Step 3 : Categorizing
Create subsections for your catalog using fabric types, attributes, or colour. These header cards will help in indexing the swatches. Whatever works for you. I decided on a mix of types and attributes.
Step 4 : Attach Swatches
Tape swatches to the card and add a brief description of the fabric (See above). Include whatever information you find useful. I tend to include a basic colour description, material type (silk, cotton, etc.), and stretch information if necessary (2-way, 4-way, slight stretch). If I used a fabric for a specific costume in the past, I also include that in the description section. It creates a great point of reference.
Blank cards can be used to keep track of scrap fabric - shorter pieces not worth measuring.
Step 5 : Insert Swatch Cards into Book
I like to give conventions nicknames and this one probably deserves the name "stressfest" due to my poor planning for the weekend. I managed to make the best of it by the end but boy was it a whirlwind of emotions.
On a slightly more personal note than my usual posts, this blog will explore my pitfalls in getting too enthralled by my hobby.
As you may already know, I love cosplay - I live-n-breathe the stuff. Swimming in cosplay content everyday online fascinates me, and brings me joy. Although recently, I've started noticed that my hobby has been changing into an obsession; at times, with unhealthy consequences.
When you're essentially running yourself ragged to get your costume done for a convention, even after you've promised yourself to not go through that hell again - you may have a problem.
When you're only getting limited sleep, and it makes it harder to function during your daily duties - you may have a problem
When you have to turn down multiple engagements with friends, and hermit away in your cosplay cave to finish your work...you get the point.
There's an inherent flaw in the "sleep is for the weak" and "suffer for your art" mentality, especially when it's considered normal for cosplayers. It's a running joke, and even worse, it's expected. I think I pushed myself way too hard over the last few weeks. So much so, that my stomach is still recovering from being shot for the entire weekend, and my appetite was all over the place thanks to the stress and lack of sleep. My memory also fell victim, causing me to repeating myself - to the annoyance of those around me.
Although I had an overall good time over the past weekend, my Friday was a stress induced mess which turned me into an inconsiderate person. I thought I was being reasonable under pressure, but after looking back, that was not the case. I really have to thank my friends for putting up with my frantic state. I was so obsessed with making sure everything went well, that I didn't even realize I was stepping on toes. When everyone is stressed to the hilt, even seemingly innocuous comments hit like a brick wall. Most of the day was a blur that I don't even remember. This goes to show you that even though you go into something with good intentions you might mess up when stress and lack and sleep are involved.
Side note: I have a way better understanding of how everyone got their 'mean girl' edits in cosplay shows (or any reality competition show for that matter). Lack of sleep, stress, and a tight deadline does not make for a friendly atmosphere.
The Perfect Balance
So here's the true dilemma: how do you find a healthier hobby/life balance? As of late, I've made the mistake of letting my hobby take up a too much of my life. I feel as if I've neglected my friends over the last few months; I know more about people's costume progress than what's happening in their day-to-day. The tricky thing is, so many of my friends and I bond over the hobby - especially those I only get to see at events.
I don't know if I can achieve a perfect balance, since I have continuously set my standards so high, but I sure as hell can try - I'll make sure it does. For me, it starts with better time management, and a shift in priorities.
Time Management: I've started to be less rigid with my line-ups for upcoming events. This way, I don't get people's, and more importantly MY, hopes up for the delivery new costumes. It's not the end of the world if I have to re-wear an old costume because the new one isn't finished. I should have backups ready to go in-case I have to drop something, or resign to the fact that I'll wear Version 1.0. Another key point is to not be pressured in having to deliver new content ALL THE TIME. Let's be real, the people who can pump out various costumes a year probably don't have the same work/life commitments as I do. It's unrealistic to try and keep up. It'll serve me better to work at my own pace.
Priorities: It's always good to sit back and reflect on what you find important. If friends are what I value most about my cosplay experience, then I need them to take up more time in my convention planning. Nothing made me happier over the weekend then being able to spend time with friends I seldom see, and be able to have a genuine conversations with them. Part of why my Anime North wasn't the most enjoyable this year was due to me only being able to have 5 minute conversations with my friends throughout the weekend, and got to see the sights for one whole hour.
