So I have two rules about cosplay.
#1. Everyone Can Cosplay. It doesn’t matter your skillset; it doesn’t matter if you made it or bought it; it doesn’t matter what size you are, your age, your race, your able-bodiness. You Can Cosplay.
#2. If you’re not having fun building or being in cosplay, you’re doing it wrong. Sadly, in the past few years a lot of people have lost what is truly important about doing cosplay – enjoying yourself, the fandom, and connecting with others.
Trying to choose a new costume to build is always difficult but Zarya was the easiest choice to make. She’s big and bulky and has armor but the design is also very feminine, which I was definitely attracted to. I also love having a challenge for a build, and her cannon is likely the most challenging thing I have built to date.
The process to build her was fairly difficult, to be honest. I draft all the patterns myself out of poster board then in EVA foam. I had done armor before, but this used the most amount of heat forming and strategic cuts in foam to create the shapes for the armor. It was about a two month process to draft the patterns, create in foam, seal, prime, paint and weather. The wig is Arda’s Marty, which unfortunately was out of stock in the color i needed so I ended up dying a white wig to get the color I wanted. As a hairstylist, styling the wig was probably the easiest part of the entire costume.
When it came to the cannon, all hell broke loose. It took me about four months to build the cannon. In the end, the handle is pvc and the remainder is built in foam and cardboard and mostly hollow to string the lights through. It stands about 4 feet in length and I can barely fit it in my car! In addition to the big build, I also went through the process of learning how to program and wire lights using and Arduino Trinket Pro. There are over 150 LEDs in the build and they are powered by a very large portable phone charger battery pack.
Alright, so I’ll level with you. At least a handful of times at each con I’ve brought Zarya to, I get some… crazy requests. “Please sit on me.” “Crush my head between your thighs/biceps.” I take it in jest but offer them a lift! I’m lucky that I do have the lower body strength to lift most people. In fact, my next two conventions I am trying out a follower drive with the hashtag #doeszaryaevenlift. I’ve been going to the gym every day to get prepared, so keep an eye on the hashtag this summer.