I'm working through my back-log of posts! I don't have a whole lot to say about the con because I didn't go to any panels or events and didn't even shoot anything, but I did get to debut my latest casual costume, "flashback" Tizzie from Rat Queens, and I took a handful of photos of my friends and I. Here are my photos from G-Anime this year - mostly selfies and elfies ^_^
Tutorial: Freezer Paper Stencils
Surprise bonus Tutorial Tuesday! Last week I posted a video tutorial for freezer paper stencils, and today is the same project, but a text & photos version for those who prefer their knowledge in "print" format! I decided that stencils would be a good choice for a tutorial since I had a few friends asking me questions about it after I talked up using freezer paper for my t-shirts at a cosplay panel last year. I hope that other people will also find it a useful resource for fabric-painting projects!
Take Note: this tutorial is not necessarily the "right way" to do things, nor the "best way", but is simply how I went about it when I made my own. Anyways, on to the project!
Using freezer paper for stenciling makes complex designs easy to paint exactly the way you design them, whether you're dealing with wiggly narrow areas which shift easily, designs which contain negative space, or using multiple colours. Above are just three examples from my recent cosplay projects, all of which were made using freezer paper stencils or templates. The vest from my Night Vale angel is another good example. This is the first time I have made something new just for tutorial reasons, so I asked some of my friends for suggestions of symbols which either had negative space or irregular shapes (but were still simple enough to do quickly), and ended up going with Kurumasha's suggestion of the Heartless symbol in the video tutorial, and the Zerg symbol (at the suggestion of Dan the Video Ninja) for this photo version.
First off, you'll need a hard copy of whatever design you're putting on a shirt (or any other fabric; I'm not judging). In this case, that means printing a simple version of the Zerg icon. You then need to transfer that image to freezer paper. So, cut a piece of freezer paper big enough to be at least an inch or two beyond the design (depending on how messy you get with your paint) but not larger than your project itself. Freezer paper has a shiny side and a paper side - trace your design on to the paper side. Tape down the paper to avoid shifting if necessary.
Once your design is traced, it's time to start cutting. The key is that this stencil is done in two steps - most of the cutting is done on a mat, but leave very small gaps in your cutting. And by "very small", I mean like, half a millimeter. Hair-widths. This is easiest done at corners since you just barely don't connect the cuts from each side, but is also easily done on long straight edges. Do this for your whole design. All the pieces should still be loosely attached together once you're finished, like in the photo.
Now line up where you want your stencil to be on the shirt, and with the shiny side down, iron it on. Start with low heat and increase as needed; you don't want to burn the paper or permanently melt it to your shirt. Let the whole thing cool before moving on to the next step.
Time for the magic. taking the point of your craft knife, gently press it through all of the un-cut points in the paper. If your points are small enough, the knife will just cut the paper (because it's stiff) but the shirt will compress underneath and be intact. Do not drag the knife around the stencil. Just push through to finish cutting.
When you're finished cutting all those paper "threads", simply peel off the parts of the stencil which are the areas to be painted! Since this process can sometimes loosen the rest of the stencil, I like to give it another quick pass with the iron to make sure the stencil is secure before painting.
For paint, you can use fabric paint (the main colour for this shirt is metallic purple from Setacolor - leftover from my Night Vale Angel bodysuit) or acrylic paint mixed with fabric/textile medium (the accent colours are metallic blue and silver craft acrylics from my stash).
First, place something under the stencil area to prevent any excess paint from soaking through to whatever is underneath. I used a stencil brush to dab on the paint, filling the whole area with purple. You could also use a sponge, roller, or even a regular paintbrush if you're careful not to brush paint under the edges of the paper. Next I stippled blue on to the outer edges of the spikes and central spiral, finally finishing off with a third layer in silver just on the outer most edges.
Once you are satisfied with your painting job and the paint is mostly dry, peel off the rest of your stencil. Heat-set your paint with an iron or dryer according to the directions on your paint.
And there you have it, a simple, affordable way to make replicating complex designs, or designs with negative space with a stencil!
