New Reflective Phoenix Face Masks, Gauntlet Fingerless Gloves & Pins June 17, 2020 16:00

Lumecluster Reflective Face Mask

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New *reflective* phoenix face mask & gauntlet fingerless gloves are available in the Lumecluster Shop.

No matter what the activity, task, event, or weather is, you can always be prepared with some light armor. These designs are made of eco-friendly recycled fabric, contributes to a good cause, helps you protect those around you by masking up, and also make you look badass. Check them out here.

Lumecluster Phoenix Facemask and gloves

I also wanted to share some important changes at Lumecluster. I felt the need to remind people that my designs have always been built on the idea that we should ALL have the freedom to fight for our dreams. And I love creating art that can make you feel like knights or heroes of change.


Because that’s what heroes do, isn’t it? Make change & uplift others to make the world a better place for all people. Not just for some. But the reality is that not all of us have the equal freedoms, resources or privileges to do so.

“We shouldn’t have to have the exact same identities to be concerned about others.” -Raquel Willis


From here on out, all existing and future Lumecluster designs will contribute to change and fighting for justice.

With each purchase, you can look badass & also know you are contributing to the ongoing fight for liberation for all by uplifting our most marginalized communities, through our support of the Transgender Law Center. I will be adding more organizations in the future as the design collections grow.

“The Trans Agenda centers the lives and voices of trans people of color, who have too often had to advance our collective liberation from the margins. Trans justice is migrant justice, disability justice, racial justice, environmental justice, reproductive justice, economic justice, and gender justice. An agenda for trans liberation is a blueprint for liberation for all.” –Transgender Law Center

Reflective pattern was created by Fiona Ng Designs and is inspired by my Modular Phoenix Gauntlet & Diadem designs. Face mask & gloves are in collaboration with Wing & Weft Gloves, the last glove factory in New York City’s Garment Center. They’ve produced gloves for half a century  and made gloves for First Ladies and celebrities like Lady Gaga and Prince. I love them and their mission to preserve & nurture craftsmanship in NYC!

Lumecluster Phoenix Facemask and gloves
[LEFT} Phoenix face mask and gauntlet fingerless gloves. [RIGHT] Modular Phoenix Gauntlet and Diadem used as inspiration for the armor apparel items.

And in case you missed it:

<3 Melissa

P.S. missed the past Phoenix Gauntlet (Tiers 1-3) pre-orders. Will it ever happen again?

Short answer is "maybe." We underestimated the intensive labor the last time we did pre-orders, and it was emotionally and physically brutal for a two person team. Even if we were to hire extra help, we were seriously undercharging for the amount of work that was required and will need to make necessary adjustments to stay functional. I'll do another update about this in the future when I gather myself, but there are a lot of changes happening right now.

Overall, we care about keeping everything Lumecluster-made right here in New York and we thank you for your understanding and patience as we make the important changes that will help us make more beautiful armor while retaining our health and sanity :/

Modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype closeup, stress testing & DesignerCon sneak peek! October 28, 2019 15:00

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness

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What’s covered in this blog post:

  • Arm harness demonstration video with Adam Savage on Tested at NYCC
  • Armor research and crediting your sources
  • 2018 versus 2019 arm harness comparisons
  • Modular styling options (still a WIP)
  • 3D printing the prototype (and mishaps)
  • NYCC stress testing
  • What else is new? DesignerCon sneak peek! (November 22-24)
  • ICYMI: Oculus and Tested VR App featuring eight makers including me!

I know some of you may remember when I unveiled my first attempt at making an arm harness at NYCC 2018, but I couldn’t just stop there! So, this year, I went in with my first modular Phoenix arm harness prototype.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
The outfit was supposed to have a mini smoke machine too but NYCC didn’t allow it… My latest modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype with my Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough.

Lumecluster Dreamer Mask Breakthrough
You may or may not have noticed but the mask I’m wearing is a favorite mask design of mine called Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough. It’s also the mask you see on my Lumecluster social media profiles.

NYCC is also a good chance to stress test my early prototypes and to work out all the major issues. You learn a lot about your design’s durability when you put them through massive and tightly packed crowds that have no mercy haha…

While this year’s latest prototype still needs a lot of work, I’m proud to see my improvements. Last year, I was focused on trying to incorporate some of my favorite 15th and 16th century elements and just making it look good enough…but I didn’t get to put much thought into anything beyond how it looked since I did it last minute.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
Photos by Norman Chan of Tested. I am wearing my latest modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype with my Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough.

This year, I wanted to actually experiment with some modularity or see if I could add some fashionable interpretations to it like I did with my modular Phoenix Gauntlets. So, we did just that by showing a little demonstration at NYCC with Adam Savage on Tested!

I’m still reeling from the first silent pre-order (only email subscribers are notified) and it was thrilling to know so many people were just as interested as me in the possibilities for modular armor. Still hard at work on all those orders.

You’ll get to see a clearer style breakdown (it’s still a work-in-progress) later on in the article!

So, what makes this modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype different from last year? Let’s start with some thoughts on research and references first.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness

While I’m flattered to know so many people think I’m some kind of armor genius, I want to remind everyone that I use a TON of references and worked with educators who opened my eyes to the world of armor. I’ve learned so much and still have a very long way to go! I’m a big fan of crediting and sharing my research and inspirations, which I encourage others to do as well.

I also get countless emails and messages everyday asking about how I designed or assembled my armor. I always list my research and resources in my FAQ and the ones below will be added as well. I have to say this pretty often but I am not a DIY site and I am not a cosplayer. All my time and energy is spent designing and producing my own artwork for clients, but I do my best to share who I have learned from when it comes to armor design, especially when they can explain it better than me.

So, I’d like to start by talking about how amazing armorer Robert MacPherson is and specifically highlight his St. Florian project. Since probably before 2014, he has been documenting AND sharing every little detail behind a 15th century gothic armor reproduction on a massive thread on the Armour Archive. You really have to see this thread to understand this huge undertaking.

When I was getting serious about understanding armor in 2016, arms and armor educator Ian LaSpina (aka Knyght Errant) introduced me to this thread and it was thanks to this that I was even able to start wrapping my head around the inner workings of armor functionality. Ian LaSpina also continues to by one of my favorite people to turn to when learning about armor (and you’ll almost always see one of his videos in my armor posts). Check out the educational medieval armor playlist below:

If you do learn and study from these resources, PLEASE properly credit and thank these amazing fellows. They are both gems for painstakingly sharing their knowledge online!

Museums are always a great way to study armor. Even if you can’t visit them, you can see tons of high resolution photographs online or even see armor in 3D viewers!

Like last year, I drew heavily from my favorite parts in 15th and 16th century arm harnesses.

I also drew inspiration from images of extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour, which you can see in more detail on

Armor references
[LEFT TWO IMAGES] 1484 – Vienna, Austria, Kunsthistorisches Museum, A 62, armour for Archduke Sigismund von Tirol, by Lorenz Helmschmid, AugsburgFront image courtesy of Blaz Berlec, AAF ID, back image from Flickr gallery of Roel Renmans, roelipilami. [RIGHT TWO IMAGES] Philadelphia, USA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, composite armour, parts are from fortress of Chalcis on the island of Euboea, Greece, known as the “Chalcis Hoard” Images courtesy of Todd Hoogerland, AAF ID

I had to completely scrap last year’s design and start all over again to make it consistent with my modular Phoenix Gauntlets. New pauldrons, fluted detail, and multiple looks (of course).

After my first rough prototype in 2018, I was very unhappy with my articulation. Granted, it was a last minute thing, but the design needed a lot of changes.

As I mentioned in the Tested video, real armor offers more space to fit a gambeson and/or maille under the plate armor. But since I’m trying to make armor that is also fashionable with modern day clothing, I wanted to make it much more close fitting, comfortable (don’t want any pinching, right?), and still offer a lot of arm mobility.

Getting fluting detail that I was satisfied with was also more challenging than I thought. I wanted to create fluting that had my own flair but still make sure it made sense. The last thing I wanted was to look like I just took some pretty part I liked and butcher it without understanding its purpose or function…and I hope I achieved that to some degree. I’m still learning! XD I guess you could say my fantasy armor designs are kind of an ode to gothic armor, so it always makes me happy knowing that someone might look at it and go, “Hey, I can see the gothic inspiration in there!”

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
Closeup of the vambrace, couter (elbow defence), and rerebrace detailing and fluting. I used small rhinestone rivets on the couter

Just like my modular Phoenix Gauntlets, I wanted an arm harness design that could swing between feeling very fantasy and somewhat historical while offering the freedom to pair with different fashion styles.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
I took a picture next to a pair of gauntlets of Maximillian I South German (Augsburg), ca. 1490 at The Last Knight exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. OF COURSE I had to wear my modular Phoenix Gauntlet too! I scaled back on a lot of engraving and punchwork because I was concerned it could be too overwhelming and prevent people from being able to pair it with a wider range of fashion styles and costumes.

I still have to test it with a variety of outfit styles like I did with the Phoenix Gauntlet photoshoots…but one thing at a time, haha. For now, you can see various ways the Phoenix Arm Harness can be worn. Again, this is still a work-in-progress and may change in the next prototype!

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness

In the image above, you can see the various ways the full arm harness can be divided to create multiple looks. The Phoenix Diadem is also used on the pauldron and upper cannon (bicep defense) to add some fantasy embellishment.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness

You can remove even more of the arm harness for a more simplified look with just the pauldrons and spaulders. Above, you can also see Phoenix Gauntlets tiers 2 and 3 being worn. Tier 2 Phoenix Gauntlets offer a somewhat toned down look.

Unfortunately, when it came to finally 3D printing the arm harness prototypes, one of my 3D printers suddenly had to break down.

I didn’t leave myself much time either. Thankfully, Sean Charlesworth of Tested was able to help me stay on schedule and managed to 3D print half of the arm harness components on his Form 2 in durable resin.

And then I 3D printed the remaining pieces on my Taz 6 in PCTPE. Shortly after that, I had to do some repairs on my Taz 6 too…haha. I was really pushing my luck and kicked myself for not working on everything earlier.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
Raw 3D prints on the left and dyed 3D prints on the right.

I chose durable resin and PCTPE because it was close enough to the shore hardness of the material I might cast in IF I decide to make this available for pre-order in the future.

Once they were all printed and dyed, my sister (Fiona Ng aka Darthasterisk) and I spent a good amount of time sanding, filling, and sanding some more. After that, I primed it, airbrushed it gunmetal using Turbodork’s metallic colors and clear coated it with a highly abrasion resistant and flexible coating.

Then there was the stress testing at NYCC and mentally preparing myself for all the pushing, pulling, and shoving. So, how did everything hold up?

The image below is the version of the modular Phoenix Arm Harness that I wore on the first day of stress testing.

Bags snagged on my arm, people walked straight into me, and there was the endless shuffling/squeezing through the crowd. Fortunately, the arm harnesses held up really well and experienced no major scuffs or damage.

And I’m lucky everything was relatively unscathed because I also got to share my latest design explorations with Adam Savage in another video with Tested.

Looking back, it was nerve wracking because it was the first time my friend, Dellario Designs, and I actually tried out the demonstration together. She flew in from the west coast and we didn’t have any time to try it all out until the day of the interview.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
[LEFT] My outfit at the start of the Tested interview. [RIGHT] My outfit after I removed several armor elements and added them onto Megan Dellario’s (Dellario Designs / Breakers Cosplay) custom Alita-inspired jacket design.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets arm harness
[LEFT] Megan Dellario (Dellario Designs aka Breakers Cosplay) is wearing her custom made Alita-inspired jacket. [RIGHT] We alter her jacket but adding the pauldrons and spaulders from my arm harness. Click on the image to see more of her work.

Good thing it was pretty smooth sailing! And while it all worked out like how I imagined and I survived all the stress testing, I came up with a number of ways on how I could improve the modularity and design. Let’s just say I want to redo most of it again hahaha.

