Cosplay Highlights: Tauriel

Cosplay Highlights: Tauriel

2013 was a really productive year for my cosplay, honestly. I debuted Tauriel in late 2013, which means I did 3 new cosplays that year, not counting what I made for other people. Unfortunately since then, time and money haven’t allowed me to do as many new ones as a lot of other people I know. But hey, cosplay life means having a wishlist that’s a mile long and will NEVER get any shorter, am I right?

Tauriel is from the second and third Hobbit movies, and I got very excited when I saw her in the trailers. So excited, in fact, that I made this costume before the movie came out and wore it to the theaters to go watch it with my friends. So my only references were the promo shots and blurry screenshots of the trailers. I was just so hyped about her; red-headed elf that looks TOTALLY badass (and the fact that I had a huge Legolas obsession absolutely had nothing to do with it >_> ), sign me up!

The Costume

As I said above, I made this costume before the movie came out. I didn’t have a lot of great reference pictures, and there weren’t any commercial patterns to help me out at all, so I had to really just guess how it was put together. This was my first experience patterning something out completely by myself; on things like Maria Theresa, I took pieces from different patterns, altered things, and patterned out bits here and there on my own, but I hadn’t attempted to pattern out a full costume before. It’s far from perfect, and I know now what areas I could improve on, but at the time, it was all new territory for me.

My costume is put together in three layers: on the bottom, a pair of purchased leggings and a tank top. The second layer is the main piece, which I made sort of a tunic/dress piece with long sleeves and a few pieces dangling down like a skirt, I’m not sure what you’d call it, and a zipper down the front. I should have made the bodice of that a bit longer; I cut it off exactly at my waist and attached the bottom pieces to that, which I quickly learned left bits of midriff exposed at the sides (hence the tank underneath). The top layer is a sleeveless vest with a hood, and laced up the front to hide the middle layer’s zipper. My friend and I also guessed our way through making some simple leather bracers; they’re not fancy by any means, but we were quite proud of ourselves.

Another first for this costume: no shiny fabric! I wasn’t quite out of my satin-obsessed phase, but I had the sense to not cover a fighter like Tauriel in shiny stuff. Her fabric all came from the fashion district in LA, and is primarily sturdy canvas-type material. I did have a minor problem in that my arms had rather restricted movement, so in hindsight I would probably choose a fabric that has more give to it if I ever redo the piece.

After the misadventures of doing Mystique, I learned to use liquid latex in a more reasonable capacity: blending the edges of small prosthetics. I looked up some tutorials on how to do elf ears, and with a little practice I got the hang of it. My first couple pairs of ears were some cheap Halloween store things, but for the longest time I had my eye on getting some from a company called Aradani. I did eventually get some, albeit for Spock instead of Tauriel; they are amazing, and definitely what I would recommend to anyone looking at getting ears.

Like with Mystique, I used my real hair for Tauriel; while it never got to the knee-length locks seen in the movies, I figured I would use what I already have instead of spending money on a wig in my natural color.

I didn’t have much in the way of props and other accessories; I always wanted to make a bow or some daggers for her, but I just never had the time to get around to it. I also wanted to make a leather bodice like shown in the films, but at the time I was afraid of delving too much into leatherwork. Historically speaking, I’ve been hesitant to dive into expensive materials such as leather or Worbla (thermoplastic) if I’m not confident in my ability to do so correctly. I’m a lot braver now than I was at the time, so perhaps in the future I can branching out with my crafting.

The Experience

First off, I had a lot of fun as Tauriel. I loved being an elf prancing around the woods! However, one thing became abundantly clear the first time I watched Desolation of Smaug in the theatres: Everything I thought about how the costume actually went together was COMPLETELY wrong. I was still proud though, because hey, I didn’t have a lot to go on in the first place. Other than being inaccurate, it looked pretty darn good.

Tauriel made it around the con circuit a few times over the next few years. I think the first convention I wore her was ALA 2014 or so, and later with my friend as Thorin. However, she didn’t get a lot of recognition, which made me VERY sad. I recall one AX where I was talking to this amazing looking Thranduil cosplayer, and someone came up while we were chatting and went “Omg Thranduil! I love the Hobbit! You’re the only cosplay from it I’ve seen at all!” And I just kinda… stood there… yeah… A part of me wanted to speak up and say “hey, I’m from the same movie!” but that would have been rude, so I just kept my mouth shut.

A lot of people also mistook me for Link from Legend of Zelda, so that was just extremely confusing. It just kinda left me wondering… How? Why do you think that? Not every elf is Legend of Zelda! But even with people who didn’t recognize me, I got a lot of “I don’t know who you are, but you look cool!” which is always nice to hear.

Honestly, the most fun I had as Tauriel was just hanging out with my friends. Even if our cosplays didn’t match, it was a lot of fun roleplaying as we waited in line for panels. It’s honestly really interesting to sit and go “Well, these characters don’t know each other… But what if they did?” And now, one of our favorite things while cosplaying is figuring out our characters’ dynamics, even across different fandoms. If anyone is curious, I’m talking Tauriel meets Grantaire from Les Miserables; what a crossover, right?

The Future

So I haven’t cosplayed Tauriel in a while. I mean a LONG while. I don’t have any plans to bring her back any time soon, but honestly, the minute anyone comes to me saying they’re putting together a Hobbit group, you can bet I’ll be down! Although bringing her back would depend on two things: one, I don’t have the long hair I spent several years growing out for her anymore (and plan to keep it short for the time being), so I would need to invest in a wig. And two, if I want to do her again, it’s redesign time. I’ve wanted to redo her outfit since I first saw it in the movie, and now that I have more knowledge and skill, I think I could really put a lot more into it than I had back then. That’s not to say I’m not proud of the costume I made, though; it was the best I could do with my skills at the time. I would just love the opportunity to do it again, to really see how far I’ve come in the past few years.

Meanwhile, like with all my cosplays, I’m determined to get as much use out of Tauriel’s outfit as I can. I’m still using the individual pieces here and there for things like outfits for the Renaissance Faire. So who knows, maybe look at some of my other cosplays, and you might just see a piece of Tauriel’s legacy.

Recognize those bracers?

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