Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ABBA House will be performing Peter Pan, Junior next week.  I know this is short notice, but if you can get there, it will be worth the effort.  While Beauty and the Beast is not providing the costumes for this play, my inside track tells me they have hired a professional group to come in and do the Flying Rigs!  This is rarely seen in the Chattanooga area for an amateur production.

There are two performances:

Friday, February 7 • 7:00pm  - General Admission Show - $5
Saturday, February 8 • 6:30pm - Dinner Theatre & a limited number of General Admission seats
(Show is at 7:15pm)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hierarchy of Costuming

I, the poster, Susan Stringer, have been attending Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror conventions for over 30 years.  I even did a few years in the SCA attending Renaissance Fairs, etc.  While I did ok as a single contestant, I didn't really start winning until I married my best friend and costuming partner, Jeff.  Over the last 27 years, he and I have won more masquerade / costume contest awards than I can count, though not as many as some of my peers whom I greatly admire.  One could say I've been around the block a few times.

Jeff hates the term "Cosplay" as he feels like it's just slapping a new name on what we've been doing since before most Cosplayers were born... and then pretending like it's something brand new.  Personally, I'm all for people having fun dressing up and never letting go of that inner child who isn't satisfied to just read a book, play a game or watch a movie - we want to BE those characters... even if its just make believe for a little while.  I don't really care what you call it.

In my mind, there IS a Hierarchy of Costuming.

Masqueraders  are the people who not only construct our own costumes, but we also wear them in competition.  Old School Masquerades demanded that the Masquerader not only be able to design and produce a costume, they also had to be able to tell the story of their character in less than one minute on stage, without talking!  This involved the ability to select and edit mood music as well as a bit of acting or at least creative movement that complimented your costume.

Even in this category, there are levels.  The ICG says that a Novice is a person who has never won a major award at World Con or Costume Con.  A Journeyman is a person who has won once or twice.  After your 3rd win, you move up to Master. 

My dear friend Joe Phillips was the only Instant Master winning three awards at his first World Con.  After that, the rules were changed to read "One as a Novice + Two as a Journeyman."  All of us who know Joe will always love him for being that one and only Instant Master.

Costumers are people who build and construct costumes, either for themselves or for others.  They may or may not enter contests. These are the back bone of creativity.  Any idiot with a fat wallet can join the 501st if they shell out the big bucks to buy someone else's work.  Costumers do their own designs or copy established characters.  Recreation Costuming is, in my opinion, as hard if not harder than creating your own designs.  First, you have to figure out how to construct a costume that may have never been done in real life, like CGI or animated items.  Secondly, it has to be done on a limited budget, not a Hollywood "see how much you can pad the bottom line" budget.  Plus, if you get anything wrong - every one who sees it will KNOW it's wrong!

Cosplayers are people who wear costumes and enjoy pretending to be their characters.  They may or may not have constructed their costumes and may or may not enter contests.  Old School term for that was "Hall Costumer".   Regardless of the term to describe them, or the Cosplayer's ability to construct or assemble their costumes, they are an essential part of the modern Science Fiction / Fantasy / Anime convention.  Almost all news coverage of any event will show the Cosplayers because they are the most fun, most imaginative and most visible members of the Convention Community.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What are we doing at Chattacon?

This poster, Susan Stringer and husband Jeff Stringer will be doing a two costuming panels at Chattacon 39, this weekend.  While it might be a little late to change your plans to attend, you might want to drop by and see us if you are going.

Saturday 2pm - Finely room
Masquerade to Cosplay

While I may have to shove a sock in Jeff's mouth because he detests the term "Cosplay"... We will be representing the old school masqueraders.  Jeff has a video presentation that we will be showing bits and pieces of classic presentations as we discuss how Masquerades used to be a platform to tell the story of your costumed character in 1 minute or less, without saying a word.  The other panelists will be explaining Cosplay - as we used to call that "Hall Costuming" before most Cosplayers were born.  Perhaps we can all come to a better understanding without any chairs being thrown.  Maybe not.  You'll have to attend and find out.

Saturday 4pm - Town Hall Theater
How do I make this? - Advanced 3D Costuming

As the topic implies, this one is basically a DIY discussion.  If you seen it around, someone on this panel should be able to tell you how it's done.  I know that Jeff and I have dabbled in so many different mediums for building costumes, constructing props, making masks, doing amateur wiring, we've probably tried everything at least once.  We're just as happy to tell you about the projects that failed as the ones that succeeded, feel free to learn from our mistakes.  It is our belief that you'll never learn anything new if you don't TRY - so get out of the kiddy pool and jump into some heavy duty art forms.  Costuming isn't crafting!  It's serious work, and the most fun you'll ever have destroying your home and probably your budgets.... but think of the satisfaction you'll have posing for photos.

