Interview with Wingedlight

It’s time for another interview, this time with Wingedlight! She’s a detail-oriented cosplayer from Colorado, who likes to remind everyone that cosplay is about having fun!

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Wingedlight out of costume

What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
My cosplay alias is Wingedlight, which has been my online handle since I stole it from my friend in 6th grade to use for Neopets…. >.>;

How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I have been cosplaying since 2007; I got started because some of my friends were anime nerds and I wanted to join them!

What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I really like doing hand embroidery because I can lay down while I work on it (lol). I also like working with interesting looking/feeling fabrics, because it’s a lot more enticing to sew when I want to spend time with them. My other favorites are beads and rhinestones, as I’m really attached to shiny things, and I have a long history of working with beads and jewelry (I spent all of my college years working in a bead store).

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Wingedlight as Gaku Yaotome from Idolish 7, photo by Chiseled Light Photography

What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
My next big project is a rendition of Cinderella, and it’s going to have a lot of the things I love aesthetically: gradient fabric, tons of beads and shinies, interesting appliqués, etc. One bit that was stumping me when I was looking for supplies for her is that she has some fabric bits that appear to be completely see-through (like a clear plastic), but drape like regular fabric. I couldn’t figure out what to use until I discovered a completely sheer gauze that’s woven with metallic threads! I’m excited to play with it for this costume!

What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
Two things that I really love to see in cosplay are impressive detailing and overall clean work. There are lots of cosplayers who manage to do both (I’m better at the first than the second, lol)! Some examples who I admire and who I also am lucky enough to count as friends are Alchemical Cosplay, Sarcasm-Hime, and Helen Alice Cosplay. The list could go on for pages though…

What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
I think the cosplay scene right now is really exciting and fast-paced, but because of that it can also be stressful. It’s exciting to see incredibly high quality cosplays popping up everywhere, and the access to new and innovative materials/techniques/tutorials is awesome! However it can also be stressful to feel like you’re falling behind others in terms of knowledge or output. Being a cosplayer can feel like being a one-man movie crew at times, and you can feel bad if you’re not doing every piece well (even though realistically it’s impossible to be a specialist in everything). It’s hard to remember to just go with the flow and do what you enjoy!

What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I think the majority of the changes I would like to see are with cons’ handling of the cosplay community. Some cons are very respectful of cosplayers and the work that goes in to cosplay, which shows in the guests they invite, their cosplay contests, and the programming they put on. Cosplay’s popularity has blown up in recent years, so I think if cons want to continue to attract attendees they need to make sure cosplay is a part of their plans.

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Wingedlight as Queen of White from Sakizo, photo by Nigel Wang Photography

What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Don’t worry too much about keeping up with social media, booking expensive photoshoots, or comparing your self to popular cosplayers. Those things can all become super draining, which sort of ruins the point of cosplay (making friends, making art, enjoying and paying tribute to the series and characters you’re cosplaying). Ultimately most of those things are up to luck, so you might as well focus on the fun parts so you can actually enjoy the hobby eating all your free time.

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
All of the cons I’ve been to have their pros and cons, including the international ones. Anime Expo has tons of great guests and artists attending, but is expensive and has problems with line control. Comiket (in Japan) is a ton of fun if you have an interest in doujin, but it’s very crowded. Japan Expo (in France) has the European Cosplay Gathering which is one of the best contests in the world to watch, but it’s in the middle of nowhere and you aren’t allowed to reenter con once you’ve left each day. I think my two favorite cons I’ve been to are Costume Con (which had incredible programming, but is focused on general costume craftsmanship not anime), and Anime Los Angeles (which has a great relaxed environment and a very popular costume contest).

Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
I made my Takarazuka Sakizo costume to match my friend Yukine Costumes in France. She mailed me swatches of her fabric, and I picked mine to match. In my opinion, our costumes go incredibly well together for being made by two people on two different continents who had never met before!

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Wingedlight as Takarazuka Gentleman from Sakizo, photo by SongRiku

Thanks for the interview, Wingedlight! You can check out her Facebook page here, her Instagram here, and her Twitter page here!

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Cosplay Budgeting: How I Made Marishka from Van Helsing Cheaper

This year, my friends at Starlit Creations and I decided to finally make Dracula’s Brides from the Van Helsing movie and we tried to all help each other out as we could with doing it cheaper. I figured I’d share some of the things I figured out along the way to help cut costs and save a little bit of money on my cosplay and potentially theirs.

