It was time for a change!
Last year Benni and I decided to leave Germany and start our adventure in a new home, in a new country and with a new language. I had gotten really bad depressions in Germany due the cold weather and lack of sunshine. In addition, the bureaucracy just made it more and more challenging to work as a self-employed artist. We were just not able focus on our passion and our art anymore and had to spend more and more each month with paperwork instead. It was time for a change, especially one with good weather! Therefore we finally decided to leave and picked, according to the Google ranking, a location with one of best climates in the world: Madeira in Portugal! All year long sunshine, no winter and mild temperatures, here we come! We’ve packed our stuff and decided to build up a brand new cosplay workshop in Portugal!
And speaking about a new workshop: I thought this blog post would be also great to give you some helpful tips and tricks on how to build your very own workshop or how to organize your materials and tools. And don’t worry, you don’t need a gigantic place to stay creative! It’s far more important to build up a cozy, well prepared space so you can fully focus on your passion and art.
Building up a new Cosplay Workshop
Relocating with so much stuff wasn’t easy though! We had to pack all our props, our massive costumes, the mannequins, tools, materials, statues and so much more. Check out our old workshop tour if you want to see what I’m talking about! At the end we hired a shipping company and rented a container to get our staff all across the ocean. Luckily we found a nice, suitable space for our new workshop quite fast. We mainly searched for a place with a really large living room – this would be turned into our workshop – and then instead turned the largest bedroom into our living room instead.
Once we decided on a place, we got the blueprints and then used Blender to plan our whole setup! We decided to use the massive living room and one smaller extra room next to it for our work. The larger area would be the pretty room. It would be great to show off our work, record YouTube videos, display props and costumes and take progress pictures. In contrary the smaller area should be perfect for the dirty work like sanding, airbrush painting or 3D printing. Especially toxic fumes emerging from our 3D printing machines would stay closed off this way. After Benni built a rough sketch in Blender we started arranging digital shelves and tables and get a rough idea of what we wanted. It was really useful to see the whole room in 3D instead of just from the top.
You might wonder here though: Why did we actually used Blender and not one of those room planning programs and apps? Well, when it comes to planning a workshop every single centimeter (or inch) is important. In addition, many of those programs were just not precise enough and limited in their variety of items you could place. In addition, using Blender is always a great practice to improve your cosplay 3D modeling skills! Our final result was a super clean layout of our two workshop rooms.
Finding the right storage solutions
When it comes to furniture, I always recommend IKEA. It’s available in most countries, has a ton of options for storing all kinds of crazy stuff and their delivery times are just awesome! Even we, after moving to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, had to wait only for 2 weeks until we got all our shelves, boxes and tables. We mostly used Kallax and Ivars for our planning. Kallax has a ton of different storage options like boxes, shelves and drawers. They are also a strong solution for heavy statues and pretty displays. I use a massive Kallax for my YouTube background, my fabric storage and my tool boxes. And btw, you can find similar cube shelf on Amazon as well.
Ivars or simple book shelves however are just great for rough materials like Black EVA foam sheets , thermoplastic rolls or paints. We even used such a shelf to create our spray booth out of it! You might want to check out my Advanced Painting Book for some proper instructions. In general though, we really like Idea as their products are just amazing to build up a cosplay workshop!
What do you really need?
I think proper sorting and getting rid of stuff you don’t need is essential as well. I personally tend to buy more fabric then I need. The fear of messing something up and having to redo it again without enough fabric is just very real. So, over the years I collected more and more left-over fabrics that I didn’t use anymore. Instead of throwing it way though, I actually donated all of it to local cosplay and crafting clubs. They also appreciated my old paints, electronics, thermoplastics and even accepted my old shelves when we moved out. Hoarding cosplay materials is probably an obsession of all of us, but it was a great feeling that everything still found some use at the end. And yes, you might think “At some point I could still need it!”, but sometimes it’s also important just to let it go.
Something you clearly might not be able to let go are your costumes though. After all those years of crafting I have an issue with storaging especially large builds as well. Something, that works great for me are fashion, full body mannequins . Yes, they mostly only come in size 0, but with enough of patting everything still worked at the end. In addition, it’s a great way to display my work!
I am personally crafting already for 20 years and by now I know all the materials I constantly use quite well. One of my favorites are lycra, neoprene and faux leather in different qualities in black. On top of that, I also have tons of gold, silver and bronze vinyl. In addition, I love high quality fake furs in natural colors and fake leathers in all kinds of browns and with different textures. My stock is also full of different foams, electronics, PVC pipes, acrylics and airbrush paints and also all kinds of primers and varnishes. To focus on what you really need, you might also think about your previous projects and consider what you constantly reused. Gütermann HT2 Fabric Glue is something I wouldn’t want to miss for any of my projects. And good contact cement is the holy grail for every EVA foam armor for example.
How to find everything quick and easy
Next, make sure you can find everything quick and easy. I personally prefer translucent boxes translucent boxes for a lot of my stuff. In addition, I attached fabric samples of all fabrics within one box. This way I can find everything really fast and make sure, I don’t buy something twice. Plus, I take my sample collection with me when buying a new fabric. This way I can directly compare the materials and know exactly what I already have.
Having open shelves surely helps as well to keep a good overview of your stock. It’s so easy to forget about something in a closet or on the bottom of a large box. Cosplayers are hoarders and it happens so often that I use something I bought years ago. However, it’s essential to actually know that this something actually exists and is in your possession. So, try to keep your stuff accessible and visible.
Crafting is a journey!
Finally, keep in mind that your workshop will grow over time. My very first “workshop” was also just a little corner in a small room Benni and I shared with each other. Later, it become a smaller, but fully dedicated crafting room. And finally we got an apartment with a whole floor we could fill up with cool cosplay stuff. All of this didn’t happen over time and actually took 20 years. I collected all those tools and materials over 2 decades and it sounds crazy just thinking about that. But yes, I started with cosplay in 2003, got my first own sewing machine in 2009, my first heat gun in 2009 and my first 3D printer and airbrush kit only in 2015. Your workshop will grow with you just as you grow as an artist.
You might actually like my article “Is cosplay still an accessible hobby?” if you have struggles with getting all the tools and materials you would like to work with.
And last but not least, I actually made two Youtube videos about our move and how we planned and set up the now workshop! Hope these videos will be helpful and inspiring! Also, consider to visit us on Madeira. It’s a gorgeous island and we always enjoy to meet new friends there!
Thanks so much for reading! Now I’m super curious how your dream crafting workshop looks like! Would you do anything different? Would love to hear your ideas in the comments!
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