Costume Musings

Interview with Emily (Go Big or Go Home Cosplay)

Cosplay Melee Episode 3 is due to air tonight, and we have an interview with the fantastic Emily of Go Big or Go Home Cosplay from Episode 2, who was awesome enough to share some of her experience of working on the series with us and answer burning questions like was your paint still wet when you donned your costume?

First of all, congrats on your amazing work on Cosplay Meele! It was so much fun watching you put everything together, and we were in love with your giant flail! What was the hardest part of the construction?

Funny story, when I picked the flail from the “Bowl of Scrolls” YNB and I laughed because neither one of use knew what a flail was! They did not include this edit in the final cut. Originally I was going to use green floral foam as a base for a Dire Wolf’s face on my flail. I thought a ball with spikes was too basic. When I started working with the green floral foam it just crumbled in my hands. I knew that it would not withstand adding Worbla on top of it and opted to change my design. I have worked with other types of soft foam in the past, but the material available at the shop was not practical for the technique I was trying to use. Ultimately I feel like the decision to go with a 6 blade design worked in my favor. It was super simple to replicate the same piece 6 times rather than try to make an organic wolfs face. Thankfully I only wasted 45 mins in my crafting time on my original design. They did not show this on the show, but if you keep an eye out on my work bench you can see the start of a wolfs nose and ears on the table. Other than that I think that the hardest part of the construction really comes down to durability. The reason why people use Worbla in the first place is so your props don’t break. I am so thankful that I decided to use this product on the show because it allowed me to make links from my scraps that self adhered to the base of the flail. I knew that their connection would hold as I swung it around on the stage. That flail was not going to break!

You were dual wielding heatguns in your build, which had all of us here cheering. Was that just because you had more tools available, or do you usually pack double the heat?

I knew that I was going to be working with a lot of material in a short amount of time and wanted to utilize my resources as best as possible. I gotta admit, dual wielding heat guns on the show made me feel like a boss. My favorite part is when I hold both heat guns in one hand as I flip my Worbla over to heat the other side! At home I will often use two heat guns at the same time. It helps me heat up larger patterns of Worbla at one time. For example if you are making shin guards you want to use two heat guns because the size of your leg is almost two feet long. Depending on the temperature in your work space your Worbla could get cool. You wouldn’t want this because this could create creases or bubbles on your surface when you go to mold it around your body. Using two heat guns helps prevent these issues from happening and I consider it to be a proactive approach to crafting. Learning how to understand the working time and temperament of any product that you use is important. Just because you are using two heat guns that does not mean that you are increasing how hot you are making the material, rather you are expediting how quickly you evenly heat up the material.

You used Worbla instead of foam or metal for the majority of your build. Why was Worbla your go-to material?

During casting I told myself if I ever got the opportunity to be on the show I needed to stick with what I knew. In this competition you do not want to try something that you’ve never done before. That doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment on some components for your costume. Rather this refers to the base construction of your build. For example, it would not have been smart of me to try my first full EVA build on the show. Trust me, I thought about it. I heard from multiple people that foam is light and fast to work with. I had definitely done my research and understood the fundamentals of foamsmithing, but I had never executed a build entirely made out of foam. It is a completely different form of art, even if it has many similarities to working with Worbla. Some of the main differences that I have learned since filming on the show is that you have to make modifications on your patterns to compensate for the thickness that EVA foam has when compared to normal craft foam. If you do not account for this your pieces could be too small when you go to wrap them around your body. Another main difference is how you prime, seal, and put attachments onto foam directly. I had never done any of this to EVA foam before going on the show. I could have really sabotaged myself. My smartest choice was to use Worbla, and more specifically, Black Worbla. I had worked with it in the past and knew how smooth the surface was compared to normal Worbla. In this competition you have to cut corners. I made the decision to not prime my armor before I painted it. I would normally NEVER do this, but when you only have 2 days to complete a full armor you do what you have to do. Black Worbla was the best choice for this because the surface is so smooth.

The magic of TV editing makes it look like the final bell tolls and you all instantly don your costumes – but paint has to dry and makeup and wigs have to be applied, and somewhere along the way you needed to eat! How long did they give you, between the ‘end’ of your second work day and when you walked on stage. Was some of the paint still wet?

