‘They can be characters that were invented by you’

Mink the Satyr teaches workshop on cosplay

  • Cosplayer Carly Monsen, aka Mink the Satyr, at the Athol Public Library on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Heather Lynn Clemence, 18, dressed as Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Cosplayer Carly Monsen, aka Mink the Satyr, explains cosplay at a workshop at the Athol Public Library. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Recorder Staff/Andy CastilloCosplayer Carly Monsen, aka Mink the Satyr, explains cosplay at a workshop at the Athol Public Library Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.

  • Cosplayer Carly Monsen, aka Mink the Satyr, explains cosplay at a workshop at the Athol Public Library on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

Recorder Staff
Friday, October 20, 2017

ATHOL — The Athol Public Library is accustomed to hosting experts. This past Tuesday, the library welcomed Belmont resident Carly Monsen. Or was it Mink the Satyr? Or was it Raven?

Actually, it was all three.

The library was the site of an hour-long workshop called “Cosplay 101,” which involves people dressing up in costumes and fashion accessories to represent specific characters, often from cartoons, comic books, television shows, video games, movies and a Japanese animation known as anime. The name for the hobby known is a contraction of the words “costume” and “play.”

Mink the Satyr is Monsen’s cosplay persona and she appeared as Raven from the TV show “Teen Titans” as she explained the ins and outs of her passion. She also dispelled “a nasty rumor” that cosplayers must represent characters that already exist.

“They don’t have to be characters that were invented by someone else. They can be characters that were invented by you — that still counts as cosplay,” she said to a room of 20. Monsen donned makeup, blue velvet high-heel boots, a synthetic purple wig, a body suit, jewels made of resin and a cloak made from cotton and silk organza.

“I really like to do cartoons because that’s the stuff that I watch. I haven’t seen any of ‘Game of Thrones’ — sorry, everybody,” she said. “I’m, like, the only one who hasn’t. It’s awful. Everyone’s like, ‘You should watch ‘Game of Thrones’ and I’m like ‘I’ve got stuff I’ve got to do.’ (‘Game of Thrones’) is, like, a 60-hour time commitment. And I know as soon as I watch that episode that has the dragon girl in it, all I’m going to want to do is make her costume. I’ve got stuff to do.

“That’s why I don’t watch ‘Once Upon a Time,’” she added. “I watched, like, two episodes and I was like, ‘We’re done. I can’t.’ Everything the Evil Queen wears, I want on me yesterday.”

Athol resident Heather Lynn Clemence, 18, came to the workshop dressed as Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” She said she showed up to learn more about being a cosplayer.

“I just find it interesting,” she said. “You can dress up in different costumes.”

Susan McGuinness, 24, of Athol, wanted to learn how to make costumes. She said her favorite pop culture character is Naruto Uzumaki from the anime franchise “Naruto.”

Monsen, a special education teacher in Harvard by day, explained what to buy, what to make and how to get started in cosplay. She said wonderful wigs, shoes and makeup/prosthetics are available through Amazon, Overstock.com and Medieval Collectibles. She recommends making cloth costumes and props/weapons.

Monsen also encouraged everyone to visit locally owned fabric stores for a little-known financial incentive — apparel and apparel fabric are tax free in Massachusetts.

“Commercial fabric stores, like Jo-Ann’s, don’t have to follow those rules because they are a national brand. But the local fabric stores do have to follow those rules,” she said. “When the person cutting the fabric at the cutting tables asks, ‘And what is this for?’ You let them know, ‘It is apparel. I am making a costume.’ And they will not be able to charge tax on your fabric.

“It’s a wonderful little tidbit to know,” she added. “I have saved a buttload of money … by not going to a chain.”

More information about tax-exempt apparel and fabric goods can be found on the state government’s website at http://bit.ly/2kXpIJj.

Monsen said some of her favorite materials to use are sateen, satin, upholstery fabrics, linen, leather, real or fake fur and Worbla, a brand of thermoplastic.

Her teacher instincts kick in as she passes around a homemade ax and a homemade chest plate (made of thin foam and thermoplastic) for participants to examine. The 31-year-old knows how to keep an audience engaged, frequently using sarcasm, fake accents, loud whispers and sentences repeated with comical emphasis to make attendees laugh.

Athol resident Josh Grosky said he has been involved with live action role-playing (also known as LARPing) for 13 years. Grosky, 32, said he attended Tuesday’s workshop because cosplay is similar to LARPing and he wanted to learn more about it.

“It was awesome. It was such a great time,” he said when the workshop was over. “I really enjoyed it.”

The workshop was a feature of the Athol Public Library Anime Club, which library page Rheba Gagne directs. She said she heard about Mink the Satyr from other libraries. More on the club can be found at www.facebook.com/APLAnimeClub. Gagne said it is not a coincidence that “Cosplay 101” was held two weeks before Halloween, which Monsen called “everyone’s gateway into cosplay.”

After the workshop, Monsen explained she got into cosplay about four or five years ago following years of costuming.

“Cosplay, I love for two reasons. I love it because it is a really good creative outlet for me, because I enjoy making things, and it gives me focus. But the other aspect of it is that I really like meeting people and talking to people, because I am just a social butterfly,” she said. “So, it gives me the ability to break down the initial awkward barrier of, how do you say hi to a stranger? because the answer is, saying ‘I like your costume’ or ‘Raven is my favorite.’ It already gives me a leg up.

“If someone recognizes the character, you know you already have something in common, and you can talk for hours about that,” she added.

Mink the Satyr can be found on Facebook, Patreon, Instagram, Storenvy and DeviantArt.