These firey fierce women were costumed by Elke Pixzee, a student of our Organic Armor Arts online course. Based in Australia, Elke has been working with the OAA materials and techniques for about a year. She kindly answered some questions about her project and background here.
We have the coolest people in our student community!
Tell us about yourself and your costuming background
Performing in the entertainment industry for the last 20 years or so, I have always enjoyed making my own costumes for the fire performance, crystal ball contact juggling, circus and stilt rove-about characters that I perform, for myself, as well as for other performers to wear. It brings me so much joy to see the visions in my head be created into reality and then brought to life through performance.
What was the purpose of these costumes and what inspired the design?
The purpose of these particular costumes was to fill a brief for a medieval fire performance our crew (Phoenix Entertainment Australia) were booked for. The client wanted something that they hadn’t seen before – a bespoke show with all new content and costuming in a Medieval Dragon theme. We had performed for them for their grand Banquet many years previous, and with the majority of the audience being repeat customers, they really wanted us to keep the entertainment fresh and exciting!
So with a brief like that, how could I not run wild with inspiration to make some kick ass Dragon Warrior costumes for our three gorgeous fire goddesses? I used the new Organic Armor techniques I’d just acquired from doing this awesome course! The opportunity to put these new skills into practice was calling… and while I was nervous about the timeframe to create not just one, but THREE complete outfits… I jumped in head first & am now absolutely stoked with the result of my efforts.
Having finally implemented these amazing new skills I’d learnt from the course and putting it into practice seeing wonderful results was invaluable to me. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Describe the pieces for us, what materials and techniques did you use?
I created three Dragon Warrior costume sets, using the Organic Armor techniques I’d learnt in the course. I wanted them all to be unique, but unified as a complete trio set, so each of them had their own unique design and base structure. One I created straight on top of a corset I had, adding the latex and string & denim pieces to that, layering up as I had been taught. I also experimented with different textured fabric to create a subtle scaled look in the centre panel of the corset. I used felt and latex to create the more defined, plated scales over bra cups.
The next corset I created from a bra with denim pieces attached to that with a lace up back. I made up this pattern using other corsets I have in my costume wardrobe as a loose guide… the denim worked remarkably well for this purpose and created a nice strong but comfortable base. I then added scales and dragon wings I had fashioned out of more denim & string. I added lots of lovely flowing lines with my design to complement the female form.
I also added Dragon eye cabochons to really bring the costumes to life – These I drew myself so I could create some super fiery dragon eyes in flamey colours. I used 3D Crystal Lacquer to adhere them to the backs of glass cabochons I bought from a bead & jewellery making store. It was the first time I had played with cabochons before too! So I managed to pick up another new skill along the way in order to make my vision a reality!
When I got to the third costume, I was nervous about not having fitted the costumes to the performers yet, so I thought it best to have one that was just based on a bra with a simple panel down the front & added filigree designs to make it fancy but still allow for heaps of movement –as they still had to perform a fire show in these costumes! So I needed them to be completely adjustable, comfortable to wear, as well as look good!
In the end I am SO happy with my decision, as the three pieces fit the girls perfectly and they all commented as to how comfortable & easy to wear they were. Nailed it!
I also made three little circlets to complete the costumes. They have little dragon wings over the ears, filigree design around the forehead & a dragon eye in the middle… which actually looked quite intense over the third eye!
With a similar style & technique I also created two hip belts to go with the shorter corset and bra top costumes to finish things off. It was a lot of work to complete it all in the time frame I had… but the results impressed even myself! I didn’t even know what I was capable of before working on this project! I love the results.
What was the best thing and the most challenging thing about making them? Were there any surprises? How long did they take to make?
I learnt a lot about myself during the process of making these costumes. That I am better at time management than I give myself credit for. Realizing midway through that I didn’t have as much time as I would need if I kept at the same pace I was going and making the adjustments needed to stay on track. I got to the finish line – running- but not late. So I was proud that I managed my time effectively, as I feel this is not usually one of my strong points.
I worked solidly on these three costume sets over about 2 weeks (with a couple of those days toward the end being late night blurry-eyed & whimpering for it to be finished days) …and then some design & preparations like gathering materials etc in the weeks prior to actually starting. As well as spending some time experimenting & perfecting my Organic Armor techniques on other projects in the lead up to starting this project. It may have been a little bit procrastination … and a little bit wanting to know what I was doing before I started … as I didn’t want to mess it up.
One thing I found challenging at first was getting the consistency of the latex just right to create a nice smooth finish. .. and having the patience to layer it up to get the desired result. But after revisiting the course videos & experimenting & practicing the technique a bit more, I got it working for me… some things just need practice.
Where have they/will they be worn?
The Dragon Warrior costumes I created using the Organic Armor Arts technique were worn at this year’s Medieval Banquet by the gorgeous Fire goddesses from Phoenix Entertainment Australia. It was a repeat event over two weeks where banquet guests dress in their finest medieval attire and sit at two very long candle lit tables and feast like kings, and be entertained by mistrals, dancers, jesters & fire performers.
We created the fire show & costumes especially for this audience, but we do hope to perform this show & wear these costumes again in future.
We so appreciate having creative people like Elke exploring the latex arts with us and sharing what they do in the student forums. We all inspire and encourage each other.