Car Cosplay: Spawn Mustang and Jeep

Usually I interview cosplayers who use their hobby for charity work or cosplayers at conventions for Cosplayers Amoung Us Magazaine, but this interview is a little bit different. This interview is with Carlos Molina of Projekt Cars. What have I learned? The guys and gals into cars can be just as geeky and excited about their fandom as cosplayers are! And that some hobbies are just as intense and fulfilling as cosplay can be! Projekt Cars, along with other car enthusiasts and cosplay prop makers, have taken on the challenge of converting two cars in to Spawn themed vehicles for Amazaing Comic Con in Las Vegas  June 23rd – 25th. Make sure to follow the progress on the Facebook Todd Mcfarlane’s Spawn Vehicles as they near the convention and finish up this labor intensive project!

It has been great to get to know Carlos through this interview. He is a very humble and enthusiastic gentleman. He also recognizes the efforts of others in this project saying, “the ENTIRE project could not have happened without the trust, help, and guidance from Guy Caldwell of Garage FX”. –Mala

Spawn Jeep red copyWhat inspired you to make the Spawn Car?
I have been a fan since IMAGE launched…..I just started opening comic boxes that have been sealed since 1995 I first starting collecting Spawn when I was in college. It was my distraction from Engineering classes (I have a Masters in Project Management and Engineering now). The dark side of the comic, appealed to the occult nature of my Scorpio sign. Fast forward 25 years, and I met Guy Caldren from Garage FX, who liked my concept of a Deadpool GT350, we built for SEMA 2015. We talked for weeks, and devised a plan to create the Spawn Mustang, it took us a year to get approval from the McFarlane group

Is there are particular cosplayer(s) you follow? Or that inspired the idea of car cosplay?
I do not follow any cosplayers, Yet…..but, I have been to many Comic Cons, because my affinity with the comic characters, I collect statues more than anything. Over the years, I have seen cosplayers transform into these spectacular costumes, much like what we do with cars. When we did a show in Houston, Matsasuri, I believe, they combined it with a car show. The vibrant colors of the cars matched the unbelievable costumes of the cosplayers who attended. Made for some cool pics. So I toyed with the idea last year, and created a GT350 with Deadpool and Wolverine. I unfortunately, did not get permission from Rob Liefield, and therefore made steps in ensuring Todd McFarlane approved every step of these builds.

Besides creating something awesome is there an ultimate goal behind the project?
I wish to blend the two industries, automotive and comic; because I believe we are all creating something different, and artists within our own genre. Comic artists can be identified easily, I truly feel each cosplayer is artistic in their costume design, and we as car builders must be creative from the initial rendering of a project, all the way until completion (which can take years)

Spawn Mustang_edited-1How much planning goes into a project like this?
The Jeep and the Mustang are what we consider “theme builds”, which we normally do for the largest automotive expo in the world, SEMA. SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Manufactures Association expo held in Las Vegas each year. It is our Super Bowl, over 100K people go through the doors each day, in this week long expo.
A build starts with a rendering, JAN-FEB timeframe. It normally gets approval between FEB-APR. After approval, that a company has selected the vehicle, all products are acquired, and the build process starts…..the build sometimes continues all the way until hours before SEMA, held on the first week in November.
The Mustang was on track. Initially, we were going to showcase a CRX, to bring a mix of New vs classic styling, American Muscle vs Import Performance. The CRX was totaled on the last week of April. So I decided to buy a Jeep, the first week in May, and test my ability. In essence, crunching a 9 month process in 8 weeks

How much of the original jeep will be modified or replaced for this project? Or is this mainly exterior work?
EVERYTHING will be modified. Exterior, Interior, Performance, Suspension, Audio/Video….I will add a complete modification list.
So far, bumpers, fenders, doors, hood, exhaust, intake have been removed/replaced

Will you be incorporating the amazing cape Spawn has in some way? Personally that’s my favorite part of the character design.
For the Jeep, Yes, the top mesh and Exo skeleton will be red. The Mustang has a marvelous image of spawn and his cape

Spawn Jeep Tshirt_back FINAL__edited-1When did you start planning the project? Actual work on the project?
The Mustang has been an ongoing project since we started the discussions, the Jeep, since I bought it, May 5th. Both are on-going, not much time left

At the point of this interview how far into the project are you. There is only about a month left until the convention.
Mustang: all the performance, carbon fiber, interior, suspension is done. Still needs wrap, guns, wheels powder coated and minimal interior work…..at about 85%
JEEP: whew….gotta lotta work ahead, will have sleepless nights….follow the process on our page, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn Vehicles

Is there a point in a project you get nervous you might not hit your deadline? Or do you work well under pressure?
I work very well underpressure. I have been a Production Manager for DaimlerChrysler in a Union Enviornment, and an Army Officer in a deployed combat unit, 173rd ABN BDE

Since you are a car guy and not a cosplayer, you might not be aware that a majority of the cosplay community work on their costumes up until con, while traveling to con, and even sometimes up until the convention’s competition start. Seriously, some even have to pack their sewing machines. Do you have pointers or recommendations for people to avoid this? Planning tips? Ext.
I can relate….SEMA is our big showcase. I have had wheels shipped to Las Vegas the day before roll-in, and at another time, a pallet of brakes arrive a day before we leave to SEMA….I can tell you stories. This is why we start planning, the day SEMA ends.

It seems there are other creative people involved in this project. Who are they and what have they done?
Guy Caldwell: Facebook Garage FX
Guy Driver: Facebook Old Craftey Creations
Projekt Cars: Facebook ProjektCars | http://www.projektcars.com/

What about cosplay caught your attention/inspired this project?

The creative nature of those who make these amazing costumes, and knowing each costume could be matched with a certain vehcile….almost like, if Rogue:Xmen, had a car, what would it be?

Spawn S550 Tshirt_back FINALWhy did you choose Spawn? And what is your favorite version of the character?
Spawn was my escape in college, I still have 1-60 in triplicate, I like many aspects of the character. My favorite version is the original

What elements of Spawn are being pulled into the car? Is it not character design or story focused?
Mustang: The exterior wrap was developed by the Todd McFarlane group using past comic images. The weapons are just our rendition on what a “Spawn” car would have, if he needed to drive
JEEP: The concept is Violator Hunter. It will have an image of issue #4 on the hood. The theme is black and red with some lime green, Spawn’s necromancer power. I plan to have LOTS of guns and missiles on this all-terrain beast, with chains going around body of the Jeep

What has been your favorite part of this project so far?
The whole idea that Todd McFarlane is involved, and gave his blessing…..it also allowed me to meet some great individuals like Guy Dwyer (Old Crafty Creations), and create a bigger bond with Guy Caldwell (Garage FX)

Do you have advice for others interested in a project like this?
I have YouTube videos full of advice when building major project vehicles

If people want to follow the progress on this or future projects where can the find you?
Projekt Cars:  Facebook | http://www.projektcars.com/
Todd McFarlane’s Spawn Vehicles: Facebook

This car will be at Amazing Comic Con in Las Vegas. Are there other conventions that this car will be at?
YES, Guy at Garage FX is helping coordinate appearances after the initial debut

Is there anything else you would like the group to be aware of?
I am trying to get help with the transporting of the Jeep and Mustang from Texas to California, to Las Vegas (Amazing Comic Con June 23-25), then to Phoenix, and then back to Texas. Total cost is over 3500. We will be selling a Limited Run SPAWN Garage t-shirt. The front will have the iconic Spawn logo and back, the Hell Minion Garage image. There is a Muscle Car and Offroad version. Cost: $25. If interested in ordering a shirt please message the Todd McFarlane’s Spawn Vehicles for instructions. 

There will also be a raffle at the Amazing Comic Con Las Vegas. Here is what I have for the raffle so far.

(1) full Race Helmet with Spawn theme (value $350, plus $100 vinyl)
(4) S550 Spawn Mustang 1:18 diecasts (value $50/ ea, plus $55/ ea vinyl)
(7) Metallic 12×17 Renderings of Mustang (value $35/ ea)
(1) Spawn Mobile, Limited edition Comic Car (value $35)
t-shirts (value $25)
Paper stock 12×17 Renderings (value $1)

With more items to be added between now and the convention. Also, if you are with a company that can provide a product for the raffle, let me know thru the Facebook page linked above.

If you can’t buy a shirt, or provide product, there are other ways you can assist! Please help with the following:
– Bring awareness to the two current Spawn Vehicle projects by sharing the page, and commenting on some of the posts
– Share the Blogs on the projects
– Help with finding more stuff for the raffle
– Help promote the sale of the Tshirts

Any support is greatly appreciated.

————
Mala here again! I myself will be donating a painting I am making just for this raffle. So make sure to follow my Instagram (@adventureswithmala_morbidheart) and/or Facebook to see what I am creating for them! I will also be sharing updates on this amazing project!
 

Conventions 101

Please note that, I no longer do written reviews here. If you want to check out my latest stuff I have moved to YouTube under my art name Morbid Heart Designs

This is a blog idea that has floated around in my head for a while and Amazing Comic Con reached out to me about writing this for the Las Vegas event June 23rd to 26th, 2017 I thought why not!

