“Hey Paige…You’re on the Front Page of Reddit…”

When my smallish @costumeartist Instagram suddenly got an influx of followers, I wondered if a project had been posted somewhere. 
The answer was in my DMs with an avalanche of "Dude...check your Reddit." 
Wow. There I was (well Abbey, anyway). And the enthusiastic interest in the image, reminded me how much I loved that project. Most of the support was overwhelmingly kind, and cleverly fun (as r/interestingasfuck is inclined to be). 

There were also minority opinions, too. And it's good stuff. Here's why:

These criticisms, these opinions matter, too. If you're creating art (and that's what I consider most of my costume work as...art), you should welcome criticism and review of the work.
Does it create 'warm and fuzzies'? Does it confirm my artistic choices? Nope.
Does it make me question my design? Does is make me review the project vision? Yes. 
And that's good for the work. I may not change anything at all, or I may see something I missed. Any evolution is entirely up to me.
At least, that's my sense of it when it comes to unflattering commentary on my work. It might sting a bit, but I think it's good for perspective and improvement.
Now...be honest.
Do I look like a 'truck from Paksitan'?
I kinda do. I'm cool with it. THANKS, Reddit!

‘Seraphina’: From Russia, To Dragon Con

With Russia often in the news in 2017, it’s no surprise that my recreational thoughts were also drifting across that cultural landscape. This effort included my own take on a traditional Russian kokoshnik headpiece, fur trim a la Ivan the Terrible, with garment cues and colors taken from Russian royal fashion (pre-Rasputin).

I’m happy with the silhouette of the project, but candid photographs revealed some color conflicts that I hope to resolve before submitting this project for collaboration with professional photography. I’m looking forward to posting the entire WIP story for this costume project inspired by Russian forms and color. But in the meantime, I’ll go ahead and share some preliminary images taken by various photographers at Dragon Con 2017.

All thanks to the folks who turned a lens toward ‘Seraphina’!

https://imgur.com/vy38Il5

Photo by Courtney Crawford

Photo by Jen Yates of EPBOT

Photo by Ashley Strickland

Photo by Ashley Strickland

Photo by Carlos A Smith

Photo by Anita Sims

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ODD BEAUTY: The Techno-Eccentric World of Steampunk

I only knew Art Donovan by reputation. I’d followed with enthusiasm an art exhibition that he had curated in Oxford years earlier. His own body of work as a distinguished light designer and artisan captured my attention and held it in the intervening years. So it was rather a surprise to be contacted out of the blue by Art and his wife, Leslie. They were planning a new show at the and invited me to participate. But rather than sending static examples of my work, I was invited to come to the Hamptons and inhabit my work for a day as part of a living exhibit at Odd Beauty: The Techno-Eccentric World of Steampunk.

Hosted in the historic surrounds of the Southampton Arts Center, the collected works of some of the world’s most respected Steampunk artists were collected and displayed to their finest advantage in the Odd Beauty exhibition. It was a complete delight to examine and study the work of craftsmen and artists first-hand. It was an honor to move among these compelling creations inside my own contribution to Steampunk eccentricity.

I’m humbled to share space with many of my artisan heroes. And I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to experience this beautiful community and make new friends in the neighborhood. Thank you, Art and Leslie Donovan for the kind hospitality and a wonderful weekend in the Hamptons!

Photo by Amy Kirwin Photo by Amy KirwinPhoto by Amy Kirwin Photo by Amy Kirwin

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Dragon Con 2016: Paige Gardner and Her Poor Feet

I’ve been invited back to Dragon Con 2016 as an Attending Professional, and I’m more excited I’ve ever been. Mostly because it’s the 30th Anniversary year. But also because I’ve had a difficult year personally, and really need to recharge my battery through close (crowd crushing) association with 60,000 of the best sort of people. I’ve made a new costume. I don’t know if I like it yet. But I did meet my goal of building a Warhammer 40K character entirely from re-purposed junk. I’m going to call that a win.

