I have been so excited for months about this build. The beginning of the year marks a new year of new cosplay. and I'm so excited to share this with you.
This will be the 4th year I'll be applying for Crown Championship of Cosplay at C2E2.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with C2E2 and Crown Championships -
"C2E2 stands for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo. It’s the largest pop culture convention in the Midwest. C2E2 espouses that all nerds need a place to call home. Whether you’re a fan of comic books, cosplay, video games, anime, TV shows, movies, books, wrestling, comedy, or anything else – C2E2 is your home for good and geeky times."
"The C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay, presented by SINGER, is the largest and most prestigious cosplay competition in the world. Don't miss its return to Chicago on Saturday March 23, 2019. This is the final stop in the ReedPOP’s 2018 Global Championships of Cosplay competition circuit. The C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay will feature regional cosplay champions from around the world. Countries represented include the United States, Australia, China, Austria, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Korea, France, the UK, and South Africa. Cosplayers will battle it out for over $10,000 in cash prizes as well as the title of Global Champion of Cosplay."
I was blessed and lucky to be able to qualify for 3 years in a row, so if I get in this year it will be year 4 for me.
As you can see, each year I have a different genre that I represent.
Year 1 - Comic Books: Galacta - Daughter of Galactus
Year 2 - Video Games : Queen Myrrah - Gears of War
Year 3 - Board Games: Phoenix Monster - Rising Sun by cool Mini or Not
You can check out my previous builds from years past below, or click HERE to take you to the behind the scenes from each year that I competed.
How do contestants get selceted to compete?
Read the interview I did from last year on this article -
So this year's build is - drum roll please!
Arthenya VI, The Archpapess
by Raging Heroes
Arthenya Vi is part of the amazing line of miniature figures from Raging Heroes - the company behind TGG (Toughest Girls in the Galaxy).
Let's talk about Raging Heroes and TGG
I chose a design from this company because not only do they have award winning, intricate and customizable RPG and wargaming minis, but they have created characters that are all inclusive of female age and body types. Check out these characters:
Constantly hailed as the best minis on the market, Raging Heroes miniatures are for the discerning wargamer who only want the most badass, beautiful and full of character miniatures. - RagingHeroes.com
I had a hard time choosing between Arthenya and The Phoenix Monster last year, but for the sake of time, I reserved Arthenya design for this year.
Note: This is NOT a sponsored build.
Yes, I have communicated with Raging Heroes for the reference photos and preferred colors and materials for this build, but I was never compensated for any of the materials or picking the character, etc.
"Why her? The reason why I chose this character because I wanted to represent a character from Raging Heroes. The company shows very diverse characters in their miniature sets that are inclusive of females of different age, race and body type. And it would be an honor for me to represent one of the Toughest Girls in the Galaxy and highlight a company that promotes female inclusivity in a male dominated genre". - Monica Paprocki, Geeks A Gogo
Red (My favorite color). Check.
Intricate armor piece. Check.
Corsetted back. Check.
Challenging sewing. Check.
Incorporating a new skill. Check.
Tall headpiece to fulfill my Napoleon complex. Check.
Here's an excerpt from the company website about the inspiration for creating Arthenya:
The Process- Character Design
"When we start brainstorming about a new character, we want to answer a few different questions: who she is, what will make her stand out, what is her unique trait, what makes her likeable, etc.".
"For example, when we worked on Arthenya, the Sister’s ArchPapess, we wanted an older but very elegant woman, someone visibly in her sixties or more, yet still very classy and elegant. She needed to look like a queen and be very charismatic. She would need to look very powerful but not through a display of strength or heavy weaponry.
We start with such a description then dig deep into details.".
The Mood Board
"Once we have this, Benoit, the Art Director, looks for references and assembles a mood board. In the case of Arthenya, one of the key things was to find an older woman that we could “cast” for the role. Benoit had Carmen Dell'Orefice (the oldest working supermodel) in mind since the beginning. Carmen is a very famous super model still working at 87 years old! Her sharp silhouette and attitude, her hair style, her hawk like features were a perfect reference from which to start the character."
You can find more information in this page on the site:
I asked Raging Heroes more questions about Arthenya Vi and Benoit Guerville (the co-founder and Art Director of Raging Heroes) ended up creating a video to show the background of the character:
They are still working on an RPG game for their characters and they will be launching it on Kickstarter once it's ready.
GET READY FOR A LONG READ!
Or just look at the progress pics, if you like. LOL!
Arthenya is such an intricate design. But if you know me by now, I'm always up for a new challenge. And so I accepted the grueling months that followed trying to figure out how to build the entire thing. I gave myself a lot of time and started early- something that I have never really done for myself before this year in every competition that I'm in. Balancing the build, plus running my website, and going to my regular 9-5 job was a lot, but I'm happy I did what I planned and now I have enough time to test and tweak anything I need to before C2E2. What I am very anxious about is - THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEE that I could be chosen for the contest. But chosen or not, I plan to bring this to the convention.
For months leading towards the build, I have been training myself with sewing. I have been doing simple sewing projects for cosplay that I've been wearing to events. And it paid off!
The Open Front Panniers
The first try was not bad at all, but it didn't allow for much structure so I had to quickly recreate one that's more open in the front and longer. I ordered a cage from amazon and basically draped muslin on top of it. Then I cut out my fabric, and made the casing for the metal from the cage (had to take the ribs out and cut them shorter. I completely butchered the cage and ended up with a custom sized, open front pannier that held the structure of the skirt better.
