Why I Cosplay

Standard

So as you all know, my blog is where I share my passions–mainly writing (though lately my post haven’t been about writing so much). Right now my greatest passion is cosplay.

What is Cosplay?

Some of you probably cosplay yourselves or at least have heard about it. I’m really not sure what the etymology of the word is, but I know it has “play” in it. It means costume play or something of that nature. I like to call it adult pretend, though children can certainly cosplay as well. It means something different to everyone. Cosplay may be synonymous with weird to some of you who are no doubt looking for the unfollow option on my blog.

Cosplay gets a bad rep for being considered some sort of adult dress up where those who participate are in some sort of stunted state of adolescence or refuse to grow up.

a766b3bb8bffe86b7ab4e989af7b5f61.jpg

None of that is true. It’s not just dress up or pretend, it’s a creative outlet and a way of expression.

What Type of People Cosplay?

You’ll find all kinds of grownups, some serious adulting types even. A doctor, lawyer, or insurance agent by trade could be Batman, Iron Man, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Gandalph, or Hermione at a con.

Whatever they do for a living, your typical cosplayers are artist, nerds, geeks, dye-hard fans, actors, etc.

Let’s look at some of my favorite cosplayers.

thgJoshua Dart: Thranduart: Here is an example of a man who took a character and made him his own. He has celebrity status for his Thranduil cosplay. He is the perfect example of cosplaying from the inside out. Not only does he look like the character, but he acts like him. While he still cosplays as Thranduil, he has also cosplayed as Nick Wylde, Woody, and he’s currently working on a new project. You can follow him via Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about him and his cosplay, read all about him in my blog interview here.

14702315_10154198864517955_4740621950542902139_nElysia Vaughan: I met her at my first con, and now I see her every year. The first year she won first place in a costume contest and rightfully so, as she made her costume the year we ordered ours. We won second place, but she certainly deserved first for her Predator cosplay. I wish I had a photo to share, but I can’t find it. She was very friendly and willing to share information about the process of making her costume. She really inspired me to try my hand at making my own. She made it sound easy. I always look forward to seeing her and learning more about her as a person instead of just a fellow cosplayer.

Even some famous people have cosplayed, even if it was just to disguise themselves at cons: Masie Williams, Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Hiddleston, and Henry Cavill. Chances are, if you see someone just wearing a spider man mask, they’re a celebrity in hiding.

Here are a few of my favorites who, sadly, I don’t know their names:

Why Cosplay?

 

There are many reasons to cosplay. Many of us just want to share a passion either for a fandom, a character, for makeup or costume art, or something else that can be expressed through the art of cosplay.

Yes, I just called it an art. And it is. It involves certain skills in arts, crafts, engineering, mathematics, textiles, etc.

I’ve always loved art: theatre, painting, drawing, crafting, textiles, music.

Cosplay gives me an outlet to do all of these things. I get to work with wood, fabric, makeup, do crazy hairstyles, create, and act. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to escape the stresses of normal adult life.

I’ve been doing this about three years now. The first year, we literally had a month before KokomoCon. I wasn’t going to do it but my sister wanted to. A month doesn’t give you time to make your own costume (or so we thought), so we ordered them. There are a lot of websites if you’re interested in ordering costumes, wigs, or costume accessories: Etsy, AliExpress, Amazon, and Ebay to name a few.

I did make the crown and we painted the ears. That first year was experimental. I wasn’t confidant enough to sew yet. I didn’t believe in myself and I hadn’t discovered I’m awesome and can do anything. We decided to be the Mirkwood elves from the Hobbit. Making the crown reconnected me to the artistic side of myself that had been on hiatus. It also reminded me of theatre, which I hadn’t been a part of since Highschool but meant to get back into. This got me involved in local theatre the following year.

