Monday, February 7, 2011

Never too late to learn

The opportunity to challenge yourself to learn new and improve your skills endlessly is one reason why I cosplay. If I hadn’t plummeted to the wondrous world of costumes, I would not be as multi-skilled as I am now. Making and planning out costumes is Eureka after each other and I don’t know have I ever experienced such hunger for knowledge on my school years than I’ve had when I’ve willingly used hours or days to find the best way to build a certain prop or construct costume. Perhaps I might be little duller also. Objects would be just items. They would not raise ideas what they could be or how they could be used. Or I would not be able to startle the salesmen in hardware stores by starting a conversation about Dremel parts.

When I started making costumes for me and Yoki in 2006 I was first year student in bachelor degree of Arts and Crafts. Our studies were a combination of designing and executing, aka pattern making and sewing, so I had some base skills to start with. By the years I improved and finally I was at the point where sewing became a partial profession for me. That still doesn’t count out the fact that some of our costumes I’ve done only two, three years ago amuse me greatly. I think I would rather eat snails than display the way I made Jasdero’s and Debitto’s pants. The technical solutions and execution seems to take some time to get ripe. This applies in my case to lining clothes properly, making functioning and complicated attachments and for some reason button holes. They just need to be done repeatedly to create certainty.

Even if I studied in school where we handled fabrics daily, I learned to appreciate quality over… well, price only few years ago. But still, I lean towards making solutions that work best for the wished result. Sometimes flannel works as well as wool, only that it’s lot cheaper. Like fabrics, things should not be viewed only what it is said to be, but how it could be used; glue can be a stiffener or varnish, machine dye can work as fabric print, mosquito net transforms into a crinoline or skeleton for armor.

I have noticed that imagination improves with skills. My first Eureka occurred, when I figured to use methods I learned at school on book binding class to Matsumoto’s vice-captain badge. After that I started to combine different materials and methods experimentally with each other. Yoki’s grand idea I first suspected then awed. In 2007 we agonized how to create smooth fabric surface for Mauyri’s hat. The idea was the simplest; stretching white stockings on the crown part.

Our first weapon props we commissioned on our metal expert. When our ambition to be as self-sufficient as we could grew, we started to explore ways to do bigger props ourselves. Our first tryout with Finnfoam or insulation foam was a true learning process. The swords we did back in the day where far from perfect. My sword snapped in half, because there were no supporting structure inside. Yoki sanded her sword many days, because she didn’t realize that putty can be smoothed with water. After building few things with combination of insulation foam and putty, we tried to look up for things that could speed up the process up. We acquired power tools and learned to use them (safely). With our current Snowtrooper project we found ourselves vacuumforming. That is surely a thing we would have never tried if we hadn’t started to cosplay.

With cosplay, the development on the skill side is connected to displaying the costume as a full set. The longer I have done costumes, the more important it has become to be to make the cosplay look clean-cut. I like neat costumes, groomed wigs and nice make-up. If a costume fits well and looks like it have got some attention, all is good even if it’s not exactly like the reference. I personally think that I need to step up a little with different kinds of make-up and wig styling. I also have sometimes habit of over-doing, especially with Photoshop.

Photoshopping and editing live footage at the current level is also something that I think I would have passed, if it wasn’t for cosplay. I love storytelling and with cosplay it’s possible to make it as a visual experience. With photographing I’m just a newbie, but I’m eager to learn more. Other things I still would like to learn or in which I would like to get better are mold making, working with latex, wig dyeing and styling, sword construction, and body painting. Also I could improve my posing, acting in-character and socializing.

Lastly I must admit that I shamelessly stole the topic of improving in cosplay from Wepi, hostess of Kukkii se perunakin- cosplay blog. She went through her cosplay history and what she had learned after each year in the most enjoyable and inspiring way.

1 comment:

  1. It's always so inspiring to read about how people have improved - so thanks to you in return! *w*