Friday, October 30, 2009

The Return of Lady Bug

When I was in high school—10th grade, I think—I made myself a ladybug costume. I wore black jeans, a black turtleneck, and black shoes and socks as the base outfit. I made a pair of extra legs (since lady bugs have six, so my arms + my legs + my extra legs = 6 appendages) which had loops at the top for sliding onto a belt, and yarn connecting them to my wrists, so when my arms moved, the extra arms moved, too. A red split circle cape with black dots completed the outfit. Over the years, I have worn the costume many times, and other than the legs and cape, and the fact that the base outfit is always all black, the rest tends to change every year.

This year I decided I needed some new antennae. At some point in the past I had made a pair using black pipe cleaners and pompons, but they never worked particularly well and have long since been discarded. After brainstorming a bit, I decided to use some scrap wood to make beads for the ends of the antennae, and wire for the stems. Since my hair is unusually long at the moment and I can, with some trickery and cajoling, anchor a hair comb in my hair, I decided to take advantage of that fact and use a cheap plastic comb as the anchor.

First, the beads. I used an extra piece of East Indian rosewood, because it is a dark wood (in retrospect, a paler wood probably would have made the antennae more visible). I decided to drill the center hole first, so I could drill both beads at once and be sure the holes were centered.
Next, I traded the tailstock drill chuck for a live center to support the length of the wood, and roughed it to round. I carefully cut the shape of the two beads (and got them pretty close to the same size and shape!), finished them with friction polish, but did not cut them off…I hadn’t left enough room between the two to use a parting chisel to cut them off.
So I used a hacksaw. I sawed with my right hand while spinning the part with my left hand. (I’d show you a picture of the finished beads, but it did not turn out well). I sanded the ends slightly, but the saw marks are still pretty visible. However, I correctly assumed that no one would be looking at them that closely.

Next I started assembling the whole piece. I cut a length of craft wire and centered it in the comb. Rather than placing the wire in the center, I gave it a wider stance for stability and wrapped it around.
I twisted the wires around each other , then started creating loops for a whimsical look. At the ends, I added the beads, then simply looped the wire around itself to hold them securely. And that’s all it took!
Finally, after getting the rest of the costume on I checked the look of the final product by jamming the comb down into hairdo I had created for the purpose.
I was going to a roller skating party, so I had to take the antennae off again while I drove over. As I was getting out of the car, I put my long black gloves on, re-inserted the antennae using the reflection in the car window as a mirror, and attached the loops controlling my extra arms (yeah, I don’t drive with those attached). And I am proud to announce that, despite my inability to skate, I successfully skated around the rink a total of 8 times (non-consecutively) and overall had an enjoyable time.


jfreda1 said...

good job! :)

Giggles said...

And people think I'm creative with what I make. I would've just bought some beads. ;)

Those look lovely! And yeah for reusing costumes!