February 17, 2017

Lens review: Super Pinky Green

Hello marshmallows!

This is gonna be a lens review with a touch of nostalgy – you see, when I first started wearing colored contact lenses for cosplay in 2013 I started out with the Super Pinky lenses, namely the violet pair and then the red. In a way it feels like it was sooooo long ago and still, strangely enough, it feels like it could have been last week, haha. Time flies by so fast!
But hey, today I will review the Super Pinky Green lenses!


Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.8 mm
Water content: 45%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)



Okay so, the Super Pinky lenses are a fairly opaque lens with a good color coverage. It's not super heavy on the color front by any means, but it blends nicely with my real eye color (light gray-blue), making my eyes notably big and green but not with the same type of intense coverage as some other lenses I've worn; in a way I'd almost say that they are semi-realistic.

The thing that makes the Super Pinky lenses good is that they are one of the few colorful circle lenses on the market that, despite their big size, actually has a small pupil hole. This means that less than usual of your real eye color will be glaringly obvious because it won't show through as much in the center than on your average circle lens. This is a trait that some light-eyed circle lens wearers really appreciate and I know that it bothers quite a few too; I'm not horribly concerned about it personally but it's always a plus because the 'color clash' effect that especially light-eyed wearers suffer from isn't always nice, especially when cosplaying – it can ruin the illusion because too much of your real eye color is showing through to be convincing...
So yeah, if big pupil holes bother you and you're a (light-eyed) cosplayer
then look into the Super Pinky series!

One lens in. Notice enlargement.
The design on the Super Pinky lenses is nothing really fancy or otherwordly – it's a semi-natural print that seems to mimic a real iris, except that it's a lot bigger. Seriously, the size of these is nothing to laugh at! These make my peepers huge, no joke. A nice bonus with these lenses is that they might create a nice halo effect!
I already talked a bit about the color earlier but yeah, it's a nice medium green (a true green that doesn't appear bluish in any lights!) and it shows up really well while still maintaining a not-too-obvious look; it goes well with my natural eye color. What I mean is basically that these lenses don't look fake or costume-y, if you know what I mean. :D With that said I'd feel safe to say that the Super Pinky lenses are quite versatile – you could use them for cosplay as well as many different j-fashion styles without a problem.

Lens photos ahead!
All photos are taken by me during a February afternoon with a semi-clear sky. There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Apartment roomlight, natural (window) light.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Facing a window in the corridor.
White light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room.
Indoors storage room.. again. :D Different light thou!
Outdoors, back against sun. (facing wall)
Outdoors, facing sun.
In case someone's missed it the Super Pinky series, at least back in the day, used to be a really popular cosplay lens – that's also the reason why the Super Pinky lenses were the first ones I tried when I started out with circle lenses. I of course wanted the safety of picking a pair that I had heard good things about and, even though back then I thought they were of good comfort (then again, I had nothing to compare with) I've later on come to realize that, in actuality, I've had a lot better lenses since then. I'm not saying that the comfort is bad or anything, it's kinda sub-par or average or what you wanna call it – definitely wearable but not something I'd cheer loudly for since I've had better. Then again, I do have rather dry and sensitive eyes so that does play its part as well. 
But yeah, even after just one hour of wear I can feel how these slowly but surely dry out my eyes. They also felt uncomfortable upon insertion, I could feel them really clearly when I moved my eyes around, blinked or did anything – luckily my eyes get used to them after a couple minutes or so.
These lenses go on and off in comfort, I can sometimes feel how they get random dry bouts that sting my eyes and then, suddenly, they're back to normal again! They also sometimes blur my vision for a few seconds. I'd say that average wearing time would be around 2-4 hours.


Distance photo!


Want to see the Super Pinky lenses in other colors?
Check out these reviews:
Violet, Red, Blue, Hazel

Short summary:

Color: 7/10 
A semi-natural medium green that stays green and looks good.
Design: 5/10 
Simple. Seems to mimic a real iris.
Opacity: 7/10
Decent color coverage.
Enlargement: 8/10 
These are big, like seriously.
Comfort: 4/10 
Average-ish for me. Uncomfortable upon insertion and I get random dry bouts that sting my eyes. Comfort goes on and off, really unpredictable. I can wear them approximately 2-4 hours without eyedrops.
Naturalness: 5/10 
Fairly natural but way too big to really pass for real eyes.

Thanks for viewing! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions ~
Shiro Samurai out. 

February 13, 2017

Lens review: Beaucon Jewels Pink Brown

Yoo!

Today I'll review a pair of circle lenses. ^_^ Up on the plate are the Beaucon Jewels Pink Browns! I know that the name might seem confusing but this is really a pink lens – the brown comes from the fact that these lenses have a brown limbal ring, instead of a black one like the rest of the Beaucon Jewels lenses have. There is a pink lens with an ordinary black limbal ring as well in the series (called simply Beaucon Jewels Pink) but hey, I'm reviewing the brown version!



Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.0 mm
Water content: 45%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)


As far as I know Beaucon lenses can only be found at HoneyColor so yeah, that's where to get these if you're interested. The Beaucon Jewels series is an option for all those people who love the design of the popular 'Candy' lenses (EOS Sugar Candy and Vassen Sakura Candy etc) yet want a smaller version of them.

The design is actually quite simple and yet it's a good 'anime eye' effect lens. The pink color is the strongest at the edges and gradually blends towards the center, making these impactful yet not bold enough to jump at you; it's a nice middle-ground between unnatural and semi-realistic, in a way.

One lens in. Notice enlargement.
So, as you can see these are not very big which in turn makes them versatile, in my opinion. This means that, at least for me, these work even without eye makeup and can thus be worn both as a cosplay lens and as a casual lens on lazy days.

The color is a nice light pink, it's a soft shade yet the color shows up surprisingly well; I was kinda expecting these to disappear more into my light blue-gray eyes but they didn't! The color fades a bit towards the center and so your real eye color will show through quite much in the middle so yeah, if this bothers you then you might want to find lenses with a wider field of coverage. The thing though is that a big majority of all circle lenses will have your real eye color showing through closest to the pupil circle lenses are primarily made with the Asian market in mind (brown eyes) and thus the larger pupil hole isn't as noticeable on dark eyes as it is on light eyes because of the 'color clash' effect; on dark eyes it's harder to notice where the pupil ends and the iris begins (aka black is closer to brown than blue/gray/green/whatever). I'm sorry if this is confusing, I hope you get what I mean! ^^; What I'm saying is that basically, as a light-eyed circle lens user, I just got used to it so that I don't have to limit my circle lens choices drastically and thus make my cosplay life harder, lol. I can admit that having my real eye color showing through in the center bothered me when I first started using circle lenses but, since then, I've kinda come to actually like the look and hey, at least a wider pupil opening on a lens means that it's sure to not obstruct my view!

Lens photos ahead!
All photos are taken by me during a February morning with a semi-clear sky. There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Facing a window in my apartment. (sun side)
Apartment room light, only natural (window) light.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
White light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the corridor.
Yellow staircase light.
Indoors storage room, natural light.
Outdoors, facing the sun while being in the building's shadow.
Outdoors, back against sun. (facing the wall)
Outdoors, facing sun.
By now I've worn three different colors from the Beaucon Jewels series and I feel like these just won't be comfortable for me – I've never had a super comfy Beaucon lens (yet) and that's such a shame because it's one of the few circle lens brand that focuses on smaller diameter lenses. :'( The comfort is always either bad or sub-par, at best. The Pink Browns would probably fall into the sub-par category; from the first second I insert them I feel them in my eyes, they aren't necessarily thick but when I blink I feel them in my eyelids and it's just not pleasant. Then again, I'm easily bothered if I can clearly feel that I'm wearing lenses so yeah, others with higher tolerance might not find these as bothersome – luckily my eyes do get used to them but it takes about 10 minutes.
Within the first hour of wear I could feel at least a couple times how these lenses suddenly stung my eyes in that dry way, it goes away though.

Distance photo!


Want to check out more reviews of the Beaucon Jewels series?
Me and my brother have reviewed other colors too: Violet, Brown, Blue, 

Short summary:

Color: 7/10
Soft and pleasant pink color. Likable.
Design: 8/10
Simple and likable design that is versatile in its use.
Opacity: 7/10
These do make my eyes appear pink so yeah, the opacity is decent.

Enlargement: 3/10
Small enlargement.
Comfort: 3/10
Makes my eyes tear up upon insertion and I feel them in my eyes. I do get used to them eventually but they feel dry already after 1-2 hours on my sensitive eyes.
 
Naturalness: 7/10
Slightly more natural than its black-ringed cousins.

Shiro Samurai says bye bye! Thanks for reading!

February 2, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Jushiro Ukitake cosplay from Bleach!

Hello you all!

This will be my last Throwback Thursday post for this time and it's gonna feature my fourth cosplay (fifth, if we count an OC) who, just like Ichigo on my first post, is a Bleach shinigami. The difference is that this time we'll be climbing up the ranks to a captain!

Ever since I found some really old cosplay WIP photos in the deep dark corners of my laptop I've been wanting to do something with them – like, for example, show them to the world because we all started somewhere. Yes, I totally took progress photos before I even started cosplay blogging. 
This means that, once a week, on Thursdays (because it's called Throwback Thursday for a reason), I will invite you all to experience a 'blast of the past' with me featuring old cosplay photos, WIPs and stories ranging from late 2009 to 2011. Fasten your seatbelts, we're gonna be riding the time machine one last time and you'll get to backtrack into my cosplay history and see some never-published-before photos on this here blog!  
Be warned that this, naturally, means a lot of (potential) embarrassment for me and highly varying photo quality for you. ;) I only had a crummy compact camera back then and didn't even notice if a photo was blurry or not...