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Geek Girl 2016 Star Wars Meet Up

The words Comic Con and conventions have become a common word in the nerd and geek communities especially with the rise of geek and pop culture. Big cities and small towns a like now have their own Comic Cons and the Mecca of all Comic Cons in San Diego is even harder to get passes for. Conventions of every sort from steampunk to TV shows like Super Natural are rising in their own popularity and each convention has so much to offer! Panels, celebrity signatures and photos, meet ups, dances, vendors, artists, costume contest, fashion shows, and gaming rooms. Some even offer concerts or special events depending on their emphasis. There is so much to see and do that you may feel overwhelmed depending on the size of the con. Needless to say there are reasons why most cons span three to four days! If you have never been to a convention you might not know where to begin. If you are wondering this is the blog for you!

What to do pre-con? First thing to know and realize is that unless you are attending a small con you may not be able to do everything you would like. I recommend deciding your top, most important, and exciting things you want to do. And a few back up options as well. I start with looking at panels. If my favorite celebrities have anything special scheduled. I also check planned meet ups because it’s always fun to meet people passionate about the same things you are. As a cosplayer I also look through social media for any cosplay photo meet ups as these are usually not arranged by the convention and are genre, or fandom, themed so people are in similar costumes. Some events, like dating events and costume contest, require preregistration so keep this in mind and be aware of the deadlines for these events. These extra events may also have additional fees to participate. For example, some steampunk convention have a fee for tea parties or tea duels because of the added cost of food and drink.

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I met so many other Wonder Woman fans it was amazing! So much love and fandom! Emerald City Comic Con 2016

If you are terrible with time management and remembering things some cons now have phone apps that allow you to select the scheduled events and set a reminder. Usually these are available closer to the convention date. What ever you decide to do remember that rooms can only hold so many people at once so there are caps on the number of attendees. Make sure to plan enough time to get the location of the event and be prepared to set in line.

Now that you know what you want to do plan you budget! Or even do this before you know what you would like to do. Allocate money for food and how much you have to spend with vendors or artists.

I also recommend finding a friend(s) to go with! You may already have a friend or two into this sort of thing or the type of con want to go to. Cons can be a lot of fun, I have gone solo and in groups, but I have found having friends to share the experience with makes it better.

When it gets closer to con time about a week before I start an immune boosting regimen. I also take take this during and for a week after con. For me this is increasing my water intake and taking a vitamin c supplement every day, twice a day! There are over the counter items you can take to boost your immunity or you can adjust your diet for healthier nutritious foods. Do your research and find what options work best for your own health and lifestyle.

If you bought new shoes for your adventure (causal con goer or cosplayer) make sure to break these in before con.

You have waited for months or maybe close to a year for the convention and the time has come for your adventure!  The most important thing you can do, no matter how many days you are going to a con, is self care! For me this is important as a cosplayer and casual con goer. If you aren’t feeling well then you won’t enjoy yourself! After all that is why you are going right?! To have an adventure!

What do I mean by self care? I will break it down.

  1. Hydrate. Carry a water bottle on you or make sure you have budget enough to purchase this at the venue. Purchasing can get expensive just to warn you. Getting dehydrated at conventions is no fun! You increase your chances of getting con crud and it just makes it harder to enjoy yourself.
  2. Bring snacks. Personally, I like to bring protein bars, gogurt (which can be frozen and help keep other items you might pack cold), those amazing pouches of applesauce, and string cheese. These are small so they are easy to carry in back pack or purse. I personally recommend higher protein options and healthy snacks. But I also have friends who pack higher carbohydrate foods because that is what works for them.
  3. Allow yourself to take a break. Sit down for few minutes throughout the day. Leave the convention hall if you find the amount of stimulation too much.
  4. Make sure to schedule time to eat meals! Even if it may be in your hotel room. Put a reminder in you phone if you don’t think you will remember this.
  5. Personal hygiene! Take a shower every day. This is for your own physical and mental health and for the courtesy of others. This is another component of not getting con crud.
  6. Also, make sure you go to the bathroom when you have the opportunity, especially
    in costume. Because you may be arrested by a bunch of Star Wars Mandos and locked in a cage when you already delayed taking care of this vital function. Believe it or not this literally happened to me.

    SLCC

    You think I am joking but I am not. I really had to pee! I spent like 30 minutes helping a lost girl and when it finally was okay to go about my business I get a text. Stay where you are. Next thing I know all of the Mandalorian Mercs at the con surround me. March me through the con and lock me in the cage. Where my sweet husband purposed to me. And the whole time I had to really pee!  I told him if he ever purposed he had to make it memorable and he totally came through! Salt Lake Comic Con 2013

  7. If you have medications you take daily do not forget to take these! Put a reminder in you phone if needed! I have a medical condition myself and I pack extra everything even if I am at the con for one day! If you would like to read more about that I have a blog focusing on this topic.
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Geek Girl Science Activity Center 2016

I always bring a back pack (usually it is smaller so it doesn’t distract from my cosplay). I recommend you do the same. Here are my recommendations of what to put in it.

  1. Make sure to have cash on you for food in case a vendor or restaurant run into issues with the credit card machines. Or in case you have a transportation issue and need to pay for a service home or to your hotel. Since this emergency based money I keep it away from my spending money.
  2. Have a small first aid kit. Conventions do have first aid areas but it never hurts to have this on hand.
  3. I know some cosplayers and con goers who even being deodorant with them.
  4. I pack a portable phone charger too. I have friends who pack multiple chargers. Mainly because we like to play PokémonGo and it really drains batteries at convention. But also so if we need to contact a friend we have the means to.

Other tips for cons.

  1. I have been at several conventions that there are so many people cell phone towers can’t process the amount of calls so phones do not work at all. I recommend having a meeting time and location with your con adventuring buddies to check in on each other. Especially if there are children involved. I have helped a child I didn’t know get through a crowd for 60,000 people to the information desk to locate her family because they were separated in the crowd and their cell phone didn’t work. It was an extremely unpleasant experience for the kid.
  2. If I have never been to a convention location before I like to get a layout of the place on the first day. Things I figure out: Where can I find food inside the convention?
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    Steamposium 2016

    Bathrooms? Panel areas? A quiet space in case I need a break? Alcohol ? If the con has a TakeThis’ AKF room where is it located? If you have anxiety issues this can be your best friend!

  3. Be aware of the cons harassment policy. Especially in cosplay. Many cons have very strict rules around this. If you do not feels safe or you are being harassed speak with a security guard or con staff.
  4. Be nice to the con staff. 90% of the time these are volunteers who are giving up their con experience so you can have one. And some of them have given up months of their lives to make this happen.
  5. Sometimes you can haggle with dealers on the last day. Many would rather sell their wares then haul it back home. But if you really want something and there are only a few of the item. Don’t wait. Once it’s gone it is gone and chances are rare items won’t be there the last day.

If it’s your first time cosplaying here are a few pointers!

  1. If you have high heels or uncomfortable shows bring an extra more comfortable set. If I have to walk from my hotel to the con I have slip on shoes or flip flops for this. These are small enough that they fit nicely into my little back pack. My feet particularly appreciate this after walking the con floor in heels!
  2. Check the dress code and weapon policies so that you don’t get asked to change/leave or have the weapon you worked hard on making taken away. Each con has different rules so make sure you look into these.
  3. If you need a break it is okay to deny pictures. Just be polite about it. Remember you are a patron too!
  4. Bring an emergency costume repair kit. Some conventions have cosplay first aid stations now but they may not have what you need.
  5. Remember to get pictures of your costume! Either on your phone or schedule a photo shot with a photographer. If a photographer gets your picture at the con don’t be afraid to ask for a business card. Many photographers do this for a hobby and would be happy to let you download the file. If you want to have guaranteed files defiantly schedule with a photographer.
  6. If you have something time sensitive I recommend not going in costume. It’s so much easier to get through the crowd without a costume.
dragon con 2013

Dragon Con 2013

The second most important thing about any convention is to have FUN!!!!!!

If you are interested in checking out Amazing Con Las Vegas but aren’t sure about travel to this convention make sure to check out their about them page for hours, location, panels, and programming or  these travel deals. Many conventions also have these type of information on their websites.

Raven (Teen Titans Cartoon)

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Raven was one of my favorite characters in high school. Do not get me started on Teen Titans Go! The characters and story of the originally series was sooo amazing it makes me sad that the characters have been changed so drastically to their current atrocity that they are. At the same time, the creators can poke fun of themselves so I did slightly forgive them for this video. But only because of this video.

Now, back my thoughts on this costume. I ordered the leggings and leotard because somethings are cheaper to buy than make! It took a lot of searching to find a long sleeved turtle neck leotard so I hope I never have to replace this costume! If you are currently looking I hope that the cosplay world has changed enough that it will be easier for you! The shoes were very difficult to find! Maybe I am too picky because that seems to be a common issue with each and every cannon costume I do! One reason I do love t photo _MG_9115-Edit_zpsgoe0aspi.jpghis costume is that the shoes are extremely comfortable!