My next cosplay started off as a theatre role. As some of you may remember, I was the centaur in the Lion, the Witch & the Wardobe. After spending over a month working on it, I decided to take it to the con. I learned how to sew a little in high school but this costume told me how to apply what I learned to go above and beyond: creating something they don’t make patterns for. I also learned a lot of shop skills from creating the body and learned to work with mediums I’m not that experienced with like foam. I used parts of my brain I didn’t even know existed, and I’m a lot more savvy than I gave myself credit for.

This year I went as Lagertha from Vikings. This cosplay has a special place in my heart because I feel like we all went as characters we can identify with. I hate to say it, but my kid probably relates to Bjorn. He’s a boy who’s parents split up and he struggles with accepting that while learning new responsibilities as he becomes an adult. I’ve always identified with Lagertha. She’s a protective mother who still has dreams outside of being a parent. Her ex screws her and so does every man she knows, so she becomes a fiercely independent lady boss. I’d say Kylie went as Porunn because she’s a bit wild, independent, and wants to be free.

For this cosplay, I learned to make chain mail, wooden swords, shields, and lace leather. It was fun and daunting at the same time. And we learned something we didn’t think possible when we started our Mirkwood elves cosplay–you can get a costume done in a month. I just don’t recommend it.

For our next cosplay we’re giving ourselves a little more time. I’m going to be The Goblin King from Labyrinth. Again, a lot of sewing involved, and glitter, so much glitter. But all our cosplays must have the wow factor, and the educational one, so I must learn how to do all of his crystal ball tricks. I’m not sure how long it takes to learn how to contact juggle (well) but I have several months to get good enough, so I’m going to try. My son decided to be Hoggle, which will give me practice doing a creature mask, possibly with moving mouth and blinking eyes. My sister will be Sarah. The ball gown should be a bit of a challenge, but I’m up for it.

10557282_884891948220059_6266298632228922473_n

Do you cosplay. Share some photos. Why do you cosplay? Who have you been? Who are you planning on being this year?

Vikings Cosplay: Final Week

Standard

With five days left before the con, this will be my last post until after the event. Just wanted to update you all really quick on what we got done … and still have to do.

Shirts Complete

All shirts are finished. This took longer than expected after embroidering and embellishing, but I think they look so much like the character’s outfits. Here are some side by side comparisons so you can see how we matched the fabric and details.

Here is Rylee’s shirt, and what I’ve completed of his vest so far. As you can see, the shirt is the same color and similar pattern, and we found a vinyl that replicated the square pattern of Bjorn’s vest. All I have to do is clean up some raw edges and put the grommets in the front and his vest will be done.

This is the best picture I could find of Porunn’s shirt without her armor. I’m not sure if you can see, but we matched the color of the fabric. Even though the sleeves and collar will be hidden by the armor for the most part, we did recreate the look, complete with the trim. We like to capture the nuances of an outfit, even the parts you won’t see.

I couldn’t find any pictures of Lagertha’s shirt without her armor. I actually had to pause the show to see what it looked like. This gives you an idea though. Embroidering the lines on the shirt took forever.

Armor and Gauntlets

I’m sorry to say I didn’t pause to take pictures of our progress so far. All of the fake leather is cut and just needs sewn. Above, you can see what Rylee’s looks like for his Bjorn costume. His is almost done. Kylie and I are finishing our vest this week. We did start our gauntlets over the weekend. I don’t have a picture of Porunn’s gauntlets, but I have  a pic of a partially finished Lagertha vambrace.

These were so fun to make, but it took five hours to get this done, and I still have one more to do!

Other than that, our swords are done, and I’m sad to say, it was late so I didn’t take any pictures.

What’s Left

With five days left, I’m not sure if we’re ahead or behind schedule. We still need to finish our armor, gauntlets, and Kylie’s belt. Other than that, we would like time to make scabbards for our swords. I may or many not have some more chainmail to link.

It does and doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. Each item just requires so much individual time. That’s where the worry comes in. But I’m still optimistic we can get everything done on time. I have some days off this week to get everything done.

I can’t wait to post pics after the con. Please let me know what you think so far and wish us luck.

Vikings Cosplay: Week Four

Standard

Skol!!! Week four went by so fast, but we did get a lot done despite having a busy schedule. I’d say we’re about 70-80 percent done at this point.

We added some final touches to our shields: some black tacs to cover the staples and leather on the handle to cushion our grip. Going to be carrying these around all day. Don’t  want blisters.

Sewing Progress

Rylee’s shirt is done. Here he is posing with his ax.

Kylie’s shirt is also almost done. I just need to add the collar, but I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s a simplicity pattern, but I can’t understand what it wants me to do. Luckily I have sewing friends who can help me out. If not, I’ll wing it. It should be done this week.

Here’s what it looks like so far.

My shirt is still a cloth heap lying on the floor. I cut out the front and back and that’s it.

fabric.png

 

I did, however, find the perfect cloth for the trim and a clasp that looks almost just like the one she wears.

No Pants, No Shoes, no Cosplay

pantsPants are done. That was the goal this week. Everyone has their shirt, pants, and shoes ready. Technically I’m behind because I didn’t finish the shirts, but that shouldn’t take long this week. All I had to do was fix a snap on Rylee’s pants. Kylie bought hers, so that eliminated some sewing. Mine were the only ones I had to sew, which is great, because I don’t like sewing pants. I didn’t even understand the directions, so I tossed the directions aside and winged it. Just used a jeans pattern and omitted the zipper and pockets. If you remember from my last post, I don’t do zippers. I’ll do anything to omit a zipper. I didn’t have to sew my pants. I could have bought them, but I saw a fabric that looked like her pants in the show, so I just had to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. I think they turned out great, and they fit good.

Swords

This week I really wanted to paint them, so I finished sanding and shaping and putting wood filler in the cracks and nicks. We ran out of time to paint them last weekend, so I’m planning on doing that this week. I’m really happy with these. I’ve never made anything out of wood independent of a shop class. I think they look great. What do you think?

swords.png

Chain mail

Still working on the chain mail. I try to work on this a little every night. So far I’ve gone through two spools of wire–going on three. The front skirt is done and the shoulders. Just need the back skirt and the chains for the gauntlets.

This week we’ll be working on the vest and gauntlets. Should really see the costumes come together. Join me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates, or stay tuned for next week’s update.

 

Vikings Cosplay: Week Three

Standard

Let me just start by saying, this was not a fun week. We ran into some snags and realized things are coming along slower than they should. With only three weeks before the con, we need to start wrapping up some of our projects. But let’s not focus on what didn’t get done and focus on what did.

Shield Wall Complete

We are finally ready to make our shield wall. Bosses are attached and edging stapled in. All they need are something round to cover the staples.

untitled.png

 

Swords

I’m really proud of how the swords are coming along, except how long they’ve taken to make. I was really anxious to make weapons, and I debated whether to make them out of foam or PVC before settling on wood. I’m really glad I decided to go this route instead of buying something from a Halloween store. Sorry I forgot to take pictures. I will next time.

It’s Sew Time

So, I’m finally sewing. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Turns out, most sewing machines are the same, so it didn’t take me long to figure it out. I modified a pattern to avoid having to use a zipper. I DON’T do zippers. It turned out great. I’m using the children’s Rey pattern to make Rylee’s shirt and leather vest. I took an 8-piece pattern and turned it into a 5-piece pattern by attaching several pattern pieces together that should have been separate. This eliminated so many steps–and the pesky zipper. His short is almost done. I just need to add the grommets and lacing and it should be done.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but here is a picture of the fabric. Just look how well this matches Bjorn’s shirt  in color and pattern.

I know that was kind of a short update, but just didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures. I’ve got to get back to sewing. So hopefully more to show next week.

Vikings Cosplay: Week Two

Standard

Two weeks down: four to go. So what did we get done this week?

Well, let me start by saying this was a tough week; I used tools I haven’t touched in over fifteen years and tried some I’ve never used before.

Let me start off by thanking my friends for loaning us some of their tools and letting us use their shields as reference. I bought you a new 1/4 drill bit because I wore out the one you gave me.

Also I wanted to thank my son who has  been eager to help this week.

 

Lastly, I want to “thank” the cats for all of their “help.” Laying on the fabric and biting my chain mail rod and knocking stuff off of my work desk is shaving hours of time and layers of stress from this project.

So everyone pitched it, and I think it shows.

Preparing to Sew

Yes, preparing is progress. It takes me a week to “prepare” a sewing project. Aside from buying the fabrics, patterns, and thread I have to literally psych myself into it. I hate reading patterns and sewing. Just hate it. It’s nerve wracking and tedious–probably like surgery, I imagine.

You might think I’d be less stressed sewing shirts, vest, and pants after sewing a centaur costume. I mean, at least there are patterns for shirts, right. You won’t find a centaur pattern. I had to make it out of a tablecloth. Believe it or not, this might be more daunting because I have to sew three shirts, three vest, three sets of bracers, a set of leg bracers, and a pair of pants. Luckily my sister bought a pair of pants for her and Rylee. While I’d like a majority of this project to be handmade, it doesn’t all have to be. This will save me hours of work, and the pain of sewing pants.

On a happy note, the fabrics we got are wonderful. I forgot to take pictures so I’ll share in a future post.

Shield Wall: Almost Complete

shield.png

Last week we cut out the shields. This week we cut out the hole for the boss as well as drilled the holes for the handle and the boss. We also got to the part I’ve been looking forward to all week long: painting. I love to paint. The colors of Lagertha’s shield are so bright and contrasting: that green with the black. I love it. Went through a lot of tape to get the lines straight. I can’t wait to see it done. Sis is still completing some final touches on hers so I don’t have a picture of it yet. Rylee’s shield is done. He even helped paint. He had a lot of fun. It’s been nice having little projects he can help with. I hope he learns a thing or two about wood working, painting, and sewing by the time this is done.

Weapons: Almost Combat Ready

Last week, along with the shields, we cut out the swords and the ax. This week we started shaping them. Bare in mind this is with minimal power tools, so we’re shaping them mostly with hand-sanding, an electric sander, flush saw, chisel, and file. Honestly the electric sander is almost useless. The swords still need another week’s worth of work, but the ax is finished, painted and waiting to be assembled. I’ll try to share a better picture. This was taken at night without flash, because I turned off my flash for some reason.

untitled.png

That’s our progress so far. Other than that, still working on chain mail. Technically we’re on schedule, except for the chain mail. I’m falling dangerously behind. I should have had the other sleeve done by Sunday. Oh well, I scheduled off an extra day this week to get ahead (or catch up).

Stay tuned for next week’s progress. This week I start (pause for dramatic effect) sewing.

Lagertha Cosplay: Week One

Standard

Well, all year my sister and I have been teasing a great top-secret cosplay idea. The only problem: we didn’t get it done … or started. With weekly doctor appointments, our mother’s passing, and getting her condo ready for the market, there just wasn’t time. Not to mention all of that procrastination.

So last minute we decided to do a Vikings cosplay. My sister will be Thorunn, Porunn (whichever), my son will be Bjorn, and I will be (the fan favorite) Lagertha. I think it’s really ironic that once again, my son is playing the role of my son–only last time I played the role of father (Thranduil). And once again, he’s playing the role of my sister’s boyfriend–or would-be boyfriend.

For the record, we did not choose Vikings because it would be “easy” just “easier” than our other idea. To be honest, if we’d wanted easy, we’d have bought bed sheets and made Kylo Ren and Rey costumes … not too late to do that.

