If you live in the local DC Metro Area, we want to point you in the direction of StudioCosplay!
Its a local non-profit organization by cosplayers, for cosplayers. As a noob cosplayer, one of my biggest issues is finding resources! Another is that when I watch tutorials online, I always have questions that I can’t get answered. Where does StudioCosplay come in to play?
StudioCosplay, located in the DC metro area, is set on promoting community through the art of costuming by providing work space, opportunity, and education. StudioCosplay is opening a community-operated workshop in 2015 where cosplayers can connect and exchange ideas, share resources and knowledge, collaborate on projects, take instructional classes and hands-on workshops, and have the space and tools to work on costumes. Again, their workshop will be based in the DC metro area and will welcome all cosplayers, costume designers…
About the time PAX East was happening last year, I had this thought: what if there was a place where cosplayers could go and work on their costumes together and have all the tools and proper ventilation? This would be like a Hackerspace, or a Games Workshop, but for cosplayers. A place with sergers and 3D printers…a magical place! I put forth the idea to my friend and fellow cosplayer, Liz Gmaz, who as it turns out, had already been looking for a place to hold cosplay classes and she thought that this would be the perfect space. We discussed that our group could also be active at conventions by providing a booth where cosplayers can repair their costumes. We started talking about the possibilities and realized that this was something that could be really useful to our community. Now, a lot of people talking at conventions will come up with wild ideas and leave it at that. But we are Cosplayers, which means we don’t just like things; we live them. We don’t just plan things; we do them. So we didn’t just come up with this idea; we recruited Stefanie Hackenberg and Daria Medved and formed a non-profit to make this happen! We created Studio Cosplay and we are working to change the world of cosplay!
Studio Cosplay is going live this year and I could not be more excited! We are launching a Kickstarter in February at Katsucon to work with the community to raise funds for a cosplay workshop here in the DC Metro area. If we are successful, we should have our work space up and running by the beginning of the summer convention season.
I hope that it will be a place that cosplayers will be happy to call home; a place where there is collaboration and sharing. Last year, watching Heroes of Cosplay, I was struck by how crazy some of the big cosplayer’s work spaces are. They have actual workshops and access to all these expensive tools. I don’t even have a garage. If I want to spray paint something, I either have to cover my whole house in plastic, or I have to go outside in the cold. I know I am not the only person with this problem and I hope that opening this workshop will make cosplay more accessible. I’ve talked to so many people over the years who wanted to create a costume, but didn’t know where to start or didn’t have the right tools to create what they imagined. Our workshop will have a 3D printer, sewing equipment, fabrication tools, classes and depending on how well our Kickstarter does, a whole lot more. We will also have a green screen set up where cosplayers can take pictures of their finished costumes and collaborate with photographers and graphic artists.
The best part is that this is not just a space but an organization. We are meeting people every day who are excited about this idea and want to help and as more people and more ideas come into play there is no limit to what we will create! We applied for and recently got 501(c)(3) status and this opens up a lot of opportunities. I hope that in the coming months we will be able to reach out to businesses and vendors and get support for this project. I’d like to see us get to a size where we can make bulk orders for supplies and make cosplay more affordable. I’d like to see our members donating their unused supplies for others to use. I’d like to see us reaching out to schools and educating people on what cosplay is; that cosplay really is an art and should be treated like one. Maybe as our organization grows we can help form spaces in other cities.
Obviously, none of this is going to happen overnight. Right now, the four of us are working hard to get our workshop going. We hope it is something people want. We have a lot of dreams and ideas and we have a lot of work ahead of us. It is definitely cutting into my crafting time, and I am really behind on blog posts, but it’s worth it. Studio Cosplay is going to be something special in our community and I am so excited to be a part of building it!
Dungeon of Elements V2 is being released on Steam today! This is exciting news and I’m going to be playing it for the rest of the afternoon. In honor of this event, I’ve decided to do a quick post on making the DOE Alchemist I wore to PAX East.
This is my Alchemist character, Katilist. She is wearing the Oceanic Mantle with an Aquatic Rod and Tri-orb as her off-hand. It’s a really pretty build and wanted to re-create it.
