Cosplay for Beginners

Cosplay Resources!!!

As an aspiring cosplayer myself, I know it can be intimidating to begin. Fortunately, we live in a time where cosplay resources are many and easily obtainable. So here is a list, made by me, for you, to make your going a little easier when you’re ready to take the plunge!
There are a few things that will hold true through most costumes, and are helpful hints when preparing that awesome new outfit.
Before anything else, 2 websites you need to know: http://www.cosplay.com and http://www.cosplaysupplies.com

1. WIGS ARE YOUR FRIEND. I know. I know. Sometimes they just look not quite right. But with some practice and a little wig know-how, plus some high quality wigs, they will make your costume. There are several reasons not to use your own hair: you’d have to worry about styling it just right every time, and you just can’t count on not having a bad hair day every day lol. You don’t want to apply color and products and heat to it very often, if ever, as it is very damaging and eventually you may ruin your hair to the point that it would fall out or something. @_@ So, when using a wig, you get what you pay for. There are 2 types of wigs: real hair wigs, and synthetic hair wigs. As I understand, for costume purposes, synthetic are almost always better. A really, really good wig site is http://www.arda-wigs.com.

2. USE COMMON WEBSITES. http://www.eBay.com http://www.Amazon.com http://www.youtube.com are all great sites with hidden treasures galore!! http://www.pinterest.com and http://www.deviantart.com for inspiration! Don’t overlook the mundane just because it’s mundane. There are tutorials for entire suits of armor and detailed explanations on how to do makeup for certain characters and all kinds of things YOU haven’t even thought of yet!

3. BUY CHEAP. Honestly, you can make yarn and hot glue look AMAZING. Your materials don’t have to cost the moon. Thrift stores often have unique clothes that would be perfect pieces to modify for a costume. You might even get lucky and find props that need little to no modification to set off a great ensemble.

4. BE CREATIVE AND THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Thinking of doing a Princess Peach costume, but also wanting to make it your own? Modify it to “Princess Peach: Street Fighter Edition” or “Princess Peach getting married”! Find a piece of fan art that you absolutely love and recreate that costume or whole scene! Use unexpected materials; sometimes the best costumes use the most unexpected elements. If you can’t afford to buy a Princess Peach dress, and you can’t sew, check cosplay forums for someone maybe selling an old one of theirs. Check those thrift stores for a dress that you can modify, no sewing required.

5. LEARN LESSONS FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS, otherwise, what’s the point? Chances are that a cosplay you want to do has already been, and probably written about, especially if you’re doing a canon representation of a character. Read the stories of others who have done your costume before. Chances are, they may have some sage advice on what they’d have done differently in retrospect. Veterans often know what works and what doesn’t. You don’t have to go in blind, so why would you want to?

6. KNOW POSES. If you’re going to a con, expect photos to be taken of yourself. It is of key importance that you have a few go-to poses for times like this. Get to know your character a little bit and watch some tutorials on posing. Believe it or not, there really is a subtle art to getting the poses to look in-character and believable. There are ways to lessen the appearance of double chin, specific ways to jump if you want a neat off-the-ground pose, and even ways to portray attitude through stance.

7. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. Especially when starting out. You don’t always have to have everything perfect down to the last millimeter. If something seems way too complicated, there may actually be a much simpler solution that you’re just overlooking because it seems like it HAS to be complicated. Again, use your resources on this one; there are a billion amazing cosplay hacks that will make your life that much easier.

8. MOST IMPORTANTLY, HAVE FUN. Cosplay is a hobby. It’s a thing that we, as nerds, embrace and partake in as a cultural festivity. It should be fun to play “Extreme dress up” with your friends once in a while and show off your mad costuming and posing skillz. It’s not (always) a competition and you shouldn’t feel pressured to meet impossible expectations. Set realistic goals for yourself. Maybe you shouldn’t try to build a whole Gundam Suit for your first project. I mean….nobody’s stopping you, but just be prepared for the heavy workload and frustration that will come with a complicated outfit. I say start small. You’ll get better as you go, so you may want to save that character that you just really want to get perfect for a few costumes in when you’ve had some experience. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right! 😉

Know where to acquire supplies.