NEWS: My panel/event schedule includes some pretty cool stuff (including my first foray into the Art Track!). The high points are posted below with hopes that some of my friends may be able to come out and join me for one or two events.

FORECAST: Dragon Con has a HUGE footprint – and there’s definitely some aggressive walking that’s going to happen with this schedule.  I’m investing in TWO layers of squishy insoles. My poor feet.

See you very soon!

Paige

Title: Vintage Vogue Fashion Show: Historical Costumes Real & Imagined
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: Grand Salon West – Hilton
Description: Bringing historical fashion AND costumes from Alternate History to the runway, the timeline gets twisted at the Vintage Vogue Fashion Show. Join us for a stunning time-traveling costume adventure at Dragon Con 2016! (Show Manager)

Title: Steampunk Adventures in the Land of the Wonder Women
Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: Brett King’s popular alter ego Gustaf Danielsson takes you on an all-new interactive steampunk adventure with comedy, fantastic props, and wild tales of exploration. Join us as we go in search of the Land of the Wonder Women! (Panelist)

Title: Chosen Cosplay Pre-Judging
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Offsite GA Aquarium – N/A
(Preliminary Judge)

Title: The Desperate Steampunk (Garb & Gear on a Budget)
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: What’s a costumer to do without money or skills to build a top-drawer steampunk ensemble? Take desperate measures. “The Desperate Steampunk” is your insider intro to low-cost resources, costuming shortcuts, & innovative ways to craft Steampunk gear and garb with a minimum of skill and funds. (Emcee / Moderator)

Title: When Two ARTS Collide: The Intersection of Art Photography & Cosplay
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Grand Hall C – Hyatt
Description: Come hear from experts in cosplay/costuming, art photography, and “geek-culture” publishing. Learn tips and pointers for raising your art form to the next level, and increase your chances of getting publicity and exposure for your work! (Panelist)

Title: Extreme Makeover: Steampunk Edition
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: This game show follows three lucky individuals chosen by our “extreme team” of top designers as they are tasked to take leftover items and found objects to clothe our contestants top to bottom in a complete retro-future makeover, with the winner chosen by our panel of celebrity judges. (Judge)

Title: Something from Nothing: Reverse Engineering a Cool Costume Crafted from Thrift
Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: 308 – Hilton
Description: Resident recycling, up-cycling, and no-sew costuming expert discusses her creative process for creating award-winning and museum-worthy costumes out of the most unlikely of materials. Space is limited. (Sole Presenter)

Title: The State of Steampunk
Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: Find out where Steampunk is headed. Has Steampunk finally peaked? If so, what comes next? This round-table discussion panel explores the current state of the subculture and how it will evolve. Will other sub-genres become more prominent (dieselpunk, rococopunk, etc.)?

Title: Embellishments for Costuming
Time: Mon 02:30 pm Location: 302-305 – Hilton
Description: Sometimes a few beads, a gemstone or two, or some fringe is all your costume needs to look stunning. We tell you how to use them and how to get them to stay attached. (Panelist)

Stained Glass “Abbey” at Abandoned School

I can’t believe I missed sharing these Dim Horizon Studios images of Abbey crafted in abandoned Banks school in Birmingham, Alabama.  The school opened its doors specifically to cosplayers and photographers for one afternoon in 2015. It was dark, dirty…and magnificent in its urban decay. The setting felt more like a Warhammer 40K environment (which inspired the costume) so that was a welcome plus! Here are some of my favorites from the day.

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 3

 “Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 5

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 6

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 8

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 9

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 10

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 12

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 15

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

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“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

Costume Stained Glass Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk Cosplay 21

“Abbey” (Paige Gardner / CostumeArt) Photography by Dim Horizon Studios

 

Merry McQueen: 15 Minute Photo Shoot

We were filming a tiny scene at Sloss Furnace for the 2nd Steampunk Boba Fett fan film (the 1st film, Trial of the Mask can be seen here). The Merry McQueen costume was needed for a very brief appearance as the major domo in the film. Dim Horizon Studios was on hand for all the BTS and cast photography, and it was my good luck that Matt Nicholson took an extra 15 minutes with me after the brief scene to craft some really outstanding images of this most recent costume project.

