Arts Librarian Ashley Warthen goes off book with artist, maker and costume designer, Margaret "Markie" Gaddis to kick off her library residency.
ASHLEY (A): Biggest challenge of constructing a costume? MARKIE (M): Every costume has its own individual hurdles (Don’t get me started on the wings of one of my recent costumes!), but one of the most consistent, across the board challenges with costume construction is trying to get the perfect fit. For costumes that are fabric intensive, tailoring can be frustrating, even when using a dress form, and for costumes that are made from unconventional materials, there is always the challenge of attaching pieces to the body in a way that is comfortable and will allow for moment.
A: One thing you learned in school that you still use today. M: In my day-to-day career, I write and edit professional documents and emails, so middle and high school grammar and writing are a constant in my life. In costuming and cosplay, I—surprisingly--use a lot of math, whether it is to find the circumference of a circle when making patterns for skirts or to calculate the amount of resistance needed to offset the voltage used to light the LED circuits illuminating my costumes.
A: Favorite costume in your collection? M: I think my newest costume, my design inspired by Articuno and Team Mystic from Pokemon Go, is my current favorite. I had a lot of fun utilizing different materials to create fake ice all over the armor, and the completed costume surpassed my expectations for the design. Thus far, I think it is my most eye-catching design, and when I wore it to Dragon Con 2019, it was very well received.
A: Last book you read? M:Geekerella by Ashley Poston, a local author. I picked up the young adult novel on whim because the title, synopsis, and setting (Charleston and Atlanta) resonated with my personal interests and experiences with cosplay and comic/sci-fi/anime conventions. It was a very fun read, especially because there were so many references to places I’ve visited and shows that I’ve watched, and it made me feel as though I was reading a book written by a close friend who knew all my nerdy inside jokes from high school and college.
A: How many characters have you created? M: I’ve created about 25 costumes. Most of them were cosplays based on established character designs, but around 8-9 of them were either completely original designs or designs inspired by established characters.
A: What are you listening to currently? M: My current Pandora station of choice plays a lot of songs by the Kongos, ZZ Ward, and Arctic Monkeys.
A: Average amount of time it takes to construct a costume? M: Time varies depending on the difficulty. I’ve created simple costumes in just a few days, but a complex costume takes several months. Admittedly, I’m the most productive on the weekends when I have long, uninterrupted periods of time to work, so if I only counted the amount of time spent actively constructing a costume, it would be a lot less.
A: Biggest design influence. M: My costume design selection is usually influenced by my desire to work with specific materials or to try out new techniques that I’ve seen other costume designers and cosplayers use in their projects on social media. Lately I’ve been gravitating away from fabric intensive designs towards ones that will allow me to play around with unconventional materials, such as foam and thermoplastics, and create structured shapes embellished with sculpted details and LEDs.
A: Favorite type of material to create with? M: I really enjoy working with thermoplastics (plastics that become malleable when heated) because they are versatile, durable, and great for sculpting. The only downside to them is that they are one of the more expensive materials to work with and can be a little heavy to wear, so I’ve started to use less expensive and lighter alternatives, such as EVA foam and foam clay, more frequently.