My Zhaan Costume
MARCON, the Multiple Alternative Realities Convention, takes place each spring in Columbus, Ohio. For Marcon 45 in 2010, my sisters and I decided to go as characters from one of our favorite sci-fi shows, Farscape. I would be Zotoh Zhaan!
When I thought about the construction of this costume, the design sounded simple. A blue robe, scarf, and some blue skin, right? Wrong. Like all of my projects, I had to make things complicated.
We went on a Farscape trip to JoAnne’s Fabrics to pick out what we needed for our costumes. I ended up getting the blue fabric, silver ribboning for the braided belt, muslin for the scarf, gray dye for the scarf, blue thread, blue glass beads for the necklace, two skeins of grey yarn all at around 20 bucks.
Nyah! The fabric was damaged at the end of the bolt, and I got the end-of-the-bolt discount. It was a sale day, and I had a coupon. I am very proud of this.
Anyway, the dress took just minutes to sew. Or it would have if I didn’t spread the sewing time out into days. There are just a few stitches here, and I got it all done on three yards of fabric.
I crumple-dyed a strip of plain muslin for the headscarf. I put together a tutorial on dip dying as a result. This is a really easy way to make prop scarves!
Zhaan’s Silver Belt
The belt is just a few silver cords braided together, then stitched at the end to secure. Too easy!
Long Gray Scarf
Zhaan is all about long, elegant layers. Sometimes, she wears a very long grey knit scarf. The only way for me to go about this one was to actually stitch a scarf myself. I used a treble crochet stitch to make it as fast as possible, but with this thing being taller than me, it still took a long while. This was an ongoing project that took up any time that I wasn’t working on the rest of the costume. Rest in front of the TV? No. Make Zhaan scarf!
Ethereal Space Necklace
The necklace is inspired by the one that I saw in this photo of Zhaan:
Very spacey, this necklace required some large blue glass beads that I just happened to be hoarding in my jewelry kit. I bought a spool of craft wire and just loosely threaded the beads, then twisted the wire at the end of each bead to prevent them from slipping around.
This was the real doozy. When I signed up to be Zhaan, I thought it wasn’t too big a deal to paint just my neck, face, and hands blue. She is a fan of lots of skin coverage, so no problem, right? Wrong. I’m used to doing full-face makeup on other people, not myself. Painting myself blue in the hotel room bathroom while my sisters, their boyfriends, and my husband also got dressed… it was more than I’d bargained for.
To create all of the beautiful flecks of golden-white on Zhaan’s face, I had to create some stencils. It would simply take way too long to individually apply all of these flecks in the hotel room. The stencils were fairly time-consuming.
I used a piece of a folder, because I was too cheap to go buy a piece of acetate or some such material that made more sense. I cut a piece that would fit on my forehead, with those notches on the sides to let it bend. I penciled on all of the spots, then painstakingly cut them all out with a pair of nail scissors. Same for the nose and cheek pieces.
For painting yourself blue, use a large sponge and blend well. Paint beyond your collar and use a powder finish to make it last. I gave Zhaan’s eyebrows a little more flair so that they would show up in photos, but I might not do that next time, they look a bit crazy.
Zhaan is bald as a baby, and I was doing this costume full-blast. I wasn’t going to shave my head, but I did invest in a bald cap. Unfortunately, my hair was almost down to my butt at the time, so I had to also wear a ponytail that I could hide with the dyed headscarf covering my neck.
Zhaan also has weird ears, so I tried to emulate this with some putty. They sort of worked, but the makeup on top didn’t exactly blend with my skin.
My friend, Jason, is a prop-whiz, and he actually handmade Farscape communicators for everyone in our group! He let us keep them all as a gift, he is so awesome!
I wore my communicator on the silver belt at my waist. Here is our group photo:
What a group! We were too busy running around like lunatics to officially enter the masquerade, but we won hallway costume awards from the roaming judges. We all made it into the final round of judging onstage, and then it was just between me and one other competitor…. a 6 year old girl dressed up like Kiki’s Delivery Service. Zhaan would never ham it up against a child, so I just put my hands together as in prayer, and bowed reverently to her. I didn’t win, but I felt like that’s exactly what Zhaan would have done!
I still wear my Farscape communicator sometimes on my jacket. No one really gets what it is, but I know! It’s a much better memento than an old bald cap.
If you are planning to be Zhaan for your next cosplay, please feel free to ask any questions you have about my adventures in being Zhaan for a day. This was an incredibly fun group project for my sisters and I to do together!