The making of:
The making of:
Here are some detail shots before I hand stitched on the crochet detailing! There were still a few pins in some of the pics at that point in the process, but I’m in love with the silhouette and overall look/feel. This whole process has been so much fun!
If you’ve been following me on social media you probably know my family recently experienced two deaths, that of my grandmother, the matriarch of our family, and her sister. Because of how close the deaths were, July ended up being a month where I attended a funeral or remembrance ceremony three consecutive weekends.
The third weekend, the weekend of July 20th, was also the release of the live action version of the Disney classic The Lion King. To be honest I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the remake. I’ve never had a connection to a live action animal movie before and I was doubtful that was going to change. But Disney means a lot to me and my family so two of my cousins and I decided to buy tickets.
But this is not a movie review.
I could sit here and gush over the nostalgic songs, the beautiful visuals or the casting that just felt so right (Timon and Pumbaa…so damn good). But this movie meant a lot more to me.
Context: My grandma’s “Celebration of life” ceremony was Saturday July 21st. The morning after seeing this movie I was going to have to dress in black for the third weekend in a row and sit among flowers and photos of the woman who had partially raised me. People were going to be crying. I was going to be crying.
But for two hours…for two whole hours…for the only two hours since the first week of July, all I had to do was watch a screen. The insistent voice in my head chanting “My grandma’s dead” was drowned out by the soundtrack I knew by heart. Disney means something deeper.
I teared up in the first three minutes of the film. And I’m willing to bet most Disney fans did. The Lion King happens to have one of the most impactful film openings ever, and the collective gasps as the African sun rose on screen told me I wasn’t alone in my awe.
It’s probably been a solid 5-10 years since I’ve watched The Lion King in all its entirety. I’ve listened to the soundtrack, of course, but I mean actually sitting down to watch it. Somehow this experience was vastly different than when I was a child, but in a good way.
“It’s the circle of life.”
The theme of the movie has always been the same. But as someone freshly grieving this message hit me particularly hard. But what hit me harder was the message of hope beyond the grave.
I think it’s easy to feel some level of guilt when someone passes away. If only you had made one more visit, or phone call or somehow known the exact day and time of their death so you could hold their hand, so they would know they weren’t alone. There are a lot of if only’s.
When we’re handling grief, it can feel like closure to cut ourselves off emotionally. We might not run away in a physical sense, but it sounds so nice to step away emotionally.
I heard a podcast recently that said feeling grief in its entirety is important because when you close yourself off to one set of emotions it numbs you from other ones as well. It might seem like a solution to put as much distance between you and your grief as possible, but that also inhibits you from being able to love fully and to fully experience joy.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most impactful moments of The Lion King is (still) when Rafiki takes Simba to the water’s edge.
‘I’m not the one who is confused, you’re the one who doesn’t even know who you are.’
Death feels like separation. In a way, the worst part of having someone you love die is the feeling that you will never know them again. But take another look, Rafiki challenges. Because they live in and through you in ways more powerful than you can imagine.
And although the only film shortcoming I could think of was not having the Broadway song “He lives in you” in the main storyline (it pops up in the credits), the message was loud and clear throughout the narrative.
I needed the reminder.
And perhaps that is the true power of this story. Perhaps we could all use the reminder, in an age where numbing ourselves seems second nature, that our true power lies in our connectivity. Thank you to the cast, crew and director for the reminder of hope.
I was a little unsure when I heard one of my favorite stories was being remade but it came in the perfect way, at the perfect time. Sometimes change is good. And as Rafiki reminds us, “Any story worth telling, is worth telling twice.”
We gambled. We had no idea what this movie was, and hadn’t seen any trailers or reviews…but by the end of it we agreed, with tears in our eyes, that it was one of the best movies of 2019.