I named a couple places above that will definitely help a cosplayer in need, but if you’re planning on hand crafting some or all of your costume pieces, you’ll need a bit more to go off of. You’ll need to know places like Joann’s craft and fabric store, Michael’s craft store, Hobby Lobby, Hancock Fabrics, and other places like these. https://www.tandyleather.com/en-usd/home/home.aspx is a valuable resource for all your leather needs.

Makeup: http://andsewingishalfthebattle.com/basic-makeup-for-cosplay-faq/ this is a very simple and easy to understand FAQ about cosplay makeup. There are many brands of makeup you can use in costuming. Here are a few brands that are known to be very good for cosplay purposes:
http://www.sephora.com/
https://us.kryolan.com/
https://www.mehron.com/
Other resources (This is part of a list given to me by a friend who received it from a popular cosplayer that he met at a con.):
http://www.tapplastics.com/
http://douglasandsturgess.com/
http://www.therpf.com/
http://www.405th.com/
http://theleagueofheroes.yuku.com/
http://thesuperherocostumingforum.yuku.com/
http://www.tested.com/
http://www.volpinprops.com/
http://punishedprops.com/
So that’s my little introduction to cosplay article, made just for you.
I hope this is useful to you! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

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Been A While!

It’s been quite a while since I last posted, and for that I am sorry. I had my beautiful second son a day after his due date on July 31, 2013. Link Spiros Valerian. He was over 8 lbs and he’s now 4 months old and fat fat fat! Life has been new and exciting! My boyfriend proposed to me about a month ago, so we’re engaged! It’s a different experience with 2 kids than it was with one, but Espynn is a nice big brother. ❤ I’ll post again before long, I just wanted to get a brief update out since it’s been a while. =) See you later!

A Labor of Love

So, before, I posted kind of at length mostly about my awful hospital experience and how it drove me to have my son at home, with only my mother and husband present. I want to elaborate a little more now on the labor itself and how it was so empowering and what it really meant for me. After that experience I really shied away from ever wanting to see a hospital again, let alone have my baby in one. I continued to receive regular prenatal checkups and didn’t say anything to my doctors (the same ones who bullied me in the hospital) about my desire to birth at home. In fact, I didn’t tell very many people at all. My mother-in-law and her mother, of course, thought I was psychotic and that it was the stupidest idea they’d ever heard. There were a lot of people that thought this, including my older sister, who’d had her baby a year prior via C section at the very same hospital I had visited recently. However, it was none of their choice and my body and my child. My husband and mom supported me and that was all I needed. We’d actually moved in with my mom recently, partly so that she could help me with the baby when he came. Now it was convenient because I trust my mother and I’d have wanted no other birth attendant. We actually didn’t tell my dad about our home birthing plan as he is very old-fashioned and had an aunt pass away in a home birth long ago. However, we don’t live in the 1950s and I felt, intuitively, that it was the right thing to do for myself and my child.

Now, on to the story. I was pretty much on board with the idea of a UC like, right away. I never wanted to feel that loss of control again which I felt when I was hospitalized before, and particularly not when I was bringing new, breathing life into the world. My mom had a friend who had done a UC not too many months previous and was excited when we went to her asking questions. She lent us some books and a whole little home physician kit with like a stethoscope, a fetal heart monitor, a thermometer, and a couple other gadgets. She told me about how wonderful it was for her and told to be sure that I wanted it before committing. But I wanted it, to be sure, and I was certainly well down the road of commitment to it already.

My mom and I discovered the method of rolling on the yoga ball to help the baby get in position and to help widen the pelvic canal area and I said “Yes. I want that.” So she bought a big yoga ball, saying “It’s mine but I want you to use it. And I’ll just keep it here and we’ll have it for next time too.” Oh mom. Always planning ahead. We read online and asked people we knew about a list of equipment we should have ready for when the baby comes. We started getting it all together in about week 35ish I want to say. We sterilized a bulb syringe and a shoelace and some scissors and put them all in a zip lock bag until they would be needed. We got chucks pads and period pads and set some towels aside so they would be clean and ready to go when the day came. We got some heavy-duty industrial type plastic sheeting to line the tub with so we would have bloody nasty gunk going down the drain. We probably had a lot more stuff that I’m not thinking of right now, but you get the idea. We were driven and wanted to be as prepared as possible. We were reading books and watching videos (compliments of YouTube) of women birthing at home. I felt so ready. I was not really very nervous about the whole scenario in general.

