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Jack’s Anna Maria Belt and Leather Palm Glove

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First up, my new Anna Maria belt, made by the awesome Captain McCool.  You can check out his Etsy store at www.etsy.com/shop/CastawayTradingCo.  McCool previously made my sun belt that was featured in an earlier post.  For the Anna Maria belt, he used leather he acquired from overstock used to make leather goods for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  The belt is a dark tan color and is 2 1/4″ wide.  It doesn’t actually fit the Anna Maria buckle (which is made for a 3″ wide belt), but that is how Captain Jack wore his, too, as can be seen in the photo above.  For “On Stranger Tides” the buckle was actually modified to fit the belt, but the look I’m going for is “Dead Man’s Chest”/”At World’s End”, so here the belt and buckle are appropriate.

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  The belt also has a brown smudge on its tip and a patch in the back where the belt has been split.  It’s possible that the original belt didn’t fit Johnny Depp quite right and the patch was added to make the belt a bit longer, but it may have also just been for looks.  Either way, it’s one of those small touches that adds to the overall look of the costume.

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The patch is meant to be from a separate piece of leather so it has no stitching, and for my belt Captain McCool made it a bit darker than the rest of the belt so that it really looks thrown together.

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One thing I did after the fact was switch out the leather lacing that was used to hold the patch in place because I felt the original lacing was a bit too light in color.  Of course the lacing I used is too dark, but it’s what I had lying around, so I may end up changing it out again later on.

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The belt turned out great and I am absolutely pleased.  Captain McCool is a great guy who does some awesome work, and I look forward to doing more business with him in the future.  I highly recommend checking out his Etsy store, The Castaway Trading Co., because he offers up some fantastic nautically themed items over there.

Several months ago I acquired a chicken foot to dangle from my Anna Maria buckle (as can be seen in one of the photos above and also in a previous post), and fairly recently I got hold of the other trinkets that Jack has dangling from his belts.  It’s these little touches that really make the costume come to life, and I’ll have plenty of photos of them in my next post (don’t worry, it’ll be up very soon, I promise).  I’ll also be discussing some distressing techniques you can use to give your leather goods a great weathered look.  But for now I want to show off one more awesome item that my pal Captain McCool sent my way: Jack’s leather palm glove.

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On his right hand Jack wears a leather palm glove that loops around his two middle fingers and thumb and then ties around his wrist.  It’s a neat little piece that allows Jack to keep a a good grip on his sword during those sweat inducing sword fights under the hot Caribbean sun.  I was thrilled when my Anna Maria belt arrived to find a terrific bonus item thrown in, Captain McCool had made me a brilliant leather palm glove to go with my outfit!

McCool and I had gotten to know each other a bit, first on the message boards and then on facebook, after I ordered my sun belt from him, and when I ordered the Anna Maria belt in June he was going through a move and had quite a few things going on.  He told me it would be a while before he could get to the belt, but I assured him I was in no hurry.  I, too, had a custom order to make a spooky cemetery sign that I couldn’t get to right away because I had recently broken my shoulder, so I completely understood.  Finally in late September things settled down a bit for both of us; I was able to complete the sign I needed to make, and McCool was able to put the finishing touches on the belt.  To make up for the longer-than-expected time it had taken us to complete these projects I threw in a couple of vampire stake keychains (I’ll explain shortly) and McCool tossed in the palm glove.

PalmGlove

Part of what I love about the Jack Sparrow costuming community is that its members are always quick to help each other out.  I see guys trading spare items with each other all the time on the message boards, posting tutorials about items they’ve made, and letting everyone know where they can get the best products.  If you haven’t done so already, you’ll definitely want to check out the forums at Keep to the Code and The Brethren Court.  Also be sure to check out Jack Sparrow Costuming, a fantastic wiki meant to help point people in the right direction as they work to put their Jack Sparrow costumes together.  Whether you are setting out to throw together a quick, inexpensive version of the gear, or you’re going for 100% screen accuracy you can get some excellent tips by visiting these sites, and probably make a few new friends along the way.

My own Jack Sparrow costuming adventure certainly would have been much more arduous without the terrific info I’ve acquired from these sites.  It was on these message boards that I met and became friends with Captain McCool and many other great Jack Sparrow costuming enthusiasts.  I hope to eventually meet and maybe sit down and have a beer (or rum, rum’s good) with some of thesm.  No doubt we’ll all have plenty of great tales to tell.

But I digress.  The palm glove McCool sent me is great, and I’ve since sent a couple of pirate keychains and a snake vertebrae for his Captain Jack costume his way as a way of saying thanks and to return the favor.  One of my favorite things about the glove is that it has leather straps for you to wrap around your wrist to tie it on.  Some palm gloves I’ve seen have a sort of “cuff” that is laced together with a bit of string, but Jack’s glove in the movie clearly has leather ties as can be seen in the photo below.

  Since Jack’s wrist wrap goes over the palm glove it really isn’t a big deal how it ties on,  I just like the little detail of having the straps dangle down from the wrist.  The palm glove used in “On Stranger Tides” may be different (I’ve noticed that the thumb strap is different), but for the “Dead Man’s Chest” look the straps are perfect.  I had to make a few minor adjustments to the glove to get the fit just right, but it’s yet another item I can now check off my list.

  So earlier I mentioned a custom ordered sign and some keychains I made.  Well, it just so happens I’ve been selling some handmade items on eBay for a couple years now and several months ago I started an Etsy store as well.

  In 2010 I played the role of Dr. Van Helsing in a stage production of “Dracula: The Musical?” (yes, that question mark is supposed to be there; it’s a comedy), and I decided to make a couple of wooden stakes as part of the costume.  I got a little carried away with designs, and by the time the show opened I had made 8 stakes, even though my costume had a holster to hold 3 and the script only referenced a stake once.  Before each performance I would have a different cast member pick which stakes I would use that night on stage.  My costume also included a lot of little glass vials hanging around my neck and on my belt full of all sorts of oddities, and I had a little story for each one.  (Yep, my approach to acting isn’t too dissimilar to the way Johnny Depp approaches his roles).