The pattern for the cloak was not hard to modify. Sewing the point was frustrating, not going to lie, but I think I have gained enough skill that if I made this hood now it would be much easier.

Raven was one of my first attempts at accessories. Branching away from fabrics. I made the gems out of a foam clay covered in mod podge and glitter. TONS of glitter!!! I will never use this material again for costuming! This costume is high maintenance to store. The mod podge sticks to everything, usually ripping the box when I try to wear it, so I have to store it wrapped in fabric. Or if something is left on top of the gems it leaves an impression that you cannot get out. Since then I have learned to work with Resin and have commissioned several Raven belts and gems with this method. I just need to get around to making my own. One of these days. Sadly, I don’t wear this costume as much as I use to so I may not ever up grade my belt. n fact, I am  photo _MG_9094-Edit_zpskednxqr1.jpgcurrently debating about retiring this costume all together. However, every one gets mad when I bring the idea up. LOL

You can’t see it these pictures but I do have a gem for the forehead. I didn’t make this lovely addition though. Since I was just learning resin casting I commissioned this from the talented and sweet Lumi! Before having this accessory I used red dipstick liner to draw the shape on my forehead. If you are wondering about how to put something like this on your own body I use the same glue you would use for false eyelashes.

This is the only costume I have entered into a costume contest. I learned that comic book characters are not good matches for events like this. I had a few other friends learn this the hard way too. So that is a heads up! Stick to video game, anime, and movie costumes. Comic book costumes tend to by too simple.I had a ton of fun though and am still friends with many of the talent cosplayers I competed against.

Funny thing about Raven s I love to photobomb in this costume. It is completely against Raven’s personality but it is sooooooo much fun. I don’t do this in any other costumes oddly enough. Photobombing strangers anyways. I will always photobomb a friend.

Of course if you are interested in commissioning a Raven belt and gems of your own please e-mail me at adventureswithmala@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.  Please note, as I do not have a mold, and do not recast the work of someone else, the head gem is not included in commissions at this time.

All photo credits to Journeys in Color 

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

Batgirl

 photo DSC_0080_zpsuiqgmorx.jpgBatgirl has been a strong female I have admired since childhood. So of course this is a costume that I had to eventually do! This was before I learned how to work with spandex so the suit was actually from Think Geek several years ago. I had a gift card for my birthday so why not use it. It originally came as a zenti suit meaning it had a hood and gloves. This had to be changed right away for several reasons. First, as a diabetic I have to be able to check my blood sugar at a moments notice. So I cut off the finger tips and modified gloved to have the fins on the sides s. Second the originally cowl doesn’t stay in place when you sit down. That had to go quickly and modifying the suit want that easy since the zipper went all the way up the cowl too. But I made it work!!!

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As with all body suits I wear I had to cut a hole in the suit for my insulin pumps tubing so that I could wear this at the same time. Here is a link to another blog about cosplaying s a diabetic. This is one reason I wear a corset with this costume. The other reason is my cape hangs from the shoulder straps of the corset. I am very pleased with this cape! I made the pattern myself and worked very hard to make it two sided. I love the look of black and yellow!  I had to make the base tape myself so it took forever to get this part of the costume done but the time and effort was worth it.

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The cowl is made by Texas Batman. He was amazing to work with! He ran into an issue and wasn’t able to get my cowl out as originally discussed but he communicated everything so perfectly that it didn’t matter to me. Sadly, I didn’t keep in contact with him so I am not sure if he still sells these or not.

If you are looking into a costume like this, meaning using a cowl and need a wig, I would recommend looking into a half wig. The wig under the cowl makes it extra tight and hard to get on and off. Because of this I do tend to get headaches quickly in this cowl, but this is something common with cowls from conversations with other cosplayers.

As much as I love this costume I don’t get to wear it too often. The cowl makes convention sounds echo a lot so I get a headache pretty quickly.

All photos by Keyaroscuro

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

The Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire 2016

The Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire 2016 of Bonnie Lake, WA

Going to a Renaissance (Ren) Faire is something that I have always wanted to go to and I finally got to check out this event in Washington thanks to the talented Something Pretty inviting me to help with her booth. I want to start off this review by thanking her for the wonderful opportunity and I look forward to working with her in the future!

I had so much fun that my new life goal is to be a Renie, basically someone who travels from Ren Faire to Ren Faire. Sadly, but understandably, my husband said no to that career goal. 😦

This is my list 10 highlights from the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire!

  1. The Scandinavian Wizard Metal musical styling of Frostylock’s Transmogrification. This guy is so epic-ally awesome that his business card is even a Magic the Gathering card! Make sure to check out his website to see if he will be at your local Ren Faire.
  2. Meeting epic people like Paul the Barbarian. Sadly my antlers for this costume did not work out and broke the first day. Every time I saw him, and this was each day I was at the Ren Faire, I was so sad I couldn’t challenge him to a fight with our horns. On the last day I finally did, thanks to the encouragement from my booth mates! I don’t regret that! Paul was a pleasure to see and speak with. As was his friend, whose name I am epic-ally forgetting. I am honestly terrible with names! Photo by Something Pretty  photo IMG_2581_zpsglakb5tg.jpg
  3. All the amazing food! The food is pricey but oh sooooooo good! There is so much to choose from it was hard to decide! I really enjoyed my chicken pot pie, fries, onion rings, and the turkey leg especially! As you can say I lived up to my costume devouring like a true barbarian! I also had to fight a dog off for my turkey leg, we became friends after if you are wondering what happened. Photo by Something Pretty. photo IMG_2459_zpsucrnoebw.jpg
  4. The jousting tournament was very exciting! Since I was at the Ren Faire on several weekends I watched several tournaments. The announcer was great! With some help from a friend I tracked down this talented person. The character’s name is Count Vidor and you can find this talenter performer on Facebook by clicking here.  He was entertaining! The tournament involved several displays of skills from combat to horseback riding.

    And here is Spain, sadly losing to England in the joust.
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  5. Seeing ladies represent in a traditionally male sport! Thank you ladies of Spain, not only for you entertainment and great spirits but for also showing what a kick a$$ woman can do!  photo IMG_2452_zps4jyka6up.jpg
  6. I loved people’s enthusiasm for the costumes. And the creativity that I saw. It was so great talking to everyone about cosplay and costumes that I got to. But that is my passion after all. One I love sharing! Washington Midsummer fair goes on for three weekends and each has its own theme. Pirate, fairy, and royals. photo IMG_2477_zpsxcqnv4rc.jpg
    This girl and I were totally inspired by the same make up muse! We had to take a picture!  photo IMG_2445_zpsu94cgo2i.jpg
  7. The fact that anything goes at Ren Faire and you can run into Deadpool or an Ewok! Seriously, anything goes! Everyone is so open and accepting. We are all there to get out of our realities and have fun! Thank you to everyone who made those days so memorable. photo IMG_2450_zpsjh3nia10.jpg
  8. The pickle lady. I am not a pickle person but it seemed to be a popular item. I did try one, cause why not, I am at Ren Faire! Embrace the traditions and try something new. I don’t plan on getting it again personally but it is highly recommended by the regulars of Ren Faire.
  9. That there were dogs everywhere! I love dogs and every day was full of them!
  10. Getting to meet Cat Cosplay! Sadly I failed at getting a picture with Cat Cosplay. 😦
  11. I love how into character everyone is! It really makes you feel like you are in a different world.
  12. The giant chasing and catching fairies. The interaction of the actors with the general public was so great to watch.

I highly recommend finding your local Ren Faire and checking it out. Keep in mind that each Ren Faire will have its own traditions. As a friend explained to me there are different historical points and each Ren Faire focuses on a different point in that history. If you go in costume have fun and get creative! I found a lot of inspiration this year for future costumes and I am sure you will too. But costumes are not required so go have fun in general!

Scarlet Witch (X-Men Comics and Cartoon)

 photo img_8822edit6_zpsblgj2rey.jpgScarlet Witch is a fairly simple costume. Most of it has been purchased and pieced together. I bought a body suit to wear at charity events because the corset really makes cleavage galore in this costumes. This is something I try to keep in mind with my costumes. Especially when I was heavily involved in CAUSEplay in Utah, a very conservative community. I also bought pink leggings to use this costume at cons.

SIDE NOTE: Personally I don’t care if you want to wear a costume that emphasis your form or is revealing. Just keep in mind where you are going and ask yourself if it is appropriate. This goes for scary or bloody costumes too.

I bought booty shorts for this costume for several reasons. One, it is more flattering for my form. I see nothing wrong with modifying a characters design to flatter your own body more. And two, as mentioned in a previous blog this holds up my insulin pumps weight better than swimsuit still bottoms I have tried in the past.

 photo img_8729edit_zpspfeekle0.jpgI wish I made the headpiece but I have to give credit to Mandy’s Masks. I found her on etsy.com but she doesn’t seem to have her shop anymore since I can’t find a link. I also purchased my Ms Marvel mask from her. Now as a cosplayer I have the confidence to make these types of things myself but when I started I was intimidated.

