In retrospect, I should have used the smaller circle to trace the boob window.
The things you learn. Well, let’s soldier on, fellow fans of the good ole Church of Deals.
If you’re not familiar with my Quick & Dirty series, check out my Moxy Cosplay Facebook page. Basically, I give myself an hour to pull off an MTG character or card art, limit myself to using items around the house that I already own, and try to take some evocative photos of the results. It’s down-and-dirty, do-or-die cosplay that, as a mom of a preschool-age baloth, works great for me since I only have so much time to devote to creative pursuits during the week.
And I only have so much capacity to do bigger-ticket projects like Elesh Norn (thank you again if you voted in the Ultimate Cosplay polls) and the Liliana, Night’s Mistress (sssh!) I’m planning for Grand Prix Portland this summer.
Now, onward to Teysa Karlov, scion of the Orzhov Syndicate!
Teysa began her Magic career as a young, talented lawyer in Ravnica. She has an absolutely stellar turn in the second book of the original Ravnica novel trilogy, so read Guildpact if you haven’t already.
Get it on Amazon.com. You have nothing better to do.
Teysa is known for her pimp-limp. Seriously, she has a hereditary deformity due to her Orzhov blood. Everyone who’s Orzhov nobility has some kind of illness or disability—a curse of sorts that goes hand in hand with the power they wield. The creepy guy in the background of her art is Melisk, her one-time assistant . . . And Teysa also has to deal with the Obzedat, the spectral executive board of the Orzhov guild. Teysa’s own lecherous uncle sits on the ghost council, and needless to say, their relationship is contentious.
It’s Saturday around 10:00 A.M. I’m barely awake and drinking bourbon. I’ve been receiving notifications from Facebook all week that my cosplay page is atrophying. Fine. Let’s do this.
So the first thing I have to come to terms with is that if I’m doing Teysa, I’m stepping into controversial, boob-window territory. I mean, no one remembers anything about Teysa’s art except her pout, that badass attitude, and the boob window to Orzhov salvation (or damnation). Some of you might remember I wrote an article last year about how gratuitously breast-driven images in Magic are so played out, so my goal with this cosplay was definitely not to create a bunch of porny images—not that there’s anything wrong with that institution in its own right. On the other hand, as a cosplayer and actress, I did want to respect artistic canon, and Teysa’s trademark bosom stylings are indeed an important part of her legacy.
The first step in this cosplay was determining the correct size of the boob window in relation to my frame. The Vietnamese coffee can seemed too small, the generic grind tub too large.
MJ aside: As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, in hindsight, I probably should have gone with my first instinct of Cafe Du Monde. Fabric stretches. Dur. I’m not the super-lean, flat-chested, eighteen-year-old track athlete I once was. I have a husband to think of. I’m not trying to, like, get the most hits on Asian Avenue or Match.com or something by overexposing my Gifts of Orzhova. Dang.
I settled on this modest-looking (in theory) tupperware container as the form for the size of the sun cutout. I chose a shirt with a relatively stiff fabric that didn’t seem like it would run or fray.
Orzhov is all about wealth, and therefore, Teysa’s getup has to read “luxurious” and “quality” (even if it’s cheap as Hel), so I also made sure that the items I chose were very black and not faded at all, and that in relation to my body, the fabrics were of sufficient weight. Other clothing articles used: Calvin Klein neoprene trench coat, black polyester sailor-styled pants, H&M cowl knit scarf, Isotoner black leather gloves.
I decided that cutting out the little triangles of the sun wasn’t worth the effort (and I only had an hour). So I used a metallic pen to draw them on instead. When I put the shirt on, I realized the triangles weren’t bright enough (my pen was gold), and I had to have the hubby redraw them in white . . . but that’s another level of awkwardness we’ll get to in a bit.
