I came up with the idea when I first saw fanart of a gorgeous falcon from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. At the time I had no idea who the character was, but my friends who had seen the anime filled me in. They were already planning on cosplaying from the series, and I decided I had finally found the character I wanted to make to join them. After watching a good portion of the series I immediately got to work sketching out possible designs that would be easy to recognize. I actually hadn't thought to make my design completely human. I wanted to work my creativity to see how I could find a good medium, and so I decided to add distinct bird features such as the wings and feet. I went with wings for arms because I didn't want to look like an angel or a character from Maximum Ride *laughs* Also because I wanted to have a stronger presence as a bird. The talons were a given. If I were to cosplay a predatory bird I had to have his claws. Especially since I decided against having a beak. I knew the wings would be heavy and hot, so a beak would potentially cause breathing difficulties.
In one word, challenging. I actually decided to make Pet Shop with less than two weeks before the convention. I didn't even gather my supplies until maybe a week before as well. I made the boots first, since I immediately knew what I was going to do for them. Unfortunately I made the mistake of using the wrong paint for them, so they began to peel, but I learned my lesson. I worked on the helmet between drying time for the feathers of the wings. I'm very familiar with foam and worbla so that hardly took any time to make. And the blue and purple feathers on it were made with the same technique that I made my wing feathers. I actually found a tutorial by Sunnybrook1 on Deviantart that helped incredibly with the wings. I wanted to be able to imitate Pet Shop's stance, so I needed them to be flexible and articulate. I had to cut each individual feather out of felt, in two different colors for the front and back, and glue them to wires to make the shafts. There are a total of 22 feathers on either wing, 44 feathers total. The wings definitely took most of my time. Probably anywhere between 25-35 hours on them alone. I wasn't keeping track because I was in such a rush. The covers were very rushed as well. And I was even planning on making tail feathers! But due to lack of time, I have to save those for the next convention I bring him to. The clothes, scarf, and chain were made last, since they were very quick and very simple.
Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to make this costume without Anarchy Girls Cospace. It's a cosplay workshop in Utah (my home state) that supplies members with an area to work and a vast amount of tools to use. The only materials I had to buy for Pet Shop were my boots, gloves (inside the wings), and the felt for my wings! Everything else was supplied by Cospace or something I already had. They even allowed me to stay until 5am on multiple occasions to finish him! I'm extremely grateful for them and their help.
It was great! People were very vocal with compliments and many asked how I made my wings and feet. There was even a little kid that called me "birdie!" But of course there was also the inconvenience of having huge wings and weird shoes. I was forced to march slowly, making sure I landed flat-footed with each step, and even though my wings are flexible, the covers prevented them from fully folding in like I had hoped. That means I was walking slow (like a raptor) and I was big, which wasn't fun for congested hallways. People weren't exactly a fan of that. But I never had any terrible encounters, so no harm done!
Well, there were many people, even JoJo's fans, who didn't recognize me as Pet Shop at first. He's such an obscure character that had been partially humanized, and on top of that I used the color scheme from the manga, so I don't blame them for not recognizing me right off the bat. Though I have to admit I had been mistaken for Bird Person from Rick and Morty multiple times *laughs* My favorite moments were when I asked for hugs from people. My wings are flexible enough that I'm able to wrap my arms around someone and cover them in my feathers. It was always a fun experience and I made many people laugh. Also, since I didn't have hands, I actually had people shake the tip of my feather when I met them. Most interactions with people involved my wings. I even stroked the abs of one of my friends cosplaying Joseph Jostar. My feathers are rather soft so lots of people liked touching them.