Cosplay as perfect creative outlet for student
Needle in hand, bags of gold, silver and white beads by her side, and her project in her lap, Hayley Ebberts begins beading. It’s slow at first, building in speed as she works up a rhythm. Pick up bead, put on needle, stitch down, repeat. Her mouth is set, determined, face calm until a misshapen bead won’t fit on her needle. With annoyance she tosses it into a plastic zip top bag full of similarly useless beads. She’s quiet while she beads, only opening her mouth to laugh at the things her boyfriend says to his video game companions across the Internet.
For seven years, 19 year old Central Washington University sophomore Ebberts has been creating costumes for anime and similar nerd conventions. She started by buying her costumes, but soon moved on to making them herself.
Ebberts has been beading the gown in her lap for the last few weeks, about 20 hours total work time. She made the gown too. It’s the dress of Princess Serenity from the anime “Sailor Moon,” and Ebberts is excited to get it done before Anime Expo 2014.
Anime Expo is the largest anime convention in the United States, held in Los Angeles California. Last year the annual convention broke it’s own record with an attendance of over 61,000. At the event, Ebberts is hoping to participate in a booth hosted by Viz to promote the new Sailor Moon reboot.
A contest is being held for the spots on the booth team and Ebberts will be entering a Sailor Mercury costume to stand out from the crowd of Sailor Moon costumers she’s expecting. She’s volunteered at similar booths before, her last being a “Sword Art Online” booth at Sakura Con.
Over the years Ebberts has started and stopped Sailor Moon costumes several times. Ebberts says she’s loved Sailor Moon since she was four, but something has always come up to make her scrap her previous costume attempts. She either didn’t like the way it was looking, felt she wasn’t skilled enough to make it or just didn’t like how the leotard looked on her body.
She decided on the “Princess” gown because she enjoys making ballgowns and has recently wanted to do more detailed work.
“The long, flowing dress called to me,” Ebberts said.
She had never done beading before, but now has used about half of the 4,600 beads she purchased for it. She says she likely won’t use all of them, but with 15 hours put into beading alone and an estimated five more to go, she’ll certainly be using quite a few more.
Ebberts discovers cosplay through Google
Ebberts found out about cosplay in 2006 through the Internet. She was a big fan of the anime “Tokyo Mew Mew” and frequently searched Google for images of the characters.
“My computer was full of “Tokyo Mew Mew” photos and viruses,” Ebberts said.
While trawling the images, Ebberts saw pictures of people cosplaying characters from the show.
“I thought it was really neat that they were becoming this character that I liked so much,” Ebberts said.
She decided that if they could do it, so could she, and set about preparing for her first costume; Mew Ichigo from “Tokyo Mew Mew.”
Worried about a 12 year old Ebberts attending a convention in the racy-for-a-young-girl costume, which is a dress with a strapless top, short puffy skirt and lacy garter, her mother refused to buy her the costume. Her father, divorced from her mother, saw the costume and decided to get it for her for Christmas.
Ebberts doesn’t blame her mother for her concern, and is thankful that her mother afterwards attended her first convention, Sakura Con, with her.
“To someone who doesn’t know what it is, the “conning” scene seems weird,” Ebberts said, “and a little dangerous to a mother.”
Now Ebberts says her mother is her biggest supporter. When Ebberts needs fabric or is purchasing airfare to faraway conventions, her mother happily offers t0 help pay for it.
Ebberts says that cosplay is her creative outlet. It combines all the creative things she enjoys, such as drawing, voice acting and acting. At this point she’s hoping to cosplay forever, and even has a costume planned for when she’s elderly.
“This is where I am right now with my creative outlet journey,” Ebberts said, “and it’s a good place for me.”