On the left is a really cheap set of Halloween makeup crayons that I’ve used to do Vraska, a Returned, and now Teysa. Oh yeah, and on the left is also my bourbon soda. The items to the right are pretty standard cosmetic players—just foundation and cover stick and liquid eyeliner. The one more esoteric participant is that Nars highlighter stick in Copacabana. It’s basically a creamy, pearlescent spreadable you can apply to the face. Wow, that sounded awful. Okay.
This is me highlighting and using cover-up to emulate Teysa’s heavier angular features. Since her nose and cheekbones stand out in higher relief than mine, I made sure to apply highlighter on those areas of my face. Not pictured: I used dark purple, pearlescent lavender, and black eye shadow on my eyes with black liquid liner to duplicate Teysa’s sultry-yet-naturally-necromantic look. The lipstick I used was M.A.C. Myth with the Nars highlighter over it.
All right, back to boob window problems. Like I said, the “sun rays” of the Orzhov insignia weren’t showing up enough, so we had to go over them in white. That’s white oil pastel @Hackworth is wielding. That’s his finger on the left. This is what really happened, folks. This is the least-smutty-looking picture of the dozen or so I took.
Okay, so just ignore my husband’s face here . . . he always looks that way while concentrating. Seriously. Even though it looks like he’s like licking his lip in a really salacious way or something. Okay . . . so see the silver little fake piercing thing below my lower lip? I didn’t even realize Teysa had piercings until I looked at the Scion and Grand Envoy pictures blown up on my screen. To do the eyebrow and the lip piercing, I folded up tiny pieces of aluminum foil and then used Scotch tape to stick them to my face. I just cut the Scotch tape really thin, and they stayed in place surprisingly well.
All right, so we’ve made it to the point where I start to become impatient, cranky, sassy, and obnoxious. Cosplay is a crafter’s art form, and I’ll admit I don’t have a crafter’s personality. It takes effort. I always start the project saying, “Yeah! This’ll be fun . . . ” and forty-five minutes later, I’m like, “OMG, where’s the Jack-in-the-Box I wanna put my sweatpants on.” Above: Here, I am being stupid. Did you know Teysa has a knife in her grip in the Scion art? Yeah, son. She don’t trust nobody. That’s a good knife, too.
And . . . drumroll . . . here’s where I roped the poor hubby into playing Melisk: “Honey just stand behind me, and pretend you’re looking down my shirt while I’m annoyed.” Check.
Something else I can’t show in this article: To make this thrice-damned boob window work, I had to severely tape down “the girls” with massive amounts of duct tape. Yeah—otherwise, it was just too much. So, for the technically minded, I basically pulled the breasts down, taped them flatter against my torso, and then added “cleave shading” with purple eye shadow to my décolletage, in order to get closer to the Kate Hudson–at-the-Oscars look Teysa rocks in her art.
On to the avatar.
Now, I’m not a fan of this art. It looks like she had a butt transplanted onto her chest, and, unlike the Envoy and Scion art, your eye goes to the whitecleave cliffs first. I mean, the lady lumps are more in focus than her face. Come on. But this piece is out there, and for fans of Teysa, it’s the avatar. So I took a picture similar to this composition, but I consciously changed the focus. Teysa Karlov would wear a sexy dress to work, yes, but never something so distracting it would overshadow her professional role or her personality.
Teysa does in fact have dark eyes in the Scion art, but at card art size, I always thought her eyes looked very whited-out. The zombie contacts add that level of creepiness I think is appropriate to an Orzhov beauty. Teysa should be creepily beautiful, always, and nothing less. She’s one formidable lady.
Teysa Karlov, Advokist.
Specializing in afterlife disputes and post-murder prenuptial resolutions. Currently accepting new cases. Some availability to officiate summer weddings (extra fees apply for Izzet ceremonies). Please send all inquiries via private owl, specter, or insured roc-rider.
“I can guarantee the protection of your soul—if you can afford it. My rate is 5,000 zinos an hour.”
Date with Sorin. Awww, our last names rhyme! And our Spirits and Vampires can play together!
Till next time, may Magic be your nongendered boob window to the soul. I am tired, have to rip off forty-eight inches of duct tape, and need a new camera.