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What You Can Learn about Costumes and Life from Cosplayers

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Craft | 0 comments


Cosplayers tend to pretty passionate about their craft. It makes sense. They’re big enough fans of a character to want to bring it to life through what they’re wearing. So it also makes sense that when I asked a few* Phoenix Comicon cosplayers for a costuming tip to share, they shared a lot more than that – tips for wearing costumes, meeting people, photo etiquette, and good advice that applies whether or not you do cosplay!


1. Think practically.

Safety pins are very important! You never know when you’ll need them for your costume.” –Ryan DeFusco (The Indie Imaginarium)

Break in your shoes ahead of time.” Genevieve Eldred

Drink lots of water! It’s easy to get dehydrated.” –Ryan D.

When designing your costume, don’t just think about the look. Think about how you will move around in it – especially in a crowd.

I try not to take up space outside my immediate area. Wings and other things that stick out from your costume make it hard to get around at conferences.” –Genevieve

Also, think about how you’ll feel late in the day. Ryan D. recommends bringing a change of clothes in case your costume gets uncomfortable or some part of it isn’t working.


2. Talk to people

Justice League Arizona member Ryan Holmes recommends joining a group, if you find one that interests you.

When you’re at a con…

Talk to people! If someone has taken the trouble to dress up as a character you like, say hi.” –Ryan H.

If you like someone’s cosplay, tell them! If you want to know how they made something, ask them! The community is in large part very friendly and more than happy to share their tips and techniques.” –Genevieve 

“If you’re shy, wearing a costume that covers the face can be really liberating.” –Ryan H. (DIY masks, anyone?)


3. Keep learning

The cosplay community is another example of how the current wealth of online and offline resources for learning has helped makers flourish.

Learning new skills keeps the brain active, and the worst thing you could do is remain stagnant.” –Genevieve

The web is full of costume resources. Probably at least half the people into making things are also into talking about how they made them.” –Ryan H.

“Research, research, research. There are plenty of skills like sewing, jewelry making, and armor making that can be learned from cosplay blogs and tutorials. If you ever get lost on something, there’s probably a cosplayer who has done it and can help you through.“ –Genevieve

“There are lots of panels on costuming from cheap and starting out to advanced prop building.” –Ryan H.


4. Have fun

Don’t be scared that your costume won’t be ‘good enough.’ If it’s your first time costuming, what matters is that you have fun.” –Jill Rouleau (from our Phoenix Comicon newbies post)

If it’s not fun, there’s no point.“ –Genevieve


Bonus tip: Photos of cosplayers

(a.k.a. Don’t be creepy.)

“Be respectful and ask before taking someone’s picture.” –Jill 

Cosplay is not consent for photos (or harassment). If you want to take a photo of a child, also ask the adult they’re with for permission.

Don’t sneak up behind a cosplayer and try to get a photo without them noticing. People like to be able to put their best pose on, hide their con badge, look good.” –Ryan H.

They may want to cover up a small flaw in their costume or give you their best side.

“It’s also okay to ask people to pose or pose with you. Once, when I was in a Batman costume, one guy wanted a picture where it looked like I was scolding him. Much more memorable than ‘I’m standing next to Batman.’” –Ryan H.


More to check out

Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest – Phoenix Comicon is introducing a second, smaller event! Fan Fest is focused on creators, artists, actors, costumers and exhibitors. It will be held December 12-14, 2014 (during cooler weather!) at the University of Phoenix Glendale Stadium.

Cosplayers recommend:

  • Justice League Arizona - Costuming for a cause. “We do charity appearances and don’t take money.”  –Ryan H.
  • “A few professional cosplayers write their own books with tutorials. Kamui Cosplay and Bill Doran from Punished Props have awesome ones.” –Genevieve
  • The RFP - Prop and costume information and community. “A good spot for those with lots of time and energy for their stuff.” –Ryan H.

*Yes, two of the cosplayers were named Ryan. While there are no official statistics on this, it is my belief that the majority of cosplayers are actually not named Ryan. If Ryans are overrepresented here, it is coincidental and not an attempt to exclude the non-Ryan community or promote some hidden pro-Ryan agenda

Photos of Genevieve taken by Eileen Kane.

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A little something good

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Craft, Life | 4 comments

This weekend, while I was giving the bathroom an overdue-but-not-thorough cleaning, I started thinking about times when doing something really small turns out to have an impact.


Here’s what I decided as I wiped down the sink:

You don’t have to do it all. Do what you can. A little something good is still something good. And good things make a difference.


Microblog Mondays: we’re bringing blogging back.

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Last-minute costume idea: Make a mask!

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in Craft | 2 comments

Need a quick costume for a Halloween party or New Year’s Eve masquerade? Want to look like less of a muggle at Comicon?

Few items transform your look as instantly as a mask.

Pick up a some supplies at the craft store (or hunt around your house), and you can be in disguise in an hour!


Basic supply list (this is what came in the Brit Kits we used to do this project at CraftHack):

Additional supplies (people also added stuff from their stashes):

  • Patterned paper
  • Ultra-fine tipped Sharpies
  • Feathers
  • Paint


  • Scissors
  • Foam brush (to spread glitter glue)


I forgot to bring the scissors to our CraftHack meetup. So everyone had to share this small pair that Eileen happened to have. And I felt the wrath. Even though I brought cake.

Moral of the story: Do NOT come between crafters and their scissors. Cake will not save you.


There are instructions on Brit + Co, but there are so many possibilities with this project!

Here’s what the creative minds at our CraftHack group came up with.







Erika finished her Cleopatra mask at home and snapped a selfie for us!


Check out our mask inspiration post for more ideas!


Final photo by Erika Hunt.

A big thanks to Brit + Co and VELCRO for providing the Brit Kits with supplies for this project!

