Ed. note – this post was provided by Nat Kay Cochran.
I had an epiphany: I want to be good at something.
I want to be disgustingly good at something. I want people to become physically ill with admiration over the works of my hands, I had decided.
However, I had difficulty choosing what to pursue until I attended a panel by master costumer and entrepreneur Alexis Noriega at Dragoncon 2018. Alexis, creator of The Crooked Feather, gave her panel in a pair of handcrafted, eight-foot-wide, animatronic bird wings.
She was wearing her smallest pair. For the crowded conditions.
“Yes,” I thought, “THAT is how grossly amazing I would like to be.”
Fortunately Alexis is generous with her knowledge. Aside from online tutorials and her informative con panels, she readily divulged what may have been her greatest single secret:
I ran as quickly as I could to the convention’s nearest handy Tardis, however, I discovered, it was only a reproduction of Doctor Who’s famed time traveling machine. I would not be able to go back in time and find a Makerspace yesterday. Vexed, but not defeated, I settled for The Moment I Got Home And Out Of This Barbarian Armor, Oh God, Will I Never Stop Sweating.
That’s how I wound up at Nova Labs, deeply in over my head and all the better for it.
I’m a cosplayer, which in and of itself isn’t a skill. It encompasses however many skills you’d like to acquire to become better at it. For many enthusiasts, sewing, makeup, and/or a deep-seated desire to be the center of attention may be what gets them into it. For some of us, it’s a lifelong journey that leads to building a pair of robot wings at your friendly neighborhood makerspace.
These wings will be a replica of Mercy’s wings from the offensively popular, cheerfully-murderous, online team-play video game and thing-that-keeps-my-husband-busy, Overwatch.
I will not be the first person to create a visually impressive pair of these wings – it’s been done. I hope to, however, create a more fully animated, more expressive, more lightweight and durable version of these wings than ever before. If you have ever been to a convention like Dragoncon and know of what I speak, then you know that wherever there is a Mercy, there is a Mercy’s Tired Boyfriend Carrying Her Twenty-five Pound Wings Behind Her After the First Hour or So.
Let’s be better than that, Mercys.
To achieve this goal, I’m going to need advice, assistance, and direct help from the great brains in the Nova Labs community. It’s not just the tools, of which there are an abundance to make Ron Swanson swoon with delight. It’s that there’s people who know how to use them.
And so it was that one day I showed up with my ratchet pine-and-balsawood 1:1 mockup and a handful of disorganized drawings seeking advice. They took me in, were fairly polite about the prototype’s aforementioned ratchetness, and immediately set to making it better.
I was so overwhelmed at first that I can’t remember the hour-and-a-half transit home on the Silver Line. Local genius Sam Winkelstein had asked if I “had time to learn AutoCAD,” and I had said yes, when what I really meant was, “what?”
Since then the community – whether or not it has any extant framework for cosplay or Overwatch as a thing – has been interested, supportive, and helpful. Without Nova Labs, this would be a five year project that ended in alcoholism, but now has become something that is achievable this year with an entirely acceptable amount of beer.
I’d invite other cross-disciplinary artists and technicians to consider how much more delightfully nausea-inducing your work could become by visiting Nova Labs. Other cosplayers, I can guarantee – you will level up your work by exponential degrees. Your Instagrammability – off the charts, my friends.
It’s also a lot of fun, and sometimes, there are snacks.