__________________

Jushiro Ukitake. Bleach.
Ah, good old Ukitake. He's the captain of the 13th Division in Soul Society and, despite having a fatal illness (similar in symptoms to Tuberculosis, although I'm not sure if it was ever officially revealed), he kicks some serious ass. He's a well-liked and highly honorable man who treats even enemies and those weaker than him with respect. Ukitake has a high moral code as well and goes out of his way to protect those he cares for. He's a really kind and likable guy who dislikes unnecessary bloodshed – he's the shinigami cinnamon roll, in other words.
From the first time I saw him in the manga he has been my ultimate favorite character in Bleach. I have a bias towards white-haired/long-haired guys anyway, lol. He will always be a dear character to me and, even though I haven't followed Bleach for years, I can't stop caring about him and wondering what has happened to him since then. Jushiro Ukitake to me is not just any fictional character he is so much more. I know this probably sounds cliché but he is tied to me on a deeper level, because of a really personal experience, which happened almost exactly 6 years ago from today. I know that the story below may sound unbelievable but I want to assure you that it's all 100% true. Read it if you want but I warn you, it's quite long and not really a happy one.

~storytime~

A long time ago, during the year 2011 and when I still lived at my mom's, I had decided that I wanted to start working on my next cosplay. I was aware that on an upcoming weekend the following Monday would be off from school, which meant a 3-day weekend to spend on cosplay making. I had planned to start working on my Ukitake cosplay on said weekend, which was now some few weeks away. This 3-day weekend was in the end of January or beginning of February, I'm sorry I can't remember more exactly.
So I waited and waited and on the Friday, the day before, I suddenly got struck with a headache and felt very slow and tired on the morning. I still went to school, not thinking too much about it.
When school was over I went home to one of my friends, who lived near school back then. While there I started freezing like hell and shivering the whole time. So when I finally got home (I had to wait for mom to finish work and pick me up) I had developed a fever and was declared sick. Oh well, I though at first that it was nothing more than a common cold, but after five days the fever didn't go away (it became worse, if anything!) and so we had to go to the health care center. There they listened to my lungs, took some x-rays and stuff and they soon found out that I had some defects in my lungs, gave me medicine and sent me home. Please note that because I'm scared of hospitals they gave us the option to continue at home.
Some days go by and my condition keeps getting worse, I couldn't hardly do as much as get up from the bed without feeling like I'd collapse or some such. Just simply walking around the house had never been so hard before. So yeah, you can guess that I couldn't work on my cosplay and oh dang, was I disappointed.

The week before the third Kitacon was to be held (Kemi, Finland) which I had been looking forward to since forever I had to leave for the hospital in Kemi because my condition was... alarming. Needless to say I couldn't attend Kitacon and the worst part was that the con was so close to the hospital that I could have thrown a stone from the hospital's parking lot and hit the con building. So yeah, meanwhile my friends were having fun at the convention I was stuck in an isolated hospital room, fearing that I'd die. It was horrible. I could even see the convention from my window. At least my mom went there and bought me stuff like Pocky and a Byakuya Kuchiki plush. #momgoals

At the hospital I got a room far back in the corridor. All the rooms were numbered and I got room number................. 13. Thirteen, just like in Ukitake's Division. When mom said that (yes, I had to ask her because I wasn't allowed to leave the room and, physically, I couldn't anyway) I would have burst out laughing, had I not completely lost my voice and, even if I tried to laugh, it would have immediately turned into cough attacks and I can't even start to describe how painful those were. The closest I can think of is to imagine that a shitlot of needles stabbed your chest for every single cough – and I coughed 24/7. No chill.
The reason why I got a room so far back is because the doctors wanted to isolate me and my mystery disease, as a safety precaution. This meant that except for getting room number 13 I also didn't have to share it with anyone, which was a luxury in misfortune. I remember how hard it was to get up from bed and walk those five steps to the bathroom heck, even when I was just lying in my bed, not lifting a single finger, it still felt like I was endlessly running for my life; I remember even telling my mom that it feels like I'm constantly running a marathon. I don't even want to know what my heart rates might have looked like because they must have been in the skies. There's that one early morning I remember being woken up by a nurse and she, half-jokingly yet in a concerned voice, asked me if I was alive – my blood pressure was way too low and I assume I looked like a ghost...
I also had to use a nasal cannula because I had respiratory problems and couldn't breathe sufficiently on my own. I could easily take it off though and put it back on and I remember how even being a short time without the breathing aid felt like slowly choking. Don't ask me why I messed around with it, it was semi-annoying to wear and would dry out my nose sometimes.

