The Tarot Card Costume: Baba Divina

It starts in a thrift store. It always does.

I was over the MOON when I received an invitation to Wild Wild West Con in Tucson, Arizona! A previous visit a few years ago was cut short, and I had despaired of ever having the opportunity to attend WWWC again. So after my hard and enthusiastic ‘YES!’, I realized that I wanted to bring a unique costume project, especially aimed at the 2020 theme, “Mystery & Magic”. As a slow builder, this felt impossible, but also important. As usual, I turned to what I’ve collected from thrifts and other resources. And lo, a Tarot/Astrology themed shower curtain emerges like magic.

Starting with the fabric shower curtain featuring major arcana tarot cards from the Rider-Waite deck, I scoured the thrift for garment shapes that could cobble together for a whole ensemble. Inspired by a Regency-era silhouette (high waists, long riding coats, turbans and shakos), I had most of what I needed to build a costume that would communicate ‘Magic & Mystery’.  But, damn, it was tight getting it all together in 30 days. Especially with my limited skill set. So much glue was used. So much.

(The costume project is named Baba Divina, in a nod to the blind Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga. )

For a deeper dive into how the Tarot Card costume came together, I posted the day-by-day process in a single album on my CostumeArt Facebook Page, which can be found here:

As usual, I didn’t try the whole thing on until I arrived in Tucson. But other than a few small adjustments, Baba Divina ended up being one of the easiest costumes to don and wear. (READ: I’m going to wear this costume a LOT.)

Here are a few images from outstanding photographers in Tucson who were kind enough to share their talents toward capturing the finished project. (Thank you!)

Paige Gardner | Tarot Costume | Photo credit: Jen Perry

Paige Gardner | Tarot Costume | Photo credit: Melissa Wambolt

Paige Gardner | Tarot Costume | Photo credit: Paul Davis Photography

Paige Gardner | Tarot Costume | Photo credit: Pete Mecozzi

John Strangeway, Paige Gardner, Tony Ballard-Smoot

Paige Gardner | Tarot Costume | Photo credit: Julie Newton

Paige Gardner | Tarot Costume | Photo credit: Rick Hirschl

Arming Oriza: Warhammer 40K Inferno Gun

When I got a message from Jennifer Lynn Larson (Mayhem’s Muse) about doing a feature for Bell of Lost Souls, I just about lost my mind. I mean, BoLS is the definitive news source for Warhammer 40K arts, announcements and development…I was floored (and completely aware of the honor.)

The interview request was very detailed and included a need for images, particularly for the Inquisitor Oriza costume. But, in truth, the costume wasn’t really finished. I’d worn her twice, but had not completely the vision for her.

Inquisitor Oriza was unarmed.

That’s heresy.

I’d had plans for Oriza’s gun for a while, but the pieces and plan just hadn’t come together. Mostly, I needed help.  I turned to my junk pile and my friends Drew and Tina Gardner for their guidance building a “working” Warhammer 40K inspired Inferno Pistol for Oriza. Here’s how it happened (WIP photos below):

Starting with two big-ass plastic wall sconces from the thrift, a candlestick, a Human Torch translucent Halloween mask, the foot of a pair of pantyhose, and a tassel…I took it all to Drew’s workshop for his ideas on making a working prop.

Drew suggested clear resin panes to hide a lighting apparatus, and Tina instantly mixed up resin to pour into molds cast from Drew’s distinctive leather work (Red Horse Leather, he’s famous!) The resin relief image looked like bubbles, boiling in a fuel chamber! My idea of stuffing a flashlight in the chamber is just the kind of thing that makes Drew crazy – and was swiftly shut down. Knowing I have zero tech skills, Drew designed and 3D printed an LED stick and controls so the ‘fuel chamber’ would pulse with light. He showed me how to solder the connections, but mostly fixed my mistakes. Together, with my friends, the gun began to evolve toward a real thing.

After we modified all the parts and created lighting  at Drew’s shop, I carefully placed all the components in my hatchback for home assembly.

Then, I picked up one of my sons from a friend’s house. My son threw his backpack into the back of the car.

Right on top of all the carefully crafted parts.

Breaking the LED light stick in half. Damnit.

NOTE: Good Lord. I love my son, but I really wanted to sell him for parts when I saw what the backpack did to the carefully printed lighting structure. It was an accident so he still has his kidneys.

With really no time left to rebuild Drew’s carefully printed structure, I had to find some way to keep the broken lights centered and in place with things around my house. (WARNING: My gank-ass solutions are cringey.

Enter, Press ‘n Seal wrap from the kitchen drawer and lumber strapping from Home Depot’s trash can. I removed the LED strip from the broken stick and glued them onto a folded piece of the flexible lumber strapping. Making a cylinder from some clear plastic discarded by a sign company, I wrapped the light strip cylinder in layers of Press n Seal which both created flexible squishy layers that both held the lighting in place (inside the fuel chamber) AND diffused the illumination perfectly.

The resin light panels that Tina and Drew cooked up hid most of the terribleness, and the flame “igniter” made with the top of The Torch mask covered the rest. And damn if it didn’t work… like a champ. (There’s a WIP VIDEO of the lighting test at the bottom of this article. Worth seeing to get the whole idea of the gun works.)

Inquisitor Oriza’s weapon of choice, the Inferno Pistol, came together just in time for a photo shoot at Iron City Cosplay Day in May 2019. The images were ideal and premiered in a two-part interview with Bell of Lost Souls. (The BoLS  links with final photography are below.)

This project never would have worked without the generous support of my friends who had the skills, patience and spirit of generosity to help me move an idea to fruition. I recognize the gift of their friendship…Thank you, Drew and Tina! And thank you, Chris Ahrendt for the WH40K icons that keep adding style to Oriza!


40k Cosplay Interview: The Works of Paige Gardner


40K Cosplay Interview Pt 2: The Works of Paige Gardner