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Jack’s Stolen Ring

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My quest to acquire the perfect stolen ring wasn’t as long and crazy as my quest for the perfect skull ring, but I’m also not entirely sure it’s over just yet.   Jack’s stolen ring is probably my second favorite of his rings after the skull ring, and one that I’d feel comfortable wearing on a regular basis (the dragon ring ranks pretty high up there, too).  Like all of the pieces for my costume, I wanted to find the stolen ring that was “just right” rather than go with a stand-in ring until something better came along.  After looking at lots of photos I decided the Skinny Dog ring once sold at the Disney theme parks was the way to go, and I patiently waited for one in the right size to turn up on eBay.  Eventually one did just that, and since the price was right I went ahead and made the purchase.

(Disneyland Stolen Ring)

StolenRing

This was quite a nice ring, good color and a decent stone, but one thing I noticed right away when it arrived was that it was a bit on the small side.  Not in terms of my finger size, but in the overall shape of the ring.  It was a ring that would look fine with the costume, but not one I’d really want to wear around just for the hell of it.  Still, I was satisfied that I’d found the best ring available and tucked it away with my Master Replicas button ring to be worn when I was in full Captain Jack get up.

As so often seems to be the case with these things the story didn’t end there.  Just a couple months after acquiring the Disneyland ring a new stolen ring turned up on eBay that seemed to blow the other right out of the water.  ACME Brand, famous for their Jack Sparrow hats, baldrics, and buckles (as well as the skull ring I currently own) released a new version of the stolen ring.  Now here was a fine ring indeed, made of solid brass and sporting the proper “huge” look I was after.  So up on eBay my Disneyland ring went, and I was soon the proud honor of the ACME Brand stolen ring!

(ACME Brand Stolen Ring)

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The stone on the ACME ring is made of resin and has a much darker look than the bright purple rhinestone look of the Disneyland ring.  It almost looks black in the above picture, but don’t let the photo fool you.  The stone has a nice purple tint with reds and blues that really pop in the right light.  It seemed I had finally stumbled across the best stolen ring on the market.

In all reality I likely did stumbled across the best stolen ring on the market.  Unfortunately it, too, is not without its shortcomings.  The biggest downside to the ring is its brass construction.  Sure, that makes it big and sturdy, but on the down side brass is a metal that will quickly turn dull and leave your finger green.  This may not be a big deal if you only use the ring when dressing up as Jack Sparrow, but it doesn’t make for a ring you’d want to wear all the time just for the heck of it.  The high polish brass does give the ring the right “gold” look out of the box, but wear it for a few hours and the oils in your skin turn it a dull gun metal gray color.  Interestingly ACME even acknowledges this in their eBay listing by saying “Now made of solid Brass and buffed to a brilliant finish which will patina nicely after you wear it out several times.”  The problem with this is of course that real gold doesn’t tarnish, and Jack’s ring is meant to be made of gold.  Too be fair a quick rinse in some dish soap will bring the brass back to a shiny finish again, but don’t expect it to last long if you plan on wearing the ring for more than a few moments at a time.  Both the photo above and the photo below were taken after I’d worn the ring a couple of times and washed it in the kitchen sink.  I had worn it one day while working on my haunted house back in October, and after sweating with it on all day it had practically turned black.  When I washed it before taking the photos I used a scrubbing pad on it, and that left some scratches on the surface of the brass that can be seen below.

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So while ACME has in fact produced the best stolen ring out there in terms of look and size (although the stone could be a bid more elongated, but that’s a minor point), it isn’t one that works well as a piece of daily jewelry.  To be fair the oils in everyone’s skin are not all the same, some people are more acidic than others and some more alkali, so there are people out there who might wear the ring and never have a problem at all.  Unfortunately I’m not one of them, and the ring tarnished pretty rapidly on me every time I put it on.  Still, I wasn’t ready to write this ring off as a loss quite yet, and a possible solution seemed to be just around the corner.

The first thing I attempted to slow the tarnishing process down was to apply a thin layer of clear nail polish to the ring.  This is a trick I’ve often heard to use with costume jewelry to keep it from turning your skin green.  While it did work to some degree the ring would still patina to a gun metal gray color if I wore it for any real length of time.

But then one day a friend of mine posted a message on a local swap & barter page on Facebook that seemed to be the perfect solution.  They had started doing gold plating, and could gold plate just about any metal surface!  They even posted a photo of a lever-action Winchester-style rifle of which they had gold plated the barrel!  I quickly got in contact with him and told him about my ring to see if he could help me out.