The following images are examples of what Dim Horizon magicked up in just 15 minutes.

Photography or witchcraft. You decide.

"Merry McQueen" (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

Merry McQueen Costume Art Paige Gardner Cosplay Steampunk 11

“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

Merry McQueen Costume Art Paige Gardner Cosplay Steampunk 14

“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

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“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

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“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

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“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

Merry McQueen Costume Art Paige Gardner Cosplay Steampunk 23

“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

Merry McQueen Costume Art Paige Gardner Cosplay Steampunk 01

“Merry McQueen” (Paige Gardner of CostumeArt) photographed by Dim Horizon Studios

Darth Nihilus: Dim Horizon Studio Captures a Villian

Thank God my best friends at Dim Horizon Studio are also some dedicated gamers, y’all!  They totally said “Yes!” when I asked if they might be willing to help me document the Darth Nihilus (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) costume I originally built for my son.  These are some of my complete favorite Dim Horizon images from our afternoon together at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham.

Costume Notes: The Nihilus mask was crafted with gauze tape, wire mesh and wall putty.  The costuming includes a layers of ladies circle skirt, a black graduation robe and a black bed sheet, all from the thrift store. The lightsaber is a legit Master Replica that is really bad-ass even though it doesn’t look like Nihilus’ particular saber. The sound effects compensate for the discrepancy.

Darth Nihilus (KOTR) costume by Paige Gardner | Photo by Dim Horizon Studio

Darth Nihilus (KOTOR) costume by Paige Gardner | Photo by Dim Horizon Studio

 

Darth Nihilus Star Wars Costume Paige Gardner  o

Darth Nihilus (KOTR) costume by Paige Gardner | Photo by Dim Horizon Studio

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Darth Nihilus (KOTR) costume by Paige Gardner | Photo by Dim Horizon Studio

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Darth Nihilus (KOTR) costume by Paige Gardner | Photo by Dim Horizon Studio

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Darth Nihilus (KOTR) costume by Paige Gardner | Photo by Dim Horizon Studio

PHOTOGRAPHY: Steampunk Bird Hybrid | by Chase Lawrence

These photos of the Steampunk Bird Hybrid by photographer Chase Lawrence of Affliction Cosplay Photography are some of my favorites – especially for the colors that bloom in his images!  We had a great afternoon at Sloss Furnace capturing some cool photos together.  I’m especially grateful to Chase for tapping me for these Steampunk images which were later featured in “We Rise” magazine.  It was an honor to be included and I hope that I’ll have the chance to work with him again!

pgs bird hybrid Affliction photography Chase Lawerence 3

pgs bird hybrid Affliction photography Chase Lawerence 4

pgs bird hybrid affliction photography chase lawrence

pgs bird hybrid Affliction photography Chase Lawerence 2

pgs bird hybrid Affliction photography Chase Lawerence 1

Abbey at Sloss Furnace: Photoshoot with Dim Horizon Studios

I’ve often say that any costume project of mine isn’t really complete until the folks at Dim Horizon Studios turn their lens toward it. It’s a true thing.

I’m always excited by their interest in these costume projects, thrilled with their keen eye for outstanding settings and – after years of working with them – deeply grateful for the close personal friendship that emerged from our mutual professional interests.  I’m especially glad when they have client bookings in my city – because these occasions bring us together for gaming, goofing off, good times…  and sometimes a photoshoot!

These are the first official images of the Stained Glass “Abbey” project as captured and crafted by Dim Horizon Studio at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama. (this is the first half of the images from the shoot – the second set will follow in the next post.)

