September 28, 2023

Nippori 2023 – Another tiny library con

 Hello weebs!

I ended up attending Nippori for the first time last weekend. It's a small library con in Pori, Finland, and that probably comes as a surprise to no one since the name of the event is clearly derived from mashing together 'Nippon' (Japan) and 'Pori' hah. Anyways, Nippori is a free event and the reason I didn't do any announcement on my blog prior is because this was a rather spontaneous last-minute trip – Firith asked me if I could accompany him as he didn't want to go alone due to Pori being quite an anxiety-inducing town. I agreed because it's always nice to go somewhere I've never been before, even if the town has a reputation of being a shithole (if you ask anyone in Rauma at least lol). 

Oh well, Nippori was held on 23rd September and it's a one day event that's split into two different buildings – the first half was held in Pori's library and the later half in Nuorisotalo (lit. 'youth house'). 
Let's get on with the summary!
(and a fair warning for foul language ahead)

Nippori entrance, also known as Pori's library.

I should maybe put a disclaimer here that although I'm to some degree affiliated with Mericon I am visiting Nippori as myself, as an ordinary visitor, and my opinions about Nippori are purely my own. I know Rauma and Pori have a longstanding friendly rivalry (because of competing ice hockey teams etc) as do many other neighboring towns in Finland so yeah, I felt I should make it clear that I'm not sent by Rauma to smear Nippori lol. I'm not even a local, I'm from the far north so I have nothing to do with this silly rivalry in the first place lmao.

On Saturday morning me and Firith woke up quite late. We had planned to be at Pori roughly 14:00 as we had organized a carpool with Katriina and her kids. I made the classic mistake of severely underestimating how much time it takes for me to get into costume and that meant that the later half of the morning was panic mode unhinged – hands down the most stressful con morning ever. #whenwillilearn
I had decided on rewearing my Gakupo Kamui cosplay from Vocaloid, yes it's the same original kimono version I last wore at Skecon 2014! I know, that's like 9 years ago fuck I feel old
I don't know how but somehow we managed to leave the apartment on time, although I had to put on my cosplay very sloppily and rush my makeup but yeah, we could not afford to be late for the carpool which was waiting for us at Prisma's parking lot – nobody wants to inconvenience other people. I figured I'd just fix my costume once we arrive at the event so it wasn't that big of a deal. And I didn't care too much about my makeup not being slay as I had no plans to photoshoot Gakupo due to unfavorable weather and Firith told me that Pori centrum doesn't really have any good photoshoot locations as it's mostly just dreary concrete buildings.

We arrived to Nippori roughly 14:30 which meant we caught the very last moments of the first half of the event that was in the library. Nippori had split the con into two separate buildings in such a way that past a certain time (15:00) the first building would close down and the second would open. This meant that whatever was located in the library, aka the first building, would be unavailable once the con migrated over to Nuorisotalo. Needless to say we had to immediately bolt upstairs once we got into the library just to have enough time to visit the Artist's Alley before it closed.

General photo upstairs, near the entry point for the Artist's Alley.

I didn't bother to fix or put on the rest of my cosplay because we were so short on time to check out the Artist's Alley, one of the main reasons we attended Nippori. I really needed to pee too but there was no time for that either. xD
So yeah, me and Firith went up the stairs and I guess we both were quite perplexed when we saw a big sign stating something like "queue for Artist's Alley here" – I mean, not to be that guy but that kiiiiiiinda already gave me a red flag that the location for the Artist's Alley must be pretty unoptimal if they have to limit how many people can enter at once and from what direction.

We both looked towards the corridor past the glass door and I swear my first thought was "oh no". I could already tell that this would be an unpleasant experience. I shit you not, the Artist's Alley was placed in an extremely narrow reverse U-shaped corridor with barely enough space for visitors to even move past the tables if someone stopped to look at what was being sold. This was ten times worse than Kummacon's placement last year, which also was in an U-shaped corridor but at least there was a semblance of air quality. I found myself trying to rush through the Artist's Alley's later half because I literally felt like I was running out of oxygen; it was absolutely suffocating once you passed the midpoint of the corridor and the constant bottlenecks and crowding made it unbearable (even though we were one of the last people inside as it was closing down, I dread to think how awful it must have been during the active early hours *shudders*). And as we all know some congoers have a bad habit of stopping to talk with friends in the middle of narrow passageways without paying attention to the fact that they're effectively blocking the flow of traffic and yes, Nippori wasn't exempt of this cancer either. I might be getting old and cranky but I have no patience for these kinds of people – like for the love of god almighty please move out of the way if you're gonna strike a chat with someone in a place where space is already severely limited and others are trying to get through, it's not that hard to be conscious of your surroundings and considerate of the sanity of others, is it?

