Welcome to another cosplay feature of the week! Today we welcome an avid seamstress and cosplayer: Dragon Slipper Tailoring!
Hello Dragon Slipper Tailoring! Please tell us a bit about yourself…
In the cosplay community, I go by Dragon Slipper Tailoring. I’m a pseudo-neo-Seattlite, in my twenties and when not in costume I’m busy working on fiction writing (I specialize there in the same genres my cosplay does: typically fantasy whether historical, high, or urban, with a little flavor of [insert-appropriate-noun-here]-punk/scifi.
A fellow writer! I hope you are making progress on your National Novel Writing Month story (if you are participating that is). So how did cosplay come to your attention?
I’ve always been drawn to fandom and participation within. I was introduced to cosplay before conventions were (at least locally) a “thing,” through doing midnight showings at the local theater in costume. Hitting up every event like this in a small town became something of a ritual, and I made my first costume in 2005 for Revenge of the Sith. I didn’t start cosplaying formally until 2007, when I finally moved to a bigger city that had something of a convention scene to speak of to really kick the tendency into gear.
Man I definitely missed out on the infancy of cosplay but its certainly nice to hear stories from other cosplayers of what the “good ole days” were like. What inspires your cosplay creations?
I used to be a lot less picky about the media I consumed and I wanted, initially, to participate in every fandom I remotely liked or could get my hands on. Eventually that tendency mellowed out and I’m a lot more conscientious about what I pick to do (especially when, in devoting weeks at a time to any given costume, it has to be something I won’t fall out of love with). I tend to pick characters that I can see at least a little of myself in, though sometimes the intricacy and beauty of a design just pings in a way that’s difficult to really find a word for.
I’ve been doing this now for eleven years (nine, formally), and over that decade, I’ve done a little of everything: simple alterations and closet cosplay, ballgowns, armor builds, and even some occasional prop-making. Anymore, even in the simplest costumes, I try to find something I can add to it that makes it a little more challenging. My favorite part of cosplay is seeing a difference in interpretation and skill, understanding how the same costume can occur to people in different ways, and how everything has just that extra bit of personality in it.
You make some incredibly intelligent decisions. I am just coming to the place where I study the character I am interested in and assess if it is an outfit I can see myself wearing more than once. What you expect from cosplay and how you think it will influence your future?
The only thing I expect from cosplay is to learn new things and to challenge myself creatively. Everything else is just a nice perk. As for influencing the future, all I can even begin to hope for is that the hobby and that creative spark that comes with it extends to other artistic avenues as well. A little inspiration goes a long way.
I agree with your stance on inspiration. Have any fellow cosplayers inspired you? Who are your favorite cosplayers?
I could link any number of famous (or even not-so-famous) cosplayers here, I see so much phenomenal work in this community. However, in terms of finding wonderful people who are as uplifting and encouraging as they are incredibly talented, I have to drop Azimedes Cosplay. We’ve been in this crazy hobby together (in one capacity or another) for almost four years now, and I couldn’t recommend anyone else who’s helped me grow more.
That’s so nice to see! I have had a couple people mention Azimedes and I had a chance to view her work; it’s lovely. Do you have a favorite cosplay you have made? Would you mind sharing some of how you constructed it with us?
Contrary to how little it’s recognized in a convention setting without my explaining it, the piece I’m most proud of is Fandral the Dashing from Thor: The Dark World. It’s easily the most elaborate piece I’ve ever done. The whole costume took the whole of the winter before Emerald City ComiCon 2014, so a good three-four months of building (I even cut a little into my NaNoWriMo schedule the November prior to get started; I loved it the minute I saw it, and it begged to be done).
The costume is a multi-layered breastplate with a full coat and cape, with two-toned pants, and required carrying a replica sword. All of the armor is done with foam, though it’s tooled to look like leather where the breastplate calls for it, with intricate designs down the front of it. All apparel vinyl is (unfortunately) couch vinyl, and the costume does not breathe at all. So while it looks phenomenal (my first time making pants!), it’s the worst to wear. Even next to Loki which requires multiple full-length layers of doubled-up vinyl. I’d learned my lesson on more-breathable materials by then.
WOW! I love Fandral and agree that many characters from that film are not as well known. So what is your favorite costume crafting medium to work in?
With any armor builds, I always default to craft foam first. Not only is it easy to use and relatively forgiving in terms of heating and reshaping, it’s ultra-affordable in the case of messing something up (and in a very expensive hobby, forgiveness in terms of a learning curve and price is important). I’ve broken into the use of thermoplastics, and while my wallet begs that I go for slightly cheaper knock-off materials (my Sephiroth armor is made using a Worbla substitute called TerraFlex), Worbla will always be the one that holds up better, even if the learning curve is still steeper. Beyond that, I simply choose materials as the costume calls for.
Thank you for sharing so much with us! Before we part ways, what advice would you like to offer cosplayers?
Learn everything you can. Challenge yourself to find new ways to see old things. And have fun.
Happy crafting Dragon Slipper! For more on this incredible artist she can be visited at https://www.facebook.com/DragonSlipperTailoring. Here is a quick preview of some of her work…