Wintermarch Update

So, at the beginning of the month I got to spend a lovely weekend being shuttled around hospital wards, where I was treated to a number of blood tests, IV antibiotics and a lot of morphine. As it turns out, some gastro-intestinal issues that have been worsening over the last year, which I had put down to “just one of those Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome things”, were actually symptoms of cholecystitis which (likely thanks to the EDS, which causes delayed healing and fragile scar tissue) has not only caused some serious scarring but had given me infections in my gall bladder and liver, hence my horrendous pain. At the moment, it sounds as though surgery is the intended way forward, assuming all goes well at my next round of scans and blood tests, which has meant that quite a few things I had planned for the spring, cosplay and otherwise, may have to be put on hold while I recover.

I’ve had a few weeks to take it easy and deal with my infections and increased pain levels, but I’ve reached the point of going stir crazy, so I’ve had the drive to get my lovely new craft room sorted out and to start prep for my first costume of 2019.




Looking forward, here’s how I’m hoping the next few months are going to shape up:

Vallaslin Blog Posts

Vallaslin banner (reduced)

Back in December, I promised to write some posts detailing how I create my Dalish vallaslin make-up.  I haven’t forgotten, and two of what I think will be a three-part series are currently underway. I’m not sure whether it would be more useful to publish them all at the same time once I’m finished with the whole process, or whether it would be better to post them individually as soon as they’re done? Let me know on my FB/Insta/Twitter if you have a preference.

Dragon Age Quiz


If anyone missed it, I have an A2 print of our Hanged Man poster and Inquisition-themed Wicked Grace cards to give away but my untimely hospitalisation meant I had to put a pin in my plans. The quiz is written and ready to go as soon as I figure out the best way to get answer sheets back from entrants. I had planned to set it up here as a form, but WordPress have apparently pulled Plug-Ins for basic blogs, so I’ll have to think up an alternative. One way or another, I plan to have it up and open on Friday the 1st of February, so it’s time to start swotting up!

Cosplans 2019

warden inspired gown - shaded

Grey Warden Inspired Gown

I’ve been thinking about a few different versions of this gown since the first Calling convention in summer 2016, and inspiration struck at Tandy Leather’s workshop back in December.  I’m attempting to get this ready for March but I have a back up in mind if I run out of time.  I’ve sourced some lovely fabrics for it, so expect lots of work in progress pictures in the weeks to come!

Upgrades:  Lavellan’s Superior Prowler Coat

Photo by Max Mace
Photography by Max Mace, 2016

I’ve been really looking forward to upgrading this one.  In much the same way as I upgraded Mahariel’s Regalia of Weisshaupt last year, I have a lot of work I want to do to bring Lavellan’s wardrobe up to version 2.0, including some new props and weaponry.

Events 2019

Unfortunately my next round of blood tests and scans has already struck my first con of the year, Middlesbrough Unleashed, off my calendar.  My surgery has been estimated for March/April, so the following events have been marked as “definitely going as long as I’m not in surgery/recovering from surgery.”

I’ve also got a couple of photo shoots planned and several other projects that I’m really looking forward to sharing so, medical stuff aside, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year.


Regalia of Weisshaupt: Version Two

Mahariel - The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music
Warden-Commander Mahariel, Version 1 – 2016, Photography by Chiara Fulgoni Photography / The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music

After cosplaying Warden-Commander Mahariel for the fourth time last year, I realised my breastplate was starting to look a bit battered and the paint was beginning to flake on my scales, so I decided it was time for a rebuild.

floral paper or parchment

I didn’t have a heatgun when I built my original breastplate and did the best I could with what I had available to me, but I always knew it was a part that I would want to make again later on.



I actually really liked the way it looked as plain, blue foam, and if it hadn’t been for my visible lines, I would have been sorely tempted to seal it and wear it like that!  After sealing and priming, I could get on with my favourite part – painting and weathering.



floral paper or parchment

I was so pleased with how my knitted scales turned out but, aside from cracking and flaking paint, they were bulky and not very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  The more I looked at them and the more photographs I saw, the more I kept thinking about getting some decent hardware and seeing how much maille weaving I could remember from my time in re-enactment.  Not only was it a much easier process but I’m completely in love with how these scales look against the blue.