Then, on the 14th of November, a chilly day in Colorado, I woke at 5am to intense contractions. I rolled out of bed to go pee and on the way to the bathroom I felt a trickle trickle down my leg and I was like “Ope! Here we go!” I went to get my husband and told him to go wake my mom up. She came downstairs, I told her about the fluid and we all knew today was the day. However, it was a Sunday, and as we were still hiding it from my dad, I labored, for the most part in the basement, and always not wherever he was. Shortly after the water trickle, I started having a little bloody show. It sort of increased and receded throughout the morning. I remember at one point being upstairs and I was moaning and groaning and rolling about, and my little sister who was almost 13 at the time, asked my mom “What’s wrong with Kaleigh? Is she in labor?” but, not wanting to spill the beans to Dad and risk a meltdown, she simply answered with “Well, we’re not sure. We’ll see.”

One key note in this story that I have not mentioned is that my mom’s house is 15 miles out of town in the country. And as it was Sunday, the family would be leaving for church at 1030, by which time I’d already been in hard labor for 5 and a half hours. Transition started around 930 or 10 and Hannah (little sister) definitely knew what was going on. My little brother, John, however, was only 10 and not quite as quick on the take. My dad, fortunately, is somewhat oblivious, but I don’t see how it’s possible that he didn’t suspect something. I think I recall him asking my mother if we were planning on heading to the hospital soon. And she opted to stay home from church, so I’m sure he at least assumed that I was in labor. He probably figured he’d just see us at the hospital after church though. But no hospital here.

Hannah, John, and Dad left for church at 1030, and I was to the point where I wanted to sit in the warm water of the tub and do nothing else. Throughout the morning up to that point, I had been moving around a lot. I was in a kind of cycle where I’d walk for a minute, roll on the yoga ball for a few, lay down and take a 45 second nap between contractions, drink water, maybe eat a slice of bread with peanut butter (gotta keep that protein up!) and get in the tub, just to get out again in another minute when it was no longer comfortable and start the cycle over. I did vomit a couple of times during transition; it was rough. But the whole time I was just looking forward, knowing that from all this, I would be holding my son in my arms before long. So, as I said, I was at the point where I was no longer exiting the tub. We had our clean towels and some swaddling blankets on a hot cycle in the dryer so they would be warm and sanitary when we needed them. I sat in the tub and mostly just groaned through rough contractions for about a half hour or so until I felt the urge to push. And that was just it. It was an urge; my body telling me what to do. I hadn’t taken any Lamaze or breathing classes, but I know it’s bad to hyperventilate and that in this case it could cause a lack of oxygen available to the baby, so I just kept my breathing as even and calm as possible. I was shouting, of course, but it was more of a primal war cry than a scream of pain.

There was a huge gush of fluid as I began to push and this is where things really get a little blurry for me. I pushed for a couple minutes, pretty hard, then took a break for just a momnet. I reached under the water and I could feel his head crowning. I pushed again and it was in the birth canal. I was screaming about it hurting and I remember my mom saying “Well don’t stop now! He’s almost out!” I remember then thinking ‘One more push! This is it!’ and with hardly a break between I gave it one more hard push and my mother was the first one to hold Espynn as she swept him up out of the water. He opened his eyes and looked around, blue as he was, and immediately closed them and went to sleep. It was done. He was out at last. We suctioned out his mouth and nose and started trying to provoke a little noise from him. However, he would not be bothered. I wasn’t going to slap him like they do in the hospital, just trying to stimulate him enough to bother him to the point of a noise basically. we tried for a couple minutes, but even though we had him awake and alert, he did not want to talk. Finally my mom was kinda rubbing by his cheek or ear and that bothered him and he let out about two loud wails. That was good enough for me.

My husband had been standing off to the side biting his nails the last bit of all this and decided to grab the camera, which was a great idea. As my mom handed Espynn to me after that, he snapped the picture that I posted with my previous story about this experience. I have cherished that picture, and as they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words. He was born only 45 minutes after the rest of the family had left the house, at 11:14 am. The date was November 14, 2010 and he weighed in at 6lb 15oz with a length of 19 3/4 inches and his head was 10 1/4 inches around.