Vikings is just an awesome show and what better time to create a Vikings cosplay than right before the second half of the latest season. So excited to see Lagertha and Aslaug battle it out for Queen. Hoping Bjorn joins the plot this season. lol

Our Raiding Party

vikings-bjornSo, obviously my kid looks like Bjorn, and he’s my son, so who he was going to be was no debate. I wanted him to go as kid Bjorn at first, but to be honest, big Bjorn’s costume will be easier than the child’s costume. And he gets an ax.

imagesMy sister and I really liked the character Throunn. We’re probably the only fans of the show who do. Not sure why. She’s a fun character with an awesome hairstyle (sis already has the shaved head). She’s a slave turned free woman exploring her new found freedom, which makes her a little wild and reckless. Sadly, the fans hated her and the producer wrote her off the show, which happens to almost all of the children and women characters I’ve noticed. Ironically enough, this will not be the first time my sister has cosplayed as a truly despised character. Two years ago she went to Kokomo Con as Tauriel, the controversial OC for the Hobbit trilogy. While we loved her, she was simply detested by die-hards. So it seems my sister is drawn to a certain type of character. Can’t wait to see how she pulls this one off.

Obviously I chose Lagertha.  Mostly because I can relate with her. She’s a single mother and a fighter who tries very hard not to put up with male BS, but gets screwed anyway, and has a hard time getting the respect she deserves. Personality aside, I love the intricacies of her hair and outfits. And there were a lot of outfits and hairstyles to choose from but I’m going to do this one from Season 3.

b17f4c03dbd8ac4fae13c97aa04d3313

Goals

One of our biggest regrets with the Hobbit cosplay was that we didn’t personally make the costumes. At the time I didn’t have the confidence to sew. It had been almost fifteen years since I’d taken sewing class (and I wasn’t very good. My teacher let me pass for “effort”). I gained a lot of confidence building the centaur costume (completely and utterly by hand), so I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do.

Sidenote: for those of you who think you’ll never use what you learn in shop class or home economics, if you want to cosplay, you will. It’s been fifteen years since shop and sewing class, but I can’t believe all the instant recall I’ve had while working on this project. I’m glad I took theatre, shop, and sewing in high school. A lot of people said I was wasting my time, but it turns out, I have some useful skills. (Also, as an adult, if you want to eat, take cooking class. Just saying).

Obviously we have our work cut out for us with elaborate hairstyles, wood working, leather working, sewing, and making chain-mail. It’s going to be slow going, but with five weeks left, I think we’ll be done in time for Kokomo Con.

Progress

So, after a week of settling on concepts, we finally made a solid week of effort.

So what did we get done?

Our swords, shields, and the ax are all cut and ready to be filed, sanded, and painted. The swords themselves took an entire day to cut out (I was still getting acquainted with the jigsaw), but the shields and ax we cut out in two hours after work.

swords

I have one sleeve of chain-mail finished (don’t judge unless you’ve done this). I can’t feel the tips of my fingers anymore. To clarify, I didn’t order a chain-mail shirt, or even chain-mail links. I am making my own links and linking them together one by one. There are many ways to do this, but I prefer the method where you attach them on a rod like so. There is a video on YouTube that shows this process. I made the thing to hold the rod out of PVC pipe. It took all of five minutes to make. As you can see, it is portable, sturdy, and adjustable. (you can put longer or shorter rods and pipes in the top and bottom to make it longer or shorter depending on how long a chain you need to make.

chainmail

Next week I hope to get some sewing done. Thanks to friends and family who deserve more than just an honorable mention, I have a sewing machine to sew the garments. It was absolutely free so I’m going to take very, very, very good care of it. Their kindness saved me time and hundreds of dollars, which helps a lot because leather (even fake leather) isn’t cheap.

sewingmachine

I’ll be sure to share photos and updates on my blog, facebook, and Twitter as the weeks go by. Stay tuned for next week’s progress.