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!

Monday, October 17, 2016

~ The Witching Tree ~

Hello Readers!

Welcome back to another fun filled account of the inner workings of Zombienose -  the zombieworks if you will. I apologize for the delay, but Halloween is a very busy time of year and I've spend a lot of building a new line of work. In this exciting issue we'll be creeping into a very dark & dreary path to illustrate the creation of...

It all began with a quick sketch...Yeah, yeah, I know this looks nothing like the finished piece, but it was just a germ of an idea at that time. 

Anyhoo, I marched forward not knowing how silly the final product would turn out. I started the build simply by mounting a couple of pieces of armature wire into a wood base bought at the local hobby store.

Next I used Great Stuff spray foam (from Home Depot) to coat the armature and build up some tree trunk mass.

Near the top of the first armature stems, I attached more wire to represent the tree limbs using epoxy putty to ensure its strength. I know, it's pretty self explanatory so far, but stick with me and I'll try to be more entertaining.

I added a few more limbs branching off, using epoxy putty to attach them and then wrapped a thin gauged wire to help hold the foam that I will be adding. And check out those roots!

Yep, that's more spray foam I've added. You can also see where I've started cutting slices off with a razor blade to shape it. Try to ignore those other heads laying in the foreground. They became different characters.

Finally it's starting to look like a tree!! You can see I've added the thinner twiggy branches by using an even thinner gauge wire.

Around this time, I carved away some of the foam where I planned to put the face on the trunk. I had the idea to place lights inside the tree to illuminate the eyes in the final piece, but I hadn't quite planned that out ahead of time. Oops. Don't worry, I made it work.

So.... After adding a lot more smaller branches I laid a string of non-LED battery powered lights across the limbs and bunched them in the hallowed out area in the trunk. I used invisible tape to temporarily hold them in place.

Some of the wood base had to be removed in order to recess the battery pack so that new batteries could easily be replaced from the top of the base. See below!

Now I went ahead and added some puple crayola sand to the top of the base. I watered down some Elmer's glue and mixed the sand in, then applied it to the wood base. When it dries, it is solid! You can also see that I've begun adding a portion of the tree bark using Magic Sculpt epoxy putty. It still looks like a mess below, but I was hoping the "witching" part of the tree would happen soon!

Because I'm scatter brained at times, I neglected to take photos as I bashed out a lot of  the sculpture. I left the lighted face area on the trunk open for now. I would still add to it, but I decided I wanted to work on some of the accessories instead.

Every haunted tree needs a murder of crows, right? I sculpted some bird forms using super sculpey and painted them black. Their legs have firm wire to support them on the branches. Some of the birds would have lights in their eyes, but for these I used red seed beads.

I glued black feathers to the forms I made. Sorry for the fuzzy picture. It was late and I was tired.

Returning to the tree, I rolled out some noodley worms of Magic Sculpt to create the face. It looks pretty goofy at this stage, but give me a break - it was just the beginning!

Got the face sculpted and crows attached! I spray painted the entire tree black then dry brushed a base coat of a reddish brown color. The teeth are gray because they are still soft and freshly sculpted. I sculpted layers of teeth to hide the wires for the lights in the eyes. I also dry brushed the sand on the base to appear more moss-like. I made a few stones out of magic sculpt and painted them.

Then I made a jack-o-lantern to act as a cover for the battery pack. The pumpkin was cast in resin and screwed into the plastic cover with sand coating. The light switch is also located in this area directly  against the tree trunk,

When switched on the eyes glow an orange color, hence the reason I did not use LED lights. Because I didn't do enough preplanning and basically ran out of time, only two of the crows have glowing  eyes when the tree is switched on. It looks impressive nonetheless.

For a final detail, I added some stringy moss consisting of fiberfill and Fabri-tac glue. In the photo below you can see I hung clips on each end to weigh down the hanging "moss" until it dried so they would appear like gravity was affecting them.

After all of that, the Witching Tree was ready to cast it's gloom upon any onlookers. Here are some shots of the final piece, which measures about 16 inches tall.

I hope this gives you nightmares!

Please check out my YouTube channel for a video of "The Witching Tree"!

The Witching Tree is presently available for purchase along with other items on the Zombienose Etsy Shop.  Click below for more!

I also hope you enjoyed this edition and will stay tuned for more!

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