I was in the hospital for a week and the doctors didn't know what the hell I had gotten. They thought at first that it was H1N1 but the tests were negative. I had to take several different antibiotics (not everything at once though) because this sickness was immune to almost everything – now that was scary. I actually legit cried during the nights because I was too afraid of sleeping, thinking that I might never wake up again – and it wasn't even an irrational fear, it was highly real.
Not to mention that I had 41 C° fever going on and off in waves, which was pure torture. I've read somewhere that 42 C° fever is enough to cause irreversible brain damage and, in the worst case, possible death so yeah, 41 C° is pretty damn horrible in itself and I don't want anyone to experience that. The fever came and went really suddenly and thus, whenever it struck, it made me shake violently and just feel generally miserable; I remember being in so much discomfort I had to press the buttons to get a nurse to come with gel coolers because it was unbearable; those seconds I had to wait felt like the longest in my life. Do you know that feeling when you're in so much pain that your body starts crying unwillingly? That was my everyday whenever the fever hit me...
So, at last, they gave me this one antibiotic and I remember the doctor saying that normally they wouldn't give it to people under 18 years (which I was at the time), unless as a last resort that one actually helped. Sweet Jesus, the relief.
Afterwards I got to know what it was that I had – I was MYPM positive, Mycoplasma Pneumoniae. There's a 10% risk, I read, that when getting this sickness (which starts of as a common cold) it evolves into pneumonia and, because I'm such a sure-fire Donald Duck, I of course got it. ._. MYPM is also known as "walking pneumonia" and I've read that it's actually the least scary kind of pneumonia (my ass!) and that's because it's a mild one and does not generally require hospitalization; you could have walking pneumonia and not even know about it. And then there's me who, on top of it all, got a double-sided case and it was bad enough for me to balance on the brink of death for a week. Fuck my life. :)) I was born with underdeveloped lungs (and anemia) and I've had childhood asthma as well, which could be a reason for why it seems that I'm prone to get shit in my lungs....

I still remember clearly that final day in the hospital, when they had decided that my condition was decent enough to let me back home – two nurses came to assist me in leaving the bed and doing a test-walk in the corridor. They had to support me from both sides and even then I barely managed to walk more than a dozen steps without feeling like everything was blackening rapidly before my eyes. It still feels like it could have been yesterday my body was disobeying me; never has it been so extremely hard to do something as simple as walk and breathe at the same time. It's something we take for granted and when you realize that something so ordinary gets taken away from you it... it feels unreal. It destroys you in a way. It's hard to find words for it.
I had to use a wheelchair to get to the main entrance after the test-walk (they deemed that I couldn't walk on my own, obviously the right choice) and I remember how other patients around the hospital looked silently at me during the way down; I wasn't even 18 back then. All of this has burned into my memory – the helplessness, the fear, the uncertainty, having death breathing on my neck. Ever since then February has never come without me being anxious, scared and just extremely uncomfortable. Some years later during two separate occasions, around the same time of the month, two different family members got into life-threatening situations as well so yeah, I'm rightfully traumatized by February...

Because of all this Ukitake nowadays has a really special place in my heart. This cosplay and character means a lot to me – it's a memory to not take life for granted, to stay strong and believe in yourself. I'm glad that I survived, it can't even really be put into words the gratitude that I felt and still, to this day, feel from being spared from death's grip. Just because you are young doesn't mean that you're immortal; I used to think that nothing will happen to me yet but oh lord, so very wrong I was.
I guess it's a human trait to deny one's own mortality...

tl;dr - I got a serious, life-threatening lung sickness one day before I was going to start working on my Ukitake cosplay. I got hospital room number 13. Let that sink in.

~storytime end~

Okay, so with that cleared up it's time to talk about the costume process. ^^
Because I already had a shinigami shihakusho (the black robes and hakama), from my Ichigo Kurosaki cosplay, I already had a big part of my Ukitake cosplay done – I just needed to get a wig, make the captain's haori and make Ukitake's zanpakuto. I tend to call the white overcoat a haori but some people refer to it just simply as captain's coat or cloak or whatever.

I started to work on this cosplay some time after I got home from the hospital, which means in early 2011, possibly around March. Back then I lived at my mom's (same goes for the other TBT cosplays I've posted about) and so I had easy access to a sewing machine etc and also woodwork opportunities
– which meant that making Ukitake's zanpakuto myself was not a problem. But I'll get to the sword making later, first I'll talk about the haori progress. ;) You see, my mom is a former fabric store owner and once she closed her business she ended up with a lot of leftover fabrics and well, this has been extremely useful for me as a cosplayer – free fabrics! :D Yes, this haori didn't cost me a single cent because we had fitting fabrics at home. 

