Mistakes are a Cosplayers classroom.
When you begin building costumes, especially without any sort of formal training, mistakes are going to happen and in abundance too! Even some of the best trained costumers and prop makers make silly mistakes. It’s all a part of the journey.
Stop being embarrassed about the mistakes you make along the way. Those mistakes are to be embraced – funny stories to tell later and lessons you won’t forget, sometimes in the form of life long scars!
Mistake #1: Don’t paint a vinyl bodysuit with acrylic paint.
Once, I decided it would be super cool to HAND PAINT a vinyl bodysuit (without a body form. I should add, using acrylic paint).
I spent hours hand painting this thing, daydreaming about the badassery that was sure the ensue.
So there I am, last stroke of paint dries and I whisk the bodysuit up and start putting it on and what happes?
The paint literally exploded off the suit, all of the room and I just sort of stood in front of the mirror like…oh…okay. I’m not saying I cried but I may be allergic to hours of hand painting exploded before my eyes.
Mistake #2: All foam is not created equal.
I’m a huge fan of foam – more so now that I understand the different types and sizes. But there was a time when I was thought all foam was created equal.
I had this concept for a crazy cool Pikachu Warrior thing. The idea struck me about 10pm and being the impatient person that I am I just couldn’t wait until morning to go to the store and get supplies.
Pshh, supplies? I’ve got everything I need, I thought. No, no.
So we (Cissa and I) start building our Warrior Pokemon immediately (Again, patience is a virtue) using thick, thick EVA foam.
“Once we take the heat gun to it, it’ll be finnnnne.”
Don’t get me wrong, they looked great! We can’t say we aren’t proud of them but they could have been better. We literally made the job ten times harder than it ever had to be.
Thick EVA foam is not breast plate material and trying to obtain a feminine shape proved to be a hurdle that I would say we didn’t entirely clear even with the final product.
It does not heat right, it’s difficult to shape, it’s bulky and heavy.
When you use foam that’s too thick for a piece you’re going to wear across your torso be prepared to be uncomfortable and have system failures. Also some severe breast suffocation for the ladies.
TL:DR – Don’t. DO. It.
Mistake #3: Like Swiss cheese.
Styrofoam is another great foam and a great, lightweight material for props – like ultra great BUT the list of things you cannot use on styrofoam is vast and easily forgotten when we’re in a rush to finish something (and let’s be honest, cosplayers are usually in a rush).
“Duh, Sophii… everyone knows that!”
Do they? The amount of cosplayers in forums talking about this makes me think this is a pretty common mistake we make.
Styrofoam must be sealed properly before spray painting or gluing. You CANNOT spray paint it, you CANNOT super glue it to anything without properly sealing it first.
So there I am, making my chainsaw for Juliet Starling(Lollipop Chainsaw). I had previously been receiving help from a good friend/master prop builder but unfortunately he didn’t have time to continue. So less than a week before the convention I intended to wear this cosplay to I’m just sitting in my dining room staring a this hunk of unsealed Styrofoam thinking “HOW EVEN?!”
But I powered forward! And again, in a rush so the thought process wasn’t exactly deep.
“It needs to be sealed!” I thought and started Mod Podge-ing my little heart out. Except in my impatience I didn’t stop to check it was completely covered and began spray painting – NOPE.
Missing Chunks! Missing chunks EVERYWHERE!
My little heart broke.
But with determination I began resealing, sanding and hand painting every inch of that chainsaw with some help from my mom, my fiance and my good friend Alyssa.
If I had sealed properly, it would have been done SO much faster.
Mistake #4: Attachment is key.
Your armor or wings will have to attach to you or your cosplay in someway and things will go way smoother if you figure out how before you start building everything.
The size and weight of a piece can change placement dramatically and if you haven’t taken this into consideration before putting your costume or base together, you may end up finding out attachment is nearly impossible.
But alas, nothing is impossible!
The amount of examples Cissa and I both have for this one proves that sometimes you have to make a mistake more than once to really learn.
If you’re attaching any sort of shoulder piece, absolutely figure out how that will stay you on.
Are you using straps? If so, will they simply attach across you or will they secure to your costume?
Are you planning to use velcro? Is the armor light enough to hang off of velcro? Is the material you’re attaching the velcro to stable enough to keep the armor in place?
Don’t begin suiting up the morning of the convention only to find out that the pieces of your puzzle don’t actually fit together.
You’ll know you made a mistake when you and four friends are safety pinning those pieces to your costume, said safety pins occasionally unhooking and giving you a stabbing reminder of your mistake.
I could go on and on and on, but what I want you to take from this is – mistakes happen, don’t be embarrassed and learn from them! No matter how much pre-planning and research you do, sometimes things just go wrong.
There was a time when I would pretend I didn’t know what the word ‘mistake’ meant for fear of being told I was bad at what I love to do. “Me? Make a mistake? As if…”
But when I did share stories of my mishaps with others, I got responses like “Oh s***, THAT HAPPENED TO ME TOO!”.
And then I realized, we all suck sometimes – but at least we suck together ❤
I kid, I kid.
Just remember to take your time and don’t allow anyone to use your mistakes as a weapon to make you feel bad about your work. Cosplay is a time consuming hobby and entails a vast amount of different skill sets – no one person has mastered them all and no one has tried without a few hiccups along the way.
I’m sure I’ll make many more mistakes and when I do – I’ll make sure to share.
Tell us about some of you cosplay mishaps, we’d love to hear how you resolved them.