I did make the cloak myself. I used a pattern for the long part of the cloak and modified the top. Basically I folded a rectangular piece of fabric in half so that as it draped the same side of the fabric showed. Then made it into a circle large enough to go over my head and drape the way I wanted. If you do this method I recommend starting out with a longer piece of fabric and trim as you size it to your specifications. Remember, you can always remove you can never add. 😉

I love the boots I chose for this costume! As usual I spent a long time looking for the right pair of boots. These are really comfortable too. Since this was for charity I went with flat shoes for safety and comfort.

 photo img_8812ball_zpsethph2ku.jpgA good memory of this costumes? Oh, there are a few. But my all time favorite cosplay moment was in this costume. As mentioned above I have an insulin pump. In this costume I wear it attached to the back of my shorts so it isn’t noticeable in pictures. The cape does nice in hiding it. This happened at a charity event which made it even better. She noticed my pump and got so excited that someone else had one too! We had a very nice conversation about super heroes and being diabetic. I hope she remembers that moment for a long time and remembers that she isn’t alone in her situation. The other thing I hope she grows up knowing is that being diabetic and having an insulin pump shouldn’t keep you from dreams and passions. I use to let is hold me back and it took years to gain the confidence to use this advice myself.

I have really enjoyed this costume and have gotten a lot of use out of it!

All photo credits to Snap it Photography 

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

Hero Behind the Mask: Erika Earl

I am please to share with you the first of the Heroes Behind the Mask series for 2016! Since I am also writing for Cosplayer Among Us Magazine this will only be a monthly release.

I am very excited to introduce you to Erika! She teamed up with the amazing and kind hearted owner of the Penalty Box in Salt Lake City to raise money for a cause near and dear to her own heart! They were very successful! Keep reading to find out just how successful her event was! Not only has she found time to raise money for a great cause but this cosplayer also works with Salt Lake Comic Con in additional to her other life obligations! She was kind enough to talk about all these busy things in her life!-Mala

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Name: Erika Earl

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
The people that I get to Causeplay with

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
The events get better each time and it’s fun to see the progress.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
It was a Make A Wish Dreamnight at the Hogle Zoo

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why? It depends, if it’s for children definitely my fairy.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment(s) : All of the Causeplayers on the Carousel at the zoo together.

What is your favorite cause to support and what have you done for them? I personally fund raise for the National MS Society because I have MS and it is a cause that means a lot to me.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
I can’t really think of anything I consider silly. Everything is fun if you look at it the right way.

Who inspires you in life or cosplay?
All of the cosplayers I know inspire me in cosplay. In life I’m inspired by anyone who has the courage to be their true self.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: Don’t be afraid to beg.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Nothing until next year that I know of but you never know what will happen.

You recently had a CAUSEplay event what is your event called? We change the name every year but it relates to MS and Cosplay

Why did you choose MS for this event?
I was diagnosed with MS over 12 years but because I don’t look sick it’s really hard to spread awareness. All of the money raised went to the national MS society 

Why did you choose to host this at the Penalty Box and how do you think this choice influenced your events success?
Bill Rowe is a good friend and Neff Michael’s fund raising enthusiasm is inspirational. There are no two people I would rather work with more for this event. (Note from Mala, Neff was previously interviewed for his own CAUSEPlay efforts so please check out that interview as well!)

 photo Capture_zpsx4wtqg60.jpg Please tell us the process to making this event happen.
This year was a little easier because it wasn’t the first time around. After getting in touch with Bill and Neff and getting the okay to have the event at the penalty box I rounded up raffle donations, I had help from friends and Geek Hangout Utah on that. Salt Lake Comic Con created the flyer that I both posted and passed out and from there it was pretty easy.

What would you say was unique about your event ?
We try to incorporate as much orange for MS as possible. This year we had orange mardi gras beads and orange glow sticks. Most of the pictures had some form of orange.

How much did you raise for MS in total?
We raised $1701.00 in two nights.

Do you see yourself doing something like this again?
I do, next year we will be back.

If someone is interested in creating an event like yours what advice do you have?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to get told no and keep going.

You mentioned that you also volunteer for Salt Lake Comic Con, tell us what you do for them? What is it like?
I am the Director of volunteers for Salt Lake Comic Con, It is the most amazing job I have ever had. I thrive on chaos and love the event so much.

How important are volunteers for conventions from your perspective? The volunteers are incredibly important for the event. With such a large group of volunteers you would probably be surprised at haw hard each one of them works.

Salt Lake Comic Con seems to have a heavy focus on cosplay, how do you think that has shaped the Utah cosplay community?
It has made everyone feel welcome and as if they have a place in the event.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer? Cosplayer

What was your first costume/cosplay? A Zombie

What is your dream cosplay?
There are a lot of them but a Mandalorian is pretty high on the list

How do you feel you have influenced the cosplay community?
I hope I’ve convinced new people to join the community.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m an executive secretary at a cancer hospital and I am the director of volunteers for Salt Lake Comic Con

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I like the jobs I have [Symbol]

Tell us something random about yourself: I have more pets than any one person should probably have and I love them all.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars

Marvel or DC: DC

Favorite Comic Series: Batman

Favorite Comic Character: The Joker

Least favorite comic character and why? Superman, he just annoys me

Favorite Book: Coraline or the Graveyard Book

Favorite Video Game: Plants versus Zombies (any of them)

Favorite Convention: Salt Lake Comic Con

Facebook: Erika’s adventures in Cosplay

Psylocke (90’s style): The Cosplay Struggle Is Real!

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Pylocke may be one of the simplest costumes I own but it was one of the most frustrating ones to make happen! It’s the only costume that didn’t succeed on the first or second go around.

Attempt one was ordered from a cosplay site based out of China. This was the first and last time I ordered a full costume from China. Despite ordering a “custom” made costume the leotard didn’t fit right. And since it was “custom” to my measurements this was none returnable. The leotard gave me the worse wedgie in the world and left nothing to the imagination. Not that spandex leaves anything to the imagination to begin with but I wanted this costume for charity events involving children. Not a good match for me. This was converted into Supergirl since I could wear shorts under it to prevent the wedgie from hell this way.
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Attempt number two. I had never made a leotard so I found one online that was the perfect shade and style! I was so excited!!! But color matching to the blue for the gloves, arm bands, and leg bands was so difficult! I couldn’t find anything that looked right. Lucky me though! The zipper of the leotard broke, there went my second attempt. You may ask why not just order another one? Simple, I also orders the same leotard in black for Mrs. Marvel and had the same thing happen to two of those leotards. Not worth wasting my money on a forth that was just going to break! And I loved the style so I wasn’t going to compromise on that!  I wanted a sleeveless turtle neck leotard to be Psylocke!
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Third attempt. I wasn’t going to let the dead leotard go to waste at this point. I dissected the garment to see how leotards were constructed. That was intimidating with all the added elastic in the leg and arm holds. Stretch material with more difficult aspects of stretchy? Of course, I can find way around this! And this dissected nightmare became my pattern. Back to the fabric store I went and found the perfect blue. Sad thing, I didn’t realize how important 4 way stretch material was until I made the garment. It look fabulous! I was so pleased with myself. Until I tried putting it on. The 2 way stretch material wouldn’t allow the carefully constructed leotard over my hips. I also didn’t know at the time I made this that one of the recommendations for stretch material being sown on a regular sewing machine is to use a zig zag stitch for the seems. This gives the garment wiggle room to put on or take off. Because I am self taught I made tons of stupid mistakes. Like this one. Had I just researched a little more on YouTube I would have learned this. Facepalm!
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Fourth attempt: Now I feel like the worst cosplayer ever! And all I want to be is Psylocke! So I started really watching YouTube videos. And I give up on making this. It’s the first costume I try to commission. But guess what no one cared much about this character back in 2013/2014 so no one is selling this costume. I approach a few people I know but they didn’t work with spandex because they hated it or they only made kids costumes. Finally I find someone one Etsy! The world is no longer coming to an end! I WILL be Paylocke! I order the costume, I wait and wait and wait. Finally, I get the email that my order has shipped but guess what never shows up. The costume that I have been dying to have! When I ask about the tracking number I am told there isn’t one but it was shipped via USPS so I should wait another week or so and go directly to my local USPS branch and ask them to look in the back. Um, okay?!? I did this and was told they wouldn’t lol without a tracking number showing it was there. At this point of time every USPS package comes with a tracking number and if you need one its like a dollar or two, well worth it for a $150 commission in my opinion. I have done several commissions and no matter the cost I always supply a tracking number. Even for prints I have shipped out! I won’t go into further details of that whole ordeal but I did get my money back. This is one reason I only commission if I have no choice.
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FIFTH ATTEMPT: I spend weeks researching sewing spandex and testing techniques on scraps. Then I attempt a pair of spandex pants since this would be easier than a leotard. At least in my opinion. After this practice I finally feel like I can make the leotard. And I am finally successful! The only issue is the arm and leg bands moved and has to be adjusted constantly. Since I wear this costume with a body suit to protect the infusion set of my insulin pump I sewed the bands and the top of the gloves to the suit to keep them in place.