Time to go back to the drawing board! But with all the Phoenix Gauntlet pre-orders I’m still working on it’ll probably be a while so, until then…

What else is new? I’ll be at DesignerCon in Anaheim, California from November 22-24! Booth #2713

This will be my very first DesignerCon and my first time with a booth, which I’ll be sharing with artist Bryan Lie of IMCMPLX. It’s a huge honor for me especially since I’ve admired his work for years!

My sister, Fiona Ng (aka Darthasterisk), will also be taking on a larger role in helping me create new artwork and products, mostly in the world of handmade art toys / figurines since that’s her specialty. Check out her artwork and the sneak peek below! I’m so lucky to have a sister and a business partner like her in my life. She helps me keep Lumecluster together and she’s the reason I’m still sane.

Lumecluster DesignerCon
Sneak peek of some of the little creations I’ll be bringing to DesignerCon.

If you can’t make it to Designercon, don’t worry! I’ll be writing up a full blog post about my creations. Some designs will remain convention exclusives but many will also move into the Lumecluster shop (minus the DesignerCon special though). As always, newsletter subscribers are the first to know about new designs! Subscribe to the free newsletter here.

<3 Melissa

P.S. In case you missed it, Tested and Adam Savage partnered with Oculus to launch the Tested VR App.

It features the VR stories of eight creators including me! You get to see my little office space in VR and learn about my creative process. Check it out here!

<3 Melissa

The Guardian Photoshoot Series (continued) January 21, 2019 11:30

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

So in love with these shots from The Guardian photoshoot series with photographer Yiaz Yang.

Photography: Yiaz Yang
Muse: Jessica Dru (Jesdru) and Bryan Forrest
Dress: Michelle Hebert
Wings: Firefly Path
Sword/leather armor: Bryan Forrest
Sovereign Armor: Lumecluster
Location: The Forrest Manor
Creative partners: Hands to the Wheel and Creature Habits

See more photography on Yiaz Yang's website.

Or you can see more photos from my previous blog post here.

<3 Melissa

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

2018 Year in Review: On almost giving up, finding community & owning my path (+ a Phoenix Gauntlet update) December 30, 2018 10:00

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

What this blog post covers:

If you’re new here, catch up by checking out these important armor design announcements:


2018 has been a pretty wild ride. Here are some of my memorable moments:

But throughout 2018, I felt like I wanted to give up on Lumecluster. Sounds crazy, right?

Long time readers know that, even though I’m always able to get my work done, I also have some pretty severe anxiety and perfectionism. I’ve written a lot about my fears and self doubts and it’s also a message that is deeply tied to the meaning behind all of my artwork.

I thought tackling it in my masks and armor would help me feel braver and stronger (and sometimes I did find solace in my work). But in 2018, I felt more fragile than ever despite the empowering armor I was striving to create…because I was utterly burnt out.

Photography by Yiazyang — Model, costume, sword by Bryan Forrest — Location at The Forrest Manor — Creative partners Lilly B. Haven and Creature of Habit —– We all jokingly called this the “dirt prince” mainly because he was actually covered in a lot of dirt, haha. He was playing a worn and ragged warrior, which I guess fit a lot of how I felt throughout 2018.

Since 2014 (along with another company my sisters and I have been running since 2010), I have been working seven days a week without taking vacations. My “breaks” included meals and sleeping. I even deprived myself of fun activities because I thought I didn’t deserve them if I didn’t feel like I accomplished enough. And if I did take time off to do something else, it needed to be productive and useful in some way. I know…this is an unhealthy lifestyle that can really destroy creativity. So, why did I do it?

Because I felt guilty.

Guilty for creating “carefree” art when other people were doing “real work.”
Guilty for finding some joy in creating things that the people around me thought was “useless.”
Guilty for pursuing something I loved when other people “didn’t have that luxury.”

Yes, that’s what some of the people in my real life in New York were telling me. And yes, it hurts so much more than some nasty online comment because they are coming from people I personally knew.

The worst part was that I knew these assumptions about my work were bullshit. But because I lacked a community of creatives that understood me and the type of work I do, I became more susceptible to other people’s opinions about my work.

So, I pushed myself by becoming more of a workaholic than I already was in order to justify that my work was not a waste of time. In fact, it didn’t occur to me that I lacked a supportive community until Melita Curphy (aka Miss Monster) pointed it out.

She encouraged me to build a better support system before I really harmed my mental and physical health…and before I started hating the very work I loved. I heard her, but I guess I didn’t fully understand her meaning. I figured I could just rely on whatever support I could find online (looking back now, it really isn’t the same thing though).

So, in the middle of 2018, I was really plowing through my research and prototyping for the Modular Phoenix Gauntlets, which I had already been working on since 2016. I was happy with the progress but also felt incredibly empty. I struggled to see the point in my work and I was just carrying on just to complete it…but then what?

No amount of good work I had done in the past could help me see past my own flaws.

Clients and fans kindly praised my work and successes online and on social media, which made me feel like a fraud. The more I told myself, “I should be happy,” the more I also thought, “Maybe all of this is really a huge mistake.”

Being able to create in solitude can be a wonderful thing…but with my increasingly warped perception of myself, that creative solitude I once cherished was becoming a self-destructive loneliness. I truly was my own worst enemy and I knew something needed to change.

And then, one night in October, my friend Jackie Cole asked me to think about going to California to meet up with similarly creative people that I’ve either been working with or have been in touch with. And then another friend, Mark Dubeau, emphasized the importance of meeting people who “get” me.

I deeply valued the opinions from Melita, Jackie, and Mark because I knew they were so devoted to their work as well (and they were all in California). And hearing from all three of them felt like a sign, so I decided I’d take a trip to California. And yes, I told myself that it was for work to stave off the guilt, haha.

On a whim, I booked flights for Los Angeles and San Francisco at the end of October. Was I searching for a way to reconnect with my work again? Was it to find a community that I could relate to? I wasn’t even sure if I would find either.

My entire adult life, I have taken pride in my high level of discipline, ability to execute a project from beginning to end, and knack for predicting outcomes. Any choice I made had a clearly defined purpose, and I was never much for spontaneity.

But the idea of taking a trip to California felt like a huge question mark…and yet, it was a place where I felt like I could find some new questions and answers. I suppose I wanted to meet face-to-face with people who had a fiery passion for their ambitions in the hopes that it may rekindle my own. Needless to say, it was more than I could have ever anticipated.

It was surprisingly cathartic being in the company of so many people who could relate to my kind of work and vice versa. Some of the most fascinating moments was when we would geek out about design process / materials or exchange tips / stories on handling our business(es). Sometimes, it was even just enough to hear, “Hey, I get you,” and to feel like they really did.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
Photography by Yiazyang — Models Jessica Dru and Bryan Forrest — Gauntlet by lumecluster — Dress by Michelle Hebert — Location The Forrest Manor — Creative partners Lilly B. Haven and Creature of Habit —– When I started seeking out a community I could connect with and relate to, it felt both validating and liberating. It was like realizing I wasn’t so crazy after all… I finally felt like I could give myself permission to accept myself and reconnect with my work in a new way.

For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t feel crazy or wrong for doing what I do. They were rooting for me and I was rooting for them. The loneliness I didn’t even know was weighing down on me suddenly felt a little lighter and the stressful pain wrapped around my head and my chest loosened.

When I shared a little about this experience during a Tested podcast with Adam Savage and Mark Dubeau, they said, “welcome to the family,” and I smiled so hard. They probably didn’t know that it took everything in me to hold back my tears.

And it feels so appropriate that photographer Yiaz Yang titled the Sovereign Armor photoshoot series, “The Guardian,” especially when comparing it to the original message behind the Sovereign Armor. And follow her Instagram to see the gradual reveal of the entire series!

It’s not that I disagree with the original meaning when I first wrote it up in 2016, but the photoshoot definitely transformed it. Contextually, the meaning behind the Sovereign armor came from a much more isolated and lonely place, which focused on the painful and often unseen suffering that the creative endures when building and fighting for their dreams.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

I am still the sovereign of my own dreams, but now I do not feel so alone anymore. Seeing this imagery of the guardian and finding the beginnings of a community I can relate to made me realize and appreciate the people who are guarding my dreams by believing in me.

Yes, we are all in the arena actively fighting for our own paths in life, claiming victories where we can, and recovering from our failures along the way. But it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that there’s the chance to cross paths with others who are looking to build and find even greater adventures together…and maybe help patch up each other’s wounds every now and then.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
Photography by Yiazyang — Models Jessica Dru Johnson and Bryan Forrest — Wings by Firefly Path — Sword by Bryan Forrest — Sovereign Armor components by lumecluster — Dress by Michelle Hebert — Location The Forrest Manor — Creative partners Lilly B. Haven and Creature of Habit —– Jessica is the most badass guardian, haha. But honestly, everyone on this team was full of such inspiring creativity. I’m so lucky we could all cross paths and make something new together.

So, here’s to all the amazing people who lifted me up and continue to believe in me! You know who you are! I look forward to doing the same for you and can’t wait to keep adventuring with you!

I hope you all keep building your supportive community of friends and family that continues to lift you up higher. And if you haven’t started or are just starting, don’t worry. It takes time.

Wishing you a happy new year! I can’t wait for 2019!

<3 Melissa

P.S. Mini update about the Modular Phoenix Gauntlets!

For now, I’ll be accepting only a limited number of custom orders for the Modular Phoenix Gauntlets at various times throughout the year (and perhaps years to come, but this could change). Yes, this means there will be limited slots available. If people are not able to get a slot, they will have the chance to submit another request the next time I announce available slots.

Email subscribers will be notified first about when custom order slots become available. You can sign up below or click on this link to join my free newsletter for updates. There will also be a new video update, FAQ, etc. (yep, you only saw the first half of the preview in my first blog post about the gauntlets 

There will also be an update in my Lumecluster shop, where there will be a new selection of made-to-order wearable art, jewelry, etc.

Lumecluster Phoenix Gauntlets

2017 Year in review in photos: a special Sovereign Armor photoshoot December 30, 2017 11:30

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor Anshul Mathur Photoshoot

2017 was a very emotional and challenging year full of high highs and very low lows. Sure, it was a wonderful year filled with amazing memories and achievements like:

  • finally earning enough to upgrade my workshop with 3D printers, vacuum form machine, and other equipment
  • making time to redesign my fantasy armor and mask shop offerings
  • diving deeper into bridging fantasy and functional costume armor design
  • creating multiple lightweight gauntlet prototypes with improved articulation
  • Adam Savage praising my armor and making my work go viral (which broke my site for nearly a week…)
  • having the freedom to select clients I want to work with
  • creating my interpretation of Ironheart’s armor for a Marvel commission
  • finally having a stronger sense of self and meeting more like minded collaborators

But I’ve struggled with settling into my new skin as a fantasy armor designer after I shifted my focus to armor back in 2016. As I steadily climb higher, so much of me keeps fearing I’m going to betray who I am, what I believe in, or the people who have continued to believe in me.

In some instances, there really were people who thought I changed for the worse and that I abandoned what originally made Lumecluster. That was a brutal blow that really tore me apart for a while. Worst of all, I hate it that I let other people’s opinions make me question everything I was pursuing. It made me wonder whether my newly evolved self was the “correct” choice.

Is this really the best direction? Is this truly what I want to be? Am I making a huge mistake? I have no clue, but I do what I hope is my very best at the time and so far it seems to be working out.

With all the ups and downs, 2017 was the year I really needed to don my Sovereign Armor.

I clung to its message because it was one of the few things that helped me get back on track whenever the trolls would derail me or help snap me out of my perfectionist “never good enough” thoughts. But it also helped remind me of the people who have always stood by me and lifted me up during my lowest moments.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
The meaning behind the Sovereign Armor

And so, I wanted this year in review to be a bit different. Instead of writing out what happened in 2017 in detail, I thought it would be more interesting to have a visual gallery of the Sovereign Armor. And what I loved about this photoshoot is that I felt like it really portrayed a lot of how I felt throughout the year. I’ll leave it up to your interpretation 

I’m looking forward to 2018 and focusing more on refining Lumecluster’s message and new wearable art offerings.