Step One: Find Fabric
The fabric on this costume is supposed to look like water and I couldn’t find anything like it in stores or online, so I custom designed my own fabric on the website Fabric-On-Demand. I started with a JPEG I found of swirling water and photo-shopped it until I had the perfect colors. It arrived in 10 days and I was ready to go.
Step Two: Skirt
This was my first time making ruffles, and I had no idea where to start making a pattern. So, I found a pattern that I thought I could customize for my needs; Simplicity 2693 was perfect! I’d never worked with a patterned fabric before, so I spent a lot more time piecing together the pattern pieces than I should have.
Once the pieces were cut out, and put together I realized I was out of time and didn’t have anything to show for it but three unfurled ruffles. My friend Daria came over and helped me finish assembling the top of the skirt and putting in a zipper. Bias tape created the dramatic line on the edge of the ruffles and was really easy to put on. I then cut a long rectangle of my remaining fabric to make the under layer of the dress for the final ruffle. I would have liked to make the last layer fuller, but I ran out of fabric. One problem with making your own custom fabric is that you can’t just run to the store and pick up more.
Step Three: Under-Bust Corset
I was out of time -at the hotel and supposed to leave the room for the con in an hour- out of time; so I cheated. Instead of starting from scratch, I sewed a piece of my fabric onto a Frederick’s of Hollywood under-bust corset I already had. I cut the fabric to lay over the corset and folder over the top and bottom. I hand stitched the fabric to the top and bottom of every rib of the corset. My friend, Liz Gmaz, showed me this trick and it’s great because I can undo it and re-use the corset if I want.
Step Four: Sea Shells and Netting
I found a fish net top on Amazon that closely resembled the picture. It even came with tiny underwear! But, the sea shells were challenging. I tried using real sea shells at first, but they were too heavy and I didn’t have a good way of attaching them. They were also a bit small…
Instead, I found a cheap plastic sea shell bra and painted it to look more like real sea shells. The shells are hot glued to an adhesive bra so the shells just stick to my cleavage. Which seemed like a really good solution, until I was at PAX and it was hot and I was wearing it for hours. Apparently, adhesive bras tend to pop off when you sweat a little, which made for some interesting times at PAX. I later went back and used the string that came with the sea shell bra to wrap around my back and add a little support. I had to use a sharpie to paint the string black so it would match the fishnet.
Step Five: Accessories
The arm cuffs were made by making a sleeve out of my remaining fabric and sewing a shiny lace overlay over it. I thought this created the “spun crushed sea shell” look from the armor description. I bought teal gloves to wear under the sleeves. Gloves are really hard to sew and come in a variety of colors on Amazon, so I rarely make them. Old boots were spray painted to match the gloves, but they didn’t dry in time, so I ended up wearing a pair of brown boots to PAX. The belt was a piece of brown fabric I had left over from my Yang costume.
Step Six: Weapons
The weapons for this costume were really easy. The Tri-orb is assembled out of a 3 Styrofoam balls and a small piece of wood I picked up at Michael’s. I used clear plastic rod I picked up at a plastic distributor to connect the two.
I painted the wood to match my gloves and put several layers of Gesso on the Styrofoam balls so they could be spray painted. Again, I was tight on time so my friend Mike Ahrens came over and helped me finish. He spray painted the balls and drilled a few holes in the wood to put the plastic rods in. It took a few tries to get the placement and angles of the holes right. I then glued the pieces together with super glue and they were ready to go. They didn’t look as good as I had hoped in pictures, but they looked great in person and had a real floating effect. I attached it to my glove using a magnet, so the weight of the Tri-orb would be offset.
The Aquatic Rod is a broom stick with 3 wooden rings on it. Mike sprayed the staff white for me and the ends gray. Then we hot glued the pieces together. I ran out of time before PAX to finish painting. Later, I was able to go back and add some purple shading to the staff.
Step Seven: Have fun!
Once I put it all together, it turned out to be really accurate. This is a really comfortable costume and so much fun to wear with the ruffles! I’m lucky I had friends to come help me finish. It was starting to feel like an episode of Heroes Of Cosplay at the end, when I was up all night trying to finish and barely made it to the convention.
Step Eight: Go back and make it even better!
