Monday, March 25, 2019
From March 15 to 17, the Canadian city of Toronto played host to the tenth Furnal Equinox, an annual event dedicated to the “furry fandom.” Wikinews attended. Programming ranged from music to gender, science to art, covering dozens of aspects of the varied subculture. The event’s featured guests were visual artists Moth Monarch and Cat-Monk Shiro, as well as the co-owners of US fursuit costume builders Don’t Hug Cacti.
The event raised nearly CDN$11,000 for Pet Patrol, a non-profit rescue organization in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, run by volunteers. This exceeded their goal of $10,000, the funds needed to finish a rural sanctuary. The furry community is well-known for their charitable efforts. Along with direct donations, the funds were raised through a charity auction offering original artwork, and a fursuit design by guests of honour “Don’t Hug Cacti.” Last year, Furnal Equinox raised funds for a farm animal sanctuary.
While only 10–15% of people within the fandom own a fursuit according to a 2011 study, event organizers reported this year 908 of the 2240 attendees at Furnal Equinox brought at least one elaborate outfit to the event. The outfits are usually based on original characters, known as “fursonas”.
Guests of Honour Cherie and Sean O’Donnell, known within the community as “Lucky and Skuff Coyote”, held a session on fursuit construction on Saturday afternoon. The married couple are among the most prominent builders in the fandom, under the name Don’t Hug Cacti. The scale of their business was evident, as Sean had made over a thousand pairs of “handpaws”, costume gloves.
The couple encouraged attendees to continue developing their technique, sharing that all professional fursuit makers had developed different techniques. They felt that they learned more from failed projects than successful ones, citing the Chuck Jones quote that “every artist has thousands of bad drawings,” and that you have to work through them to achieve. Cherie, known as Lucky, recalled receiving a Sylvester the Cat plush toy from a Six Flags theme park at age 10. She promptly hollowed the toy out, turning it into a costume. Creating a costume isn’t without its hazards: the company uses 450°F (232°C) glue guns. They’re “like sticking your hand in an oven.”
Other programming included improv comedy, dances, life drawing of fursuiters, a review of scientific research by a research group at four universities called FurScience, a pin collector’s social, and workshops in writing.
The “Dealer’s Den” hall was expanded this year, with even more retailers and artists. While many offered “furry” versions of traditional products, at least one business focused on “pushing the boundaries of fursuit technology.” Along with 3D printing a bone-shaped name tag when Wikinews visited, Grivik was demonstrating miniature computer screens that could be used as “eyes” for a fursuit. The electronic displays projected an animation of eyes looking around, blinking occasionally. The maker has also developed “a way to install a camera inside suit heads, to improve fursuiter visibility.” He hopes the tech would reduce suiting risks and accidents. Without the need for eyeholes, fursuit makers would have “more options for building different eyestyles.”
Image: Nicholas Moreau.