Friday, February 20, 2015

Project: By hand- Thorfinn from Vinland Saga

It’s been a while since I’ve written any progress posts about my costumes. Some of the most recent projects have been just something I’ve occupied myself with or sparkled from the curiosity to try new techniques and material combinations. I also think that last year I lost something essential from this hobby. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but could describe it at enthusiasm of a sort.

I made new costumes last year and I really liked some of them and felt that I succeeded with them. But I can’t say I felt as passionate with any of them as I felt with Amira for example. I’ve been wondering why I couldn’t reach the same thrill with them as I did with her. Only now I understand that the characters just weren’t as dear and important to me as Amira and Otoyomegatari as a whole are! It seems that for me only reading and knowing the source material just isn’t enough. I need to be passionate about it to feel content.

Well, everything changed last fall, when I introduced myself to a historical manga about Vikings. Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura is just plain awesome! I was sold after couple of chapters and after I overcame the hesitance I had about cosplaying a male character, new costume project was ready to begin!

The character I chose was Thorfinn, the main protagonist of Vinland Saga. The version I started working on is probably the most recognizable design of Thorfinn; the teenage warrior during the years of the Dane invasion. I really wanted to do the ground work properly and honor the vast amount of research Yukimura have made for the manga.

I read some literature and looked up information about the patterning, stitching and materials used in Viking clothing. At some point I decided that I wanted to do something special and really authentic with the costume; sew it completely by hand. The project name in the title was actually something what we used when I discussed with Yoki about the costume, emphasizing the BY HAND bit with very throaty, vikingly yell of a sort.

It took me some time to find the right materials for the costume. It was winter season, but it became really tricky to gather suitable fabrics. It was actually a good thing, because I was forced not to rush the project, but to concentrate on different phases properly before moving onwards to the next one.

The undergarments I made from brown linen, possibly linen-cotton mix. The patterns for the trousers I drew based on a reconstructed Viking pants patterns using my measurements. The tunic is based on really generic medieval pattern I found from one of our costuming books. I sew the garments together with cotton thread and decorated them with different sorts of embroidery stitches.

The outer tunic and the capelet are made from wool with fake fur lining. To fit the color of the wooI better, I used tea to dye the white cotton thread used on the stitching. Lining the tunic's sleeves and the capelet gave some broadness to my shoulders and gave me slightly more masculine silhouette. The pattern I drafted myself, because Yukimura had pretty fine detailed images of the outfit and it was quite easy to pick the required shapes from them.

For the leather parts I used both real and fake leather. For the shoes I made an insole from stacked wool, because I didn’t want to freeze my feet when walking outside.

The dirks or short swords I made from plywood. Never again will I craft plywood props during winter, because working outside in the cold with power tools and all the clothes you could possibly have on is not fun at all… The grip for the heritage blade I made from Worbla. For the second blade I stitched a piece of pleather over the plywood after I had sanded it to the right shape.

The last thing to do was to weather and dirty everything up! I used acrylic paints diluted with water to add stains to the clothes. The costume was finished three days before the debut at Desucon Frostbite. I also was able to finish a long cape for Thorfinn, which he wears during winter season, but because the costume is hot as it is I didn’t feel the need to wear it at Frostbite.

The wig was a long one, which I cut and styled. I also added some highlights to it with Copic markers. The concacts are fully dyed lenses in color apricot. For the second day of the convention I found my misplaced make-ups and was able to add scars and cuts to my hands and face. And what come's to the basic make-up, I used Yumi's instuctions for male contouring as a reference.

At Frostbite, I got chosen to the Hall Cosplay Competition with the costume and won the first prize! I have never competed in said category, so I was super exited to even be picked from the crowd. Best wishes to everybody who were at the backstage on Saturday! I finally was able to push my shyness on the background and actually talk to people. And huge thanks to the stage managers, Ilona and the sweetest and most helpful cosplay mamas imaginable!

I’m hoping to have the costume photoshooted in some point during the winter, because it’s definitely not a summer costume. And yes, and the enthusiasm is been restored!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cosplay year 2014

I’ve pretty much skipped all convention reports since… fall 2013 and I feel kind of bad about it. This past year have been the busiest we’ve had since we started cosplaying, so you’d think that there should be lot to tell! I never had any intentions to have this kind of hiatus, but… yeah.

After creating a Tumblr account for our cosplay photos, it has felt somewhat overwhelming to actually type and publish anything. Convention reports have always been difficult for me, even if this past year we did more than just attend conventions.

As EuroCosplay representative I’ve had a great pleasure to be invited as a judge in multiple events, one of the recent ones being Närcon in Sweden. Yoki took another type of challenge and have now hosted cosplay competitions at Desucon and Tracon. We’ve also gotten more familiar with people we’ve known but never had courage to actually approach. In all, we’ve had a great convention year, great experiences and you people we’ve met this past year… you are great! I just want to say that and thank you all!

This year we’ve made our personal record with five conventions we went to together; Desucon Frostbite, Desucon, Animecon, Närcon and Tracon. And that’s not all! We also went separately to Cosvision and Kawacon! That is a whole lot of cons for one year.