Since I have never been a fan of boot covers I used automotive leather paint to color a pair of boots blue. I loved them but the boots have had their own issues. Luckily I bought a few pairs of these boots, intending to paint them different colors but never got around to it to it. The zipper broke and I had to paint a second pair.

This costume is sadly in retirement because of the boot zipper breaking again. It happened when I was getting dress for a photo shoot. But I got the photos thanks to duct tape! After this whole ordeal I had to get good pictures document the costume!
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I guess you can sum this whole blog up to if you want to make it happen you can!!! Don’t give up on a costume when there are too many bumps in the journey! You will learn a ton through the process! Now I am a spandex champ but still avoid it if possible lol! I have had so many good memories in this costume and I can say I wore it to two cons, in different states, and was unique! Many people stopped me saying they had never seen a Psylocke at a con and they loved the originality of my character selection! It was very flattering!

So keep on keeping on and make your cosplay dream come true!

All photos by Snap It! Photography

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

C3PO tutu: These are the droids you are looking for. Part 2

After doing R2Dtutu it’s only natural that I did C3PO too! However, I haven’t come up with a clever name for this costume. I am open to recommendation if you have any.

This costume wasn’t too hard to make. Just time consuming with the layers in the dress/tutu and the lining at the bottom. I will admit I cheated a little and folded the material in half since it worked with my concept which means I only had to pleat half of the layers in this thing! If you can do this with your own creation I recommend doing it. There are 8 layers of material in the skirt alone. For those of you who have pleated before you know first hand that just doing four layers of pleats takes a lot of time. I wanted something a little unique and I love bustles so I added this to the costume, why not bustles are great! This can be worn with or without the bustle too. And I hope to use the bustle in steampunk designs. I am all about re-purposing and multiple uses with my costumes!

I really thought about using gold tights but finally decided on the white for two reasons. First, I couldn’t find a gold color that worked well with the shades of gold already used in the costume. Everything was too mustard colored not gold. Second, after further thought and evaluation of my design it was too much gold with the gloves. And the gloves were a must. It feels incomplete without them. Besides it makes the slippers I found for this outfit stand out more.

I must say I got lucky with this pair of shoes! They were on clearance for $3 and they were the last ones in my size! Cosplay win right there! If you are a cosplayer you know that shoes and wigs tend to be one of the higher prices itemsfor any costume. And sometimes the most difficult! Eventually I would like to upgrade the shoes to actual pointe shoes like I use with R2Dtutu but these shoes are not cheap, you have to break them in before you can wear them, they are very uncomfortable for walking at a con, and the amount of paint needed to paint them is surprisingly a lot because it just absorbs the paint, at least that is what I experience with R2’s blue pointe shoes. Not sure if other paints or brands interact differently with the material.

I chose not to use a wig for the same reason as the tights. Too much gold. Even though a gold wig would be amazing to own.

With the open neck of the corset and planning on wearing my hair in a bun I felt that this needed a necklace to break up the amount of skin from my neck, shoulder, chest, and back. And C3PO also has details there that I felt were important to represent to increase the recognizability of the character. It took months to find the right necklace. I spent hours on various websites and looking through stores in my local area. I finally found this necklace on vacation of all places!

The most difficult part to make in this costume was the stomach piece. It took two attempts because the materials in my first attempt just didn’t look right. Total failure! I decided to make it out of foam on the second go around. It’s my first successful attempt at foam work. It could have been better, and I may remake it in the future, but for now it’s perfectly fine! I used two layers of foam and fabric fluff paint for some of the details. And of course several layers of plastidip to strengthen the foam and allow paint to adhere to it. I found some amazing gold and yellow elastic at JoAnns to make this into a belt concept. It perfectly ties in the yellow panels in the corset.

The black band around the middle is made of spandex material and cording to mimic the wires. This is a piece of the costume that will need to be redone eventually when I figure out a better war to do it. The band did not hold up well as I se

wed the cording in place and it over stretched in some spots. This means it does not stay up on its own as originally intended.

Oh, the corset, I think I spent more than six months looking for that thing! I wasn’t sure about the yellow at first but with the whole thing together I am glad I went with it. Again, it breaks up the gold a little. My reoccurring them for this costume is it was too much of one color with my original concept, have you noticed?

My only issue with this costume is that I feel so pretty and awesome (***sings part of West Side Story to self**) that it’s difficult to invoke the C3PO
personality. He is so serious sometimes but I just want to play in it! Like R2, this is fine with his playful and amazing attitude but not so much for C3PO.

Now that this done and the newer Star Wars contented had introduced us to BB-8 and Chopper I plan on making tutus for these characters as well! Plus Rebels is introducing more droids! The bane of being a cosplayer, too many costumes and not enough time, money, or places to wear them all.

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

Chronic Cosplay: Being Diabetic and Cosplay

I have started following various cosplayers who live with “disabilities” and chronic conditions. Because of them I feel like it is okay to share  my experiences and maybe pointers to other diabetics who cosplay.  The other reason I decided to write this is I am preparing for Emerald City Comic Con making costumes and preparing to stay away from home for a few days. This is the first big con I have been to in some time and it is bringing back memories of past cons and issues I have experienced at them regarding my diabetes.

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Here is a photo where you can see the infusion set to my pump. I don’t often get to share this photo and I love it!  This poor kid didn’t want anything to do with us DC babes so of course we had to torture him. Parent approved of course, that is dad in the back ground and mother was around too!

Cosplaying as a diabetic has had its own set of challenges that many people may not realize or understand. Yes, it is something you live with day to day but there are factors that have to be taken into consideration when it come to cosplay. Especially if you use an insulin pump like I do to manage my blood sugar levels. In simple terms an insulin pump acts like the part of the pancreas that produces insulin. (If you want to know more about the insulin pump here is a link for more information).  If I go more than an hour, two at the most, my blood sugar gets dangerously high and makes me very sick. This means I can’t go without it in costume. Please keep in mind that the reactions without a pump vary from diabetic to diabetic. I am writing this from my perspective and experiences. For example, I know another diabetic cosplayer who uses an insulin pump and she has issues with her blood sugar if she wears her pump in certain places limiting the costumes and modification she can do.

Because of how I choose to manage my diabetes I have to design each costume in a way that I can wear and access my insulin pump; which can make accurate costumes impossible or impracticable depending on the character. So before you criticize some one for an inaccurate costume please take into consideration that maybe the cosplayer had to adjust the design for health purposes.

Some common modifications I have had to make:

  • For all my body suits I have to cut and reinforce a small whole (strategically placed that it can be hidden) to feed tubing through so my pump can deliver insulin as needed. When deciding where to put this hole I have to also keep in mind how I will secure the pump in place.
    • I have a Catwoman costume that I had to feed the tubing through the leg so my pump can be worn inside the boot. If a suit is used for other costumes this may not be a practical location.
    • My Scarlet Witch and Mystique I have a hole in the stomach of the body suit and wear booty shorts with it because these handle the weight better than swimsuit type bottoms. These two are convenient because most people don’t notice the pump with either the cape or the long skirt.
  • My Tw’lek Mandalorian Bounty Hunter suit was specifically chosen because it came with a Velcro patch I can feed the tubing safely through.
  • Depending on the activity level I plan on in my Raven I will sometimes wear booty shorts over for the same reason I wear them with Scarlet Witch or Mystique. If I am wearing this costume at a low impact event it is okay hooked to my belt so I can wear just the leotard but I do have to adjust it regularly. And it does come un-clipped easily if I move too much.
  • Wonder Woman and Psylocke I use nude colored leggings or body suits to cover my infusion set. This way it doesn’t get ripped out while I am out and about.
  • I fell lucky with my Batgirl. I had to cut a whole in the suit but was able to hid this with a corset that also holds my cape in place. The major win was the functional pouches of the belt that allow me to access my pump!
  • For Steampunk I attach my insulin pump to a garter but I have to consider where I am going to be and will I be able to get to it in public or will I have to go into a private area to give myself insulin. Another place I can secure my pump in steampunk garb is in a boot
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The nude colored layer for this costume is actually a two piece thermal since it is winter. Which is a great way to feed tubing. It protects the infusion set and I can hook my pump to the shorts as you see here.

You might be thinking, Mala when you are in something that isn’t a body suit why don’t you just put it in your bra. I use to do this all the time until one hot fall day while wearing Steampunk Snow White my insulin pump died on me because of too much sweat moisture getting into the machine. That is never a good situation because then I have to call the manufacture to trouble shoot and determine if I qualify for a replacement, then I have to call my doctor for an alternative prescription for long lasting insulin to manage until the replacement is over nighted because I the last vial expired, then I have to get to the pharmacy to collect the insulin, and inject it before I get sick. Now imagine if this happened during an out of town con. At least I was close to home when it happened this time, it could have been worse. For those of you reading this who use a Medtronic insulin pump the manufacture recommends placing the pump in a sock if you must wear it in your bra and to carry extra socks to change out in case there is too much moisture. This is now what I do if I have to wear my pump in my bra on any given day. Cosplay or not. If you use another brand I recommend you check with the manufacture of your pump regarding this so you don’t risk voiding the warranty for inappropriate use or something like that.