Jeff is going to Culver Street to pick out some props for this one.  Be afraid.  Be Very Afraid!  He could drag out anything. 

So, you don't know who "The Stringers" are?  That's our family photo.  Left to right Jeff Stringer, Chris Fugate, Jake Stringer and Susan Stringer.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Masquerade Ball at Chattacon

Just in case you missed the notification, let's spread it around a little. 

ChattaCon 39 is coming up very soon! 
It's January 24-26, 2014 at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel.

Points of interest for costumers include:

Masquerade Ball, complete with prizes for costumes. 

'Comic Strip' - A Fan based Burlesque Review featuring pretty girls and bad jokes.

Subterranean Circqus - my dear friends Pinky & Lazarus will be performing.

Author Alan Lewis - and a whole bunch of other people will be there. 

Oh yeah, Jeff and Susan Stringer will be doing a couple of panels on Costumes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mask Attachment Styles

You know that Masquerade / Mardi Gras masks come in an unfathomable array of colors and designs, but did you know they also come with different structures to facilitate wearing?

Whut?  Masks have different ways to attach them to your face.

Traditional masks are hand held in front of the face with a stick like handle.  These are great for women who just want to use the mask for a grand entrance or for flirting and don't really want to wear their mask all night.  Hand held masks do incumber one hand and can be forgot on tables at the end of the night, but they do not mess up a lady's make up.

Possibly the oldest method of securing a mask is the cloth or ribbon tie method, made famous by bandits tying pieces of cloth to their faces to hide their identity.  The Lone Ranger, Zorro and many male super heroes followed suit.

In the mid 20th century, elastic bands became the normal way to support your Halloween mask.  This method works best with small, light weight masks as heavier ones tend to give in to gravity.

Forum Novelties, Inc. patented their Flip Up mask style about a decade ago.  These were undoubtedly inspired by welding helmets.  The head band with adjustable arms attached to the back of the mask is a great way to secure a heavier, more elaborate mask.

Now, Forum Novelties has come up with an even better idea!  It's called "Comfort Arms".  These masks, which just came out in 2012 for the 2013 Mardi Gras season go on like sunglasses and can be worn over your prescription eye wear like 3D glasses at the movies.  I wish I had thought of this!  I'd be rich!

Beauty and the Beast Costumes in Red Bank carries the most astounding variety of masks available in the Chattanooga area.  You can check out detailed photos in their Face Book 'Masquerade Mask' album HERE.  Most of the more popular masks are shown and current prices are listed.  There are always many, many more available.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Theme Parties

People love to do parties with themes.  With Mardi Gras or other Masquerades, you can have a theme within a theme so that you and your friends have a more coordinated look.  Mardi Gras parade floats frequently have all kinds of different themes like Aquatic, Fantasy/Romantic, Historical, or Geographic costumes that can be adapted for party wear.

Mardi Gras Renaissance themed lady
Madam Musketeer, Fun World #121454 - $40
Mask $14, Feather Boa $7, Big Pearl necklace $1.75
Fishnet tights $4
— at Beauty and the Beast Costumes.

A popular theme is Fairy Tale Characters.  While a large number of people seem to believe that Disney invented all the Fairy Tales, let me assure you, they did not.   While you may choose to work with a Disney style princess (especially if you have the dress left over from Halloween and want to get one more use out of it) or you might find costumes that represent a more modern version of what your favorite characters might wear.  These will give you lots of great options to work with in wider color palettes that might suit your completion better.

Mardi Gras Princess
Sassy Belle, Disguise #17735 $60
Mask $9, Feather Boa $7

Mardi Gras Renaissance themed lady.
Guenevere, Fun World #122044 - $35
Mask $7, Feather Boa $7, Tights $4
6 strands of gold beads $1.25

Mardi Gras Renaissance themed man
Robin Hood Kit, Forum #66109 $33
Swashbucklin' Pirate Shirt, Fun World #5410 $18

 — at Beauty and the Beast Costumes.

Geographical costumes include themes like Wild West, Egyptian, Arabian or Asian garb.  While some may feel these costumes are no longer 'PC', my experience has proven that most people choose those costumes because they are beautiful and exotic.  Most people prefer to dress as people they like and admire or wish to emulate.

Mardi Gras Egyptian themed Lady.
Princess of the Pyramids, Forum #59537 - $32
Egyptian headpiece $20,  Mask $9

Mardi Gras Egyptian themed man
Prince of Pyramids, Forum #59478 - $32
Egyptian headpiece $21
Domino eye mask $1

— at Beauty and the Beast Costumes.

Traditional Mardi Gras Colors

Mardi Gras Queen - child sized
Regal Queen, Rubies #882048 $31
Mask $8, Boa $7, Crown $2.50

Mardi Gras King - child sized
King Robe & Crown Set, Forum #62055 $15
Mask $2, Tie $2

So, now that we've given you some options and some back ground.  What gives with the traditional colors?

Purple = Royalty   One can say that we are all Royalty as we are the sons and daughters of our heavenly King.

Green = Life  YOLO!  Live the good Life.  Share it with your friends and your family.

Gold = Prosperity.  Not just money, but all the things that make our lives comfortable and interesting.

If you want to go with the traditional colors, you don't have to find them all in one garment.  It's far more fun to start with one basic piece and add accessories until you come up with a look that is uniquely yours.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

When is Mardi Gras?

The most common question in our area is "When is Mardi Gras?"  Well, that answer can be a little tricky.

Mardi Gras is actually French for Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday starts Lent, which is 40 days of prayer, penance and self-denial to prepare worshipers for Easter.  Easter falls on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon date for the year.  If you want to figure that one out, Go HERE and scroll down.  Confused yet?   Now you know why you just look Easter up on the Calender and rock with it.

This year, Fat Tuesday is March 4th and Ash Wednesday, March 5th.  Easter is April 20th 2014.

HOWEVER!  Do not despair.   Mardi Gras season starts on the Epiphany, which is a traditional feasting day on January 6th to celebrate the revelation that Jesus Christ is the son of God.  So feel free to start partying tomorrow.  If 58 days of parting is to much for you, that's ok, start later... like after Valentine's day.  Still confused?  Let's try a time line.

Christmas December 25, 2013

Epiphany January 6, 2014

 Mardi Gras season starts quietly with a feast to celebrate the Epiphany.
Valentine's Day February 14, 2014

 Mardi Gras heats up with parties and parades every weekend.

 Until Fat Tuesday, March 4th 2014

Ash Wednesday, March 5th will be the end of the parties and time to clean up and repent for everything you did during Mardi Gras for the next 40 days.
Good Friday, April 18th 2014

 Easter, April 20th 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mardi Gras is almost here!

 Most people in Chattanooga don't really seem to know much about Mardi Gras, except that it involves costumes, masks, feathers and PARTIES

If you are lucky enough to be invited to a Mardi Gras themed party, we at Beauty and the Beast Costumes can help.  I'll be posting helpful hints and tips about understanding Mardi Gras and how to look your best while having the most fun at your event. 

First of all, let's start with the idea that all Mardi Gras costumes must be Purple, Green and Gold.  NOT TRUE!  Mardi Gras is a celebration of the good life.  When it comes to costumes, anything goes, as long as it is bright and exciting.  The costumes can be Royal, Sexy, Whimsical, Fantastic, Romantic, Futuristic, Historical or any combination thereof.   The only rule that you have to remember is "Don't follow the rules!"

Let's get started, shall we?

One tradition is clowns and court jesters.  These are bright, fun and can easily incorporate the purple, green and gold colors.  Don't get hung up on the idea that other colors are not allowed, just go with anything bright and mix and match. 

The King's Jester costume package shows a young woman wearing the tunic as a dress, but there is no reason a man can't wear it with pants. 

Don't forget the KIDS when Mardi Gras rolls around.  It's a great way to get one more use out of those Halloween costumes.  Just add some beads and a mask and you're ready to go!

Rubies King's Jester costume - $27                                     Rubies Smiley the Clown costume - $16
Venetian mask  - $9                                                              Rubies Clown wig - $4
Scepter - $5                   Gloves - $3                                     Domino mask - $1

Friday, January 3, 2014

Getting Started

Step 1.  Set up a site.  Check
Step 2.  Dig up some photos.  Check.  Took some today!  (1/4/14) 
Step 3.  Talk about up coming events & post some photos.  Check. 
Step 4.  Figure out how to load my trademark claw & rose and make a banner.  Working on it.

Check back later.