About a week later I had the ring back, now with a 24 karat gold plated finish, and it looked better than ever!

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There was one minor side effect after having the ring gold plated, though.  The resin stone had lost its luster and now had a rather dull finish that made it look less like a stone and more like the hard plastic that it really is.  But not to worry.  My friend had shown the ring to a jeweler friend of his and the jeweler promised he could polish the stone right up for me for a couple bucks.  So first chance I got I took the ring to the jeweler and left it for him to polish.

The jeweler was a jolly fellow, and I couldn’t wait to see the ring once he was finished.  He said polishing it up would be easy enough, and I even talked to him about possibly replacing the stone in my emerald skull ring.  (The ACME skull ring comes with a glass stone which looks pretty good, but I had accidentally nicked it up a bit while building the haunted house).  Unfortunately, polishing the stone on my ring was so easy in fact that it didn’t seem to be much of a priority for the jeweler.  I’d stop in every few days to see if he’d gotten around to it, and finally after about a month I finally had it back.  Luckily it only cost me $5, and too be honest I liked the guy well enough that I didn’t really mind the wait.  After all, I wasn’t in any kind of real hurry.  In the end I still look forward to doing future business with him and will likely have the stone in my emerald skull ring switched out sometime in the near future.

So now I had my stolen ring back, and with a nice shiny polished stone and a proper golden look!

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I’d like to say the story ends there, but I’d be lying.  Naturally I wanted to sport my new shiny ring and show it off, so I wore it a few times.  As it turns out, the gold plating didn’t completely eradicate the problem of tarnishing, and the ring still turned a dull color and turned my finger green.  So to be completely honest I’m now at a bit of a loss.  Is the gold plating rubbing off, or is the patina from the brass just coming through the gold plating to the surface?

 photo ACMEStolenRing-Tarnished_zps08124950.jpg

The great irony in all this is that when it comes to Jack Sparrow’s costume (as with most period style costumes) the way to get the desired look of the character isn’t to have your costume look pristine and new but rather to beat the hell out of it, weather and age it until it looks old and lived in.  And yet the stolen ring is one of the few items I feel should look shiny and new because it is supposed to be made of gold with an amethyst stone; both things that shouldn’t really tarnish or age.

So where do I go from here?  The way I see it I really have two options:

Option #1: My friend who gold plated the ring told me to bring it back and he would redo it if for some reason it didn’t take or if the tarnish came back.  Also, the jeweler who polished the stone told me he had plenty of amethyst on hand and that he could easily make a real amethyst cabochon to set in the ring.  Obviously a real stone would look better than the resin stone, but would the gold plating take better the second time around?  I’ve read that when gold plating on brass you should have a plate of nickel first as a barrier, so that may be the solution, but at what point will I have spent far more on this ring than it’s worth?

Option #2:  In speaking with the jeweler he seems like he would be down for making me some cool rings for my Captain McAnen character, so I’d be willing to bet he’d be up for making me a new stolen ring from scratch.  I’d still go for gold plating, as a solid gold ring would cost a small fortune, but if he made the ring from scratch he could start with a metal that the gold plating would easily adhere to.  And as mentioned above he has already said that making me a cabochon stone out of real amethyst would be easy enough.  A great plus to this option would be that I could show him photos of the screen used rings and have him match the size as closely as possible, elongating the top of the ring and using a longer oval stone.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking this will likely be my best course of action, so I will probably go to the jewelry store and talk to him about price very soon.  Who knows, if it comes out well enough it may even be something other Jack’s would be interested in ordering if he’d be down for making more.

At this point I think I should state that while I have been critical of the ACME stolen ring throughout this blog post I am in no way displeased with ACME Brand at all.  They offer some truly amazing products that I hope to order in the very near future, and for the money their stolen ring is easily the best one out there at the moment.  If I didn’t think so I wouldn’t have ordered it in the first place.  That said, I do think there is some room for improvement, and it’s possible that a better version might be just around the corner.  And if a better version does come along it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it were ACME Brand who makes it!  I’ll happily be one of the first ones to buy it if they do.       

(Wrist Wrap – Unweathered)

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I’ve already discussed my wrist wrap from Yordreem Creations in a previous post, but I wanted to take a quick moment to give an update on it here.  Much like the rings it is an item I’ve happily worn for the past several months on a daily basis, and it has weathered quite nicely.  One thing I did do was soak it in some brown Rit dye to tone down the yellow and pink colors of the yarn.