Warning: almost all of the photos below are of poor quality, especially the progress pics. They are almost all taken with my old compact camera and originate from 2011-2012.

13th Division insignia sewn on.
Above is the first progress photo I have of this project. I had already appliqued on the squad insignia really carefully; I had to measure it to make it the right size and attach it at the center. The details and strokes I paid a lot of attention to and decided to make them as how they appear in the manga, aka more calligraphy styled – I'm still to this day really proud of how it turned out. I've also gotten a lot of compliments on the insignia, haha. The insignia is made out of some ordinary black cotton fabric and it's backed with interfacing fabric, so to not wrinkle once sewn on.
The haori itself is made out of some kind of heavier off-white bridal fabric, possibly a cotton blend. It's extremely pretty, has a very slight shine to it, drapes very nicely (despite its weight) and just overall is a quality fabric that feels luxurious. I thought it would be perfect for a captain's haori because of the high rank.

Lining cut out and "tried on". Bottom details done.
The fabric that I used for the lining is actually not a proper lining fabric – it's a deep red/crimson quality satin, I think. It's not as thin and overall shitty as satin fabric tends to be. Mom had good fabrics. 
All those details on the bottom of the haori are appliqued on in the same way as the division insignia, and of the same fabric. It was extremely tedious because I had to carefully measure the distances so to not screw up a single centimeter. I'm still surprised that I didn't mess it up and it ended up looking really professional. It surely took a lot of time and patience but it was so worth it!

Finished Ukitake haori. Front.
(flash photo)
Finished Ukitake haori. Back.
(flash photo)
The haori was so beautiful when it was still new. ;_; I'm so angry at myself for ruining it at that one convention many years ago, just thinking about it makes me want to punch myself... in the face... with a frying pan. LU BU SMASH!!
The story goes like this: at Finncon-Animecon in 2011, which was held in Turku (Finland), I did a terrible mistake that I regret hard to this day. Me and my brother were sharing a hotel room for the con. On con mornings it was common practice for us to always put on our costumes in the hotel before leaving for the con, so much easier that way. I still do it. The weather was cloudy and gray while we were walking towards the convention, which was maybe half a kilometer away or something, can't remember. Oh well, guess what happened? It started raining, of fuckin' course. :)) And of course did neither of us have an umbrella at hand. So yeah, I ask my bro to go to the nearest shop to buy one and just one; we were cheap and didn't have much money on us. He comes back with one umbrella and we continue walking.
I notice that there's pools of water on the streets and it's raining quite heavily. I also notice that, to my utmost horror, my shoes (zori) are flinging up the shitty water onto the lower half of my coat while I'm walking. But at this point I really can't do anything because we're half-way away from the hotel and the damage has already been done so yeah, I continue walking and thus destroying my cosplay further with every step I take. Just imagine the mental self-hate and regret going on in my head. I'd probably had cried if it wasn't that I was so motherfucking angry at myself for not checking the weather forecast and putting on the cosplay at the con instead...
I remember that when I got to the con and met up with the Bleach cosplay group (my first cosplay group in Finland and from which I got some lasting friends) some of the cosplayers were worried and pointed out how dirty my coat was. I mentally panicked. Luckily the Rukia cosplayer quickly escorted me to the nearest bathroom and helped me clean off the big chunks of dirt; I'm still really thankful for the help because really, I was on the verge of a breakdown. ;_; We managed to get the worst shit off but my cosplay still looked horrible and cry-worthy the lower half of the coat was a muddy grayish brown and filled with stains and just completely soaked. I just wanted to disappear and pretend that it didn't happen. It was horrible, I felt so bad – I had just ruined my nicest cosplay for good and it was only the second time I ever wore it to a con (the debut con was Uppcon 2011). The disappointment was real.
Once I got back to my dad outside Stockholm (we took the Finland ferry to the con and then back; it was during our summer vacation when I visited dad) his wive put the haori in the washing machine. After that it got notably cleaner but there's still some faint stains left, but that's not the main problem
– the problem is that it shrunk unevenly. You see, I never pre-wash my cosplay fabrics (I can't be bothered because most times you never really need to wash a costume because it either can't stand it or it won't be worn often enough) and, well, the white fabric shrunk while the lining fabric did not. This makes it so that the sleeve mouths and the bottom is constantly "rolled up" and it just... looks ugly. It's the main reason why this costume hasn't been worn since 2013, even though it's one of my favorite and signature cosplays and I would have loved to wear it out more – I'm just so terribly ashamed and regretting that I messed it up. I hate myself for it, even to this day...
Psst, many years ago I even made a rage comic about the situation.

