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kangelicx (Washington DC)

(photo: @quachstar.jpg)

I started making my costumes at the age of 12. I learned about cosplay through my love of art, movies, and gaming. As a child I would enter my art into local art contests, designing clothes and making a lot of craft projects with my grandmother for fun. When I was able to attend my very first convention in 2015 in my first self-made costume, I knew in my heart that cosplay was the direction that I wanted to take with my artistic vision. There were so many amazing artists and people who liked a lot of the same things that I did!

My first convention experience was very inspiring to me. I started out using clothes from my closet and random objects in my house to make costumes. My grandmother taught me the basics of sewing and I later gravitated towards foam work. I entered my first cosplay competition at the age of 14 competing with cosplayers of all ages. It was very intimidating at first but I was in awe at the excitement and the passion in the room.

Throughout my years in high school, I dedicated my free time to making these costumes. I would make at least two full builds per school year. I always had a rule for myself that within every project there must be one technique that I have never tried before. This kept a balance between growing my knowledge while also not overwhelming myself.

At the age of 17, I entered my very first international contest for a video game company and I made it into the top four for the journeyman division. Cosplay has taught me a lot about trusting the process and the power of self expression. Wall-e is the first project that I have made ever since graduating in 2022. After mainly focusing on foam based builds for many years, I decided to venture into further developing my sewing knowledge. At the start of a new chapter of college, I knew that I had to start a new chapter in cosplay as well!

Growing up neurodivergent, Wall-e was a character that stood out to me the most. I had an obsession with Wall-e and had told my parents that I wanted a real-life Wall-E. For Christmas, I was given a Wall-e toy that could talk and it is one of my most memorable moments. What Wall-E means to me today in life is Inspiration and hope. It’s a timeless movie that I can watch and still feel like I’m watching it for the first time. In the summer of August 2022, I accomplished the goal of winning best in show for the very first time, and how I chose to celebrate by watching Wall-E and eating my favorite food. What inspired me to do this cosplay was my emotional support dog, Stella. She had been with me for 13 years of my life. The last movie I watched with her was Wall-e. After the challenges I faced, I wanted my next project to be close to my heart.

In many of my original costume designs, I like to tell a story through them and reference important details that are crucial to the plot and the character’s identity. For my Wall-e cosplay, I wanted to capture the love that I have for the story and create something that has never been done before. I wanted to show the statement that the story of Wall-e makes about protecting the earth and the importance of community.

Since the story takes place in space and on land, I decided to make the outside of the dress represent the journey that takes place on Earth and the inside represent the journey of space. I chose to include references to Eve and Wall-e’s space dance as well as characters that helped them along the way inside the skirt.

(photo: @quachstar.jpg)

On the outside is a tree made of trash sprouting from the boot. This idea came from the very end of the credits of the movie Wall-e. I just found out about this detail this year after many times of watching this movie. The tree is made of trash to represent all the work that it took to bring the earth back to its initial state. I also painted Wall-e and Eve holding hands while looking up at the tree that they grew together. I chose the tree art scene because when I finally noticed it after all these years it moved me emotionally and I knew that it was the best scene to represent my vision. The body suit and harness idea had sparked from the character Panam from one of my favorite games “Cyberpunk 2077”.The story of Wall-e and cyberpunk have a lot in common when thinking about the advancement of technology and the lack of nature. Panam is a representative of the Nomads in “Cyberpunk 2077” and lives out in a wasteland of frequent sand storms and abandoned houses. I loved the design of the character Panam’s bodysuit and so I based that part of the costume off of her outfit. I felt like it is the perfect balance of being fashionable while also being wasteland survivable. Because I am cosplaying the humanized version of Wall-e I decided to have myself wear the plant boot instead of holding it.

This costume took me a total of 7 months to work on it little by little every day. I am a full-time college student so it was definitely hard to balance this project.

A few of the highlighted details that this costume includes are hand-painted details, hand-drawn templates/patterns, recycled items, movie references, and two secret compartments including a functional bag. There is an estimate of 242 bottle caps, 40 straws, 300 crystals, and 302 pieces of trash total so far in the making of this costume. I am still adding more and more to this costume so these numbers will grow in the future. Every prop was drawn out on paper and templated by hand. All foam pieces were smoothed out using sanding blocks. The cooler prop is made from EVA foam, cardboard,and a handle from a plastic table. The fire extinguisher prop is made from EVA foam and recycled plastic.

Wall-e’s pet roach was made using wire, modeling foam, and regular foam. I added Velcro to the belly of it and some to my solar panel chest plate so that I could hold it in my hand and also have a place for it to sit on. The solar panel was completely made from foam and I weathered it by creating a rust effect out of paint. I weathered the dress and bodysuit by mixing water and brown paint. I then took this paint and splattered it onto the dress. To create sun damage, I repeated the same process with dark yellow paint. The inside of the dress was bedazzled and painted by hand. I sketched each character out using white paint and then filled in the details.

A feature that I was the most excited about was that my Wall-e goggles are functional and I can see through them! Although I cannot cover all of the details in a short amount of time, I will be releasing a YouTube video of all of the work in progress for this costume!

(photo: @quachstar.jpg)

Through cosplay I have learned to pace myself and create a healthier work routine. It is very important to give yourself time to rest and not be so hard on your work. Practice makes progress! I have learned many different techniques as well as inspiration from my past projects. There are many first-time aspects of this costume as I had not sewn anything more than various-sized rectangular pieces of fabric.

This was a very challenging build as I had a lot of trial and error with the dress train and did my best to replicate my design. There were many moments when I felt like it was impossible! Ever since completing this cosplay, I have learned more about fabric paints, sewing techniques, pattern making, and more! The hardest process to learn was definitely making the shape of the train and getting it to flow effortlessly with all of the weight added to it. I also learned how to make my costumes easily removable so that I can take more breaks during the long drawn-out convention days.

After debuting this costume I have had many people tell me that my costume inspired them to rewatch the movie and it has brought them back to the nostalgia. Another key reference is the keychain on my cooler purse. This was a piece that I saved over the years of my original Wall-e toy that I had as a kid.

As a tribute to my younger self, I incorporated this piece into my costume. The talented artist @draw.sirah had surprised me with a crocheted Eve as a good luck charm for my first time debuting Wall-e. A major goal for this costume would be for it to be shared with the original creators of Wall-e and the cast! That would be a dream come true! Happy 15th anniversary Wall-e!

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