The first-place winner of this year's Costume Voting Contest was the impressive costume shown above of Maiev Shadowsong. What's interesting about the character of Maiev is that she's never really been known for her facial features; the easily recognizable part about Maiev has always been her iconic armor. That armor was recreated here in an incredible, breathtaking costume by Mary Booth, aka Faliná from the guild Scandalous on Kel'Thuzad (US-A). When you're dealing with a character as well-known as Maiev, the details have to be correct, and Mary did an outstanding job. She looks as if she's just jumped out of the game!
Creating this kind of costume is an arduous task and takes months of work to get just right. Maiev wasn't Mary's first effort, nor will it be her last -- but it definitely made an impression at BlizzCon this year. Mary was kind enough to sit down and have a chat with us about Maiev, gaming, and next year's plans.
World of WarCrafts: Hi, Mary! So, how long have you been gaming, and what got you started with WoW?
Mary Booth: I first started gaming in the last 1990s when my family got its first computer. My gaming at that point mostly consisted of the classics Chip's Challenge and SkiFree, and as time went on, I graduated to games such as Diablo II and Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. In 2006, my brother began to play World of Warcraft, and it wasn't long before I followed suit. I created my account in early 2007 and created Faliná, my main character and holy paladin, not long thereafter. Today, my time playing the game has been reduced due to school and cosplaying, but when I do find time to play, it mainly focused around PvE and achievements.
Was Maiev your first costume, or have you created others?
I have attended BlizzCon for four consecutive years, and each year I have cosplayed a character from World of Warcraft. In 2008, I was a draenei holy paladin; 2009 was Tyrande Whisperwind; and in 2010, I was a night elf in druid tier 3 with the weapon Atiesh. 2011, of course, saw me as Maeiv Shadowsong. My first cosplay was pretty terrible, to say the least, but each year saw more and more improvement as I learned more about crafting costumes.
So how did you first get involved with cosplay?
I am often asked this question, and to be honest, the whole thing started fairly spontaneously. When doing research about what BlizzCon was like, I saw pictures of people dressed up as characters from Blizzard games. I thought that looks like fun and simply decided to make a costume. I am very lucky in that my mother is creative and has skills in art and sewing, and she was able to help me get off the ground in creating my earlier costumes. I attended my first BlizzCon in costume and had an absolutely amazing time. I was hooked, and I've been making costumes ever since.
I am very particular when it comes to choosing my cosplays, and deciding on Maiev was a long process. I had a list of things I wanted in my character: preferably Alliance, a similar body type to mine, preferably an NPC, and something recognizable. When I came upon Maiev Shadowsong, I knew I had found my woman. She fit the bill in every way -- except that she had an older model, and it was difficult to see just how her armor fit together. I debated for several weeks following BlizzCon 2010 about how I was going to tackle her suit of armor, but then Blizzard came to the rescue. The release of patch 4.0 saw new loading screens added to the game, and Maiev was featured in the new The Burning Crusade screen. The art depicted a beautiful, clean and sexy version of Maiev, complete with armor that seemed feasible. I took that picture and spent the next 10 months bringing Maiev to life.
Maiev is one of those characters whose appearance is defined by that iconic armor and weapons. How did you put together the costume? What kind of materials did it take?
For me, creating the perfect Maiev was not just getting the armor right. I studied everything about her: her story, her friends and enemies, where she lived. She has a very strong personality, to say the least, and I felt that not upholding that personality would be doing a disservice to her character. I made a list of words that described her and her appearance and set about making a costume that fit within that description.
Wonderflex and insulation foam were the two materials that I used the most in the creation of the costume. The bulky items, suck as the shoulders and weapon, were carved from blocks of foam. The helmet, chestpiece, and thigh guards were mostly Wonderflex. The armor was then covered using gesso and light modeling paste and sanded smooth. Sanding became my life for many months and was the most arduous task in the costume's creation. I knew that metallic paint would show every single dimple, mark, or rough spot that existed on the armor, and so I sanded and sanded until everything was as smooth as I could make it. At one point, I ended up having to put tape around my fingertips because they were raw from hours of sanding.
The scrollwork and designs on the costume were the result of hours of studying night elf art and architecture. In the game of World of Warcraft, I personally took my character to Mount Hyjal and explored the Barrow Dens, where Maiev held Illidan prisoner for 10,000 years. I copied the art on the architecture and items in that area and incorporated them into the costume. I also went to the city of Darnassus and used the art that is on the ceiling of the Temple of the Moon for the designs that ended up on my chestpiece, helmet, and shoulder armor.
The armor was then painted with a metallic acrylic paint and was ready for BlizzCon. I was nervous that something would break while at the convention, but luckily everything held together very well and I ended up having an amazing time.
What was the most challenging part of putting the costume together?
The most difficult part of making my costume was getting through the tedious aspects of it. The time I spent sanding and painting was maddening, though it was eased by the fact that I could also use that time to camp rare spawns in World of Warcraft. My main character's Phosphorescent Stone Drake is a testament to the time I spent on my costume.
Another aspect of my costume that I found difficult was the eyes on my helmet. Maiev has green eyes (despite the fact that she is a night elf), and so I toyed with several ideas as to how I would create that effect. I decided to use some type of plastic but had a very difficult time finding something that would work. Then one day, I went to my local Michael's store to pick up some supplies and found a package of green plastic eating utensils in the sales rack. As a result, the eye pieces in the helmet were made from two plastic spoons that cost me less than a dollar.
Are you planning any costumes for next year?
My costume for BlizzCon 2012 is shaman tier 5 with the Fist and Claw of Molten Fury. I had a very, very hard time deciding what I was going to do this year. Nothing seemed to fit what I wanted, so I began to think of weapons that I really like, and the Fist of Molten Fury and Claw of Molted Fury immediately came to mind. Shaman tier 5 matches those weapons perfectly, and so my mind was made.
Sounds amazing! Any advice for those wanting to try their hand at cosplay?
My advice to people who are new to cosplay is to make something simple and reasonable for your first attempt. A simple dress with a simple staff, for example. Cosplaying at an event like BlizzCon can be very tiring and stressful. You will get stopped every couple of feet, asked to pose for hours, and you have to be presentable and friendly through it all. It's not for everybody, and it's best to learn about these things while wearing something simple and easy. If you find that cosplaying is for you, though, it can be one of the most amazing things that you will ever do. BlizzCon has quickly become one of the highlights of my year, and I love every second of it.
Additional advice to those thinking about cosplaying would be to sketch everything out and come up with a complete and comprehensive list of supplies that you'll need. That way when stores have holiday sales and coupons, you know what you need and you can take advantage of it. Costumes can become very expensive very quickly, and if you're smart about it, you can make beautiful costumes that won't break the bank.
Thanks for chatting with us, Mary -- I look forward to seeing a fiery shaman at BlizzCon next year!
If you'd like to see more of Mary's work, you can check out Falina Cosplay on Facebook.
World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including arts and crafts, fan art, WoW-themed recipes, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing email@example.com with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.