Monday, October 31, 2016

Costumes - Volume 1

With this installment I thought I'd travel back in time and lay out the steps I took to put together my Halloween costume for a big Hollywood party in 2013. Months before I got the invite, I wanted to make a large black bird costume during a fit of inspiration. Then the invitation to this party came and I thought this would be perfect! I put it my rear in gear and whipped up some gumption to finish this sucker in time!

The beak was made with wireform mesh. You can find small sheets of this at Joann's arts & crafts stores. After I folded it into the rough form of a beak I covered it with paper mache using the skills I learned in 3rd grade.

I began by pulling a pair of paintyhose over my headcast and glued foam to it with 77 spray adhesive. Yep, we're talkin' low tech. I knew this wouldn't be permanent but it gave me an idea of the direction. I trimmed down the foam to get the shape of a birds head. I then covered it with a thin layer latex to preserve the shape and make it more mask-like. Next,  I attached the beak to the head with latex. This would allow it to stretch as my jaw moved. Then I added a thin layer of foam to even out the trimming a bit. You can see where I marked the eventual eye placement.

After that, I peeled back some of the latex on the beak and coated it with some magic sculpt, which I then sculpted some details into. The beak appears larger because I had to conpensate for the fur filling out the head form. Once the fur is attached, the beak will look more proportionate. Read on
 and you'll see...

Ah, the magic of paint. This was just a primer coat of black to help me see the beak's true handmade roughness and to give me an idea of the overall look. I cut a plastic christmas ornament in half and spraypainted it black on theinside. I also added some brow forms with more foam and began laying the small sheets of foam on. I used fur because it was cheap and quick. Did you really expect me to glue on thousands of feathers in a short time? Oh, come on! Anyway, I attached the fur sheets with Barge, making sure to lay them down directionally to follow the contour of the head.

I tried the head on and was grateful it wasn't a total disaster....yet. At this point  I sanded the beak down to appear more smooth and finished laying the fur on. 

Because the beak had such a large opening it was very easy to breath. I had just colored the pantyhose black so you wouldn't see my mouth when I opened the bird's beak with my jaw. For added affect, I quickly made a tongue from Moldmaker Sculpey and painted it. It would be attached to the pantyhose just over my chin. You can see it in my hand in the bottom left photo.

Then I decided to attack the fabrication of large tail feathers that I would need. If I had more time, I would have thought of something better, but I didn't so I didn't. Instead, I used a long wire and attached two sheets of sticker vinyl, then cut the edges to resemble a feather. You can find these sheets at Joann's as well. The trick to keeping the feather shape is to cut the slits but preserve the edges so they won't split apart. I made three or four of these then added some larger real feathers later on. 

Because I wouldn't have time to make any feet, I bought these Halloween birdfeet. They're great for quick change because they simply slip over your shoes! To alter them, I dyed them black and repainted them. Then I added some feathers to the fur parts on top of the feet so the would match the rest of the costume. 

Around this time I began building the body form using more foam. I bought a cheap pullover shirt to attach foam to and built up the chest, then added some butt to give him a more eloquent bird form. I stuck the larger feathers that I made into the foam butt and laid some fur on the body to figure out what I was going to do. 

Below was a test show of the parts together. I jammed some feathers in the sleeves to see it together.  I bought the ringleader coat off ebay and the costume steampunk pants from a halloween store. I felt better about things at this point, but knew I would need a cumberbund to cover my belly. 

Here, I tested a few colors I could use for cumberbunds. Blue was the clear winner!

So I tried it on...

On the bottom left, I added a faux boot leg to the feet and stuffed some foam behind my calf to push out the back and give more of an impression of a bird leg. 

For the hands I used a black long sleeved glove. I bought some feathers from Joann's and used Fabri-tac glue to attach them in a pattern. I used fluffier feathers on the wrist area that would slip under the sleeve of the coat I would wear. 

Look! The shiny fresh repainted black beak! This is the front view. I wasn't happy with the shape of the head but I knew I'd be dressing the hair with some hairspray and could play with it a bit later.  Let's pretend you didn't see the photo below and continue.

It was time for a test run so I snapped this picture for your heckling pleasure. Don't judge me. I used black mesh that I found at the dollar store to cover the eye opening so you wouldn't see my real eyes, then layed some more fur around them and this did the trick!

I added some feathers to the chest fur so they would stick out when the jacket was buttoned. With the mask all put together I was ready for Halloween! Here's a few shots from the party.

Below I posed with my boss for a picture. He was a steampunk Frankenstein monster that year.

Then I ran into Grumpy Cat.... (my friend Steve Wang)

Then I posed for my presidential portrait.

I hope you enjoyed. Volume 2 of my Zombienose Halloween Costume blogs coming soon.
Happy Halloween!


The Last Tidbit:

This bird costume was also featured in a music video! It's a fantastic video for a fantastic song by the fantastic Malderine. Check it out HERE!

Please also visit for more inspiration!