Build time: 2 days
The Reversible Corset
This was by far the hardest part of the build! Although I used a pattern, working with slippery fabric like this silky brocade and velvet was a huge challenge. Both fabrics need to line up perfectly. I did a mock up first, because my torso is shorter and thicker than the pattern. I adjusted accordingly and then lined up both fabrics before sewing them together.
As I have mentioned before, I want a lot of the pieces from this cosplay to be wearable by itself, so I can reverse the corset to use the other side, or use the embroidered side with another nice skirt for an evening gala or event.
Build time: FOREVER! I lost count. Probably 2.5 months
The Red Petticoat
This was the most fun to make and I was so excited to make this because it's super girly and frilly. I also found a Youtube tutorial on how to use your sewing machine to make ruffles without even having to pull on the thread to ruffle the fabric out. I also found a another tutorial on how to make a skirt with your own measurements instead of using a pattern. I did just that, and it worked! I made sure each layer of ruffle was measured out, and the result was a clean and even layer of ruffles on the petticoat.
Build time: 4 days
The Brocade Cross Petticoat
As if it wasn't hard enough to work with slippery fabric, I had to line up the patterns too! Double sided hem tape to the rescue! I'm telling you, it was a game/life changer! Before cutting and sewing the fabric, I made sure it all lined up perfectly. I used the same method for creating this as I did the red petticoat.
Build time: FOREVER (probably 2.5 months)
The Victorian Collar
I was most excited for this piece! Talk about wearable pieces - this one was a lot easier than I thought. I finally found the perfect lace from ebay with the colors that stayed true to the colors in my reference photo. I made a wire frame with 9 gauge wire, then sandwiched it between stiff, black tulle and a layer of black Chantilly lace. I ended up with big lace circles. Then I layed out my lace and pined to the fabric before doing a blanket stitch to secure. I added a layer of ruffled lace to hide the wire more, since I can still see some peaking out of the lace.
Build time: 3 Days
So I started out using a pattern for this, but realized that I didn't have enough fabric. So I made mine smaller and shorter. Long story short, I ended up with chaps because I have a big behind. LOL! It was the funniest thing ever! So, good to note--this is why I don't live-stream my builds! Luckily I had enough muslin to make another pair. Viola! Pantaloons, done.
Build time: 4 hours
The Boot Covers
I don't know what kind of magic you guys have for making these so fast, but it's probably also because I am making this with vinyl and not any type of stretchy fabric. But I finally figured it out and here's the results!
Build time: 4 days
Duct tape pattern, to the rescue! This piece was custom because I needed something that had sleeves, but has an open back to make way for the cathedral harness. I started with a mock up, and recreated it once I got my main fabric. I did mutton sleeves and a few more surprise details on thei piece.
Build time: 1 day
I initially used a pattern, but I decided to create my own. This is reinforced with cardboard and craft felt and despite the hand-beaded designs, it's still light enough to wear for a few hours. I enjoyed the beading part the most, because it reminds me a lot of how they had beading on the religious relics on the Catholic churches in the Philippines. And I took inspiration from my Santo Nino that I brought from the Philippines with me.
Build time: 5 days
The Cape with Hood
Not the most sophisticated part of the build, but I love the little trim and the opening at the back to allow for the cathedral straps to go through. This was made with silk taffeta from on-line fabric retailer, Silk Baron in the color Grenadine and lining I bought from Textile Discount Outlet in Chicago.
Build time: 3 hours
The Main Skirt
I had the hardest time draping this taffeta fabric. I do think I was overthinking it. I ended up sewing all the beads into laces, ribbons and silk fabric before sewing the appliques to the skirt. It gave it a great foundation and structure, and I think the contrast makes it look amazing.
Build time: 3 days
Attaching beads: 1 week
The Custom 3D Printed Beads
A lot of the beading for this ensemble was hard to find. Or rather non-existent. So I decided to 3d print the beads myself. Designing the beads with the right size, and look required me to learn a whole new set of skills in designing and testing 3D prints. Selecting the right color filament and working with the material took some time to get right,and required a lot of testing of print speeds and temperatures. But in the end, this was the only way to get the right beads for this dress. With 3D printing, it's super easy to print everything under the sun, if someone has already designed the item you want to print and shared the designs online. But for this costume, I had to make everything from scratch! The same goes for the cathedral rose windows as well. And it was a PAIN! I had to make sure that the bed was level, and the temperature was correct for the gold filament that I was working with. The square beads were easier to print than the round ones, which took 5 or 6 re-designs to get right. As well, to ensure quality, I printed each bead one at a time. My husband helped keep an eye on each print because I don't have all day to sit there and make sure everything lined up each time one printed.
Build time: 1 week per bead type (3 weeks total)
Attaching beads to ribbons: 2.5 weeks
My second favorite part of the build is this staff. It was hard trying to form a light frame for the top part to form a "?" shape without it weighing everything else down. I used Worbla for stability. I played around with LED lights versus LED tape. LED light had a stronger illumination. I built this knowing that I can't just "slap everything together", because with electronics, one has to make sure they will still have access to the parts if repairs are needed. I put this together so as to hide my wiring, but keeping it just below the surface in case something goes wrong. To get the wirnig right, I used Kamui's advance lights book on cosplay. I was also inspired by her Monster Hunter video.
Build time: 1 week