I’ve always been a fan of Seth Rogan movies. It’s a fact that often surprises guys since apparently they’re “dude movies” that I’m not supposed to enjoy. But I was largely raised by my older brother and I think besides that fact that they’re just hilarious I’ve probably inherited my crude/rude sense of humor from him. Also just stop with the “girls should like this kind of movie” thing.
Anyway, it was Saturday night and we’d decided to go see a movie (which in today’s world takes reorganizing our budget, IRA accounts and 401K because of prices). Our options were pretty slim other than Detective Pikachu and Aladdin, both of which are getting sautéd by reviewers (I think one of the New York Times reviews for Aladdin bluntly stated “This is not what you wished for”. Harsh.). So we decided to gamble a bit on the Seth Rogan + Charlize Theron flick Long Shot.
No spoilers, but the movie starts off with Rogan hanging out with a bunch of white supremacists so we were a little unsure we’d made the right decision. But after a moment of realizing that shock factor is one of the spices Rogan cooks with on a regular basis, we decided to continue sitting in our chairs, even though our teeth were clenched a little more than is dentist approved.
But let me tell you…we’re happy we did.
There are so many things about this movie that make it wonderful, it’s hard to put them all into a post that doesn’t spoil the whole thing for readers (who I’m assuming haven’t seen the movie yet…if you have, please leave a comment and we can talk about the glory that it is. If you haven’t…don’t read the comments).
The premise of the movie is this:
Long Shot is a 2019 American romantic comedy film directed by Jonathan Levine and written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. The plot follows a journalist (Seth Rogen) who reunites with his former babysitter (Charlize Theron), now the United States Secretary of State.
Actually now that I’m reading that synopsis…I’m kind of glad I didn’t know anything about this movie because that sounds so sappy. The good news is the writers work with this story beautifully and the character development that happens over the course of 125 minutes is refreshing. Especially after whole season of mediocre writing by the show that shall not be named (*cough* Game of Thrones *cough*).
I honestly think I forgot how satisfying good writing could be before seeing Long Shot. Not because I’ve never seen a well written movie, but because it’s just been so long since one has checked all the boxes for me. Because something magical happens when characters are given human emotions, motivations and have real consequences to their actions.
I felt that Long Shot brilliantly portrays the natural tug-o-war of being a woman in a successful (and in this case powerful) career, while being a person who wants to connect with that inner child we’re so often forced to forget. On the flip side Rogan does an amazing job or portraying a character who faces his own insecurities and flaws while realizing that sometimes being open minded is more powerful than being right.
I would honestly argue that this is one of the first times I’ve seen a romantic comedy work so well at developing both love interests while engaging the viewer in the storytelling. Not to mention having two leads that actually have amazing chemistry. There wasn’t any part of this movie when I felt bored or like the scene had been left just to fill screen time. And I think that’s a testament to writing in itself. Sometimes the most powerful writing is that which has been edited well.
In short, go to this movie and support it in theaters because while big box names are “killing records” and “smashing expectations of sales” we all need to remember why going to the movies is magical in the first place. It’s about more than special effects and billion dollar budgets. It’s about connecting with the soul of humanity and reminding us that we can be a little bit better, dream a little bit harder and fall in love with a little less inhibition.
It’s been a couple of months since I competed in the Western Championships of Cosplay and I haven’t had any time to debrief because I’ve been heads down on creating more cosplays and then going out of the country on a much needed vacation. Now that I’m back and finally over jet-lag my brain is starting to fully process the enormity of what happened in March.
Wow. Just wow.
Competing at Emerald City Comic Con had been on my list of to-do items for years. I wanted to do it “someday” and thought that maybe I would get a chance when I was older or good enough…or just, someday in general. When I applied to compete I barely thought I would get in. I knew that this was one of the most prestigious cosplay competitions and they were very picky about who they let compete. I had no idea whether I would even be allowed to walk.
When I received my invitation I literally stood up on my bed crying. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I WAS GOING TO COMPETE AGAINST THE BEST. It also meant that I needed to get started immediately on building out my cosplay to match my vision for competing. I had already rebuilt it twice and had a month and a half after receiving my invitation to build on what I already had. To be honestly I didn’t really build on it. I pulled that cosplay apart and down to its core and built it anew. For the third time.
