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Our 21st Quarterly Shear Madness Costuming Challenge was “Arms and Armor” which was all about costumes involving armor, prop weapons, and designs inspired by armor/weapons.

Without further ado, here are the winners of the Arms and Armor challenge:

Honorable Mention for Character Concept

Viking Merida” by Casey Brown of Skyleaf Creations

“The shoulder Armor and designs on the corset are done out for fosshape with a rigaline understructure for the shoulder. The dress is my old Merida dress that I distressed and add the DunBroch plaid to. Belt is also fosshape with HTV designs. Quiver is foam and Worbla.”

“Axes were dollar store axes that I shortened the handles and wrapped in faux leather. I also changed the blade size and shape with Worbla.”

*Judges’ comments

“Fun concept!”

“Would have loved to have seen close-ups of the armor.

Honorable Mention for Exploring New Medium

“Yawgmoth, Thran Physician” by Shawn Riggin and Ella Riggin (age 11)

“Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is a fictional character from the annals of Magic: the Gathering lore going back as far as 1994 when the game was in its infancy. He is, however, first seen in card form just this summer. There was about 45 days from the time the artwork and card were previewed to the deadline of the contest, so I knew I had to work quickly. There was also the challenge that I’d never done true cosplay or worked in EVA before. But I have a background in actual real armouring, so I knew how to get the lines and contours despite the fact I’d never worked in the medium. When I told my daughter what I was going to work on, she begged me to help – she loves crafting and has quite the artistic side. So we learned together.”

[Left, Artist’s Inspiration. Right, Artist’s Recreation]

“The armor is made from 3 thicknesses of EVA – 3mm, 6mm and 10mm. I used a combination of Weldwood, velcro, snaps and rivets to hold it all together and Dynaflex 230 to fill gaps and contour while remaining flexible. I heat-stretched the EVA for the shoulders – tearing one in the process. I had to cover my ball stake (used for shaping metal) with leather so that the edges wouldn’t cut into the EVA and cause it to tear with the added stress. The base material used is black faux leather. The EVA was sealed with plasti-dip and painted with a combination of Krylon Hammered Finish Dark Amber and white, black and silver acrylics. The only items purchased and not modified are the wig and the pants.”

*Judges’ comments

The chest piece turned out cool.

I like the idea that he worked together with his daughter to achieve this, and that he went outside of his comfort zone and used a new medium.

ARMS AND ARMOR: Third Place Winner

“Gladiator from the Game AION: The Tower of Eternity” by Vivyana Cosplay

“I completed this early last year and have worn it to numerous events, including Europe’s largest Fantasy Fair event, Elfia! To make the armor, I used Worbla for the base. I tried foam but it didn’t shape correctly. To make the details I used a combination; I first tried Apoxie Sculpt. but when it dried it fell right off again and broke. I then opted to use EVA foam for the details, and with hot glue this luckily worked! To attach everything, I mainly used cords and ribbons matching the costume. The exception are the arm pieces which are completely closed; this is a bit of a pain to wear them because they have to fit over my wrist. After a day of wear, my hands and wrists are bruised.

[Artist’s Inspiration Image]

“The jacket and pants are made of tafetta, I modified a Simplicity jacket pattern to match the concept art, mainly the front, and shortened the back. Both jackets and pants are fully lined with cotton and the edges are bias tape. The jacket attaches to the breastplate with velcro, and snaps attach to it, to close the chains in front.”

“I also made the weapon! It’s a wooden dowel which can seperate in three pieces with screws for transport. The axehead is made of XPS foam, and the details are EVA foam. Despite this it’s pretty heavy to carry around.”

*Judges’ comments

I wish we had more detail shots.

The inspiration art is stunning and complex, it is very impressive that the costumer chose such an amazing piece to recreate.

“She did a fantastic job shaping the pieces.


“Barbarian Dragon Slayer” by Isabella Ravensdale

“Here is my Barbarian Dragon-slayer that I will be entering in the Bubonicon costume contest this August 23-25th. The genesis was finding this awesome tutorial by Marshon on Instructibles, and deciding that I needed to make a dragon skull and wear it on my head.”

“The skull is made from card stock hardened with resin and covered with bondo. The teeth were made with paper clay and the eyes were glass cabochons painted with nail polish following the youtube tutorials posted by Yvonne Williams.”

“The armor is made from EVA and craft foam with the scales made from paper towels and wood glue them painted. The top is a corset that I covered with an crocodile hide patterned knit and created a breast piece and loin cloth with vinyl crocodile patterned hide. The detail is a dragon I cast with resin. I also created a dragon tooth and claw necklace with polymer clay. The shirt is a simple wrap skirt made from the same fabric as the top.”

“The axe is made from EVA foam, craft foam and PVC pipe. Everything was made my me.”

*Judge’s comments:

The outfit itself fits really well, she used various types of materials and tutorials to achieve the end results, and it’s just really fun. She looks like she is ready to hack someone to death. I love it.

I love that she used so many different materials to achieve this look! The textures are awesome and give the costume depth.

“Up close you realize the extent of the detail and effort that went into each piece. Highly textured, well-proportioned


“GOT Kingsguard Cosplay” by Jeanna of ClosetCos

“My submission is the armored Game of Thrones Kingsguard costume. It was worn by my incredibly patient husband, who came with me to a friends GOT themed birthday party in April.”

“Other than the shirt and pants (which I modified) and the sword (I am no blacksmith…yet) everything is 100% hand made. Built mostly out of EVA foam, I had a grand total of 4 days to make it! Needless to say the time constraint was a challenge (as all experiencing the ‘cosplay-crunch’ could tell you!) however, by ignoring everything else in my life except my dogs and my work, somehow I was able to crank this bad-boy out!”

The detail work was also a bit of a difficulty, but a decent paint job will hide a multitude of last-minute sins!

“I absolutely fan-girl over every armored cosplay, so I was very happy to finally get to make such a grand piece myself! I hope that my build might inspire others to try cosplay for themselves, just as I have been inspired by so many other incredible works of cosplay-art!”

*Judge’s comments:

Looks realistic and wearable, close to the inspiration.

Shockingly good for a first timer, and for only having 4 days. The paint job is fantastic, the detail is excellent, and I can believe that she probably didn’t sleep at all those days. The helmet fit is perfect.

Holy shirtballs, Batman! This is very well done. The paint job is amazing! She succeeded very well in making the foam not look like foam.

In addition to the regular awards, the judges also decided the following entry deserved recognition for being a cohesive group design.

ARMS AND ARMOR CHALLENGE: Judges’ Choice Award for Best Group

The Sisters Greae” by Serafina Miller, Alexandra Alise Montani, Monique Motil, and Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden Corsetry

“This was a group effort undertaken for a Venetian Carnival party with the theme ‘Parade of Dionysus.’ We chose to be the three Greae Sisters, sharing an eye and a tooth, but as we imagined the crones may have been when they were younger, fierce warriors. The armor inspired corsets, headpieces, and pauldrons were created with latex and paint. The texture on all the pieces was a combination of latex and hot glue molding and found objects, from lace to doilies to faux flowers. I created the corset bases which Serafina Miller and I decorated with the tutelage and encouragement of master crafter Monique Motil. Monique mostly single handedly created the headpieces and shoulder pieces.”

“The outfits wouldn’t have been complete without the jewelry that was sourced by the third sister, Alexandra Alise Montani, who lives in Rome and therefore couldn’t get her hands dirty with the rest of us.”

“Our milky contacts were the finishing touch, suggesting blindness, with only one clear eye between us.”

*Judges’ comments

I love the attention to detail and the distressing. They paid a lot of attention to every little bit of these costumes.

Judge’s Choice for making fabric look like armor because the headpieces and pauldrons are quite impressive.


And a big thank you to our panel of Challenge #21 Judges as well!

Laura Ulak


Laura Ulak is the founder of Shear Madness and co-founder of the MN Society of Costumers. She has been costuming for over 20 years, and has costumed everyone from bearded Santas to Drag Queens to Ren Fest Queens. She is a Master’s level award winning masquerade costumer. She currently spends her spare time outfitting high school students for fall plays and spring musicals. She learns something new everyday at Shear Madness, and loves the supportive environment of people who remember the fun in costuming.

Amanda Fineran


Amanda Fineran has been making her own costumes since she was in high school and specializes in Star Wars, kids costumes, and leathercraft. She won 3rd Place in the Shear Madness Adorable Alert Challenge with her daughter’s Willy Wonka costume. Amanda is also a member of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion – organizations whose members create screen accurate Star Wars costumes and wear them at parades, events, and hospital visits. She is also President of Costumers for a Cause – an organization that helps connect the costumers with the people who need them.

Leah Lloyd

leah lloyd judge

Leah Lloyd of Lamia Creations has been making costumes since the ripe young age of 4, when she wrapped a bunch of scarves around herself and shuffled out to the living room where her mother was watching the classic Mummy. It’s been downhill since then, including receiving a degree in Costume Design, a Clothing/Headwear Laurel in the SCA, and winning “The Way You Wear Your Hat” Shear Madness Challenge. And someday she will cull the fabric hoard in the attic. Really.

*The order of the judges’ comments has been randomized for each entry.

Each Challenge has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Honorable Mentions are granted to costumes with notable characteristics, interesting techniques, unique designs, etc. even if they did not win a numbered placement. The challenge judges may also award a Judges’ Choice Award  in recognition of that entry’s excellent use of materials, show of skill, or unique concept. Such an award is similar in rank to a 1st place award.

We are always excited to see the talented artists of Shear Madness share their creations with us. We want to see what you’ve made, too! Shear Madness Challenges are open to all costumers  of all skill levels and genres. Entering is always free and winners get nifty digital badges to display on their websites, blogs, Facebook Profiles, or anywhere else. They are called “Challenges” because the aim is to challenge yourself to et inspired, make your design dreams a reality, try a new technique,  and take pride in your artistic accomplishments. Check out past challenges and challenge winners by clicking the “Past Challenges” link at the top of the page to see all the other fabulous creations from the past 5+ years!

Looking for other like-minded, fabric-loving, costume-wearing folks like yourself? Request to join the SHEAR MADNESS FACEBOOK GROUP!


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