Your Last-Minute Costuming Guide For Comicpalooza

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Phaedra Cook
It's not too late to get your Who on. Bedrock City has plenty of pop culture gear, even for the ladies.

Comicpalooza, Houston's biggest comic and pop culture convention, starts at 10 am on Friday. The six-year old convention keeps growing in size and popularity. This year, it spans four days instead of three. (Hopefully, you already have Memorial Day off and don't have to call in "sick.")

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Chuck Cook Photography
It's OK to be normal. Dark Phoenix still loves you.
So, what if you want to go to Comicpalooza but didn't plan on wearing a costume?

Option 1: Don't Sweat It

First off, it's absolutely fine to not wear a costume or cosplay. Speaking from experience, costumes can be hot, uncomfortable and--if you make your own--require hours, days or even months of work to achieve a high level of quality and authenticity. Based on my own observations at cons, a third or fewer attendees actually cosplay (although it is growing in popularity every year and more and more people are picking it up as a serious hobby). In fact, I strongly recommend to first-time con attendees to NOT cosplay. Just come see what it's all about first and then decide if you want to cosplay for the next one.

Option 2: Nerd Couture

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Phaedra Cook
Bedrock City and other local comic book stores have a wide variety of apparel.

The easiest way to dress in the spirit of the event is to visit your local comic book store and check out the assortment of branded T-shirts. You can probably find one that sports a character that you love. At larger comic book shops, like the Bedrock City Comics on Washington Avenue, there's a lot more than just T-shirts to choose from. These days, the fashionable geek can choose from hoodies, jackets hats and wallets. Gussy up your jeans and jackets with iron-on patches. There are even some extremely cute Doctor Who dresses for the ladies.

If your heart is absolutely set on wearing a costume (or you have a child who is going to be heartbroken to not have one) you still have some options--if you hurry.

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10 Best Celebrity Prayer Candles on Etsy

Categories: Craft

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I grew up in East Houston surrounded by a type of Catholicism that was part Christianity and part pagan weirdness. Nothing has ever seemed to exemplify this to me more than the endless collection of prayer candles on sale for a dollar or less each at Fiesta that illustrate the lives of the saints you hoped would intercede on your behalf. Well, I don't much go in for religion these days, but Etsy has a selection of the next best thing, celebrities! Today we look at the 10 best pop culture prayer candles, complete with the appropriate causes and prayers to offer in their lighting.

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Made in Texas: 10 Houston Gift Shops for Locally Made Goods

Categories: Craft

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The holiday season sometimes gets me down. I mean, I love the sentimental aspect of it, and the spirit of giving. But I hate the rampant consumerism of it all, as evidenced this year by Black Friday actually starting right after the turkey leftovers were put away on Thanksgiving night. So I sometimes wait until the last minute to buy gifts, and by then I feel totally uninspired by whatever this year's "must-have" item is.

So if I must participate in the consumerist machine, I prefer to give small, thoughtful handmade gifts. Unfortunately, though I am crafty, I do not have the leisure time to have such gifts for all of my loved ones. My skills are also limited to things that can be done with needles (sewing, knitting, etc), which doesn't always work for everyone on my list.

Luckily, Houston has seen an explosion in shops and boutiques catering to handmade goods, many of them made in this great, giant state. And several of those shops are participating in open house-style sales in the next couple of weeks.

Below, our favorite Texas-centric boutiques, along with those offering holiday specials.

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Pop Shop Houston Is Your Cure for the Black Friday Blues

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Courtesy of Pop Shop Houston
This isn't your typical Black Friday shopping experience.
Black Friday. Just writing the words makes me shudder. Getting up too early, waiting on long lines with angry people trying to push their way into better savings, contending with the overwhelming feeling that life is just one big shopping cart full of slashed prices and then coming home to realize that all you did was buy a bunch of junk you really didn't need. If all of this sounds awful to you, then maybe you want to skip this year's corporate American shopping day and head over to Houston's annual Pop Shop Holiday on November 29 and 30 at the Spring Street Studios.

Pop Shop is a twice-annual craft, art and musical festival that brings local crafters, artists and sellers together for a weekend of shopping, music and activities. Now in its second year, the holiday Pop Shop is the DIY community's answer to the typical Black Friday scenario. This year's event will have almost twice the amount of vendors and designers as last year's and will feature an assortment of handmade and vintage clothing, jewelry, house wares and much more.

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Homemade Halloween No-Sew Costumes are the Greatest Costumes Ever

Categories: Craft, Parenting

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Photos by Angelica Leicht
Halloween costumes are a really big deal in my house. Like, really big. The children in my house don't even know the things out of plastic bags -- made of cheap fabric and silk-screened logos -- even exist. They know where costumes come from -- they appear courtesy of fabric scraps, sewing scissors, and a whole lot of craft glue -- and they're freakin' fabulous.

