Cosplay lets adults create new realms, lives

Kids aren’t the only ones who get to pretend. Lots of adults are enjoying cosplay, the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game.

 

With photos and bits of costumes, people who have developed a passion for cosplay gave visitors to the Homewood Public Library on Dec. 16 ideas on developing characters.

 

Librarian Kelly Campos, who put the program together, said cosplay is one of a series of STEAM programs the library will be hosting to show young and old how creativity may require one to blend art with science, technology, engineering and math.

 

Library patrons wandered in to the meeting room discovering a whole new world.

 

Caitlin McCaffrey of Homewood was returning books but found talking to the cosplay hobbyists fascinating. 

 

“We just have a deep appreciation for people who have a hobby that is a way of life and they really care about it and share that passion with people,” she said.

 

One of the exhibitors was Monica Gonzalez Paprocki of Chicago, an accountant by day but in her free time she is big-time into cosplay. She’s rekindled the art of sewing, which she learned in high school, and has become very creative with foam – the best product for making lightweight headgear and accessories.

 

In August 2018 at Gen Con 2018, the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science fiction and adventure game convention in North America, Paprocki’s costume won her the top prize for “best craftsmanship.” Paprocki worked with the company whose board game character she was trying to mimic. 

 

The costume depicted more than just a woman in the Japanese futile era. With assistance from her husband, Bill, who helped her create a frame, Paprocki made wings that she was able to open electronically to a 12-foot span. They were covered with more than 800 feathers and weighed about 25 pounds.

 

This was her most intricate costume to date, but she is working on one now that will include smoke and lights. 

 

“A lot of my sewing is using a lot of math. I need to make sure everything is proportionate,” she said. “There’s a lot of technicalities in judging.”

 

Jenny Prado of Plainfield has been doing cosplay since 2013 and originally did it for charity events. In the beginning, she was in store-bought costumes, but over the years, she took up sewing so she could design and create her own costumes. Her next costume will be a character based off a video game. 

 

“That’s the great thing about this hobby, there’s so many different things you can learn,” Prado said.

 

Her time with Costumers with a Cause has been the best part of cosplay. 

“I love doing the charity events. It’s so much fun. Just to see the kids light up, it’s great,” she said. 

 

By day, Chris English of Joliet is a counselor at a mental health hospital. But in his free time, he’s designing costumes to portray himself as a tough guy with weapons he creates from foam and plastic.

 

“Five years ago, a friend invited me to a comic convention. I didn’t know what cosplay was and I left saying I wanted to do that,” he said. “I like big armor and big weapons.”

For more information, visit geeksagogo.com.

 

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