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Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] Wire Work Costuming/Flying

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  • K Murphy
    Hi Jane:   You can definitely make the costume and then go back and create the openings.  It will be easier if the garment has a center back seam (easy to
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2009
      Hi Jane:
      You can definitely make the costume and then go back and create the openings.  It will be easier if the garment has a center back seam (easy to add!) as well as side seams.
      The first thing I would do is determine what harness you will be creating the costume over.  This means contacting the person responsible for flying your performer.  My guess is that they will be using a single line from the center of the back (closer to the neck than the waist) to hold the weight, with a possible second lead from one side (at the waist) to control the performer's motion and keep them from drifting.  This is the easiest harness for most theaters to accomodate and the easiest to wear.  It has groin straps, a waist belt, and shoulder straps. (A note -- professional harnesses are usually made of padded leather, fit very tightly to the body, and should not pull away and distort clothing when the performer is lifted. BUT if they are trying to use something like a window-washing safety harness made of synthetic strapping, these are ONLY made to stop a fall...they will pull away from the body and distort massively, plus they are
      almost impossible to control once in the air.)
      The second thing you need to determine is how much movement the performer will be doing in the air.  Ask your director to nail this down for you. If the scene is completely static, with the angel just hovering in one spot, your task as costumer is much easier.  Create something with fullness built in, especially around the hem -- you don't want that "limp fish" look -- and remember that the performer's feet will dangle down.  If possible, do not hem the garment until you can check the length in the air.  If the angel must float downward, keep in mind that the costume will fill with air and balloon out -- you will want to use somewhat heavier fabric or weight the hem. If they move side to side, there may be issues with lead lines, so you must know what you're dealing with before you start.  Still, probably anything will work unless there are small loose pieces that could tangle in the lines.
      Whatever you do, make sure to include full underdressing (a unitard or leggings and bodysuit --try Alan Sloane in New York for affordable tights/leos/unis in every color).  Not only does this provide full coverage from below, it allows for adjustments to the harness without embarrasment AND the performer can tuck foam padding inside it if the harness chafes.
      My advice would be to obtain the information you need from the flying pros and director, and then construct a full-coverage garment with enough gathers to conceal the bulk of the harness. (Specifically, something like Simplicity 2777, which is a very nicely shaped pattern -- although I would add about 3-4" to the top of the bodice & sleeve, as you will need to conceal the shoulder straps on the harness. I would also double the width of the garment by creating a center back and center front seam -- or you could try Simplicity 4795, but again, I would double the fullness -- you could add a center front and center back seam and gather to a stay tape across the neckline.)
      Leave about 10" of the center back seam open where the harness lead(s) are going to be.  If a second lead is to be used at the waist, leave a slit in the side seam(s).  The leads will shift as the performer's weight is lifted into the air, so you need an opening larger than the hardware.  After you have seen the performer in costume in the harness in the air, you will be able to adjust the openings (reinforce them with a bar tack on either side).
      It's really not as complicated as it sounds!  I hope this is helpful...if you have any specific questions you can email me directly at  costumerkate@...
      Good Luck -- how about a picture when you are finished?

      --- On Wed, 11/4/09, Jane Waligorski <em47b@...> wrote:

      From: Jane Waligorski <em47b@...>
      Subject: [TheCostumersManifesto] Wire Work Costuming
      To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 1:56 PM


      "Are you looking for information about the harness, the costume to go over it, or both? Please tell me you are planning to use a professional harness with professional supervision" costumerkate

      Actually, your response already helps me - I have no responsibility for the harness/technical aspect of the flying, but I assume it will be professionally operated - I had better check that! I just wanted to make sure I could make the costume, and then go back and make openings as required. Are most rigs wired from the waist so that I can use side seam openings or from the shoulder blade area? I'm sorry to be so ignorant; from my basic research, I can tell that only a very few companies with proprietary expertise are skilled in this technical area. I don't want to pry into secrets, just make a safe, durable costume. Thank you so much for your help. Jane W.

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