April 22, 2015

Sanosuke Harada's spear from Hakuouki!


First off, I started in a new school on 2nd february and while I'm there I'll be attending this one furniture renovation & redesign course. Thing is, I'm not limited to just working with furniture on this course even though that's the norm so I'm free to do anything, as long as it involves woodwork and being creative. And well, I quickly learned that there's another guy making a viking shield so why the heck wouldn't I make cosplay props then? :'D Yeah, so I had my first redesign class on the 4th February and I got a sudden urge to make a spear Harada's spear!

This is gonna be a lengthy post mostly because of photos but I originally planned to separate it into two parts, but then stuff got in the way and, in the end, I thought it better to just keep it as a single longer post from beginning to end. Enjoy!

I went to check some references and I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make the game version of his spear aka yari instead of the anime version. There seem to be a slight difference and I personally think the game version looked nicer.
Yes, this totally means that I will cosplay Harada in the future! ;)

Oh, and I decided not to make the spear in any super authentic way because this is just for cosplay and as long as it looks the part and isn't too heavy to carry around a whole con day then I'm happy!

This dude here is Harada and that's the spear I'm making!
We're building our stuff in a garage, a short walk from the school building. I went there to check what stuff there was but didn't find any wooden poles. Luckily that could easily be fixed the teacher drove me and some other guys to K-Rauta store in town during class time, booyah! o/ 
There I bought a two meter long wooden pole and a can of PU-foam. I finally get to use PU-foam, ouyeah I've been waiting for this! 8D

My pole, notice the length.
(and don't notice the messy background.. xD)
PU-foam in a can.
The following day I drafted the spear's blade onto some thin cardboard I had lying around. I did some quick research online and came to the conclusion that a 30 cm blade should be fine and it seemed to be the right size for Harada's spear too, at least compared to the length of my wooden pole aka what is to be the shaft.

Spearhead pattern.
I cut out my blade pattern and compared its width next to the pole, it looked right! But I did realize that I will need to cut the pole 30 cm shorter or it will be too long to keep upright in most indoor locations; the spear would exceed 2 meters. Sure that spears are long in general and Harada's spear definitely seems to be longer than what he is but I need to take into account how convenient or cumbersome it will be to carry around something this long in a convention. Not practical, almost hazard. :'D So yeah, my spear shall be 2 meters in total, not much more than that.

That's not exactly a short stick to poke with, nope nope! ~
On 4th March I could finally continue the process. Yes, I got sick. I waited patiently for my class to start on Wednesday afternoon and then I took my stuff (pole and PU-foam) and walked to the garage with the rest of the class. While there I marked my pole and cut it shorter. Easy peasy.

My pole shortened ~
After that it was time to start working on the spearhead. I took a sheet of plywood, drafted my pattern over onto it and cut it out with your usual hand saw. After that I sanded and filed it down a bit so that it wouldn't be so rough and shit. The curves I did with the file.

Man, I cut so damn straight! :-DDDDD
After some filing and sanding ready for the foam!
 Next up was my first encounter with using PU-foam, expanding foam. Luckily it's super easy to use so no poops happened; I just sprayed it around until the whole area of the spear was covered, as evenly as possible. I left the thinnest part of the blade untouched because this part will be inserted into the pole, through a notch, that I'll saw on the pole's end later.

One side recently PU-foamed.
I couldn't do so much else for the day so I left home and came back the following morning. The foam had expanded as it should and well, it had also glued itself to the table. Oops!Luckily it was a working table and thus not precious so I just took whatever sharp and handy object I could find in the garage and slid it under the foam, in a repeated cutting motion, to free my piece of work.

Stuck foam monster and my rescue tool.
With my spearhead freed from the table it was time to put foam on the other side too.

... and foamed.
(the wooden blocks are for support so that the thing wouldn't roll over)
The progress didn't go forward in a week or so because I got sick again but on 18th March I had class again and it was time to start carving my spearhead into shape! Sure that I did have a quite ridiculous amount of PU-foam on the thing, but rather too much than not enough.
I used the same knife I had used to free my creation from the table earlier (photo above) and started cutting away! I had never done this before so it was all a new learning process for me; I quickly got the hang or it and figured out what worked best. 