After he was out, I covered him in a warm towel, fresh out of the dryer along with a swaddling blanket under it. He just laid on my chest for a while and then I offered him the breast and we both caught on to that fairly quickly. We left the cord attached for maybe as long as 30 minutes, until the blood wasn’t really pumping through it anymore. We used the shoelace to tie it off and cut it with our sanitized scissors. I handed Espynn off to mom after a that and it was time to get the placenta out. It was, at best, excruciating. My perineum was very sore from having just pushed the baby out and I felt like I was basically doing the same thing over again, but with this part of me now raw and tender. Finally it came out, and I could relax. The placenta came out whole and we put it in a baggie. As a new mother, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body at this point and was worried that I may have torn and could need stitches. I expressed this concern to my mother and suggested that maybe we should go to the hospital to make sure I didn’t need them. She said ok, if I was sure, and we took a few hours of everyone kind of relaxing and getting ready to head out the door to go check, for my own sake, that everything was fine. Just so you know, I didn’t tear and I’m sure it was largely in part thanks to the fact that we were actually rubbing olive oil on and kind of stretching the perineum periodically throughout the hours of labor.

I’m going to cut this story off here as there is another arm to it, and will need its own post. This was truly a labor of love, and I cherish those moments shared with only my mother and my husband. It was a beautiful experience and I intend for this one to be even more so. This time I will have a video camera I SWEAR lol. Thank you for listening to my story once again, and hopefully it was at least somewhat inspirational. I know I enjoy telling my stories and that my son is so very inspiring to me. So I’ll be posting that third bit of this story before too long. Until next time, stay beautiful! =)

The Peace of Nature in Birth

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

First Breath of Life.
Espynn’s first moments

            This is the story of how one little boy chose to come into the world. It was in a way that can be called anything but conventional. However, at the beginning of the tale, it all seemed quite normal, as far as pregnancies go. I was 19 when I conceived him. I had normal prenatal care. I was healthy and the baby was developing in all the right ways. That’s not really what makes the story interesting. The story really starts, in my mind, when I was 33 weeks pregnant and went into labor.

           I woke up in the middle of the night to really hard contractions. I woke my husband up and we decided we should call the hospital, which was over an hour’s drive away. The woman who answered the phone, of course, told me it was probably nothing serious and I should just try to get some sleep. “Just get some sleep and call us in the morning if you still think there’s an issue” she said. ‘Yeah right’ I thought to myself. After I got off the phone with her, my husband and I discussed it shortly and determined that a midnight rush to the hospital was in order. We didn’t take much with us and were out the door in a jiffy.

            By the time we arrived at the hospital, just over an hour later, the contractions had gotten harder and more regular. We went in through the emergency room entrance and told the woman at the desk, the same one who’d told me to go back to sleep, why we were there. She had us wait for just a moment until a man rolled a wheel chair over for me and rolled us into a room. The nurse got me onto a bed and the doctor came almost immediately. After a quick check, she determined, “Wow, you really are in labor!” There were several things going through my mind at that point, like ‘Good thing I decided to come in. No thanks to your staff.’ or ‘Gee, you really think so?’ and feeling a little bit scared all the while.

            They told me they needed to get an IV in me to start a dose of magnesium, which they said should stop the contractions. They proceeded to stab needles in my hands and arms, to no avail. Finally, on about the 6th or 8th try, they got a working (and painful) IV in my forearm. They warned me that the magnesium might disorient me a little and make me somewhat nauseous. It wasn’t too bad, though, as far as side effects go. I was a little bit clumsy and disoriented, but not very. They kept me hooked up to the magnesium for that night, that day, and the next night and day until they were sure that the labor was totally stopped and I was stable. Then, the interrogation began.

