Cosplay Conversation: Lisa Hale of Haelstorm Cosplay and Designs

Name: Haelstorm Cosplay and Designs

Location: Chicago (NW Suburbs)

Facebook: haelstormdesigns

Instagram: haelstorm_designs

Twitter: @haelstorm dzynz

Cosplay Affiliations: We Are Cosplay; Costumers with a Cause Midwest; Rebel Legion

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?
I chose Padmè Amidala because for the longest time—ever since the Star Wars prequels came out—I’ve wanted to make her costumes. It all started with the desire to make the very first costume she appears in: her red Theed Invasion gown. In 2005, my sister gave me a book entitled: “Dressing the Galaxy: the costumes of Star Wars,” by Trisha Biggar. At that time, I was in my Senior year in college, studying Fashion Design. But, I wasn’t nearly as skilled in costume construction as I am now. So, this costume got put on the back burner.
Fast forward 8 years later, and I finally tackled the red Theed Invasion gown for C2E2’s inaugural Crown Championships of Cosplay competition in 2014. Ultimately, I won 1st place in my category (TV/Movie) and 3rd place overall. It wasn’t until December 2015 that I joined the Rebel Legion with this particular costume. Fast forward 2 years later, and I decide to tackle Queen Amidala’s senate gown. I loved this particular costume because it proved to be more challenging, detailed, and involved more techniques  than the Theed Invasion gown. So much hand-beading!

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?
The senate gown took over 300 hours to complete, over a 4 month period

What was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I faced was the actual design of the bead work. There weren’t many hi-res reference photos available. And most of the bead work is covered by the outer robe. I did find at least one behind the scenes photo of model wearing just the dress for the FIDM fashion show in New York and was able to see (somewhat) the general pattern for the bead work. Some of the bead work I had to come up with a design that made sense and fit with the rest of the established bead work design.

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?
I am on a tight budget in general, so I try not to spend too much on my costumes, if possible. I think it cost almost $250 for all the materials.

What special techniques did you use?

Hand beading and hand pleating for the tunic and skirt.

Ruching, braiding, hand beading, hand painting, free-form quilting for the outer robe.

Embossing, hand painting, hand sculpting/molding/casting for the headdress.
I also had to use out-of-the-box type thinking on certain aspects of the costume. The hanging tubes are wrapping paper tubes cut in half. And I used simple circular and rectangular shapes to make the outer robe.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?
The fact that I actual had the ability to make the costume makes me proud!
Also, I am rather proud how close to accurate I was able to get with the fabrics and materials.  It’s all in the sourcing of your materials.

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I’d try to find a way to make the headdress lighter and more balanced. That’s the only thing that bugs me about this costume. And I’d probably go back and put some tulle fabric over the bead work to keep it from snagging. I get caught on myself quite a bit. LOL!

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay? 
I usually try to cosplay as much as possible. I attend about 7-8 conventions a year; some smaller ones in between. I also attend charitable events and movie premiers with a few of the  charitable cosplay groups  I’m involved with (We Are Cosplay and Costumers with a Cause Midwest). And I also try to troop with the Rebel Legion when I can. Mostly for Star Wars Day at Joliet Library.

Sometimes, my sister and I find events to cosplay at. We recently cosplayed as Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) at a Cubs game. The first Friday of June we went to Aurora dressed as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar (Wayne’s World) to celebrate the year-long 25th Anniversary of “Wayne’s World.” Back in February, we dressed as Wayne and Garth for a special showing of “Wayne’s World” and got to meet Tia Carerre, who portrayed Cassandra in “Wayne’s World.” We’ll be dressed as Wayne and Garth for Aurora’s 4th of July Parade. A group of friends and I will also be cosplaying characters from “Jurassic Park” when we go to visit the Field Museum’s new Jurassic World exhibit.
How many cosplay do you do?
I usually do at least 2 cosplays from scratch (mostly for competitions). All other cosplays I do are pulled together from my own closet or found at thrift stores.

What do you want to make next?

I’m currently working on is Ankh-su-Namun from “The Mummy Returns.” Her 1930s reincarnated ensemble, not the gold body paint costume (yikes!). I hope to wear it when I go with a group of friends to see the new Mummy movie that’s coming out June 9th.
I also want eventually do a few more Padmè costumes and a couple of costumes to join the 501st Legion.

Favorite cosplay moment?
Gosh! There are so many!
One time, my sister and I were dressed as 2 versions of Effie Trinket from “The Hunger Games” and I believe it was at San Diego Comic Con. Several memorable moments happened in these costumes. First, we stopped by the Lionsgate booth and wanted to do a photo op really quick with the Capital backdrop.  Before I knew what happened, we literally became a part of the booth; so many people just bombarded the booth, taking our picture.
After that, we were just walking around and saw Ve Neil—who did the makeup design for “The Hunger Games”. We scrounged up the courage and asked if we could take a picture with her. When she saw us, she exclaimed, “Oh, my Effies!”

I also had several moments involving the Power Rangers. One moment happened while I was backstage, competing in a Prop competition in LA last year. I had made a Rita Repulsa staff. Some girl in the competition says to me, “You know the original Rita Repulsa is here, right?” I actually was not aware of that. The actress wasn’t even listed as a guest. So, after the competition, I walked around to the celebrity signing area–specifically near the Power Ranger actors that were there–thinking she might be somewhere near them. Lo and behold, there she was! At a table that my sister and I walked past at least five times! So, I go up to her table and we end up talking for about 20 minutes. And she even signed my staff. She told me that she had never seen someone make the staff before, and that this was the first time she had signed one. Talk about a childhood dream come true!
This past year, I finally made a Rita Repulsa costume. It was really fun being mean to people. They loved it! But what really was the best moment as Rita Repulsa was when I did a photo op with the Blue Ranger and Black Ranger in my Rita costume. My sister was dressed as Scorpina. When it was our turn to take a photo with the Power Rangers, they immediately began to pretend to cower in fear and exclaim, “Oh no! It’s Rita.” To which I replied, “Well, if it isn’t the Power geeks!”

Favorite fandoms to follow?
Doctor Who



DC (Wonder Woman)

Star Wars

Star Trek

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

What materials do you like using?

Mostly fabrics (any kind)

Foam for armor and props


Worbla and wonderflex

What materials do you want to try?

I have such a wide range of knowledge on materials. But I really want to try my hand at metal smithing, someday. Forging my own metal. That’d be cool.

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

I can’t really think of anything.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

Leather tooling. I have been wanting to do this technique for so long.

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