This was a really fun and challenging project. I decided that for my 3rd year at DragonCon, I was going to enter the Friday Night Costuming Contest, which focuses solely on the craftsmanship of the costume and inspires both audience member and contestant alike.
Judges look at the costume itself, the workmanship, design, and inspiration. This contest is open to groups and individuals, experts and novices, and costumes from mainstream or self-creative. All judges are costuming professionals with extreme costume backgrounds.
This was SUCH a challenging project in so many ways. Most SANE people give themselves most of the year to create an entire new project. I just had a little over 2 months. With the horsehair work picking up and then the Post Apocalyptic photo shoot in March that I had just finished working on, I was crunched for time.
But I got it done, AND won an award for "Best Use of Materials", pretty impressive, considering that, for the most part, judges tend to like costumes with a wide
usage of materials. Everything I had was leather or hide of some kind that I dyed and worked to create this costume.
Links About the Contest and Contestants
Along with the design and creation of a costume, we also had to come up with a description of the basis for our costumes.
Genre: Viking Era Alternate History
Character: Viking Warrior Maiden
A description of the alternate time line the costume is based in
Our history tells of the powerful viking warriors whose reign and power slowly declined with the growing conversions to new religions. The beliefs in the Norse gods slowly faded, and with them the grandeur and power of the viking age also came to an end. An alternate history tells a different story. In this history, the Norse gods would not go away quietly. They chose to stay and fight the new gods Odin's own daughters, known as the Valkyries chose to share the secrets of their powerful armor with their human followers. They taught them to harness the powers of the very skies themselves, for the in the lights of the aurora borealis danced the souls of the mightiest fallen warriors, thus giving the human warriors the power to protect themselves from their enemies and remain undefeated, continuing their expansion of the new world, forever changing history with their influence.
Description of the Costume
This Viking Warrior Maiden costume is an original creation by Sugar Lady Studio, based on an alternate history in which the Valkyrie taught the vikings to harness the power of the Northern Lights in their armor and weapons, for in the lights of the aurora borealis danced the souls of the mightiest fallen warriors, thus giving the human warriors the power to protect themselves from their enemies and remain undefeated, continuing their expansion of the new world, forever changing history with their influence. Leather and cloth were all hand cut and dyed for the creation of this costume. Even the boots were hand made!
Because ships were considered symbols of power and prowess among the vikings, the bodice of the armor was created to reflect the technique often used to build ships called “clinker built” where the wooden planks were overlapped and riveted together. The colors in the center of the design represent the manipulation of color and light to which go into each piece of armor to protect the warrior.
Everything from the bodice to the shoes, yes, even the shoes were all hand made from original patterns by Jessica Volpe of Sugar Lady Studio. More hours than the designer cares to count went into the research and creation of this costume. The colors you see in the leather were created in a unique technique that allows the dye to be worked much like water color on paper. It was a challenging process to manipulate the dyes and each color had to be handled in a different manner to create the effects in the leather. The stitching and rivets were all set one at at time by hand as well.
Inspiration for this costume came from the History Channel Series Vikings. The designer wanted to push the armor even farther by incorporating colors into the design and add her own vision to the look.
As you can see, there was a lot left to finish. During my one-on-one judging, the judges even brought up the fact that they were quite surprised at how much I had managed to finish in such a short time.
These were cut from buffalo hide. The designs were hand cut, freehand, with a groove cutter.