Zhaan Costume - Farscape Cosplay

My Zhaan Costume

Zhaan Costume - Farscape Cosplay
Zhaan Costume – Farscape Cosplay

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.


zhaan costume dress
Zhaan costume dress in the making.

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.

Zhaan Farscape Costume
Angel costume for Zhaan!

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.

Grey Headscarf

Dip Dye Zhaan Scarf
Dip Dye Zhaan Scarf

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

Braided Zhaan silver belt.
Braided Zhaan silver belt.

The belt is just a few silver cords braided together, then stitched at the end to secure. Too easy!

Long Gray Scarf

My completed Zhaan costume.
My completed Zhaan costume.

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:

zhaan necklace
Zhaan costume necklace inspiration.

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.

Zhaan Makeup

Zhaan Costume Makeup Detail
Detail of Zhaan costume makeup by Rain Blanken

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.

Stencil for Zhaan makeup
Stencil for Zhaan makeup

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.

Bald cap for Zhaan costume
Me in a bald cap for Zhaan costume.

Bald Cap

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!

Farscape communicator by Jason Bundy
Farscape communicator by Jason Bundy

I wore my communicator on the silver belt at my waist. Here is our group photo:

Farscape Cosplay Group
Our Farscape Cosplay Group At MARCON 45, 2010. Clockwise from left: Some guy that jumped in the photo as John Crichton, Emily Blanken as Aeryn Sun, Adam De Felice as Ka D’argo, Jason Bundy as John Crichton, Rain Blanken as Zotoh Zhaan, and Sarah Blanken as Chiana.



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!

Zhaan Farscape Cosplay
Zhaan Farscape Cosplay by Rain Blanken

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!

Ruby Slipper Tutorial

Rain Blanken Make Ruby Slippers

Make Ruby Slippers
Make a pair of ruby slippers with Rain’s tested and fool-proof step-by-step tutorial.

Make a pair of ruby slippers with Rain’s tested and fool-proof step-by-step tutorial.

Tonight on the Oscars, a beautiful tribute to The Wizard of Oz reminded me that movie magic can inspire in audiences of all ages.

Ruby Slippers
Ruby slippers can always bring you home, but it’s more fun to step out in them.

And Whoopie’s high-heeled salute to Dorothy’s ruby slippers reminded me that wearing a piece of the action can bring the silver screen adventure to life. When you make a pair of ruby slippers, you’ve got a piece of movie inspiration to take with you. Dorothy needed confidence, tenacity, and faith to get through Oz, and sometimes a day at the office needs some of the spirit of Dorothy Gale to back you up.

Make Ruby Slippers

Make a pair of ruby slippers to conquer your own yellow brick roads this week. I’ve tried and tested this tutorial, and if you need any help, ask me personally on Facebook.

DIY Feathered Mask

Feathered Mask Tutorial

DIY Feathered Mask
DIY Feathered Mask by Rain Blanken

I put together this feathered mask tutorial because I wanted to illustrate the easiest way to layer the feathers for full coverage. This is a lot easier than you may think! For the full tutorial, visit my step-by-step article on About.com.

Feathered Mask Step 1
Cut the feathers into manageable lengths. Decide if you want to use sleek or fluffy pieces.
Feathered Mask Step 2
Begin layering feathers at the top edges of the mask.
Feathered mask Step 3
Select small feather tip pieces to trim the top of the mask, working in rows.
Feathered Mask Tutorial
Work in toward the nose. The final feathers will hide where they all come together.
Feathered Mask Tutorial
Fill in the nose with feathers and add small feathers to any holes in coverage.
Make a Feathered Mask
Rain’s finished feathered mask… on her face!
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DIY Yarn Beard Tutorial

DIY Yarn Beard Tutorial

DIY Yarn Beard Tutorial
DIY Yarn Beard Tutorial

I just realized, while looking through extremely frightening photos of Mardis Gras costumes, that I didn’t post on the blog about my brand new yarn beard.

I made this beard while visiting Gatlinburg this past Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like the mountain air and a moonshine distillery to make you want to have a beard. Mine is inspired by The Muppets… I call it the Electric Mayhem Beard after their infamous house band.

What do you think? Here is my Yarn Beard Tutorial at About.com with instructions on crocheting the base piece and adding the yarn strands for optimal fuzziness.

Cape Hood

Make a Cape: Hood Instruction Clarification

One of my most popular tutorials here on About.com is my Cape Tutorial. This is a design that I created myself, so I’m ultimately responsible when someone sends me an email that says ‘what the what?’

The most questions I get are on the construction of the hood. I get so many emails on this, because the construction of the hood has been ultra-simplified. It is just one stitch to attach the hood to the cape, and another stitch to close the top of the hood. Bam. But this image seems to cause a lot of confusion:

Make a Cape
Make a Cape: Hood Instruction Clarification

I feel like stars and glitter assist in every explanation, but I also eat mayo with a spoon, so maybe I’m off on this one.

Recently, one of my youngest readers asked me on Facebook about the hood construction, so I went ahead and sketched her up some additional instructions that I’ll share with you here:

Cape Hood
Cape Hood

In the first panel, the hood has been sewn to the top of the cape. Next, touch the corners of the hood together to make the hood shape, then stitch along the top of the edges that you’ve just put together.