Final Tips: Freezer paper likes to stick to some fabrics more than others. I've never had a problem with t-shirts, but the slub fabric that my Cersei dress is make of did not want to stick at all. And these stencils aren't very reusable. You could probably get a second use out of them, maybe a third, but it won't likely stick very well. Also the best part of this method, that all the fiddly detail bits can't wiggle around, is negated on the second use because everything is already completely cut out.
My cosplay wish list is long. Very long. So, like last year, I'm going to post just the costumes that I'm most motivated and most likely to finish this year. I'm sure that this isn't how it's actually going to work out, but it always helps to start with goals.
Carrying over from last year, Midna and Nightingale are key, as is finishing off Cersei's embroidery by getting those lions figured out. I also really want to finish up Captain Marvel's costume, and the latest addition to my long, long cosplay list is an original Alice design to coordinate with my Cosplay for a Cure friends. Once those projects are all taken care of, then come the bottom row costumes... Espeon, Miz Mishtal, Captain Marvel (again), and Journey. And probably others from my wish list or which I haven't come across yet. I'm not even going to pretend to set deadlines for these things though, because I realllly don't want to push myself to burn-out again.
I'm planning (and hoping) that this year will be lighter on conventions for me than last year, despite that being a blast. It means my weekends become highly valuable and I don't get to see my non-con friends often :(
Anyways, I only have a few events confirmed so far...
G-Anime in Gatineau (January 22-24)
Civil War Geekery Con in Niagara Falls (April 16)
Ad-Astra in Richmond Hill (April 29-May 1) *not the whole weekend*
Anime North in Toronto (May 27-29)
Fan Expo Canada in Toronto (September 1-4) *at least one day*
And in the "maybe" or yet-to-be confirmed category: YetiCon, ConBravo!, and Otakuthon. Who knows how many others I'll end up at though! Unfortunately, no AmeriCons are being planned - sadly the exchange rate is just way too bad right now for it to be feasible. But that just means that my friends from the States should come visit us north of The Wall and live like kings!!!
2015 Cosplay Year in Review
Previous years, I've tended to post a lot in December. Trying to put out all the content which has piled up through the year, usually. But this year, I just backed off from blog posts and website updates to fully enjoy the holidays and make sure that all my real life obligations and mental-health got taken care of first. So I guess that's a sorry-not-sorry for the lack of updates through the end of 2015, but nobody missed out on anything either, because I didn't really do anything new ~_^
However, I am itching to get a year-end wrap up post done! My cos-cation feels like it might be wrapping up soon (which means getting back to the sewing machine!) and I'm looking at which cons fit my schedule and everything is exciting again. I accomplished so much in 2015 (despite burning out in October) and I'm going to do my best to keep the ball rolling into 2016!
So.... Here's what the last year looked like for Mai Sheri.
I set a new personal record for convention attendance this year, and cosplay events, too! While it's not necessarily a good thing, it did mean that I met a LOT of new people this year that I otherwise wouldn't have. There were so many this year...
Frost Con (blog)
Kitchener Comic Con (blog)
Toronto Comic Con (blog)
C2E2 (blog) and the Crown Championships of Cosplay (blog)
Anime North (blog)
Niagara Falls Comic Con (blog)
Atomic Lollipop (blog)
Fan Expo Canada (blog)
Forest City ComiCon (blog)
Toronto Fan Days Holiday Show (blog)
Oh, and there's the various other cosplay-type events... Free Comic Book Day, Medieval Times, Centre Island Picnic (blog), Woodbine Beach Picnic (blog), High Park Picnic (photos), Parkinson Superwalk, Niagara Wine Parade (double blog), Halloween parties & Snailoween (bloggity), and the Star Wars New Years Eve party.
... and I skipped a lot of events, or couldn't attend because of other conflicts. It's crazy how many events and conventions there are in Toronto, let alone including nearby cities. On one hand, we're so lucky to have such a large and enthusiastic and involved cosplay community - I know a lot of my non-local friends don't have the privilege of easy access to other local geeks, but on the other, it unfortunately also comes with pressure to attend everything. And shoot with everyone. And always have new things to wear. But also wear the older costumess that so-and-so missed last time XD
And speaking of doing photo shoots...