It all started when my daughter grew out of the cutesy toddler costumes and into the dreaded "girls" category. Gone were the days of cute little lions or age-appropriate Alice in Wonderland costumes; the selection jumped from adorable to either baby-hooker bees and witches, or even worse, the dreaded Disney Princess-themed garbage, in an instant. I had no idea that little kid Halloween costumes were so, well, terrible. No and no, thank you very much.

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Tinderbox Brings 'Adult Creative Zone' to Bayou City Arts Festival

Categories: Craft, Festivals

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The Tinderbox
Screenprinting at The Tinderbox
The Bayou City Arts Festival, which takes place this weekend in downtown at Sam Houston Park and Hermann Square, is doing something a little differently this year. The Tinderbox, Houston's new local craft space and boutique, will be hosting an Adult Creative Zone with four different crafts for people who want to try their hand at making art.

Ren Mitchell, owner of The Tinderbox, said she always felt a little left out of the activities at arts festivals.

"I'm one of those adults that looks longingly at the kids' craft tables and thinks 'I wanna do that,'" she said.

A Tinderbox workshop instructor had a connection with organizers of the Art Fest, and so Mitchell pitched the idea of the Adult Creative Zone, which will be located right next to the stage and will have projects ongoing on a 90-minute schedule throughout the day.

The Tinderbox is offering four different craft projects, each at a cost of $15 for materials and instruction.

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Top 5 Lazy and Cheap Halloween Costumes, Couples Edition

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Photo by Drew Stephens.

If dressing up is the best part of Halloween, coming up with a good costume is the worst. Even though it falls on October 31 every year and even if you spend weeks thinking about it, we've all been guilty at one point or another of waking up on October 29 with nary an idea of what we've going to be. In the end you find yourself stopping in at one of the multitude of costume stores and grabbing something off the rack and spend all night wondering how you ended up in a situation where you were a banana for Halloween.

It only gets more complicated if you're in need of a couples costume. Not only do you have to think of a costume idea, but the other party has to sign off on it. Do you really want to spend the lead-up to Halloween negotiating the terms of a costume? Of course not.

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"Stitched" Kickstarter: "Mending the World One Stitch at a Time"

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Photos by Christina Uticone
As of of the writing of this story, Whitney Riley's "Stitched" Kickstarter project is more than halfway to her $15,000 goal, with just over a week to go. Collaborating with Y.U.M. in Indonesia, the "Stitched" project endeavors to bring unique, one-of-a-kind fashion to the market without the use of sweatshops. According to the campaign's Kickstarter page:

Made in sweetshops not sweatshops, Stitched handbags transcend their pragmatic purpose combining wearable art and social responsibility. Designed with imaginative care these bags are inspirations and not just disposable fabrications.

In an effort to spread the word about her products, and her Kickstarter campaign, Riley is throwing a "Sweet! Stitched Brand Bags Kickstarter Party" (along with Hello Lucky, and Hunter Gatherer) at G Gallery on Thursday, August 29 at 6 p.m. that will include music, food and drink, and a fashion show featuring her bags.

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SDCC 2013: Cosplay Ain't Easy; See What Happens When You Leave Your Special Effects Contacts in Too Long

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Chuck Cook Photography
Does this guy know he looks like Hugh Jackman?

Serious cosplayers at comic conventions look like they're having a terrific time and for that matter, good cosplayers makes it look easy. The truth is that there's a great deal of hard work and expense involved, even for costumes that aren't terribly elaborate.

Consider this Tweet that model and avid cosplayer Adrianne Curry posted:

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Chuck Cook Photography
Adrianne Curry as "Pink" from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"
Sounds horrific, doesn't it? For very serious cosplayers, though, these are all potential hazards of the hobby.

I am a cosplayer as well. I hope to get better at it. I don't yet have some of the higher level skills in crafts like resin casting or fiberglass. I'm just now trying out thermoplastics (which are, by the way, amazing).


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Newsflash: Apparently People Think the Perry Voodoo Dolls Are Really Magic

Categories: Craft

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So last week I ran an article on Michelle Sinched and her project of selling voodoo dolls of Governor Rick Perry and donating proceeds to Planned Parenthood in protest of his new abortion initiatives. It was a quick bit of journalism that was more of a celebration of the quirkiness of one of my favorite local artists than anything else. I had no idea that when I penned it the next morning it would spread everywhere from Huffington Post to Glenn Beck's The Blaze.

Which is fine, of course. It's always gratifying as a reporter to see your work make its way into national news. Not bad for ten minutes worth of a Facebook PM conversation. And hey, the more people know that you can get a quality corset in Houston in addition to a handmade fetish of Rick Perry the more I feel I've contributed to the diversity of the city.

Then I read the comments and I discovered something I did not know... there are people who believe in black magic to the freakin' bone. I mean, they honestly see what is pretty obviously a cross between a joke and protest art and instead interpret it as actual maleficarum. Look, I believe plenty of wacky things. Two separate editors have questioned whether I know Doctor Who is just a TV show, but if you think that a few dolls made from leftover sewing project scraps actually constitutes an occult act then you are out to lunch.

With plenty of folks to eat with. Check it out.

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