While at PAX, I found out that Frogdice, the creators of DOE, is going to use this armor for their next game, Stash, and that they would have a Dryad character.
I re-did the costume as a Dryad for a photo shoot. Here are some pictures I took with photographer Patrick Calder. You can see that good photo editing can take a costume from good to amazing. He added some blast effects and was able to get rid of the plastic rods so my Tri-orb was really floating!
I did a photo shoot last month with the amazing Patrick Calder and he has it up on his website, strangephoto.net, if you would like to check them out! I am a Dryad Alchemist wearing an Oceanic Mantle from Dungeon of Elements. I plan on doing a post about the costume in the near future.
How not to burn your stuff, yourself, and your home
This guide is for making a work space for using Worbla in your home. In case you haven’t heard of it, Worbla is basically thermoplastic that comes in sheets. I’ve been using it a lot recently to craft cosplay armor. When heated, Worbla can be molded into whatever shape you want and becomes rigid when cool. It is really great, because it is easy to use and doesn’t put out toxins while heated like some of the other crafting materials, like foam or PVC sheets.
The easiest way to shape Worbla is using a heat gun (or hair dryer in a pinch) and a heat knife. The drawback is that both these items create a lot of heat and heat BURNS things. Heat guns, in particular, can burn things without you even realizing it. This creates the problem of figuring out where to put your Worbla to heat it without setting things on fire.
Ever blow dry your hair too long and start smelling that burnt hair smell? Try hitting the carpet too long with a heat gun. You will inevitably end up toxic fumes and something that looks like this:
I know this from very personal and painful experience! (Yes, that was Berber.) Clearly carpet makes a poor work surface and wood and vinyl are not any better. Cool metal or smooth stone work surfaces work best. Unfortunately, I don’t have a garage with a nice cool cement floor or metal table to work on, so I make my own aluminum workspace that I can move to wherever I am working that day!
To make it, I start with a foam display board from the craft store that is big enough for the Worbla pieces I’m working on. Then, I wrap it in metal insulation tape.
That’s all you need to do. Metal insulation tape is available at any hardware store and is used to seal ducts. Note: it is not duck tape. Duck tape sheds water like the skin of a duck. This is the shiny aluminum metallic tape used for heated HVAC ducts. Prices for this vary, and at $6-$15, it might seem expensive for a roll, but weighed against the damage you can create without it you are getting a bargain! If the tape is impossible for you to get, you can also wrap the board in aluminum foil. However, the tape is much better and much safer, because it stays securely in place.
And Voila! You have a mobile workspace! The heated Worbla will not stick to the aluminum tape and the board will not catch on fire with the heat gun or knife. The aluminum will reflect heat when you hit it with a heat gun, but this actually helps you heat up your Worbla more evenly.
Watch out for your fingers! The board can get hot.
Make sure to heat things in the middle of the board to avoid inadvertently hitting what’s next to your work surface with the heat gun. It just takes a few seconds of even indirect heat gun heat to discolor most carpet, vinyl or wood.
The metal tip of your heat gun is REALLY hot! When you are done heating, don’t set it down anywhere but on the aluminum board. It will insta-burn through carpet. And for heaven’s sake do not touch it! This goes for heat knifes, too.
If your aluminum board is losing pieces of tape or looking a little worse for wear, there is no need to replace it, just add more aluminum tape.
Keep a bucket of cool water handy to dip your hands in when they start getting a little too warm and to treat burns with immediately.
Another item I find helpful is an aluminum cutting board:
The large board we just made is great for heating, but will not last long if you are cutting into it excessively. I make my cutting board out of a 4ml piece of foam. I wrap the foam first in duck tape to add rigidity.
Then wrap the whole thing in Aluminum tape.
This gives me a surface with give that I can cut on multiple times. I usually set it on top of my rigid board, so if I accidentally cut through one board I will hit the other. It is also nice to use it as a heat gun holder while heating so you can set your heat gun farther from you while shaping your Worbla. When the tape starts getting too cut up to stay together, you will need to re-tape your cutting board. That happens a lot, which is why I like using a smaller board for cutting: less tape.
