  • ruler
  • measuring tape
  • rotary cutter

Time from start to finish: About 30 minutes.

Step 1:

So the first thing you need to do is cut your latex to the size you need. Take a measurement of your head around where you’d like the crown to sit, and then decide how wide you’d like it to be. My strip of rubber ended up being 20 inches long and an inch wide. (*If you’ve never worked with latex before, there are several places you can buy it from online and I will eventually write a post with the basics of working with latex. Until then, ask whatever you need to know in the comments!)

Step 2:

When your latex is cut to the proper size and length, mark out where you want your spikes to go. I spaced mine 1 inch apart. Use a gel pen to mark where your holes need to go. BEFORE you punch your holes, place your spikes on the marks to see if you like the arrangement – that way you can change it if it doesn’t look right.

Arranging Spikes

Checking the arrangement before punching holes.

Step 3:

Punch your holes! The punch I used was just a cheap one from the fabric section of my local Wal-Mart.

Notice the faint silver dot on the latex? That's where my holes are going.

Notice the faint silver dot on the latex? That’s where my holes are going.

Step 4:

Insert your spikes and screw them tight together – you don’t want them falling off while you’re wearing it. This may require a flat head screwdriver, but mine were all tightened by hand.

Adding my spikes! :)

Adding my spikes! 🙂

Step 5:

Now that your spikes are all in, all that’s left is gluing the two ends together. (I glued the ends first and then added spikes, but I found it would have been easier to do it the other way around.) When you do this, remember to only put glue on the front of one end and the back of the other. If you need a guide, hold the two ends together before you add glue and mark each with your gel pen to you know where to glue. To apply the rubber cement to your latex, make sure to clean it first with the rubber cement cleaner, and then use a small paintbrush or Q-Tip.

DO NOT put the two ends together yet. Wait for at least 5 minutes to let the glue ‘set’, then push the glued ends together and press firmly. If you want to make it even more secure, you can even put a spike through the glued seam after it has fully set between 12 and 24 hours later.

Latex and Spike Crown

And now you’re done! Well, you will be when your glue sets.

Extra tips:

  •  Only use rubber cement to glue the latex together. Other glues will not hold, but rubber cement is meant for this and will create a permanent hold.
  • Most suppliers only sell latex by the yard or meter. Thick latex like the stuff I used for my crown is pretty pricy (at about $35-40 per yard), but you can buy thinner latex in pre-cut strips from Sheet Latex International. The thinner latex won’t hold the heavy spikes, but you can laminate two or more layers together to create your desired weight or thickness. This will save you a lot of money if you don’t need a full yard of the heavy stuff.
  • If you decide to use a different colour (instead of the basic black I used), try to choose a dark one. Latex stains really easily, and white, pink, and other pale shades and colours will discolour from contact with the metal. These stains are permanent.
  • Gel pens – They won’t stain the latex, they wash off with a quick wipe of rubber cement thinner, and they’re cheap. Normal ball-point pens will not wash off, and neither will a lot of other writing utensils. Just go with gel pens to save yourself the trouble. (My suggestion of silver or gold is just my personal preference, but I’ve used other colours and they work just as well.)
  • Try to use spikes with 2 pieces – the spike and the screw base. They are generally higher quality and will not tear the latex.

5 Things I Learned While Writing My First Novel

14 Dec

So today I’ve decided to talk about writing instead of doing a tutorial (don’t worry, there will be plenty of tutorials in the future). I’m not, by any means, a professional writer, and my novel hasn’t been published yet as it’s still in the editing process. On that note, it’s totally up to you whether you want to take any of what I have to say into account. This is just my experience, and chances are I’ll post about my novels fairly regularly, anyway.

Timelines are Key

Okay, so the first thing I learned while writing my debut novel was that you have to keep a timeline of events for the story. I primarily write fiction, so the dates or time period were obviously up to me, but when I started writing scenes I didn’t really have a clear idea of how long the story would be. I had some ideas in my head and just began writing from the beginning without a plan for how it would all end. This is not a good idea unless you’re writing a really short story. My novel was never supposed to become a published book, so I wrote it the way I used to write all of my stories – I’d write the parts that were in my head and needed to be on the paper, and I’d move on to something else.

I found that after writing 100 pages, I was lost in the story, and when it came time to talk about the season (as it plays a big role in setting the scene for certain parts of the story), I couldn’t remember what time of year it was. That’s when I pulled out one of my trusty notebooks and read what I had written, start to finish, taking lots of notes. Trust me, this is not something you want to do. I highly recommend keeping even just a loose timeline of events on hand at all times while working on your own stories so you can keep track of when everything is happening.

What are you writing about?