I set out in 2015 to try to shoot with photographers that I haven't worked with before - as many as I could manage. Because of complicated reasons, my pool of photographer-friends has shrunk in the past couple years, and i wanted to do something about that. Unfortunately, I couldn't manage as many as I ideally would have liked, sometimes because costumes didn't get done, or schedule conflicts arose, but mostly because I can only budget for one paid shoot per convention, but I did my best. Unfortunately, that whole budget thing means that I haven't been able to shoot again with some of my favourite "new" photographers, but I'm going to be trying to catch them again in 2016 ^_^
So, big shout-outs to everyone who scheduled a shoot with me for the first time this past year!
Very Frank Pictures (Modern Mai and Postal Warriors group)
Trillance (Pepper Potts)
Sean's Photography (Mrs Impossible)
SleepyMeow Photography (Cersei Lannister)
Alex Rose Photography (Cersei Lannister)
Eddie B Photos (Katie/Hawkguy group)
Dream Land Photography (Clint Barton and Holiday Midna)
... And of course lots of love to those of you I shoot with every year - you know who you are! <3
Ahhh, here we get to the meat of the post - my beloved costumes!!! While most of them weren't particularly complex costumes, I managed to complete a whopping 9 costumes this year - much better than usual for me! Pretty sure that a big reason for that change is the long break I took from cons in 2014. Worth it.
Firstly, Izabel is not included in the list because even though i "finished" that costume in 2015, it was basically finished in 2014 and I just did some upgrades in preparation for C2E2. First official costume of the year was Modern Mai for Toronto Comic Con (I'm still hopeful that friends will make the coordinating characters), then Cover-art Kate Bishop for a Hakweye group at C2E2. For Anime North I brought out "Postal Midna" in addition to my Postal Warriors friends. Summer contained a mad-rush of costumes all finished about the same time including the relatively casual Extremis Pepper (because Mr Stark made most of the arm), L.A. Woman Kate, Hawkini Kate, and Clint Barton (all in the Hawkeye gllery). I also got all the sewing and about half the painting done on Cersei Lannister - I'm counting it as a completed costume because the rest of the embroidery is really just an "upgrade". And finally, my Space Warrior from Costume Quest, which I finished in time for Halloween but didn't actually wear anywhere, so I haven't been pushing photos out on that one. Some will be coming soon though, I'm sure.
So how did I do relative to my plans at the beginning of the year?
... obviously I added a lot of costumes to the list, and I finished them before I completed the top row, which my goal was not to do. But I had fun, and that's all that really matters, right? Didn't even touch the bottom "Phase Three" row, though, which is sad because those were to come after I made things for other people. Some of which I took care of before Christmas, and some of which I didn't. I also ended up doing some work on Midna's wig just in December which isn't reflected in the percentages yet, but I'm hoping that little bit of work will make it easier to get back to actual progress shortly.
And with that, my ongoing progress list for the year on the side-bar will be wiped clean to start fresh for the new year!
Do you enjoy "let's play" videos? Because it was quite the year for them! I played Yoshi's Woolly World with Dan the Video Ninja (highlights above). I also played the Telltale Game of Thrones series with Dan and Whitless! And... OK, I guess that's it, but it's a lot of game in those two series. Expect more Dan-and-Mai play cartoony games in 2016!
Finally, the last highlight of 2015... a brief update on the little side-job I picked up for a few days in the spring. Remember that? No? It's OK; I'll forgive you. Over Easter weekend I got the opportunity to do some last-minute-level sewing on a costume for Hannibal, which was very surreal. No only because I spent 3 days in an FX workshop literally full of various mutilated (fake) body parts, but because I was actually working on something for a legit TV production. Awesome. And while back in the spring I couldn't discuss what the costume was before it aired, I can talk about it now! Except I'll just share a couple photos instead, and I'm just going to link them in case people want to avoid spoilers (it's from one of the last couple episodes after all...)
Anyways, overall I'm really happy with my 2015 year-in-cosplay. I even still have some photos to post which I'm holding back for now (various reasons)! Looking forward to an even better 2016.... which I'll talk about in my next post!