Around maybe 30 minutes later I had a start:

At this point I could only see one thing KEBAB ROLL. :-D
I kept on cutting the PU-foam for the next 2 hours non-stop. It was a fun thing to do, I enjoyed it very much. But you need to be careful so that you don't cut too much at a time... or your fingers, hence why I used gloves.
I made sure to try to get both sides as identical as possible but it wasn't the easiest task at times always when I thought that one side was of perfect thickness and then, when I tried to make the other side have the same thickness, my precision would derp and I'd cut off more than what I had intended. Luckily I never cut too much and in the end the finished product turned out nothing short of fine.

Carving finished!
Looking at the foam's surface I definitely wanted to even it out and fill in the holes and such. My school had a big can of putty lying around so I fetched it, a putty knife and started spreading a layer of the gray goo on my spearhead; both sides of it.

Putty added!
I then couldn't do much more for the day except leaving it to dry. In one of the "rooms" in the garage I work in during class aka where all the wood and saws, tools etc are there was an sturdy iron clamp. I spun it open, put my putty-fied spearhead on it, closed it and went.

Drying time, drying time... ~
The following day I had class again so I returned to check up on my project. The putty had dried but when I started sanding it I quickly noticed that at some parts the foam's structure was peeking through and well, even though most of the holes were filled you could still easily spot the outlines of them as well. It didn't look very good so I just went ahead and put a second layer of putty on this this time plenty.

No regrets there's more than enough this time!
I left it to dry and returned the following Wednesday. Of course I sanded it again and this time it looked more promising; I didn't get a perfectly smooth and even surface but it was much better than the previous time. I decided to leave it with some minor imperfections to give the spearhead a more used/rugged look because hey, after all it is a battle weapon!
With the sanding done I took my can of gesso and started coating the shit white. I think I applied five coatings in total before I called it a day and, of course, I let it dry the recommended 30 minutes between each layer.

All layers gesso'd.
Oh, and a fun thing! At the garage where I'm working there was nowhere to put water. Well, at least we even had water in a specific room... I obviously needed water for the gesso so that I could clean my pencil between the coatings and such. But hey, when there is no bottle or anything to put water in you take one of those big plastic cans that normally carry random car wash products and shit and yeah, you take a big knife and massacre the top of it brutally so that you get an oversized water-container! *thumbs up*

My gorgeous water can! :'D
Errr.. yeah. Back to business.
So after all the gesso layers had dried I just had left to paint the whole shebang. For this I had silver spraypaint ready at home; I went to pick up my spearhead from the school's garage and sprayed it at home. This went without any issues this time, except that I noticed after painting one side that the brush strokes showed up a bit more than I had thought. I tried sanding down the gesso on the unpainted side but in the end the difference was so minor that I didn't bother repainting the other side. Or I was too impatient...?

Sprayed side with non-sanded gesso under.
The following day on 8th April I went to school again to continue my progress. This time the first thing to do was to saw the notch into the top of the pole head, so that I could fit my spearhead into it. It needed to be 4,5 cm deep and actually my teacher did the sawing (by hand) while I held the pole still. He ended up cutting his finger a bit but nothing serious, thankfully. :'( The sawing was quickly done although hazard and then I spent maybe around 20 minutes sanding the notch wider with some folded sand paper. After a while I could finally fit my blade into the notch and it actually held in place securely, just like that!

Spearhead inserted into the notch.
But obviously it wouldn't stay like this I needed to add the golden part that connects the blade with the spear's body. I first thought about making this golden piece the same way I made the spearhead foam and putty. But then my teacher showed up and suggested using metal instead; I thought "why not?", I mean, that would be a new experience!
I left the golden part for a while and checked on my references again Harada had this kind of round end on the other end of the pole. I immediately thought about using some kind of wooden door knob and that's exactly what I found lying around in the garage too, yes!

Hello wooden knob!
The one I decided to use had this kind of bottom that was almost the perfect size to just be fitted on top of my spear. I just needed to saw off the little protruding part on top so that it would be smooth. Easily done!

Protruding part cut off and bottom quickly sanded.
I ended up accidentally doing some sawing marks where I didn't want any and so I took some putty to fill them in. I left the knob to dry in the garage and took the spear with me home to paint it.

