Cosplay Family Spotlight: The Dooley Family

Reading Time: 9 minutes
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Rey, Finn, BB-8, and Thai Fighters. Photo by The Will Box https://www.facebook.com/thewillbox/

Cosplay is becoming more and more popular around the world and at conventions. I’ve personally found a lot of joy and personal confidence doing cosplay at conventions, and the number one reason I started was as an activity with my son. After seeing a great panel about Cosplay Families at Rose City Comic Con a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to parents and families who cosplay and spotlight them here on GeekDad!

Cosplay Family Spotlight is a new recurring segment where I interview and spotlight a cosplay family. This week, I interview Rachel and Pat Dooley. Interested in participating? Leave a comment here or reach out to me on twitter @billythebrick.

GeekDad:
How many members of your family are involved in cosplay?
Rachel Dooley:
Currently two members of the Dooley clan are involved in cosplay. My mother, Pat Dooley, whose work can be seen at http://www.facebook.com/utterlyotter, and myself, Rachel Dooley, whose work can be seen at http://www.facebook.com/yaseminarts. My Mom and I are talking cosplay plans with my brother, so you might be seeing another Dooley included in our cosplay adventures very soon.
Pat Dooley:
Right now Rachel is the hardcore cosplayer, and I do cosplay for the fun. Being comfortable is my top priority. It was really surprising how many people wanted my picture as BB-8. We keep on trying to get my son involved; we all attend conventions, though.
GeekDad:
How did you and your family get in to cosplay and prop/armor making? Did one particular member start it or did you all jump in together? What was your first cosplay?
Rachel Dooley:
My mother and I have been creating costume pieces together since I was in high school, but one of my first Emerald City Comicon’s was the first year we jumped into cosplay together. I had mentioned to my mom that I would love to dress up for the convention, but I had no idea who I wanted to be or where to start with the costume. She suggested maybe we take a trip to our local thrift store and see what we could find; I didn’t have any issues with a little shopping trip.
We happened upon a black jumpsuit that my mom thought would be the perfect base for a Poison Ivy cosplay. After stopping by our local Michael’s and loading up on ivy leaves and hot glue, I was ready to start my first cosplay. The cosplay came together pretty quickly, and I had a blast wearing it. I think we both knew then that we were going to keep creating costumes after that.
Pat Dooley:
I have helped create costumes for the Bothell High School Theatre Department for many years and loved helping create these characters. Rachel was going to Emerald City Comicon, and I was doing my due diligence on what it was like before Rachel attended. This was the first convention Rachel went to, and I had no idea what to expect. Seeing the cosplays, I knew it was exactly up her alley, and away to the thrift shop we went. The props and armor are a continuation of learning about this new art form. I love it when Rachel comes up with a challenging character, and we figure out how to do it.
GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite cosplay of yours? A favorite group cosplay you’ve done as a family?
Rachel Dooley:
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Victorious Morgana. Photo by Estelia Photography https://www.facebook.com/EsteliaPhotography/

My favorite cosplay would have to be one we created rather recently, Victorious Morgana from League of Legends. We have been talking about this costume for about two years, so to see it finally completed was very exciting. We tried a lot of new techniques with this costume and included a lot of really fun elements such as wings, electronics, and armor. Not to mention being over eight feet tall, which was definitely a different perspective!

My favorite group cosplay we have done as a family would be, hands down, Rey and BB-8. My Mother is an INCREDIBLE seamstress and costumer. As soon as I saw the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I knew that I needed to cosplay Rey. My mom made that dream come true. A few weeks before the convention my mother had mentioned maybe putting together a BB-8 cosplay, and to my absolute happiness she did just that. It was so much fun to see people’s reactions all day to our costumes; that was a pretty magical convention.
Pat Dooley:
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Maleficent. Photo by Randy Chung.