I hope that this sketch helps to clarify those hood instructions! If not, feel free to ask me on Facebook, and I’ll come up with another sketch, lickity-split! I might even draw a dinosaur on there with your requests, like they do for me at Domino’s.

(Need help? Ask Rain on Facebook.)

Fast DIY Jewelry:
Milk Tab Bracelet . Pop Tab Bracelet . Make Paper Jewelry . Toothbrush Bracelet . Microchip Earrings . Hemp Necklace . Pressed Penny Bracelet

Easy Bags, Hats, Scarves and More:
4 Ways to Tie a Tie . Make Glittery Heels . 5 Placemat Purses . Cassette Tape Wallet . Duct Tape Wallet . How-To Bags . Finger Knit a Scarf . Gloves and Wristbands . Easy Zippered Change Purse

Clothes you can Make:
10 Upcycled T-shirt Tutorials . Make PantsSkirt Tutorials . Dye Your Clothes . Recycle Your Clothes . 10 Clothing Repairs You Should Know . Beginner Sewing Projects

Please Note: Photographs, patterns and illustrations contained in this article are copyrighted ©Rain Blanken and Getty Images, and licensed to About.com, Inc. Do not redistribute these photographs or illustrations in any form.

White Trash Costume

Rain’s Non-Sexy Halloween Costume 2013

White Trash Costume
Rain’s Non-Sexy Halloween Costume 2012: Hawt Trash

Last year, in light of such ridiculous commercial costumes as ‘Hot Gizmo’ and ‘Sexy Care Bear’, I revolted (mostly because ‘sexy Care Bear’ is revolting) and went in the opposite direction. I became… Hot Trash.

This ended up with everyone at the party thinking I’d gone with the classic ‘White Trash’ bit. Guess I didn’t smell enough like a dumpster in the summertime to really get my point across.

But it had the desired effect. ‘Hot Trash’ definitely wasn’t hot… unless you were into the real banana peel on my hat, or gum wrappers stapled to my sexaaay lace gloves. There were also cellophane trimmings on my heels and full coverage in the bust area. You like that? Oh, I know you do.

Unfortunately for me, I got really excited about this concept and vowed to dress in decidedly un-sexy Halloween costumes for the next five years. So what’s up for 2013?

Sexxayy Abraham Lincoln

Extra ‘x’s and ‘y’s for gender-swapping. From the knee-high white stockings to the scintillating well-groomed beard, this one will be sure to outshine the inevitable Sexy Spongebob (why is this a thing?)

Keep track on Twitter to see how my Sexxayy Abraham Lincoln costume is coming along. Are you decidedly dressing un-sexy for Halloween? I’d love to hear about your costume ideas!

Pregnany Skeleton Shirt

Pregnant Skeleton Halloween Shirts

Buying for my sisters usually means coming up with something clever or weird. For my little sis’s baby shower, I decided to go for both. Here she is modeling her baby’s first Halloween costume at the spooky Jesse James Home Museum.

Pregnant Skeleton Halloween Shirts
Pregnany Skeleton Shirt worn by Melissa Blanken (and Nova Harris).

Kelly at Baby Talk Designs created these cool shirts, available in short or long-sleeves. I ordered a plain baby skelly, but the design can be customized if you know the gender. Think my sis could get away with trick-or-treating in this number? Fetuses love Snickers, too!

Disco Conan O'Brien

Conan Costume Contest: Disco Coco FTW!

Okay, so getting up at 5 in the morning at Bonnaroo and sleeping in the grass and licking Triumph wasn’t enough. It is my solemn duty to don my favorite disco leotard, handmade by yours truly, in a lame attempt at seeing Coco live in L.A.

Here is my entry. Wish me luck and comment on the photo site if you want. They aren’t measuring by comments, but I’d like to know what you think, anyway. I think the whole ensemble really brings out my eyes:

See Larger and Comment Here (if you wanna)
(If you don’t see a comment box or ‘like’ option, first click ‘Like’ on the Team Coco page, then go to my photo)

I made this Disco Fairy costume out of an old mermaid costume and lots of shiny, fun fabrics. I wore it one year to Bonnaroo back when they were still doing masquerade balls and parades. The crotch has since ripped out (what power!), but I still wear it around the house sometimes.

The Coco masks are totally creepy, so I think this will become a permanent part of this costume. That and the lack of shoes. I had to wear my glasses under the mask to keep it from bending.

The other costumes are super funny and worth commenting on (some aren’t costumes and just suck, though), so the album is really worth a look if you want to see some chest hair, babies and bad Photoshop attempts.

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Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume

Make Your Last Minute Halloween Costumes

Last Minute Costumes

Running out of time? Don’t cancel your party plans just because you don’t have your act together. You can still take part in the Halloween festivities with these last-minute Halloween costume ideas.

Do you have an easy costume to add to the list?

Target Disses Your Mom, Homemade Costumes and Iron Man

This year, Target has chosen to poo-poo the homemade costume, with a commercial apparently aimed to A.) Convince children that homemade costumes are inferior to store-bought costumes or B.) Take a jab at insecure parents who fear that their homemade creations will not endure as family memories, but instead as traumatizing childhood events. I’m not sure which one is worse. Read More..