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  At some point I had the brilliant thought that there were probably people out there who would buy vampire stakes like the ones I had made, so I made a few more and put them up on eBay.  Sure enough, they all sold.  By the end of 2011 I had probably sold close to 100 of them, both ones I listed and quite a few custom orders.  I had also made some mini stakes as keychains that I gave to the cast and crew, so I put a few of those on eBay and they sold really well, too.  Next I made some wizard wands to see how they would do.  Occasionally one sells, but they haven’t been no where near as big a hit as my wooden vampire stakes have been.

  I’d contemplated making wooden mallets of some kind for a while for those vampire slayers out there who want to do in their vampires old school Van Helsing style, but hadn’t attempted to make one until last year when a customer requested one.  That gave me an idea, so pretty soon I was selling sets that include a mallet and 3 matching stakes.  These have become another big hit.    ThePriest-VampireHunterSet.jpg ThePriest-VampireHunterSet

  As for the cemetery sign, that was another request from the same customer who bought the first mallet.  It was for a Halloween display she was putting together, and I was more than happy to take on the project.  I think it turned out pretty darn well.

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  Anyway, feel free to check out my Etsy store, www.etsy.com/shop/CaptainMcAnen, and if you find something you like you can enter Coupon Code “BECOMINGJACKSPARROW” (all one word) at checkout to receive 10% off your purchase.  I also happily accept custom orders, so if you have something specific in mind let me know and I will fix you up.  It is by selling these products that I have been able to afford the pieces of my Jack Sparrow outfit so far, so any purchases you make will help keep my Jack Sparrow costuming adventure going and this blog up and running.  The 10% Coupon Code is a small way for me to say thank you to all of you for following my blog and making this experience so much fun.  I really appreciate your support!

  There’s still plenty more to come, so keep following the blog because I’ve got plenty more items to acquire before I’m done, as well as tutorials and videos making their way to the blog this year as well.  And you’ll definitely want to stick around because there might just be some contests and giveaways coming up in the very near future, too.

  Also, feel free to leave comments and let me know about your own costuming adventures.  Until next time, “Drink up me hearties, yo-ho!!!”

Merry Christmas, Me Hearties!!!

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A Merry Christmas to you all, my fellow pirates!!!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over 4 months since my last post.  It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of new costume items.  I’ve added several things since my last post (albeit mostly small things), I just haven’t taken the time to sit down and write about them.  For a while I was busy designing, building, and running my annual haunted house, the Haunted Dungeon, for the 3rd year, and then in November I was pretty much just lazy, relaxing and recovering from it all.

When I started the blog earlier this year my goal was to purchase at least one item per month to go toward my Jack Sparrow costume, and I’ve done plenty more than that.  In total I’ve acquired 18 items this year, and can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring.

I’ll have a new post up very soon, and plenty to show you, too.  The bits and bobs I’ve added over the past 4 months are: Jack’s Anna Maria belt, trophy lace, the black spot wrap, the stolen ring, a leather palm glove, Davy Jones’ key, a Netsuke mermaid fertility charm, a python vertebrae, and a couple of manky pelts.  Plus I got Jack’s tattoo, and I haven’t even shown you my “P” brand that I had done last year yet!  I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m Jack Sparrow from head to toe, but it’s definitely been a good year, and it looks like next year is only going to get better.

Thanks so much for following my blog and sharing in my Jack Sparrow costuming adventures.  There’s still plenty more to come, and I look forward to sharing the whole journey with you.  In the months to come I hope to add some exciting new features to the blog like video reviews and tutorials as well.

Have your own costuming adventures to share?  I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to message me and leave your comments below!

Until next time, here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a most Happy New Year!!!

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Jack’s Sash and Wrist Wrap

JacksSash

  When I set out to create my Captain McAnen costume back in 2008 one of the hardest items to come by was a sash.  Sure, there are some websites that offer pirate sashes, but they usually tend to be really shiny, made of man-made fabric like rayon, and have tassels or fringe at the end.  Depending on the look you’re going for these can work just fine, but I wanted something more beaten up and weathered.  I really liked Jack Sparrow’s sash, so originally I set out to find some sort of fabric that would be similar to his but with blue or purple stripes instead of red.  Most of the fabrics I found were calico prints so they only had the stripes on one side, and I wanted a cloth that had an older, more hand-woven feel.  Eventually I settled on a greenish-tan checkered fabric that I felt was fitting for the Irish origins of the character.  It wasn’t what I went searching for originally, but I got about 3 yards of the stuff for like $5 at Hobby Lobby, so I wasn’t complaining.  My girlfriend at the time took on the task of making the sash for me.  The sash is 12 feet long and about 9 inches wide, and the fabric is doubled over and sewn together to make the sash nice and durable.  I had previously purchased a sash from an online vendor that wound up being a shiny blue rayon fabric with gold fringe (it didn’t match the photo on the website I ordered from), so we just used it as a template for making the new sash.  Once the sewing was done I bleached it, beat it in dirt, and left it out in the sun for a nice aged look.  I wore it for Halloween ’08 and to the Texas Renaissance Festival, and have been using it ever since.  The older and more beaten up it gets the better it looks.