Many thanks to the amazingly talented people behind the photoshoot:

Click the video below to see the Sovereign Armor movement.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
PHOTOGRAPHER Anshul Mathur (afleetingimage) — MODEL / MAKEUP ARTIST Brianna Ashley Chin — DRESS by Megan Dellario (Breakers Cosplay) — SOVEREIGN ARMOR by Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)

Go to the gallery section if you want to see more images from the photoshoot. Happy new year!

<3 Melissa

Making my interpretation of Marvel’s Ironheart armor for cosplayer Lexi Momo December 3, 2017 16:00

Lumecluster Marvel Lexi Momo Ironheart

This was commissioned by Marvel and it is also my own interpretation of parts of Ironheart’s armor so please do not ask me to give you my 3D files. This is also a look into my process and NOT a how-to.


Some people avoid it while others are hungry for it.

Change can either open doors or shut them. It means being uncomfortable or facing the unknown. Change is risky…but so is not changing.

Whether you love or hate change, there’s no doubt that it brings new experiences.

We’ve seen fans love or hate artists for changing their style or trying new things. We’ve also seen fans remain supportive or complain when an artist has a lack of new creations.

I feel lucky that my fans have been really supportive throughout Lumecluster’s evolution. Even though change is always in my future (just not so drastic anymore), I’m still scared every time I branch out and explore. But my bigger fear as an artist is being pigeonholed and not enjoying my work anymore.

So, when Marvel asked me for my interpretation of Ironheart aka Riri Williams (custom designed for cosplayer Lexi Momo) for one of their Marvel Becoming episodes, I was pretty intrigued. 

In the Marvel comics, Ironheart’s armor is really sleek. It’s also more sci-fi, which is completely different than my intricately detailed fantasy-focused designs. Even so, I was excited to try something new.

Marvel Ironheart
Since we weren’t making the entire Ironheart suit, I used these two images as the main sources of inspiration.

The team behind Ironheart’s Marvel Becoming episode:

  • Director: Jason Latorre
  • Producer: Judy Stephens
  • Cosplayer: Lexi Momo
  • Outfit: Lexi Momo
  • Armor components: Melissa Ng (Lumecluster)
  • Makeup: Lynn Leary
  • PA: Chad Kofahl
  • PA: Julia Zitzmann
  • Studio Manager: Tara Latorre

I was curious to see how well I could apply a Lumecluster aesthetic while still honoring Marvel’s overall Ironheart design. I was itching to see what parts I could tweak or redesign…but I was also really scared.

Scared that viewers would tell me that I’m “not allowed” to make certain changes because of what they’ve seen in the Iron Man movies. Scared that people would tell me that I’m not good at the sci-fi kind of armor and to “just stick with what you’re good at.” Scared that some Marvel fans would tear me apart over why I didn’t do the whole entire suit (ummm…ever heard of budget?).

I was scared that I’d totally fuck it all up.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
Comparing Lumecluster’s usual style versus the Marvel’s Ironheart armor style. (LEFT) Photo by A Fleeting Image aka Anshul Mathur . (RIGHT) Marvel’s The Invincible IronMan cover

Even though I was terrified, my curiosity was stronger. So, I started listing the challenges I might encounter.

The first thing I thought was, “How can I make it so the select armor components won’t look like they can kill her? How can they be more functional?” While the armor in the comics look nice, they didn’t look like they’d properly protect Riri like the armor we’ve seen in the Iron Man movies.

For example, Riri’s gauntlet armor looked like it could cut into her wrist if she flexed it. The spread out plates also gave me the impression that her armor was revealing a lot of vulnerable weak points…

The second challenge was figuring out whether or not we could pull off making a complete enough look while only using a few armor components:

  • Helmet
  • Gauntlets
  • Arc reactor

Lumecluster Ironheart
(TOP LEFT) Ironheart helmet, (TOP RIGHT) arc reactor, (BOTTOM) one of the gauntlets

Lexi Momo
Some behind-the-scenes random fun shots with Lexi Momo. THE TEAM: Judy Stephens (producer), Jason Latorre (director), Lexi Momo (cosplayer), Melissa Ng (armor components), Lynn Leary (makeup), Chad Kofahl (PA), Julia Zitzmann (PA), Tara Latorre (studio manager).

After considering the challenges, next up was finding the right inspiration.

I decided to go with the idea that Riri Williams was just in the beginning phases of building her Ironheart suit, which would explain why she doesn’t have her entire armor yet.

Marvel Ironheart

For the gauntlets, I noticed Iron Man’s suit seemed inspired by historical armor design but it looked too bulky for my taste. I poked around in search of something slimmer and similarly designed to use as inspiration.

Ironman Ironheart armor reference
(TOP) Images of one of Marvel’s Ironman suits used as a reference. (BOTTOM) Reference images grabbed from The Met Museum website. Bottom left and middle images are from the black and silver Nuremberg steel infantry armor dated around the 1600s and bottom right image is a gold and silver gauntlet from field armor dated around the 1500s.

Ironman references
Collage of images and screenshots I collected from Marvel’s Ironman movies and concept artwork to use as inspiration.

After searching The Met Museum website, I decided to go with the black and silver Nuremberg steel infantry armor dated around the 1600s and a gold and silver gauntlet from field armor dated around the 1500s, which you can see below. I loved the smooth, simple, and bold design, which I felt matched really well with my Iron Man gauntlet collage.

But I wanted more than just a sleek gauntlet design. I wanted details but I couldn’t go with my usual intricate patterning. So, I decided to try out circuit-inspired patterning instead.

Lumecluster Ironheart helmet detail
Circuit inspired plate on the back of Ironheart’s helmet. Also visible on Ironheart’s vambrace and helmet comb

he circuit-inspired design, the asymmetrical gauntlets, and the wiring connecting the gauntlets to the arc reactor were meant to imply that Ironheart’s suit is clearly incomplete. But why not also make it look aesthetically pleasing? I mean, just because she’s in her building phase doesn’t mean she has to look like a mess, right?

It also occurred to me that Riri clearly wouldn’t have an arc reactor embedded in her chest like Tony Stark, which meant she needed some kind of harness.

Lumecluster Ironheart preview
(TOP) Very rough preview of Ironheart’s helmet, arc reactor, and WIP gauntlets. (BOTTOM) Iron Man inspiration from the film.

Making the harness was honestly the least fun part for me, haha. My hope was that the harness and throwing in some wires to connect the gauntlets and arc reactor would be a nice call back to the time when Tony Stark was in his early building / testing phases.

For the helmet, I didn’t want to stray too far from the original design but I added detail on the back of the head plate and extended the comb so I could add glowing details The arc reactor got some simple detailing as well.

Lumecluster Ironheart components preview
MatCap preview of the Ironheart pieces. Designs were created within a very limited timeframe.

Here is a quick video that gives you a look into some of my process. Or you can also read on and get more detail about what went into Ironheart’s helmet, gauntlet, arc reactor design:

Once all the 3D modeling was done, I could finally start 3D printing my pieces! Yay!

I 3D printed detailed parts like the helmet comb, arc reactor, and vambrace on my Form 2 printer in their standard clear resin. I later molded and cast them in a semi-rigid resin.

Lumecluster Ironheart 3D printing
Ironheart arc reactor 3D print on the Form 2.

Lumecluster Ironheart 3D printing
Vambrace design 3D printed on the Form 2.

On my Taz 6, I 3D printed larger or simpler parts like the helmet, arc reactor base, and gauntlet pieces. The helmet was printed in nGen, molded and then cast in a semi-rigid resin.

Lumecluster Ironheart 3D printing
Part of Ironheart’s helmet being 3D printed on the Taz 6.

Lumecluster Ironheart 3D printing
Part of Ironheart’s helmet being printed on the Taz 6.

The gauntlets were printed in Taulman 3D’s PCTPE, which is not as neat or sharp as nGen when it comes to printing detail but super tough and semi-rigid (like, I could beat this stuff with a hammer and it would be fine). PCTPE is also a little fickle and prone to a bit of warping, so I decided to avoid printing the helmet in this material since I was working with a very limited time frame and didn’t have time to deal with too many issues.

Pieces printed on my Form 2 were pretty much ready to mold and cast right out of the printer (after some extra UV curing and priming) while prints from my Taz 6 needed some cleanup. 

For example, I needed to sand and prime the nGen prints to get rid of print lines. Pretty straightforward.

PCTPE, on the other hand, required a different cleanup approach. Most sandpaper couldn’t really scuff the surface much without a lot of effort. Dremel sanding bands and grinders also couldn’t really cut through the material (not very neatly, at least).

Lumecluster smoothing 3D printing Ironheart
Smoothing out print lines. PCTPE is a bit tough so I had to use diamond dust coated burrs to work faster.

The only thing that worked really well (and efficiently) for me was diamond coated rotary burrs, which could bite through PCTPE beautifully. After some dremeling, I filled problem spots with some flexible filler, sanded, and primed them with a high build flexible primer.

Lumecluster sanding 3D printing Ironheart
Sanding and filling problem spots on the gauntlets with flexible filler.

Painting and airbrushing is always my favorite part because you can finally start seeing it all really come to life.

Lumecluster airbrushing 3D printing Ironheart
Airbrushing Ironheart’s helmet.

First, the glowing circuit patterns had to be masked off with masking fluid. Next, I jumped right into airbrushing with pearlescent paints and sealing it with a flexible finish.

And then came the LED installation.

The LED work here wasn’t anything fancy. I used simple fairy LEDs.

If you want to diffuse fairy LEDs so they don’t look like ugly bright spots, I like to squeeze 2-3 drops of hot glue on some silicone, let it cool a tiny bit, place the LED on top of the glue and then press another piece of silicone on top to make a neat little disk as seen below (this is the same technique I used on my Sovereign Armor LED work).

After the hot glue is completely cooled, I rub or spray on a little white paint so it’s slightly opaque, which improves the diffusion even more. Add 1-2 layers of foam and that’s it.

Ironheart LED
Simple LED installation.

Lumecluster Ironheart Arc Reactor
Ironheart’s arc reactor and harness.

Lumecluster Ironheart gauntlet gloves
One of Ironheart’s articulated gauntlet gloves.

Lumecluster Ironheart Helmet Comb
Ironheart’s comb on the top of the helmet with circuit-inspired patterning.

Lumecluster Ironheart Vambrace
Ironheart’s vambrace with circuit-inspired patterning.

Assembling the parts!

There was a lot more sewing than I would have liked, especially in the gauntlets. Bleah sewing. Since the gauntlet material was pretty flexible, I decided sewing in the parts instead of using rivets.

Lumecluster Ironheart assembling gauntlets
Assembling Ironheart’s gauntlet.

Lumecluster Ironheart gauntlet
Ironheart’s right hand gauntlet. The vambrace is not worn here.

Looking back, there are definitely things I would do differently but, overall, I feel pretty happy about the final result within the limited time frame.

Lumecluster Ironheart helmet
Front of Ironheart’s helmet. LEDs in eyes and forehead are off.

I’m thankful for this opportunity to create something different than what I’m accustomed to because it pushes me to expand my horizons and hone my skills in new ways.

I’ll end this with some more closeup shots of the armor, some behind-the-scenes from the Ironheart shoot below and a final question:

Are you facing any changes or challenges right now that you’re afraid to take on and what’s keeping you from taking the leap? 

<3 Melissa

P.S. I had to delay the release of my new armor designs and I can’t say when they’ll be ready. While I hate the delay, I’m happy with the extra prototyping results. I always believe in quality over quantity. Thanks for your understanding and patience. For now, here’s a clip of my most recent prototype

Lexi Momo Ironheart
Cosplayer Lexi Momo

Lexi Momo
Cosplayer Lexi Momo

The 3D Printed Sovereign Armor / Marisha Ray photoshoot, shop update & what’s next? (Part 2 of 2) August 7, 2016 08:30

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

I’ll keep this blog post short since I’d love for you to go check out the gorgeous Geek & Sundry photoshoot with actor Marisha Ray. But before that, I only have two quick things to share.

First, this experience has inspired me to keep digging deeper in finding a balance between fantasy and functional armor design. 

I encourage aspiring artists of all types to do the same or at least take the time to explore the possibilities that history can teach you. Ian LaSpina’s (Knyght Errant) recent video makes a great argument on the value of fantasy armor design grounded in history.

I admit I had many doubts on whether or not I could create a historically grounded design without sacrificing the fantasy element. And with the huge success of Felicia Day’s Dreamer Regalia, there were also times I felt unbearable pressure and fear that I would not be able to make the Sovereign armor equally good in its own way.

Lumecluster Dreamer Regalia and Sovereign Armor
Felicia Day wearing the fantastical Dreamer Regalia and Marisha Ray wearing the functional, medieval-inspired Sovereign Armor. Photographer: Eric Anderson

In the end, both the Dreamer Regalia and Sovereign Armor are creations I’m truly proud of because they’ve opened up a new world for me. Needless to say, my creative spirit is itching to dive back in.

For those of you who are new here, I share a lot more about this in The Making of the Sovereign Armor blog/video post.

Second, I’ve added a new Sovereign Mask and Resilience Mask pendants in my shop.

It may not be life-size armor, but look how tiny and cute it is!!

QUICK RECAP! What is the Sovereign Armor? I made this in honor of the creatives out there who know that, even though it’s empowering to be the ruler of your dreams and creations, you also know how incredibly lonely the journey can often be…Because it’s yours. All the frustrations, failures, revelations, and successes. Only you truly know the struggle you put into it. Everyone else can only imagine. It’s easy to critique, judge, and assume. It’s not easy to keep creating the things that can only come from you.

Lumecluster Sovereign Mask pendant

Lumecluster Resilience Mask pendant

Now, please go check out Geek & Sundry’s awesome photoshoot with Marisha Ray.

You can also read the little interview I did with Geek & Sundry’s Jackie Cole on the Sovereign Armor.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor
3D Printed Sovereign Armor design: Melissa Ng (Lumecluster) | Historical Armor Consultant: Ian LaSpina (Knyght Errant) | Photographer: Eric Anderson | MUA: Misti Dawn | Model: Marisha Ray | PA: Joey Haeck | PA: Andrea Liu | Coordinator: Jackie Cole

So, what’s next? Another armor?

Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll just have to wait and see ?

Whether or not I am, you’ll see hints of a new challenge and direction for Lumecluster on my Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I’m currently developing new techniques to improve my design efficiency and most of what I’m creating will likely be in-house from now on…you’ll see what I mean soon enough.

But for now, I’d like to take a brief breather and jump back to making jewelry, masks, and probably more gauntlets. Because gauntlets…:D

<3 Melissa

The Making of the Medieval-inspired 3D printed women’s Sovereign Armor (Part 1 of 2) July 19, 2016 09:00

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

As much as I love the fantasy Dreamer Regalia armor/dress I created for actor Felicia Day (click here to see the Geek & Sundry photoshoot), I admit I didn’t know much about armor history or functionality at the time, which raised a lot of interesting discussions.

A lot of people also still think that 3D printing does all the work for you…it doesn’t. Even so, there were debates on whether I actually had to do “real work” since I use 3D printing as part of my process to create intricate and complex pieces. Overall, the Dreamer Regalia received an overwhelmingly positive response and I gained a wonderful experience that taught me a lot.

So, after completing the Dreamer Regalia, my mind was already set on what I could do next. What did I learn? What else can I do to continue to help people understand the possibilities of 3D printing and break through ignorance (and even fear)? How can my work grow and improve? What can I do that’s exciting and meaningful?

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor & Dreamer Regalia
(LEFT) Felicia Day’s Dreamer Regalia was my first attempt at making armor. (RIGHT) The Sovereign Armor is my second attempt.

Coming from a background in media studies and marketing, the researcher in me collected and studied thousands of comments and discussions on the Dreamer Regalia armor. I noticed a few interesting trends.

There were many disputes on armor practicality and countless people passive aggressively defining “cosplay” and “fantasy” to each other as an “art where you’re allowed to make up and create whatever you want.” And while I agree that that’s the beauty of fantasy, I’d hate for it to be used as an excuse to shut ourselves away from listening to other ideas and opportunities to learn something new (assuming that it’s a mature and non-hostile discussion…).

There were also many men AND women debating whether the Dreamer Regalia’s chest looked feminine or sexy enough or simply referred to it as an “ugly uni-boob.” So yeah, it was also very breast-focused.

There were also a number of armor enthusiasts who were quick to remind people that breast shaped breastplate armor would kill you in reality. And while I agree, it made me sad to see some use it as an opportunity to reduce anyone who has created impractical fantasy armor to “idiots” instead of finding a way to open up discussion to learn more about medieval armor design and history.

It looked to me like a lot of fantasy armor and historical armor enthusiasts were pretty heated and quick to try to shut the other one up about what female armor “should” look like.

And despite the fact that there are more and more examples where we see women looking awesome in practical armor, there still seems to be an overwhelming belief that fantasy armor that doesn’t have actual breasts just “isn’t sexy,” “isn’t showing off those feminine curves enough” or “doesn’t help people easily identify that she’s a woman.” I know this is just my opinion but how are the below images not badass??

Fantasy game armor inspiration
Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Jamie Chung as Mulan in Once Upon a Time, Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones, Cassandra Pentaghast concept art from Dragon Age: Inquisition (video game)

I admit I’m guilty of drawing breast-shaped breastplates on my female character’s armor since I didn’t know any better. Back then, I didn’t do the research and was mostly influenced by what I saw in film, games, and other fantasy concept artwork. But I was definitely never fond of the bikini armor…I mean, come on…

Girls and videogames trope
“Girls and Videogames” artwork by Irene Martini

As someone who started pursuing fantasy art seriously only a few years ago
, all these discussions got me wondering how I wanted to grow as an artist. Did I want to throw my interpretation into the mix to help show that a woman can look just as beautiful and sexy in practical looking fantasy armor (that actually covered her body)? Of course.

It became obvious that my next challenge would be to create a practical and versatile Medieval-inspired fantasy armor for a woman.

I didn’t want to simply make an armor that would look nice worn all together. I also wanted the armor to have the versatility for someone to wear certain components independently to create a greater variety of costume/outfit combinations.

For example, the gorget (neck armor) looks completely different and has a lot of unseen detail when it is combined with the breastplate. When worn independently, it looks more like a large collar necklace.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor gorget

And since the armor is made of a flexible elasto plastic, it will be able to fit a decent range of body shapes and sizes.

So, why is this called the “Sovereign Armor”?

While the Sovereign Armor was originally designed with women in mind, the armor’s message is for everyone.

I made this in honor of the creatives out there who know that, even though it’s empowering to be the ruler of your dreams and creations, you also know how incredibly lonely the journey can often be.

The intricate patterns are meant to look like rolling waves while the fluting is meant to look like ripples. I wanted the glowing LEDs to give the impression of magical and ethereal energy and symbolize the light of the creative.

And the light of the creative is a beautiful and painful thing. Beautiful because it’s what inspires you to create. Painful because it’s always at risk of being snuffed out. When an idea is forming, that creative fire feels unstoppable. But, as we all know, nothing worthwhile ever comes without pain and effort.

Maybe you’ve encountered people who try to douse your flames or complications start getting in your way. Or perhaps the people you once admired are now on a mission to tear you down, dismiss your hard work or make you feel “less than.” It hurts, but if you care about what you create, you’ll keep standing up to fight and constantly re-fuel that fire.

Because it’s yours. All the frustrations, failures, revelations, and successes. Only you truly know the struggle and sacrifices you put into it. Everyone else can only imagine.

It’s easy to critique, judge, and assume. It’s not easy to keep creating the things that can only come from you.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

Now, let’s break down the 518 hours that went into completing the 8 pound 3D printed Sovereign Armor (this does not include 3D printing hours)

IMPORTANT: Please do not email, comment or PM me asking for 3D printing material costs, request to have all my mask and armor 3D files, or ask me to teach you how to re-create the 3D model of each of my pieces of artwork. If you have more questions, please refer to my FAQ.

88 HOURS — Researching Medieval armor, experimenting with flexible 3D printing materials, exploring my connection with intricately carved Chinese artwork, and developing new finishing methods

The Sovereign Armor’s extremely flexible (and porous) elasto plastic material  is completely different than the Dreamer Regalia (nylon), which meant I had a ton of new things to think about. For instance, I spent a lot of time testing new materials, paints, glow powders, and finishes that would work with the elasto plastic surface. I also felt 10x more obsessive over the little details since this was, once again, a one shot 3D print.

Since my goal was to also make a more practical female armor, I started out with good ol’ Google, but eventually purchased some textbooks, like Techniques Of Medieval Armour Reproduction: The 14th Century by Brian Price and a few other texts to brush up on some medieval history. Since I live in New York, I was also grateful to be able to visit the armor collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I used the images below (and a lot more) as references while designing the Sovereign Armor.

Armor references
LEFT: Gothic Armor, late 15th century; extensively restored | TOP THREE: Barbute (ca. 1460), barbute (ca. 1470–80), sallet (ca. 1470–80) | BOTTOM THREE: Sallet (ca. 1510–20), burgonet (ca. 1540), burgonet (1575–1600)

Gauntlet references
These authentic custom made recreations of a pair of gothic gauntlets were great references for my own gothic-inspired gauntlets. Click through to see more gorgeous images at

I eventually decided I was most drawn to the 15th century German Gothic armor style and all of its beautiful fluting. I was also in love with the burgonet, sallet, and barbute helmet styles. And even though I had tons of reference images to work with, I still felt like I needed a bit more guidance.

Like my Dreamer Masks and Dreamer Regalia, I once again wanted to blend this with my long love for Chinese carvings. I grew up seeing a lot of Chinese artwork all the time, so I naturally wanted to infuse some more of my Chinese aesthetics to it. While I was more comfortable with my Chinese art sensibilities, I was less knowledgeable when it came to 15th century German Gothic armor.

Chinese carving artwork in the Ng family
Chinese carved lacquer, stone, wood, ceramic artwork that I grew up seeing in the Ng family household.

So, I asked medieval armor educator, reenactor, and Youtuber, Ian LaSpina (aka Knyght Errant), if he would be willing to be my armor consultant (after I watched and re-watched every single one of his videos…o_o)

As an avid fan of both fantasy and historical armor, he could see the best of both worlds. You can get a glimpse of his content in the playlist below:

Knyght Errant’s Youtube channel
 and website offers easily digestible content that explores medieval history, armor, armor maintenance, and various types of armor attire and undergarments. His channel and website are an amazing source of inspiration and knowledge that’s perfect for the complete medieval armor beginner, cosplayer, costume maker, and anyone interested in getting an intro to historical armor design and expanding their visual library.

Ian was kind enough to review my design progress every step of the way through Sketchfab’s 3D viewer to ensure I didn’t make any impractical armor components that might inhibit the wearer’s movement or…y’know…end up harming the wearer instead, haha (I’m looking at you, dangerously spiky pauldrons!! :P)

After cramming a ton of new information in my head, I spent some time applying what I learned by trying to identify armor and its components at the MET. I also looked back at my old fantasy books/novels and armor Pinterest boards and wow… I mean, I knew there were clearly problems with the really ridiculous sets of female fantasy armor, but even the less impractical-looking ones looked seriously problematic (in both men and women’s fantasy armor). I felt ready to finally put myself to the test…

20 HOURS — Sketching and getting body measurements (no 3D scans were used)

Armor assembly research
I got all the necessary measurements by following these diagrams from Techniques Of Medieval Armour Reproduction: The 14th Century by Brian Price.

I was like, “Hm. I could get a 3D scan…but do I want to try and 3D model and print some armor without using a 3D scan instead? ….SURE, WHY NOT.” So, using the diagram above as a guide, I used a tape measure and homemade calipers to take my own body measurements.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor Sketch

I won’t lie. It was a challenge to keep myself from accidentally letting a reference influence my design too much. Eventually, I was able to pull together a very simple sketch that looked good enough.

5 HOURS — Creating a 3D model based on my body measurements (no 3D scans were used)

Instead of modeling my figure from scratch, I wanted to save time by using this program I already had called Design Doll, which allows you to easily customize a figure to any specifications. So, I adjusted the Design Doll figure to match the reference photos of the front, back, and side of my body.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor measurements
The left model was imported from Design Doll and into Blender. Model was adjusted to match my body measurements..

