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Riverdale's Betty Cooper. A Rococo-style Merida from Pixar's Brave. Pennywise.
What do all these cosplays have in common? If you don't get the hair right, no one's going to know who you are.
Enter Marcia Baird, standout cosplayer and owner of ConHair Wigs in Washington State. An accomplished artist with business savvy, Baird has her MFA in fine arts, wig, and makeup design, but she's only been cosplaying about a year. She did, however, work a decade in a theater, which added historical texture and sophistication to her aesthetic. By day, she works in personal finance, but by night she turns herself into fanciful versions of Disney and Star Wars characters, all the while making wig commissions for cosplayers around the world.
Bridging her passion for theatre and geek media, Baird has generated a respectable online following for her work. She believes her expertise in wig crafting can really enhance the projects of cosplayers everywhere — and as a bonus, cosplay wig crafting connects Baird to people who share her geeky interests.
Baird spoke with SYFY WIRE about her role in the Pacific Northwest geek community, her favorite projects to date, and the special version of Captain Marvel she'd love to design for herself.
What geek media were you into as a kid? Does any of that hold up for you?
I grew up loving Star Wars and Star Trek. My brother and I watched all of the movies multiple times. When my niece stayed with us a few years ago I was flabbergasted that she'd never seen Star Wars. I made her watch all of them. I have the original versions of Episodes IV, V and VI on DVD and had her watch those versions. They have a special place in my heart.
I also fell in love with The Princess Bride. I bought the book in high school and loved it just as much. My husband and I incorporated the "Mawage" speech into our wedding ceremony this fall.
When did you first see cosplay, and how did you decide to try it out?
I first saw cosplay about eight years ago, when I was still in grad school. I decided to give it a try this spring when a friend convinced me to do a Disney Rococo with her for Emerald City Comic Con. I didn't need much convincing!
Can you describe your first ever look? How did you construct it?
For the dress, I bought a base, and I replaced some fabric in the bodice, hemmed it, and embellished. I broke the zipper in the process and got it working again, only upside down. The tartan I wore is that of my husband's family.
For the wig, I bought a base from Arda Wigs, hand tied the front hairline to match my own, built a cage for the structure, and styled the wig around it. I added the bears during the styling process. They're my favorite part about the entire cosplay.
What's been the most challenging work you've done so far?
I made a Spryo inspired wig with hair spiked in a mohawk and a long braided tail. I spliced together yellow and purple wigs. I added about three extra packs of wefted hair to give some volume. I also colored the roots of the hair as I spiked the wig. I learned a lot throughout the entire process. It took about six months to complete (I moved in the middle of that) and was so happy with the final result.What's the geek scene like where you live?
So far I've only attended Emerald City Comic Con in 2018 and 2019. I'm heading to the Rose City Comic Con this fall. It's my dream to attend the San Diego Comic Con and DragonCon. Being halfway between Portland and Seattle, I'm in a smaller town, but the local college had it's own con that I attended in February.
The geek scene is picking up around here. I'm finding more comic book and tabletop gaming stores than I used to.
If you had unlimited time and resources, what's your ideal cosplay?
I would like to do a 1940s style bombshell cosplay of Brie Larson's Captain Marvel.