The only thing that I’m keeping from version one is my velvet jacket, which has had the straps added to the sleeves and the griffon sigil to the left arm.  Next to finish – gauntlets and greaves.
Mahariel v 2-0

2017 Update

Four months in, 2017 has thrown me some real curve balls so far, which has badly depleted a lot of my energy and motivation – but my cosplay builds are still miraculously crawling along.  I am going to get around to full posts for each project but for now, here’s a quick update on how things are going.

Empress Celene

Celene has fallen onto the back burner a bit recently, as I had to postpone my plans to go and make the ballgown.  That said, she now has a mask and a wig is on its way, so I’m going to have to get myself sorted out for dress making and fittings in May, otherwise my brother isn’t going to have an outfit to wear to the ball when The Calling comes around in June!

Celene mask

The other big task is going to be the lion’s head for the back of the dress, so I’ve been doing a few experiments with resin casting and need to find the time to actually sit down and make a clay master.


My Emerald Knight is slowly but surely coming together.  I’ve finalised the embroidery design and started drafting patterns for the sewn garments.  Her foam armor pieces are pretty much ready for priming and painting – just the sabatons to build and a few tweaks to the breastplate, then I need to settle on which shades of paint I want to use.  I decided that I wasn’t happy with the foam scalemaille that I made for Mahariel, so I’ve been busy weaving chainmaille for Lindiranae’s sleeves, which is almost finished, and to remake Mahariel’s Regalia of Weisshaupt.

Other DA-related Stuff

A while back I booked an appointment to get another geeky tattoo and decided to get the Inquisition sigil just above my ankle, to balance out the Stark direwolf on my other leg.   I have a couple of other designs pretty much ready to go – I just need the funds and to decide exactly where I want to put them!


Last month we went to MCM Birmingham and (after a few trips back and forth waiting for a quieter moment to queue) I got Gareth David-Lloyd to sign my Inquisition art book.  I’ve since started stalking the other voice actors’ Twitter and Facebook pages to see if we’re likely to get any of the others at relatively local conventions so that I can get the other character pages signed.

Solas sig

Our next scheduled event is The Calling in June (UK Dragon Age fans, go check it out!) so I badly need to crack on!

Dragon Age: The Gathering – Warwick Castle

(Okay, I know I ramble when I write posts so if you’re just here for the video, scroll to the bottom!)

Back in January, Abi of Butthead and Pastry cosplay suggested a summer Dragon Age shoot at Warwick Castle and asked if anyone would be interested.  I fired off my response with less than thirty seconds of consideration.  At the time, I had Lavellan half finished and wasn’t sure whether my work would be anywhere near the quality of the more experienced cosplayers, but I was so eager to be part of it.

Warden-Commander Mahariel was next on my list of “Must-do Cosplays” and my experiments were already underway, so once the date was set for August I had less than eight months to get her finished, alongside all my other projects.  In retrospect, I could have done with dropping a few things so that Mahariel could be a little more polished but, life being what it is, I made do.

I always pack more props than I’m likely to need, just in case, and The Gathering was definitely no exception! As well as my Antivan Fire grenade and Jar of Bees, I packed a few lyrium and health potions, my Warden’s codex , two plush nugs and a mabari.  That was as close to “packing light” as I really get!

hotel room

I also found a gorgeous label for Aggregio Pavali (by taye_x on Reddit), which inspired us to make some more based on Inquisition’s Bottles on the Wall collection!  From left to right: Golden Scythe 4:90 Black; West Hill Brandy; Butterbile 7:84; Aggregio Pavali; Dragon Piss.  Eventually, we may actually get around to doing the rest of the collection.


I tend to be an anxious person, especially in new situations.  The Calling, held at Beverley Friary in June, was my first big non-MCM event.  Aside from my husband and brother, who got dragged along, I had never met a single attendee before and not only survived living with everyone for a long weekend, I loved every minute of it.  Although Warwick Castle is on a much grander scale than Beverley Friary (and utterly crammed with tourists!), I felt much less intimidated by the idea of meeting so many new people than I had on the way to The Calling.  It helped that I’d already met Abi and Jay, who organised the shoot, as well as a few others, at conventions earlier in the year but I was so worried about whether my costume would look terribly gauche compared with the fantastic work I’d seen the others posting on Facebook in the months before.

On the morning of the shoot I realised that I’d neglected to pack the tiny invisible elastics I’d bought for Mahariel’s braids, so I ended up having to use a random hairband I found in my makeup bag to pull some of my hair back in an approximate style.

Hide my hair

I had such anxiety over my hair that I wondered if I’d get away with hiding it under my hood…

Elfie selfie 2
Finally on the way to the castle!

