We’ve always said that the Cosplay community are utterly fantastic, with people pulling together, sharing ideas, fixing costumes at cons and so on. With Cloudskimmer Cosplay we have an awesome pair who have brought to life some stunning creations. Read on to find out more!
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
We started Cloudskimmer Cosplay to share our adventures learning new techniques, making costumes, and attending conventions. We are a cosplay duo and real life couple (Rachel DeJonge and Shawn Moore) based out of Indianapolis, IN. We strive to bring our favorite anime, video game, and movie characters to life.
What or who inspired you to Cosplay?
Rachel – I have always loved wearing costumes: dressing up for Halloween, dancing ballet in beautiful tutus, and donning gowns for the Michigan Renaissance Festival. My mom taught me to sew young but until three years ago I hadn’t made much beyond pillows or simple embroidery. I jumped in with both feet for my first big costumes- Asuna and Kirito from Sword Art Online to wear to our first convention Indiana Comic Con. After seeing all of the gorgeous costumes there, I was hooked and immediately started planning what costumes to make next. I have been inspired by other Indiana cosplayers such as Super Kayce, James T. Wulfgar, and Mogchelle who have been nothing but helpful and encouraging, as well as more conventionally famous cosplayers like Yaya Han and Jessica Nigri.
Shawn – I got into cosplay due to an interest in video games, anime, and TV. Rachel made costumes for Ren fairs and once I got her into anime she wanted to try her hand at some costumes. She made some for Halloween and eventually we started going to conventions.
Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
Rachel – Most of our early cosplays were from anime as I find it easier to passably match appearance to an animated character than to a real actor. Lately we have been attempting to branch out to other genres. Because we cosplay as a couple, we usually coordinate characters which can be a bit challenging to find characters we both are interested in portraying. I usually gravitate towards strong female characters with traits that I either share or look up to.
Shawn We started out doing mostly anime because we like the costumes and they have really unique details. Lately we’ve been trying to do more video games and superhero movies that we enjoy.
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
Rachel – The most challenging costumes that I have made so far are Ermac and Kitana from Mortal Kombat. Pulling these cosplays off required me to learn how to wire LEDs, cast resin,work with thermoplastics, and style a wig in addition to sewing the costumes themselves. They were truly a composition of the trial an error from all of my previous costumes,so I am immensely proud of how they turned out. All of the costumes that I have made have been enjoyable for different reasons. I adored wearing Rapunzel because of the pure joy it seemed to bring to kids. I also really enjoy when people recognize the characters we are cosplaying; we get tons of photo requests for the more mainstream costumes such as Sailor Moon and Princess Peach but I am especially pleased when people recognize our less mainstream costumes such as Princess Lenessia from the anime Log Horizon.
Shawn – Ermac for both. A lot went into the costume, and Rachel did a great job on it while I helped with a few of the lighting things. Wearing it was exhausting, hot and the mask put a lot of pressure on my face. But people really loved the lighting details we did and we got some great photos out of it.
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
Rachel – Sure! After choosing a character, I amass as many photos to use as a reference as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to find pictures of the back of a character so I may have to go to the source show/game to get screenshots to use. I don’t really have a set order that I work on costumes, usually I just do bits and pieces in the evenings after work; I often work on several costumes at once so it is somewhat chaotic trying to keep track of what needs to be finished. I try to make as much of the costumes as I can by myself, usually making or editing all pieces. For the costumes themselves, I either modify or draft patterns. I style and cut my own wigs, although it is one of the hardest tasks for me. When making armor, I use either worbla or wonderflex. Lately, I have been experimenting with adding lighting effects with LEDs and casting with resin. No matter how much I try to plan ahead, it is always a mad dash to finish the costume the nights before the convention.
Shawn – I mostly help with the props or lighting now. Helping to sand down a giant axe from an insulation foam sheet or soldering wires is my new forte.