View of Artist's Alley corridor.

So yeah, hands down the worst Artist's Alley experience to date purely because of how bad the placement was. I don't understand why they didn't locate it downstairs, there seemed to be a lot more room? The sellers were interesting and there were a lot more tables than I expected there to be but sadly I could not browse to my liking as the crowding and poor air quality kept triggering my panic syndrome to the point I had to get out as soon as possible. This was such a bummer, especially because I was really looking forward to the Artist's Alley and wanted to buy stuff.

We arrived a bit too late to be able to check out the other activities that the library half of the con offered – I saw for example that there was a video game room but the door was locked when I tried to open it. Of course, because it was a library, there were a lot of manga put forward that you could borrow and read and I found that very pleasant and yeah, it added to the feel of it being an anime event. There was also this, umm, I guess it was meant to be some kind of art corner or display? Whatever its purpose was I assume it was primarily for decoration and perhaps to show local talent.
These Mew stuffies were adorbs!

Part of the art display.

Aside from the Artist's Alley disaster I found the library to be an okay building for an event of this scale. It was quite comfy and there were places to rest your legs and free bathrooms. As far as I'm aware Nippori is held by the library crew in collaboration with the local youth agency so it makes sense that it's those two buildings that they have in use. And as long as the event doesn't explode in size I think it'll suffice.

While I was standing outside the library's entrance I had a very unpleasant experience. There was a group of three teenage boys who approached me and my company, handing out homemade flyers that read stuff like "have you seen this man?" with a black and white photo of an almost naked male model. I had seen these flyers scattered around inside the library and my educated guess is that this trio were not the intended target audience of the event but just delinquents who wanted to harrass "the weird colorful gays". I'm also assuming that Nippori's security guards had removed them from indoors but were powerless to banish them from the outside vicinity of the library, where they continued to disturb visitors by handing out these flyers. So yeah, I was unlucky to be targeted by this group and one of the three boys proceeded to ask me if I had seen the dude on the photo and when I answered the boy's facial expression promptly changed to visible confusion and he proceeded to ask me at least five times in a row if I'm a man and every time I told him yes in my clearly and unquestionably male voice – like what the fuck I'm not gonna give you a different answer just because you repeat the question and I pity you if your masculinity is so narrow and fragile that the mere existence of an androgynous guy in makeup and a colorful costume is a threat to your understanding of the world. Like what do you want me to do, show you my damn ID card and that little M marker on it or mess up my cosplay by not shaving my beard next time? Gtfo and don't approach me until you have amassed a deeper understanding of the complexity of individual expression, that which transcends the stifling norms your limited capacity is currently capable of processing.
Worst part is that this pissflap even asked for my photo and it was clear as day that he had no good intentions (most likely would have made fun of me) and I politely declined, although I should just have been rude at this point as he didn't deserve an ounce of my respect with how blatantly he disrespected me and made me feel uncomfortable. Even worse, I think he took a candid photo anyway. The group then left us alone for a few minutes before this same boy returned to ask me again "Are you really a man?" like for fuck's sake is your hearing comprehension as challenged as your intelligence? I hate that I was as polite to him as I was, I should just have told him to fuck the hell off but years of school-bullying and trauma have made me extremely scared of conflicts and I just shut down when suddenly thrown into uncomfortable situations.
Oh well, I can't really blame Nippori for that (although I wish security would have stepped in to handle them) as this kind of situation can literally happen anywhere and at any time. It did affect my overall mood for the worse and I didn't feel safe at the event after said incident. Who would? I'm pretty sure a lot of other congoers were also harassed by these shitbags during the day and it wouldn't surprise me if they primarily targeted people whom they perceived as female, which would make it even more disgusting as that's technically on par for sexual harrassment...

Just proof that I was in cosplay.
(photographer is Firith)

As the first half of Nippori was closing down we used the help of Google Maps to navigate ourselves to Nuorisotalo with Katriina as the mama hen leading the way. It was surprisingly far away from the library and luckily we live in the age of smartphones or a non-local like me would have gotten lost lol.

After some walking we arrived at Nuorisotalo and it was crammed full of people, as one would expect. It was nice to see the amount of people in costumes and fursuits though, especially considering that it's a small event. I felt like a rather notable percentage of the visitors were dressed up in some way.

Nuorisotalo outside view.

Now I finally got a chance to go to the bathroom for a very urgent bladder emptying and I also put on the missing parts of my cosplay and fixed up the hakama knot. We then went to check out the Artesan's tables which is similar to Artist's Alley except it's more 'official' I guess, like bigger names and sponsor merchants or something like that. I think the general difference is that artists have to apply but artesans are invited by the event? Anyway, the location of the Artesan's tables were a lot better than what the Artist's Alley got – the shopping area was located in an open space room so you actually could move around like normal and check out the tables. This was such a relief and made the browsing experience a lot more enjoyable. I could actually get in the con mood for a bit too.

Nuorisotalo entrance.

Programs and activites for the con's later half.

I was lowkey interested by that Sephiroth panel but as I haven't played the games (yet) I didn't want to risk any spoilers and so I passed on it. In the end we didn't stay all that long at the con so we didn't watch the cosplay competition or anything. Our group mostly just vibed for a bit and did the shopping rounds. I didn't end up buying anything this time but Firith had a field day so at least it was worth it to come here lol. Oh well, window shopping is always a decently fun pastime and so is meeting friends regardless of how briefly it is. Yes, we ran into Gure. :D

Artesan's tables area. Entrance view.

Drawing wall.

I forgot to draw the legendary Buttman on the wall to continue the legacy but oh well, it's too late now. Maybe I remember next time. I gotta say though that whenever a con has one of these taped up somewhere it's always a win in my book, it's a really fun way to encourage creativity and make people socialize!
Oh and there was apparently a cafeteria that sold food and pastries but I had a brainfart and didn't go check it out. Oh well, it's still a very nice addition and something I appreciate as a whole as it gives visitors the option of convenience – they don't have to leave the con area and go walk around in a town where they might feel unsafe because of the way they are dressed etc.

I don't think I have so much more to say about Nippori really. It's a small event that's suitable for locals and those who live nearby and it appeared to provide a decent amount of entertainment with most of the typical con staples that visitors have come to expect. I think battle-hardened congoers would probably get bored after a few hours but for those new to the scene and community it's a good springboard into this colorful hobby, especially because it's free and thus a low threshold event with no barriers attached. The general mood and flow of the event was relaxed, casual and easygoing.
I don't know if I would visit Nippori a second time (especially because of the 600+ km distance, not really worth it for the event alone imo) unless I happen to be nearby for other reasons too. But obviously if you live close and you need to scratch that geek itch then I'd say it's a worthwhile day trip.

Thanks for reading, Shiro Samurai says bye!

August 28, 2023

Mericon 2023 – Your friendly neighborhood pirate

Ahoy me mateys!
I'm sorry this summary is a bit late but I've honestly been extremely busy and exhausted with like a million hospital visits and other errands draining all my energy to even function so yeah, better a late summary than none at all, right? So the first ever Mericon was held earlier this month on 5th August in Rauma's main library. Rauma is an old harbor town located in southern Finland with quite a lot of maritime history – and that's also what the con was naturally themed around, name included!
I happened to be roped in early into Mericon's planning stages to assist the main organizer with ideas, brainstorming etc. One might wonder how come someone like me, who lives roughly 700 kilometers away from Rauma, ends up being one of the backstage devils? Well, I was offered a 1-week job contract by the library to paint marine theme signs for the event (thanks to personal connections) and it kinda spiraled from there with me acting as a co-organizer and doing various odd jobs to prepare for the event the days leading up to it. It was a really different experience to see how a con is built and being there and making it come true!

Mericon banner outside.

Because of my job obligations I left for Rauma on 29th July, taking the train from Kemi. The rain was pouring down while waiting for the train and I didn't have the bestest of times, despite it being a Saturday. Luckily the trip itself went pretty well, aside from my motion sickness acting up. Of course I was a dumb and forgot any preventive measures at home so I just had to endure it. :)) Oh well, at some point the train got delayed but managed to catch up again and I arrived at Kokemäki during the late night hours where Firith picked me up. He had recently moved to his own apartment in a small town outside Rauma and that's where I bunked for the duration of my stay.
I had Sunday to settle down and learn to know my surroundings before it was time to work and make Mericon happen. Yes, I'm actually still on sick leave, although unemployed, but my doctor gave me permission to take this job as he thought it would be a good opportunity to see if my functioning has improved to the point I can do some lighter, short-duration work within my interests and talents.

Monday came and me and Firith started our daily grind of fixing Mericon's last minute preparations and additions. Firith was one of the organizers too – he works at Rauma's library for the time being so it's pretty obvious that he had a lot to do with the con happening in the first place. And a lot to do with me ending up there too. But as I said my main job was to paint those art signs for the event and that's what I did during the week. It was a bit of a crunch but I managed to finish all six signs on time and during Friday evening, the day before Mericon, I did some odd jobs like picking out the games for the Playstation 4 and making sure everything's updated and downloaded etc. I would also help with random errands like picking up and carrying the items we got to borrow from Rauma's Maritime Museum for decoration purposes – which included old sea charts, a model ship and a wheel from a boat simulator!

Pre-Mericon preparations...

I painted the signs with acrylics and black marker for the lineart on A2 colored cardboard sheets. Upon completion I realized we would need some kind of protective cover and hence began the last-minute panic to find a local store that sold big enough plastic covers. Somehow we had just enough of that magical luck on our side and the problem was solved. For security measures I did tape the lower edge closed with painter's tape too to prevent the artwork from falling out of the plastic sheet as it was only closed on the shorter sides. We used good ol' blu-tack to stick the signs to various surfaces on the morning of Mericon. Oh the smell of blu-tack takes me back to early school years!

Oh and to avoid any confusion I should maybe clarify that yes, I am the painter of these signs although the eagle-eyed observer might notice that they are not signed Shiro Samurai anywhere – they're instead signed with my other handle KaamosWolf, which is my more personal identity that is focused on gaming, art and my other non-cosplay hobbies. This is also the handle I do my art commissions under [link will be added here later].

Rauma main library.

We had to wake up quite early on Saturday morning to do the final preparations for the con and the morning was... groggy and hectic. Thank god for energy drinks. xD But everything worked out well and Mericon opened its doors on time! I was positively surprised to notice that almost immediately after the doors opened congoers and curious visitors started streaming in!

Early view of the main entrance.

On the photo above you can see two of the handful of library workers who wanted to work on the event day to help out and yes, Rauma's library is extra cool because some of the workers totally dressed up for the occasion whether it be as the sea itself or a well-known Ghibli movie character. :D
We were roughly ten people working at Mericon that day, myself included. I know that the main organizer was incredibly busy at all times but despite that everything flowed quite well during the day and it looked like the visitors were enjoying themselves.

Mericon guest book!

Mericon actually had a guest book. I've never seen a con use one before but I know it was there to help us have a gist of how many unique visitors we had during the day and also of course for people to write their greetings and stuff! There were other counting measures in place too but the guest book was a fun little addition to make it seem a bit more personal. :)
What comes to the location itself I feel like the library worked decently for a first-time event of this scale. The building has mainly good light conditions, especially at the entrance and where the Artist's Alley was held (aka 'lukusali') along with good air circulation. I never noticed that the indoor air quality was bad at any place, despite the occasional crowding. In fact the air quality was probably one of the best I've ever had at an Artist's Alley! And what comes to the minor crowding I feel like when the location is a library you have to expect a certain layout with risk of there being a lack of open spaces because, well, organized book shelves you can't just move around on a whim. The library still has to be able to fulfill its role as a library because yes, despite it being Mericon day the library was also open to the general public. Hence why you would occasionally come across grandmas and grandpas smiling at all the colorfully dressed people because they had no idea that this out-of-the-norm opening day (library is normally closed on weekends) was because of a cosplay event. :) I know I kept running into some normies who were amused and having a great time seeing the library being so lively and full with the younger generations.