I won’t drag out a blow-by-blow account of the day, but I really want to say how fantastic the day was.  All the cosplayers, roped-in partners, photographers and The 86th Floor, who did all our professional shots and filmography were amazing.  It was a real pleasure to hang out with them all day and the cosplayers looked absolutely incredible.  Even though I’d seen photos of a few of the costumes on Facebook beforehand, the detail and designs were so impressive.  I’ll put a full list of all the cosplayers involved at the bottom of this post – please go check out their work and give them some love!

The big surprise of the day was how much the tourists enjoyed us being there!  We knew that the castle was going to be open to the public – we were all there on day tickets, after all, and I expected we would probably get some funny looks and possibly some derisive comments.  Some thought we were employees of the castle, in all our fantasy regalia, and a lot of us were stopped regularly so that visitors and their kids could have photos taken with us.  At one point, I was sitting in my wheelchair waiting with Ellie (our fabulous Zevran) for a turn in front of the camera and we had an almost constant stream of people come, one after another, to pose with us for the better part of about fifteen or twenty minutes.  They were queuing.  It was the most surreal thing I’ve experienced in cosplay, so far!

Nym & Zev
Zevran and I at the end of a long day!
The Wedge of Destiny
Of course, with tiny cheese wheels to hand, I had to recreate the Wedge of Destiny at lunch!

We didn’t manage to get as many photos as we would have liked, especially of the Inquisition crew (Warwick Castle itself is not very wheelchair friendly and a lot of their shoot was done indoors) and somehow completely failed to get any of Catbutt Cosplay’s fantastic Yavanna and Phil the Despair Demon.  We did manage to get a few nice ‘behind the scenes’ pictures, though.  Go and check out the professional photos at The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music  and The Space In Between Photography!

Photography by D. Allen

Hawke - Welcome to Kirkwall!” width=

The Champion is wondering what she did to get stuck promoting Kirkwall’s Office of Tourism

Varric - Kirkwall Office of Tourism” width=

Naturally, the Viscount got roped in to promote Kirkwall as a tourist destination…

Yavanna - 86th Floor” width=

Yavanna – Photography by The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music

The Space In Between - Abi, Josephine, Kez
Inquisitor Lavellan; Hawke; Phil the Despair Demon; Warden-Commander Mahariel  – Photography by The Space In Between Photography
Mahariel - The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music
Warden-Commander Mahariel – Photography by The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music
Squad - WinnTeam
Dragon Age Squad – Photography by The WinnTeam

Dragon Age: The Gathering

Credit Where Credit Is Due:

Cosplay Music Video by The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music
Lead photographer – Chiara Fulgoni

Dragon Age: Origins

Alistair Theirin – Arctic Wolf Cosplay
Zevran Arainai – Ellie Short
Morrigan – Keira Hawke Cosplay

Dragon Age II

Hawke – Squeegee Cosplay
Anders – Karclan Cosplay
Aveline Vallen – Cavahn Creations
Merrill – Boris Gambrell
Tallis – Alex Gosling
Varric Tethras – Megatron Cosplay

Dragon Age: The Silent Grove

Yavanna – Catbutt Cosplay

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Inquisitor Lavellan and Cullen Rutherford – Butthead and Pastry Cosplay
Cassandra Pentaghast – Pastel Pirate Cosplay 
Cole – Kawaiiju Cosplay 
Despair Demon – Catbutt Cosplay
Dorian – Rapture Shock Cosplay
Lace Harding – Chiara Fulgoni
Sera – Zomby Boi Cosplay
Solas – HanKhar Cosplay
Vivienne – Kizuki Cosplay 

Our thanks to Warwick Castle for letting us come and play on the site; Abi and Jay for organising everything; The Eighty-Sixth Floor Music for all their hard work; The WinnTeam and The Space In Between Photography for helping to capture the day; all the cosplayers and helpers for making the day so much fun.  You’re all so amazingly talented and it was a real honour to be part of this project with you.

Evanura – Part Two

ICYMI – Part One

The knuckle-bow turned out to be much more frustrating and time consuming than I imagined.  Getting a good reference image was a nightmare – I ran poor Cassandra around a few different locations, trying to find a spot that was well-lit and with a handy boulder/wall/staircase available to stand her against so that I could force the camera as close as possible.  I ended up with three actually useful images – two that showed the shape and curve, and one fairly clear shot of the depiction of June.



Almost a week on, I’ve got the hard part done and the longest part (waiting for layers to cure) is almost over.


