I go to a convention every year and usually attempt a cosplay to enter in the cosplay contest. My goal/dream in life is to win a first place in my category. I’ve won three 2nd Place Master Category awards with costumes I’ve worn and a costume I helped my friend and his son/my god son with won 2nd in Exhibition (that same year, my God daughter made a whole room go “aaaaaaaaaw!!!!” with the Princess Peach costume I made for her and the judges made up a “Hey! You’re Awesome!” Award on the spot).
The costumes seem to be getting bigger and more complicated every year as I attempt to accomplish this goal. Last year, I went as Eileen the Crow from Bloodborne. The cape alone was worth a mention by the judges to the crowd as it was five layers of linen (the longest layer being three or four feet) that was hand dyed, shredded, distressed, and sponge painted. I was confident I would get that 1st place, but lost to an awesome Monster Hunter cosplayer that included this gorgeous light up moth prop. Silver lining: I made a new convention friend to get cosplay advice from! (@gamedweeber_cosplay on IG if anyone’s interested).
I was happy with my costume and my second place prize that included a gift card to one of the convention vendors that I used to buy a large ass roll of Worbla from, but it’s also like, “Goddamn! What does a cosplayer have to do to win a first place?” Apparently my answer to that question for this year is cosplaying as Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn complete a War Bow and the fucking light up Sylen’s Lance. Right now I’m in the serious planning, patterning, materials gathering, and initial building stages—also known as Phase “What the fuck have I gotten myself into????!”
It’s not like I chose this cosplay for ease of construction, but I seriously did not get just how complex and detailed she really was until I had to go over those details with a fine tooth comb. The clothing part of the costume isn’t that bad. Its detailed and a lot of work, but really nothing that outside my skill level. It’s mainly everything else that gets me in that state of panic. I’m not really that experienced with prop work—I’ve reworked a corn broom for Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service and built the Wind Waker Link’s Hero Shield, a Katamari ball, and the Blades of Mercy from Bloodborne (which can actually separate like in the game). I’ve built one wig for Pandy from Dead Leaves and that was a fucking nightmare and Aloy has a full head of thick red hair. But I don’t think of building experience when I pick characters to cosplay. I’m just like “Derp! Sure! I’ll cosplay as the robot dinosaur hunting badass!” and not consider my skill level at all.
My mental health can make building cosplay difficult. The obvious one being depression can make me lose interest in things I enjoy and I’ll put it off because I don’t have the energy or motivation to work on it. The anxiety usually comes into play when I’m frustrated that something isn’t working so I leave it alone to avoid more anxiety and next thing I know its like three weeks before Kon and I’m in a panic scrambling to get a costume done.
I was looking tutorials on how to make some of the parts of this costume to give me some idea on how I could build things and mix it with my own ideas. One such tutorial was a YouTube video of how a cosplayer by the name of Zonbi made a War Bow for their Aloy costume. And she’s like “I made this in about two and a half days in between work and other adulting responsibilities”. It’s pretty amazeballs, even more so for something that took two and a half days to build in between life. Meanwhile, it took me about two and a half days in between shit to make the patterns for the arm and knee bracers—not the actual bracers, but the patterns to make the bracers. I churned out pattern for my Cricut and another cosplayer had a whole fucking bow constructed and painted. How the fuck do people construct entire props or even costumes in a couple days??? It blows my mind!
Well, I could probably get things done quicker if I weren’t so particular about details and color probably thanks to my mild autism. Some things I’m like “It’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it”, but a lot of the time I’m super fucking anal about it and frustrate the absolute shit out of myself. For example, I have several bottles of different blue dye—Sapphire, Royal Blue, Indigo Blue, Aquamarine, Denim Blue—from trying to find the right color combination to get me the exact shades of blues needed for Aloy’s skirt and scarf. (“Is it any wonder why I ace all those color tests where they give you four colors and identify the shade that’s like quarter of a hair lighter than the others?” I ask myself). Yes, they have to be hand dyed because Joann’s doesn’t have the precise colors of linen I want and I have a philosophy of, whenever possible, using materials the character might have used to construct their outfit (the Nora would be hand dying their fabrics). Yes, I realize this is anxiety inducing and I mostly do this to myself by picking the most complicated cosplay outside my skill level.
As anxiety inducing as it is, it’s also strangely rewarding. Finding that perfect shade of blue for the skirt panel borders after all those dye tests and nearly burning my damn pinky off was practically orgasmic—imagine how completing a costume and being satisfied with it feels. It’s going to feel so amazing whenever I construct the costume that earns me a first place in Masters. Hopefully, I’ll get this with this Aloy costume…
…if I get the fucking thing finished.
Here’s some of the cosplays I’ve made: