Maria Santamaria cosplaying for Maker Expo

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Maria Santamaria is a maker of costumes and her domain is cosplay. “Cosplay” is a portmanteau (and I rarely use that word) of costume and play. It involves creating in real life the costumes we see in movies and stories and then role playing the associated character. Typically tackled with no existing patterns or designs, Maria must work from movie stills to figure out how to create this unique costume, called an exosuit, from the 2014 movie Edge of Tomorrow. Mid-build on not one, but two exosuits, Maria has enlisted her boyfriend Omas Abdullah to co-make and cosplay with her. We are delighted she will be joining us at Maker Expo on September 19, ready to answer all your costume creating questions and inspire you. Maria hopes you’ll give costume making a try and if you do then by all means wear that gear to the event.

Now that we’ve passed our Canada Day deadline for exhibiting makers, we want to give a leaping high-five to everyone who dug deep and got their applications in on time. You’ll be hearing from our organizing team over the next few weeks. It is a truly amazing line up of Waterloo Region’s top maker talent coming together for Maker Expo. You definitely want to get that in your calendar now, Saturday September 19, 2015 from 10am to 6pm at Kitchener City Hall. It’s only ten weeks away.

Next up on our TODO list is to build a benevolent army of volunteers to make Maker Expo go smoothly. You will be meta-makers with us! Our ten-person volunteer crew of MEEPs needs 100 more volunteers to help with everything from show promotion, show setup, visitor guidance to champions of engagement, getting everyone involved. Sign up here to volunteer.

Photo: Noemi Santamaria, used with permission

Let’s get back to costume making. Here’s Maria in Toronto at Fan Expo Canada, a gathering of 100,000 cosplayers, makers, artists, celebrities and visitors. This character is Irelia from League of Legends. Click through for a fairly reasonable number of photos showing some of the materials and work that go into these amazing costumes…

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Here’s a still from the movie Edge of Tomorrow showing the exosuit that Maria is building. She noted that it can be advantageous to pick costumes from new movies or stories if you want to bring something unique to shows. Look closely at the shoulder here, and then…

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Look at that element coming together in Maria’s work-in-progress. She squeezes costume making into her busy schedule as a third year Poly Sci and Law student at Laurier as well as working part-time jobs. I connected with Maria through our Agnes Niewiadomski who plays soccer with her. I’ve been on the lookout for interesting makers to feature on the blog here to stretch your mind on the common question: “What is a maker?”

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Cosplay costume making requires fearless design chops and a deep knowledge of what I like to call consumer material science. Maria and I swapped stories of wandering the plumbing aisle of Home Depot looking for specific parts that would be used in an application far beyond their original purpose. In her four years of costume making, Maria has become adept at building structural elements out of this high-density foam.

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She is an active participant in the big online community of costume builders…

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many of whom share their techniques on YouTube.

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Some things I learned from Maria about this foam she picked up at XS Cargo: it can be sanded and painted. It can also be flattened or formed with a heat gun.

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Working part-time at a computer store let’s you divert e-waste to be used as costume components.

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Does everyone’s maker batcave contain blister-packed…

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supplies like mine and Maria’s?

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Maria’s fave tool: the hot-knife. Not only carves foam like butter…

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it’s also useful for creating these textures with various attachments.

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These exosuit costumes will incorporate tablets with mocked up data and control screens. Later versions of the suits may incorporate animatronic elements.

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The role of photography in capturing and sharing costumes is interesting. It seems cosplayers often have their hands full with their costumes and props, leaving them reliant on others to take photos. This photo, and…

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this one were taken by Maria’s sister Noemi. Maria confirmed my suspicion that shoes are the single hardest part of costumes. She said she once went through three pair of shoes to get exactly the right look for a costume. The cost and time involved in making each costume means that Maria will wear a costume to multiple shows, including Anime North, a smaller event drawing 15,000 people to a venue near Pearson Airport.

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I asked if there were emerging trends in cosplay and Maria noted the increasing interest in the steampunk esthetic.

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From the smiles associated with cosplayers it is obvious they love making regardless of the genre of their costume. It will be cool to see…

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how Maria’s costume…

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evolves over the summer…

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and what changes we’ll see…

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in a short 10 weeks…

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it’s time for…

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Maker Expo. Thanks a lot Maria for letting us into your world.

Do you want to get involved with Maker Expo, too? It’s a great time to apply as a volunteer. We love volunteers. We *are* volunteers! Meta-make with us!

We are all makers.


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