To me, it started out as a ‘just because’ project since Silverhawks didn’t seem to be as popular as other fandoms, especially among 80’s cartoons. One of my friends had previously discussed the idea of being one of the Silverhawks, so my casual project motivated her to start building Steelheart, and seeing that progress motivated me into completing the full-body version of Bluegrass with NC Comicon Bull City as the target date. As for why I chose Bluegrass? I tend to be drawn to cosplaying ‘other guy’ characters that also happen to be pilots.
The most interesting story I have is meeting a guy who is a major Silverhawks fan and owns all the action figures mint-on card, which is quite incredible to hear. Beyond that, it was interesting to see how many people recognized it and called me out by character name. The costume was incredibly well-received and scored high in the nostalgia department. I’ve only worn this costume one day at one event and I’d say it’s my most commented and most- photographed cosplay so far.
NC ComicCon is a mid-sized con with multiple events in different cities throughout the year. Bull City in Durham is the one I’ve been attending the longest, every year since 2016, and that first visit was the first time I ever dressed up for a con. I’ve been to way-smaller and way-larger events, but this is a comfortable size. They don’t have many major celebrities (maybe one or two per event), but they do bring in a lot of guest artists and writers. There’s always a gala on Saturday night and a variety of panels each day. Bull City is awesome because the convention center is connected to the Carolina Theater, so they use that facility for larger-scale panels, film presentations and the cosplay showcase. My favorite part of this (and really, every con) is the portion devoted to cosplay. Over the past year, I’ve been more active in supporting the cosplay community by presenting at panels to teach painting and patterning foam armor.
The majority of my Bluegrass costume is made of shiny spandex. The pants were made using a store- bought legging pattern and the shirt was a custom template I made based on an athletic compression shirt. Shoe covers were made to fit over a pair of dressy boots and the entire head cowl was patterned to cover a 3mm foam helmet made to fit tight against my head. I wanted to replicate the lines and details of the cartoon as much as possible, so all those armor bits were created with EVA foam. This included the boot tops and major muscle groups (chest/back/arms/calves/etc). Those parts were painted with metallic blue paint and edged with a lighter blue to make them pop. These are all held in place with a combination of hook-loop fasteners and elastic bands.
Fun thing here is that all the elastic got wrapped in the same spandex used for the undersuit so that it would all blend in without me needing to find blue elastic. The hat was also made from EVA foam and the bandana was made but cutting a square of broadcloth and hemming the edges. The guitar was drafted to be full-size relative to my height while looking proportional when compared to the cartoon. It’s made mostly of foam board with a ½” PVC pipe running through the length of it for stability. Cool thing about the guitar is that I used wooden dowels for the strings, and they’re flexible enough that I can actually strum and pretend to play chords.
Cosplay has been a major social and creative outlet for me. The cool part is that you get to make something then take it to an event and actively share it with others. I’ve met so many awesome people both by attending cons and by networking through Instagram. It’s given me untold levels of inspiration and motivation and has given me a chance to help share creative knowledge and inspire others in their cosplay journeys.