I believe these photos are from all the way back in July, but I have been crazily busy ever since. Besides, it’s cold and dark outside right now, and I haven’t seen the sun in days, so sharing some cosplay photos from a beautiful summer day might be just what is needed to lighten this blog up a bit.
Otherwise it will just be all owl photos and me grumbling about stuff like an old man.
The cosplay I used for this photoshoot was Morrigan from Dragon Age. It’s an old cosplay, but still one of my favorites and I never got around to have any good pictures taken of it at a suitable location, so my friend Line and I took a trip to Hald Ruin, an old castle ruin about an hour’s drive from where I live. The ruin itself turned out to be a bit disappointing, but the area around it was gorgeous, and it was all too easy to find spots that looked like the swamp where you first encounter Morrigan in Dragon Age Origins. It was also the first cosplay photoshoot I did after getting LASIK surgery, meaning I could actually see something while shooting – I don’t use contacts, and I needed to remove my glasses for the photos, so in the past I have always stumbled around nearsightedly – so I could move around more freely. Possibly a little too freely, if you ask Line, because the branches I was crawling around on were hanging out over a lake and might have moved a bit more under my weight than they reasonably should have.
Apparently, working eyesight means little if you step on something that snaps under you, and I was told in no uncertain terms that while she was willing to act as my photographer, Line would not save me if I fell headfirst into the lake.
I look all relaxed in this one, but what you can’t see in the photo is that there’s a rather sudden drop just behind me, so really I’m just hoping I’ll be able to get back down from the damn tree without slipping.
It was such a lovely day that I had trouble stopping myself from smiling, which is why I totally fail at capturing Morrigan’s wonderful bitch vibe in most of these photos.
“Just ignore the Dutch tourists staring at you. Juuust ignore them.”
Morrigan is one of the few cosplays I can sit down in. That helps a lot.
“I think I hear Darkspawn… oh, wait, it’s just the tourists again.”
I do all the standard things – stubbing my toes against doors, falling down stairs, slamming drawers shut on my fingers – but mostly people get an answer they didn’t expect when they ask, “What did you do to your hand?” or “Where did you get that bruise?”
Let’s start with the most common cause of injury:
The Dangers of Super Glue
I use a LOT of super glue, so you would think I would have learned something by now, but alas… I still accidentally glue myself to everything. When crafting cosplays or doing other weird hobby projects, I always manage to attach myself to something: Tables, laptops, myself, and a few times even unfortunate con-goers while doing emergency fixes at my author table.
But getting super glue all over your hands is something you get used to. It only stings slightly and burns through a couple layers of skin. And who really needs fingerprints?
Never mind that I have trouble navigating touchscreens for a few days.
Yep, getting super glue on your hands is not a big deal.
Absentmindedly biting your nail before the glue on it is completely dry and getting super glue on your tongue…?
Nooooope. Not a good idea.
As I said, super glue burns. A burned patch on the surface of your tongue feels both unpleasant and weird.
But the worst thing is really that this has happened to me on at least four different occasions and I’m not getting any smarter…
Burn, Baby, Burn
I once sat in a staff meeting, paying absolutely no attention to what was being said, and looked down at my arm before wondering, “Where did that burn mark come from?”
I eventually came to the conclusion that it must have happened when I knocked my heat gun over 3 days earlier and I simply hadn’t noticed.
That’s how often I accidentally burn myself. It just doesn’t register half the time.
As a kid and teenager, I mostly did it by being careless while maintaining the wood stove at my parents’ place or burning myself when taking stuff out of the oven. Lately, however, most of my burns are caused by cosplay. I work a lot with a material called Worbla, which is a kind of thermoplastic, meaning I have to heat it up to use it. The burns I get from handling the material itself are insignificant (like with the super glue, it mostly just burns the fingertips and they’re kind of numb by this point), but as shown with the example above, the heat gun can be rather dangerous. The top of it remains searing hot for a long time, so it’s very important to put it somewhere you won’t accidentally bump into it.
I also recently experimented with a variation of Worbla called Crystal Art. I literally wrote instructions for a webshop selling this stuff, instructions that focus on how Crystal Art’s melting point is a lot higher than ordinary Worbla, and as such SHOULDN’T BE HANDLED WITHOUT GLOVES.
…Guess who heated up a big lump and then just stuck her whole thumb into it?
And that’s how I ended up running around with a bag of frozen kebab wrapped around my thumb for a few hours that day.
Other Geeky Casualties
As you can tell, I really wouldn’t get injured all that much if I wasn’t a geek. Cosplay is a dangerous hobby, and not just in the crafting phase. I have lost count of how many times I have stabbed myself (and others, but who cares about them?) with a spiky pauldron or helmet. Once, I accidentally hit myself in the head with a prop Gorehowl I nicked from a friend (and I hope he doesn’t read this blog, because he would never let me live it down).
Lately, I also returned to doing a bit of LARP’ing when I went to Witcher School in Poland. They taught us fencing and archery, let us throw around sharp axes, taught us how to make fire with a knife and steel, and had us fight huge monsters, so honestly it’s amazing that I didn’t lose a leg or set my hair on fire. I even only got ONE bruise and that was not my fault, as I got tackled by a striga.