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Yunie as Marishka, with Starlit Creations as Aleera and Verona, from Van Helsing

First and foremost, the blonde lace front wig I’m wearing was one my friends already had. They gave it to me and I sent them links to cheaper wigs I figured could work for them. The exchange saved me at least $30!

All the belt fabric, shoulder pieces, and the main fabric for the top were given to me by the girls with the linings of all being fabric I already owned in my own hoard. I shopped around on Etsy and found the sheer silver-lined fabric for the pants and bought enough to give to Starlit Creations to help them not have to buy more fabric on their own. I then shopped around to buy the sheer for the capes at a lower cost and bigger volume after finding screen-accurate fabric at $50 a yard… which wasn’t going to work. So I bought extra of the sheer and iron-on vinyl to make my own fabric, which cost me $50 all-around instead; basically over $200 saved!

We all shopped around and used coupons to get the trims that were as close as we could find to what was used in the film. I also shopped around and would find pricing and buy what I needed for cheaper by comparing various sites. Admittedly, Etsy, Amazon, and Mood Fabrics ended up being my go-to for all the trims.

As for the shoes, we all just shopped around for the cheapest sandals we could find that would match. With the jewelry, we shared items and made our own pieces from things we already had. The girls created their own embroidery and hand-stitched all the beadwork, which turned out beautifully.

All-around, Marishka from Van Helsing should’ve been almost a $400 endeavor and I spent about $150 over all after working with my friends to source items and materials. I’m unsure on how much they spent/saved from what they estimated the costumes would have cost them, but I’m sure taking the time to shop around helped out.

 

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Polly Plastics Review Part I: Thermal Beads

Right after Denver Pop Culture Con, I was approached about obtaining thermoplastics from Polly Plastics to work with and review. Me, being me, I had to get a variety pack from their site here to test out the different forms of thermoplastics that Polly Plastics offers! To properly do this review, however, I decided to do this in two parts, as I’m still deciding what to make with the other bits of the variety pack that I haven’t worked with.

I started working with the thermal beads, which came in clear or a huge variety of colors, like gold, silver, red, green, etc. They also sent a card to help with mixing colors if you’re attempting to a get specific hue. The beads are put into hot water until they become clear and can then be worked with and sculpted. If something isn’t hardening in the shape you desire, you can just drop it right back in and work with the plastic again until you get the desired result. They’re super easy to work with and are just kind of fun to play around and figure out.

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Resin gems from Starlit Creations wrapped and set in moldable thermoplastic beads from Polly Plastics

I ended up taking some resin gems that the girls at Starlit Creations had sent me and making the gold and silver edging around them to see if plastics would work instead of extra resin for the setting. I think with a mold or more practice, I could get it to look fairly nice and smooth without odd lumps and fingerprints. The gold was my first attempt at playing with the beads to do what I wanted, with the silver being my second attempt, which I felt came out better. I plan on messing with the thermal beads more in the future to get it looking smoother, but it’s really easy to work with.

After doing that, I moved on and mixed some of the clear and red beads to create individual rose petals to sculpt a miniature rose for part of a scepter I plan to make. It worked super well for what I planned to sculpt and shape, and any time I didn’t like how it was working out, I tossed it back into the hot water and reworked the petal piece. Now, once it hardened, some of the areas on the petals didn’t mix fully with the red and clear thermal beads. It’s not super noticeable unless you’re up close, but the plastic can be easily painted to match. I want to add a little bit more to the bottom of the rose, but I overall really like how it turned out and I had fun working with the beads.

Clean-up is stupid easy. I worked on wax paper to make sure nothing stuck to my surface I was working on, and I just reheated a mug full of water that I dumped out after I was done. I do think wearing latex gloves would have been a good idea to get smoother surfaces, as my fingerprints are visible in the plastic. But it was a learning experience that I did figure out silly things like that for next time!

Next time I will be working with the thermal plastic sheets and strips from Polly Plastics! I’m hoping to come up with something neat and be able to do another full review of their products! I have a few ideas, so hopefully I can get those going and photographed for the next half of this tutorial!

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Vanellope from Wreck It Ralph Make-Up Tutorial

This wonderful tutorial was created by Jbunzie and is all about bringing Vanellope’s look to life via make-up!

Hope this helps! 😀

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Denver Pop Culture Con 2019 Review

The first major change showing in this review that I’ll state right off is the name change. Due to the issues with San Diego Comic Con claiming a trademark on the “Comic Con” title, what was Denver Comic Con changed it’s name to Denver Pop Culture Con…. And with the name change came a lot of changes to the convention overall.

