Maker Spotlight: Elizabeth Kruger

Craft & Design
Maker Spotlight: Elizabeth Kruger

Name: Elizabeth Kruger

Home: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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How did you get started making?

I attended an anime convention, Anime Milwaukee, in 2013, and was inspired by all the amazing outfits on display. I used the ensuing year to learn a little (very little) about sewing, which I’d never tried before, and wore my first cosplay at Anime Milwaukee the following year. That outfit was Chihiro, the protagonist of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpiece Spirited Away. While it wasn’t anything mind-blowing, and my sewing skills have since advanced well beyond what I did back then, I’m still quite fond of the costume. Dressing up that first year was sort of terrifying, because so many cosplayers do such amazing and complex work and I didn’t know how well my simple outfit would go over. But even though I was clearly a novice, everyone was incredibly supportive and I got tons of compliments for it. That experience gave me the confidence to keep trying and keep learning.

What type of maker would you classify yourself as?

A cosplayer who focuses on garment construction and fabric choice, my goal is always to have my garments as well-made as I can get them – which isn’t always as well as I’d like since I’ve only been doing this for a few years, but cosplay is very much a learning process. When I plan an outfit, I always try to do something that people don’t usually see in cosplay, whether it’s including hand-knit elements, using my ballet and yoga training to enhance how I move, or even just selecting a character that isn’t frequently portrayed, like Alfredo Linguini from Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille. I’m such a Ratatouille nerd that I have two Linguini outfits: one as a waiter with a plush Chef Remy on my head, and one as a cook, with a toque that lights up to show Remy’s silhouette inside.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?

It’s hard to choose just one. My Squirrel Girl tail is something that gets a lot of compliments on the convention scene because of its size and sheer fluffiness. But I’m probably most fond of the wine tray I carry as waiter Linguini, which I made out of some plastic wine glasses, a wine bottle, and dyed flower arranging resin. The effect is convincing enough that the prop has occasionally been mistaken for real wine.

What’s something you’d like to make next?

I just started an outfit based on Ho-Oh, a bird Pokemon that’s sort of a combination of a phoenix and a peacock. I’m drawing some inspiration from the costumes of the Ballets Russes, especially designs by Leon Bakst – lots of layers and floaty chiffon. I haven’t gotten far yet, but hopefully once I’m done it will be twirly and sparkly and pretty.

Any advice for people reading this?

Always bring a pair of comfy shoes and a bottle of water with you to a convention, because no one should have to limp around dehydrated and in heels for twelve hours. Most importantly, cosplay is about showing off what you love through clothing, so no matter what interests you, if you want to dress up as it, do it. Love Bugs Bunny? Dress as Bugs Bunny, even if all you do is wear a t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of rabbit ears, and carry a carrot. Are you a big fan of Charles Dickens? Dress up as Charles Dickens. Cosplay is whatever you want it to be, don’t let anyone else try to define it for you.

Elizabeth will be showing off her Squirrel Girl costume at Maker Faire Milwaukee, which is happening September 23 & 24, 2017 at the Expo Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis. (She said you may pet the tail as long as you ask first!)

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I love making things and sharing with others. When I'm not busy building museum exhibits or teaching physical computing classes I'm hanging out at Milwaukee Makerspace and organizing Maker Faire Milwaukee.

View more articles by Pete Prodoehl