Which Conventions have been the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
Rachel – My favorite convention so far is GenCon. I love walking around and trying out all of the tabletop games. Also, it is just huge with so many panels and activities to participate in. I really enjoy scavenger hunts, quiz game shows, and costume contests. I have also really enjoyed Ohayocon and Indy Pop Con. We are lucky living in Indianapolis as there are many conventions downtown and within easy driving distance.
Shawn – I really liked GenCon in Indianapolis. We like board games so it was really fun to just walk around and enjoy yourself while finding new things to buy each day. We’re spoiled in Indy because of all of the cons, and there’s a few awesome cosplayers around here we’ve been getting to know and it’s a blast seeing them and their costumes each time.
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
Rachel – Whenever we wear Disney costumes the reactions from kids are priceless. I love how excited they get, it makes the hard work crafting worthwhile. Also, we were stopped for photos nearly constantly when we wore Ermac and Kitana at Indy Comic Con; the LED glowing eyes were a huge hit!
Shawn – We started with Sword Art Online, and people either really love or really hate that show, but you get a lot of recognition that way. Either way, it’s always cool to have someone recognize you and discuss why they love or hate the show. We went as Rapunzel and Flynn from Tangled, and little kids love Rapunzel and her hair. I think my favorite moments were seeing little girls looking at Rachel from a distance, afraid to say hello.
Other than that, it was really cool to see people like the lights on Ermac. We put a lot of thought into how to do that and it is awesome it turned out well.
A question about photographers. Obviously cosplayers are a dream come true for photographers, great outfits and poses, does it ever get a bit tiring having to pose endlessly for them, and how do you prefer to be approached by a photographer?
Rachel – I love being approached by photographers! I put a lot of work into the costumes that we wear and I love to see that other people enjoy what we created. I will pose for photos all day! Now I don’t like when people take photos without indicating their intent beforehand; just ask and we will pose for you. The only time I don’t want to be approached is when I’m eating; just let me finish and I will be more than happy to take pictures with you afterwards.
Shawn – It is definitely tiring by the end of the day but I love it when people or photographers want pictures. At conventions I think there is nothing wrong with someone running up to us and asking for a picture, it’s awesome. A few photographers give us their cards and ask if we’re interested in doing a shoot sometime. That means a lot, because it means they really like your work. In the end, I feel like if you’re cosplaying you usually don’t have any issue with photographers asking for pictures. Just make sure to communicate with them on the limitations of your costume or if you need breaks because of fatigue.
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
Rachel – Cosplaying has been an amazing experience. I have met so many cool and talented people in the Indiana cosplay community. I have made things and learned skills that I didn’t dream possible just a few years ago. It’s great having a hobby that allows me to bring my favorite characters to life.
Shawn – It has given us a fun hobby, and now when we watch things we’re always wondering about if we’d like to do it as a costume. It also has led to many conventions and new friends with like-minded interests. It has definitely been a huge positive in my life.
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
Rachel – If you aren’t careful cosplay can be very expensive, so planning is really important. Make a pattern or even make a muslin version before cutting into the real material. The upfront costs to buy tools such as a sewing machine, heat gun, etc. can also add up. The best advice that I can give to someone starting out cosplaying is to not get frustrated when things don’t work out. They will not always work out, things will break or not lie right and it can get really old repeating work, but in the end the final product will make it worthwhile.With the internet at our fingertips, it really is possible to learn any skill you put your mind to so I encourage anyone interested in cosplaying to give it a try.
Shawn – Just do it. Nobody just has these talents or doesn’t. And Google. “How do I make my eyes glow??!?” “Google..” You find so many interesting ideas, tutorials, websites, cheap materials..the internet is a great place. Before you know it you have tons of different techniques you can employ.
Also, start with something you like that may be simple, work your way up. It doesn’t matter if people will recognize you or not. We have done some lesser known anime and it usually ends up with people asking who you are, where you’re from, and maybe you’ve tuned someone in to something new they may like.
Photographs courtesy of:
Level Up Photography
Little Professor Productions
R Rhymes Photography