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A year and a half away! How did that happen? Actually, I know how that happened, but since an explanation would be both lengthy and overly personal, I will spare you all :P

Anyway. I haven't been very active on the cosplay front, in part due to the aforementioned personal reasons, and in part due to having other, real-life things to prioritise. In short, I survived the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, plus a work trip to Barcelona last summer, and while my job is continuing to stress me out in ways that it really shouldn't, hopefully there's change on the horizon. I lost my gran last summer too, and while it broke my heart to lose her (we were very close), the life she had towards the end wasn't really much of a life, so I'm glad she's at peace now. My last memory of her was going to visit, and while she didn't say much, she held my hand and kept giving me this wicked smile, like there was some big secret between just the two of us. I had just started a new relationship at the time, so maybe she could tell how happy I was ;)

On a happier note, I've learned how to make Victorian-style corsets (overbust and underbust), and a close friend of mine got married last Autumn and asked me to make her wedding attire, which I'm pleased to say came out beautifully! She looked gorgeous, and I had numerous compliments from her family and friends, so I'm allowing myself to be proud of that. I may also be taking on a commission to make another wedding dress for a wedding in June, so we shall see what transpires in the next week or so! I'm not putting any of the work I do for wedding dresses etc on my dA as I want to keep a separation between things I do professionally and things I do for a hobby, so instead it's all going to go on my Tumblr, here.

As for cosplay, I will have some photos to put up as I just came back from this year's Minamicon, but I just have to wait for the various con photographers to finish processing their shots and put them online! I'm also planning to change the way I approach cosplay from now on, as I really am tired of rushing my costumes, trying to finish them in hotel rooms, and then never being completely happy with them afterwards. I have the right equipment and enough experience now that I should be making really good stuff, but a lot of the costumes I've worked on, even in recent years, have ultimately disappointed me for one reason or another. I want to be proud of the things I work on, and the fact is, I'm not proud of many of them! So, I want that to change. Since there's no Amecon this year, I effectively have a full year before my next convention (not sure whether I'll do London Expo or not), and I've got two costumes underway that weren't ready for Minami, so that's my plan right there. Finish those off, be happy with them, wear them with pride. I've got a year. That's more than doable. And if I find other things I want to make later on, then that's cool too :)
So, it's proving tricky with my work schedule, but work is well underway on my Amir costume for Amecon! I've made the skirt (just needs buttons and embroidery) and hopefully will have the base dress finished by the end of today. If I'm really lucky I'll get started on the undergarments too, although I'm still terrified of working with that silk! I'll take some progress photos at the end of the day today, regardless of how much I get done.

I've also decided, due to time, money and the scheduling of my panel for Amecon, that I'm going to scale back my cosplay plans for the con. I'm still doing Ursula as well as Amir, of course, and Luke's still going to be Ryu for the BoF4 group (which will be about on Sunday morning). But I'm postponing Viola again due to not having the time to work on her and just not being in the kind of physical shape I'd need to be in to do her, and I won't be entering the omake. I'll undoubtedly feel sad to be just watching it instead of taking part, but I just don't think I could do the costume I want to do, to a good standard, with the time and budget I have available to me. Oh well, it'll keep! Now I just hope that my panel doesn't clash with the omake (it's currently set for 6pm on Sunday, so I have the fear)...

Right, back to work then!
My second journal! Now all I need to do is post in here with some degree of regularity and this could become a habit! :P

So, summer is here even though no-one seems to have reminded the British weather of that, and I'm simultaneously gearing up for two things: the nightmare that is going to be the Olympic Games (boo!) and the delight immediately afterwards that will be Amecon (yay!).

Amecon is going to be a busy one for me. It's looking like I'll be arriving late on Friday because of work commitments (no holidays allowed while the Olympics are on, so I can't head up to Keele until after I finish my shift that day) but I'm going to have plenty to occupy me over the Saturday and Sunday. Current plans are that I'll be rewearing Ursula for a full Breath of Fire IV group (with SlimDefinition and several others), hopefully finally doing Viola for an Eternal Sonata group, singing something operatic for the omake on Sunday (exact details TBC depending on what music I can get!) and cosplaying as Amir from Bride's Story for the masquerade/Eurocosplay. I'm also going to be running my first ever panel, which will be about the changing face of British anime fandom. My hope is that I can run a factual discussion that will be interesting for the audience, but also one which will have plenty of group interaction and be fun for everyone. I am only slightly terrified about this at the moment, but give it time! I'd love to have as many people in attendance as possible so if you're planning to go to Amecon, look out for my panel in the schedule and do come along, I might be giving away chocolate bars or something as an incentive XD

Cosplay-wise, I've got some WIP photos to upload later of my friend's Ryu costume that I'm working on, also for the BoF4 group (it was meant to happen at London Expo last month but a lot of things happened that were beyond anyone's control so we've put it on hold till Amecon). Ryu's a nice, simple costume compared to the things I've made in more recent years - the hardest bit so far has been figuring out his collar, which is deceptively tricky but I think I know what I'm doing! I'm also doing a fully spiked wig for the first time ever, really pleased with how it's looking so far.

I've also bought all the fabric for Amir and I'm planning to go all out on that costume. It's an absolutely gorgeous design and I'm determined to do it justice, so I'm planning to take my time with it, get it looking as close to the manga art as possible, while also doing it right as an historical reproduction. This has meant using natural fabrics - calico, pure cotton and duiponi silk - and a self-imposed ban on things like zippers, elastic and press studs. Buttons and ties all the way on this one! And I may also have to learn how to do my own silversmithing too. Fun! I meant to get started on it last week but spent most of last week being horrendously ill, so this week for sure! I'll be going back to Ireland for a few days at the end of this week, and Ireland is a land of having sod-all to do, so I expect I'll get lots of embroidery in if nothing else.

In other news, I've entered a cosplay contest on Korean Candy. Like the Otaku House contest, it's a Facebook Likes-driven contest, and I've entered with my Ursula costume since it's the one I'm proudest of by far right now. Hopefully you can click here: www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi… to get to the image and hit "Like" to vote for me! I'd also encourage you to check out the rest of their gallery and vote for any others that you deem worthy - personally, I don't think the Hellboy II Angel of Death has anywhere near enough votes right now! The album is (hopefully) here: www.facebook.com/media/set/?se… , or you can get there through the Korean Candy website here: www.koreancandyclass.com .

That's all that's new for now, hopefully more news will follow with each set of WIP photos I upload. Ta-ta, and all that :P
Ooh, I've never written in here before. Never had anything to say before though, so yeah! I expect I'll post in here about stuff I'm working on, cons I'm going to, the usual stuff.

Anyway! The thing that's prompted me to post here now is the fact that I've been featured on GZR Online, in their "Cosplayer of the Week" section. Being the "{Something} of the Week" in anything is a bit of a strange thing for me, but I'm happy to be featured anyway! The feature is here: gzronline.com/leah_holmes.htm

Other than that, I get paid tomorrow, and Minamicon is a mere three weeks away... I foresee fabric shopping in my immediate future...!