In an ideal world, I would have a giant aluminum work table and could luxuriously stretch out my Worbla, shaping it to my every desire, as I casually fling around my heat gun like Han Solo would a laser gun. That dream, however, would require a garage and possibly burn defying superpowers. In the meantime, I find this to be a good work around.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions or suggestions on avoiding burns or even your favorite home cosplay catastrophe stories, please post a comment!
This year for Easter, I attended AwesomeCon, which is held in Washington D.C. I didn’t feel like wearing a serious costume after going to PAX East the weekend before, so I decided to go as the Easter Bunny and to give out Easter eggs filled with candy and little messages, like “You are awesome! Happy Easter!” I really had fun meeting other Cosplayers and taking pictures with them. It is easy to get so caught up in having a serious costume that you forget to have fun, so it was really great going casual and putting the ‘play’ back into Cosplay. Here was my impression of AwesomeCon:
Crowds: This is the second year this convention has been running and it has grown exponentially since last year. AwesomeCon guests were awesome and patient. They kind of had to be, because I don’t think the convention was prepared for the amount of people that showed up at all. Line management was poor. It took hours to get in if you pre-registered and I just gave up on seeing any of the main programming.
Guests: Billie Piper, Cary Elwes, Sean Astin, Ron Glass… the list continues. The guests were amazing for this convention and I think they had a fair amount of guests for the number of people that were there.
Programming: The panels I saw were interesting and informative. The ones I didn’t see looked like a lot of fun. The problem was the quantity, not quality. There were only 3-5 panels going on at one time, which is not enough for a convention with 32k people attending. They didn’t have large enough halls for the guest panels. I took one look at the lines and said ‘forget it.’ A friend waited in line for 2 hours and got turned away at the door. Hopefully, they will have bigger rooms and more going on next year. Contributing to the problem was a lack of the kind of club and fan organized activities you see at established conventions. like group photo shoots and club meetings.
Dealer Hall: I ended up wandering around the dealer hall most of the convention because I didn’t want to be sitting in line for hours. A lot of people were doing this and I think the dealers were very happy with that result. They did have a really nice set up. I liked the layout and the walk ways were wide enough. There was a good number of clubs, artists, and dealers. It never felt crowded despite the number of people. There was a lot of great cosplay and people were enjoying walking around.
Cosplay: I was really impressed by the amount of Cosplay. The Cosplay programming was a little lacking, but the attendance was fantastic. There was a nice arch set up in the main entrance that people were using as a photo area. As I mentioned earlier, this is a new con, so there aren’t many people flying or driving in from out of the area. This convention proved just how many Cosplayers there are in the DC area; there are a lot and they are as diverse as the region.
Parties: The convention center closed at 7PM so there wasn’t any late programming. There was an official after-party Friday night and a concert Saturday night, but you had to pay extra to attend and I wasn’t really interested. I had more fun just having people over at my house after to hang out in the hot tub.
Overall: I look forward to seeing what it will become in future years, but for this year I was glad I only bought a one day pass. I, of course, made my own fun and really enjoyed giving Easter eggs out to Cosplayers, young and old. I had one couple walk by me in the dealer hall with a little boy dressed as Spiderman, who yelled out “Its the Easter Bunny! Can I have an Egg please?” His Father looked at him sternly and said “Now son, that young woman isn’t just going to give you an Easter egg for free.” I smiled and said “Actually, here you go!” The boy was really happy and his parents just looked shocked for a moment and then smiled like I had returned their faith in humanity. Given the lines I know they had no doubt been through, I’m glad I made their day a little more fun!
Here are a few pics from the day:
A note about my costume: You don’t always have to spend a lot of money and time to Cosplay! I had the gloves from a Hello Kitty costume and the ears were made from a headband, some jewelry wire and some fabric scraps I had lying around. I wore some pinkish/red contacts I usually wear with vampire costumes, because I was channeling Bunnicula. The hole thing took about an hour to put together and cost me nothing. Despite that, I had a blast wearing it and really got to add to the environment; which is what Cosplay is all about.
Two of my close friends who met while filming Browncoats: Redemption and who (like me) are big geeks, are expecting their first child. I threw them a co-ed baby shower at my home last weekend and because they are both Fleet members and expecting a boy, a Battlestar Galactica theme was absolutely necessary! We had about 20 people and it was mostly friends, so they wanted something that was more party than baby shower. This means booze; and so the party theme ‘Battlestar, Babies and Bottles’ was born!