Bathrooms near the entrance.

Cafe Käpälä had treats specifically made for Mericon!

Pentti Peura's art exhibiton at the entrance.
Mericon had a bit of a fluke as Pentti Peura, a local artist, happened to have his art exhibition at the library over the summer and it fit Mericon's theme perfectly! I actually by chance met Pentti a few days before the con, he's a tiny man in his 80s with a sharp mind and an undying passion for the sea and his craft – I wish him many more healthy years and all the best as a fellow artist.

Con activities!

Mericon had a modest amount of activities and panels – there was the obligatory cosplay competition, a couple dance programs and some few other miscellaneous activities, including a book recommendation. I know even big cons have had a hard time with getting people to sign up to host panels and lectures so yeah, Mericon was no avoider of this current strugglebus trend.
There was also a gaming corner with a PS4 constantly in service along with a room open for anyone who wanted to draw and paint. There was also a drawing competition which interested quite many visitors because yeah, a few times when I checked in the room was completely full of eager artists!

All the games you could play on the PS4.

PlayStation room was found near the youth and child books.

Throughout the day there were some gamers. :)

'Piirustuspaja', the drawing room.
The drawing room was always supervised by a worker.
Miss Quackfaster could help you with any questions!

As soon as I had a moment to spare I took my liberties to check out the Artist's Alley. My work for the Mericon day was to be the general con photographer and also take the photos of the cosplay contestants, effectively making me one of the three cosplay judges as the photography aspect was factored into the judging process. So yeah, if you saw a pirate bumbling along with a camera in hand that was probably me. :D I need to learn to do the drunken sailor walk for better immersion lol.

Official Mericon poster and Artist's Alley directional sign.

Entrance to Artist's Alley, located in the reading hall.

aroaava's booth.

While I was walking around taking the general con photos I hit a leisurely chat with a few of the artists and what I could gather was that there seemed to be an almost uniform experience of the artists having sold more than they expected from a small, first-time convention – which was great to hear!
I personally bought a few magnets and some other small stuff too, will post a photo at the end of this blog post. :) Artist's Alley is one of the main attractions to me in any con I go to, I enjoy supporting art creators and decorating my home with things and trinkets that make me happy.

The library had put forward a lot of Japan themed literature.

General photo from near the stage.

Upstairs there wasn't a lot going on...

... save for the very yolo-style photography booth.

I'm gonna admit that the photography booth was a very last minute rush job and I'm not too proud of it lol. It fell on me and Firith to fix the fabric and sew the thing and of course the sewing machine broke like the day before the con (Murphy's law!). The original plan was to strap the fabric to two coat racks but when I saw those in person, on the morning of the con, I realized they would be way too low-hanging in case any of the cosplay contestants happened to be even slightly tall. We didn't want the fabric to drag too much on the floor either in case someone would trip on it and securing it between two bookshelves didn't give the desired height either. And yeah, running out of options me and my colleague thought to attach it to the elevator sign and then somehow just drape it over an art installation on the wall with a coat rack securing the other end. I don't know how the fuck it held in place the whole day but it did. xD It wasn't pretty nor professional by any means but it got the job done and yeah, next time we'll have to rethink the whole placement issue because this was clearly something that would have needed more planning prior lol. Luck in misfortune was that because we misjudged the needed width of the fabric it was able to stay put in place – if it had been wider it would likely just have slid off the art installation (cuz of its drooping sides) because the fabric was heavy and slippery and the extra width would have pulled it down...

Most of my Mericon day actually went by while taking photos, running from place A to place B to check that things were working as they should and helping visitors by explaining what kind of event Mericon is to grannies and moms coming over with their shy children for the first time to an anime convention. It's quite important to give a good first impression to those for whom this kind of event is a wholly new and unknown experience because you never know where this hobby might take them!

Themed display area with stuff borrowed from the Maritime Museum.

A pirate's life for me. My OotD was arrr!

Because of my work profile to snap photos of Mericon's happenings I found myself a little all over the place, including watching the dance shows and the cosplay competition. At least one can't say that I had a boring moment! The cosplay judge stuff also went smoothly and we all agreed on who the finalists were. I want to send out my best regards for all the contestants and hope we'll see you all on stage in the future too~

Andromed@ Duo: Special Live.