This is the best photo I have in regards to showing off the back's
bottom detailing.
Above is one of the only photos of the haori that shows off the back nicely, especially the hem details. It's actually an unintentional/candid shot – I was just about to stand up, after having been lying on the ground for some other photos, when my friend snapped this one.
Nowadays I'm really happy that this photo was taken because it's probably the best one in regards to showing off the bottom details of the haori, before it got fucked up of course.

But now, let's talk about the coolest part of this cosplay and what greatly added to the wow-factor of my costume on the old days of deviantArt
– namely the swords. You see, I wanted to stand out and be mega cool and so I tackled the challenge of making Ukitake's shikai, aka the released form of his zanpakuto Sogyo no Kotowari. A bit of an intimidating project for some, perhaps... but I did it. I guess my thought process was something along the lines of "I've done Ichigo's shikai Zangetsu so this shouldn't be so much harder...", lol.


As per usual I started out by making wooden bases. Cutting out those 'secondary backward blades' was a bitch, to be honest. I had to be really careful not to accidentally break the swords while cutting, because of the thinness. I don't understand how those back-running blades could ever be useful in actual combat but oh well, it looks cool. xD Bleach logic.

Blades painted and tsuba is test inserted.
The blades are painted with silver spray paint for the edges and the black is actually just some kind of indoor paint meant for painting walls, lol. It worked and we had a whole can left over so why not? Getting the silver parts to be crisp and clean was a bit of challenge since I had to really carefully use masking tape to block out all the black parts before spraying. I remember having had to repaint the black along the meeting spots a couple times because the silver paint kept bleeding onto the black anyway.

Finished tsuba.
The tsuba are plywood (not 100% sure) with craft foam details and painted with gold spray paint. All Bleach shinigami have their own distinctive tsuba designs and so it's important to pay attention to the details. I remember having had a hard time finding clear reference images of the patterns back when I made these in 2011, you know, with inconsistent references and the like...

Habaki made out of clay.
I made the habaki, blade collar, out of air-drying clay. It was my first time working with modelling clay and it went well, except that the clay cracked a bit once it had dried (it shrinks). Luckily it's not really noticeable from a distance and so I never originally bothered with covering it up, probably mainly because I didn't know how to.
At this point I also attached the tsuba – they were tight enough as-is so I didn't have to fasten them with anything. Besides, I would thicken the handle anyway so the tsuba would get locked in place.

Habaki painted. Made five silver charms.
Same progress as above, just a different angle.
Ukitake's shikai has those weird metallic-looking silver charms hanging on the rope that connects the two blades. Back then I didn't even know what worbla was and so I made these by layering craft foam, sealing with a water-glue mixture and then spraypainting them silver. I used a cardboard cut-out as a template to get identical ones. It's not the sturdiest build ever and especially not on a windy day – I've had several of them bending/creasing badly at the thin 'neck' and I had to repair them with duct tape during the con. Ah, memories.

Additional pieces added to thicken the handles.
Close-up. Same progress as above.
Both of the handles were thickened by adding a block of wood to each side, which I then filed down and sanded until I got a comfortable, slightly rounded grip. The blocks are kept in place by two screws that I drilled in.

I learned how to do tsukamaki (Japanese handle wrapping) and wrapped the handles by myself, using some deep red satin ribbon. I used a bit of universal glue at specific spots to make sure that the wrapping would last and not come undone – it hasn't gotten loose yet.
I screwed on hooks at the end of each handle and from those I hung some square-shaped, err, things. xD I'm sorry but I really have no idea what those are called but I know they're used when making houses and stepdad happened to have a few in reserve, which I immediately thought would be perfect for Ukitake, lol. I spraypainted them gold (they were white originally), attached each one to its corresponding hook and then I got some wide satin ribbon to make the 'rope'
– it was the best that I had readily available at home. 

Finished shikai form Sogyo no Kotowari.
Close-up view.
Those charms are actually sewn in place with fishing line onto the ribbon, which means that it always looks as if they're defying gravity. :D The stitches are invisible (thanks to the fishing line being transparent) yet super strong and I've never had problems with any of the charms coming lose, even though I've worn this cosplay out on very windy days.

I'm still really happy with the swords and surprised that I even managed to make them for friggin' 6 years ago – I mean, I barely knew how to use makeup back then, lmao. Yes, this was during the time when I thought that the only cosplay makeup one needed was a bit of powder and some really basic black pencil eyeliner, if even that. *cringes*

The good thing with this cosplay is that it's probably my most worn cosplay and thus there's plenty of old photos to be found; I've worn Ukitake to 8 conventions! The debut convention was Uppcon 2011 in Uppsala, Sweden. Sadly Uppcon doesn't exist anymore
– the last one was held in 2012. It was Sweden's biggest convention back then (and also the most expensive) and I still remember that year I wore Ukitake so very clearly it's probably one of my most memorable con experiences. I got so much attention, it was insane! I remember how I couldn't walk from place A to B, no matter the distance, without someone stopping me for either a picture, a hug or to comment on how awesome my cosplay/swords were. Just remembering it all makes me really warm and fuzzy inside. ♥ So much kindness and attention was overwhelming to me; I've never worn such a popular/attention-grabbing costume before or since then, haha. Then again, back then Bleach was still popular and I saw a lot of other Bleach cosplayers. It was surely one of my best convention experiences, even to this day. People were so kind to me, even though I was socially awkward, and I experienced some really memorable encounters.