Not only do I have to design costumes around my pump but days before the convention or event I have to make sure that the infusion set is placed on my body so that the tubing will reach both the site where the insulin is delivered and the location on my costume where my pump will be held or hidden. I also have to keep in mind how much insulin is in my pump so I make sure to have enough insulin and cartridges to refill the machine while I am at cons. I also plan on back ups in case something were to happen.

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Notice me sporting my insulin pump attached to the sash. This is a day I had to strategically place my infusion set for a costume.

When it comes to conventions I always have to have emergency supplies on hand. These include some form of sugar for low blood sugar, extra infusion sets in case my costume rips this out (without an infusion set my body does not get the necessary insulin and this has happened several time. Oddly enough while in steampunk, I blame the layers of steamie awesome!), glucometer, extra test strips, and cash in case I misplace my low blood sugar snack or end up using everything. This has happened to me before on a really bad day. To carry all of this I use a back pack. I love costumes with capes because most people don’t even notice my mini back pack. I love steampunk for the pouches that can handle most of this and my Twi’lek Mando! Pockets in costumes are super exciting in my world!

Something people have commented about at cons is how I regularly eat three meals a day. Most people seem to not eat at cons, which I think is weird personally. If I don’t eat I tend to become h-angry (hungry anger) but I also become lethargic and loss my mental capacity. Especially if my blood sugar gets too low. Eating regularly is a good way to prevent this. In fact, I probably shouldn’t admit this in a public forum, at one con I was uncontrollably in tears I was so hungry and exhausted. All I wanted was food in my belly! The moment I ate I was perfectly fine! I thank my friends who still hang out with me at cons and understand that I can’t control when I get this way. Since then we have developed a code word that is used among the group even when I am not there.

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Sporting my Medtronic pump like a pro!

In order to help keep my blood sugar under control I have to stay hydrated. If I don’t keep this in my mind my blood sugar levels rise and stay high. Which means if I want to wear a costume for a long period of time I have to be able to use the rest room. This is one reason I am looking into upgrading my Twi’lek Mando to a two piece suit. It is one of the few costumes I cannot wear all day and one that is easy to get dehydrated in from the layers and the latex prosthetic. I have had heat exhaustion in this costume, not an experience I want to have again or recommend to anyone.

No matter what I do sometimes my insulin pump is visible and it use to bother me. Not going to lie. I always thought I had to keep it a secret that I was diabetic. Something I should be ashamed of. But one day that all changed. While at a charity even in cosplay a little girl who was also an insulin pump user saw my pump and got so excited to see a super hero wearing a pump. We talked about super heroes and that it is okay to have diabetes. That is shouldn’t keep you from your passions. I hope that I inspired her to embrace what makes her different and own it. There is nothing wrong with having a disability or a chronic condition. It is a part of who we are as individuals. Not something that defines us but makes us stand out as unique from everyone else.

The things that I have to deal with are not what every diabetic has to deal with. Some decided to go without their insulin pump while in costume. That is their adult decision to make but I choose to incorporate mine into my costumes. Other diabetics who cosplay have their own ways to manage their blood sugars or try to. Everyone is different, with different experiences. I hope that this inspires those who don’t feel like they can’t cosplay because of their insulin pump to do it if you want to! And I hope that it opens the eyes of other people to one type of chronic condition and what it means to pursue something one loves. If you really want to do some thing you can find a way!

If you are diabetic and need suggestions please feel free to reach out to me! I am more than happy to bounce ideas of modifications or what has worked for me in situations as a diabetic. You can email me at adventureswithmala@gmail.com or through Facebook.

Steampunk Snow White

 photo 040_zpsphkem1dx.jpgWhen was this costume first done? This costume was originally made in 2013 for Steamfest.  My all time favorite convention!  I also wore it to Steamfest 2014 when I did a panel on Steampunking existing characters.  This was a lot of fun and I appreciate the opportunity to do this!  The second year was a lot of fun seeing other people doing Steampunk versions of their favorite characters.

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Why did I do this costume?  I had been saying for a while that I would never be a Disney Princess.  Then, I got thinking that no one would expected it!  And no one did!  This was one of the most well received costumes I have ever done.  Too my surprise I had way too much fun embodying Snow White!

My best friend and costume wife, Anna Belle, was Steampunk Belle.  I don’t recall if she got Aspen’s Cosplay to do Steampunk Jasmine or if it just happened that way.  Either way, it was amazing!

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Photographer unknown. Taken on one of our phones.

I r photo 11041222_10206985507346498_7533576912203197326_n_zpsyw7i9iqc.jpgecently had the honor of this costume being featured in UGeek magazine advertising for Steamfest 2015!   It was a privilege to be involved in this publication!  This photo was taken by the talent Chopine Photography.

This image was also used in an interview with the photographer Chopine Photography! Click here for his tips on posing and so much more!

Other photo credit: Plainswalker Photography
Crossbow by
I.S. Deign
Corset, cape, and yellow shirt made by
Damsel in this Dress photo 019_zpsiygt9puq.jpg
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Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

Tips and Tricks Vol. 1

Costume Tips and Tricks I have learned over the years. Take them or leave them as you choose but these are things I have found important that I wish I knew for my first costume(s) or have heard from others. Sometimes it is better to learn from the mistakes of others.  😀

1.#1 rule, always have fun!!!!!!!! If you aren’t having fun why are you doing it!

2. There is nothing wrong with buying costumes or costume parts! Sometimes it is easier based on the amount of time or cost involved.  In other words sometimes it just makes more sense to purchase an item or costume!
Example: My twi’lek head tails.  I purchased these because the cost and time involved in learning this skill was too great.

3. Patience is a virtue. The moment you start rushing you will mess up.  And most likely h ave to start all over!

4. Give credit where credit is due! If someone helps you, like they pretty much tell you how to do the project, make sure to thank them and give them credit publicly.  Same goes to photography!
a. This builds your reputation with other costumers and makes them more likely to help you with future projects.
b. You don’t want to be known as a “user”.  If you aren’t aware the costume community can be very gossipy.

5. Make sure to eat and hydrate while in costume. It is surprisingly exhausting to be in costume all day. If you don’t want to eat in costume make sure to have a big breakfast before you suit up! And take a break!

6. Medical adhesive remover can make your life a lot easier!  It can take spray paint off your fingers or adhesive off of products (I also use it when I rip a label off of kitchen ware).

7. If your purpose is to get amazing photos of your costume make sure to take a picture of the fabric before committing to it. Even if it is perfect for the character it may not look so perfect on film. Some fabrics look very different with a flash than with the eye. This is also important with paints.
Example: I am working on an R2D2 umbrella and got blue paint spots on other area of the white material. I used white paint to cover it but since the material had a shine to it the cover up spots show like a sore thump at some angles. I still need to figure out how to fix this for a photo shot.

8. Make sure your underwear doesn’t show. Personally, and maybe because I was a dancer growing up, I HATE panty lines! They now make seamless underwear (and thongs)! These are very comfortable and blend well with any costume. I have found them in all sorts of colors but I save my nude ones for costume because this blends into any bodysuit I wear.
Example: No black bra with a pink body suit, you will hate yourself later when you pictures. Trust me!!!!! It looks trashy          and unprofessional. I didn’t even think to check this and showed up to a charity event. When I saw pictures later I was so      embarrassed and annoyed with myself that my bra was so noticeable.
Another example: If you are wearing a short skirt make sure your underwear fits the character just in case it is seen!

9. Patterns are always worth making AND saving. You never know when you may have to start over or the costume will break and you need to make a new one.
Example: I had to make my Ms. Marvel three different times before I was happy with how the adhesive attached the            lightning bolt. The only reason I no longer have this costume is the zipper broke and I called it quits after that!

10. Sometimes making your own pattern is easier than modifying or combining patterns.  This is an advanced skill set for sure.

11. Storing your costumes in individual bins saves a lot of time when it comes to collecting everything when you need it.
a. Add a check list to each bin so you always know what you need for that costume and what is in that bin. It also helps if      you want to see if an item can be used for another costume.
b. Don’t over stuff the bin because this can damage your costumes.
c. Be careful how you store your latex and masks. If stored incorrectly this can cause damage or morph the item.

12. Always dig through things you have collected for your costumes because you may already have what you are looking for and not remember that you do.  This happens to me more than I should admit.

13. Always test your makeup before the day you need it (even the night before can be a bad idea).

14. Never go anywhere in costume alone. It is safer to move around with other costumers or a handler (someone there to help you). The only time I have run into issues while in costume was when I was alone.

15. Accept that not everyone has the same ideals or opinions about a costume as you.  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT!!! We are all different and there are many ways to accomplish the same costume. We all have different skill level, ideas, and money to invest in our costume; which means they will be different.

16. Youtube videos can be your best friend!

17. Working with others can be more enjoyable than alone, less productive, but it builds friendship.

18. Shoes and wigs will make or break your costume so don’t skimp out on these. High quality wigs are worth the money because they look better in pictures and will hold up better if you want to style it.

