Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What can cosplay do for you?

via (I just liked this Murakami peice in Pharrell Williams house...admittedly a tangent)

Last week/end was GenCon in Indianapolis.  Downtown workers' favoritest convention, because this is what is walking around at lunch:
#gencon14 on google image search
I was at a client site on Friday, and someone in IT was dressed as Black Widow...all day, because she was leaving to go to GenCon after work.  GenCon is a table games like Dungeons & Dragons, but it is my favoritest because apparently table game players are also into Cosplay.

Anybody know what she is supposed to be? via
"Cosplay" is short for costume play, and wikipedia says that it "is a performance art in which participants, called cosplayers, wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name."  "Performance Art" seems a bit lofty for freaks and geeks, but if it's on wikipedia it must be so.  As these costumed citizens walk around I think "Good for you" and I applaud their bravado. But don't worry, I'm still Judgey McJudgerston over here--I would not think that if my sibling was dating one.

My Dad once told me that excessive realism is the indulgence of my generation.  I think I was explaining how I had to make tiny cupboards for Char's play kitchen because it is inaccurate to make your kid store sauce pans in the stove and dry goods and silverware in the fridge.  As an aside, I am totally obsessed with that statement and want to write a Roland Barthe "Rhetoric of Image" type essay on it in my next life.  I mean, EA Sports...the decline of live theatre patrons and the move of writing talent to TV and movies....the change in toys with robotics and microcmoputers.  So you may hear the statement again, but anyhoo. Apparently, cosplay folks, or cosplayers (thanks Wiki), and I have more in common that I readily admit.  

Cosplayers are excellent internet-age citizens.  First off, they have really changed internet sourcing for the better.  Case in point:  Halloween.  Now, I'm trying to require my kids to use what they've got this year because this is an example of a random costume that hasn't seen trick or treating (note the full rack and wigs behind her) and I've got some big expenses coming up.  And I'm putting it in writing so when you see me start obsessing or pinning to the contrary, hold me accountable.

Not too shabby, right?  For a "free" halloween?
BUT....originally, Molly wanted to be Elsa and Charlotte wanted to be Catwoman, and I had a 12 hour car ride to play on my phone in July.  All the Elsa costumes are ballgowns as opposed to that awesome slinky "Let it Go" ice queen look.  It is the same problem we had with Tinkerbell, but Elsa is beyond my sewing capabilities.  Enter Cosplay.  

Yep, you can custom order this from China in any size..from Molly to me...for a little more than the Disney Store (and about the same price as the new Chasing Fireflies' licensed Elsa costume). Not to give 100% of the win to cosplay--thank you, China, for your cheap manufacturing and fearless misappropriation of Disney trademarks.

For Charlotte, the new Anne Hathaway packaged costumes are lacking so I figured I could hit a dance site for a unitard (or leggings + turtleneck leotard)...and hit Etsy to see what CRAZY Catwoman stuff the cosplayers are selling.  I was not disappointed.

These are made of leather and they are kinda amazing.  They sure beat the pants off the uncomfortable plastic masks from Target, Amazon, etc.  Here are some of the other leather masks offered by cosplay etsy sellers:


I mean, how awesome is that fox?  I even like it as wall art.  The one part you will have to overlook in cosplay sourcing is that it often bleeds into some crazy fetish stuff.  Even Wiki acknowledged it.  For example, here is Poison Ivy, a Catwoman-ish thing, and a scary pig from the sites linked above.

Oh my.  But non-cosplay fetish vibes surfaced on a sourcing quest a few years ago when I wanted a child sized metallic pink unitard for a Pink Diamond costume, a super hero Charlotte made up.  Really, humanity? (Serves me right for trying to source stuff at work--I never found one smaller than a child 7, btw).  It seems to be impossible to avoid a sex-based subculture these days.  Or so I tell myself when I blindly inquire into child-sized catwoman masks.

The other place cosplayers are your friend is DIY and materials.  I have to quickly make cactus centerpieces for Cinco de Molly in November, and so far the Pinterest trials are flopping.

The above was time consuming for low impact (read Pinterest fail), and paper mache seemed even more time consuming, so I thought about expanding spray foam (which I learned can be carved into shapes by a kid in my dorm who was working on an avant guarde theater production involving life size puppets).  You know who is all over expanding foam?  Cosplayers.  Here are two informative reviews (1, 2) on using foam.  I mean, if they can do this how hard are cartoony cacti?

The downside, it turns out, is that you must cover the foam before you paint it.  What might you cover it in?  According to the sites, paper clay or paper mache...or Sintra, Worbla or Wonderflex.  I had to google these...they are all plastic materials you can shape, mold etc. with very little heat (warm water, steam, etc.)  They stick to themselves in varying degrees, are paintable, and relatively cheap.  (And paper clay, which has come up on Design Sponge, etc., is also cool stuff).

this is made out of worbla....via

I have not figured out what Ikea hack or DIY decorative item these materials will facilitate but I feel confident it will come up some day soon.  My thesis here is that today this stuff is for cosplay, but tomorrow it will be middle-aged-white-woman-pinterest fodder.  Here are some inspiration pics to get the creative juices flowing.






I don't know what the learning curve is with this stuff, but the possibilities seem endless based on the costumes that are out there.

So what is your take on Cosplay--am I a jerk and you secretly want to dress up like Princess Zelda and walk around town?  Do you dress up like Princess Zelda? Are you the internet citizen to trump the vaguely unsatisfying hardware shim sunburst mirror and dowel sunburst mirror DIY options?


  1. Evidently the dress up thing is not a deal breaker for some in the family and they were surprised that anyone would think otherwise. Oh the free spirits.
    The spray foam is amazing. REALLY have to get out of my rut and try something. I did need to start working on Christmas gifts he he he...

  2. Spray foam is very cool but admittedly beyond my skill level - i would likely shave off my own finger in the process of shaping it. I vote for cat woman mask #2 (middle one). The mask with the stiches is a bit too S&M. Fox mask is flipping fabulous - i want one! and I am still jonesing for the gold ibis lamp... Thanks for the inspirations