One of my first Ukitake cosplay photos.
The photo above is one of my very first Ukitake photos, ever. I was trying to recreate a scene on which Ukitake would have collapsed from illness. It was probably the first time I ever tried out the full costume. I even remember how this photo was taken with my laptop, my old Mac. x) I used the inbuilt camera's timer and messed around with it. The quality was shitty but it was better than nothing at all because I rarely had a photographer available back then. This was also during the time when I raped all my photos with bleach filters and auto-blur-the-corner effects... :'DD

Another early photo. I blur-raped everything back then. x)
The wig was bought from Epic Cosplay and that was a good choice because their long wigs are known for not getting tangled as easily as other brands. I eventually had to replace my original wig with an identical new one because lazy me forgot to comb it thoroughly and so a horribly knotted mess slowly built itself onto the lower back of the wig, you know, the neck area where the undermost fibers are that keep touching your costume. I still have the first wig lying around somewhere, I've thought about cutting it short and using it for some other character. The second wig is still in usable condition, thankfully.

One of my first Ukitake selfies. 2011.
The photo above is one of my earlier tries at taking cosplay selfies. Do notice how I have zero eye makeup on! Back then I refused to wear any kind of eye makeup for Ukitake, mainly because "it made me look less like the character". I'm pretty sure that on this photo I've only darkened my eyebrows and, at most, I might have some powder on. I remember how I once, back then, tried doing him with black pencil eyeliner (I had nothing else) and it looked horrible and so I never did it again, lol. xD
I also want to mention that I've had a lot of people telling me how I'm their headcanon Ukitake or just generally the one with the best suited face for him that they've come across – it's really flattering, even to this day and, especially, because Ukitake is such a precious character to me. ;_; I've never been happy with my face (save for my eyes), to be honest, and so I never expected such comments, popularity nor that I'd really fit any character. It's still a weird thought to me, even though I can kinda see why people say it... weirdly enough. I'm sorry, I'm just rambling.

Early 2012.
The photo above is from my first tries at using fake blood. I was home alone one day, bored and decided to cosplay; randomly putting on cosplay at home when I was alone/bored was a really normal thing to do back then. Nowadays I can't be bothered unless I actually have a photoshoot planned or such, lol.
Oh well, for some reason I often depicted Ukitake in a suffering state when I cosplayed him. I wonder why. It was easier and it came naturally, especially after all those, back then recent, experiences...
Speaking of which, at some of the cons where I cosplayed Ukitake (especially during 2011) I did end up with randomly occurring chest pains and breathing difficulties, which made for some unintentional in-character moments. I'm pretty sure that if anyone (except those who knew, of course) noticed it they probably just thought that I was acting or faking it just to be true to the character but... I was really not, sadly. ^^" I mean, I'm not suddenly freezing in place (because of sudden pain) or walking up stairs reaaaaaaaally slooooooooowly just for the hell of it. :D
I remember that one time at Desucon 2012, me and some other Bleach cosplayers were heading for a nearby Chinese restaurant to eat. Everyone walked there in a group but, because I had so much trouble with a slowly ascending uphill, I ended up way behind everyone else suffering on my own. It took its toll, I was really out of breath (for a normal healthy person they'd not be affected at all) but luckily Ri-kun, who cosplayed Izuru Kira, noticed and helped me by carrying my bags and just being close so I could lean on them if needed. ;_;
I have a lot more similar con stories but yeah, it'd be a bit depressing to go through them. ^^"