19. Educate yourself on fabrics and the level of maintenance they may require.
Examples: Does it wrinkle easily and if so do you have to iron or steam it out every time I wear it.

20. Sometimes trying to save something isn’t worth it and its better to start over.

21. Test your paints before you paint anything (prop or fabric)! Especially if you are using layers to complete your project. Different colors of paints (body or ink) can have different thicknesses and adhere differently to a layer of paint than it does the fabric. You may have to add the color in small layers to get the intensity that you are going for.

22. Sometimes costumes are not appropriate for the climate a con is in.
Example: When I went to Dragon Con in 2013 I took my twi’lek costume. A friend of mine also brought his. However, it was too hot and humid that we didn’t wear them. He put his on for about 30 min before calling it quits. Dehydration is not worth it!

23. There is no problem with upgrading a costume over time. This will save you money and your skills will improve with each upgrade. This is something I have done with my Batgirl. I love my cape, boots, and gloves. However, my first suit and belt were cheap and I plan on upgrading these as I can due to the cost and not being able to make these myself. Maybe one day I will be able.

24. Things from China will take forever to get here and 90% of the time you will be disappointed. Even though it saves you money the first time you usually can’t return these items so it would have been better to spend more money the first time! At least from my experience.

What have you learned?! Share your tips and tricks with us below or email me at AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com. You may be featured in the next installment of tips and tricks!  Please include your website or Facebook page to be credited!

Photo Shoot Suggestions

Just some helpful hints from your friendly neighborhood cosplay model, Mala Foxx.

  • Arrive early and ready to go!  I recommend that you give yourself an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get ready in case you run into make up issues.  If you know you will need to change once you get to the location allow yourself enough time for this.
  • Have a light and healthy meal/snack before.  I like to have a banana and Greek yogurt.  Apples with peanut butter are a good per shoot snack too.
  • If you will be doing an all day shoot make sure you have snacks and water.  Modeling takes a lot of energy and can be draining.  If you let yourself get too drained this shows in photos.
  • Have about 10 poses planned a head of time. These can be recognizable poses of the character or original poses.  I recommend a combination.  It wouldn’t hurt to have reference material to show the photographer. Especially if you want a particular scene from a comic or movie. This will help you both be on the same page.
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Scarlet Witch Photo by Erra Bella Photography and uses a vintage pin up pose. Costume by me. Head piece by Masks By Mandy.

  • Practice your poses and faces in front of the mirror.
  • Be open to photographer suggestions about location, angles, and action poses. If they are making suggestions to your poses or where to look it is because they are trying to help get the best shot possible. If it weren’t for Missa Zane helping with costume adjustments and the photographer taking the time to suggest moving my limbs or pointing my toes this awesome shot would not exist. Note: Just because a pose feels good to you does not mean it look good on camera!
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Batgirl Photo Keyaroscuro. Cowl made by Texas Batman. The rest made or modified by me.

  • Action poses are difficult to get! If you want to get some of these make sure the photographer is aware of this. If you have a limited time slot with a photographer I do not recommend trying for these types of shots. I have spent 30 minutes trying to get one shot before. Sadly, I cannot show you the result due to not having permission to release the photos from the photographer. I can show you these two of my Mystique with Anna Belle as Rogue from X-Men!
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Mystique and Rogue. Photo by Edward Eliason. Mystique made by me.

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Mystique and Rogue. Photo by Edward Eliason. Mystique made by me.

  • If you have a prop make sure to get pictures using it.  I also suggest getting some pictures without it!
  • If you can have music playing during the shoot than do!  But make sure it will help with energy levels or embodying the character you are portraying.  Even if it is only when you are doing your make up.  For example, I listened to heavy metal while preparing for my Steampunk Snow White shoot.  The reason I chose this type of music is because this characters inspiration comes from the though, “I don’t need a hunter or a prince to save me.”   The band I chose tends to make me feel empowered.
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Steampunk Snow White. Photo by Plainswalker Photography. Corset, hood, and yellow skirt made by Damsel in this Dress. All other items found, made, or modified by me.

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Steampunk Snow White. Photo by Plainswalker Photography. Corset, hood, and yellow skirt made by Damsel in this Dress. Crossbow made by I.S. Design. All other items found, made, or modified by me.

  • Have make up and an emergency costume kit in case you need them!
  • If you are shooting on location make sure your shoes allow you to walk.  Or that you bring ones to use.  For example, I did pictures of my R2Dtutu in a swampy forest areas.  My shoes for the costume were pointe shoes. Not the best for walking in the outdoors!  Even indoors is difficult in these after a while. I used a pair of rain boots between locations.
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R2D2 Tutu. Photo by Violent Rose Photography. Costume and umbrella made or modified by me.

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R2D2 Tutu. Photo by Violent Rose Photography. Costume and umbrella made or modified by me.

  • If you can’t get into your costume alone have a friend with you. Depending on where you are shooting the photographer may have to worry about lighting and it is not their responsibility to dress you.
  • Remember when scheduling photo shoots that each photographer will have a different skill set.  Some can do action shots, well others excel at using a green screen and editing. And others can compose shots beautifully and artistically.  Still others take an organic approach letting things develop the shoot goes.  Always look through a photographer’s work to see if their skill and style works for your goal of the shoot.
  • If you want the best photographers you are going to have to pay.  Don’t get mean about it if someone wants to charge you. Guess what, that is most likely their job and only source of income.  If you don’t want to pay than you will have to work with someone starting out.  These people are usually willing to do free shoots to build their skills and portfolios.
  • Also, don’t be offended if a photographer doesn’t want to work with you.  I have been turned down even though I was offering to pay because what I wanted was not something the photographer was interested in.
  • Last but not least, make sure to give credit where credit is due!!!  Do not erase or crop out watermarks without permission.

In case you want to see some of my other modeling stuff check out this photo, this photo, or this photo, or this photo! All by Branden Kent Photography.
And these by Branden Kent Photography.
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Or these by Andraste Photography.
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And this one taken by Heather
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What are somethings that have been helpful for you at photo shoots?

How to get into CAUSEplay

How to get into CAUSEplay

Written by Adventures With Mala
Edited by Harleys Vintage Kisses

There are many options to get into CAUSEplay. This will have some recommendations, but please keep in mind there are many ways to use your costumes to give back to the community.   Hopefully this will get the wheels turning and inspire you!

You may be asking why you should listen to me. At the risk of sounding conceited, there are several reasons. First, while living in Utah I participated with H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. for nearly two years. Second, before joining this organization, I volunteered, in my community without costume, in several aspects. Third, I am currently finding ways to CAUSEplay in my new community. In other words, I am living what I am writing about. Finally, I have a Master’s in Public Administration where I studied nonprofit organizations.

So, how can you get involved? The first, and easiest, way to get involved is to see what groups may be in your area. Each group will have its own acceptance process and policies. I highly recommend contacting the group to find out their process AND the requirements to keep your status with the group. For example, how many events must you attend to maintain your status with the group? What are their expectations? Does their overall mission and purpose fit with your goals? What are their costume requirements? Once you know the expectations evaluate if this fits your life and individual expectations. If everything says green light, then congratulations, you are now involved in CAUSEplaying!

There are many organizations out there that participate in a CAUSEplaying capacity. All of the Star Wars costuming clubs do fundraising and other forms of CAUSEplay, though they do not call it this. There may be a superhero or Disney princess group in your area, Harry Potter club, Ghostbusters, Resident Evil Hives, Star Trek (though I have not heard of this group being active in a CAUSEplay capacity), and so many more! Please note I will be compiling a list and information of various groups, their locations, and websites to publish on this site at a later date. If you have one to bring to my attention please let me know because I know there are many I am not aware of!

If no group exists in your area you can create your own. This can be a very time consuming and frustrating process. In essence you will be creating a small business. If you want to take donations directly I recommend that you file for a nonprofit organization 501(c)3 status in order to have a Tax ID people can donate to. This will protect you legally and add legitimacy to your cause. Otherwise you will have to partner with an organization with an established Tax ID for taking donations on their behalf. Before you take on a feat like establishing an organization or group make sure you are up for the challenge and have a good support system. Find people with a similar interest and passion to carry the load with you. This will make managing events easier and can attract new people to your group. If you are not sure where to start with this look for books on starting a nonprofit organization and reach out to other groups to find out how they created their groups. As mentioned above each group has different policies. You can always review the policies and decide what works best for you.

If the idea of a group does not work for you, or you do not want to start one, then you will have to create opportunities yourself. As we speak I am doing just this by creating a toy drive for a local homeless shelter. Something like this can be done with a community partner (a.k.a. a local business). For example, a comic book, hobby, or toy store. H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. in Utah allies with Hastur Games & Comics each year to help Toys for Tots. I have allied myself with a local toy store that I frequent. I recommend that you establish a relationship with the company before you approach them with this idea. It will increase the likelihood of them agreeing, because they know you. If you do not know anyone personally maybe a friend does who would be willing to act as a reference and facilitate this conversation. Keep in mind that drives are not limited to toys. You can arrange a food, clothing, or school supply drive. The purpose of the drive should focus on the needs of the charity you are assisting.