So dear readers, what I hope you take from this is that cosplayers are real people with real life problems. If you notice a friend is pushing themselves too hard, help them slow down and get them out of their cosplay hermit shell. I'm grateful that I've surrounded myself with such great friends, because great friends give you a reality check when you need it.
It was my first time attending this convention and I had a great time. It's held in the same venue as Otakuthon but there are significantly less crowds which is nice. I set out with the goal of pumping out a new costume to go to the masquerade. Ravenna was an easy choice since I knew exactly the skit I wanted to do. I bought a prop mirror month ahead in anticipation for the skit.
Calamity, Kudrel, and I took a bus to Montreal in the afternoon. I spent the day hanging out with friends and finishing up my costume. I actually went to bed at a decent time! No crazy late night crafting this time around.
Friday was a jam packed day. I had three shoots earlier in the day. I was my first time working with both Lexa One Photographie and Pit Fire Photography. They were both great. Very nice people and I recommend shooting with both of them if you have a chance. I also shot with an old friend, Belziir Photography, where we trekked up a small slope in a park in my ridiculous 6in heeless shoes. It was a sweaty mess of a day - 28-30C weather - and my cape was a heated blanket plus my dress was made with synthetic taffeta so it didn't breathe. After I wrapped the shoots I did some final checks on my costume then went to the masquerade.
I had a great time in the greenroom. It brought me back to the early days when I would compete to climb the rankings and meet so many new people. I made friends with two lovely first time masquerade participants as we waited to get into the greenroom. Cosplay Sempai mode activated! I gave them some tips and told them what they could expect out of the whole process. I was so proud to see them on stage. They were well prepared with audio and everything.
I also got to chat with many of my fellow den mates: Arc-Frost, Jessica Rousseau, and many more (Zelda group and friends you better send me your info if you read this).
You can watch my entry below starting at 1:19:10. Video by MrJechgo.
It was the first time in a long time I was nervous for a performance. I had quite a few lines to remember, my costume was cumbersome to move in, plus as we were lining up to go backstage I dropped my crown and even through I dropped it multiple times throughout the day on concrete, this time a piece broke off when it hit the carpet. Luckily my den mom hot glued it back together just in time and it looked good as new.
Evil queen guide for photoshoots and skits by Charlize
Casual day! I was sore all over from carrying my costume and its pieces so instead of dressing up I spent my time taking photos of other cosplayers and exploring the event. Kudrel and I also went location scouting in Old Montreal. Later that day I attended the award ceremony from the hallway. They had it in a small room and it was packed. Luckily I was able to hear my name being called. The awards I received were Best Recreation (craftsmanship) and Best Characterization (stage). I'm very glad my skit was well received.
Here's a few photos I took on Sunday of some talented cosplayers. Montreal is always filled with cool costumers.
Conventions can be a place of fun, discovery, and learning. I've been going to conventions for over 10 years and I find there are many things a conventions can offer to enrich a visitor's experience. Conventions have brought me so much joy with great experiences with friends and that's why I find it great to give back to the events that have given so much to me.
Participating in an event, be it as a panelist, volunteer, or staff, can be a great way to learn about how the event is run and to create more connections with the community. It can be especially important if the convention is run by fans or volunteers, but it can still be an enriching experience when it comes to profit-based events.
I'm going to focus on cosplay-oriented activities one can do to contribute to conventions and the local cosplay community.
What a whirlwind weekend. I had a brief stint at Colossalcon this year because I had to leave early for a friend's wedding, but since this is one of my favorite cons of the year I made it happen anyway.
Kurumasha, Calamity, and I left by car for Sandusky at 5:30 am. The drive surprisingly didn't feel long and I didn't doze off for most of the 10hr trip (I almost always do). Instead I spent most of my time hand sewing parts of both of my costumes, including sewing my entire mermaid tail for Ursula. We made it to the Kalahari at about 4:30pm just about the time the rest of our friends were checking into our villa.