  In 2010 I designed, built, and ran a haunted house called the Haunted Dungeon in Marble Falls, TX, and the day after Halloween we went shopping at all the Halloween stores in Austin to get a bunch of supplies at a great discount to use the following year.  At one store I purchased a bunch of scrap material that had been a circus tent display inside the store.  It was a ratty tan fabric with blue stripes, and I thought it would make a great sash.  When our haunted house ended in 2011 and we were taking it down I cut a nice long strip out of the fabric and it became my second Captain McAnen sash.  I still haven’t found that perfect fabric that I’ve been searching for, but it is fun to have a couple of different sashes so I can change up the look of my costume from time to time.  It’s also handy to have multiples for when I need to dress up another pirate for a gig or event.  Without a doubt I’ll probably stumble upon other fabrics I like and end up with a few more sashes along the way.

(Captain McAnen’s sashes – on the left is the circus tent sash, on the right is my original Captain McAnen sash)

Sashes

When I started putting together my Jack Sparrow costume I knew the sash was one of the first items I wanted to check off my list.  After reading about various available sashes on the message boards and searching the internet for the best possible version of Jack’s sash I went with one offered by eBay seller Empire-Worldwide.  They offer several Jack Sparrow costume pieces.  Some are really good, some are really bad, and some are just way over-priced pieces out of children’s dress up kits that can be found at costume stores.  On the message boards at keeptothecode.com  and brethrencourt.net there is quite a bit of mixed opinion about the business dealings of Empire-Worldwide, but it was agreed by many that their sash was one of the better items they offer.  Since I didn’t see any better sashes offered by anyone else (many Jack Sparrow cosplayers actually make their sashes out of curtains from IKEA), I took the plunge and ordered from Empire-Worldwide on eBay.  My sash shipped extremely fast and I had it in just a couple of days.

(Jack Sparrow sash – new)

The material is thinner than that of Jack’s sash, but I expected as much considering the movie sashes were made from handwoven textiles out of Turkey.  The stripe pattern is a great match to that used in “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End”, which is the look I’m going for (the IKEA sashes generally work better for a “Curse of the Black Pearl” look), and the fabric seems to weather quite nicely without being a wrinkled mess.  All in all I’m quite happy with the sash.

After it arrived I ran it through the washing machine to loosen up the fabric, then sat and cut off all the loose strings that unraveled along the edges in the wash.  Unlike my Captain McAnen sash which is doubled over and has a finished seam Jack’s sash is simply cut straight from the fabric so the edges do fray, but that just adds to the rugged look of it.  I also brewed a giant pot of extremely strong, dark black tea and soaked the sash in it over low heat on the stove for a couple of hours to give it a dingier, duller quality.  After it dried I made a few rips in the ends and along the edges and poked it through with a pair of scissors in a few places to give it an even more worn out look.  Somewhere down the line I may even give it a dye bath in some water with just a few drops of brown Rit dye to dingy it up a bit more, and I’ll likely beat it up and stain it even more as time goes by.  My only real complaint is that the stripes are a paler red than those on the movie worn sash, but most people will never notice.

(Jack Sparrow sash – weathered)

Part of my plan for putting together my Jack Sparrow costume is to find the best items available and take my time buying them so that I don’t feel the need to change and upgrade them later on.  This way I will save money in the long run because I’m not buying items just to “get by”, I’m buying ones I plan to keep for good.  It’ll take a little longer to put the complete costume together this way, but in the end I will only have to put together one version of the finished outfit.  The sash is no exception.  It’s possible a better, more accurate sash will come along somewhere down the road, but out of all the ones available at the moment I feel like I snagged the best one for the look I’m going for.

The next item I grabbed was a little different story…

WristWrap-1

Jack wears an interesting little wrap around his right wrist throughout the movies.  It’s one of those random items that adds to the unique and quirky look of what is otherwise a rather typical pirate costume.  When you look at the basics of Jack’s outfit: the shirt, pants, sash, waistcoat, jacket, bandana, and hat, it’s all pretty standard pirate garb.  But it’s the little flourishes like his rings and all those beads and coins in his dreadlocked hair that really give Jack his signature look and make him stand out amongst all the other buccaneers in the Pirates films.  Exactly what the wrist wrap is made from and where it might have come from are a bit of a mystery, but no Jack Sparrow costume would be complete without it.

Many Jack Sparrow enthusiasts make their own out of black burlap and yarn, but I’m lazy enough that I just wanted to snag one that was ready to wear.  There are plenty out there that are passable, and a few homemade ones I’ve seen look really good, but I was having a tough time finding one available that looked as accurate as I wanted.  In the end I zeroed in on the wrist wrap offered by Yordreem Creations (yordreem.com).  Yordreem makes many incredible Jack Sparrow items including his waistcoat, frock coat, and possibly the best wig on the market, so it naturally seemed like their wrist wrap would be pretty awesome, too.  It certainly looked pretty sweet in the photograph on their website.  I especially liked that it wasn’t made out of stiff burlap like so many of the ones I’d seen on eBay.

When it arrived I was a bit bummed to find that the weave pattern of the yarn isn’t quite as accurate as I had hoped, but I am still quite happy with it.  Most people would never notice that there is anything wrong with it, but cosplayers tend to have a sharp eye for detail and are often irrationally bothered by little things that aren’t quite right.  I modified the wrap ever so slightly and gave it a light tea-dye bath to dull it up a bit, but what you see below is pretty much what it looks like.  I wish the yarn was a little darker so I’ll no doubt darken it with dye at some point, but I really like the look and feel of the black material.  I’ve heard some Jack’s refer to a fabric called monk’s cloth, but I’m not sure if that’s what this is or not.  Even though it is not as accurate as I’d hoped it would be I still think it looks pretty good and have even been wearing it with my street clothes.

This is an item I will likely replace if a better version comes along, but for now it’ll do just fine.  It certainly saved me the trouble of trying to make something myself, and for the money it’s not a bad little item at all.

  (Jack Sparrow wrist wrap)

I’ve got an Anna Maria belt on its way from Captain McCool, and I’ll likely be ordering the manky pelts to dangle from my sun belt very soon.  It won’t be long and I’ll have to start ordering the bigger pieces of the costume.  Sometime in the next couple of months I would like to order a waistcoat from Yordreem Creations, and I hope to have one of their wigs by the end of the year.  It really all just comes down to when I have the extra money to spent at this point, but no matter what my Jack Sparrow costuming adventure will continue.

So until next time, “take what you can.  Give nothing back!”

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Belts and Bandanas

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     In “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” Jack Sparrow wears two belts, the sun belt and the Anna Maria belt.  The sun belt is similar to the one worn in “Curse of the Black Pearl” but with a slightly different buckle, and the “tail” of the belt is much shorter where it hangs down after being looped.  It is also a darker brown than the belt worn in the first movie.  The Anna Maria belt features the same buckle worn by the character of Anna Maria in “Curse of the Black Pearl” (hence the name), and is a lighter brown color and slightly wider than the sun belt.  It doesn’t really fit the Anna Maria buckle, but apparently Johnny Depp liked it so much he opted to wear both belts in the movie anyway.

  Before venturing off on my quest to create a Jack Sparrow costume I had created a character of my own, Captain McAnen, and put together a costume for him.  In Spring of 2011 I had my first belt made for the character.  It is a light brown belt, 2″ wide with fancy tooling around the edges and a rustic square buckle.  I ordered the belt from leatherlore.com, and I also received a matching baldric.

(My first belt for Captain McAnen)

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  My only complaint about this particular belt is that it is quite a bit longer than I would have preferred, and to cut it shorter would ruin the tooling at the tip.  Still, it is a pretty awesome belt with a cool weathered look and feel and makes for a great costume piece.

  While goofing around one day last Fall I threw on my Captain McAnen costume with a Rastafarian dreadlock wig and my Jack Sparrow bandana and started bumbling around like Captain Jack Sparrow.  In the photo below you can see what I mean about the length of my Captain McAnen belt.  You can also see that I’ve got a long way to go before I have anything close to an authentic Jack Sparrow costume, but we all have to start somewhere.

    (The humble beginnings of my transition from Captain McAnen into Captain Jack Sparrow)IMG_1275

  As with any long-term costuming project you start with one thing and then begin making little changes and adding new pieces.  I found a seller on eBay called Treasure Cast Inc. that makes awesome pewter products like buckles, buttons and pendants, and I ordered a set of Celtic knot buttons from them for my waistcoat.  I also ordered the buckle for my baldric from them.  Their buckles are loosely inspired by Jack Sparrow’s buckles but have a unique look of their own, and I really liked their sea shell buckle.  It is similar to Jack’s baldric buckle from “Curse of the Black Pearl” but different enough that I thought it would make a great addition to my ever evolving Captain McAnen costume.  I ordered the buckle and then had Blackbeard’s Landing (blackbeardscreations.com) make me a dark brown belt to go with it.  Blackbeard had previously made my second baldric (seen in the photo above) and does fantastic custom leather work.  I wanted to make sure the belt wasn’t as long as my Leather Lore belt, but I also wanted to make sure it would still fit as I lost weight.  To accommodate my ever changing waistline we came up with the idea of incorporating extra holes into the design of the belt, so the holes actually run the whole length of the belt rather than just having 7 holes for size adjustment like most belts do.  After it arrived I took a strip of leather lacing and ran it through the extra holes to give the belt an even more unique look.

(My second Captain McAnen belt)

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  Now that McAnen was properly geared up it was time to started putting together my Jack Sparrow garb.  I found awesome reproductions of Jack’s buckles (see previous posts) and needed belts to go with them.  The first belt I had made was for the sun buckle.  I had befriended a fellow Captain Jack enthusiast known as Captain McCool over on the message boards at keeptothecode.com and brethrencourt.net and he told me he would be more than happy to make the belts for me.  He runs an awesome shop over on Etsy.com called The Castaway Trading Co. that offers all sorts of fantastic piratical goodies.  As soon as I had the money I ordered the belt from him and it turned out great!  I can’t wait to have him make the Anna Maria belt for me because I have no doubt it will be equally awesome.

(My Jack Sparrow sun belt – new)

SunBelt

  When putting together a period costume, be it a pirate, a wild west cowboy, or a knight from the Middle Ages, what really sells it and makes it look authentic is the aging.  Take for example the costumes in a movie like “Pirates of the Caribbean”; they don’t look brand new and off the rack but rather they look beat up, worn out, and faded.  There is an art to the way costumes in movies are weathered and aged, and it is what makes them look realistic and believable.  While putting together both my Captain McAnen costume and now my Jack Sparrow costume I’ve weathered each item slightly to make sure it looks used and authentic.  It can seem crazy to beat the hell out of an item you’ve paid good money for, but the overall effect is well worth it.

   My new sun belt is a great example.  When it arrived it was a obviously a brand new item.  Some costume enthusiasts prefer to break in their items naturally and let them age over time, but others like me like to speed up the process so that the costume looks worn and lived in even if it has just come out of the box.  For the belt I used rubbing alcohol on cotton balls to dull the finish of the belt and take off some of the excess leather dye.  Next I took some fine grit sandpaper and went over it ever so lightly to take off a bit more of the finish and scuff it up a bit, then went back over it using the alcohol and cotton balls again to smooth out the dye.  Jack’s belt would have seen plenty of sunlight and salt water, so I wanted to give the belt a somewhat faded look.  Finally I rubbed the belt down with a wash cloth to take off anymore excess dye that the alcohol had pulled out, then gave it a coat of Pecard’s leather dressing to seal it.  Jack’s belt is even more weathered than mine, but what I’ve done is kick start the aging process, and any future weathering will come from regular wear and tear.

(My Jack Sparrow sun belt – weathered)

SunBeltweathered

  I’m very pleased with the result.   Now I just need to add the “manky pelts” and my sun belt will be complete.  I’d like to thank Captain McCool for making such a terrific addition to my costume.  Hopefully I’ll be able to have him make the Anna Maria belt very soon.