Then I imported the model into Blender and fine tuned it with my body measurements. I’m a pretty average size and weight (5’4″, 128 lbs), so this armor would have no trouble fitting someone similar to my size or slimmer than me since the armor would be able to flex and bend around the body.

43 HOURS — Modeling the base armor design (91 total pieces)

The biggest challenge was modeling the gauntlets and figuring out how the pieces would articulate and fit together. The second toughest was modeling the helmet. I had to go through many iterations before I was satisfied with a design that made sense with the rest of the armor. The third toughest was probably the fauld (the armor pieces below the waist) and pauldrons since they were also articulated.

By the time I finished modeling all the base armor components, I realized it was made up of 91 individual pieces that would need to be assembled into a total of 15 armor components. The Dreamer Regalia, on the other hand, was made up of a total of 6 pieces that required absolutely no assembly.

9 HOURS — Drawing the intricate armor patterns

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor sketch details

I took screenshots of each armor component in Blender’s orthographic view and printed them out on sheets of paper that I could draw on. No matter what, I still always find joy in drawing by hand with a nice, even flowing pen.

I decided where I wanted to place my intricate patterns based on where I wanted LEDs to shine through. I wanted the armor design to give off the feeling that the wearer was filled with magical energy without overdoing it.

Although you probably can’t see it, the pattern also outlines the embossed details.

23 HOURS — Modeling the intricate details into the armor

This is the easy part and the step I find most therapeutic. Turns out the Sovereign Armor is also my first symmetrical piece, so that made it a little breezier. All I had to do was load up my pattern drawings as background images into Blender and then modeled out all the intricate details along the base armor design I had previously created. I also made a Sovereign Staff to go along with the armor.

As I’ve shared many times, I rely pretty heavily on Blender’s shrinkwrap modifier, followed with the solidify and subdivision surface modifiers, plus jumping into sculpting mode every now and then (but not very often). If you want to get a sense of how I model, you can see timelapses below that I recorded for Felicia Day’s Dreamer Regalia.

My final and favorite part was when I brought out the extra little details like the embossing and other small sculptural elements.

17 HOURS — Getting the design 3D print-ready with thickness checks and other troubleshooting

I didn’t want to rush through this part. Other than dividing up the armor into smaller groups (that would fit the print bed), checking for non-manifolds and thin structures, this step is largely comprised of me asking myself over and over again, “Do I really like this design? Am I truly satisfied with it? Is there anything I half-assed or muddled through that I could do better?”

If I can’t come up with a response to any those questions, then I’m good to send it off to the printers.

20 HOURS — Rendering a simple preview of the armor as a painting reference

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor render

I rendered the color and LEDs to give myself an idea of what the final piece would look like while I was waiting for them to finish printing 

My goal was to hopefully make the 3D print look better than this quick render.

While Blender was rendering the image, I actually spent all these hours researching color schemes (thanks The Replica Prop Forum folks for your input!), fabric, foam, and basically figuring out every other task that I would have to take care of once my armor was finished printing.

For armor color, I decided I wanted to go with an icy silver/blue with splashes of gold to go with the warm white LEDs.

15 HOURS — Cleaning and gluing

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor parts
Elasto plastic 3D prints being taken out and cleaned.

I had to wear a mask when handling the fresh elasto plastic 3D prints. Although the prints were pretty clean, I could still feel a lot of dusty, rubbery particles everywhere. I did not want to risk breathing it all into my lungs.  Before I could do anything, I cleaned up all the armor pieces with a surface cleaner, which removed most of the particles.

Once the cleaner dried, it was time to glue. The backplate, plackart, helmet, and largest lame (the pieces that make up the fauld) on the front fauld piece had to be split in two while the breastplate had to be split into four pieces in order for it to be printed.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor parts

So, putting them together was not fun since elasto plastic is pretty floppy when it’s unfinished. With a lot of carefully placed E6000 glue, it all came together without too much trouble.

12 HOURS — Sealing the armor components (multiple layers)

Elasto plastic is extremely porous and does not have a smooth surface. Let’s just say, if you went straight to painting without prepping and sanding properly, you’d probably have armor that would look more like fuzzy felt rather than metal. NOT PRETTY.

So, to deal with that, I sealed every single component with matte varnish, which is very flexible, levels well, and also sands easily and smoothly. While a varnish spray could’ve sped things up, it was too thin, which is why I opted to apply it by hand. What I like about doing this is that it gave the elasto plastic pieces a little more rigidity without eliminating its flexibility.

81 HOURS — Sanding, more cleaning, and making the surface paint-ready

From my experience, directly sanding elasto plastic isn’t all that great since it’s kind of rubbery. It was also a pain because my armor was designed to the thinnest (and safest) possible thickness of 1.1 mm, so I couldn’t risk sanding it too heavily.

Some prints came out with little to no print steps/lines. A few other prints, on the other hand, had severe lines that popped out very visibly…like on the mask. I’d say the ugly print line was about 1 cm wide and popped up on the mask maybe 1.2 mm, which effectively made the mask look like it had giant stripes across its face.

To fix this problem, I applied a few layers of matte varnish on all components and several more layers on major problem areas. I could get away with cleaning up intricate details with my Dremel, but the large surfaces needed to be hand sanded. Keep in mind that elasto plastic is quite a soft material (and mine was already very thin), which meant I had to be careful not to overdue the sanding or accidentally sand out some of the crease details and fluting.

Once the sanding was out of the way, I used a surface cleaner again and re-applied another few layers of varnish. Afterwards, I sprayed a bit of Bulldog adhesion promoter on all the surfaces just in case.

24 HOURS — Painting the basecoat (hand painted)

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor helmet

I had a good experience with leather paints on elasto plastic because it didn’t crack even after a lot of bending and flexing in cold/hot temperatures. If there was cracking, it was usually because the surface wasn’t prepped well, which could be remedied with some adhesion promoter.

I needed to paint on 2-3 thick layers, which is why I decided to hand paint the black leather paint. The great thing about leather paint is that it also levels really nicely, so you don’t really see any brush strokes.

25 HOURS — Airbrushing

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor gorget airbrushing

I first airbrushed a decent amount of bronze leather paint, followed by a layer of pewter mixed with a few drops of light blue. The final color was a mixture of silver and a very tiny amount of blue turquoise leather paint, which brightened it up nicely.

15 HOURS — Hand painting gold embossed details

I probably went over the embossed details 3-4 times with gold leather paint on the breastplate, vambraces, helmet, mask/visor, and gorget.

6 HOURS — Sealing the armor

I sprayed several layers of gloss varnish on the inside of the armor with enough time to dry between coats, of course.  I then hand painted several layers of gloss varnish on the outside of the armor.

115 HOURS — Creating multiple layered lining, LED placement, and connecting armor components

Lumeluster Sovereign Armor lighting

The armor had a busy traveling schedule ahead of it and I was running out of time. So, I had to enlist my sister’s help (Fiona Ng aka DarthAsterisk) for a lot of this portion. As an art toy designer (she also makes armored beauties!), she already knew how to handle a lot of the tools (and pressure) and probably kept me from losing my sanity as we watched many sunrises and sunsets together. There are five layers that make up the glowing parts of the armor:

  • Thin sheet of plastic
  • Gold satin cloth
  • 2-5 layers of foam (1/16 inch thick)
  • Fairy light LEDs
  • Canvas

The plastic made the satin gold cloth have a nice matching shine similar to the gloss varnished armor. I wanted the armor to also look good when the LEDs are off and the plastic over the gold satin looked pretty decent. The thin layers of foam helped diffuse the LEDs and the canvas made it a little more comfortable for the wearer.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor lighting

I chose thin fairy light LEDs mainly because of time, it was simple, and it wouldn’t add too much extra bulk since the armor is well-fitted.

When it came to connecting all the armor components, I decided it would be safer not to rivet the soft plastic and went with E6000 glue instead.

Ian Laspina Armor reference
Ian LaSpina (aka Knyght Errant) provided reference images from his own custom made armor to help me understand how to articulate parts of the armor like the fauld. Learn more at

Most of the articulated parts (like the pauldrons, rerebraces, and faulds) were attached with pieces of thick canvas. After all, I wanted the wearer to be able sit properly and move their arms and shoulders.

And if you’re reading this because you want to find out how I made the articulated gauntlets, I wish I could share some shortcut, but I do not know a faster way other than studying armor.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor gauntlets

I suggest studying actual historical armor references (do not simply Google armor because you’ll find many inaccurate replicas) or visit places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art if possible. The MET website has a vast resource of great images and sites like Knyght Errant’s Youtube and website are also an amazing place to start understanding the history, design, purpose, and function of medieval armor.

Even if you don’t make masks or armor, there’s always something to learn that could take your work to the next level.  No matter what it is you do or create, I truly believe that the moment we believe we “know enough” is when we fail and stop growing.

Lumecluster Sovereign Armor

I mean, I know there’s still so much I can learn about armor. But after taking even just a little time to study and understand how medieval armor has evolved and how it’s made, coming up with another design was 10x easier (than when I was creating the Dreamer Regalia) when I understood each armor component’s purpose and function. And when I was just starting out with my masks, I learned so much in communities I never expected to dive into, like The Replica Prop Forum, cosplay sites, and LARP groups.

I also know I’ve only recently started familiarizing myself with the cosplay community. But after studying up a bit on armor, it got me wondering how awesome it could be to see more cosplayers transform some of their favorite female character’s (impractical) armor designs into something more functional. It could add a whole lot more fun varieties to the cosplay mix. Sort of like when people started envisioning more historically accurate Disney princesses or like artist Claire Hummel’s (aka shoomlah) inspiring princess interpretations.

I believe it’s important to always stay hungry to learn and expand your mind. It’s always a plus to do extra research and develop a better perspective and a more informed design. You’ll be surprised by what you are capable of when you open yourself up to learn beyond your comfort zone.

As always, thanks for reading. I can’t wait to show you what Geek & Sundry has in store for this armor, so stay tuned!

<3 Melissa

How to keep creating in the face of overwhelming perfectionism and insecurity September 24, 2015 17:00

Lumecluster Dreamer Masks

"...don’t chase perfection for perfection’s sake, or for anyone else’s sake at all. If you strive for something, make sure it’s for the right reasons. And if you fail, that will be a better lesson for you than any success you’ll ever have. Because you learn a lot from screwing up. Being perfect . . . not so much." --Felicia Day, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel like you're able to effortlessly move forward on your blog, project or painting...? One moment, the flow feels natural and the creativity seems to be pouring out of you. But when it feels like it's really gotta count, that's when you might start floundering.

This has to be amazing. I've got one chance. I can't screw this one up. This means so much to me. This has to be PERFECT.

Suddenly, the effortlessness is replaced with a version of you that is frantically failing at "getting into your zone." Anxiety, insecurity and panic is overwhelming and your perfectionism takes over. The pressure steadily becomes more and more unbearable. You're not sure if you can handle it.

Nothing ever feels good enough. I HATE it when this happens, don't you?

But there is a way to use your perfectionism and insecurity to your advantage so long as you manage to give your brain a moment to breath and acknowledge these thoughts as only thoughts and not your reality. Let me show you what I mean...

If you've been sticking with me since the beginning of Lumecluster, you're probably not surprised when I say that I struggle with my perfectionism and insecurity almost everyday. Second guessing myself is a constant game I play in my head. So, how the hell do I get anything done?!

Well, here's the thing. I'm great in some areas...but pretty awful in some others. And sometimes my awful moments really take over everything else in my life. Not as much as before, but hey, it still happens. 

My perfectionism and insecurity also have a tendency to spike when I'm doing particularly well. I still do a lot of promoting my artwork, but I don't have to promote as much anymore. People are starting to recognize my work and style and I'm feeling my own increasing pressure to outdo every previous creation of mine. And it appears that I've accidentally let this pressure spill into all the other areas of my life.

So, for the past FOUR months, I've been floundering with my blog posts. Did you notice? No? Oh...well, now you know. "I HAVE TO WRITE A BLOG POST," I said in a panic practically everyday. And with my mind struggling to get blog posts out, my art also suffered. As my art suffered, my writing suffered. Therefore, no blog post. Crap.

