A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Actually, it was the spring semester in the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library at Florida Gulf Coast University. That was when Ella Fecteau contacted Matt Losey, coordinator in the library’s Creative Commons.
“I showed Matt a picture of Bo-Katan and told him I wanted to make the full costume,” said Fecteau, a theatre major from Conway, New Hampshire.
Bo-Katan Kryze is a character from the popular Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” now in its third season. With help from Losey (’15, anthropology), Fecteau used the library’s 3D printers to replicate the character’s iconic Mandalorian armor and helmet. Now a sophomore, Fecteau has completed the 3D-printed pieces but still has months of finishing touches before wearing the costume at Hero Con, Southwest Florida’s largest comic convention.
“When Ella came to me with the idea of printing her cosplay armor, I was fascinated to see what we could do with our 3D printers and her project,” Losey said. “We’ve done cosplay prints before, but this project was on a much larger scale.”
“The library has all these resources that I would never be able to afford on my own, find on my own, even figure out how to use on my own,” Fecteau said.
3D-printing allowed her to focus on design and details while ensuring the final product was sturdy, accurate and visually captivating.
Creating the ensemble was not without challenges. Fecteau and Losey spent hours refining the designs, adjusting measurements and experimenting with materials to balance authenticity with wearability. The result features intricate Mandalorian armor plates, to which Fecteau will add weathered textures and painted details.
“I like cosplay because everyone’s happy accepting everyone for who they want to be. Getting to analyze their costumes and look at their mannerisms and see who they are, why they are, what they like,” she said. What she likes became clear by age 12, when Fecteau made a Princess Leia dress for Halloween, another character from the Star Wars universe.
“Halloween is my favorite holiday. I absolutely love it, but if I’ve found something that makes me happy, why limit it to one day a year?” For Halloween 2022, she unveiled three costumes showcasing her talents and interests and even learned how to solder. Fecteau’s transformations included Marvel’s mischievous Loki and Scarlet Witch and an X-wing pilot from the Star Wars universe.
What is it about these imagined universes that attracts her?
“I’ve grown up with these characters, and I see them as so real,” Fecteau said. “I like that Marvel and Star Wars characters have flaws and things they’re not proud of.” She finds them relatable if not always role models.
“Loki is the god of mischief, and my whole heart is in that costume,” she said about her first costume made specifically for cosplay. She 3D-printed Loki’s arm guards, helmet and chest piece at home and sewed the bodice and cape – but not without help. “I knew how to sew, but the ladies at church who quilt showed me how to make a corset.”
Her high school engineering teacher helped with the 3D-printed parts. “It’s crazy mathematics stuff. The horns alone are four separate 3D pieces.”
Her Scarlet Witch cosplay ensemble started as a children’s costume. She added matching fabric to enlarge the child-size cape and 3D-printed her headpiece. After 3D-printing, she typically glues pieces together, sands and paints.
“Having seen Ella’s other costumes, it really shows what you can do with a bunch of creativity and limited resources,” Losey said. “I was surprised when she said some of her props and costume pieces were a mix of self-made and purchased items. I could not tell the difference, but it’s been great seeing what she can do with bigger and better technology.”
Fecteau’s plans this Halloween aren’t certain, but she volunteers at Family Initiative every year. Her uncle, David Brown (’12, master’s in social work), started the nonprofit for children on the autism spectrum. Each year, they host a Halloween party with sensory-friendly trick-or-treating.
“That’s originally why I made my X-wing costume last year because all the children love Star Wars,” Fecteau said. “I was surrounded by six little stormtroopers.
“Children get so excited when people like the things they like.”
Creative Commons orientation appointments are available in the library for students to learn the technology and use equipment for free. The Makerspace has 3D printers, a Cricut Maker, a milling machine and a Glowforge, which burns and engraves images into various materials. The media production area has video and audio recording studios.
The Creative Commons spaces are open to students, faculty and staff and can be used for class assignments or personal projects.