Which just makes it more embarrassing how much I have injured myself with the wolf medallion they gave me… Turns out that if you’re lying on your couch, playing around with a spiky medallion made of pure metal and then drops it on your collarbone… It hurts. I also discovered I was getting bruised along my ribs from where the medallion was bouncing against my body through thin t-shirts while wearing it all day.
This tiny owl usually only bites me (when out in the public, he’s the perfect gentleman), but he can do an impressive amount of damage if you let him get his beak into the skin between your thumb and index finger.
There have also been a few cases of poor navigation, and there’s really no way to prepare yourself for an owl suddenly colliding with your face.
I don’t know why I just did a whole post about how accident-prone I am. Maybe I should do a post about something I’m good at?
As is often the case with my cosplays, I used a couple different references and picked the parts I liked from each. With Morrigan, this was mostly because she wears NOTHING under her very, very open cowl in Dragon Age: Origins, but she was a bit more fortunate in her concept artwork.
I can deal with revealing costumes, but I draw the line at flashing an entire convention because fabric slips in reality, as opposed to video games 😂
Story behind the costume
Not much to say here. I got Dragon Age: Origins for free one day, played it for about 15 minutes, got obsessed, met someone even more obsessed who was already making a Dragon Age cosplay, and suddenly I had decided to cosplay the bitchy witch wearing way too little clothing.
Morrigan is the mistress of Sass, and there was no way I could get away with NOT cosplaying her.
How It’s Made
With Morrigan I didn’t experiment with as many different materials as my other costumes… which might also be why it’s one of the only cosplays I have that I can move almost freely in.
The cowl is made entirely from normal fabric. Nothing fancy going on there.
For the skirt, I used a plain pencil skirt as a base and sewed faux leather around it. The patch at the top is made from EVA foam, covered in the same pleather and with rabbit fur attached around the egde. It’s attached to the skirt with push buttons, meaning it’s detachable, because it covers the zipper for the skirt.
All the “belts” hanging from the skirt were made separately and from scratch, all in the same pleather as the skirt and with metal rings hammered in (I love getting to use a hammer when I sew stuff).
The bra… Now THAT is something I’m weirdly proud of. I didn’t even sew the thing from scratch, instead Frankensteining it from 3 different bras that I slaughtered. I bought two simple bikini tops from eBay, one white and one black, and took the straps from the black and the cups from the white. The fabric used for the white one was waaaay too white, but it turns out that soaking a bra in black tea for a few hours is a great way to dye it.
With the straps and the cups put together I technically had a fully-functional bra. But seeing as I’m a little paranoid, I thought an extra bit of security was in order. Which is how I came to slaughter bra nr. 3. This time, it was a self-adhesive silicone bra that I sewed into the cups of my bikini top, so that I could easily glue the whole thing to my chest and not worry about anything slipping.
(Turned out to be a very good idea, since a friend accidentally untied the bikini top in the middle of a convention hall one time…)
The staff was a lot of fun. It was also an experiment that I had expected to fail spectacularly, but which somehow turned out great.
The base is a completely normal wooden broom handle. At the top I nailed some foam strips on some wire onto it and covered it in PU foam. From that, I carved a couple of “branches”.
I covered the whole thing in acrylic sealant, making the surface bumpy like a rough tree branch. Still can’t believe that I randomly grabbed some stuff you use to put in windows and somehow it all worked out…
Then, of course, I painted and varnished it. I tied a piece of leather with some feathers around it to give it the finishing touch.
On to the necklace. This was made by making a base of black pleather and attaching the separate pieces onto it. It’s closed in the back with push buttons and the gold pieces are made from spray-painted EVA foam (the pendants also have Worbla covering the foam). The pearls are also attached directly to the necklace, instead of being a separate piece.
The sleeve is made from stretchy pleather and kept on with elastic at the top. The patch is made from pleather-covered EVA foam with sewn on feathers, attached to the sleeve with push buttons.
I had a lot of fun with this costume, both making it and wearing it.
I worked on the cosplay together with a friend (she was cosplaying Anders, also from Dragon Age) and we usually did it at her apartment. That led to a number of funny situations, for example one day when we talked about the latest game in the Dragon Age series, Inquisition, which I hadn’t played yet, so I was a bit confused when my friend’s boyfriend stuck his head into the room, yelled “Fuck Solas!” and left.
After playing the game, I get the sentiment, but it felt rather random at the time.
Another classic moment was when we had decided on how to dye my bikini top. My friend’s boyfriend came home some time after and went to his own workshop and my friend called out to him “Just so you know, there’s a bra soaking in tea in the kitchen.” There was silence for a while, before we heard “Wait… what?!”
I have also had a lot of good times wearing the cosplay. Not only have I won two contests with it, I also got a group of amazing friends that I would never have met if we hadn’t all been cosplaying from the same game franchise at the same convention.
That’s the magic of cosplay. You suddenly find yourself in a group of complete strangers, just because of your shared love for a game, and spend hours hanging out and taking pictures. That’s usually the end of it, but not for this group. Half of these people are the ones that now make up my Dragon Age tabletop group and I can’t even describe how much fun we have.
Side note: You can also have a great lot of fun when you suddenly have three people cosplaying the same character.