            The doctors and their lackeys were constantly coming in, asking me questions, telling me they wanted to do this test or that test. They asked me all about the days leading up to the premature labor in hopes of finding some clue as to why this had happened. Fortunately my membranes weren’t ruptured in the process of the contractions, so the risk of infection was very low. However, they still wanted to do a bunch of tests and of course, keep me overnight “for observation”. ‘Okay,’ I thought, ‘another night won’t hurt anything.’ So I stayed for a third night and on the third day, they asked me if I would consent to an amniocentesis test. I asked them about the risks (which of course they basically said there were none. It wasn’t until much later that I learned this procedure causes late term miscarriage in 1 out of 200 cases) and why they felt it was necessary. They said they wanted to check for infection in the amniotic fluid and that they could gauge the development of the lungs as well.

            After discussing at length with my mother, whom I trust very deeply, we decided that it was not necessary and I’d be fine without it. I also felt, intuitively, that it was an unnecessary procedure and not in my baby’s or my own best interest. Later that day when the doctor came in to ask me if we were going to go ahead with the procedure, I told her how I felt about it, and politely refused. She seemed dismayed and said she’d be back in a while to talk with us again. That afternoon, when she returned, she informed me that I’d be staying another night, again, “for observation”. At this point I was starting to get a little bit bothered with the entire hospital staff for several reasons. They were not nice to me or my mother (my husband wasn’t there usually as he was working) or me when we had questions, they were never very clear with us when explaining anything, and never seemed to be able to give a direct answer about anything. I was ready to go home as I felt that the labor had been stopped, the hospital had done their job.

            I asked the doctor when I could go home and she said she didn’t know, maybe the next day, the 4th day. Again, I felt like I should humor them. I wanted to trust them, after all, isn’t that kind of the point of medical care? You ought to be able to trust the people providing your care and I was feeling it less and less. I was getting restless; they didn’t want me up and moving a lot but I am not the kind of person who can be cooped up in a room, bedridden for long periods of time and not get restless. So I would walk around with my mom quite a bit and they didn’t seem to like me doing it very much, but really, it’s not as though I was ill or in an emergent situation any longer.

            On the fourth day I again asked if I would be able to go home that day. The doctor said she wasn’t sure and that we’d see how the day went. I waited and waited and grew more restless. The doctor came in around mid day and again suggested I get the amnio test. I again refused, saying that I didn’t feel I needed it and that I’d rather just go home. She said okay and that they’d see what they could do. That afternoon, close to evening, she came back in and asked once more for me to do the test. No, I told her again. I won’t do it. “Well, we’re going to keep you another night then, for observation.” At that point, I began to feel trapped. They were making this very hard on me, and clearly on purpose. It felt as though my fight or flight instinct was being engaged and I was like a caged animal.

            The next morning, the head doctor had gotten back into town and came to talk to me. “I heard you’ve been giving us a hard time about taking  the amniocentesis test.” I was astounded. had been giving them a hard time? I explained what I had told the other two doctors about it and that I was absolutely not willing to take the test and wanted to be released to go home that day. I had been there for 5 nights and was starting on my 5th day . She said that that simply wasn’t an option. She then had the nerve to give me an ultimatum; “You can either get this test, or we will just keep you here for the next 6 or 7 weeks until you are ready to safely have this baby here.” I was horrified and appalled. I was sure that this was not allowed. I had every right to refuse the test and had equally as many rights to leave the hospital at any time.

            The doctor left my mother and I to discuss it and said she’d be back in a while. I still held my position firmly but was fearful that they were going to somehow force me to remain in their care until I either gave in to the test or had the baby there. My mom decided to leave for a short time to grab a lunch that wasn’t hospital food. While she was gone and I was all alone and more vulnerable, the doctor came and bullied me some more to get the test. For several minutes I refused her but I did end up giving in because I was tired of fighting them about it and just wanted to go home. It seemed like the easiest avenue, although I was bullied into it and taken well without the scope of my rights. I signed the form consenting to the test and they rolled in a cart of supplies for the procedure.

            First, the doctor numbed a small area of my stomach with three tiny needles. It hurt and I was terrified and furious and I began to cry. There was a nurse on each side of me, holding my hands. Right as the doctor was preparing the huge 10-inch needle and syringe to stab me with, my mom returned. I felt like I wanted to hold her hand but we were already in the middle of the scenario and I didn’t think I could easily start it again if we delayed. I told my mom it was okay and that I just wanted to get it over with. She understood and watched from behind the doctor. The memory of that moment is so awful for me, I cringe to think about it. It was still very painful and frightening although the area was numbed and I started hyperventilating. I was crying the whole time and the procedure only took a couple minutes from the time she got the big needle in, but I will never forget how that experience and those 5 days made me feel.

