The dollmaker’s costume closet

Whose House? Emma Horning’s House!

Emma Horning in her home.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Whether it be for cosplay or dollmaking, Emma Horning finds a great deal of delight in creating some really cool stuff.

“I would consider myself a hobbyist nerd.”

Horning first began cosplay at the age of 15. “My brother, actually, got me into it. He (cosplayed) the year prior, and I got to go to the convention with him and carry his helmet when he needed to talk.”

For the uninitiated, cosplay (a portmanteau of “costume play”) is a practice in which participants create and wear costumes of their favourite characters from pop culture. It’s popular as both a hobby and an art form on the comic convention circuit.

In the following year, when Horning’s older brother decided not to make a costume, she decided to craft one herself. “I made that one in a month and a half, entirely hand-sewn, because I’m nuts.”

In terms of how she determines what to cosplay, Horning says it’s half “fuck this shit, I wanna be a princess” and half “that looks like it’s impossible. I bet I can make it.”

Due to the cost, Horning takes on one big cosplay project per year. However, one project spans from April to July.

Horning says she has two favourite cosplays: “from a making standpoint, I did Camilla from Fire Emblem Fates. The black-and-gold, purple-hair one. That one was my first time making armour.

“My favourite one to wear is ... Cinderella, and that skirt is wider than most door frames.”

With cosplay only lasting for a few months out of a year, Horning also channels her creative energy into dollmaking.

When asked if she’ll ever sell her dolls, Horning says she never will. “I spend too much time on each single one for me to ever want to sell it.

“When it comes to anything artistic, I’m a goddamn hoarder.”

1) It came with the place

“Honestly, everything that is in there, other than the teacup, ain’t mine.”

2) Dilly the favourite doll

“She’s got her little book, which (is) actually filled with teeny-tiny little words, cause I’m extra.”

3) An almighty dragon

“The dragons are mostly from Dungeons & Dragons. I did paint this one ... I painted him in secret.”

4) Dungeons & Dragons done right

“I decided to get even more extra, and, occasionally, some of (the miniatures) have straight-up sculpted additions to them. Like this one did not come with a skirt. I built that.”

5) A peculiar Jawa with a peculiar hat

“The hat’s name is George.”

“George was made for a Halloween costume two years ago. I take Halloween just slightly less seriously than I do cosplay, so I will make $300 Halloween costumes, cause I want to.”

6) Snorlax, I choose you!

“Snorlax is my particular favourite. He was a birthday/Valentine’s gift from my boyfriend.”

7) Can you catch ‘em all?

“My boyfriend texted me one day saying ‘hey, look, they have Pokémon soda, can you get it for me?’ We have no intention to drink them.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 6, 2020)

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