Skyward Song is one of those cosplayers who was recommended to us who we instantly fell in love with. The sheer level of detail in her work is just incredible and is somewhat inspiring. The dedication she has to bringing the small details to life is what made us think “Yes. She should be cosplayer of the week” so naturally we had to get hold of her.
Location: Central Pennsylvania, United States
What is your favourite food? Sushi and waffles! Just not together
Having a look at your Merida costume, we can see you put a lot of love and care into it. How long did it take you to make it and was it a labour of love?
Surprisingly, Merida only took me a month from start to finish! I was lucky enough to find this amazing new job, and they actually give their employees the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so that’s literally all I did. That week was dress construction, and then beyond that I worked on it as I could.
Merida really is something close to my heart as a feminist, Cositivity (cosplay positive) cosplayer, and just growing up in an era where Disney princesses always seemed to need their prince at the end of the day. Celebrating my Celtic heritage, I wear my Merida costume with pride!
The main thing I noticed was that you put your own details into your Merida bow, can you walk us through how you did this?
The bow was my love child for this project. I’m SO proud of the work I did. First, I got myself a section of PVC pipe to shape. I worked with my boyfriend on a concrete floor with a heatgun to make the plastic wimpy and moldable. One tip I can give anyone who wants to shape PVC with a heat gun? Have a bucket of cold water with a hand towel in it to run over the section you’ve just shaped. It’ll cool the plastic down a lot quicker and reduce the likelihood of it losing shape. Once the bow had shape, we pressed the ends flat and I grabbed some coarse grain sandpaper and ran it down the length of the bow in long strokes to give it the appearance and feel of wood grain.
I spent an entire weekend trapped in the apartment thanks to a blizzard, but I used that time to detail. I sprayed my base coat of tan/beige and let it dry over night. Next, I was lucky enough to find the design Merida has carved into her bow online and scaled it to the size I needed, printed, and cut it out.
A friend suggested that I cover the back of my makeshift stencil with pencil, tape it to the bow, then trace over the lines on top. This basically made a graphite transfer and worked really well. I traced over the pencil with sharpie so it wouldn’t wipe away, then went to town with my dremel.
All in all, the detailing took about four hours and a very stiff neck! I then used a bigger cheap paintbrush to lightly stroke on my darker brown (it was a different tan shade) to give it depth and add to the wood grain I created with sandpaper.
All that was left was the string which I made adjustable/removable for cons and shoots. I have the string measured to a taught length, and draw length.
Added microsuede to the ends and foam grip, tied on her three blue stones at the bottom and carved the round ornament at the top with foam floor mats and my dremel.
A lot of your costumes have all these extra added tiny details, what is it about these details that makes you put in the extra effort to do these?
The costumes I make are all about details. I do a lot of research before I start a project. The project I’m currently working on, Alice: Madness returns, just to give an example of how my thought process is (it’s crazy, I’m crazy, you’ll see haha) I’ll find any HD photos from the source materials and look at fabric texture, how the fabric hangs/lays on the character, and how I can best achieve that look. I originally wanted to stay away from cotton, but it actually ended up being the best option. It lays perfectly, and you can’t see through it. That was my main concern.
When it comes to planning a costume, I know the devil is in the details, and as much as I may hate my process, I know in the end that I will have made the best costume I could have made and that it’s something I can be proud of!
You have cosplayed a varied range of characters. Which is your favourite to make and also favourite wear at a comic con?
I think my favorite cosplay so far to make has been Merida. There was so much that went into the entire outfit. The sewing took the longest, but I taught myself how to make foam sheets look like leather thanks to my friend Sharon’s suggestion, I learned how to make a prop bow out of PVC pipe, and I revisited one of the first props I ever made years ago which was a quiver for an original character.
I think my favorite cosplay to wear at a con flips between SpiderGwen because she’s so comfortable to wear, and Mad Moxxi from Borderlands 2 because I’m usually with my entire Borderlands group and it seems we can never move five feet without being stopped for photos. I love that part of conventions!
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you whilst in cosplay?
I wouldn’t really say it was funny, but I went to Baltimore Comic Con for the first time last year, and it was the first time I had taken Moxxi out to a convention. My friends and I were walking the floor checking out art and one of them points out, “Hey, it’s you!” They were pointing to a print someone had made of Mad Moxxi and I squealed just a little bit. Just a little. I started to walk away with the group and the artist stopped me and handed me the print. I was kind of in shock and asked if it was for me or if he wanted any money, he just kind of shook his head, told me to keep it (he was super shy it seemed) and walked back to his table. I was really excited and I don’t see something like that becoming a regular thing, so that art is probably one of my favorite pieces.
What has been the most tricky technique you have had to master so far?
SEWING. I really hate sewing. I hate it with a passion. But I know if I try hard enough I can get better at it and it won’t continually be a pain when I’m making something. There are just so many terms and techniques to learn, it’s hard to keep them straight. It’s a different approach than when I’m prop building and I just wing it for the most part. Following instructions has always been my downfall!
What advice would you give to new cosplayers?
Keep trying! Everyone has to start somewhere, honestly, it’s okay if you don’t think you’re that great at it right now, because you’ll get better! I also encourage beginners to chat with judges at cosplay contests and get a feel for how their costume would have done, what could they have changed, or done better? It’s all a learning process and we’re here to help each other, so never feel that you’re asking a stupid question!