I started out the theme right from the get go with the invitations. I made them on the website Paperless Post. They had a cute space themed birthday card that I converted to a baby shower card. Paperless Post emails really attractive cards and gives you a page to track your attendance. It also has the option to print cards very easily. There is a fee, but it’s a baby shower and I felt like it was deserving of more than the typical Facebook event page. Above is a picture of the printed card, next to the online card, and I was really impressed with the quality of both. I decided I liked the chalkboard look and incorporated it into the party.
OMG, these favors came out so adorable! To make them, I ordered some pins from my friend Beth Nelson at Geek-A Bye Baby. They specialize in hard to find geek finery for the youngest generation and happened to have a whole set of really cool baby themed BSG pins. I chose “We Better Start Having Babies” for the favors, because it seemed the most universally applicable and had the potential to make some people uncomfortable. I, also, ordered “Our Baby is a Toaster” and “Doing our part to repopulate the Fleet” in a larger size for the Parents-to-be to wear during the party. The pins above are 1 inch. I picked up the bottle containers and bulk bottle candy at Party City. The ribbon is just some scalloped ribbon I had left over from a costume. I thought adding an occasional red ribbon to the mix brings to mind Cylons. They cost about $2.oo each to make. Filling the bottles, tying the ribbon and pinning on the pins were really easy and I love how these turned out!
Since we had a few party games, I decided to pick up some prizes for the winners. I went to Total Wine and More and after scouring the shelves for BSG themed bottles of wine with no luck, I finally asked for help. The salesman was REALLY excited about my party theme and helped me find ‘Moons of Jupiter’ and ‘Lady in Red’ which I thought was perfect! It would have been better if the Lady in Red was blond, but it still works. I wrapped them in a sheer star and swirl covered gift bag, also from Total Wine, and popped a baby nipple on the top to make it more appropriate (or inappropriate depending on how you look at it) for a baby shower.
Because of the ‘bottle’ part of the theme we did have a lot of beer, but I wanted something special and a little more girly for the Mom-to-be. We made three drinks from recipes I found online and named them to go with the theme. The Maelstrom Punch and the Protein-Rich Algae Drink were non-alcoholic, so everyone could drink them, but they also tasted great when mixed with alcohol. The Ambrosia recipe was from Hot Nerd Girl and was pretty much all alcohol and it tasted good; especially mixed with the Protein-Rich Algae Drink. If I was going to do a do-over, I would have mixed those two together and come up with a nice whiskey looking drink for the third container.
Food is so important for any party that has a lot of alcohol, and if you can make it fit your theme, even better! ‘Grandma Baltar’s Homemade Aerilon Ziti’ was actually the Dad-to-Be’s recipe with a fun sign and it was amazing! Our salad was supposed to look like the maelstrom art, and it almost does. We decorated cupcakes with the maelstrom art, too, which you can see on the cover photo above. The Cylon Raider crescent rolls are just normal Pillsbury crescent rolls with pieces of red ‘V’s of bell pepper stuffed into them before you stick them in the oven. I saw the idea during a Google search and it was super easy. Plus, feasting on Cylon Raiders is awesome! My attempt at cake decoration was…not awesome, but you can at least tell what I was going for. The person who usually decorates cakes for my parties is the Mom-to-be, and I felt bad asking her to decorate her own cake. She ended up coming over and helping with the cupcakes, which is why they actually look good. Not that looks matter with food- it all tasted delicious!
For party activities, I set a rocket party themed table cloth on my dining room table with blank onesies and bibs. I filled some vintage Battlestar Galactica paper cups I found on E-bay with fabric pens and let people go to town. You can tell by some of our winners that I have ridiculously awesome friends. The Cylon spine one glows in the dark! I ordered the table cloth, cupcake stand, plates and star paper for the walls from Oriental Trading. We also did a raffle for some of the wine.
This was a great party! It was relaxed and fun and everybody enjoyed themselves. The theme really made it a lot cooler than your classic baby shower. A few guests even wore their Fleet uniform, including the incredibly cute Mom-to-be!