Putty added on top.
At home I put one layer of gesso on the pole and let it dry. Before going home I had purchased a can of black spray paint but on the following day when I returned to school to spray the thing I noticed that my spray can was defective! No matter how much I pressed the nozzle down nothing came out and no, there was no security thing still left on that I would have needed to remove prior to usage it just plain didn't work. Luckily the store was close to my school so I just went over there, told the guy that I bought this one from them yesterday and that it didn't work. Even though I actually didn't have the purchase receipt with me the guy still gave me a new and functioning one in exchange. Thank god for small shops; it was the same guy at the counter who sold me the defective one the day before so he recognized me, phew!
But hey, actually, before I sprayed my pole, I did figure out that it was still too long and so I cut off 30 cm more from it. It was 210 cm long before I shortened it once more, and this was without attaching the spearhead, which would have made the whole beast a whopping 240 cm! Luckily I did realize that it was still too long before I started spray painting it, because otherwise it would have been annoying. Well, seeing how the spear barely fit into my apartment and the elevator then yeah, it would have been a hazard at the event because of its size, oops.
So yeah, I just shortened it again and then I had to do some measuring and put marks, with masking tape, to mark what parts of the spear would be black and what would be red. When that was done I just went outside the garage to spray two layers of black paint on both ends.

Pole coated with gesso. There are masking tape marks around it.
Black parts sprayed.
I had also sanded down the dried putty on the knob and put a layer of gesso on it which actually ended up in me accidentally dropping the whole knob in the gesso jar, shit.

15th April I'm back in class again! I started by painting half of the knob with golden spray paint (half because I had to hold it somewhere) and while it was drying I went and sprayed the red middle part of the spear. Of course, before painting, I needed to protect the already painted black parts from getting red paint on them and so I covered them with masking tape.
At first I thought that I'd make the red color completely even but then, when I was actually painting, I started thinking that having uneven color with more or less 'blotches' varying in darkness from dark to lighter red looked really cool! I don't know, it just made it look more lively, real, gave more depth or whatever you want to call it it just looked awesome so I kept it like that.

Red part sprayed.
Wooden knob finished.
I left them both to dry a while and when the knob had dried enough I painted the other half of it gold. Yes, I played the waiting game quite much this day. Oh well, when that was done I turned my focus to the golden piece aka gyakuwa that would be fitted where the spearhead starts. Earlier I had mentioned this to my teacher and he had suggested metal and well, guess what he actually brought with him on the morning to me? Yeah, this.

After I had gotten past the initial "what the heck? xD" surprise I actually thought that it was a very clever material to use I mean, it looks like metal and it was easily bendable too! Gotta love recycling haha. I just bent the piece around my spear, to get an idea of how it would look, and it looked pretty damn good. But I noticed that I had to paint the very top part of where the notch was so that it would be gold as well and yeah, so I did. I accidentally got some golden paint on the black part (of course where I hadn't put masking tape -.-) and so I had to re-apply a coating of black spray paint to get rid of the extra glitter effect.
Now I had things drying everywhere and I was kinda stuck, so I asked permission to finish class earlier and went to check for gyakuwa references on one of the school computers in the actual school building. Because who has internet access in a garage, anyway?

The following day I started by turning my spear into a mummy package yes, I put masking tape over mostly all of the already painted areas so that I could do the small golden 'circles' around that separate the red parts from the black. This took a while but when it was finally done I took my gold spray paint and started spraying.

Masking tape all over the place...
(the brightest white spot will be sprayed gold)
I let them dry meanwhile I undid the tape on the parts that wouldn't need to be covered anymore and, while doing so, I came across a few areas where I had put tape previously and then forgotten about it; which meant that the white gesso coating was still showing under. Oh well, some quick fixes here and there wasn't really a problem and soon enough the golden parts had dried too. Of course some of the paint had leaked under the masking tape over onto the other color's area and this would need to be fixed with small paint brushes later, but I thought I'd do it at home because in the garage we had no fitting brushes.
Oh well, I then took the gold metallic piece again, wrapped it around the spear, took a marker and started sketching the shape I wanted it to be. I cut it with scissors.

Shape sketching done!
Now there was not much left, except for reclaiming back my spear from the mummy world and taking it home with me to fix the small paint spills. The weather was nice on the 21st so that was the day when I fixed the leaked spots I basically just sprayed some paint on a plastic surface, from a very close distance, and then just brushed it on the faulty spots with a thin paint brush. Obviously the spray paint dries quickly, so I had someone spraying the paint on the plastic while I applied it on my spear, to save time.. and paint.