My friends, husband, and I carpooled to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, Thursday afternoon so we wouldn’t have to check in during convention time and potentially have to deal with the traffic. Check-in went smoothly, like it has in the years past with this hotel. We managed to do early badge pick-up that day as well, which made picking up our badges super smooth and easy.

On Friday, we heard the lines weren’t quite as bad as last year due to multiple entrances. We all got ready in our costumes (Shindig Inara for me from Firefly), and got in one of the lines and it moved surprisingly quick to get to security. The security checks were better than last year, as they did more efficient bag and pocket checks, but people were still sneaking stuff in (gotta check all the bag pockets, lol). They waved wands over everyone to check for metal and then sent you in to get checked for badges, which if you had one, you went right on through fairly quick. This repeated any time you entered the con, which was good to see them actually practice all weekend.

Once inside, we went upstairs to the Dealer’s Hall area. Everyone was cleanly laid out which made it very easy to navigate. The Kid’s Area was off to one side, still a nice, big part of the Hall, but not obstructing walkways like last year. The Breckenridge Beer Garden set up was fantastic and a really neat idea with a little “shack” for people to go in! The food court was off to one area and had lots of choices and plenty of seating, which was awesome. Celebrity Summit had its own area and the lines were decently maintained with no one being crazy about photos being taken, as long as you weren’t sniping ones of celebrities. The prices were the normal ones for the con when it comes to photo ops and autographs, but the listed schedules for the celebrities at their tables were hardly ever correct. It made it insanely hard to plan being in line for things, so we actually chose to cut our autograph choices down to only four, one of which we got on Friday.

After checking out about half of the Dealer’s Hall in costume, we headed back to the hotel, got into normal clothes, and finished the adventure. There was a good selection of artists, vendors, and authors… However, you could tell there wasn’t nearly as much as a comics presence like years past. A lot of the creators and artists weren’t there, along with production companies, which was a bit unfortunate to see. Once we finished checking everything out, and buying a few items, we met up with friends and basically ended our con day by getting dinner, lol!

On Saturday, we waited to get into costume as I had signed up for the costume contest with my friends later in the day, and we all wanted free mobility for some more exploring of the con. We made sure to attempt autographs, but the lines for Saturday only celebrities were absolutely insane, so I just gave up on that notion. We purchased a couple more items, then went and located Lobby C, which was our area for check-in for the contest. After that, we left to get into our Brides of Dracula costumes from Van Helsing (I got to be Marishka!).

It took a bit to get into costume, but we got back to the convention in plenty of time to hang out and get photos in the downstairs open area near Lobby C before we needed to check in. After a little bit, we spoke with the information booth to see where to go to check in for the contest, and got directed to the Cosplay Panel room. We spoke to a gal there, who stated we had been in the right spot, took us back over and told us check in would begin at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. We hung out in the area and got asked to line up across the way along a wall, then proceeded to be told all the kids had to check in first before adults. So, we waited until a little after 5 p.m., when we got checked in and proceeded to be seated in a green room with other contestants.

Now, let me pre-face the costume contest experience with what it had been the year before: Kids went out, all got swag bags, then adults went out but were separated into Novice, Intermediate, and Masters with craftsmanship judging done earlier in the day, and while judges decided, people did an unjudged catwalk to entertain the audience. Awards were quickly presented at the end with photos able to be taken easily.

The set up was similar, with staff letting all the parents and kids’ handlers know where to go and what to do. The kids went out and did their thing with all getting swag bags. Adults had been told we’d be instructed on what to do, but that never happened, so we got told last minute that we had to walk on the stage with whatever we had and exit down the stairs on the other side of the stage with 30 seconds to do whatever. It was an absolute mess, because they didn’t explain the taped out path, which if followed was perfect to pose in for the light, so most contestants went in blind. Once off stage, we could go anywhere, and received little swag bags and participation trophies, so we all sat in the audience until the end.

Let me say one thing before I continue… There were some absolutely INSANE costumes. People brought some of the best cosplays I’ve seen; we expected nothing because the amount of awesome on that stage was undeniable. People worked their butts off and you could tell! But when you have roughly sixty entries and do an Audience Favorite (who received a Plexiglass trophy) and 4 Judges’ Choice awards (which were pieces of paper), that tells me the Contest is basically… a joke to the con. You have people bringing their A-Game on all levels and reducing the time of the contest by reducing the awards was a bad call. The theatre was barely half-filled, the contest did not start at the scheduled time and ended over an hour earlier than scheduled.

