We had the privilege of meeting Samuel Levine, the owner of Shamasus Costumes, at May Mcm Expo after seeing him on the Saturday masquerade Seeing his craftsmanship and quality of his costume we asked him for an interview for just cosplay and here it is:
Thank you for accepting our interview request for Just Cosplay. First of all how did you get into cosplay?
It was way back when I was in 6th form, looking at some cosplay pictures online when someone I hadn’t met before came and spoke to me about it. We started talking, got introduced to a few more people and eventually started cosplaying for some charity events around the College. From there I was invited to go to MCM and have been cosplaying ever since.
How long have you been cosplaying for?
I think my first one was near the end of 2006, but the first cosplay I made from scratch was in 2008, before then I was mostly altering existing clothes to fit characters or just making small parts for the costume.
We’ve all got to start somewhere. What is your favourite part about cosplaying?
I’m not sure I can really select a favourite part. I love everything about it, making the costumes are incredibly fun though insanely stressful at times. Meeting new people is always nice and of course posing for photos and having people compliment you on your hard work is such a great feeling.
It is also a good feeling when you make someone happy just be cosplaying a character they like and may not have seen before.
That’s fine I understand it’s sometimes hard to pick out favourite parts of a hobby. I wondered how do you start your costumes. Do you start of by sketching various parts?
It depends entirely on the costume I am making. If there are parts I have made before such as a pair of trousers I will tend to make that aspect first just so I have something done. For more experimental things such as my most recent cosplay I made a pattern on card and then taped it together so I had a 3-D version before I used the real material.
Speaking of your most recent costume, what inspired you to cosplay Nobunaga Oba from Sengoku Basara?
This costume has been planned for quite some time now, me and some friends saw the series a few years back and decided we needed to do a cosplay group for it. It was pretty much the rest of the group who said I would make a great Nobunaga, I had no reason to argue with this and wanted to try making some armour.
How long did it take you to complete it?
I started working on the chain-mail back in December. However, I ended up taking a few months break from working on it. I would say about three months working on and off on the weekends would be roughly how long I spent on it.
Weekends are great for cosplay work aren’t they. For this costume you’ve used metal for the base of the armour, what made you choose this material?
I was initially going to be using plastazote hardened with fibreglass, unfortunately I ordered the wrong thickness of plastazote making it incredibly difficult to work with as the shape kept changing. My neighbour works at a printing press and mentioned he could get a large amount of sheet metal for me for free. Already having spent money on a material I was unable to use I decided I may as well just go for the free metal and see if I can work with that. That and it makes a fantastic sound when I move.
We all love freebies! Was there any specialist tools needed in order to work with the metal?
Probably would be if I were to heat and hammer it into shape but for me the main tools were an ordinary pair of scissors, sandpaper, rivets and a hammer.
If I had some specialist metal working tools I could have probably saved myself some time and money in the long run as any protrusion had to be made from at least three separate bits of metal glued together then hidden with car body filler and sanded down.
What was the best thing about working with metal?
It was a fun experiment getting to work with a new material, I probably will never use it for cosplay again, at least not sheet metal to make a full suit of armour, far too many cuts from the sharp edges meaning far too much sanding had to be done.
So would you recommend metal for things such as accessories rather than a big armour project like yours?
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind using it for some small things again, the face guard I feel worked quite well. As the metal acts pretty much the same way card does I knew that if the card prototypes I had made worked then the metal versions would work as well. Also for the gloves, because the metal is very sturdy none of the detail on my gloves got warped during the entire weekend.
That’s very handy to know as more and more costumes having things like metal gloves. How did you attach the armour to your body?
Once I had made, shaped, detailed and painted each piece of armour I dyed some leather, cut it into strips and riveted it onto the armour with some buckles. Then it was just a matter of doing up each buckle, I did have to get help actually putting it on as the chestplate restricted my movement so I was unable to buckle the armour on my neck and shoulders.
Even if it restricted your movement it was a very impressive costume.
My final question is what 1 piece of advice you could give a fellow cosplayer wanting to take their costumes to the next level and maybe partake in cosplay competitions?
I would have to say keep doing it as long as you love doing it and to not be put off by any mistakes you may make, you will only get better if you keep working at it. I loved my early cosplays, but looking back on them now I know I would be able to make them so much better because I know what I could do differently. If you see a cosplayer who you think is fantastic, talk to them, I am sure most people will be more than happy to give any advice that they can.
You can check out his progress picture and other projects 0n his facebook page: Shamasus Costumes