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It took 10 years to get here

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Life, Travel | 4 comments


Phillip and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary with a mini road trip.

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I try not too get mushy here often.

But this seems like a fitting occasion to mention I am so crazy about this super smart, sweet, handsome guy. Phillip is my favorite person to be with on a road trip – or just hanging out at the house – and he makes me laugh harder than anyone.

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There’s no one I’d rather share the journey with.

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I’m participating in Microblog Mondays. More quick reads at Stirrup Queens!


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Re:Make Conference: What is the Maker Movement?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in Craft, Travel | 2 comments

“If you thought the internet was big, this is going to be bigger.”
Mark Hatch, TechShop CEO on the Maker Movement


Brit + Co’s Re:Make event in San Francisco was all about the Maker Movement with a conference on Day 1 and community festival on Day 2.

Certain themes recurred throughout the day – storytelling, craftsmanship, being true to your style, creativity. I got to discuss it all over a lunch with speakers and other Brit + Co contributors, definitely a highlight!


Who is a maker?

“The maker movement is the next revolution in society. Welcome to the Revolution.”
–Mark Hatch, super quotable speaker

A maker is simply someone who enjoys making stuff, whether it’s food or furniture, rugs or robots, strawberry cocktails or Storm Trooper costumes. Yep. In fact, ”Most Star Wars fans are makers,” according to Mashable Editor and How Star Wars Conquered the Universe author Chris Taylor. (We came to the same conclusion about the Comicon community.)

Makers may use traditional techniques (hand embroidery) or modern tech (3D printing) or some combination (the fan-built, Arduino-controlled R2D2, who accompanied Chris during his talk).

More and more people are are choosing the DIY route, and it’s starting to affect both culture and commerce. This is the Maker Movement.

Some call it a Revolution.



Express Yourself

Brit + Co put together a report on the Maker Movement. Their survey found that 8 out of 10 adults fit their definition of maker. During her opening keynote, Founder Brit Morin said that, while the Movement “skews female,” women don’t always see themselves as part of it. Instead, they think of it as something “male and techie.”

Women also tend to devalue their own skills and creativity. I see this at my CraftHack group all the time. Women will be working on these awesome projects but a lot of times just shrug them off.

I believe that everyone is creative. But, as adults (especially as women), we’re often afraid to express ourselves. Making something – however imperfect – helps us tap into the fearless self-expression we had as children. Practicing creativity opens the door to more creativity.



Makers Gonna (Re)Make

There were plenty of opportunities to be creative and make stuff at Re:Make. As soon as you walked in, you could take part in a giant collaborative paint-by-number (with paint from sponsor Lowe’s, of course!). We took Make Breaks for crafting cork vases and decorating cupcakes. The second day there were DIY stations scattered throughout the festival.

More conferences should include DIY projects! They’re great icebreakers and a great rest from information overload.


What made the Maker Movement happen now?

1. New ways to learn

Brit also noted that makers tend to be early adopters of technology. However, “only 17% are using tech for making.” Instead, they’re using it to learn how to make things by hand, find inspiration, share ideas, watch tutorials. “The Maker Movement is not just tech, it’s about traditional arts and crafts resurrecting in society.”

Mark Hatch observed that “we live in an era where you can pick up the skills to do almost anything in 90 days.”

The Michaels spokesperson echoed this later in the day. Their customers used to have deep knowledge of one craft. Now they usually have a broader range of skills, because it’s so much easier to learn via online platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. Information has become more accessible.


2. Conscientious consumers

“The maker movement is booming and retailers don’t even know it.”
Bradford Shellhammer, Founder and CDO

As more consumers become makers, more people have started to care about how products are made and who made them. Makers are on both sides of the supply and demand equation, selling items they’ve made and purchasing artisan goods from others.

Jaime Derringer, Founder and Editor of Design Milk, noted, “The economy played a role in where we are. People started making things and taught themselves to run businesses.” Maybe they had more time because of a layoff. Maybe they wanted to save money and/or earn a little extra income.

In addition, the recession made us think a little harder about what we were buying and why. Did we really need mass quantities of cheap, disposable goods? Or could we get by with fewer, higher quality things made in more sustainable ways?

“Groupon trained consumers to look for discounts. That era is ending. Now there are more conscientious consumers.” AHAlife CEO Shauna Mei explained. “People care about stories, heritage, and who made the product.”

Steven Heintz, CTO of Quirky agreed. ”People are bored with mass-produced products. They’re looking for something unique.”



Shake It Up

If all that info makes you feel like you could use a stiff drink, you’ll understand why the conference wrapped up with a cocktail party.

It was the kind of day with more awesomeness than your brain can contain and no way to chat with everyone you’d like to. I wish I could have a few Groundhog-Day-style do-overs, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I was honored to be a part of Re:Make and so appreciate Brit + Co and Lowe’s bringing me out!

In the words of the Urbio spokesperson (whose name I didn’t catch):

“If you’re passionate about something, you have more tools now than ever to make it a reality. Go out and make something!”

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Mosquitoes may be stalking me.

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Craft, Life | 12 comments

The Sonoran Desert isn’t known for mosquitoes, but after an unusually wet September, they’re everywhere. It seems like I get new bites every time I leave the house – or don’t.


I finally resorted to pulling the bug repellent (ick) out of the cabinet, but that didn’t even work. Maybe it’s old. I’d like to find a natural (or at least less chemical-y) solution that works.

My great grandmother used to swear by Avon’s Skin-So-Soft for pretty much everything, including keeping mosquitoes away during humid Indiana summers. I also found an article with some interesting DIY natural repellent ideas, like putting baby oil or cider vinegar on your skin.

Have you tried any of these or found something else that works for you?

This is my Microblog Mondays post. More quick reads at Stirrup Queens!

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