Choosing a favorite cosplay is hard. I loved Maleficent’s horns and collar, BB-8’s hat, the corset on Steampunk Daenerys, and the leather work on Rey’s belt. I loved custom dyeing Rey and Wedding Daenerys, but my favorite at this time is the cosplay I am working on right now.

My favorite group cosplay is certainly Rey and BB-8. It was great walking around and seeing the reactions. First people would see Rey and ask for Rachel’s photo, then a friend who we had dressed as cross-gendered Finn, then they would see me and end up taking more photos of us as a group. My favorite group photo was with the Thai-Fighters–they were so clever. And then we were blown away to meet Bill Doran of Punished Props, and Rachel received one of his Rey blasters! If you want to see how excited we were you should check out his video.
GeekDad:
Speaking of group cosplay, do you always try to cosplay together? Or do you all do your own thing?
Rachel Dooley:
We actually have only recently started cosplaying together. My mom and I have talked about duo cosplays for a while now, but BB-8 and Rey were the first group cosplays we did together. I definitely think we have some fun family cosplays planned for the future though!
Pat Dooley:
We love to walk around together, but I do not have the amazing stamina that Rachel has for stupendous cosplays. When she was walking around as Victorious Morgana, she was over eight feet tall. I personally love being comfortable and wearing good shoes. We are in the process of brainstorming other ways that we can bring group cosplays to life as we did with Star Wars.
GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite piece that challenged you?
Rachel Dooley:
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Katniss Everdeen. Photo by Joshua Weiner.

I would definitely say the piece that challenged me was the armored wing set I created for our Katniss cosplay. I had played with Worbla here and there, but I had not attempted any kind of armor piece like this before. My mom grabbed some black Worbla, helped me sketch out the first pattern of my wings, and then sent me on my way with some wing reference photos.
I remember being so nervous to even cut out the foam I used as the base of my wings, let alone the Worbla pieces I used. When heated and worked, the Worbla bubbled, split, and tore–all responses I was not used to it having. I worked really hard to make sure that the wings looked smooth, sharp, and deadly, just as Katniss’ did in the film. I was very happy with the end result, but the project itself was definitely a learning experience.

Pat Dooley:
I would say Maleficent’s horns. They were a complex curve and the reference photos showed them changing their orientation. I hand carved them from pink insulation foam and coated them with paper clay and plaster at the tips. I attached them to a headdress form and the balance was perfect.
GeekDad:
What’s your favorite “medium” to work in (sewing, EVA foam, resin casting, etc.)?
Rachel Dooley:
Does painting count as a medium? Ever since my Mom and I created a Borderlands cosplay last year at PAX, I have been hooked. I always knew I enjoyed decorating costumes, but it wasn’t until I delved into the world of cell shading at armor that I even realized all the possibilities paint offered. You can completely change a pair of pants or a breastplate simply by adding some colors; I think that’s just really rad!
Pat Dooley:
I love to sew. I can create my own patterns or adapt bought patterns, but I love to re-purpose thrift store clothes as well. My second favorite is whatever new technique I am learning on that cosplay.
GeekDad:
It’s been awhile, but I used to do quite a bit of scale model building and I see a lot of similarities in techniques between small scale building and prop and armor building. Have you ever done any scale modeling or smaller scale builds?
Rachel Dooley:
I have not done any scale modeling. In fact, I don’t even know a whole lot about it. Definitely sounds like something I should look into.
Pat Dooley:
I haven’t done any small scale modeling, but I do love the tools that you can find on those pages. There are a lot of great tutorials on foam cutting and painting.
GeekDad:
Most of our readers are parents and, like me, want to share their geeky interests with their kids. I’ve been doing father and son cosplay with my son since he was born. Do you have any suggestions on how parents can get their kids interested and involved with cosplay and fabrication?
Rachel Dooley:
I know I was a pretty easy sell when it came to cosplay, but I always loved dressing up. Although my mom and I only started creating cosplay a few years ago, we have been creating costumes for years now. My favorite projects with my mom were always the ones we were doing together–whether that was whipping together a crown for our school play or making a Steampunk outfit for a local convention. Starting off with these smaller projects gave us the perfect foundation for launching ourselves into full blown cosplay. I would suggest doing just that to parents. Start off with some smaller projects to build that crafting relationship with your kids, talk about what cosplays you both might like to do, and go from there!
Pat Dooley:
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Freya, Pat, and Ravenna. Photo by Downen Creative Studios https://www.facebook.com/downencreativestudios/.

I would find something you are both interested in. It might be Magic: The Gathering or 3D printing, electronics or ripping clothes that you bought at the thrift store. And always be encouraging of any level of cosplay. Some of my favorite costumes to watch come together are the ones made with cardboard and duct tape. With the younger kids, give them an out when they ask. I do have to mention that my favorite part of cosplaying is those moments of connection. When an eight-year-old Rey wanted a picture with my BB-8, when Rachel cosplaying as Morgana gave a “poison” spell to a seven year old magician, when Rachel cosplaying as Freya let a little girl control her owl by wearing her mask; those are amazing memories.

GeekDad:
A lot of us geeks would love to do something we love as a full-time job. Do you have another job besides cosplay and prop making? If so, what is it? And do you have any tips for our readers on how to work towards a passion becoming a full-time “career”?
Rachel Dooley:
I work as a deli clerk at a local grocery store. While my day job pays my bills, it is definitely not what I do to fulfill my need to create. That is where cosplay comes in!
I, like most of your readers, would love to have cosplay be a career. I am currently working on improving my social media presence to better share my mom and my cosplay around the world. My mom and I are also discussing creating a YouTube channel for “How To” tutorials. I believe these are both great steps for any cosplayer working at making cosplay their career.
Pat Dooley:
As a hardware electronics technician at a large software company in Redmond, my job is something I love. I work with brilliant people on cutting edge tech. I have had many offers to pay for my cosplay creation skills, but I am lucky enough to say no. I love creating the costumes, I love challenging myself, and I need to create and fulfill this passion. But I want to do what I want, the way I want. I am really spoiled to have a daughter who loves working on these projects with me. And then she brings them to life in a spectacular way. Without Rachel, these characters would either not be created or would be sitting in a corner waiting for someone to inhabit them.
As for tips, just practice, practice, practice to get better at your craft. Then take risks even though it might be scary and you are not certain how it will work. Get familiar with failure, it is a stop on the way to success. Finally, be generous with your gratitude. Say thank you and do your best to help someone else along the way.
GeekDad:
Something along the lines of “Being a geek isn’t about what you love but how you love it,” is sort of the new geek mantra. Do you have anything, besides cosplay, that you consider yourself a geek about?
Rachel Dooley:
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Daenerys Targaryen. Photo by EdTan https://www.facebook.com/edtan.art/

I am an absolute photoshoot geek. I love participating in any way, shape, or form in most shoots, but modeling is my favorite. There is something about bringing characters to life that I have always adored. Modeling is the perfect way to be just about anyone I want to be. My personal closet contains dozens of gowns, mounds of shoes, vintage hats, wigs, petticoats, and so much more. Creating a concept from start to finish, (hair, makeup, wardrobe, accessories, location), has been something I have loved doing for YEARS.

Pat Dooley:
I cannot wait to try new flashy light things. I am currently working on improving my laser cutting skills at a maker space right now, and in the near future I am setting up a 3D printer. I don’t have a ton of money, so I find great deals, but then things are not plug and play. If I am learning a new skill, I am very happy.
GeekDad:
What upcoming conventions do you have on your schedule that people could see you at?
Rachel Dooley:
The next convention my mother and I both have on our roster is Emerald City Comicon 2017 (March 2-5, 2017, Seattle, WA). We are extremely excited to be debuting some new cosplays. We would love to see people there!
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