Burning Man Costume 1.

Even though I studied some costume design in college, I always have problems when I make a costume. One specific problem, actually. I keep forgetting that it is not important that the costume look good up close, it has to have impact from twenty or thirty feet away. I get so obsessed with minutiae that I end up fussing over these tiny little bits that from a distance don’t look like anything. I promised myself I would attempt to rectify this error, so every time I design an element for this Burning Man costume I like I pat myself on the back, good job Jess, and then I immediately make the thing twice as large. I try to make it so big I feel ridiculous about wearing it. Then I know I’m in the right area. So far I have made a kelp necklace, 56 barnacles and three orange seastars.

I made the kelp necklace before I had my “bigger, simpler, more garish” epiphany, so it is small, delicate and softly colored. But I had beaded it already, so I’m incorporating it nonetheless.

The top part is a large tube so that if it’s possible I can slide a thin strip of LEDs into it and they will shine through the glass seed beads. I’m creating a lot of semi-translucent and / or pierced and / or hollow elements in the hopes that some of them can be wired for light. I’m not expecting all of them to be, but I don’t know which ones will be feasible and which won’t, so I’m making a bunch of them lighting-friendly.

Seastars. Big, simple, orange, with reflective sequins. I’m making two more seastars in pink, and they will be slightly larger and have more reflective sequins.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of ocean research, and the thing I have learned about the shores and most coral reefs (which is where I’m basing my costume on) is that it is not very colorful. The rocks and the sands and the kelp and the seaweed and the coral is predominantly four colors: medium brown, bottle-green with some yellow in it, muted grape-purple, and sickly dusty pink. Mostly the brown and the green with a smidge of the purple and the pink. A jazzy yellow fish or a bright blue anemone pop up all over, but the majority is rather bleh. So the base of my costume will be brownish-greenish with brightly-colored characters scattered about. And I won’t be making any fish. I will have crabs, sea slugs, sea worms, the above-mentioned seastars, snails, anemones, urchins, clams maybe, and an enormous jelly. The closest thing I’m going to have to a fish is putting scales on my corset. It’s just everyone when they think of ocean think of fish, and there are so many other under-appreciated oceanic beasties that I want to highlight.

Speaking of one of those beasties, here are my barnacles. I put a pencil into the photo to give you a sense of scale.

I’ll keep updating as I create more pieces of this exciting ensemble.

Leave a Reply