May I introduce to you, Aspen from the Aspen Cosplay Collection. We met Aspen recently at Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX this past April. She was a panelist at Cosplay for Beginners and we also found her walking the convention floor. We thought it would be cool to get some insider tips about cosplay and how some of the local pros do it. So we met up with Aspen and got the chance to ask her some questions.
So Aspen, what do you have coming up?
For Salt Lake Comic Con I will be premiering 3 new costumes, Fantasy Con, 1 and for Denver Comic Con I will be premiering a new one.
What are you allowed to tell us at this point?
For Denver I am surprising the Umbrella Core (who is hosting me) with an Alice from the newest Resident Evil movie. They think that I’m bringing the Alice and Jill from the second Resident Evil so this is going to be fun to see how they react.
What can you tell us about the new Resident Evil costume?
It is a modified leather corset that we have attached buckles to. These buckles are no longer made by FOX racing, so we had to find replicas. We attached them with rivets to the corset and the boots. We also have to do wrist plates. The back is probably the most impressive part. The FOX buckles were made specifically for the film and as soon as they used all of the ones they made, they no longer made them anymore. It’s going to have a leather undersuit that we have cut holes and finished. That one was an adventure. It will have a brand new wig. We had to find mock guns, because her real guns are Chris Vector and those are about $400 apiece. So we got little GI Joe versions of them, which are modeled after the Chris Vector and we’ll paint them up until we can afford the real ones.
How did you get started cosplaying?
There was an ad placed for a girl to walk around as a peacock and I decided that I would take it. I ran into a guy on the job who was part of Heroic Inc, one of the local charity groups I’m in. He was talking about his Iron Man costume and told me that they costume for charity too. So I made my first Jasmine costume, which lead to my second Jasmine costume, which has spiraled into my bank account hating me.
We’ve heard a little about Heroic Inc during FanX, want to tell us more about it?
With Heroic, we do a lot with the Make a Wish foundation. So we have had a lot of our members go to the hospital to the children that can’t leave. We’ve had children that are on the Make the Wish list, have visits from Spiderman, Batman, stuff like that. They have events throughout the summer. In conjunction with Primary Children’s at the Zoo I’m dressing up as Jasmine with our group will go help this night be special for those kids.
Open ended question, tell us about your cosplay:
I love the fact that I can not be me, I don’t have to be Aspen the modern dancer, Aspen the ballet dancer, Aspen the gamer… I can be Alice from Resident Evil, I can be Miss Fortune from League of Legends, I can be Princess Jasmine from Disney. I can be anyone I want to be and that makes life that much more rich when I don’t always have to be me. I can be a princess. I can be a zombie slayer.
Tell us about fan response:
Fan response is a huge part of cosplay. It’s always awesome when people immediately know who you are. When I went to Denver Comic Con last year, I wore my first version of my Emma Frost and I immediately had people like “Emma Frost White Queen!” then with FanX this past April I wore Mafia Misfortune from League of Legends. It’s a growing community, so I didn’t expect very many people to know who I was. I got a lot of “gangster girl” and “mafia girl”, then I went to the League of Legends room and everyone was like “Mafia Misfortune!” and wanted to take pictures. That’s what makes it for me, is when someone knows who you are and you accomplish that costume.
So you’re at about 19 costumes and growing, tell us about your most complicated costume:
My most complicated is either my newest Alice or my Princess Jasmine. Princess Jasmine has a lot of different stitching types, a lot of different fabrics, a lot of different accessories. It also consists of real pearls, about four yards of pearls. All beaded around the bottom part of the bodice and around the V of her belt.
Where do you learn your sewing and building techniques?
My grandma was a seamstress for a bridal shop, so she knows a lot. But after redoing my Princess Jasmine for the second time, she told me, “You’re learning the basics then you’re on your own.”
For someone just getting started, how would you tell them to do it?
For sewing, just start off trying to sew a straight line. I still struggle sewing a straight line. I am fine with curves, I’m fine with circles. Once you have kind of a semi-straight line, then you move onto curves. Then you move onto very easy patterns like pajamas and stuff like that. Once you feel confident, or once you realize you don’t care anymore, move onto the pattern you want for your costume.
Do you base a lot of your costumes on patterns?
I do base a lot on patterns because I’m not very experienced in pattern making or altering yet. But I will this summer since I’ve got a seamstress that’s invited me to work with her.
Tell us about your armor making.
I have an armored Princess Jasmine that is inspired by the artist Mike Roshuk and he went through and redid all of the princess as warrior versions of themselves. A week before Salt Lake Comic Con I was hanging out with Carlson Armory and he’s like, “we can do this. I have EVA foam in 3mm we can do it.” We pretty much blew up the picture and cut up the different sections, laid it on me to get it proportional. Then you heat gun the foam and mold it onto your body. It’s a lot like Worbla which is a thermoplastic. We’ll be redoing the armor Jasmine with Worbla because it gives you a harder look. EVA foam can either give you a really smooth look and also almost leathery when it gets heat gunned. Worbla stays pretty hard. It actually looks kind of like metal when you paint it.
Where do you acquire EVA foam?
When you go the gym and you see the cushy floors.. it’s just that. You can get it at hardware stores, Harbor Freight sells them, Walmart. The cheapest way to get them is the cutout squares for your home gym. Just take some sandpaper and sand it down and you’ll have a clean base to go from. Cutting it, you can use scissors, razors, etc. Depends on your thickness and what you need. For mine, it was thick and layered so we had to use a bandsaw. Careful with the razors though, you can cut yourself easily. You can also use a wood-burner with a fine tip to create designs and do detail work. You can also run it along the edge so it rounds out.
What about forming Worbla?
Worbla is a thermoplastic that adheres to itself. You don’t need adhesive like you do with EVA foam. The problem with Worbla is that around 100 degrees, it starts to unmold itself. Which is why it isn’t used often in Utah because it does get over 100 degrees. So use a heat gun to mold it, then wherever you stick it it will hold it’s shape until it gets hot enough to unform. So we’re going to experiment with that and see how it goes.
What’s the next step for someone like you who is looking at going pro?
The next step we’re looking at is selling prints. That will be a good source of income to go back into making costumes. As well as making it so I can go to more conventions. If someone really wants to go pro, the first thing is getting your quality there. That means getting your seams and getting it accurate
It was fun catching up with Aspen and hearing more about what her upcoming plans are. Go like her on Facebook and you can get all the newest updates: https://www.facebook.com/AspenCosplayCollection