Cosplay competition in full swing.

But my day wasn't all work either. After landlegging around a fair bit I ran into some familiar faces, namely Auriraitsu and Gure, the former whom I hadn't seen for quite some time! They cosplayed Allan from the new and immensely popular Barbie movie (for good reason, it's a blast) and it was fun to see that those two friends of mine, whom had never seen one another before, ended up bonding quick too. We had our share of weird conversations but I mean, that's part of the fun with whacky friendships right? Regardless it was such a treat to see some long-time friends again!
Auriraitsu and Gure being silly. Please never change.

The two last activities for the day were a k-pop random dance and Firith's panel about his cosplaying endeavors throughout the years. I attended the latter. After that the first Mericon ever was coming to a close and it was time to help a bit with taking down decorations and stuff. It felt somewhat surreal when it hit me that it was over.

'Luentosali', the panelist room.
Firith's cheeky cosplay panel.

As I'm not an official library worker I wasn't needed for the "aftertalks" and took this chance to spend some more time with Auriraitsu while I waited for Firith to be free for the day. Me and Auriraitsu took a drive over to McDonald's for a quick snack and then we chatted and caught up with life in general. It was a nice way to wind down after a long and productive day. Thanks for the company!

My feelings about Mericon are overwhelmingly positive. I was prepared for either outcome but luckily it wasn't a case of walk the plank or a sinking ship and the feedback has been positive from the visitors too. I even overheard some visitors talking in ways that strongly implied that they were already expecting Mericon to return next year and planning their cosplays for it etc, although no official confirmation nor statement of continuation has been given out at this writing moment. 
Of course there's always room for improvements to be made and some things were admittedly very rushed *coughphotoboothcough* but yeah, all things considered Mericon swam proudly into shore especially when you factor in the reality that it was basically a one-person passion project with no previous con organizer experience and I'm definitely onboard for a continuation if it gets green light from the higher-ups! It is quite likely that Mericon 2.0 will happen because based on what I've heard, as someone with access to behind-the-scenes intel, Mericon was deemed a success by the library staff and it exceeded the expected amount of visitors by quite a good margin. So I think we can all cross our fingers and cautiously raise our hooks in cheer that Rauma has got its own annual con... ;) And then we can rival Pori's Nippori eiku.

Oh and here's my con loot:

Magnets to the left by aroaava and everything else by riishue.

I was lucky with the Käärijä merch because riishue sold out everything! I grabbed the very last print and I'm sooo happy I got it. ;__; All the stickers and the kitty pin under the Cha Cha Cha sticker were freebies, which was very nice of the seller!

Thanks for reading and thanks to all the visitors who happen to read this too!
~ Shiro Samurai (aka KaamosWolf) out.

August 1, 2023

I'm going to Mericon!

 Hello beans and seabreams!

My next con will be the brand new Mericon in Rauma, Finland, held at the main library on 5th August 2023. It's a small event with free entrance and with a focus on manga, literature and cosplay. There will be some activities to keep y'all busy like a cosplay competition, a room for drawing, a few lectures and even Artist's Alley. For more information do check out the official Instagram page. ^_^

You'll see me there as a worker or, to be more precise, in a 'right hand' role as I will be helping the main organizers with whatever small tasks that crop up. I will be one of the three judges for the cosplay competition and I will also be the one behind the marine themed artworks you'll see decorating the event venue! So yeah, I guess in all technicality I am sort of a co-organizer for the event and that makes it feel a bit different.

I won't be there in cosplay this time but rather in a pirate-inspired outfit to match the theme of the event! There is no official theme though (aside from the name, 'meri' means sea and it's a reference to Rauma's long history and identity as a harbor town) so there's definitely no obligation to come dressed as a mermaid or in an inflatable kraken outfit lol. You of course don't have to be in cosplay either, just like on all other events of the same sort. I'm mentioning this because sometimes you see first-time congoers, usually kids, asking if wearing a costume is obligatory and no, it's really not. :) Everyone is welcome to Mericon regardless of age and experience so see you there!

July 28, 2023

Kisuke Urahara cosplay WIP

 Hello frens!