I take my commitments extremely seriously, so when I wasn't able to write anything satisfactory, I felt ashamed. With each passing week, more panic and dread set in. The more I panicked, the more frequently my brain locked down. Every time I scrapped a blog post, my heart felt heavier.

Not being able to produce a blog post made me feel like a slacker. And for some reason, my overly critical brain translated this as "Holy crap, why are you so awful at everything?!"

The point is, in my grappling with "perfection" I published ZERO blog posts and did not produce a lot of new art either. To get a sense of my inner dialogue, this is what I generally sound like in my head whenever I'm writing (or creating anything). Maybe you can relate:

It starts with excitement: 

"I'm so excited! This is gonna be great! I can do this! I mean, I've written blog posts before. I can do this again."

Excitement turns to an inkling of doubt:

"Wait...okay, well that sounds kind of weird. Maybe if I change this..." *Changes everything*

Doubt blows up and turns into insecurity:

"Oh no, this is starting to look like a mess. What am I doing? Crap, I don't like how this is looking. This sounds stupid."

Insecurity and perfectionism eat away at me:

"UUUGH, no one will find this interesting. No one. Only you do. That's because you're an idiot. Shit, shit, shit."

Finally, I start feeling like a terrible failure:

"I feel like I've been lying to my readers...I have nothing interesting to say. They're gonna see this and realize this is stupid and unsubscribe from this garbage. BECAUSE I AM GARBAGE." *Slams face into table...sometimes repeatedly*

In a frantic/frustrated state, I look for a "better solution" aka an easy way out aka avoidance:

"Maybe I should stop blogging. Maybe I'm just no good at this. Maybe I should just do art. Never write again. OR maybe I should do a photo blog! What's a photoblog like? Maybe I should try that. Or not. Why can't this be easier..." 

While writing doesn't come as easily to me as 3D modeling Dreamer Masks, I actually do enjoy blogging. But during those awful, frantic moments, I forget the joys I get out of blogging. Even worse, I also forget WHY I blog.

"Why do I even bother" is what we like to say, isn't it?

What's the point of my blog posts? What should I even be talking about? In my panic, I was desperate to blog about SOMETHING. So I started grabbing at anything, which, of course, gave me nothing but half formed musings and ramblings.

Looking back, I now know that it was pretty silly getting all worked up about a blog post. Even sillier is that I honestly didn't have anything interesting to say over those four months.

After all, that period was when I was intensely learning a lot of new skills and battling through a few learning curves. I also had this terrible habit of making sleep and rest optional. Geez, am I seriously beating myself up over not putting up a blog post?

It's only right now, as I'm writing this blog post, that I'm accepting that it's fine if I don't post on a regular schedule because writing every week or every month isn't a desirable focus of my time.

It doesn't mean I don't care about my readers. It means I want to respect your time and only share something when I have meaningful stories to share. It also means I still have a lot to learn when it comes to recognizing and knowing myself enough to know how I want to spend my time and whether or not my actions are feeding or draining my other commitments. (By the way, once upon a time in 2011, I thought Lumecluster would be a blog on marketing or something, haha. I'll go into more about that below.)

Because if I blogged regularly, I know I wouldn't be producing more 3D printed artwork. And if I'm not creating more artwork and taking part in new projects, I have less experiences to draw inspiration from for blog posts. In other words, artwork is priority because it naturally feeds into my writing. Unfortunately, the past few months I was doing the reverse.

But that's okay because here is my blog post now and this is something I really want to share with you if you're also a fellow perfectionist and insecurity-riddled creative. Sure, this blog post is not as amazing as I'd like but it's the best I have in me at this moment. I'm just putting this out there now before I come up with another excuse to "wait until I can make it better."

But there was a lot more thinking behind how I got back down to business. Getting into your own head and figuring out what's wrong can sometimes be a tricky thing when all you want to do is beat yourself up...

So, let me break down how I came to this realization and, more importantly, how you can use your insecurity and perfectionism to work for you so you can get back to creating. Here's what worked for me.

“Being forced to confront the prospect of failure head-on—to study it, dissect it, tease apart all its components and consequences—really works. After a few years of doing that pretty much daily, you’ve forged the strongest possible armor to defend against fear: hard-won competence...We go from wanting to bolt for the exit to wanting to engage and understand what’s going wrong, then fix it.” 

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

For me, being able to write again in the midst of a frantic, perfectionist, insecure mind started with first acknowledging what I feared and to not let my anxieties paint over everything else in my life. Because a calm mind thinks better than a frazzled mind.

This blog post is published now because I finally stopped to look at what my perfectionism was really trying to tell me:

1.) What's frustrating you? What emotions are you feeling? Write down your fears and worst case scenarios.

And just let it flow out. Write it down without judgment. I wrote down my list of insecurities, frustrations, and fears, which I've already listed above (although they've been shortened for this post...).

The biggest one was, "I hate that I can't blog as easily as I 3D model!!! I'm pissed that it's also getting in the way of my 3D modelling!"

2.) Sit and think for a moment and write down exactly why each of those fears/frustrations exists. Follow up with writing how to ease those fears by actively replacing the irrational with rational baby steps.

And it dawned on me. My frustration about the quality and quantity of blog posts came out of my early aspirations as a newbie blogger back in 2011. Turns out my expectations surrounding my blog haven't shifted since then. I was trying to put 100% into trying to be a pro blogger and 3D artist at the same time.

As I mentioned earlier, in 2011 I was working hard to make Lumecluster into what I hoped could be an awesome blog focused on marketing (how broad and vague, I know). I spent hours and days honing my writing skills well enough to get at least a few guest posts published on some great sites [LINK]. But then in 2013 I realized what I really enjoyed was art and finding fun ways to promote it.

So, it occurred to me this morning that the expectations of the old blogging-focused Melissa from 2011 was in conflict with the expectations of the current 3D printed art-focused Melissa. 

What's the rational step? Accept that my blog posts are not the same as my Dreamer Mask art and realize that it's okay if I don't publish blog posts all the time. I will only post if I think I have something useful to say (while also sharing my recent 3D printed creations).

3.) Look at the entire list of fears and insecurities and acknowledge them.  Now let them go. They are your thoughts. They do not completely define you or the quality of your work. 

Fine. Fret. But don't stay there. Acknowledge the existence of your insecurities, take what you will from them, and carry on. The more you do it, the less difficult it becomes.

And if you can learn something more about yourself by dissecting your fears, all the better. Picking apart my fears made me take a hard look at why I am afraid and how I can grow from fear instead of being smothered by it.

But it also made me question where I really wanted to spend my energy and consider whether or not my actions lined up with my current ambitions.

4.) TAKE A BREAK. SERIOUSLY. After break, move on and get back to creating.

This sounds ridiculous but my calendar has a section of time that says "GO HAVE FUN NOW." And today I started writing this post (as a chat to myself on my phone), without thinking how perfect it needs to be. Without judgment.

For four months, I scrapped blog post after blog post. And then I end up writing practically this entire blog post this morning on my phone. Funny how much you can achieve with a clear, calm and well-rested mind.

And if all else fails, this sounds dark but...the thought that I am going to die someday is still the best way for me to remember how precious my life and dwindling time is. If I don't get moving now, then when?

Is your life worth letting perfectionism and insecurity stop you from pursuing your dreams? From living out a more fulfilled and creative life?

The past few years, I have had friends in their twenties and thirties suddenly pass away. Freak accident. Brain tumor. Illness.

We see and hear about these kinds of tragedies all the time. And yet, we all like to tell and hope to ourselves that it won't happen to us. At least, not yet. Until one day it does.

If I'm beating myself up too much, this thought is often enough for me to snap out of it. Life is precious. There are so many things to be grateful for.

Having trouble with a blog post? Psh. Fine if this is what I write today. Maybe I'll switch up the format in the future. Maybe I won't. It's all okay. Just because everything may not always feel or turn out amazing doesn't mean that everything else has to feel like shit. My perfectionism and insecurity will always be hanging around but I am the leading lady of my story. I get to choose how I want to react to them.

So here I am. Here is what I wrote. And here is what I've made. And I plan on always making bold new things and taking on bigger challenges. 

Because that's what makes life exciting, don't you think?  

Over to you. What have you been struggling to complete or get out there? Why and what are you going to do about it?

<3 Melissa

P.S. I have an amazing new project coming up. Probably the biggest I've ever done. I am terrified and excited...and I want it to be the most beautiful thing I've ever created at this point in my life. No pressure :P

P.P.S Even though I won't be blogging as frequently, I am super active on social media. Always fun conversations happening over there if you're up for joining me :D

How to love the challenge + making masks for JiHAE’s music video starring Norman Reedus May 19, 2015 10:00

Jihae It Just Feels Lumecluster

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Let’s be honest here. When you were faced with something you were really interested in but found challenging, have you ever said stuff like:

“I need to learn more first. I could never do that. I’m not as good as X. It’s too difficult for someone like me. I’m not the type of person for that.”

“I’m just not good enough yet. It’s impossible for me.”

Chances are you’ve said some of the above at least once, right? Maybe even hundreds of times? Maybe you’ve even thought of this as being humble and maybe it is.

But what’s the underlying message when you think something you really want is “impossible” to achieve? What are you really saying?

Unless you’ve actually tried everything there is to try and have evidence that something is indeed 100% impossible for you to overcome, what you’re more likely saying is:

“This is a lot more difficult than I anticipated. I thought this would be easier. Do I really want to move forward with this? I’m not so sure… ” followed by a lot of worrying about future pains that don’t yet exist.

We’re all guilty of unwittingly falling into this self-defeating trap, myself included. But the difference between being someone who moves forward and one who doesn’t is the ability to catch yourself when you utter these unproductive thoughts.

When I do catch myself, here’s what I ask instead:

  1. Where exactly do you feel lacking to make you feel like your ambition is currently “impossible”?
  2. Is this really something you want?
  3. If so, what is one thing you could do now to start overcoming these areas where you feel lacking?
  4. Are you willing to be uncomfortable for a long time?

And I say uncomfortable because most people are not willing to give up the safe haven of their comfort zones. Instead, they’re more likely to rationalize their fears with convincing arguments about why they’re “not good enough” rather than own up to the fact that they’re probably just terrified of screwing up.

But what’s worse? The possibility of screwing up or never knowing what you might possibly achieve? This was something I had to ask myself in a recent experience where I clearly did not yet have all the “right” skills…

3D printing beautifully disturbing masks for JiHAE’s It Just Feels music video starring The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus…on a three day deadline.

NOTE: This fiery song is pretty much an ode to orgasm. Video is fairly safe for work though. Here’s what NPR shared in their interview with JiHAE:

It might be surprising that JiHAE (pronounced “Gee-HAY”), a Seoul-born artist now based in NYC artist, chose this under-appreciated ’90s collaboration between The Eurythmics Dave Stewart and the passionate Leonard Cohen for her new album Illusion of You. In fact, Dave Stewart helped make this record with electronic producer Jean-Luc Sinclair. JiHAE told us via email how she took the song and ran with her own interpretation, an interpretation that plays out in this video of intertwining and identity changing lovers.

“I connected how creativity and sexual energy are not only derived from the same place but also produced a very similar experience of escape. The song explores the illusions of self identity and how they play out in love. I went for a Morricone like vibe using 3 chords with a call and answer outro chorus that builds into bit of a musical explosion in the end.”

Around November 2014, film director Agnieszka Vosloo contacted me about needing some very special, life-like 3D printed masks (one mask for JiHAE and four masks for Norman).

As she started describing the masks she was envisioning, I soon realized she wasn’t really looking for my white, intricate Lumecluster Dreamer mask style. She wanted FULL COLOR masks. She also added that they’d need the masks within 3 weeks or so. This time frame wasn’t impossible but you’ll see how the deadline changed later
Lumecluster Dreamer Masks vs It Just Feels

(From left to right). Lumecluster style Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough in white, strong, flexible plastic. It Just Feels Demonic man mask in full color sandstone (not at all my usual style).

My first response was, “No, I’m not the right person to do this. I don’t do color. I can find you someone who can do this though.”