Old home photoshoot. 2011.
If we go back to my Uppcon 2011 experiences I want to tell you all about one of my most memorable and cutest con experiences!
I was wearing my Ukitake cosplay and it was around evening time. I was walking somewhere upstairs when I noticed a really young boy who stopped right in his tracks and looked at me. I'm really bad at guessing age but I'd say that he was maybe around the 7-10 year range. But whatever, this little boy was looking at me and not saying a word. Once I met his gaze he walked up to me with his arms spread out, still without a sound, and gave me a long, big hug. Then he turned, walked away and disappeared into the masses.
I continued my con day like normal, although I couldn't forget about this boy. I kept being stopped by people everywhere (I even noticed how some would take candid photos once I had passed them) and then, some time later, I ran into the same boy again. I recognized him directly and smiled gently again. He came up to me and hugged me again, without warning and without a word uttered from his lips. I didn't mind though, something about his presence felt really warm and innocent and I happily let him hug me as long as he wanted. He walked away again once he had hugged me, I didn't follow him or ask anything – just smiled.
It was now night and I was sitting alone in the video game hall, casually watching how some kids in front of me where playing games. I was mostly just there to enjoy the atmosphere and to rest my legs, I didn't play anything myself. At one point one of the boys playing in front of me just suddenly puts away his controller mid-game, stands up from the chair and walks straight up to me. I realize that it's the same boy (if I recall right he had changed into a Bleach t-shirt) and this time he gives me an extra-long, super warm hug. I was thinking that maybe it's because he'd have to go sleep soon (it was quite late) and so I decided to give him a lollipop that I had in my bag and... and... the face he made when he noticed it! I swear, it was the cutest, most innocent smile I've ever seen and I think my heart melted then and there. ;O; It's really hard to describe but imagine that kind of expression that a young child does when they're really happy that genuine, heart-warming smile that is so pure and full of magic. That simple joy.
He happily accepted the candy, hugged me even tighter and, if I recall right, he actually spoke for the first time and told me, in a shy and silent voice, how Ukitake was his favorite character. I swear the cuteness level was over ninethousand. I just can't.
I have a really vague memory that he might have been wearing a pink t-shirt and that he had a cap when I first saw him not sure because it was so long ago. ^^" I have a really faint memory of his facial features but even those have gotten blurry with time. I sorta regret that I never asked for his name or anything, I still wonder who he was...

Oh and yes, I forgot to mention! One thing that I almost always did when I cosplayed Ukitake was that I handed out candies at the con. Mainly lollipops. I remember how at Uppcon 2011 I had my whole shoulder bag filled with lollipops – I had probably a hundred in there and everyone who saw it were floored. It was hilarious!

Another Uppcon 2011 memory is from when I was in the merchandise tent. I was just walking around casually when a Japanese holder of a nearby shop excitedly shouted out at me "Ukitake-taichoooouuu!" and, upon hearing the call, I stopped and went closer. She was really excited to see me and started saying something in Japanese to me; sadly I didn't understand much at all back then but I remember how she beamed lots of "sugoooiiiiiiii", haha. I knew they were compliments at least, it was easy to figure out from her body language. After a while I held out my swords to her (she seemed like she wanted to check them out) and she looked surprised, grabbed them and wanted her shop friends to come look at her while she did some poses – it was so cute, omg. So we all stood there, all happy and excited. I even have a photo of her holding my swords somewhere, haha.
Before I left I gave her a lollipop and, again, she was super happy and signaled with her hands a "wait a moment" sign. She soon came back and gave me a Japanese lollipop in exchange it was so sweet and cute of her! After that, every time I walked by her shop, she would smile and wave at me in an adorable way.
A bit later I noticed that my digital camera was nowhere to be found in my bag. I panicked and tried to backtrack in my memories. I realized that one of the last times when I had used my camera was at her shop. I went back to her, tried to explain what was going on and she actually went out of her way to help me find it. ;_; She worried for me and told me to go ask at the information desk and, luckily, whoever had found my camera had been a kind soul; they had dropped it at the info desk and thus I got it back – with all my photos still there and no damage done.
Some people are amazing.


Taken at Desucon, Finland. 2012.
The photo above is one of the more recent photos I have of this cosplay and yes, I'm still without any eye makeup, lololol. :D On this one you can also see the haori after the shrinking accident and how the sleeves are rolling themselves in a fugly way; it bothers me to no end and I'll try to do something about it whenever I get around to repairing this costume. The swords need repairing as well, one of the square holder things broke at Närcon 2011 when a Matsumoto cosplayer accidentally struck it with her hand the swords need a new paint job as well and, possibly, some partial remaking. I also want to add the tsuba designs on the other side because I originally didn't do that and, afterwards, it started bothering me, of course.
I can't wait until I get to take Ukitake out again and see what he'll look like in my current standards! I really want to have a proper photoshoot of this cosplay as well those swords deserve to be showcased properly, goddammit.

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So yeah, Jushiro Ukitake is a cosplay that holds a lot of memories to me, both wonderful and painful ones. It's the costume that pawed the way for me  it made me go from basically a nobody to being known as the Ukitake cosplayer. :'D I don't think I'll ever be able to completely stop cosplaying this white-haired captain so expect him to be a long-lasting one in my cosplay repertoire.
I'm probably forgetting to mention a lot of things about this costume but I feel like this post is getting way too long already so... yolo!

Current status of this cosplay: In need of repairs/update.

Thank you for reading this final post in the TBT series (for now)!