I finally got around to compile the work in progress post of how I made my Urahara cosplay from Bleach, you know, the sus shopkeeper with the funny hat. Although I gotta say I didn't take very many photos of the process, partly because I forgot and partly because this was a last-minute rush project. We all know how real the con crunch can be so please cut me some slack lol.
Oh, and all the photos are taken with my phone's not-so-good camera so yeah, I'm sorry but the quality is a lot more shit than usual. I didn't have my SLR camera with me at any point while I was working on this cosplay, so no can do. Bad photos are still better than no photos and thus no WIP post, right?

Anyways, let's go!

Kisuke Urahara reference.
Okay so, this cosplay materialized in a very short amount of time. I had to finish it no later than one and a half week before Nekocon as that was when I left home with mom and stepdad to attend my cousin's wedding in the other end of the country, which meant my cosplay came with me to Gothenburg and from there to Kuopio on our return trip. I don't like doing anything with a really stressful time frame but stress is also a good motivator to get things done.

Because of the lack of time I didn't have time to visit a fabric store. Thankfully mom used to have a fabric store many years ago and what remains from it is in her attic, so basically there's a fabric store at home whenever I visit her. So I went and pillaged the sortiment and almost immediately found a perfect green cotton fabric and a sufficient dark green polyester fabric. 
I know, Urahara's haori is most often depicted as black but mom didn't have any black fabric (unless I wanted a really porno PVC haori lmao) so I had to use something else that seemed passable. My options were dark grey, dark brown or dark green but I found dark green first and decided to roll with it because the colors went nicely together.

Fabrics, check.

I immediately spread out the fabrics on the kitchen table and started measuring and cutting out all the pieces. Urahara's outfit consists of a samue (kimono-like top and pants) set, a haori, traditional geta clogs and his signature hat. I only used a pattern for the pants, the rest I just winged because kimono are basically just rectangles sewn together.

Fabric laid out.

Pants pants pants!

All the pieces laid out plus elastic, cord and threads.

That's all the progress I did on the first day, it was quite late. The next day I used mom's serger to go through all the raw edges. I have to be kind to it as it's as old as I am and if you go too fast it will squeak a lot. Poor thing has seen a lot of use but it's such a trusty, convenient lil' machine. <3

Saumuri goes brrrr

While I was working on my cosplay mom was using the sewing machine to do some embroidery gifts for the wedding and that's when the worst thing that could happen happened – the machine died! Like it would start up but it would not sew a single stitch and just make this infernal noise instead. It was panic galore. Like please not now, we literally don't have time for this! T_T

So I had to ask Sallukka for an emergency visit to their place so I could continue on my cosplay. Mom drove me home and I packed my stuff for the wedding trip. I also frantically searched for Urahara's hat because I knew I had seen it _somewhere_ but I had no idea where as it was literal years ago. I bought it many years ago at a con just for shits and giggles and now I needed to find it for some real use.
After rummaging through all thinkable closets and storages I found it inside a large black plastic bag that smelled like yesteryear!
Hat and wig found, wohoo!

I also looked through my shoes and low and behold – I had the perfect pair of geta clogs that I didn't even remember having! I can't believe my luck, I was ecstatic!
Also, I somehow found a suitable wig in my wig stash and no, I have no fucking clue what I originally intended to use this wig for; it was just existing in there. xD
Later on that same day Sallukka came to pick me up after they finished work for the day. I sewed the haori together in my friend's comfy abode in Kemi and did some paint tests. We also watched a bit of anime and had a good time.
One coat of paint, freshly applied.

Same single coat but dry. Insane difference.

On the photos above you see what a world of difference it makes whether or not the fabric paint is made specifically for dark fabrics or not. This is the same brand with ordinary white on the left and "for dark fabrics" white on the right. The ordinary white is hardly even visible after it dried while the other white is super opaque! I didn't have to think twice on which one to choose.

Mom came to pick me up from Kemi after she got her sewing machine repaired. It warranted a trip to an old gentleman in Oulu with 40 years of experience repairing all kinds of sewing machines.
Back at mom's I started to prepare for painting those salmiakit rhombic patterns. I wanted to make a stencil to guarantee that the symbols would be as identical as possible and for that I needed some kind of plastic or cardboard etc as a base. Mom had no suitable scrap cardboard available but my stepdad had a big leftover roll of 'rakennusmuovi' (builders plastic, construction plastic?) that he used while building the house they live in. It turned out to be just what I needed!