And the costume is now complete. 😀

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 8

 

 

Costume: "Abbey" by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner
Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 4

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

 

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 2

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 5

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 6

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 7

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 8

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 9

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 11

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 12

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 13

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 14

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 15

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner / CostumeArt Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 10

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner  Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

Stained Glass Costume Paige Gardner Warhammer Steampunk cosplay 3

Costume: “Abbey” by Paige Gardner Photography: Dim Horizon Studios

For more images, events and WIP costume updates, find me at CostumeArt on Facebook and @CostumeArt on Twitter. I’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Wheel of Time” Community Responds to Bullying: And It’s Awesome

Wheel of Tme Cosplay | Photo by Dim Horizon Studios

Wheel of Tme Cosplay | Photo by Dim Horizon Studios

It’s a natural thing for fans of books, movies, comics, television shows and more to gravitate toward each other – especially via social media – to share their passion, their fandom, for the entertainment that means something special to them. Some fandoms are huge and well-known,  others are more esoteric, but just as enthusiastic when it comes to their media jam.

There’s no secret that I’m a dedicated fan of Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” book series. I have a personal history with the books that became a touchstone for two decades of my life. I’ve celebrated my fandom through WOT cosplay, as well as trips to JordanCon and other WOT-related events. And I totally get that the books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But that doesn’t diminish MY enthusiasm for the literary world that Jordan (with later support for Brandon Sanderson) crafted. And I’m not alone.

Ashaman and Aiel | Photo by Dim Horizon Studios

Ashaman and Aiel | Photo by Dim Horizon Studios

There’s other people who feel the same way I do about the “Wheel of Time” (WOT for short) world. We’re not a massive army of fans that dominate the mainstream media channels, but a strong, dedicated and constant group of enthusiasts who connect at conventions, events and especially through social media. It’s a legitimate community of folks spread across the world and joined by their love of these books. We connect and communicate through various websites, forums and importantly…through the Wheel of Time group on Facebook.

On the Wheel of Time Facebook group page it’s not unusual for us to ponder which character we might like to cosplay. Yeah, we sometimes “dream cast” celebrities who could best portray characters from the books. And sure, there are sometimes spoilers for newcomers to trip over in some threads. We geek on WOT.

Sometimes we wonder who WE would be in the WOT world. And that’s okay, too.

Of course, human dynamics are present everywhere – even in a community like ours. And our corner of the social media landscape was probably overdue for trolling. None-the-less, it was disappointing to see it finally play out when one group member simply posted their own picture and asked “Who would I be in the Wheel of Time?” – and was subsequently trolled and bullied in the comments.

The page admins pulled the post. But what followed was one of the most inspiring and redemptive things I’ve ever witnessed in fandom.

In response to the earlier bullying, WOT group members began posting photos of themselves asking “Who would I be in the Wheel of Time?” with the hashtag #WOTme.

Wheel of Time Party in Chattanooga TN

Wheel of Time Party in Chattanooga TN

It’s important to understand that for many folks within literary fandom, posting a selfie via social media isn’t necessarily an easy thing. Putting yourself out there, asking for others to comment on how they see you – that takes some courage. What started  a trickle of group members taking the #WOTme plunge, turned into a flood of group members from every corner of the world – posting their faces and asking “Who would I be in the Wheel of Time?”.

The responses have been positively overwhelming as well. Drawing from the massive list of WOT characters, the suggestions pouring in on each photo have ranged from the series superstars to obscure bit players (and trust me, we KNOW the bit players in Wheel of Time).

And, who knew we had so many gingers among us? Those sneaky Aiel.

In one day, a group that was previously connected only through their enthusiasm for a book series, transformed into a real community, coming out from the group shadows and joining together to take a public stand against bullying. My Facebook feed is blowing up with the faces of my fellow WOT fans – and it’s kind of glorious. I think that every fandom, great or small, should pay attention what has happened today in the Wheel of Time community. It’s a testament to power of positivity within the ranks of fandom (and also illustrates how the Light really can triumph over the Dark. Sorry, I had to add that.)

I’ve never been more proud of my corner of fandom than I am today. I think Robert Jordan would be proud, too.

THEIR QUESTION: “Who would I be in the Wheel of Time?” #WOTme

MY ANSWER: “You would be awesome. Just like you are now. That’s what you’d be.”