Example of the spray paint having leaked
under the masking tape during the painting process...
On 22h April I finished the spear! *badamtssh*
What was left to do was gluing the knob in place (with hot glue!) and gluing the gold metal piece with universal glue, aka Karlssons Klister which was my Swedish choice. After gluing the metal piece I had to press and hold it tightly until the glue stuck to it properly; it took a while and I had to glue it in parts (first "around" it to make it stick to the right place and then glue the overlapping end) but in the end it worked out.

Gyakuwa glued and tied in place.
I tied a small string around to keep the glued overlap of the metal piece tight, so that it wouldn't lift and thus undo the gluing before it had dried completely. Blah blah blah...

But now, have some photos of the finished spear!
I apologize because these photos don't really do justice to it but oh well, you'll get to see it in action when I cosplay Harada. ;)

This is just to show the spear's height.
I'm happy with it, even though I know that I could have done a neater and more advanced job I just got a bit lazy. x) I also skipped a very small detail, the 'ring' around the gyakuwa's mouth; I couldn't be bothered lol. Psst, it's the very first time I made a polearm type of weapon, woop! o/
Oh, and by "more advanced" I mean that I could, for example, have made the spear's body be of different thicknesses in the different painted areas; I thought it wasn't that necessary though, and maybe a bit too much trouble anyway for something that won't really be noticed on photos...

That's all for this time! Now to start planning for my summer cosplays! 
See ya!

April 11, 2015

[Sponsored] Lens review: I.Fairy Hanabi Blue

Hello chuu ~

It's time for a lens review again! ^_^
This time it's the I.Fairy Hanabi Blue circle lenses that I will tell you all about! You can also occasionally find them under the name Vassen Hanabi Blue it's the same lenses!
This pair of lenses was actually kindly sponsored to me by LensVillage! ♡
But don't worry, dear readers, this review is all 100% my honest opinion, just as always before! ~

Psst, you can use my discount code "10SHIRO" to get 10% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage! o/ 

I.Fairy Hanabi Blue in their cute little vial bottles!
Notice the authenticity stickers!

Before I start with the review I just want to say some words about LensVillage! :D
They were actually the one who contacted me first, asking if I was interested in a sponsorship offer. Of course I said YES I love reviewing circle lenses and LensVillage is honestly my first go-to online circle lens store when I'm looking to buy new lenses anyway; so I knew already from my previous shopping experiences with them that they were definitely trustable and safe! By safe I mean that they sell authentic quality lenses and that it's not a scam site. ;)

Actually, if I let you in on a little secret... I had been wishing to get a sponsorship one day, because I genuinely love to help out others looking for what lenses to buy and on the same go getting to try out many different lenses myself! ♡ I just hadn't counted on it happening already, so it was quite the unreal feeling at first, ahaha! ;u; I was really taken by this offer, it felt like a dream come true and what made it even better was that the offer came from one of my favorite colored contact lens stores! I couldn't have been any happier, I swear! ;w;

So, they actually let me choose freely a pair of lenses, from their store, which I would then get to review. Some of my first choices happened to be out of stock in my prescription (yes, I actually have a prescription but it's so minor that, most of the time, lenses don't even come in the power I need! ;n; hurrdurr) but I eventually settled on the I.Fairy Hanabi series because they looked really interesting and I had been wanting to try them out for a while. :) Actually at first I asked for the Hanabi Green but I guess it was out of stock or something because I got sent the Hanabi Blue instead! Honestly, I don't mind at all blue would have been my second choice anyway and now that I've tried these lenses on I'm so in love with them that I'm actually happy that I got these instead, ha ha ha. 
Oh, and I should maybe mention that the first shipment they sent to me either got stuck in the customs or missing, but when I contacted LensVillage they were really prompt to reply and kindly sent a second package my way, making sure that I wouldn't have to wait any more!

 All along they were really helpful, quick to answer and a pleasure to deal with.
If you ever order from their store and have any problems, don't be scared to contact them they will do their best to help you out!

I also want to mention that the lenses came safely packaged they were wrapped in this kind of dense sponge-y foam in a plastic bubble wrap envelope. I also of course got a lens case with; you get them with for free from most lens stores nowadays. It was this kind of normal lens case though, not the cute animal ones that some other lens stores will give you and honestly, I personally think that that's for the better. I've had several instances with the animal lens cases leaking (even when upright!) so I don't use them anymore, but these that LensVillage sent they have different colors and a footprint design on the lids I've never had issues with, even when traveling and having them moving around in my shoulder bag.

