Jedi and Sith robes are as essential to the Star Wars universe as are lightsabers and the Force. Ken Hampton of Hampton’s Handcrafted Lightsabers and his wife Meryem of Hampton’s JEDI Outfitters provide such essentials for cosplayers everywhere. As a fan of the Star Wars universe since the original movie’s first release, Ken broadened Meryem’s galactic horizons and nerdvana was achieved. Even their daughter is no stranger to the Force! Ken and Meryem sat down with us today to discuss crafting, costuming, and of course, cosplay essentials.
Can you tell our readers a little something about Hampton’s Handcrafted Lightsabers and Hampton’s JEDI Outfitters?
Ken: Hampton’s Hand-crafted Lightsabers makes high-quality, 100% custom LED sabers for our customers. Every saber is a one-of-a-kind. We are also preparing to release a line of customizable ready-to-sell sabers in the near future. I have a YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/hhcls
Meryem: Hampton’s JEDI Outfitters makes custom-fitting Star wars Costumes. We sell trough Etsy under Hampton’s Jedi Outfit; also we do leather belts and resin buckles. We do our own thing, like he has his team he works with and I have my team I work with. We usually do our own but also help each other if needed.
Which came first: Star Wars or the Hamptons? Did your love of each other bring you both to the Force or did your love of the Force bring you together?
Ken: I fell in love with Star Wars in 1977, before Meryem was even born. 😉
Meryem: We met in 2004 and I knew about Star Wars, but he introduced me more about it throughout the years.
How did each of you get started with your crafting?
Meryem: I have been crafting since I was in high school. Me and my sisters had a jewelry home business back then. I also made purses/bags and sold them on Etsy before I started on costumes. I always loved to do my own thing.
Ken: I have a background and degree in mechanical design. I’ve always been comfortable making things. It didn’t occur to me to make my own lightsaber until about 3 years ago when I saw some high-end saber props and wanted one, but we didn’t want to spend the money to buy one. So I decided to make my own.
Ken how much time on average goes into each lightsaber?
Ken: It usually takes me a week or two to build a saber, depending on the complexity of it. I have a full-time day job right now, so I work on sabers mostly in the evenings and on weekends.
Meryem how do you devise the patterns for your Jedi and Sith costumes?
Meryem: I usually find a normal clothing pattern to use as a guide first to get sizing right and then make the design look different the way I want for the costume and then redo pattern on blank paper. If I can’t find something close enough I try to make it and see til I get it right.
How long have each of you been involved in cosplay/Star Wars costuming?
Meryem: I have been doing cosplay/costuming almost 5 years, but the past 3 years only has been Star Wars.
Ken: It’s been a general interest for at least 5 years, but since starting the businesses, Star Wars has definitely been a focus.
How do you find the materials you need for your crafting? The quality of your products is amazing.
Meryem: I go to stores, I look online, collect samples, try them out to see how fabric fits to costumes.
Ken: I use some basic parts like switches and sound cards from www.thecustomsabershop.com . I buy my aluminum online and I buy a lot of miscellaneous supplies from Amazon. I also have a set supplier for my LEDs. So really, it comes down to a comprehensive search online to find what suits my needs, and in some cases I just use my 3D printer or sculpting/casting to make what I need.
How does it feel knowing you can use your talents to help the cosplay community?
Ken: It feels fantastic. I’m very good friends with the cosplayer Mowseler. She has bought three of my sabers for herself and one for her boyfriend, Reroll Cosplay. I love seeing my sabers in their cosplay pics. But that isn’t limited to them. Even with the casual cosplayer, I love to see how my sabers complete their costumes. It gives me a great sense of pride when they tell me how much attention they get because of the saber I made for them.
Meryem: I am also friends with cosplayers. It feels great to see my costumes on people who are passionate about Star Wars.
Speaking of Star Wars passion, it seems to run in the family! Has your daughter shown any interest in taking after her parents in terms of a creative cosplay outlet like sewing or fabrication?
Ken: Every day. She is constantly telling us that she is going to learn to make sabers and costumes. She also has given us creative input on the things we have made for her.
Meryem: I am currently working on a black/purple Jedi set for both of us because she wants to be “match Jedi” with Mommy. (She doesn’t get the color concept of Jedi/Sith yet 🙂 )
If you had to give your three top cosplay tips to new cosplayers, what would they be?
Ken: 1. See what found items can be utilized in your costumes and props. 2. Research different skill sets like resin casting, EVA foam forming, and simple tool use. You’ll be surprised how much you can do yourself at little cost. 3. Don’t give up. You will make mistakes…learn from them, improve, and be awesome!
Meryem: Self improving, don’t give up, and have fun 😉
And finally, since this is Cosplay Closet Essentials, list your top three must-haves for any cosplayer’s closet or workspace.
Meryem: Sewing machine, Jedi costumes, great scissors.
Ken: 1. A cutting mat or similar work surface. 2. Sharp cutting instruments. 3. Contact cement.