As I designed my Victorian Ariel cosplay, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have a seashell broach to pin at the collar. Ariel’s dress at Disneyworld has a seashell broach, and I knew it would help complete the “look”.
My mum bought a big bag of seashells with the intention of us using them to decorate our hats. I sorted through them and chose a shell that was the right size and was roughly symmetrical. Then I painted it with nail polish! When we went to Walmart to look for paint, I didn’t see any that had the opalescent quality I was looking for. My mum suggested we look at the nail polish selection instead, and I found just what I was looking for! The bottle to the far right of the line up is the one I used for my broach. It’s Sally Hansen’s Color Therapy brand in “Reflection Pool”.
First, I painted my shell with a coat of a purple nail polish I already had, and then used a tissue to wipe off most of it. This step was repeated with the Reflection Pool nail polish. I hoped that doing this would leave more color in the grooves and give the shell more dimension. However, it didn’t seem to make a noticeable difference in the final product. The shell got two more thick coats of Reflection Pool, and then I let it dry.
Given the concave nature of the back of the shell, I had to glue several layers of craft foam to the back to create a flat surface to glue the bar pin to. As a final touch I glued small crystals we had in our stash around the edge of the shell. Once it was all dry, I took a scrap of the lace I used around the hem of the dress and pinned it all at the collar.
No Victorian lady was properly dressed without a hat, so we knew that our costumes would not be complete without them. While I would have loved to wear one of the massive hats ladies sometimes wore during this era, it would have looked overwhelming on Ariel. I played around with a hat base we had leftover from Spring Dapper Day, but didn’t love the shape.
This meant, of course, that it was time to ignore my mum’s warning that making hats from scratch is difficult and make a hat from scratch. I started out with a cardboard box we had. A mixing bowl provided the perfect circular template.
I thought that creating the hat base would be the hardest part, but I struggled a lot with the decorations. At first I tried a bunch of different kinds of looped ribbons, but even after hours of fiddling, the hat didn’t look right.
Frustrated, I turned to Pinterest and Google. It turned out that the reason the hat looked wrong was because I hadn’t made the decorations crazy enough. In the 1890s the trend for hats was (by my interpretation) if you could see the hat base, you were doing it wrong. This was the era when women wore whole stuffed birds on their heads. Hat decorations were big, and they were loud.
With this in mind, I ripped off the ribbons I had stitched on the night before. I replaced them with big pieces of fabric that I stitched down to create lots of volume. Then I sewed on lots of ribbons and seashells, and even a “dinglehopper” I painted gold.
While I had stitched on some hair clips, on the day of Supercon it was clear that these clips were insufficient. I ended up having to use multiple safety pins and bobby pins to get the hat attached to my wig. In the future I need to experiment with a better method for wearing it.
I don’t have any making of photos for my mum’s Ursula hat because she made it one night after I had gone to bed. She used a black place mat from Target, black tulle, black lace, purple taffeta, and a plastic octopus toy. The hat was mainly black, so the details didn’t show up well in most of the photos I took. Here is a detail shot I got that is wonderfully framed with a trashcan in the background.
I didn’t get any photos of the making of our version of Ursula’s necklace, because it only took about five minutes. We found a cameo necklace at Jo-Ann’s. My mum popped out the cameo that was in the center and glued in a picture of a shell. Then she strung it on some black ribbon and called it a day.
Ursula’s Walking Stick
In the Victorian era decorative walking sticks were fashionable. When it came time to make Ursula’s accessories, my mum and I agreed Ursula’s ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a
villainous pimp cane walking stick.
We bought some air dry clay and took a wooden dowel from my dad’s wood stash. I love working with clay, so I was really excited about this project. However, this clay was different from the cooking clay that I’m used to. I don’t know if it was because this was cheap kid’s clay, or if air dry clay is just different, or even if it was the humidity. The clay was just sticky and didn’t hold fine details well. It worked fine for my octopus design, but it took some getting used to.
I let the octopus dry overnight, then we spray painted the whole thing black. Once that was dry I painted the octopus with the same nail polish I used for my Ariel broach. Then I glued two tiny pearls on to be eyes. Presto! One Ursula approved walking stick.
For shoes, I wore a pair of these Capezio shoes. They were ridiculously comfortable considering they had a low heel and I hadn’t worn them before. I didn’t end up with any blisters and my knees weren’t too sore at the end of the day. My mum wore a pair of historical reproduction boots from American Duchess.
From start to finish, that’s how we put together our Victorian Ariel and Ursula cosplays!