My name is Nina Mkhoiani, I live in a small beautiful county – Georgia. Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Cosplay culture and costume making are not popular here, like really not popular. Most of the population in my country has never heard of cosplay, they don’t understand why the person would do that, promote that or even be interested in that… But cosplayers here still exist!
There is a tiny community of cosplayers in Tbilisi – Capital of Georgia. It is very hard to get the materials here. It’s funny when I go shopping in some construction material shops or shoemaking markets. Just imagine, the girl enters one of such markets, their customers are grown men usually, and searches for the Eva Foam and other materials she can use to make the cosplay. When I ask whether they have something that can replace Eva or something else that might be handy, they look at me as if I was asking for something magical )) When I try to explain what do I need it for, their face expressions becomes even more confused. Everyone is asking, why I’m doing this. Looks like there is no definition of “Because I like it! Because I want to promote it and I want to educate people in my country, I want to show them that we exist here and we are doing it because we enjoy it.” This is the art, just like painting, sculpting etc…
Finding the materials that can replace somehow, well known expensive materials that I can only buy only online because we don’t have anything here is pretty hard. I have to run over the places, you would not like to go shopping too, in order to find something useful. I call it “FARMING” 😀 and believe me the loot drop rate is very rare.
In early 2013 I had no idea of what the cosplay was, like most of the population here. I just loved the Halloween (which was pretty restricted here, my country is religious and the church doesn’t like Halloween at all) so usually, there were some spots in my city where you could go in your costume and have a little bit of fun. This was the only reason I was crafting something on my own. In 2013 I saw the tutorial about how to make Arthas cosplay from World of Warcraft (i’m a huge fan of World of Warcraft), that time I owned the hostel, was spending all the time there to handle the business, which eventually failed due the currency drop, but this was the place where everything has started. I have started to craft in a small room right in the hostel. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it so I have bought the Insulation Foam Cans for the Frostmourne Replica, once it cooled down I have carved the replica out of it, using the cheap paper knife. I couldn’t leave the hostel event for a second, as I was alone there (no season) in order to get the white PVA glue. Found some flour in the kitchen, so I boiled my very own organic GLUE for paper-mache. Layer by layer, day by day I was coating the weapon. Used the foamy transparent synthetic stripes (i don’t even know how it is called, they usually use it to glue around the windows, in order to keep the warmth) for the horns, rolling and cutting each one, I was super happy to find the glue gun in tools. One of my customers agreed to sacrifice his hiking/yoga mat, so I could craft the armor out of it. The skulls, dots and some “landscape” touches are made of cold porcelain, which I have “cooked” myself as well.
Once I have finished it, I decided to take part in local cosplay convention…I felt so awkward like I had the feeling that I did not belong there, I didn’t know anyone at all. No support from friends, no one was with me there that time, only my boyfriend, my sister, cousin and his friend – Family Support 😀 Most of the time I was hiding somewhere in the corner away from everyone. I walked up the stage and … there we go! it happened! I will never forget that feeling I was not Nina that moment…I was something, someone else and it was amazing. As soon as I went down the stage, I have returned to my special corner 😀 where I used to stand in the back somewhere in the dark still feeling excited, nervous and awkward. Finally, they started to announce the winners, guess what? I didn’t believe my ears, suddenly guys started congratulating me and pushing me towards the stage…I won that contest with my first costume, I have been working so hard on. That was a huge a huge stimulus for me to continue doing it, crafting, painting, cutting, carving and going for the “FARMING” quests in order to find even more materials, new things to use and share it with other guys in cosplay community of Georgia.
After closing down my Hostel, I continued working at home. Creating and making experiments with new techniques, new crazy materials. Used the green transparent food container in order to make the crystal for Jaina’s staff, confused the seller in building materials store, asking him to cut only one meter of the water pipe. Went to the advertisement workshop, to get some scraps of PVC as I had no idea where to get the whole piece. Made the box out of it, glued the 50 cents flashlight inside and voila – battery-operated glowing crystal.
I decided to move forward and saved some money for my first trip to Comic Con Frankfurt. Was the first cosplayer, who ever traveled to the convention out of the country. I even took the Georgian flag with me and posed next to the Comic Con press banner. After Georgian conventions, seeing Comic Con stepping on the stage there, omg! I was in heaven.
Now I work in a travel agency full time, most of my income is my very own investment into my crafts. My favorite work so far is the DeathWing, got inspired by Jessica Nigri’s version of the mighty fire dragon. Had a chance to be a judge at a local convention. People in Georgia start showing the interest, as I get more and more invitations on local leading broadcast channels. We are growing here and I love it.
My story gives me more and more inspiration to move forward, share my experience and make the cosplay culture more or less popular in my country. Today people might think that I’m a bit crazy because they yet don’t understand why should the grown woman be doing all those “childish” things, especially if it does not bring the profit. I have thought about giving up this “childish” things and “get the life”, but then I realized that I have to change the community and views instead of giving up my goals and ideas I need to educate people and share it all… I believe, one day they will understand.
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My name is Nina Mkhoiani and I’m a cosplayer from Georgia
Arthas. It was my first cosplay that brought me a victory on local convention
Sylvanas Windrunner. Here I used the epoxy dual component glue to harden the costume and it was a bad idea
Jaina. I didn’t have the sewing machine that time, most of the fabrics were glued together or sewed by hands
Stitched them; Thin Foam and acrylic paint, primed with PVA
Shoulders made of PVC scraps I found in advertisement workshop (they use it for the light boxes)
Vengeful Spirit from Dota 2. The first costume that traveled to my first convention out of Georgia
I was trying to make the wig, well didn’t like the result, so I decided to use 2 wigs, one is modified and crafted by me – on the top, on the bottom just a regular wig
I start from drawing on a cardboard, before I fill it up with insulation foam
Insulation foam and bunch of layers of the magazines
Vengeful Spirit’s weapon: Insulation Foam, Paper-Mache, Thin Foam, Pipe, wood putty and lots of pva and glue gun
Found something like Eva foam. Finally something I can give a shape after heating up
Lady Deathwing from World of Warcraft. Each stone is cut out of the Eva and Floor Mat foam. Sanded, shaped and glued on
Working on my Deathwing Cosplay, I was spending all weekends in the basement. Sometimes my friends were visiting me to bring me some coffee and help me to cut out all those tiny stones
The base of the shoulder is made of thin foam, I have shown you above, the sick rocks are made of the floor mat
I have carved out the horns from the pink insulation foam, sanded and added thinner stones from thin foam, in order to create some rocky effect
Same method, base is thin foam, rocks and sides are made of floor mats. The curvy ornaments are drawn using the hot glue gun
Each detail is cut out separately (no measurements) and glued on, one by one, using scissors and hot glue gun
Deathwing Jaws, with a comfortable chin holder
Those rocks! Drawing, cutting, sanding them took about 70% of time
I hope you enjoyed my costumes!