How to make an easy deep sea diver costume

What might there be at the bottom of the sea? Oceans galore for you to explore; A shipwreck’s sunken treasure, a fearsome colossal squid, a stealthy submarine or a deep sea diver, out to explore the ocean’s floor.

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Turning around – 10 – 11 April

Emergency medivac by helicopter, seen from the Lido Deck on the Balmoral

All seemed well as we sailed from Cobh on the 8th, although there were more than a few green gills around the vessel the next morning and suggestions from the Bridge that the weather was unlikely to improve until tonight were not greeted with joy.

Then an unexpected annoucement from the Captain – due to a medical emergency, the Balmoral would be turning back in the direction of Ireland to meet a rescue helicopted sent out to evacuate a passenger. There was a universal understanding that such things have to be accommodated, and as we watched the individual concerned winched to the helicopter by a very accomplished rescue team we could only wish the man the best.

Then back on track again with assurances that we’d still make the wrecksite in time for the anniversary.

There has been the odd muttering about the voyage being accident prone (late depature from Southampton and now this incident), but that’s all part of a crossing. Certainly the crew are managing everything with great aplomb and efficiency.

In the meantime, my days on board have been occupied with lectures, enjoying the food (last night’s Titanic dish was baked haddock with sharp sauce – very tasty) and talking to other Titanic researchers and enthusiasts. I finally had the opportunity to meet  Alan Hustak, the very courtly and interesting author of several works about the Canadians on board the Titanic.

It was a formal dinner tonight with the opportunity to wear 1912 costume. I picked something not stricly period detailed but more a gesture to the era with a gown done by a designer friend, Boudoir Queen, which used Victorian and Edwardian salvaged materials. Then after dinner there was more debate and discussion about various Titanic mysteries and controversies – always stimulating (so much so that it was well after 1.00 am before we all decanted ourselves off into our bunks.

I’m just debating taking a proper turn around the decks before lunch.

Formal dress evening - wearing a reworked Victorian/Edwardian gown with period appliques

Costume dramas: Fishes, foam and fabrics

It’s just over three weeks till April school holidays and I’m on the phone with a costume-maker discussing the merits of various types of foam and fabrics being used to make fins. Can foam be painted onto? Should the fabrics be sparkly or matte? Stuffed or wired? Blue fish or red fish?  Decisions, decisions! The costumes are being custom made for our Autumn Kids on Deck program Fish Fantastic. Inspired by a selection of works in the upcoming exhibition FISH in Australian Art, they will allow children participating in Kids on Deck to dress up and recreate these famous artworks as tableau vivante or living pictures.

fish costume sketch based on Outhwaite's Elves and Fairies

Back before the wireless, the talkies and tv, a live pose to recreate a famous historical moment or classic work of art was the height of popular entertainment. Often part of a royal court ceremony, a special religious service or a theatre production, tableau vivante recreated images in painstaking detail, the participants often painted head to toe as well as costumed to reflect the particular qualities of a painting. While we may not be going to so much detail this time around we will have four special costumes inspired by Deborah Halpern’s Neon Fish, Kenneth Macqueen’s The Beach Fisherman, Anne Zahalka’s The Cook, and Ida Rentoule Outhwaite’s illustrations from Elves and Fairies to spark some imaginative pretend play.

Fisherman costume sketch based on Macqueen's The Beach Fisherman

Bringing paintings and sculptures to life will be just one of the fun and fantastic activities in this program being designed and produced by some creative friends and volunteers. Aside from our museum design team who often create spectacular paper craft for our children’s activity space, there are many minds and hands that contribute to the making of a Kids Deck program. We also have our faithful and very talented volunteers Jon and Terri producing handmade lino-cut prints of fish scales for printing onto calico bags. Jon and Terri have made all sorts of wonderful custom made designs for us over the years- shark rubbing templates, plastic stencils for Batik inspired by Indonesian folktales, prints inspired by the travels of Sindbad the Sailor and a suite of beautiful wooden toys.

neon fish costume sketch based on Halpern's Neon Fish

But back to the question of foam and fins…..we’ve decided to experiment and hope for the best. And yes to sparkles! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.