TV time is not real world time. We filmed my episode over the course of a week. We only had three build days, but the other days were filled with travel time, settling into our hotel rooms, wardrobe and tool checks, as well as various interviews. I am from the East Coast so trying to adjust to the West Coast time zone was definitely difficult for me. I was on a three hour time difference, staying up three hours later than I was used to, so really I was going on a six hour time change. We would go onto the set in the early afternoon and not leave until sometimes after 2am. “Lunch” was not served until around 6pm. Talk about weird film time lingo. Going onto set was like being in Vegas. It was daytime when you went in and dark when you left. We never knew what time it was. The food was amazing. Some days the crew had food catered in and it was like eating your families famous recipes. I was really impressed, however that could have been the lack of sleep and stress that made anything taste like Heaven. The breakfast burritos were the BOMB, and I got to try In-and-Out Burger for the first time. We were able to have around 8 hours of sleep time each night, however some people did not sleep due to nerves. Before we went on stage during the first challenge I had just slung blood onto my flail and had to tell the crew to not touch it until the paint dried. As far as the actual time between the end of our second work day and our on stage appearance was probably a couple hours. This was due to us having make up applied and getting dressed.

Speaking of being onstage – your wig and makeup looked great, and they don’t show that process at all! Now in Face Off, the contestants get some costume work done for them and their molds get poured while they’re resting – did SyFy provide you with styled wigs to your directions or help with makeup, or were those all yours just not shown on the final cut?

After we were judged and learned that we needed to modify our characters origin story we were able to have consultations for make-up and wig design. The network had brought in a professional make-up artist to style our wigs and apply our make-ups for our character’s debut. However the overall styling look was based on our creative influence. I wanted to look like I had not had sleep for days, been rolling around in the dirt, and had not showered in weeks. Because I was thirsty for revenge I said that I wanted a huge scar down the middle of my face. I was the first one to give my wig off to the stylist. Going into the second round I knew that I wanted to have braids, beads, and feathers styled into my wig. This was to help portray the more feminine side of Goditha. I think that it turned out great and I’m very pleased with the final look.

References are so important when doing Cosplay work, even just interpretive things! Did they let you google for inspiration, or have references handy to look up? I mean, if I’d been given GoT I would have been completely lost knowing the different families, and staying on theme is so important….

I think that staying on theme is one of the key components to winning Cosplay Melee. On the show you can see how excited I was to find out that our theme was Game of Thrones. I am a huge fan! It was so fun to make up a story background for our characters. I knew going in that I wanted to incorporate Stark influences. Having to make a flail was a complete surprise. I really tried to wing it and make the best prop possible in such a short amount of time. Winning the first challenge was a HUGE advantage. My first spin landed on Dothraki. If I was not able to spin again this could have completely sabotaged me. I knew that it would have been very difficult to change my original design to fit a half naked character who rides on a horse. Thankfully on my second spin I landed on Wildling. I knew that I could work with this and it ended up really elevating my overall character design. I loved working with the rich fabric textiles. On set we did have tablets available to search various reference materials. I think an advantage to being on “Throne Off” was that I knew the background origins of the theme. I tried to stay true to the fandom and show my appreciation for the show in my character. It helps being a fan!

The workroom is just right out of a cosplayer’s dream! What tool do you wish you could have taken back home with you?

The set had an incredible iwata airbrush! Hands down the coolest tool I used on the show. It was my first time really weathering armor using an airbrush technique. It seriously expedited my paint job. It would have taken FOREVER to dry brush that intire costume. I highly recommend cosplayers investing in a high quality gravity feed airbrush gun. It is on my cosplay wish list! It was so fun to use on set.

You’ve used Worbla for many of your own costumes: what is your favorite Worbla project you have done for yourself?

I definitely think that the costume that I am most proud of is my Valkyrie Leona cosplay from League of Legends. It was my first time working with Worbla. I wanted to challenge myself by making an armor from head to toe with a sword and a shield. I learned so much about the temperament of Worbla and how to troubleshoot various issues you have throughout the process of your armor build. It was my first time drafting patters, using the “sandwich technique”, priming with Gesso and woodglue, dry brushing, and sealing with a clear satin lacquer. It was the cornerstone of my armor making hobby. I came up with my cosplay name on this build. I realized that I was addicted. I was bitten by the Worbla bug and never wanted to turn back. It’s Go Big or Go Home.


Lastly, what piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to compete in Cosplay Meele Season 2?

Be prepared for anything. This show will throw you curve balls that you will have to adjust to. Come organized. Have a sound game plan and stick to what you know. Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience. You will meet some pretty amazing crafters and make life long friends. Understand that it is a really long casting process and you will be required to fill out a lot of paperwork for the show. It is the hurry up and wait mentality. You are always on their time. The production team is very nice and go out of their way to accommodate you. Try not to get discouraged when things may not go your way. You may have to work with material that you are not used to using. Be adaptable and use your time wisely. Remember this is friendly competition, don’t be afraid to help one another. Think of it as you are in “con crunch” mode and you all are trying to finish making your costumes in time.

Actually I lied: LASTLY: Who would YOU put on the Iron Throne?

Haha! I think that Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen should form a political marriage and rule the Iron Throne together in the final season of Game of Thrones.


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