Looking back I COULD NOT be happier with how the cosplay turned out. To be absolutely honest I tear up when I think of how perfect that night was. The adrenaline, the crowd of 2,000+ people chanting “Rufio! Rufio! Rufio!” I honestly don’t know how I will ever top that experience for the rest of my life. Knowing that people connected with a character as deeply as I do is just such an incredible feeling.
I do hope that I can compete again next year although I don’t know which character I’m going to bring to life for the stage. There is still so little representation of POC cosplayers in these arenas that my hope is that by competing I can inspire others who feel like they aren’t “worthy” to apply to try and pursue their dream. I did. And despite every little insecurity that whispered I wouldn’t make it, I did.
In case you missed the show: https://www.syfy.com/videos/the-western-championships-of-cosplay-eccc-2019
Lace. Frills. Cuteness. ALL THE accessories.
Lolita fashion was basically made for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, for those of you who might have no idea what Lolita fashion even is, here’s what the Wikipedia gods define it as:
Lolita is a fashion subculture from Japan that is highly influenced by Victorian and Edwardian children’s clothing and styles from the Rococo period. A very distinctive property of Lolita fashion is the aesthetic of cuteness.
Lolita is something I’ve known about since I was a wee homeschooler. I think being raised alternatively meant I found out about a lot of nerdy communities earlier than a lot of other people. For instance, I had kids playing Magic at the lunch table when I was 10 years old (before it was cool) and I’ve pretty much always had friends who were furries. We were all a little weird, and built our own beautiful little nerd utopia. It wasn’t until I went to college that I found out these things were pretty niche. Especially since I went to a small private school, the expectation was more around knowing about designers than Dungeons and Dragons.
It’s pretty apparent that I’ve now settled right back into my nerdy childhood ways, but I definitely had a span of about five years where I tried desperately to be normal. Ha. Me, normal. As an adult I’m now able to invest in a lot of these communities that I was raised around and Lolita is one that I’ve been excited to pursue for a WHILE. About a month ago I decided to just go for it.
After signing up for a couple of local groups I saw that there was an event coming up. The thing about Lolita is that it can be a bit overwhelming. There’s a LOT more than just clothes that goes into it, but I also wanted to make sure I looked somewhat presentable…on a budget. The Swap Meet was perfect for the getting to know some people and getting some great clothes. So I put it in my calendar.
Then I got sick.
The morning of the swap meet I felt like a total mess as I was struck down by the plague. But the thing about swap meets is that they only happen every few months so not going meant having to wait months until the next one. So I pulled myself out of bed, took a Dayquil and some allergy meds and went anyway.
The meet was so much fun!
It’s always a little bit awkward to show up to an event where everyone seemingly knows each other, because I definitely didn’t know anyone. But as I started talking to people and buying merch I started to make some new friends. Honestly, everyone I met there was SO welcoming and some of the girls gave me free stuff since I’m just starting out on my Lolita journey.
One of the really special things I found out about from this swap meet was that the community in my city is super active and does a lot of activities regularly. I’m pretty excited to go to some events while dressed in my full Lolita gear. Actually THRILLED is more of the word. I’m just so incredibly happy I found this community and really feel like it’s the beginning of some beautiful friendships.
Here’s what I ended up getting at the swap meet. What do you think!?
The crazy started the moment I decided to replicate a fur coat with a bath robe.
I’ve been known to thrift shop more than a few times a month and this month was no different. While I was on one of my weekly trips I stumbled across a bath robe and got struck with inspiration. A cosplay shoot had just been announced and the theme had already struck my heart: Winter is Coming. The shoot was going to be shot in the snow and I immediately knew the direction I would want to go for the shoot. The only problem? I had absolutely nothing from Game of Thrones to wear.