(Wrist Wrap – Weathered)

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The Yordreem wrist wrap is definitely one of those “close enough” items, and it looks better than others I’ve seen on eBay.  But that said I may have found an even better one, and I hope to order it very soon.  I was steered in the right direction by a fellow Jack Sparrow on Facebook, but more on that in a future post.

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I have one other quick item to share with you that isn’t necessarily a part of Jack Sparrow’s garb, but it is never-the-less another iconic prop from the Pirates of the Caribbean films: Davy Jones Key.

Much like the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the key of Davy Jones plays a crucial part in the plot to 2006’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”  Everyone in the movie wants it because they need it to open the chest which contains the still beating heart of Davy Jones.  Several scenes in the film revolve around the key and it’s location (one of my personal favorites being  the scene in which Will Turner sneaks into the cabin of a sleeping Davy Jones and has to steal the key away from one of Jones’ face tentacles!).

The key was made by the now defunct Master Replicas, who also produced replicas of the Aztec gold coins from “Curse of the Black Pearl,” and that wonderful chest which the key itself unlocks.  The chests now sell on eBay for upwards of $400-$500, but who knows, maybe someday I’ll even get my hands on one of them.

(Master Replicas Davy Jones Key)

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As always, my Jack Sparrow costuming adventures are still far from over, so there are plenty more blog posts on the way.  I’m also venturing off into a couple of other fun costuming projects that I may discuss here, or I may even start a separate blog where I showcase them.  Either way there are definitely some fun new things coming up over the next few months.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I acquired a brand new laptop computer, and now that I’ve finally gotten the hang of Windows 8 I’ve dipped in and purchased the video editing software I’ve been wanting for months.  That means videos for the blog are finally just over the horizon!  I’ll be shooting them on my smart phone for now (I mean, why not?  it shoots 1080 video!), but a new video camera is something I hope to obtain in the near future as well.  There’s gonna be a bit of a learning curve for the editing software because it’s about 8 generations newer and better than my previous software ( I had Vegas Movie Studio 4.0 and the new software is Movie Studio 12!), but I have the utmost faith that I will figure it all out just as soon as I have the time.

Speaking of which, free time is something I’m going to have less of now, but in exchange I’m going to have more money because I’ve recently reentered the world of the working!  Yep, I gave in and got a “regular” job again, which is actually pretty big news, but I’m super excited about it and am looking forward to adding to my Jack Sparrow costume at a much faster rate than before.  The new job is working at the front desk of a hotel, but it’s awesome because I’m working with friends I’ve known for years and I’m only working there 4 days a week, which leaves me plenty of time to continue selling stuff on eBay and doing the other odd jobs I was doing before.  Things are really coming back together for me this year and continuing to look up, so I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Having the new job will afford me the ability to get back on track with things I’ve had to put on hold, and of course will make assembling my costume all the more easy.

I also recently joined a 24-hour gym which is going to make getting back in shape much easier (if I can just stop eating so many cheeseburgers), so I’ll likely be posting some videos and blogs about my progress with that as well.

All in all it looks like 2013 might just be the year I finally make my dreams of becoming Jack Sparrow a reality, and in perfect time, too, as we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the movie that started it all: “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

It’s a pirate’s life for me!

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Jack’s Emerald Skull Ring

JackSparrowSkullRing

     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) 

JackSparrowRing1

  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)

NCSkullRing

  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)

JacksSkullRing

And the adventure continues…..


The Adventure Begins Here!

     In 2003 “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” was launched into cinemas, and almost instantly Captain Jack Sparrow became one of the most beloved characters in movie history.  Like many others I became completely obsessed with Captain Jack and started mimicking his voice, his gestures, and that crazy half-drunken swagger.  Actor Johnny Depp describes Captain Jack as a weird blend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew, and says the captain is probably the most fun character he’s ever played.  It’s easy to see why.

  I saw “Curse of the Black Pearl” 4 or 5 times in the cinema, and when the DVD came out I drove to Walmart at midnight to pick up one of the first copies so that I could get a limited edition screen used coin.  No, it wasn’t one of the pieces of Aztec gold, but a plastic gold doubloon used as set dressing in the treasure cave featured in the movie.  But what I really wanted was Captain Jack’s outfit.  Just a couple of years earlier I had put together a completely authentic Indiana Jones costume, but I had a lot of help from http://indygear.com/.  The guys at the website had been researching Indy’s costume for years  and knew where the various pieces came from.  Unlike Indy’s gear, Jack Sparrow’s costume was not assembled from various suppliers.  It had been designed and created by costumer Penny Rose, and back in 2003 there weren’t yet many fans making and selling high quality replicas of Jack’s garb.  At one point I bought a generic pirate sword, a dreadlock wig, a phony mustache and beard, some red fabric that I made a bandana out of, and a black eyeliner pencil just for playing around, but I knew I’d never be able to make an authentic Jack Sparrow costume the way I had done with Indiana Jones.  Of course, that was before “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” hit theatres in 2006, and after that everything changed.

(In full costume as Indiana Jones back in 2001)

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     With the release of “Dead Man’s Chest” came a slew of Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise including toys, games, and costumes.  A company called Master Replicas that had previously made replicas of the lightsabers from Star Wars started producing replicas of Jack’s sword, pistol, compass, and rings.  Costume enthusiasts started making reproductions of his hat, clothes, belts, and boots and selling them online on sites like eBay.  Captain Jack mania exploded full force and it looked like I might be able to put together an authentic Jack Sparrow costume after all.  There was just one major obstacle standing in my way: money.  I had fallen on rough times financially the year before and was slowly having to let go of a lot of things.  The people offering Jack Sparrow costume pieces for sale weren’t companies but rather individuals making custom replicas, so everything was very expensive.  Once again shelving any hope I had of ever owning a complete, athentic version of Captain Jack’s wardrobe I came up with a new idea; to assemble a pirate costume for a character of my own.

  I started scouring the internet looking for any and every website store I could find that offered things to make an authentic pirate costume.  Not a fan of cheap Halloween costume garb that falls apart after one use, I was looking for clothes made out of good, sturdy, period appropriate materials.  I drew some sketches of how the character might look and played with different color schemes for the wardrobe.  But to really know what my character should look like I had to know who he was, where he came from, and what his story might be.  My background is in film-making and theatre, so I couldn’t help but approach this new idea with the mindset of an actor, a writer, and a director.  I started doing tons of research on pirates, the Golden Age of Piracy, ships of the era, weapons, and everything else I could think of.  Eventually I settled on a name for the character and wrote a short story, and Captain McAnen was born.

(Design sketch of Captain McAnen)

CaptainMcAnenDesignSketch

     After writing the short story I started dreaming up ideas for other adventures the character could go on.  One of my best friends at the time got in on the fun and created a character as well, and pretty soon we had all sorts of epic tales dreamed up for our pirate characters.  Originally I thought I would just continue writing a series of short stories, we even talked about doing it as a comic book at one point, but by September of 2007 it was clear that what I had in mind was on such a grand scale that there was really only one way to do it justice; it needed to be a novel.  Not only that, but three novels!  The story was so big, the only way to really tell it would be as a trilogy.  When I came to the realization that what I was creating was a trilogy and I knew what the story lines for Books 2 and 3 would be, it became necessary to go back and re-engineer the plot for Book 1.  Over the next couple of years I continued to do tons of research as I searched for a story idea I was happy with for Book 1.  Ideas came and went, but like a giant jigsaw puzzle the pieces didn’t always fit.  I would often get busy with other projects and go long periods of time without working on the book at all, but it was always in the back of my mind.  Since 2007 I’ve appeared in 3 plays, directed a production of “Driving Miss Daisy”, and designed and produced 2 haunted houses from scratch.  I’ve also gone through a couple of serious relationships and a number of life changing events.  But finally, one night in late 2011 I had the epiphany I’d been waiting for, and all the problems I’d been having with the plot for Book 1 seemed to solve themselves.  Now it is simply a matter of forcing myself to sit down and actually finish writing the novel.

  But what about the costume?  Like the book, it often took a backseat to other things, but unlike the book it also cost money, and that hasn’t been something I’ve had an abundance of the past few years.  Nevertheless, in 2008 I managed to put together a decent first version of the costume for the Captain McAnen character just in time for Halloween and the Texas Renaissance Festival.

(In costume at the 2008 Texas Renaissance Festival)

There was still a lot to be done with the costume at that point, things to be added and things to change, but overall it was a good first attempt at the look I was going for.  The waistcoat was a part of my then girlfriend’s costume that we had found online and it didn’t really fit me (her’s was actually a pretty well made costume considering it was an out-of-the-bag Halloween pirate costume).  The shirt would later be turned pink when my teenage sister borrowed it for a school project and washed it with a red bandana.  To salvage it I used Ritt Dye and dyed it black, but it later ripped and I never got it fixed.  By 2010 I was dating a different girl and her mother offered to fix it, but it was apparently misplaced and now we have no idea where it is.