At Desucon Frostbite I wore Death from The Sandman on Saturday and was sharing my thoughts about international cosplay competitions in the evening in a panel with Rimppu, Majo and two Danish beauties. Yoki went as civilian and acted as one of the judges in Hall cosplay competition on Saturday. On Sunday we had a pair cosplay from Otoyomegatari; Amira and Karluk.

Photographer: Esa Ala-Petäys

Before Desucon I was really fortunate to be asked to sit behind the judging table for show cosplay category at Cosvision, one of the year’s new comers on convention front. I was over the moon with the event and set a record of panels and lectures during one con. I made to costumes for the occasion; Deidara from Naruto and Kofuku from Noragami.

Photographer: Hanna Hyttinen

Desucon was an exciting con for us as I was judging the EuroCosplay preliminaries and Yoki was hosting the show! Luckily, we are somewhat the same size, so I borrowed my Lady Doctor costume for Yoki. I made a new costume and cosplayed Zakuro from Otome Youkai Zakuro. On Satuday we recycled Snufkin and Alicia. We only made a fishing rod and a broomstick to match the characters.

Photographer: Mira Strengell

Kawacon was held in June two weeks after Desucon. Yoki was working as a supervisor at the cloakroom and didn’t take any costumes with her to the event.

We didn’t have intentions of attending all of the cons we eventually visited, like Animecon and Närcon, but some surprising events and opportunities changed our minds, like Kaoru Mori being announced as quest of honor at Animecon. Seriously, I screamed five minutes after reading the announcement and I don’t regret begging my boss to give me a free weekend. Totally worth it.

At Animecon we naturally wore Amira and Karluk. We went to see all the programs featuring Mori and also queued almost two hours for her autograph. It was amazing to chat with other Mori fans at the queue. More amazing was when it was our turn and we politely asked, if Mori- sensei could sign our hats. She did! And we changed few words about our costumes and she wanted to shake hands with us. She really seemed to appreciate cosplayers, who crafted costumes inspired by her art.

Photographer: Jesmo

On Sunday I had a new costume, Saya from Blood: The Last Vampire. Yoki recycled Fuyu Jaw’re from her original story, Varjella. We had awesome photoshoots during the weekend.

Photographer: YumiKoyuki

Next we travelled to Närcon, Sweden with our representatives who were going to compete at Nordic Cosplay Championships. Närcon was our second convention abroad and totally different experience compared to MCM London ComicCon. It was more like a festival if you think how and where Finnish conventions are organized. But truly a great experience! I’m really proud of our team and their assistants. And of course we're really happy that our team member Päivi won the final!

I really don’t remember which day we wore our costumes, but we had Snufkin and Alicia and Amira and Karluk with us. We also ended up on the stage with our Moomin costumes at the opening ceremony.

Last event of the year was Tracon. On Saturday we wore Lumiere and Cogsworth and were both working backstage that day. I was a judge in the Hall Cosplay competition and Yoki was hosting the competition. On Sunday we cosplayed characters from Yoki’s Varjella; Matriach Vaira Kirlain and Kalma Kirlain. We also had a mind blowing photoshoot… with a smoke machine!

Photographer: Emilia "AG" Lahtinen

One special event during last summer that I just have to mention is our photoshoot weekend with AG and Biitti. They came over for three days and we were able to shoot six costumes in different locations. The most challenging one was a field with blazing sun and uncooperative sheep!

Photographer: Emilia "AG" Lahtinen

Next year I’m going to start our convention season with Yukicon 2.0 and in February we are heading to Desucon Frostbite. We both have been crafting new costumes and we are going to debut them one by one in upcoming conventions. I’m pushing myself with two new outfits and the first one I’ll hopefully wear at Yukicon.

We wish everyone inspiring and productive year 2015!
Have fun!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Just passing by...

Photography and editing: Emilia "AG" Lahtinen

Long time, no entries! It’s rather odd with all the cons we’ve been to and the costumes we’ve worn… Somehow I just seem to lack the time to actually sit down and write something! If I think about it, it's not that suprising, because this summer we've attended more conventions than any other year. At times it's been somewhat tiring, but still all worth it! We've met some lovely people and got to know some even better!

We still have Tracon up ahead before our convention season is over. I will get back to that and summarize what we’ve been doing this summer. In the meanwhile you can check out our new Tumblr account!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kimono and fox ears- Cosplay from Otome Youkai Zakuro

At Cosvision I realized that Desucon was approaching way too quick and I had two unfinished costumes waiting at home. When I got back to our workshop, I packed one costume away even if I had made more progress with it. However, it was a good call since I had my share of troubles with it in every stage of the construction. I will probably dig it up during summer and finish it for fall conventions.

The second one was a keeper and this past week and a half I have been working my butt off to finish it in time! It doesn’t help that I will be abroad for a week, which means I only have week and a half to actually construct the costume. Gladly summer vacation starts in two days, so I should have plenty of time to get everything done.