When I set out on my Jack Sparrow costuming adventure at the first of the year I made it my goal to purchase one item per month, and so far I’m right on target with six items as the month of June gets underway.

JackBandana

     In all four movies Jack wears a red paisley bandana tied around his head.  The bandana is much more faded in “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” than it is in “Curse of the Black Pearl”, and it is that faded look from the sequels that I am going for.  Recently I purchased a new bandana from Mango Fever on eBay as a sort of bonus item.  I haven’t yet decided what I want to do with the new bandana, whether I want to fade it out and use it or save it and weather it later on should I choose to put together an “On Stranger Tides” version of the costume somewhere down the road, but I’m including a photo of it here to show what these bandanas look like brand new.

(Jack Sparrow bandana – new)

      JackSparrowBandananew

  I purchased my first Jack Sparrow bandana from Mango Fever back in 2008 and it is the one I’ll be using for the DMC/AWE costume I’m putting together now.  To get the desired color I’ve ran it through a few bleach baths, and it has been washed several times over the past few years.  At one point a couple of years ago my teenage sister borrowed it for a school project and it got washed with my original Captain McAnen shirt, turning the shirt pink!  The bandana looks fantastic, but I’m thinking about soaking it in some water with just a tiny drop of brown dye at some point to give it a slightly dingier look.  That may also help tone down the blue in the flowers a little bit as well.

(Jack Sparrow bandana – weathered)

JacksBandana

For my Captain McAnen costume I ordered bandanas from another eBay seller, Full Moon Loom.  The first one was a purple paisley bandana that I bleached out with Rit Color Remover.  In fact it pulled out so much color that the bandana was light grey when I pulled it out of the washing machine!  Luckily the paisley pattern remained, and I was able to achieve the purple color I wanted with Rit Dye.  For an alternative look for the costume I purchased another bandana, this time in green but with the same pattern.  Again I used Rit Color Remover, but this time kept some of the original color in rather than turning it completely grey, then redyed it with green Rit Dye.  I think they both turned out great.

(Captain McAnen’s bandanas)

Bandanas

  Later on I decided I would try to make another bandana, this time using one of the Jack Sparrow bandanas from Mango Fever, because I thought the Rit Color Remover would take out some of the blue from the flowers as well.  Instead it just turned the bandana pink and washed out a lot of the paisley pattern, but the flowers remained just as blue.  In the end I gave it a wash in purple dye and it came out a nice magenta color (see the above photo).  I probably won’t use this bandana for either the McAnen or Jack Sparrow costumes, but it makes for a nice spare should I recruit other pirates for parties and events.  My buddy “Scurvy” Steve donned it for some photos we had taken last November.

(Captain McAnen and Scurvy Steve ready for action!)

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  I’ve still got a long way to go before my Captain Jack Sparrow costume is anywhere close to being complete, but I’m off to a good start and really happy with the items I’ve acquired so far.

(Johnny Depp getting into character)

Jack’s Sword and a Chicken’s Foot

JacksSword

No Jack Sparrow outfit would be complete without Jack’s sword.  It might not be sharp, and Commodore Norrington may have expected it to be made out of wood, but Jack’s trusty blade has gotten him out of his fair share of sticky situations.

In 2003 after “Curse of the Black Pearl” came out I purchased one of my first piratey items: a French boarding cutlass.  Granted it wasn’t a real sword in the truest sense of the word, this was the kind you stumble upon at a decorum shop and isn’t meant to be used for any real combat.  The blade wasn’t carbon steel or even stainless steel for that matter, it was an alloy and not very sturdy.  The blade wobbled a bit in the handle, and after a bit of horse play the blade broke off at the hilt.  At least I had it for a year or two before I destroyed it.

(This is what my first cutlass looked like)

  In 2007 I was working at Halloween Express and came across a plastic toy version of Jack’s sword that was actually about the right size and looked pretty good.  Using my employ discount, I snagged one up because I figured it would be much safer for rough housing than  the real thing.  The next year I went back and bought 3 more so that me and friends could have epic sword fights.

(Toy Jack Sparrow sword by Disguise)

  In 2008 I was gearing up for Halloween and the Texas Renaissance Festival and figured it was time to hunt for another real sword.  This time I had done a bit of research and had a much better idea of what I was looking for.  Most swords you find are meant for display only, but if you search long enough you can find some decent battle ready swords at a reasonable price.  A lot of swords have ornate handles in shiny brass with decorative knuckle guards, but I was looking for something a bit more plain.  I’m also left handed so I needed a sword that had a symmetric guard rather than one meant to protect the knuckles of a right hand.  Through a lot of Google searching I stumbled upon the Pirate Captain’s hanger sword made by Windlass Steelcrafts.  Made to resemble Jack Sparrow’s sword, the hanger (the term used for this type of sword, similar to a cutlass), featured a carbon steel blade and leather wrapped wooden handle.  When it arrived it was clear that this was a much sturdier weapon than the French boarding cutlass I had destroyed a couple of years before and could hold up to a bit of stage combat.

(Pirate Captain’s Hanger by Windlass Steelcrafts)

  This sword served me well for a couple of years and has held up to quite a lot of abuse.  The two things I didn’t like about it, though, were it felt a bit clumsy in the hand due to its rather slender handle, and the blade was a bit too shiny for a rough and rugged pirate costume.  Eventually I painted the blade with a bit of black paint and left it out in the weather for several days, and that dulled it nicely for a more weathered look.  In 2011 I carved a wooden hand grip and replaced the leather one and now the sword feels much more comfortable and less clumsy in the hand.  It’s a good sword, and for my character Captain McAnen it was fine, but it just isn’t Jack’s sword.

(This is how it looks after dulling the blade and changing the hand grip)

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(A closer view of the hand grip)

  The problem with only having one sword is that you can’t really sword fight with anyone.  I’m not saying I want to have an all out duel to the death, but let’s face it, it’s fun to hear the sound of two swords clanking together.  So before too long I was searching for yet another sword.

  In 2010 I was surfing the internet when I came across exactly the sort of sword I was looking for, the Revolutionary War Hanger by CAS Hanwei.  This beauty featured an “aged” blade and a hilt that more closely resembled the sword used by Jack Sparrow.  Just by the look of it I knew I had to have one, but I really wanted to handle one first and that isn’t really something you get to do when ordering things on the internet.  Luckily I came across one for sale at the Texas Renaissance Festival and was able to hold it and get a better look at it.  Yep, I definitely wanted it, so a few weeks later I ordered one online.

(My Hanwei Revolutionary War Hanger)

  The blade on this thing has a lot of curve to it and is sturdy as hell.  This sword truly feels like the real deal and could no doubt do some damage.  I never sharpen my swords because I’m a big kid at heart, and when you get right down to it and don’t want to hurt myself or anyone else.  But this thing is a monster and in duels against the Windlass Pirate Captain Hanger this sucker always leaves nicks in the other’s blade while taking very little damage of it’s own.  I couldn’t be happier with this sword and it is always my blade of choice when dressing up as Captain McAnen.

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(En Garde)

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  For those events where I might not be able to carry a real sword with me I took a page out of the book of other Jack Sparrow impersonators and modified a Disguise toy sword to use as a stand in.  Using spray paint, I colored matched it to the real sword and I’m quite happy with the result.  It has already fooled several people.

(Modified toy sword)

(Top to bottom: Unmodified toy sword, modified toy sword, Hanwei hanger)

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  When I bought the Hanwei sword I figured it would also serve as my Jack Sparrow cutlass once I finally got around to putting together the costume.  At the time, and really even now, it is about the closest sword you can find to the one used by Captain Jack without spending a small fortune.  But it’s not a perfect match: the blade it too long, too wide, and is far more curved than Jack’s, and the handle’s shape is not exactly right.  The scabbard is also completely different, although one of my favorite things about this scabbard is that because of the metal fittings you actually get a nice “shing” sound when you draw the sword.  Still, most people wouldn’t notice the difference between this sword and Jack’s, it’s really only something people like me who scrutinize all the tiny details pay any attention to.

  Then, back in December, Indy Magnoli over at http://www.brethrencourt.net/ posted a thread announcing that he was planning to have a run of Jack Sparrow swords made for those of us who were interested.  Originally it was only going to be a limited run of 50, but there was enough interest that he went with a run of 100.  I was familiar with Indy’s work, having first seen things he had made for his Indiana Jones costume back in the days when I was putting together an Indy costume of my own.  He eventually started Magnoli Clothiers http://www.magnoliclothiers.com/ where he offers tailor made apparel based on costumes from hit movies.  The sword would be a commission piece, but he and others had studied the swords specs and over the next few months had the factory put together several prototypes until they got the design just right.  I put my name down on the interest list even though I wasn’t initially sure if I’d be able to make the money to pay for it in time.  Luckily he was offering these at a price comparable to that of the swords I mentioned above, so this was probably the best chance to get an accurate Jack Sparrow sword anywhere without shelling out $500 or more.  Master Replicas had made a stainless steel display version a few years ago that several guys use for their costumes, but the hilt is actually 10% smaller than the real deal, and they have been out of production for a long time so they now fetch a hefty price on eBay.

  I worked to make the money in time, then waited patiently for the swords to start shipping out.  Finally I got an email last Friday (May 18th) saying mine had shipped.  Three days later the DHL truck pulled up and I had my Jack Sparrow sword in my hands.

(The Indy Magnoli Jack Sparrow sword, straight out of the package)

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  The sword is not flawless, but it is a great match for Jack’s sword at a very reasonable price.  The hand grip is made of wood just like the original (not leather wrapped) and the blade has an awesome aged look to it.  The guard has some cosmetic imperfections, but this isn’t much of a problem when you consider the sword is meant to be old and beat up.   I took some aged bronze colored Rustoleum spray paint and sprayed it on some newspaper, then applied it to the hilt with a sponge brush to give the hilt a more rustic weathered look.

The scabbard was black when it arrived (“Curse of the Black Pearl” style) but I took some rubbing alcohol to it to remove some of the excess dye and got it to a more brown color (like “Dead Man’s Chest”).  One of the things me and others on the message boards have noticed is that the dye was applied very thick and is “breaking” off in places, meaning it was most likely an excess coat of dye applied to leather that had already been treated.  I may eventually have a different scabbard made by someone else, but this one will do fine for now.

(After the modifications)

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  The sword has a nice weight and feel to it, and is well balanced so it feels right in your hand.  The main concern I have is that even though it is has a carbon steel blade the pommel nut looks like it might be welded in place which means if the blade becomes lose it cannot be tightened.  I’ve raised this concern on the message boards and hope to have a response soon  as this makes me hesitant to use it for staged combat.  But overall I am very pleased with the sword and it makes for a nice addition to my ever evolving Jack Sparrow costume.

JacksChickenFoot

  Jack’s costume features many little points of interest (such as all the coins and beads in his hair), and he has several things dangling from his belts.  One of them is a chicken foot hanging from his Anna Maria buckle.  In voodoo culture chicken feet are used as talismans to ward off evil spirits, and in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean with skeleton pirates and fish people it makes sense that Jack would try to have all the added protection he can get.  After all, he was quite attached to the jar of dirt he received from Tia Dalma to keep him safe against Davy Jones.  But star Johnny Depp says that in his opinion the chicken foot could just as easily come from a chicken Jack ate somewhere along the way.  Whatever the explanation, the chicken foot is a fun little touch to the costume and could make for some interesting conversations.