We quickly got settled in then went straight to the waterpark to enjoy the slides and the hot-tubs. After catching up with some friends we settled back into our villa and then the final stages of crafting began. A special thanks to Kurumasha who helped me string and apply beads until 1 am.
I got dressed in Takane first thing in the morning in time for a shoot with M1Photo at 10am, quickly followed by shoots with Eurobeat Kasumi, and Anna Fischer. In between shoots I was running into friends and catching up with them.
Then I went back to change into my second costume Ursula. Before I got dressed I helped out LunaLanie by applying her Jinx tattoos. I can't resist helping a cosplayer in need, even though I just met them.
I went to shoot with Anna again and learned quickly how impractical mermaids tails are to shoot. Having bound legs really limits your poses and you are almost always in a constant state of doing sit-ups. So most of our shots consisted of me trying to look pretty while trying not to fall off a rock and flexing my abs. We'll see how they turn out. Afterwards, I had to pack it in early since it started to rain and the outdoor waterpark was closed.
The rest of the day and night was spent hanging out with friends and partying.
This was a laid back day. I spent the morning getting ready for my friend's wedding then hanging out with my housemates before going to the airport. It was hard to say goodbye since I don't see my cosplay friends often enough.
The drive to the airport was quick and I breezed through security. I barely made it to the wedding on time due to delays... Thanks Air Canada.
Overall, even though my visit was short, I still love Colossalcon. Here's a Vine that sums up some of the fun at Colossal.
Costume write-ups and photos are coming soon.
I love Anime North. It is a staple of my con schedule. I accidentally overbooked myself this year. I judged two competitions and had 3 photoshoots. As a result I took ZERO photos this year. I got to spend a grand total of one hour in the dealer's hall and artist alley but overall I still had a good time.
We drove to Toronto and just as we arrived we had to run to the Friday Cosplay Workmanship contest to start assessing entries. It's a small competition but we had a great variety of costumes. I got to ogle at leatherwork, knit sweaters, and silicone cast hobbit's feet.
I made the finishing touches on Five (Drakenguard) in the morning before my shoots. My sewing machine broke the night before the con. Talk about a cosplay nightmare. It finally happened. Luckily I was able to borrow a friend's machine and even though it hated me, I made it work.
I got out of my hotel room at 2pm to shoot with AmaLeigh Photography. she was great and it was nice meeting her. Right afterwards, I went straight to a shoot with Don Dolce photography. After fumbling a bit with my armour and props we managed to get a few good shots. This costume was a reminder that I need to keep polishing my armour skills. I was so sore after wearing it for 3 hours.
After my shoot I got changed into my Aion Bard then went straight to the masquerade to judge the stage competition.
Welcome to Summoner's Rift.... err I mean the 2015 Anime North Masquerade!
I would say close to half of the show was League of Legends cosplays. Luckily my knowledge of the game could be carried over to the judging table. It was a little disconcerning that there was a lack of diversity in source material. Ironically, there were very few anime or Japanese game cosplays at the masquerade and this is an Anime Convention. On the plus side, the selection of characters and skins in League means you don't see the same costumes over and over.
Remember Cosplayers, if you enter a competition with a costume from a popular game/series you risk of running into identical entries. That is an awkward place to be for many cosplayers in a competition environment. Also it becomes more challenging to make your costume and performance stand out.
Overall, it was a good show and deliberations were straightforward.
I also got to meet Misa on Wheels, the cosplay guest of honour, because she was also a stage judge. She oozes positivity and I encourage you all to say hi to her if you get a chance to meet her.
Sunday snoozing was followed by getting dressed in my Bard again, packing my luggage then going straight to the award ceremony. It's always a pleasure seeing all those happy faces and rewarding hard work. After we wrapped up the prizes I went to shoot with RS Photography. I had a great time shooting with him for the first because he's a funny and friendly guy.
Afterwards, I did a speed run through the dealer's hall, visiting my friend Vickybunnyangel at the Cosplay Supplies booth and another friend in the artist alley.
I had a great time being a staff member at Anime North this year. Ideally for next year I'll staff one event instead of two so that I have time to see my friends. I didn't get to hang out with anyone but my roommates and I feel guilty about it.
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.