In late 2010 I decided it was time to revisit the costume and try to finish it.  My girlfriend at the time bought me a new shirt for Christmas and I started up again.  This time the shirt was black (the white ones in that style were sold out), and I added a purple bandana to my gear.  Everything else was the same as before, but I knew I would be making plenty of changes and additions.  I was perfectly happy with my hat, sash, and breeches, but the belts were just a regular black belt I wear all the time and a rope belt that came with a pair of shorts.  The boots were okay, but were basically just a decent pair of costume boots made out of pig leather.  The soles were rubber and just glued on, and I actually had to mend them with super glue at one point when the heel tried to come off.

(The second version of the costume, April 2011)

Over the next few months I started making some extra money again and kicked my costuming adventure into high gear.  I was able to get my hands on a new white shirt, added a waistcoat, and had a belt and baldric made (a baldric is the belt worn over the shoulder that holds a sword).  The biggest addition was a pair of custom boots from http://www.caboots.com/.  These are the same guys that made Johnny Depp’s boots for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Mine are based on Will Turner’s boots from “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End”, only mine are brown instead of black.  I also added a couple of replica pistols and a new sword.  It had taken almost 5 years, but Captain McAnen’s costume was now essentially complete.  There’s a ring I would like to get and I still want to have a frock coat made, but this is damn close to the finished look I had in mind when I drew that original pencil sketch back in 2006.

(My complete Captain McAnen costume, November 2011)

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The bad thing about this hobby is it can get a bit addictive.  As you acquire certain pieces you find changes you want to make, and new looks you want to explore.  For example, while I did eventually find a white shirt I also now had a really cool black one.  I ordered the black waistcoat in the photo above from a second vendor after I didn’t get a reply back from the first one I picked out, only to have the original vendor contact me a couple of months later.  When they did finally get in touch with me I went ahead and ordered a brown waistcoat from them because I liked their design so much.  I also had a green bandana that I purchased back when I bought the purple one.  This basically created a completely different version of the costume for me, and over time I will probably add other pieces to mix-and-match with.  This September will also mark the 5th anniversary of my decision to make the story of Captain McAnen into a novel, so my plan is to have a completed first draft by then, or at least one that is damn close to finished.

(My alternate-look costume for Captain McAnen, October 2011)

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So what about Jack Sparrow?  After all, the title of this blog is “Becoming Jack Sparrow”, not “Becoming Captain McAnen”.  Well boys and girls, you will all remember this as the day that my Jack Sparrow costuming adventure begins!  Well, sort of anyway, at least for the blog.  You see, my costuming adventure has already begun.  Back in 2008 when I started making my Captain McAnen outfit I purchased a Jack Sparrow bandana (yep, the same red bandana that turned my original white shirt pink), and last year I got my hands on an incredibly authentic replica of Jack’s emerald skull ring (plenty about that in the next blog).  Over the past couple of years even more vendors have started making Jack Sparrow wears and it is finally possible to put together an incredibly accurate costume.  The release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” last year certainly didn’t hurt matters either.  There’s also a new website, http://jacksparrowcostuming.wikispaces.com/, designed to help us Jack Sparrow wannabes find the best gear.  It reminds me a lot of the way indygear.com made my Indiana Jones costume so easy to find back in 2001.  Then there are the message boards at http://www.keeptothecode.com/ and http://www.brethrencourt.net/ that have been very helpful.  I’ve even chatted with a couple of people that worked on the production of “On Stranger Tides” on them!

When 2012 rolled around I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and set out to do what I’ve wanted since “Curse of the Black Pearl” came out all the way back in 2003: put together an authentic Jack Sparrow costume.  If all goes well I might just have the whole thing finished in time for the 10 year anniversary of “Curse of the Black Pearl” next year.  To make this goal more feasible I will attempt to purchase one new item each month rather than trying to buy it all at once.  For budget reasons this needs to be a marathon, not a sprint.  Since it is now May I’ve already got my hands on a few great items and I will discuss them in upcoming blogs.  Using my Captain McAnen costume as a base,  I plan to slowly morph it into a complete Captain Jack Sparrow outfit; that’s what this blog is all about!  So set sail with me, mateys, and join in on the fun as I become Captain Jack Sparrow!!!

Yo ho yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!

(My favorite photo for costume reference)