Okay so, I'll get back to reviewing the actual lenses now! ;)
Have some photos of them in the bottles!

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 16.2 mm
Water content: 55%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

I must admit that when I first looked at the lenses I was gushing a few minutes over how cool and vivid they were! :'D The design looks a bit costume-y and it has this kind of swirl going on that really grabs your attention! There is also a fairly thick black limbal ring which makes the enlargement effect more pronounced.
The diameter is 16.2 mm, according to the I.Fairy vials.

As per usual I put the lenses to soak the evening before I would actually wear them. You aren't supposed to put them into your eyes right after you open the bottles!
I popped them in no problem on the following morning, except that my eyes got a bit watery for the first two minutes or so. But it's nothing uncommon, it happens to me every now and then, no matter what lenses I'm wearing.

Oh, and of course are all the photos (of me wearing the lenses) without any color filters or edits that would affect how the lenses appear! This is to show you how the lenses really look.

One lens in, to show enlargement effect.
My natural eye color is a blue-gray with a greenish tint and a golden ring next to the pupil.
As you can see these lenses are really big! The color is really a bright beautiful shade of blue too, I really like it! It's this kind of blue that I personally really gravitate towards, it's just super pretty and vivid and ahkfgksk;dkhs! >w< and I just want to paint my whole apartment in the same color... xD

The following photos are all taken indoors, by me, in my apartment, during a sunny winter morning yes, April is still winter and we have plenty of snow. There are no room lights on, all the light is natural (sun)light coming from the window.

Indoors, facing window.

The Hanabi Blue lenses are super opaque on my eyes, the color really shows up and it does so even at a fair distance. They make my eyes look really cool!
The only thing that some people might not appreciate so much is that the pupil hole is big, so it might look a bit weird on light eyes sometimes, I guess. Personally I'm not bothered by it, especially if you compare to how it used to bother me when I first started with circle lenses, haha. I actually even prefer a slightly wider pupil hole nowadays, just so that the lenses won't restrict my vision in places with insufficient light. These lenses don't restrict my vision, by the way. :)

Now more photos, still taken during the same time of day but in different light conditions indoors!

Bathroom light, standing very close to the lamp.
Bathroom light, standing a bit farther away from the lamp.
Flash photo, indoors.
In the corridor, facing the window.
Yellow light.
Lamp light at the end of the staircase, indoors.
(next to me is the back door leading outside)
In terms of comfort these are surprisingly comfy for being big lenses. I could wear them for about 5 hours with little to no problems I even played video games for one hour and it didn't feel bad! Normally when I stare at a screen (watch television, play video games etc) while wearing circle lenses it tends to start feeling bad pretty fast, as if the lens is drying on my eyes.

Now for outdoor photos of the lenses!

Outside, facing the direction of the sun but being under the roof's shadow,
so that light doesn't hit directly on my eyes.
Facing the sun directly.
Sorry about my other eye falling in the camera's shadow.
Back against the sun.
All in all I'm really satisfied with this pair and with LensVillage's service. I would warmly recommend their store to anyone looking for circle lenses to buy! They carry a lot of different circle lens brands both well-known brands like GEO and more unknown ones like ICK and Fynale and they have a wide variety of lenses to choose from; you're sure to find something that you like! They also have good sales every now and then so be sure to check them out! ;)

Oh oh, don't go yet! I still have the distance photos to show!
This time I was going for a school-boy look. ♡

All the photos are taken by me.

Psst, if you wanna see reviews of other colors of the Hanabi series I have you covered! ;) Reviews here: Green, Gold

Short summary:

Color: 9/10
Absolutely amazing blue color. It's a strong, vivid and definitely beautiful shade. Great for cosplay as well as alternate fashion styles like lolita and Visual Kei etc!

Design: 8/10
Cool swirl design that draws your gaze in. It's almost a bit mesmerizing.
Opacity: 9/10
Very opaque on light eyes at least. It hides my real eye color well.
Enlargement: 8/10
Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig eyes. Period.
Comfort: 8/10
Surprisingly comfortable for having such a big diameter. I was pleasantly surprised.
Naturalness: 1/10
It's hard to call these natural-looking, haha. They are bright blue, huge and fabulous you make fashion statements with these on, not office work rounds!

Remember, use coupon code "10SHIRO" to get 10% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage! ;) Valid even on 30th May 2015!

Thank you for reading, I hope this was helpful! :')
Thank you LensVillage!