  I recently acquired a chicken foot for my costume from Tyrannical Piratical Treasures on eBay. http://stores.ebay.com/tyrannicalpiraticaltreasures  They have some awesome Jack Sparrow items and I look forward to doing business with them again in the future.  The claw I received was exactly as described and photographed in the auction and it looks great.  It’s been dried and well preserved, then stained to give it the right look.

 (Chicken Foot Talisman, straight out of the package)

ChickenFootTalisman

  To make it more screen accurate I cut about an inch off of the leg and switched the cord out for a leather one.  Then all I had to do was tie it on to the Anna Maria buckle.  One thing I didn’t notice until I was modifying it is that my chicken foot is a left claw, whereas Jack’s is a right.  Like many other Jack wannabes I’m trying to make my costume as screen accurate as possible, but this is one of those places where I think inaccuracy actually works to give my costume its own personal touch.  It’s likely that no one will ever notice but me, and I consider it a subtle little nod to the fact that, unlike Jack, I’m actually left-handed.

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  The chicken’s foot is one of those little touches that isn’t crucial for a Jack Sparrow costume (after all, he didn’t have it in “Curse of the Black Pearl”), but I’m a huge fan of those little details that make costumes come to life.  When I played Van Helsing in “Dracula: the Musical?” I added all sorts of little bits and bobs to my costume and made up stories for each of them.  I think it adds to the character, brings them to life,  and suggests an existence outside of the play or movie they appear in.  It’s not important to the plot, but its fun to sit and think “why does he have that?”.

  The other fun thing about these smaller items is that it gives you something to add to your costume while you’re saving up the money for the bigger items.  It keeps the hobby alive, gives you something to hunt for, and that is a huge part of what makes costuming so much fun.  To some the chicken foot might be an icky little item, but to me it is another added piece of treasure in my quest to become Captain Jack Sparrow.

Jack’s Emerald Skull Ring

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     When “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” came out in 2003 there were two things of Jack’s that I wanted most; his leather tricorn hat and his emerald skull ring.  Jack only wears the one ring in the film (he wears three more rings in the sequels), and it is a ring that actually belongs to Johnny Depp himself.

  Johnny had purchased the ring at an antique store back in the late 1980’s and wore it for his first Rolling Stone magazine cover shoot.  The silver ring features four skulls and a green stone that Johnny admits is not a stone of value.  When filming begin on “Curse of the Black Pearl” Johnny decided the ring would be perfect for Captain Jack and wore it for the movie.

(Johnny Depp on the cover of Rolling Stone, 1991)

     I’ve always had a fascination with rings and have owned many different ones over the years.  Most of them have been fairly plain rings that I’ve picked up on vacations and at various festivals.  I’ve lost some, given some away, and had a few stolen.  The ring I’ve been wearing the longest is my high school class ring which I wear on the ring finger of my left hand.  Next to it on my middle finger I wear a plain silver band.  In 2010 I played Dr. Van Helsing in a production of “Dracula: The Musical?” (yes, with a question mark: it’s a comedy.) and in coming up with the look of the character I decided it would be cool if he had a unique ring.  I found a sterling silver skull ring at Spencer’s gifts that had a cool Gothic look to it and that became Van Helsing’s ring.

(My class ring and Van Helsing ring)

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In 2006 with the release of “Dead Man’s Chest” it looked like I might finally get the chance to sport Jack’s ring.  Master Replicas started making copies of all of Jack’s rings as well as limited editions of his sword, pistol, and compass.  I had a couple of MR’s Star Wars lightsabers that were of excellent quality so I jumped at the chance to order their Jack Sparrow skull ring.  When it arrived I must say I was far from impressed.  For starters the ring only fit my pinkie (Jack wears his on his index finger) and the stone looked ridiculous.  It was obviously plastic and way too tall.  This wasn’t a quality replicas but a toy, and for $15 I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  The ring came on a leather cord to be worn as a necklace so I gave it to my kid sister who later gave it to one of her friends.  It seemed my one chance to own Jack’s ring had been a bust.

(Master Replica’s skull ring)

  Then, in 2008, I made a discovery while surfing eBay that gave me hope once again.  Apparently Disneyland had started selling replicas of Jack’s rings in their theme parks and several people were buying them and offering them on eBay.  These rings were designed by a company called Skinny Dog (who would go on to make rings for “On Stranger Tides”) and actually offered in different sizes.  As soon as I found a size 12 I jumped on it.  The design wasn’t perfect, the skulls were a bit long and the ring was a bit too chrome looking, but the stone looked much better and it actually fit my index finger.  Since it came from a shop near the ride the bottom of the band had Pirates of the Caribbean written on it.  I was content with it until I made a new discovery a few months later.

(The Disneyland skull ring) 

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  A company called The Noble Collection, probably best known for their Harry Potter replicas, acquired a license from Disney to produce Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise.  They offered versions of Jack’s rings that were actually made of sterling silver, and the design of their skull ring, while still not completely accurate, looked better than the ring I had.  Being sterling silver meant that it didn’t have that chrome look of the Disneyland ring, so I saved up my doubloons, gave the Disneyland ring to a girl I was doing a play with, and ordered my 3rd Jack Sparrow skull ring.  This one I was incredibly happy with and wore it every day for over a year.  Unfortunately I lost it at my 10 year high school reunion.

(The Noble Collection skull ring)

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  Other events in my life soon took center stage and replacing the ring didn’t seem all that important.  But after a year and a half without it I decided in April 2011 that the time had come to buy a new one.  I didn’t really have the money for another Noble Collection ring, but I found a Disneyland ring fairly cheap on eBay so I placed my bid and figured it would do.  Once it arrived I quickly remembered why I had replaced it the first time around.  I wore it for about a month, and as soon as I had the money I bought a new Noble Collection ring and sold the Disneyland ring on eBay.