But then I asked myself…what’s really making me say “No, I can’t do this”? It wasn’t the 3-4 week deadline and it wasn’t that she wanted something a little dark. Deep down, I always wanted to create something eerie and this was clearly my chance!

So, what was my real fear? Well…I had never designed/printed a full color mask, never made a life-like mask, never painted a texture for a model, never UV mapped, and never experimented with any materials beyond plastics and metals.

Note to my non-3D printing artist readers: My Lumecluster masks are printed in white, strong, flexible plastic, which is much stronger and also has very different printing requirements than full color sandstone. Full color sandstone was currently the only “safe” option I had for full color printing…but I had never experimented with the material yet. Thankfully my Shapeways buddies Andrew Thomas gave me a thorough runthrough on how to best handle the sandstone material while Malcolm Davis gave me a crash course on good clearcoating finishes.

This was a new challenge I wasn’t sure I was ready for. I also still felt like a newbie since I only spent a few months learning how to 3D model in Blender and was active in the 3D printing world for a little over 10 months. All I kept thinking was, “This is impossible for me. I can’t do this.”

Thankfully, my friend Savannah Peterson (formerly at Shapeways, but now the Director of Innovation Strategy at Speck Design) snapped me out of my typical insecure idiocy. So, I did my research to find out where the holes in my knowledge were and learned on-the-go as I took the leap into the mask project.

The moment of truth: challenging myself to create JiHAE’s 3D printed full color sandstone mask.

Over the course of a week, Savannah helped me get the photos I needed plus a 3D scan of JiHAE at the Shapeways offices while I painted JiHAE’s skin texture and modeled her face mask. While the 3D scan wasn’t clean enough for me to use, it was a great help in providing JiHAE’s accurate face measurements for my own sculpt.

Thankfully, JiHAE’s 3D printed full color mask turned out well enough as you can see here.

Jihae It Just Feels face scan
(From left to right). Reference photos and my JiHAE mask sculpt over her 3D scan.
Jihae It Just Feels face mask
3D printed full color sandstone JiHAE mask.

After a mini celebration over a late night coffee with Agnieszka, we felt pretty good about planning the remaining masks. It felt like a great way to close the week as we entered the Thanksgiving festivities.

One mask down, four more to go. We’ve got time, right? Wrong.

A few days after Thanksgiving, Agnieszka told me the bad news. It turned out we only had THREE DAYS to complete the four masks for Norman Reedus (not counting the days required for 3D printing).

Originally, we assumed we’d have two or so weeks left but Norman’s acting schedule changed, which forced Agnieszka to move up the music video shoot date much earlier than planned.

When Agnieszka broke the news to me, we had done nothing for Norman’s masks yet. So, over the three sleepless days and nights, Agnieszka and I were practically glued to Skype.

The first day, she poured over hundreds of images of Polish poster inspiration until we figured out exactly what we were aiming for. And then my tablet decided to break…so I had to paint with my mouse.

Polish poster inspiration Agnieszka Vosloo It Just Feels
Polish poster inspiration for the 3D printed masks. Reference images were provided by Agnieszka Vosloo.

The second day, after endless Skype conversations and iterations with Agnieszka, I finally pulled together some skin texture mockups for the four masks. While we were making good progress, there was one big problem…we still didn’t have Norman’s measurements.

On the third day, the four masks were only 50% complete and we needed Shapeways to start 3D printing them the next morning. We only had one shot.

There was no time to waste. Agnieszka knew what she needed and she was trusting me to help bring this vision to life.

JiHAE also miraculously managed to bring Norman into the Shapeways office (despite his crazy schedule). Soon enough, Savannah got me the 3D scans and photos I needed to ensure these masks would fit and match his skin tone. Again, the scan wasn’t super clean but it helped me correct my measurements on Norman’s masks.

Norman Reedus It Just Feels Lumecluster(From left to right). My Mask sculpt over Norman Reedus' 3D scan and Savannah Peterson getting reference photos at Shapeways headquarters.
Norman Reedus It Just Feels JiHAE Lumecluster
3D printed full color sandstone Norman Reedus mask

After one more sleepless night and lots of back and forth with Agnieszka, I finally got the OK for all the masks and I sent them to Shapeways as a rush order. Two nerve-wracking days passed as I waited for the 3D printed masks. It was the day before the music video shoot and Andrew from Shapeways called me in to see how they turned out…

As you already guessed, they were a success. I was so relieved…I just wanted to cry and fall asleep on the Shapeways factory table. My part was complete…all that was left was the music video shoot itself.

Norman Reedus JiHAE It Just Feels Lumecluster Masks
(Clockwise starting from the top left). Norman Reedus mask, Jihae mask, Angry Man mask, Demonic Man mask, and Arrogant Man mask.

There was pressure, uncertainty, doubt, confusion, anxiety… Looking back, I loved every minute of it because it was a challenge (and risk) I was willing to take.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” ― Sir Ken Robinson

Within about two weeks, I had grown immensely and learned more than I could have imagined when it came to building skill, trusting myself, and trusting others. Shapeways also really came through for me and I can’t thank them enough.

Learning to love (and overcome) the challenge comes down to whether or not you are willing to identify and strengthen your weak foundations. In the end, dreams thrive or crumble depending on how far you choose to venture out of your comfort zone.

But what if you don’t feel like you have any challenges or opportunities in your field? Here’s what you can do:

  • Create your own challenging personal project.
    Not just any kind of project. Make it a bold one that really touches upon your interests and can stretch your ability. When you create things that are immensely interesting to you, others will tend to take notice. But more importantly, even if people don’t notice (yet), the best thing is that your heart will be in it.
    When I first started learning how to 3D model back in October 2013, my personal project was to make my first 3D print a mask of my own design (Dreamer Masks). It was a challenge that I desperately wanted to fulfill. Little did I know that it would become part of the Lumecluster brand.
  • Pick up a new skill you’ve been curious about learning.
    Stop thinking about learning it and actually start learning it. Maybe start by spending 1 hour a week on it and then gradually increase how much you spend your time on it (baby steps!). That’s the only way you’ll learn anything about yourself, what you’re capable of, and where you care to spend your time.
    Recently, I’ve been meeting more and more people asking me questions to figure out if it’s worth their time to learn 3D modeling/printing…without even bothering to try it themselves. No one is going to give you a checklist of what skills you “should” learn or what’s “best” or what they’ll do for you because how we choose to apply ourselves will depend on our own unique needs and interests.
    People often forget that, in order to keep making remarkable things, you have to be unafraid to pick up new skills all the time. We have so many easily searchable resources online now we really don’t have much excuse. For example, there are online course sites like Code Academy, Skillshare, Udemy or 3D modeling training sites that I’ve used like BlenderGuru, BlenderNation, and CG Cookie.
  • Participate in competitions or contests.
    Whether you’re a 3D artist, blogger, photographer, designer, or creative of any type, competitions are a great way to test and focus your energy. It’s low obligation but has the potential to offer great rewards and experiences.
    In fact, my first entry into the 3D printing world was through a Shapeways / Adobe competition. I shared that story here.

Life is too precious to waste it on feeling insecure or fearing you’re not “good enough.”

“At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun…Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning experience keeps you going…And then the Dip happens.
The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s actually a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.”― Seth Godin

Most people fear major changes and tough decisions, which is usually what’s required for doing remarkable work. As a result, most people end up trading in the chance for adventure for feeling safe and secure. Is that a cost you are willing to pay?

Our self-talk has much more power than we care to admit and managing it is especially important if we’re just starting out. Other people may have influence over your choices but, in the end, each of us makes the final call that can make or break our own will.

Adventures don’t come to those who always look for the easy road or throw up their hands once things get difficult. They also don’t come to those who sell themselves short. As a beginner in anything new, everything starts out as something “impossible”…until you discover it’s not. The question is, are you interested in taking the leap to find out?

So, embrace life’s challenges. Or just make your own 

<3 Melissa

Silence your inner listening to it (+ The Dreamer Creed) April 9, 2015 16:00

Lumeclusteer Dreamer Creed
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Ever have that moment when an amazing idea or realization hits you with such a force, it feels like an intense power is just rushing through your body?

You feel unstoppable. Like you can tackle just about anything. So, you dive right in and put all your energy into it.

But as you start going deeper with the idea, the mood transforms. Maybe issues you didn't see before start cropping up. Questions you didn't think to ask start making their way in. Things aren't turning out the way you imagined. Concern and worry start replacing your enthusiasm with your good ol' friend, your inner critic.

Sure, on the decent days, maybe you can easily brush the critic aside. But when the road gets particularly difficult, sometimes your negativity completely steals the driver's seat.

What have I gotten myself into? Why the hell did I think I could handle this? There's so much work to do. I don't have enough time. I'll never keep up...

This is what I worried over even before I started learning how to do 3D printed art (read about my first adventure into 3D printing here). Yes, I was excited by the thought of 3D printing and all the amazing things I could make, but once I started doing the research my excitement got shaky...because there was a lot I didn't know.

The more I realized how much of a novice I was, the more I feared. Before I even gave myself a shot to learn how to 3D model, I started to tell myself that I'd be an idiot for even considering the medium. Soon enough, my thoughts took an even more self-defeating turn...

I'm just not qualified because I don't have any art or design degrees. Oh no! What if the real 3D modelers think I'm a joke?! What if other artists laugh at me for being in the artist space despite never having done any art professionally in my life? What if people think I'm a big flake for jumping around to different mediums so suddenly?

My friends and family will think I'm delusional for pursuing something like 3D printing. It's too hard for someone like me...and the learning curve is way too high. There's simply too much I don't know!

Maybe I shouldn't even bother...

I was so afraid of what other people might think that I nearly stopped myself before I even bothered starting...and it would have come at a great cost.

I had already thrown away two months just worrying and thinking about 3D printing...not actually trying it. But my sister (love her so much!) got pretty fed up with my irrational anxieties and imagined fears. With a lot of effort, she eventually made me realize that I'd get a lot more answers if I took a stab at it instead of wasting more months worrying about "what might happen."

Looking back, I realize now how much I would have missed out on... The most interesting thing is that I went into 3D printing only wanting to make a Dreamer Mask just for myself. But it quickly opened up more paths and opportunities I would never have imagined. I mean, here are just some of the things that happened within less than a year:

    • I won my first competition within the first month of being in the world of 3D printing, which led to a licensing agreement with Adobe
    • I've gotten coverage on most major 3D printing industry sites and even got a mention in Forbes
    • I've been asked to do interviews and speak on workshops/panels (still always surprises me)
    • I helped with the aesthetic design for Natasha Hope Simpson's prosthetic leg
    • I had the opportunity to work with the talented musician, Jihae, and director, Agnieszka Vosloo, on a music video starring actor Norman Reedus from AMC's The Walking Dead (not yet released)
    • I've even had an overseas company try to rip off my 3D printed artwork
    • And there are still more projects underway...

    Sure, there was also the possibility that nothing interesting would have happened if I started 3D printing. Or maybe something else would have opened up if I just stuck with my black & white ink drawings. I'll never know.

    But the point is that I took a chance. And it shook up my world in ways I never expected.

    What this also showed me was that I needed to do some serious work on reframing my doubts and fears. And If I wanted to keep climbing higher, I realized that I can't always depend on someone like my sister to help me snap out of it (after all, she has her own things to worry about).

    I need my mind to always be my #1 ally and help me stay true and focused on my dreams instead of my fears.

    And being a rather emotional and sensitive person, I knew it wasn't enough to try and force myself to "be more positive" I decided to write a Dreamer Creed that I could look to whenever I feel useless or powerless.

    The Dreamer Creed is for those who have big dreams and even bigger (internal/external) critics. I hope this can get your courage and confidence back on track when fear and doubt get in your way.

    “What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.” ― Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

    If you're fighting for your dreams, you always need to have your mind on your side. Of course, we're all human and no one is completely immune to fear, self-doubt, and criticism. Every now and then we're all bound to get a little too caught up in our negative self-talk when we're facing new challenges.

    But constantly worrying about "what might happen" and getting caught up in imagined fears can be a major time suck and a dangerous distraction. That's why I decided to write the Dreamer Creed to help you stay focused on what matters most―taking action on your dreams (and it's a little inspired by the song, Imagine, by John Lennon).

