Hello, cosplayers! This week on Cosplay Closet, I’m gonna tell you a little story. It’s a story of hope, desperation, brief optimism but ultimately failure. This is the story of my last cosplay.
My adventure began at the start of summer. I was full of optimism and knew I could definitely get my costume done in time for Dublin Comic Con in August. I had chosen to do a female version of Thresh from League of Legends, a character I’d loved the look of since he came out. The chance to do something so creepy in a more feminine way was something I looked forward to. I had spent a while planning things out. I knew my materials, I’d found the sewing patterns, and I gave myself plenty of time to finish things off… or so I thought.
You see, life always finds a way to sidetrack me on things like these. Maybe a new game will come out, maybe my friends will suddenly decide I need to be social. Regardless, something will always eat away my time when I’m on a long deadline. I had grown accustomed to this and believed I had planned accordingly. But you can never quite predict when life will throw you a curveball, or what shape it will come in.
Things started smoothly, I have the craft foam for the armour done in a night, cut the fabric another night, everything is going on track. I even managed to get a dremel and carve out details for Thresh’s mask without too many issues. I was learning that skill for the first time, and expected to mess up 10 times before getting it right. But even that couldn’t stop me. I was on the roll of a lifetime!
That was until the dreaded second last step began. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of making armour with foam and worbla, there are several steps. First, you must make the base out of craft foam, easy peasy! Next, you cover that base with worbla using the sandwich method, nothing to mess up there but a couple of finger burns. You’re almost done already! If you’re not adding big details, all you need to do is prime and paint. That should be easy, right?
Wrong! See, this was my first time priming with gesso. There are many methods for priming your armour. (I’ve found this guide very helpful.) The methods vary between quality vs ease in most cases. However, until you’ve worked with a specific method, you should never assume you know anything about it. You see, the massive problem I had here was smoothing. With gesso, you’re able to apply a couple coats and then sand it down so that there’s no scratches or bumps on your piece.
With gesso, you’re able to apply a couple coats and then sand it down so that there’s no scratches or bumps on your piece. It sounds easy, but then you give yourself carpal tunnel! You see when the guides say “This needs some sanding”, what they’re trying to say is “This needs A LOT of sanding!”. I don’t think there was a hope in hell for me to finish my pieces with my arm or my sanity intact had I kept going on my own. Thankfully, I have one of the most amazing boyfriends in the world who was willing to help me. But even with his help, it was too much. Plus, I felt awful, because I could literally see his soul leave his body after 20 minutes of sanding.
Based on having to sand my pieces alone, I added almost 6 weeks of work to my schedule. I can only imagine that more seasoned cosplayers can get these jobs done faster. But at the same time, I wonder how seasoned cosplayers still have the use of their arms. I kid you not, I spent 2 weeks straight sanding pieces every day, and had to stop doing that because I gave myself tendonitis in my elbow!
So in the end, my cosplay wasn’t finished in time. I had it to a semi-wearable state, but it was nowhere near my standards. I still had to sew several pieces, add details, weather all my armour. It just wouldn’t have felt comfortable in the state it was in. I’d spent so much time on it, it deserved a higher standard. So I still have some work left to do to bring Thresh to life, but this experience has taught me a valuable lesson. Firstly, always experiment with materials beforehand. Whether you have a cosplay planned or not, take the time to work with new materials and methods on something small. You’ll thank yourself when the time comes, and it gives you an excuse to make some nerdy little trinkets for your workspace.
Secondly, be prepared to fail. The people closest to me will attest, I was not the nicest person to be around in the weeks leading up to DCC. So much had I focused on the costume, that I forgot to take care of myself. I was stressed, I never stopped working and tensions were at an all-time high. If I wasn’t working on the cosplay, I was thinking about it. The closer it got to DCC, the more I reminded myself how much I had to do. It was only after I completely broke down that I remembered, it’s just a costume. You can enjoy a convention with or without the perfect outfit.
You can enjoy a convention with or without the perfect outfit. Just remember that no matter how much of the costume you have to compromise, the one thing you can’t compromise is yourself. Your wellbeing, and your health is always the priority. So never let yourself stress over a deadline. After all, there’s always another convention, right?