This was hands-down the saddest display of a Costume Contest I’ve seen in 17 years of cosplaying. To those who competed, you were all amazing. There should have been categories, because Masters level armor next to a new person thrifting a costume as a Novice is not fair, especially at a large con boasting about the cosplayers they have attend. It was unfair to the judges to have to choose like that, and they still all made good calls; the winners of awards deserved them 100%, it just needed to be done better.

After that debacle, we closed out the night with friends and the Hard Rock After Party… Which was… interesting. It wasn’t bad but I felt it could’ve been better organized with how little space there was in the restaurant.

Sunday, we wore our X-Men costumes (I was White Phoenix!) and finished getting the last autograph and merchandise. We made sure to meet up with friends and just hang out before heading home. ❤

Overall, the convention was enjoyable. For autographs, it’s grown big enough it’s best to get a Speed Pass and not deal with the lines. The security and entry lines improved, so that was a plus. Costume coverage rules and some prop rules were more relaxed, so I enjoyed that aspect. Our hotel continued to be stellar and we loved checking out the Dealer’s Hall. I can safely say that I will not compete in their contest again, nor recommend anyone to do so, until they return to the former year’s of how it ran. It was a mess and made it an unenjoyable experience, so I’d rather enjoy other parts of the con instead. We will easily be returning to Denver Pop Culture Con in 2020!

 

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Interview with Apola Star

It’s time for another interview, this time with Apola Star! She’s a veteran cosplayer from California, who enjoys leatherworking and meeting new people!

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Apola Star out of costume

What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
Apola Star. I have been in love with Greek religion/mythos since I was a child and always loved the sun God Apollo. I changed the ending noise to be more feminine and came up with Apola. Since it was based off of the sun God, I picked an astral body for the last name “Star”. It actually started as my gaming name all the way back on the PS3!

How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I’ve been cosplaying for 13 years, only being super active the last 3 years. I always enjoyed dressing up as a child, and after going to ACEN in Chicago in 2006 I fell in love with the hobby.

What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
Leather for sure! You can do so much with it, from stamping in designs to carving them in. It’s a very hardy material when you work in thicker forms, so it lasts forever. I also love foam because you can make almost anything with it!

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Apola Star as Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok, photo by J. Farrow Photos

What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I am learning basic metalworking at the moment, so I hope to start making chain and scale maille in the near future.

What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I like to see people putting their own flair on their cosplay. It’s awesome to do stitch by stitch accurate cosplays, but it’s also amazing to see others make a cosplay their own.

What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
Honestly, I’m still an outsider to the overall scene. I started my serious cosplay hobby outside of the convention scene. For me personally, the cosplay scene is the wilderness and finding the perfect place to take amazing photos. For most others it’s the networking structure that has been built by many cosplayers linking together and just coexisting.

What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I would love to see less fighting between cosplayers and less creepy people taking advantage of young and inexperienced cosplayers.

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Apola Star as Allmight from My Hero Academia, photo by Darkmind Films

What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Do NOT be afraid to fail. If I had been afraid of trying new things and messing up, I would still be making costumes that looked like a 5 year old pieced them together. Try new things, fail, learn and do it again until you succeed!

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
I absolutely LOVE Wizard World and ACEN in Chicago. They are medium sized conventions and there are a lot of things to do, between panels, artist alley, cosplayer booths and photo spots. I currently live in California and my favorite conventions here are Anime Expo, Nerd Expo, LA Comic Con, and Anime Pasadena. Anime Expo and LA Comic Con are both popular conventions that cover both the Japanese side of my fandoms and the western comic side. There are lots of awesome people that go to them as well. Nerd Expo (FORMERLY Nerdbot Con) and Anime Pasadena are both one day conventions that are great for getting loot and just enjoying the day in cosplay.

Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
I hand stamped the design in my Ashe tail coat one triangle at a time. It took about 4 hours, but it was worth it because it looks amazing!

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Apola Star as Ashe from Overwatch

Thanks for the interview, Apola Star! You can check out her Facebook page here and her Instagram here!

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Sailor Moon Maid Café Cosplay Tutorial

This tutorial is to teach you how to make the whole Sailor Moon Maid Café costume! It was created by Axceleration and is relatively easy to follow! 😀

Hope this helps! 😀

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