    So, whenever the critics throw some variation of the same old fears in your face and try to paralyze you with worry, just remember that they're only telling one side of an argument. So, listen to what the critic has to say and ask yourself, "why is it saying that?" Then turn its words on its head by pointing out why its concerns are irrational. Offer it an alternate view...and maybe even a bit of peace of mind.

    I did that here with my Dreamer Creed. And I hope it can also remind you that there's a whole other side of the discussion that the critics are missing out on.

    Here is the full Dreamer Creed text seen in the header image above, which you can save and use for your desktop:


    You may say I can't change the world, but I will start by helping causes I believe in.

    You may say I need to stop dreaming, but dreams are previews into life's possibilities.

    You may say everything's already been done, but anything can be seen in a new light.

    You may say we've heard it all before, but learning to listen reveals what isn't being said.

    You may say my ideas are risky, but nothing remarkable comes from always playing it safe.

    You may say I should be realistic, but innovation always needs a bit of fantasy.

    You may say I need to find the right tools first, but tools are useless without a clear mission.

    You may say my endeavors could be a mistake, but mistakes are often building blocks in disguise.

    You may say I should wait until I know enough, but expertise is built through trial and error.

    You may say my work won't appeal to everyone, but creations designed for everyone will touch no one.

    You may say I'll never be as good as my competitors, but I am here to be better than myself yesterday.

    You may say this might not work out, but every experience brings me closer to what will work.

    You may say I'll never make it big, but big wins are built on a foundation of small successes.

    You may say I'll never find the right path, but wrong turns can lead to unexpected adventures.

    You may say I'll be in over my head, but focusing on present priorities will keep me on higher ground.

    You may say I'll end up embarrassing myself, but what others think cannot overpower how I choose to feel.

    You may say my efforts might be a waste of time, but the only waste is to live a life filled with regret.

    You may say I might fail, but the greatest failure would be the unwillingness to try.

    You may say dreams are pointless, but dreams inspire humanity to keep leaping forward.

    You may say no one can really build their dreams, but I say, "just watch me."

    Dreams inspire. Dreams empower. Dreams matter.

    Because dreams can make a difference.


    Lumecluster Dreamer Mask Breakthrough
    In the end, the internal & external critics may have their opinions and judgments about you and what you do, but their words do not define you or your work...unless you let them.

    “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

    What you have to offer matters. It may not look "perfect" or "right" the first time (or even the first 10 or 20 times). But that's okay.

    If you've been following Lumecluster since the beginning, you might remember that this site used to look like shit. In fact, it used to be just me whining and complaining about random stuff (under a different name) because that's what I thought blogging was all about. My earlier Lumecluster versions didn't have any ink drawings or any kind of art either.

    It was good enough for the stage I was in and it's awful when I look back at it now. But I needed those to happen before I could realize how much better I could make it...and to realize that things can be different if I actively seek out the possibilities.

    There will always be unexpected bumps and road blocks along your journey. Just remember that you can also find a way around them. And guess what? Your inner critic will always be riding with you, but you don't have to be worried about it.

    Your inner critic is just scared of the road ahead. What it doesn't realize is that it needs you to comfort it...and maybe it'll just start getting excited with you :) And when you look back at how far you've come, you'll wonder why you ever worried about anything in the first place.

    <3 Melissa

    YOUR TURN: What's your inner critic saying to you that's holding you back? Now stop, think, and ask yourself why are you saying this to yourself in the first place?

    Then dig deeper... What's the simplest thing you can you say or do right now to ease its fear or change its tone?

    Are you brave enough to be a Dreamer? November 10, 2014 09:00

    Lumecluster Dreamer Mask Breakthrough
    “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” –Harriet Tubman

    We all have them, but so many of us are pressured to scoff at them. Shame them. Abandon them. Why?

    Because today's world has masterfully likened the dream and the Dreamer to a lazy, delusional, unrealistic, unproductive, head-up-in-the-clouds, fame-obsessed member of society. A pitiable being who wants all the glory without putting in the work. You know what they say: "Be a Doer, not a Dreamer" and "Dreaming is a waste of time."

    And that's the real shame.

    I get it. We need someone (the Dreamer) to be the bad guy to teach people the value of getting shit done and taking ownership of their lives. And trust me, I'm all about getting things done.

    But it's a confusing shame that we start by encouraging our youth to "never stop dreaming," "make a difference," and believe that they "can be and do anything." And then suddenly, upon entering young adulthood, the dialogue takes a "practical" turn where we spew variations of how important it is to "wake up and face reality" and "be realistic" in order to survive the "real world."

    It's like a euphemism for "Who the hell do you think you are to believe you can do anything great? Sit the fuck down."

    So, what does this "real world" need anyway?
    "The only way we really create change is to enter any situation with the humility to listen and to recognize the world as it is, and then the audacity to dream what it could be, to have the patience to start and let the work teach you, to be willing to lead when you need to lead, and to listen."–Jacqueline Novogratz
    Yes, the world needs people to show up and take action every day. But it also needs people who aren't afraid to dream up what's never been done, to be bold enough to challenge the status quo, and to be brave enough to believe that their ideas can make a difference. All of this contributes to our collective survival, don't you think?

    In the end, dreams are a vital seed that leads to breakthroughs and innovations.

    Lumecluster Dreamer Mask Breakthrough
    Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough

    But how can we keep taking action on bringing our world to unknown heights if we increasingly smother the human desire to dream in favor of "being practical"? Heck, we were born with the gift of curiosity, creativity, and imagination. If we push down the practice of dreaming, then we are throwing away these gifts.

    Every great innovation that has led to our modern day society came from minds that were largely condemned for having dreams once considered "unimaginable" and even "absurd." Think back to visionaries like Harriet Tubman, Ludwig van Beethoven,The Wright Brothers, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, Gloria Steinem...

    Or in our present day, look at Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, Chris Hadfield, Jacqueline Novogratz...

    If they all took the advice to "be realistic," where do you think they'd be today? Where would we be today? It's only human to want to believe in dreams because dreams are what gives us hope. And hope is what gives us reason to believe we could create a better future. And if we want to keep building brighter futures, we need Dreamers who are daring enough to dream up what could be possible.

    "Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." –Gloria Steinem

    The point is that it's time to change how we talk about Dreamers and stop using the Dreamer as a putdown and scapegoat definition for the unproductive and the lazy. It's time to reclaim the Dreamer within each of us, break free from living monotonously, and free ourselves from being afraid to fight for our dreams.

    And no one should be afraid to dream about what's possible. Deep down, dreams are just goals instilled with optimism and hope. And right now, more than ever, the world needs Dreamers to believe they can make real what's still unreal.

    We need Dreamers to believe they can make a difference.

    In a constantly evolving world, we need ideas that can make change. If we open our minds, Dreamers can change the world. It all begins when we start believing in our dreams. And there's nothing lazy about that.

    Are you brave enough to be a Dreamer?

    What do you think? Did any of this resonate with you? If so, can you do me a small favor? Send this post to someone you think would benefit from this and ask them to read it. We need to find the Dreamers among us. So, please spread the word. Thank you.

    <3 Melissa

    Believing in yourself when you feel like a fraud. . .plus a special event announcement February 10, 2014 08:00

    Lumecluster 3D Printshow

    Ever feel like you don't belong or wonder if you're worthy of attention?

    Have you questioned whether you deserved or have the right to do what you're doing?

    Perhaps you've doubted the reality of when good things actually happen to you?

    Or do you ever simply feel like a fraud?

    It's no secret that feeling like a fraud, fake, loser, etc. has always been a problem of mine. In some ways, I've overcome these anxieties but they always strike in new forms.

    A while ago, I wrote about my struggle with believing in myself as an artist and as an entrepreneur. I always wonder why I can't just believe.

    I mean, I survived building a business, built this pretty decent blog along the way, brought art back into my life, and even got to experience my work in a gallery. I always carry out my ambitions and seek new levels even if I'm not entirely certain about my path.

    In fact, four months ago (October 2013), I got tired of selling my illustrations in the form of posters, pillows, and the occasional iphone/ipad decal. So, I decided to learn 3D modeling and printing.
    Lumecluster Dreamer Mask IlluminationI immediately fell deeply in love with 3D modeling and printing. The learning curve was steep, I crashed my computer more times than I can remember, I occasionally forgot to go to sleep, and I mostly stumbled around blindly.
    And I loved every second of it. I knew this was my art's next evolutionary step, which brings me to...

    THE AWESOME NEWS: I've been selected to showcase alongside some amazing 3D artists in the prestigious Adobe & Shapeways artist exhibition in the 3D Printshow in NYC from February 12-15 (more details below).

    And you know what my first thought was when I was emailed about this news?

    They must have made a mistake. Maybe this email was supposed to go to someone else. Maybe they're pitying me.

    So, what did I do? Instead of joyfully replying back, I actually waited for this imaginary email that would inform me of their careless error. I waited for nearly three hours...but no amendment email came.

    Talk about a serious case of impostor syndrome...

    Even worse, I looked up all the other exhibition artists and found architects, designers, sculptors, senior modeler...10 years experience, 20 years experience...fine arts and architecture degrees here and there... My insecurity increasingly chiseled away my confidence.

    They're the real artists. They're the pros. I don't belong there. They'll see me as a joke. A wannabe.

    Maybe you think I'm ridiculous. Or perhaps you've felt this way too—the constant inadequacy and feeling like you're entering territory you don't belong in. As if at any moment, someone's going to discover you in all your shameful ineptitude.

    I've never done anything remotely related to 3D modeling until four months ago and I don't have a fine arts degree (or MBA), and I don't have years or decades of experience in any industry.
    Lumecluster Nightmare Mask
    All I had/have is the desire to pursue something because I want to. Because I'm hungry to explore something amazing and new.

    And that's when it hit me. I'm not drawing and 3D modeling to seek fame and accolades or whatever. I draw and 3D model because I think it's fucking awesome and I can't get enough of it. My work electrifies me when I'm truly focused on myself (and not comparing myself to others).

    A good friend and mentor once told me (and I'm paraphrasing):

    "Everyone lives in their own movie. Some people spend their whole lives trying to star in someone else's film or role. It's up to you to wake up and decide if you want to star in your own."

    I'm choosing to play my part in my own movie. I have every right to call myself an artist, blogger, entrepreneur. This is my journey.

    I have every right to be here, to pursue what I want in my own way.

    What do you think? I know it's always easier said than done but perhaps these thoughts can help:

    Pay attention to when you're feeling like a fraud or coming under your own fire and acknowledge it.

    Recognize your own successes (journaling about it seriously helps me lots).

    Occasionally reflect on what you've already achieved instead of constantly focusing on what you haven't accomplished.

    When your negative self-talk becomes unmanageable, talk to someone you trust and who can offer more than just showerings of empty praise.

    Your fears and insecurities are your feelings, not necessarily your reality.

    Feeling insecure doesn't make you weak, it makes you human.

    You're not the only one who feels this way.

    You are who you choose to be.

    And if none of the above helps even a little, try this one out:

    "Accept that everyone everywhere—no matter how successful—experiences the self-doubt that underlies impostor syndrome. It is part and parcel of becoming accomplished and successful. There is nothing unusual or wrong about feeling these things. Leave no cognitive space for them to grow, and regain control of your life and your future." — Denise Cummins, Ph.D.


    AND if you're in NYC and love 3D printing, art, tech and fashion, come check out the NYC 3D Printshow, February 12-15.
    Lumecluster 3D Printshow

    Maybe we'll bump into each other :) Here are the details:

    WHERE: Metropolitan Pavilion
    125 West 18th Street New York, NY 10011
    WHEN: February 12-15, 2014. See timetable.
    TICKETSClick here.
    DESCRIPTION: 3D Printshow New York will be our most exciting show to date; a combined business, arts, design, education and consumer event with cutting-edge technology, world exclusive features and some of the sharpest minds in the world of future-tech.

    Our NYC show will include some of the most incredible new content that we’ve found around the globe, combined with incredible new exclusives created specifically for our US audience.

    Your turn. Have you ever suffered from impostor syndrome? What do you think of the new Lumecluster 3D printed art?

    <3 Melissa