Jackie Craft Cosplay: Building Quality
I love cosplay. I don't love doing it myself as much, but I love that it exists. I think it makes cons much more lively, gives people an outlet for expression, and builds a fun community. I also have made some amazing friends that are cosplayers like Matilda Cayne Cosplay/Adventures In Cosplay. They have made some of the most fun and vibrant cosplays I've ever seen, especially for groups and children. They do it for fun and people in our area of Con Life have come to expect amazing things from them. Their experiences doing this stuff have not only enriched the lives of their family, but also of every con that they attend, and that's primarily a result of the tireless work of Russell and Candice who make such amazing costumes. Outside of just being amazing people, that's what I admire about them and the fantastic things they build. That brings me to another amazing cosplayer, Jackie Craft.
Jackie Craft is a statuesque Amazon of a lady who also is kinda sorta a scientific genius, a complete dork, and extremely compassionate and loving to the people in her life. She is also one of the most skilled builders I've known in the world of cosplay. The first time I saw her was at NC Comicon in 2014. She was walking around the hall dressed as Poison Ivy, and while the costume was cool, what caught my eye the most was this giant Mario style piranha plant she was carrying around (which I later found weighed more than your average hefty toddler). She won the cosplay contest that year at NC Comicon and I hit her up on Facebook a little bit later to congratulate her and began to talk to her occasionally after that. The next time I ran into her was at Wizard World Raleigh.
I was there primarily to see David Tennant and take a picture with him (while of course wearing the Faith & Fandom Doctor Who Shirt as a shameless plug). While I was there, some friends and I ran into Jackie in the lobby where she was decked out in her custom armor she had crafted as the Lich King from World Of Warcraft. This stuff was phenomenal. The armor was gorgeous and super detailed, and the presence of it was downright intimidating. Then came Frostmourne. She had crafted this giant sword that was over half my height, and had some intense weight to it. I went home from that day super stoked from meeting David Tennant, but equally impressed from seeing what Jackie had built. I wasn't the only one that was impressed though because from there Jackie was picked up by Wizard World to become a featured cosplayer for their shows. After only two shows cosplaying she was now a professional in the industry (even though she has too much humility to see it that way). Part of her life now consists of traveling around amidst the biggest celebrities in pop and geek culture, showing off her craftsmanship and instructing others on how to do the same. It has been amazing to see her journey so far, but like all other geeky things in my life I see some parallels between her journey and ethic, and how it applies to our lives spiritually.
What do you want to build?-
In your world, in your life, in your time on this earth, what do you want to build? Is it a social structure, a relationship, a legacy, a force, a movement? Most of us go through our days without ever having the clear concept of what we want to accomplish in our lives. We just have a couple small steps in front of us, but no end game. It's hard to build something if you don't know what you want to build. Jackie has always been really great in keeping the people who follow her updated on what she is building currently and what she wants to build. Right right now she is currently making a Dredge from Banner Saga 2. She posted a photo of what the character looked like and has spent weeks building this thing. She has posted photos and updated the process almost step by step. So she knows fully what she is planning to build. In your life, you need to know too.
Check out what took place with Nehemiah.Nehemiah 2:4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Nehemiah stood before a king, and was asked the question "What do you want?" This is question you answer with your actions daily. Nehemiah had an
idea, but first he took time to pray to God, good call. He wanted to build something. He wanted to rebuild Judah. When he was asked, he had the answer, so let me ask you, what do you want to build with your life?
What do you need to build it?-
Everything created in this life requires something. Whether it's our time, materials, finance, sleep, duct tape, or sanity, if you have a goal of something you want to build in this life, you need to be real with yourself and know what it is going to require of you.
The stuff that Jackie builds doesn't just come from random junk she finds around the house, like when I cosplay. No. She carefully orders specific materials that will be moldable, durable, and will actually accomplish what she wants. This goes from everything from foam to Worbla (a word I never heard of until I met her, but is now fresh on the lips of every cosplayer I know). I sat in one of her panels at VA Comicon where she talked about how the wrong materials had failed her in the past, and that even using the right material in the wrong circumstances could prove dangerous or even fatal.
The right materials are absolutely crucial.
Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’Knowing what it is going to take can sometimes be intimidating, or daunting. It may seem like the investment is just going to be to great, but if it's worth building, it's worth everything you put into it. Are you ready?- When you know what you want to build, and you know what it will take, the next thing you have to do is actually be ready to build it. That doesn't mean you have to be able to build something all at once, or do it even in a rigid time frame. It just means you need to be prepared to actually see your vision through as you build, that you give yourself the space, the time, and the permission to dive into it, and that it will have your attention. If you don't make an effort to actually be ready to build things in your life you'll find that you end up just having a desire, but never following through with action. I've seen that when Jackie plans to build, outside of materials there is a lot of preparation that goes into it. She has a workshop that this stuff gets built in, and her space has to be prepared in order to make it happen. She has Con appearances she has to make and has to accommodate her schedule to work the build into her time frame. She also has to manage a "real world" life outside of this as well. Building these amazing creations takes preparations and she has to know she is ready and able when she begins. We need to know that we are ready in our life as well. Proverbs 24:27 27 Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready;after that, build your house. Getting your life ready to build these things is the first step in actually arriving at your goals. Remember those who help you build- Most often when we build things in our lives, we aren't going to do it alone. Yeah, right now I'm sitting at my desk at 2:19 AM in my Loot Crate Star Wars pajamas typing this thing, and no one is here with me. Even though no one is holding my hand while I type this, people are still alongside me in this process. My wife supports me and encourages me to take time to do this. Somewhere between me typing this and you reading it, several people are going to review this and edit it. Anytime you are building something, there will be people who helped you in the process either directly or indirectly, and it's
important to remember those people.
In the building process Jackie has operated as lone builder for her projects, but she has been a huge help to other cosplayers. She has built, painted, and guided friends who were doing projects. She's also provided workshops panels, and helped guided people through sharing what she has learned so far. In years to come, people are going to be able to give a lot of credit to Jackie on helping get going in their cosplay and crafting careers. Ezra 5:4 "They also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?”" While the temple was being rebuilt, King Darius wanted to know the names of those where were working to make it happen; never forget those who helped you build. Make it the best you can- One of the reasons I admire Jackie so much as a builder is because she takes the time to make what she builds actually be a quality work. When you see her armor and props, you can tell she has put serious hours, resources, materials, and effort into it. If you follow her on Facebook, you will often see her grueling process these works of art take. Me personally, I don't have it in me. I often find myself rushing to just do what's good enough, or solves the immediate problem, or requires just the effort that I'm willing to spare. I once made my daughter a Dalek costume for Heroes Con and it basically consisted of ping pong balls hot glued to a trash can while my daughter held a plunger and a whisk. Now, I know in cosplay there aren't rules, and my daughters have loved that Dalek, but I didn't put my best effort into it. I think if Jackie were to craft a Dalek it would be extremely impressive, and that would be the case because she cares more than me the detail and craftsmanship than i even have the capacity to understand.
Every piece Jackie has built has shown her increased skilled. She has added more effort, style, depth, and skill in each build. Each one that she has built so far though has been the epitome of her skills and efforts as an artist. This Dredge she is building right now is one of the most complex and detailed pieces I've ever seen, but she is still giving it her maximum effort, regardless of the time and work it takes to put into it. She wouldn't be satisfied with cut corners or half-done work, and neither should we. 1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the
one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. Make sure whatever you are building gets your best quality. If not, you wasted the time, resources, and support it took to build it in the first place. Build things that will last- Bottom line even though Jackie is an exceptional builder, these things won't last forever. Some day Shredder's helmet, Flareon's Bow, Frostmourne, and all the rest will probably break or come undone. The great thing about what Jackie does is that she isn't just building armor, costumes, and props; she is building things that will last. As she travels, she has been doing panels and workshops that are guiding whole new generations of cosplayers on steps they can take. She has lead current cosplayers to increase their skills. She has had wobble battles with people at cons. The relationships and pieces of
herself she gives away are going to far outlast the worbla wonders and foam fixtures she has crafted.
When Jackie travels to bigger shows and has to fly, it's a beast to get all of her armor on flights. Baggage handlers can be brutal. Beyond baggage, con life is brutal. The amount of bumps and scrapes she goes through in a day of wearing armor would easily break a lesser made costume. She doesn't just build her pieces for appearance though. She is literally making costumes that are functioning as armor. It makes no difference if she makes pretty gear that will only last for one show. She has to make sure that this stuff will endure, otherwise it's not worth the effort. We need to make sure we are building things that will last as well. Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Make sure that what you build will be something that lasts beyond you and that it is something that truly holds together. Whatever you build in this life is going to face opposition, but if you make sure that you are building things with a foundation and of a merit that will last through whatever opposition it faces. Your life is building something, please don't waste what you've been given. If you are lucky enough to see Jackie at a con, tell her "Hector says 'Hi,'' and go ahead over to www.facebook.com/Jackiecraftcosplay if you wanna follow her amazing armored adventures.