I tidied up the edge below the spines with some 2mm craft foam, sealed it with two layers of PVA and tried out my can of Plasti-Dip on it… which just seemed to make the entire thing bendier.  I coated the whole thing in a thin layer of resin to give it a bit of stability, then slapped three layers of PVA/water/casting powder over it.

I damp-sanded the blade and sprayed on three coats of Plasti-Kote as a base.  Once it’s done curing, I can make a start with the acrylics.



Evanura – Part One

floral paper or parchment


Like the Ardent Blossom helm, Evanura is secreted away in the Emerald Graves and can only be acquired after picking up the codex entry The Silver Knight (a tale which I have rambled on about in other posts, so I shall refrain from doing so again).  It is restricted to warrior class characters, so I was gutted that my Dalish rogue couldn’t carry it.  I really wished that there were a way to display certain unique weapons on the walls of Skyhold because their designs are gorgeous and the backstories make for interesting reading.  I think my Lavellan would have felt much the same affinity for this blade as I do and it seemed a pity that my options were to sell it, keep it hanging around in my inventory or stick it in the Undercroft chest.


When I began making plans for Lindiranae , Evanura was the first thing I wanted to tackle. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of foam creations (Silencer – which I must get around to finishing! – and Mahariel’s breastplate) and decided that foam was probably going to be my best bet.  I spent ages working out how the measurements for Evanura in-game (based on an estimate of how wide Cassandra’s hand is!) and made a cardboard mock-up… that was absolutely enormous!  The stupidest part is that it wasn’t until I had finished taping it all together that I actually realised how badly I’d calculated it.  So I gave all my mangled mathematics to my engineer husband, who laughed at me and scaled up my reference sketch to the right size.  The difference was more than a little bit ridiculous…

“Can I climb it?” – Bran

I stocked up on 3mm yoga mats when our local Poundland had them in, so armed with my new template, I started hacking mats into pieces.  I built up the first layer around the cardboard to give the foam a bit more support and slapped on a couple of coats of PVA.


I found foam too fiddly and flimsy for the grip and despite my best efforts to carve my thicker floor mats into the right shape, I just couldn’t get my edges even.  I ended up building a scaffold out of corrugated cardboard and layered sections of hardboard over it to keep the octagonal shape.  I experimented with a few ways to make the cross-guard and decided I would have to do it in three sections – the écusson built onto the grip to keep the defined edges, then the foam quillons were slotted on underneath.  The knuckle-bow has a design worked into it so I thought it would be easier to build that separately to be attached prior to priming.

Building up the layers was significantly easier than I expected.  I thought I would end up having to take a rotary tool to it where the edges meet, but by the time I had finished gluing it down, it already looked pretty much how I wanted it.  A third layer under the spines went on in the same way.

“If I can’t climb it, I’m sure it would make a good scratching post…”

The next job is to get the knuckle-bow finished and then I can start getting it ready to paint.



floral paper or parchment

I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to anyone that I’m a huge fan of the Dragon Age elves.  Mythology and history are long-harbored passions, so I found the snippets about Dalish culture and lore irresistible.  I loved collecting the codex entries about their history but there was one particular story that I just couldn’t let go of: the fall of Dirthavaren during the Second Exalted March.  It was one of those tales that settles into your brain, takes a look around and decides it’s going to move in on a long lease.  I was so enamored with it that The Silver Knight was the first in-game tale that I set to music and then I promptly went away, crammed my head with as much information as I could find on the Emerald Knights, and wrote Lindiranae’s version of events.

Bringing Lindiranae and Evanura back to life as a cosplay project seemed like a natural next step.  Since Evanura is an available weapon in game, it was easy enough to get reference images but the only imagery of the Emerald Knights (that I’ve managed to find, at least) were the statues in Din’an Hanin.  The same statues are also at the Winter Palace in Halamshiral, which let me get better lit screenshots.  Dozens and dozens of screenshots…

Emerald Knight statue at  Din’an Hanin.

Given that they’re the Emerald Knights, I knew greens were going to be predominant in my colour pallet, but I also wanted to include some of the bronze tones from the Sentinel Elves’ armour.


With that in mind, I’ve tested a few colouring ideas out and I think I’ve finally settled on a design that I’m happy with.  I’m not expecting to have Lindiranae finished until spring 2017, so I’ve got plenty of time to experiment.   Evanura is already well underway and I’m expecting to be priming and painting over the weekend.