So I put on my big girl thinker hat and thought about how I could make something bad ass from Season 7 of Game of Thrones. It was a bit of a tie between Cersei and Daenerys to be perfectly honest. I only cosplay bad asses and those are the two characters I relate with the most in the show (yeah, yeah, don’t judge me for liking Cersei). Ultimately it was Daenerys’s winter coat that really struck me in the heart. The coat is something made for the gods and I knew I absolutely had to make it…or as close to it as I could get on a beer budget.
Champagne taste in cosplay is never a good thing when you’re struggling to buy cat food.
Anyway, when I saw the robe on the racks of Value Village I knew I had to turn it into something sumptuous. Something amazing. Something that was nothing like a robe. And thus, my project began:
Interface makes things stiff and can usually find in the collar and cuffs of shirts. Since my robe fabric was made to drape and I needed more structure (a LOT more structure) I grabbed some fusible fleece (fusible meaning iron-on) and started piecing it on the parts of the jacket I wanted to hold structure.
One of the coolest parts of this jacket is the back, which is a completely different fabric and feel than the rest of the jacket. Knowing that the robe fabric wasn’t going to cut it, I went ahead and purchased an extra large coat that had the same animal feel. Then I killed it and pieced it together on the back. Brilliant.
Next up I cut up some $5 faux fur (white) that I had also found at Value Village (and which I had washed because it seriously smelled so bad when I got it). I was on a time crunch so this part of the back is actually hot glued down, rather than being sewn. I definitely plan on going back in and sewing it down in the future.
For the front of the jacket I took a knitted ribbed scarf and sewed it down so that there would be a piled texture to that part of the jacket. I also took the rest of the white fur and added in a side panel on the left side of the jacket which isn’t part of the original design…but I just like fur and wanted more on the jacket. Sue me.
What then ensued happened at 11pm at night so there aren’t any pics, but the jacket was hand painted/markered to have the well known black and brown marks you can see in the original jacket. This whole process took 2-3 hours and was f-u-n (not really). I also sewed in grey panels to the sleeves which you can’t see in most of the pictures but were true to the original design so I wanted to make sure to add them. I also added a low cost wig because obviously I don’t have natural Targaryen hair, which you can find HERE. The chain was a necklace I found for three dollars at a thrift store as well, which I loved because the little gems are Targaryen red.
And THIS was the end result. For only having two weeks to make it (and under $50) I’m extremely happy with how it turned out. Sure I could sit and make a list of improvements I still want to make, but for now you can just call me the Mother of Dragons.
Want to support more awesome cosplay projects? Check out my Patreon page!
All photo credit goes to Meghan Rush-Jones Photography
Oh my word I’m terrified and excited as I’m launching this but it’s up and it’s HAPPENING! My Patreon is currently launched and I can’t wait to share with you guys all of the amazing that will be happening over the 2019 year (and beyond). Cosplaying has never been just about me. It’s about bringing representation to characters and concepts that might otherwise not be seen in competitions and in the nerd world. It’s the same reason my handle has the word “our” in it. This is about US. Thank you for being a part of this community!
To support or just to see the awesome stuff you could be getting, click here: https://www.patreon.com/ourshieldmaiden/overview
What happens with the money? The money I make from my Patreon goes ENTIRELY to funding my creative projects including cosplay materials, photo shoots, and boring business expenses (but hey, you gotta have em, right?). You will NOT be funding things like my rent or cat subscription boxes. You can support and unsubscribe at any time, and you can also pledge support without taking any of the perks, if you just want to help out. 🙂
What’s my cat’s name? Oh! And you’ll probably get to meet my cat Freya. She helps me out sometimes. Last week she ate super glue. She’s a very adventurous cat who may be showing off some of her own cosplay very soon, as well.
Patreon is such a fun way you can support my art as it grows to bigger and better cosplay. I’m also always open for cosplay suggestions, so if you have someone you think would be fun to see, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.