What Will She Be This Year?
With Halloween approaching we asked Freja what she wanted to be. We always try to create her costume at home. My wife actually startled me when she created a Red-kneed Tarantula, as Freja called it, "ah Wed-knead Tawantuwa," for the kid when she was three. I always knew she could sew clothing, but having been married for only four years I didn't know she could do costumes as well.
At that time we were in transition from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, so I had no hand in helping out. I was still back in our old home, renovating it so we could sell it. I would much rather have been with my family, creating the mask for the outfit, but that's life.
Since then we've been working together as a team to create whatever the kid wants to be. We never know what she'll imagine. Over the years we've come to expect the unusual from her. This years request was not something specific.
White Wolf Princess?
When she first told I she wanted to be a "White Wolf Princess" I have to admit we were befuddled. What did that mean? What was that supposed to be? My first thought was perhaps she meant Princess Mononoke, only she'd never seen that movie. We're all huge fans of the animated movies produced by Studio Ghibli, owning just about everything they've created. This particular one I've been holding back, waiting for her to get a little older.
After a few days of scratching our heads we finally learned her choice was influenced by a little logo. On her school book bag, which she selected herself, is a sewn wolf logo. According to my wife, it was Freja's deciding factor in choosing the bag. Because of it, she wanted to be a "White Wolf Princess." So we set about defining that.
A Starting Point
Even before we had a firm idea as what to make I had an inkling of a direction. So she wanted to be a "white wolf princess" who was also a warrior? It was easy to see why such a costume would be fitting. She's always been a bold, very active child with a hearty desire for adventure, and a love of martial arts.
I knew I wanted to make her a helmet of some sort. Something unique only to her. Teri would design the costume based on my lead, so I had to get started right quick. She'd need time to sew. The first step then, was to make a base to work off of. To that end I created a plaster gauze skull cap.
Go With What You Know
Now it was time to begin designing the costume. With Halloween fast approaching we choose to go with a Viking Age theme. It seemed perfect for fleshing out a "White Wolf Princess." It would also be easy to create due to having past experiences that related to the Viking Age, at least through reenactments.
I used to go photograph an annual event called Pennsic War. You can learn all about that elsewhere on my site. There I had learned a lot of about Norse culture as it once existed between early 800 AD and 1066 AD. So I began looking through reference material related to Scandinavian history from a thousand years ago.
It also made things a lot simpler for my wife. She's already made historically related Viking garb for when we attended Pennsic. We'd just need an apron dress made, and a few accessories. We already had a number of items we could use as details, and it seemed like an easy project to crank out.
Keep it Simple
I needed to keep the creation of this helmet as simple as possible. When I began making this all of my art supplies were either in crates, or piled up in spots throughout our basement. I had to spend a lot of time just sorting things out, find my tools, and set up a space in our home for me to work. The previous owner had built a small woodworking shop in one corner in the basement. Since moving it two years ago, it's been used as a storage room. I'd have to say that over 80% of the effort that went into this costume was spent in just setting up the space to work.
The next step was to create a visor. For that, I felt I needed a template to speed things up.
I should also mention that the town we moved to, Mount Horeb, is a very Nordic town. In fact, we're also apparently the "Troll Capital of the World!" I'm guess they got here by stowing away in the goods brought over by the early Norwegian settlers? Anyway, there's a strong cultural influence here, and it just seems fitting that we ended up living here.