I have been cosplaying for over a year now. 12 cosplays, and 11 events later, I've always had a fairly good handle on my organization and getting everything done on time. For whatever reason, I let the time slip past me and I started feeling the con crunch.
Let's back up a few months for some back story. I made my shield for Viking Pocahontas back in July before my crafting weekend with Shelley so that we could use it as a reference while she made her shield. I spent the next few weeks packing, and working on my Yin cosplay for Animethon. I moved to Kamloops right after Animethon in early August.
So that leaves me one and a half full months to work on the rest of my Pocahontas cosplay. Tons of time - which is probably why I procrastinated so hard.
I fought with the dress and casually worked on other parts of the cosplay for the better part of August. I found this amazing roll of craft foam at Michael's and I bought it for future use. While at Dollarama one day I wandered past the poster board and the light blue caught my eye. So I grabbed a piece as an idea crept into my mind.
That night I had a few beers and made a Dark Magician Girl paper hat! It was glorious. And now I had a paper pattern for the hardest part of the costume AND an entire roll of craft foam to work with. Dark Magician Girl the Dragon Knight was officially added to my cosplanner.
September was upon us and I now had just over two weeks to finish Pocahontas and complete an entire armour build - my first armour build ever. I started slow, working on patterns, and planning things out while crushing through all six seasons of My Little Pony and two seasons of Touch and countless movies on Netflix. (This is how I keep track of my time spent crafting!)
Other things happening this month:
1) My month of giveaways, organizing sponsors and marketing the giveaways every week.
2) My blog posts! Twice a week. Weekly updates and fun things, and weekly #FeatureFridays which I love, need to go out on time.
3) Finding a new job. I just moved to a new city, I need income sooner or later!
4) My birthday! I had to take some time to get spoiled and enjoyed spending it with my boyfriend. <3
Those are the big things that stand out. Among other things, like sporadic tickle fights, impulse walks with the dog, drives around town, grocery shopping - you know, LIFE.
I had a pretty good groove going for a while but then I started feeling this lull where I got to a point where all the details I was working on had significant drying times. I would make a little progress and then have to wait. So I think I started to slow down around that time.
And then poof! It's Thursday - five days before I leave for Edmonton. The panic starts to set in hard. According to cosplanner, I was only about 70% complete Pocahontas and 50% complete DMG.
My priority was Pocahontas so I finished the dress sewing and crucial details for the final fitting on Friday when I had extra hands to tie me up for a proper fit. Everything seemed to be in order so I checked it off the list and went to adding final beading.
With Pocahontas mostly out of the way I turned my full attention to DMG and set myself up in an assembly line type system. Paint, dry, cut, glue. Slowly everything came together one section at a time. I had made significant progress even with all my do and re-doing. I've never built an entire armoured cosplay before so there was tons of mistakes made and lessons learned.
By Sunday, I had most of the armour put together minus some smaller details that could be eliminated if time came to a crunch. I set to sewing all the elements for the cosplay. I turned a sheet into a skirt, and a pair of leggings into gloves. *Thank you Value Village* The sewing went fairly quickly, especially for my first time making a double circle skirt with pleats.
Sunday night I turned my attention back to the armor - exactly 15 minutes too late. I realized I was out of chrome spray paint and hadn't gone back to the store to get more. Sunday's at 6.15pm the city turns into a graveyard. With 24 hours left of crafting and nothing to do until the morning, I was really starting to feel the stress.
Monday morning came in a frenzy. Luckily this Canadian Tire carried the exact same brand that I needed to match. I ran straight to the garage to spray EVERYTHING. Riley came in to see how it was going and yelled at me for not opening the garage door. I was literally standing in a cloud of spray paint fumes.
CRAFTING SAFETY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. PLEASE remember your mask while spraying, and gloves if you have sensitive skin (or are just smart). Always try to spray in well ventilated areas and get fresh air often. These warnings and instructions are on the cans for a reason!
After I smartened up and got out of my rushed craze, I set up a schedule and pumped everything out quickly and SAFELY. I did my first fitting with everything together around 7pm Monday night. I found a few problems I didn't like and spent the rest of the night fixing it up and packing everything else I needed.
I was rushed right up until bed time and didn't even have time to make a list. I could have forgotten something and by this point, would be completely doomed. I woke up early Tuesday morning, packed up the truck and drove to Edmonton.
How did I survive? In the basic sense, I'm here, I'm alive, I have two completed cosplays. I survived. In the more specific sense, and a bit of a moral for anyone dealing with con crunch; cosplay is for fun. It's okay to rush and go a little crazy, but as soon as you find yourself having emotional breakdowns and hating every minute of working on your project,you've pushed yourself too far.
You need to take a step back. Even if that means you don't finish that cosplay for that specific event. Your health is more important. A hobby should never become a chore. You can always ask a friend to help you. Friends can balance you out if you start to stress. They can lighten your work load.
I survived my first ever con crunch because I enjoy every second of learning new skills, learning from my mistakes, seeing a cosplay come together in pieces. I enjoy every single paint streak I have up my arm, every hot glue strand that just wouldn't quit. Cosplay pushes me and challenges me farther than anything in my life and I feel such a profound amount of love and pride for myself when I finish that cosplay. Even if I re-do it after a single wear, it was a learning experience and a memory made and I will always cherish that.
Never forget why you do what you do.