  At last, I had the ring I had lost a couple of years earlier and my hand felt complete again.  Soon after, the Noble Collection’s license with Disney expired and the rings were no longer available so I was happy I ordered when I did.  If I had waited another month or two they would have all been gone.

  Out of habit I still  occasionally searched for “Jack Sparrow Ring” on eBay just to see what was out there.  After all, I figured I might someday put a Jack Sparrow costume together and need Jack’s other rings.  Mostly it was just tons of the cheap Master Replicas rings that people had bought in bulk when MR went out of business and the occasional Disneyland ring.  But one day in November 2011 my search turned up something I wouldn’t have dreamed in a million years I would ever find: the Holy Grail of Jack Sparrow rings!

  A guy who had been making replicas of Jack’s gear for years had stumbled across a ring at the Pasadena Rose Bowl flea market.  It looked exactly like Johnny’s original ring, only it had a CZ stone instead of an emerald green stone.  There had been many replicas of Jack’s ring made over the years since “Dead Man’s Chest” (hell, I’d owned 5 of them already), and even Richard himself, the owner of Acme Brand replicas who found this particular ring had made his own version of the skull ring in the past.  But this particular ring was far more accurate than any of the replicas out there, and the fact that it bore the wrong kind of stone to be a knock off of Jack’s was a tell tale sign.  This ring had been made from the same original mold as the ring Johnny bought back in the late 1980’s.  Richard bought the ring and had his jeweler make a mold from it, and from their they cast reproductions and crowned them with emerald green glass stones.  He then offered them up on his eBay store, and that is where I stumbled upon it. http://myworld.ebay.com/*acme*brand/?_trksid=p4340.l2559

  The emerald stone is not exactly like the one in Johnny’s ring, but there isn’t a closer replica anywhere out there.  At first I was going to keep my Noble Collection ring too, but Acme’s ring was so perfect that it was easy to let the other go, and I put it up on eBay and made my money back.  My Acme ring is one of my most prized possessions and I wear it every day.  It only took 5 years and 6 rings, but I finally have the perfect Jack Sparrow ring.

(My Acme Brand Jack Sparrow emerald skull ring)

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     Eventually I will own replicas of Jack’s other rings to go with my costume (I recently bought a Master Replicas version of the Spanish button ring that I covered in my previous post), but I doubt any of them will be as cool as this one.  Along with the hat it is one of the two items I’ve wanted since all the way back when “Curse of the Black Pearl” first came out, and if all goes well I’ll have an Acme Brand Jack Sparrow hat before the end of the year.  Sure, I already had a bandana, but for me this ring is where my Jack Sparrow costuming adventure really began.

 (The real deal)

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And the adventure continues…..

Two Buckles and a Ring: My First Jack Sparrow Items of 2012

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As 2012 got started I made a goal to buy one item each month for my Jack Sparrow costume.  I knew I would have to start with the less expensive stuff because money was pretty tight.  In fact, it was tight enough that February was well underway before I was even able to purchase my first item: the Anna Maria belt buckle.

The Anna Maria buckle is so named because it was originally worn by the character of Anna Maria in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”.

(Sadly this is the best photo I could find)

 

The story goes that when it came time to make “Dead Man’s Chest” Johnny Depp liked the buckle so much he opted to wear two belts as Captain Jack Sparrow, the Anna Maria buckle being worn on the second belt.  I got my buckle from Captain Venno, a fellow member over at www.keeptothecode.com, who found one of the original suppliers and bought several buckles in bulk to sell to the rest of us Jack Sparrow wannabes.  I distressed it a bit with some sandpaper, a wire brush, and a smidgen of acrylic paint.

(My Anna Maria buckle)

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The next piece I acquired was Jack’s other buckle, the sun buckle.  It gets its name from the circular shapes featured in its design.  Jack’s sun buckle (sometimes called the flower buckle) had a slightly different pattern when he wore just the one belt in “Curse of the Black Pearl”, but looked the same throughout the subsequent films.  As I’m going for the “Dead Man’s Chest”/”At World’s End” look I went with the second version.  This buckle came from Simon Newton at www.brethrencourt.net (you can check out his website here: www.simonnewton.co.uk) who was a photo double for Johnny Depp in “On Stranger Tides” and had these buckles made based on the one he wore in the movie.  I’ll be having belts made for these buckles very soon.

(My sun buckle)

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In “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” Jack wears three rings on his left hand that weren’t worn in “Curse of the Black Pearl”.  Master Replicas made copies of these rings, as well as Jack’s skull ring, and sold them for about $15 a piece when they first came out.  Master Replicas has since gone out of business, but you can still find these rings on Amazon and eBay.  In 2006 I bought one of the skull rings and was not happy with it at all (more on that in my next post) so I figured the other rings would also be a waste of money.  But it turns out that Master Replicas actually did a decent job of replicating one of the other rings: Jack’s button ring.

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The fictional tale of how Jack acquired this ring is that he shagged a Spanish widow and then stole it on his way out the door.  I have looked at numerous options for Jack’s rings over the years (they are some of my favorite pieces of his costume) and the Master Replicas version of the button ring seems to be the closest one.  It’s obviously not made of any precious metal (this is the kind of ring that can turn your finger green), but for a costume piece I’ll likely only wear when dressing up as Jack it will do just fine.  All the better when you consider I got it for less than $8 on Amazon, and it just happens to be the perfect size!

(My button ring)

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So there you have it, my first three items for 2012.  I already had Jack’s skull ring and bandana, and my newest edition to the costume should be on its way in the next few days.  Then I just need to order one more item before the end of May and I will be caught up with 5 items for the first 5 months of 2012.  Sure, it’s all been little things, but it’s a start!

(“I can go like this.”)