The costume I’ve been working on is Zakuro from series Otome Youkai Zakuro. This is the kimono cosplay I mentioned in my previous post. I started the fabric printing the same time I started Kofuku’s skirt, but then went on hiatus because I got carried away with everything else.

Before the hiatus I printed the fabric for the hair ruffles. I used emulsion based fabric color, plastic foil stencils and a sponge. I also added wefts to the base wig and made the skeletons for the ears.

After Cosvision I started to put together the kimono. I used a kimono pattern and really wanted to make the garment as authentic as I could. It proved problematic, since the design on the series has some very interesting details, which alter the look of the kimono and also the construction aspect quite significantly. The hardest part was fitting the two designs together… Actually three, since I was also combining the manga and anime versions together!

I think I managed everyhting quite well, but I still have lot to do! Yesterday I started to pattern and sew the frilly apron. Sometimes it surprises me how the simplest parts of costumes are actually the hardest ones to execute…

During the weekend I will concentrate on the geta, straighten the wig, ventilate a back parting for it and secure the fastening of the huge bow on the obi. I’m still pondering should I try to dye the wig or not. I actually like the wigs original grey color, but should it be darker? If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Amira, Karluk and second set of photos from Desucon Frostbite

Desucon is sneakily approaching, but we still have something to share from the latest Desucon Frostbite! On Sunday we were able to set up a small, spontaneous photoshoot with Jesmo, talented cosplayer and fellow Otoyomegatari enthusiastic. I love the natural and lifelike expressions and situations she was able to catch with her camera!

Photographer: Jesmo
Cosplayers: Casualty Cosplay/ Yoki as Karluk, Hiron as Amira

Monday, May 5, 2014

Deidara is ready for Cosvision

On Saturday I got to try out make-up for Deidara and also got few photos as evidence that I actually have a costume ready week before the deadline! Even if the costume is a simple one, I challenged myself to uplift it with material choices and patterning, which made the project interesting and in the end rather satisfying.

For the clothes I chose natural fiber mixes. The shirt is wool mix as are the pouch and the headband. The fabric I picked for the trousers is most likely viscose. The geta are made from plywood and the forehead protector is steel. I also made a sculpture from clay to pose with.

I got to use some parts of the Akatsuki outfit like the mesh undershirt and the wig. The ponytail was already removed, because I used the particular wig for Yuma.

Handmouth is latex cast. I used a cast of my own mouth to make it. I painted the lips with acrylics and blended the piece to my palm with basic foundation.

I used modified kimono pattern for the shirt. For the trousers I used my basic pattern with some small alterations. The pouch was pretty much cut, measure and sew-project. The belt is just a strip of fabric, but I tried to tie it like an obi.

In my opinion the best part of the costume is the geta! On Friday I felt down since everything I tried to achieve that day on costume front failed miserably. I also realized that there was only a week left to finish the costume with hectic days at work ahead. Working with power tools didn't sound that appealing or saw dust or outdoor working by any means, so I thought I'd cut some corners and cover regular flip flops with fabric and roll with them.

I made one sandal ready, stared at it and just sat there wondering could the shoes break the costume when I tried to head for authenticity? After five minutes of intense staring and reflection I had sudden change of heart. I threw the sandal into the trash bin, gathered myself, packed some clothes on and headed out to the evening. On Saturday I had neat pair of geta ready and they truly were the cherry on the cake. Sometimes all you need is some perseverance and I know that I would have let myself down if I had chosen the easy way over the obviously right one!

I thought of wearing Deidara on Saturday at Cosvision. For Sunday I will most likely pack Kofuku if nothing drastic happens... like contact lenses not arriving on time!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cosplay is a bang, un!

Cosplay frenzy has taken over me once again! And it’s pretty nostalgic frenzy, too! It all started a week ago, when I realized that there was only three weeks until Cosvision and I had two costumes under construction that I might not be able to finish in time. And they would be too “big” to transport by stuffing them into one suitcase. So, I kind of started a new costume… But this character I’ve already cosplayed and I think he was actually one of the reasons why I got hooked to this hobby.

Of course he is Deidara! We made Akatsuki outfits for Sasori and Deidara as our second costumes in 2007. In 2010 I updated the undergarments and we had a small photoshoot. Then we have all the videos we made dressed as the characters on our Youtube account.

After the first costumes back in 2007, I considered making the flashback version of Deidara. The idea got pushed back, probably because it would’ve been solo cosplay as Sasori’s "camouflage form" was not on our to-do list. But now since I’m going to attend Cosvision without Yoki, I remembered young Deidara. A week later, here is what I’ve got!

I wanted to cast new mouths for Deidara's hands and got rather satisfying results considering it was my first time making a partial facecast on myself. I thought that making a mouth in resting position would be easier and faster for a first timer. Also I wouldn't need to make positive cast from the mouth and sculpt a whole different expression for the latex cast given the time I have before the convention. At Cosvision I'm going to wear only one mouth, because I need one fully functioning hand without a lump of latex glued on the palm.

The only things left are to construct the sandals, add some finishing stitches on the clothes and try out the make-up. I also thought about sculpting the first clay sculpture Deidara presents to the Akatsuki who came to claim him aka. the fat spider.