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Old 04-17-2012, 07:18 PM
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rue d'oak rue d'oak is offline
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Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

OK, I am again engaged in a bit of madness, and off track from my "real" art. But who am I to turn down a good friend and a challenge...

As those of you who read the monthly Stitch know, I am designing a costume for a small theater here in San Francisco that specializes in traditional Japanese theater -- The Theater of Yugen.

They are doing a set of plays based on traditional European tales, but in the style of Kabuki.

So there is a chicken.

My first rough sketch, a general profile.




and then more detail



I am envisioning this based on four separate elements, building off of the traditional clothing of kimono and loose pants

- pants, loose and tied at the ankle, with "feathers" attached at the thigh to give the sense of the chicken's body
- a hooded cape of "feathers" draped over an undercoat
- a large tail, held by a wide belt at the waist
- glove-like hand coverings, attached to a "sleeve" that is painted like chicken leg skin -- for example using tights or a knit fabric





I am exploring how I can use commercial felt as one layer, and then cut feather like rounds that pop up.



I've been sampling how I might use the felting machine to attach yarn for texture and then cut the "feathers."



The goal is not to make a real chicken, meaning, any adult man standing up in a chicken suit is going to look like he belongs on Sesame Street. So the actor will be crouching, and the costume is to be more sculptural, suggest of "chicken."

So I will keep you posted...

Jen
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:00 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

This is so interesting to watch you come up with ideas and really want to see what the final suit will look like. You are very talented to even come up with this.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:43 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

too funny .. I always absolutely fascinating dream of making costumes and stage sets .. my sister has done this kind of suit .. she sewed AVAT real nails chicken after a black glove and his well dressed hands it real chicken! our congratulations this achievement!
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:38 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

This is fascinating how you are pulling this together.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:40 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

What a nice insight into how you design costumes. This looks awesome just in the planning stage.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:45 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

ok, after a bit of delay, or actually pushing to get this done on time, here are finally some photos!

We ended up shifting to a simpler design. The upper body is covered by a cape, and the lower chaps. Yes, think of the cowboy chaps. The actor must do a quick on stage change of costume, with an assistance lifting off the chicken layer as he slowly turns. So all is attached with the minimal number of ties and two snaps. Velcro was not an option due to the sound. In the end, this design was much easier to construct. Also, the role is that of a hen, so the tail was kept low, rather than high showy feathers as in my sketches.

This is using cotton/wool batting/felt. I have done a base layer of brown with Shiva paint sticks.



I did a quick dye of some roving, using Rit and the microwave. As this is not something which will be washed or needing deep color, this route was perfect.



The roving is then machine felted over the brown base layer. I used three colors, from a dark brown, then the chocolate brown and then a light tan.





The fabric is then cut in "u" shapes aka feathers. The point is not to create "real" feathers but to suggest the essence of "feather." Oops, I thought this photo showed the little tuck to give the feathers dimension as well...

Once cut, then I machine felted the whole to a loose gauze material, to give an underlayer of white as well as strength.




And here is Nick, the actor, in the final fitting yesterday!



He has only one of the gloves on, with polymer clay claws attached, as we were testing out the idea. The decision was that it worked, so I then sewed the last ones on after this photo.



The comb etc is a combination of commercial felt and machine felted roving. I figured the commercial felt was cheaper, rather than using all the good wool! It works well to put a thin layer on the commercial felt, to give the texture of all hand felted.

I should have more professional photos to share at a later time.

The director is VERY happy with the chicken suit! And I had a great time figuring out how to approach it. I appreciate the trust of the director and my costuming colleague, Martha, very very much.

Jen
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Last edited by rue d'oak : 05-03-2012 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 05-04-2012, 02:13 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

This suit is AMAZING!!!!! You are a miracle worker with more vision than I could even think about.
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Old 05-04-2012, 03:11 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

Wow Jen, this is just too cool for words!!!! Huge pat on the back girlfriend you deserve it with this piece!
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Old 05-04-2012, 05:50 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

This is amazing! Kudos to you. I've done some costume design, but nothing this extensive.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:50 AM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

Jen, this is great work! Very imaginative!!
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:28 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

So we head to the opening performance tomorrow evening. I'll let you know! Thanks for your kind words. I am pleased with this one. What a goofy thing to do!
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:32 PM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

Great Job !!!!!!!!
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:46 AM
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Re: Theater Costume: Chicken Suit!

Seems great!

Wonderful Idea, I think I have never seen such king of chicken suit
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