I made my stencil out of this plastic roll.

Stencil design measured and sketched.

I wanted to paint by hand with a pencil so I didn't do the usual stencil approach and instead used the cut-out shape as a measure, drawing along the outlines with tailor's chalk. 
It was quite a nightmare to figure out how many symbols I could do while having the space between each one as identical as possible throughout the whole width of the garment. I almost had a meltdown fr, it was so frustrating because it would never line up just right, no matter how logically you tried to measure and calculate beforehand and then you had to redo and redo and redo and yeah, I just wanted to cry lol.

This was my "spacing them out" approach. It was pain.

Finally got it to be as symmetrical as possible!

One coat of paint later.

The fabric paint was so good that I only had to do two layers to have an opaque, covering result. And this is on synthetic fabric, which I found extra impressive as the paint didn't even specify that it would work on synthetics – only naturals like cotton and silk etc.

Sealing the paint.

I let my paint job dry overnight and then heat-sealed it the usual way. I personally use baking paper for protection when sealing fabric paint on synthetics because the recommended heat-setting is usually "cotton strength" (aka three dots or max heat) but synthetics rarely can withstand that high heat without taking damage. Using baking paper as a barrier also protects the iron itself so it's a win-win in my book.

After that was done I went to try on the haori in the mirror. I noticed quite soon that my sleeves looked dumb as hell because I had apparently had a brainfart when I had sewn them and yeah, I had hemmed the edges the opposite way from how I usually do and I had completely forgot to factor in that the sleeve mouths are quite wide and so the fugliness of my flappy flap flap seam was very visible!

Fix that awkward mistake!
On the photo above you can see what I meant by hemming the opposite way of how I usually do. The left sleeve (which I'm correcting/sewing on the pic) is how I usually hem everything and the sleeve laid out to the right is the epic fail brainfart deluxe sew-it-together-in-the-middle-of-the-night abomination that knows no bounds nor decency.

After that hotfix my haori was done, this time for real. Now what was left to do was to sew together the samue. I didn't take any photos because it was really simple and basic stuff. The only thing I did that's worth mentioning is that I took some liberties with leaving slight openings at the armpits, this to make attaching a straight sleeve to a straight body of fabric as easy as possible and, secondly, to make the cosplay a bit more breezy – aka less sweaty to wear. I did the exact same approach while attaching the sleeves to the haori too. I figured it won't really be that obvious unless I lift my arms a lot and well, it's not like Tite Kubo followed many traditional kimono rules when he designed the outfits for the characters anyway so it's not like I'm comitting any terrible kitsuke police offenses here either by just making cosplay life a bit more comfortable for myself – by deviating from references ever so slightly.

Sleeve opening shenanigans.
I had originally cut out the okumi panel (the front "add-on panel") for the samue to get extra width in the front for overlap, but upon closer scrutiny I noticed that the okumi seam is completely absent on reference arts and well, Urahara wears his samue rather sloppily anyway and it only narrowly overlaps in the front so yeah, I decided to leave it out as I determined that the extra width wasn't needed after a test wear.
To add the little cords (the ribbon tie) keeping his top closed I just put the almost finished garment on my body, looked in the mirror to figure out the approximate placement, marked with pins and then sewed them on. Of course I acupunctured myself with the pins too.

The pants were super easy to do, just basic 3/4 length trousers with an elastic waist. I used a basic loose-fitting pattern mom had already cut out from a sewing magazine earlier and modified the pant legs a bit shorter and added extra length on top to make the channel for the elastic to reside in.

Measuring and readying the waist for elastic insertion.

And with that my rushed cosplay was finished. 8D Considering how ass-on-fire this whole project was it turned out pretty okay – luckily Urahara is not a very complicated costume to make so yeah, the risk of absolute unhinged disaster was low. I'm still happy I got it done on time as the cosplay turned out to be comfy and fun to wear and yes, breezy too. 
For photos of the completed cosplay check out this mini photoshoot I did during Nekocon. ^_^

Thanks for reading, stay crafty you nerds!