And while we’re on the topic of planning: before you start writing, know what you’re going to write about. If you have several stories inside of you waiting to burst out, take a separate piece of paper for each and start brainstorming. Write down whatever comes to mind, and I’m sure you will decide which one to continue writing. When you do decide, take some time to work out your plot. This will help you to no end, and yet a lot of people begin writing without a clear sense of where they’re going. The most important things to know before writing: beginning and end. And middle, but the middle tends to change a lot as you’re writing and you think of better scenarios. It’s even better if you have some scenes in your head already. Because I never actually planned on finishing my novel, it began as a jumbled mess of random scenes on lined paper and in random notebooks.

Bonus tip: If you have a million things you’d like to write, maybe it’s best to split those things between stories instead of trying to write all of your awesome ideas in one epic novel. Keep it simple whenever possible so you don’t fry the reader’s brain with dozens of concepts all at once.

Who are they?

My third piece of advice for you is this: Know your characters. I cannot stress this enough! You don’t need a full biography of every single person who makes an appearance in your story, but you should have a good sense of who your main and supporting characters are. There’s nothing worse than writing a scene and not knowing what a certain person would be doing or how that person would react to a certain situation. I always sit down and write a full page (or more) about each of the characters who will be key to the story’s plot. I write full descriptions of how they look, where they are from, how old they are, what type of personality they have, etc. Usually I’ll even draw a full character sketch so I can look at the drawing and see who I’m writing about or for, but this is probably a little overkill for some people. I just like to see a physical representation of the people so I don’t have to constantly imagine them in my head (I know, I know, that’s what descriptions are for, but it’s easier to look at a picture than to re-read your notes).

Just to give you an example of how I work, below is a character sketch of someone who appears in that first book. It’s recent and was done to finally get a decent look at him in a form other than my usual anime.

Julian from Guardians

The main thing is that you know your character well enough to make the narrative convincing. The whole point of story-telling is to make the reader feel like they are a part of it, and if you don’t know who your protagonists are as people, neither will your audience, which will make it harder for them to become immersed in the drama.

Why are you writing about them, anyway?

Okay, this one ties in with the second tip, but I think it deserves more than a quick sentence. You have to know why you are writing your story. Are you just trying to get something published? Does it have some deeper meaning, or is it just a superficial spewing of words? This is something I didn’t have planned from the beginning. Not at all, actually. Again, this is because I never planned on publishing this book. The deeper meaning of my story came to me when I was half way through the first draft, and knowing what that meaning was, I could finally include some details to help make the narrative more interesting.

You don’t have to know the moral behind it before starting your story, but it’s a good idea to figure it out as soon as possible. It will help you from floundering about when you’re trying to add the finer details. (I deleted countless pages of nonsense when I finally realized why I was writing. Hours and hours of wasted work because I couldn’t decide what I was doing.)

Write the way that’s best for you

Okay, so this may not be everyone’s style. In fact, I don’t know anyone else who does this, but maybe that’s just me. I have always written my stories out of sequence. Sometimes I’ll start at the beginning when I know how I want the book to start, but generally I just start writing scenes. I could be in the middle of doing dishes, a shift at one of my jobs, making a dress for a customer, or whatever, and when the scene for a new story pops into my head, I pretty much drop everything and just write it down in short form to get it on paper. (This is mostly for my own sanity so I can get back to what I was distracted from in the first place.) When I get some time to sit and write it out properly, I could end up typing thousands of words in one sitting, and it’s almost never in order.

For my first full novel, I wrote scenes on random pieces of paper and in notebooks scattered all over my house, and this went on for about two years before I decided to put them all together in one story. Many of the scenes never made it into the book because they didn’t work, but for the most part, it worked out perfectly, and all I needed was some filler and to tie it all together into one grand scheme. Not to say that it didn’t need a lot of editing, but this was the easiest way for me to write the story. And so far, it’s working really well for the second installment for the series as well.

It may not work for you, and that’s fine. The moral of this story being that you have to do what’s best for you. If you would rather start at the beginning and end at the end, then do that. If you want to know the details of your ending before starting the rest of the story, then do that. Writing everything out of sequence in small chunks just works best for me.

Alright, so these are just a few things I learned in the process of writing Guardians, but there was plenty more. Maybe I’ll write another post about the rest of what I learned in the future, but I think for now, 1500 words is long enough. I’d love to hear how you do things and if any of the above tips helped at all, so leave a comment if you feel obliged to do so and let me know!

*PS, if you’re curious, I’m planning on releasing my first novel (Guardians) in summer 2013. Don’t expect anything perfect, I’m far from a professional writer, but I’ll do my best to impress.