            After the procedure was complete, we just had to wait a couple of hours for results and the doctor told us I’d be able to leave that evening most likely. The results came back late in the afternoon, and as I had suspected, there was no information that was helpful in any way besides a confirmation that I did not, in fact, have an infection. Which I knew. I trust my intuition very acutely and I feel that I would have known had there really been a bigger problem. That evening, I was discharged and my mother took me home. I felt as though I never wanted to see a hospital again. The experience was deeply scarring and traumatizing. My faith in the medical world had been eternally damaged. But to me, it was an enlightening experience, as bad as it was.

            After that all happened, I began to consider alternatives. I live in a fairly small, rural community and I had known several women who had done home births. I contacted the only midwife in the area, but midwifery service wasn’t covered by my insurance and I certainly didn’t have enough money to pay for it myself. I was forced to consider something else – something even more cryptic than a midwife attended home birth; an unassisted birth, or freebirth, as it is sometimes called. My mom was very supportive of me, as she had been there with me for most of the hospital experience. We started talking to local women who’d done home births, reading books, watching videos online and getting all the information we possibly could to make this a reality.

            We borrowed some equipment from one woman who had done a previous unattended birth, including a fetal heart doppler, a stethoscope, and a few books, among other things. We got all the equipment prepared and set aside before hand so we were sure to be ready when the day came. Then, one Sunday morning, ten days before the due date, I woke to intense contractions and leaking fluid. This was it. Finally the baby was ready and so were we. Labor was fairly easy until transition, when I started throwing up every few minutes and not being able to relax at all. The whole time (6 hours of labor) I was moving around, changing positions, keeping myself comfortable. I felt very relaxed the whole time. We had the tub filled with warm water, which I’d get in and out of depending on how I was feeling, there was a big yoga ball I was rolling on a bit, and I would walk around for a few minutes, lay down for a few minutes, whatever I felt like I needed to do. I knew this was far different than what I’d be allowed to experience at a hospital.

            When it came time to push, it was about 10 or 15 minutes at the most and I had my beautiful son, Espynn, in my arms, in the bathtub. It was so peaceful and empowering. It was far less traumatizing for all of us than a hospital birth would have been; Espynn fell asleep right after he was born, and I let him-after I heard his voice of course. We left the placenta attached for about 15 minutes, when it looked like most of the blood had stopped pumping through it, before we cut the cord. Everything went so smoothly, I know that there were hands on the other side guiding our actions and watching over myself and my son. I felt that the early labor was his way of ensuring his perfect entrance into the world; like it only happened for me to see that the process of giving birth does not necessitate a hospital or its staff. I felt so complete after that experience and I wouldn’t change anything about it in retrospect.

            I can now see the necessity of my experience at that hospital and I believe everything always happens in its perfect way. I am currently pregnant with my second son and due to deliver at the end of July. I intend to have this one as an unassisted birth as well. I will never be able to give birth in a hospital setting outside the scope of a serious and emergent necessary medical procedure. I have seen the light of childbirth in nature and it really does mean something that humans have survived this long doing it without doctors and their facilities and procedures. I am proud to say that I birthed my child and to know that I did it on my own. I would send a message to all women and even just people in general that you should NEVER EVER LET A DOCTOR OR ANYONE ELSE MAKE YOU FEEL INCOMPETENT AS A HUMAN OR RESPONSIBLE DECISION MAKER. NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE BULLIED OUT OF YOUR FREEDOM. I hope that my story will inspire confidence and power for at least somebody. This was a long story, and obviously I didn’t get every little detail in here, but please, feel free to ask me any questions about it and let me know your opinion. I know that home birth is very widely disputed and I expect that someone will have something negative to say, as that’s the nature of the internet, but for me, this was a very positive and enlightening experience and always will be. Espynn Aureileas, came into the world at 11:14 am, 11/14/10 weighing 6lb. 15 oz. and measuring 19 3/4 inches long. Thank you for reading my story.