Cosplayer of the Month is a series of articles about a local or regional cosplayer. This time our own Stephanie Schrenk had the opportunity to interview local cosplayer Victoria Blakely of Victoria Rose Cosplay about her beginnings with costume making, as well as her nerdy upbringing and obsession with building armor.
How long have you been cosplaying?
I first started cosplaying in 2011 when I attended Dragoncon for the first time (since childhood in attendance with my family anyways). Even though this was my first time wearing a real “cosplay”, I always made my own costumes growing up and throughout college.
It wasn’t until 2013 that I started getting more serious about cosplay and teaching myself how to make all these elaborate costumes and attending more cons.
What fandoms are your favorites to draw cosplays from?
I love to draw cosplays from the nostalgia of my childhood. Fandoms like Sailor Moon an The Legend of Zelda really shaped me as a child so I love to pay homage via my cosplays to these influences. Lately I have been cosplaying more from favorite gaming fandoms or comic books.
I think it makes cosplaying a little more special too when you are genuinely excited and passionate about a certain fandom that you cosplay from. I have to have a connection to the character I’m cosplaying. I also like to mix it up and take characters from current fandoms that I am enjoying and give it a twist whether it is genderbending or re-imagining the character in a steampunk fashion. For this I look to really amazing concept artists such as noflutter or Drifting by Stars.
How have your cosplaying skills grown, from the first cosplay you’ve ever done until now?
My cosplay skills have grown EXPONENTIALLY since I first began. My very first cosplay back in 2011 was Emma Frost from X-Men, it was essentially a bra, pair of shorts, boots, and a neck cowl cobbled together. I actually know how to sew now so I’m able to create much more intricate costumes, and I have noticed with each cosplay my sewing skills improve as well.
Each cosplay is a learning experience where you take prior skills and continue to build off of them. Even looking back to my first armor cosplay, Warrior Elsa in 2014 to my most recent armor build for Princess Peach in 2016, there is a huge difference in the quality and appearance. Even my painting techniques have really improved, with learning how to add highlights and shadows that gives my props or armor a 3D effect.
What methods and materials do you use to create your cosplays?
I enjoy sewing cosplays and working with different fabrics, but my real love in cosplay stems from the armor and prop builds. I’ve created about 4 armor cosplays since 2014, and the methods and materials I’ve used have gradually changed with time. I first started out using the big rolls of craft foam (sold at Michael’s!) and using mod podge to seal the foam before painting.
Since then I’ve evolved to using EVA foam mats which is a much thicker foam and really helps you get that larger shape that holds together better. I’ve experimented with a few different methods for sealing the foam and have found that the epoxy resin gives me that great glossy finish I usually look for. I have just recently begun to play around with worbla (thermoplastic material), but it’s so costly I really prefer to work with EVA foam or even Polystyrene foam. I have found that for me personally, worbla is better for covering rounded surfaces, like the staff I made for my Star Guardian Janna.
For other materials I’ve expanded to learning how to sculpt with Apoxie Sculpt for adding details. I’ve come a long way from cutting out pieces of craft foam as my armor detailing! Really I try any method I can think of, I am always learning new techniques and tricks that may be unconventional. Unconventional materials and tools end up becoming the most valuable and inexpensive ones. A favorite trick I learned last summer was using a soldering iron to cut sheer fabrics as it melts/seals the fabric. Just don’ try to solder anything with your iron after using it on fabric.
Are there future cosplays in the works for you right now, or any that you are planning to do?
This year will be a little light in cosplay for me due to travel plans, but I am thinking about attending BlizzCon in Anaheim in October. If I end up attending I want to try and create Bastion from Overwatch, though travelling with that cosplay may be a little tricky.
I’m in the middle of working on an Drifting by Star’s Art Nouveau design for Zelda from The Legend of Zelda, though I must admit I haven’t worked on it much lately. I haven’t decided on what to make for other upcoming cons, but suggestions are welcome!
You can check out her cosplays at her Facebook page, Victoria Rose Cosplay https://www.facebook.com/victoriarosecosplay/