With Christmas just around the corner the bell ringers will also be out. You can volunteer your time to help them out, as well. Just make sure they are aware you will be doing this in costume and that they are okay with this since you will be representing their organization. People will notice the costumes and ask what you are doing. Also, getting their picture with a hero increases the likelihood of donations.

If a drive or bell ringing do not seem like the perfect fit you can always approach an organization you care about to find out what fundraising efforts, festivals, walks, or events they have coming up and if your services might be useful. Sometimes organizations have a super hero themed event where having people in costume would add to the experience. One of my favorite annual events as a member of H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. was with a local library’s program for children with disabilities. Each year they have a super hero themed event where we interacted with the children. They had various activities that helped increase dexterity, cognitive, and social skills. The kids were learning and practicing skills, without even realizing it, while hanging out with their favorite heroes!

Some people will argue that showing up to an event does not count as a charity, I would like to remind you of the story I just shared and how we helped the children get involved at the library event. It is important to remember that most nonprofits utilize volunteers to meet the missions because this reduces the need for staff and the overhead costs. By volunteering your time you ARE helping the organization! If you help provide a fun environment at a walk or other event then participants are more likely to attend again, increasing the rate of donations and volunteerism for that organization.

Other methods of CAUSEplay can be bringing attention to a cause or organization. This is something that can be helpful for a nonprofit organization. A great example of this is Cosplayers for a Cure in Canada who use the convention environment to bring attention to Breast Cancer. Just by talking and advertising for an issue you are helping an organization and a cause. Recall the attention Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) received from the viral videos of the ice bucket challenge. Though not necessarily a CAUSEplay event, I participated in costume and challenged my costume friends to do this in costume as well. Even if people didn’t donate the nation was talking about this chronic disease and learning that it is not called Lou Gehrig’s disease and that there is more to it. How many of you googled to see what exactly ALS was when you first saw the videos?

There are even simpler ways to CAUSEplay. If you make props you can always see if Make-A-Wish has a need for something you make. For example, MKF Props made a Star Wars Mandalorian bucket (helmet) and donated it to make a kid’s wish come true. You can always see if your local children’s hospital or Make-A-Wish chapter would be interested in your assistance. Keep in mind that organizations like this are very picky about who they involve due to the sensitive nature of who they serve. You may have to submit for a background check before you can fully work with them. You may also be asked to not wear your mask on the hospital property. It never hurts to ask and find out how to be involved!   Some of my friend’s favorite, or proudest CAUSEplay moments, involve a terminally ill child. Though it tugs at their heart strings they have never regretting giving up an afternoon to put a smile on that kid’s face.

Due to things in my life and having to make real adult life a priority, starting my own costume charity organization has been very slow going. But, I still want to give back to my community while I figure this out. Because of this desire I have decided to start selling prints with a percentage of the proceeds being donated to a charity. I plan to change who benefits from this every three months, once I get it up and going. You can do something like this or donate a portion of your profits from prop making. Another option is donating costumes or services to an organization to auction of as a fundraising effort.

Get creative! There is so much more you can do! Go to a library and see if you can read a story to kids in your costume or help teach them to read. There are nonprofits that focus on education of preschool kids that may also be interested in something like this. You can even get involved as you!

Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories! If sending info on an individual person please let them know you have done so, to reduce the creep factor of a stranger contacting them for a potential interview.

CAUSEplay: Cosplay for a Cause, True Heroes of Cosplay

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Most people have heard of cosplay but fewer have heard or understand CAUSEplay. If you are reading this chances are you know what cosplay is. In case you don’t, this is short for costume play and involves wearing a costume while acting like that character. More frequently it is just dressing as a character or in an inspired fashion. With the recent increase in popularity of geek culture this hobby has increased with it. CAUSEplay is a break off of cosplay where people use costumes for charity. This is also gaining popularity as costume clubs and 501c3 nonprofit organizations pop up all over the world. Even individual CAUSEplayers are even making a difference in their immediate communities.

Star Wars Costume Clubs like Rebel Legion and 501st Legion are some of the oldest organizations around involved in CAUSEplay, in fact they were doing it long before this phrase caught on. Just so you understand the structure of these groups these are international clubs divided regionally into garrisons for ease of management and accountability, this is very important because they represent Lucas Films. This also makes the level of their costume quality and expectations higher than a local group might have. If you are new to costuming and interested in joining one of these clubs make sure you review the costume requirements before making your costume to save yourself time and money. Each club has a strong charity aspect to it doing a variety of good for their communities. You can search for your local chapter’s Facebook page to see what they are doing.

Though the Star Wars clubs are among the oldest costume organizations there has been an influx in comic book focused groups such as Arizona Avengers and Comic Book Character for Causes, a 501c3 organization in Washington State. Some groups even accept Disney Princesses, movie characters, and video game characters like H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc., a 501c3 organization in Utah. But the groups do not stop here. The Resident Evil games and movies also have chapters, or Hives as they call them, that do the same type of charity work. There are organizations dedicated to Harry Potter, Ghostbusters, mermaids, pirates, and the list can go on and on. You think of a costume and chances are there is a charity organization or club out there!

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Examples of fundraising include the Alpine Garrison (Utah’s 501st) raising $2,878.57 during Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 for the Peter Mayhew Foundation (petermayhewfoundation.org) to assist with medical costs for families that need assistance. At this same convention the Mandalorian Mercs’ Utah Chapter, Krayt Clan, worked with H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. and Rogue Base (Utah’s Rebel Legion) to raise money for Make-A-Wish. I couldn’t find a total for all the groups involved in this but they did reach over $2,000 for the numbers I could collect. These same groups also fundraised during the Salt Lake City FanX 2014 convention for kids with the Utah Muscular Dystrophy Association to attend their summer camp. And during Rose City Comic Con the Cloud City Garrison (Oregon 501st) also raised money for Make-A-Wish. These are just some examples but there are many out there.

You may be wondering how they raise this money. It is simple, get your picture taken with your heroes and donate a few bucks! The 501st also does blast a trooper to raise funds. You have to have better aim than those stormtroopers after all. While raising money and awareness to a cause these dedicate individuals also bring a fun atmosphere!

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This fun atmosphere can assist in other charitable ways by bringing awareness to a cause; especially since nonprofits have limited resources for advertising and having “attractions” to bring people to their events. These types of events include local fundraising walks; after school, youth, or at risk programs; programs for children with disabilities like summer camp, festivals, or day programs; scouting activities, award ceremonies, or leadership training; library activities; toy drives, food drives or clothing drive; or anything that a nonprofit organization can think of to raise money, items, or awareness to their causes!

Recognized organizations like those listed above also have the amazing opportunity to help Make-A-Wish with requests. Seeing these kids smile and have a great time is one reason many CAUSEplayers site as to why they do this. If you are interested in working with Make-A-Wish please note that they prefer working with established and reputable groups due to the sensitive nature of what they do. It never hurts to reach out to your local Make-A-Wish and see if there is something you can do though!

You don’t have to be a big group to make a difference though. The Northwest Mutant Academy Costume Club of Washington is a small group of friends who does a lot of the same things listed above. They do it for their love of costumes and for the fun of it. One thing this group does on their own is a food drive to help out local people but they are always open considering an event if they are approached.

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You don’t have to be part of a group to CAUSEplay or make a difference in your community. Individuals can make a difference to. Last Christmas a CAUSEplayer reached out to the cosplay community to send Christmas cards to a terminally ill man with a disability because he loved super heroes. The response was over whelming as people from everywhere sent cards, pictures, and gift to this man. Though a brief moment in his life it brought him joy and showed the world how amazing the cosplay community can be. And this showed how something very simple can make a huge difference.

If you want to make a difference in your community you can! Create your own food or toy drive with the holiday season just around the corner. Homeless shelters and foster organizations are always in need of clothing, shoes, socks, coats, ext. and can use help in collecting these. Talk to your local library if they have any events you can help out with. Another thing you can make arrangements with nursing homes to visit the elderly. Or make a prop to donate for a Make-A-Wish request. Many nonprofit organizations have small budgets and are already running on budgets that do not allow them meet the needs of the population they serve. If there is a cause you are passionate about simple email or call the organization to see what they need help with. You don’t have to CAUSEplay to make a difference. You can be a hero without dressing like one, after all real heroes are inside us all.

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As you can see the groups that CAUSEplay are as varied as the ways they can assist their communities. The reasons people CAUSEplay are just as varied. Some do it to see the joy in kids eyes when they see a favorite character, to know they made a difference is someone’s life even if it was for a moment, others as a reminder that there is good in the world, some to make amends for mistakes they feel they have made, and others simply for the fun of it. There is no wrong reason to CAUSEplay but if you don’t do this, or something like it, maybe you should ask yourself why?

Look around and see how you can be a real hero in your community! If you are interested in more info on this stay tuned for my next post on how you can get involved in your community.

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