CGW is a club for amateurs and professionals who like to make historical, science fiction, or fantasy costumes.

Judges for Scholarships

Costumer’s Guild West’s members are the people who judge our skill-based scholarships. If you have the time and inclination, you can help!

What is involved?

  • You must be willing to attend the judging. For masquerades, this means that you will be attending the convention at which the masquerade takes place. Some conventions may allow you to judge if you are not a member of their convention, but it is much more convenient for everyone if you are a member.
  • You must be a current CGW member.
  • You must have the ability to be impartial. If your best friend is hoping to win the prize, you may wish to defer from judging to save hurt feelings.
  • You must be willing to speak with the contestants and the other judges and the masquerade director.
  • We would love it if you could write a short article for Squeals to tell them about the winner.
  • You must be in contact with the scholarship chair prior to the convention, and the masquerade director must be in contact with the scholarship chair prior to the convention.

Become a judge!

  • Look at the list of conventions. Decide what you are attending, and what you have time for.
  • Contact the scholarship chair. The current scholarship chair is Colleen Crosby. colleency@nullgmail.com
  • The scholarship chair will mark you down for the masquerade you’d like to judge and/or send you an email when we have a convention without a judge, to see if you’re interested.

The masquerade

  • You will be emailed a letter to give to the winner, a form to return to the scholarship chair, and a snippet to read at the awards. Print these out to take to the masquerade. (Currently the awardee receives one Costume College membership, one hotel night during the convention, and an online membership to CGW.)
  • Contact the masquerade director to let them know you are the judge. They may ask if you can attend a pre-masquerade meeting.
  • Arrive at the green room (or whatever they are calling the holding area for contestants) in time for the workmanship judging.
  • Without disturbing anything else that is taking place in the green room, chat with the contestants and study  their costumes. Remember that the judges appointed by the masquerade director have precedence in speaking with the contestants, and always follow the masquerade director’s rules.
  • When the masquerade starts, be sure to watch. The masquerade director will tell you where to sit. This may be with the judges, behind the judges, or somewhere else in the audience. When they introduce their judges, they might not introduce you.
  • When the judges are excused, leave with them. The masquerade director will let you know whether you will be in the judging room or asked to wait outside. If you have any further questions for the contestants, now is the time.
  • Let the masquerade director know who you are awarding the prize to. They may or may not wish to give them a certificate from the convention. Write the name of the award winner on the CGW award paperwork and on the form to return to the scholarship chair.
  • When the judges return to the masquerade, return with them. You may be asked to give the award yourself, or the director may wish to hand it out. Please work this out between you and the director, based on how they run their masquerade and your comfort level with speaking. The snippet of information about CGW may be read by the prensenter or by you. If you read it, you may wish to improvise in speaking about how much you love Costume College, which is fine. However, please remember that everyone is tired and ready to hit the parties or go to bed, so please keep it short.
  • Find the award winner! Ask them to fill out the rest of the information on the form to return to the scholarship chair. Take a picture of them, if possible.
  • Within one week of the convention, mail or email the form to the scholarship chair.
  • If possible, within three weeks of the convention, write an article about the experience. It can be as short as one paragraph, and you can write about the contestant or about the whole experience. Send it to the Squeals editor, currently Rebecca Howard authenticthreads@nullmac.com

Now the hard part – how to judge

What we really want from a masquerade scholarship winner is the person who could benefit most from a scholarship to Costume College. This usually means someone who is showing promise in their costume, but they’re not quite there. We don’t necessarily award to the very best costume we see. It is important to speak to the contestants, because the costume doesn’t always show you who has promise. It’s also important to speak to them to find out if they won, would they be able to attend. Some people travel a distance to attend a particular convention and don’t have the desire or even the means to come back for our event.

Things to ask/say to the contestant

  • Tell me about your costume.
  • What did you learn making your costume?
  • What are you most proud of on your costume?
  • Did you use any special techniques?
  • What parts did you make yourself? (This is a tricky one, because some people are unclear of what this means. They might say “everything,” and it turns out that they bought most of the pieces. And other people are embarrassed to admit that they didn’t shear a sheep to card the wool for their fabric. )
  • Tell me about your inspiration.
  • Do you have any documentation?
  • Are you part of a group? If so, what parts of the costumes did you make across the entire group?

Things to look at on the costume

  • How well does it match their documentation?
  • Does the look match the intention? (Should it make them look evil, etc.)
  • Are the fabrics well-chosen? Do they go together? Are they appropriate to their use?
  • Are seams pressed?
  • Did they use imagination to get things done when they didn’t know how to make it work?
  • Do their foundation garments work?
  • What type of accessories do they have? How are those made?

Things to look for on stage

  • How does it move?
  • How does the audience react to it? (Sometimes you won’t know a character that someone is recreating, but the audience reaction may clue you in to whether they got it right or not.)
  • Does it look right on stage? (These costumes are intended to be shown on stage, so something that doesn’t look quite right when you’re standing next to it really shines from a distance and under the right lighting.)

Things to ask the contestants at half-time (when you have it narrowed down to just a few candidates)

  • If you are awarded this prize, will you be able to travel to Woodland Hills, CA in late July/early August?
  • If there is a particularly interesting technique: Would you be interested in teaching that to other people?
  • I noticed x about your costume. Can you explain?

Masquerades at which Costume College Scholarships are/have been/might be awarded: