By Kristian Jackson
I have always loved dressing up since I was a little girl, whether I was stealing my mom and dad’s clothes to play dress up, or dragging my mom through Party City to pick out the perfect costume for Halloween. As I got older, I found myself making more complex Halloween costumes and piecing together my own unique costumes. When I was around 10 years old, I discovered Comic Con and pop culture conventions, and fell down the rabbit hole of “cosplay”. I would always try to catch the San Diego Comic Con specials the G4 and SyFy Networks would host. My favorite TV shows growing up became Heroes of Cosplay, Face Off, Project Runway, I loved seeing people create clothes and characters! I also would start to watch Cosplay Music Video and watch Vlogs from different conventions, dreaming of one day going to San Diego Comic Con (I still have this dream to this day actually).
Finally when I turned 12 I made my very first cosplay, which was a vampire queen! I remember having a dark bluish purple dress made of a velvety material with black ribbons and accents to it. I had my own special fangs that fit to my teeth which I thought were the coolest thing ever I was also super into Twilight at this age also so that made me even more excited. I also had fake blood going down my face and did my own makeup to make myself look super pale with dark smoky eyes. My mom even bought me white and blue hair spray and we put white and blue streaks through my hair. I was so happy and from there I was hooked. My next costume I made was the Marvel Comics Character X-23, whose name is Laura Kinney. In short, she is a younger female clone of the hero Wolverine from the X-Men comics. She has claws like Wolverine but only has 2 instead of 3. I remember sitting down and going through hours of cosplay videos on YouTube on how to make the claws and ended up following one tutorial I found with my dad’s help. I was not allowed to operate power tools, probably until age 17 I think, but I just know my dad always assumed (and still does most likely) that I was going to cut my hand off or something like that. We got some craft wood and wires to make the claws similar to how the prop claws were made in the X-Men movies, and my dad let me paint them. He also helped me make my belt buckle and necklace that I painted, and my mom helped me make my gloves, choker, and took me thrifting for the rest of my costume.
It was at this point in my life that I wanted to pursue actually building a cosplay from head to toe like all of the people at conventions do, however I was always nervous being I did not know how to sew and did not understand things they used to make props. However, I joined Latin Club at Paxon this year and the wise Perkinator, Ms. Perkins, introduced me to the costume contests that were held in the creatives categories at forums. I then had the final spark in me to learn how to sew and under her many years of experience she helped me learn more skills. I still have my first fibula she showed me how to make out of wire and still peruse through the many costume and clothing books she recommended to me. I sewed my first costume, which was Calypso and my dad helped me build the raft, which for the costume was the raft she gives Odysseus to get off the island.
It was from this point I knew that I wanted to keep doing costumes. I would win 1st place at my Regional forum but only take 6th place at Florida state forum, being I did not follow rules for our note books (which was all on me). But the following year for Iphigenia I cracked down on my costumes big time! I would make a boat from the myth where she meets Orestes in Tauris and flees with him with the statue sacred to Artemis. The next year I made a chariot and did Hades and my final year I made another chariot for Tulia the Younger. The running joke I remember Ms. Perkins telling me is that in her costume stories she likes to tell her students that I would go down as “The Queen of Rolling Vessels” since all of my props were movable because I put them on wheels and pushed them through the convention halls.
It was always fun to try and take my props to state. I still remember my first chariot almost did not go being we could not get it through the back of the bus, but our bus driver gave us the idea to come through the side doors, turn the chariot on its side and carry it to the back, which was a job but it fit in the bus and I got it to state. My senior year was so emotional for me because that was the year I won 1st Place at States for my costume! I wanted to go to Nationals so bad, but I could not afford to go and I had no clue how I was going to get a chariot across the country.
In order at States I took 6th, 2nd, 3rd, then 1st Place, and I am so honored to have a teacher like Ms. Perkins to help teach me and keep me so excited about costumes. We would always dig through stories to find the weird and obscure myths so I could make unique costumes. She really was my biggest motivator to get more into costuming and for me to pursue cosplay as much as I do.
During this time also I was creating cosplays as well. I am going to include pictures of some of my bigger builds, but they include: Ravenger (DC Comics character with scale armor made of plastic spoons), Jasper (Steven Universe, my first go with body paint), My Original Grim Reaper, Sir Integra (an anime character from Hellsing, my first tailored suit and leather work), Ashi (Samurai Jack, my first head to toe build I sewed completely), Piranha Plant (Super Mario Bro, my first foam work and foam prop), Sindel (Mortal Kombat, my biggest cosplay to date, until I finish my next project, with my biggest weapon prop and first time working with LED lights). I am very proud of all of my costumes and I encourage anyone to cosplay. It is so fun to dress up like your favorite characters and to embody them. Even if its just for Halloween, give it a go! You do not have to know how to sew. You can go thrift shopping and piece and upcycle it together, or order clothes online. However you do it, just have fun with it!
As a side note, if you are interested in seeing any of my costumes and want to keep up with my work, I am on Instagram! My page is @Queen_of_Kings_Cosplays and you can see my projects I work on and the archive of all of my costumes!