Elizabeth as Glinda the Good Witch

Elizabeth as Glinda the Good Witch

This is the first in a series of interviews with Organic Armor Arts students. Elizabeth Opiela was one of the early participants in the course, taking advantage of the pre-launch special. Here she shares what attracted her to it and what she’s been making.

[With some asides by me]

What is your background in art and/or costuming?

My mother, her mother, and all her many sisters were all seamstresses. (And my daughter is coming along nicely also.) I was always entranced with the costumes my Mom made for me. And I made costumes for my kids also. But it wasn’t until our town started a Mardi Gras weekend in 1989 that I began to make costumes for myself and members of my float krewe. So I have been seriously costuming for 25 years. I consider myself a “fabricator.”

What made you decide to take the Intro course?


gwar costume

GWAR onstage

My son-in-law has attended Dragon-Con for a long time. Taking a 5 yr old and a 2 year along made him realize that maybe having Gram along would not be a bad idea. He has done some costume work with GWAR

[If you aren’t familiar with this “interplanetary, shock rock band”, check their costumed  insanity out here].

He knew I was interested in learning how to work with latex masks. He really wanted me to sign up for some workshops at the Con, but we ended up ferrying the kids back and forth between their home outside Atlanta. While we were hanging out in one of the rooms, I picked up one of your cards. This course seemed like the perfect place to plunge in, and the Con discount was the clincher.

[My efforts at distributing postcards worked!]

What has been the best thing, and what has been the most challenging thing about learning these techniques?

The best thing is that the latex is so easy to work with.

The most challenging thing is the painting. I am not a painter! But it has been satisfying to find I can use paint to make something beautiful. And I feel I can only get better with time.

top hat student

Elizabeth’s top hat in progress

What have you made so far using the techniques, and what do you hope to make in the future?

I have made a choker, two bracelets, and a tiara and a circlet for my granddaughter’s American Girl dolls.

[Doll armor! I discovered Russian artist Marina Bychkova a few years ago and was inspired but we haven’t had time to try tiny versions of OA yet]

I am working on a top hat; I am at the point of painting it now.  With my daughter’s family’s interest in attending the Con in costume, I anticipate that I will be using my new found skills to provide something to complete their outfits.

How does the course enhance your creative life?

I love the challenge of finding my way through the new frontiers presented by this course. I think I will achieve a better understanding of the art of painting and its many nuances. I believe this understanding will integrate and enhance my other skills.

Would you recommend the course to a friend and why?

I do recommend this course. Most creative people love to experience the stimulation of exploring a new art form. I found the tutorials direct and easy to understand, and believe them to be a thorough and comprehensive way to learn this craft.

Thank you so much Elizabeth for taking the time to answer these questions, and for your enthusiasm for the art form. I hope your experiences inspire others to plunge in as well.


Elizabeth (in a fab purple gown she made) and her husband at a re-enactment