The idea here is to replicate the famous painting American Gothic by Grant Wood. I look a good bit like the woman in the 1930 painting (who was Grant Wood’s sister) and so that’s why I chose this particular famous painting. There are so many riffs on this painting in popular culture that it is bind-boggling (see Google). And many people have made costumes of the painting. Here is how I made mine.
I ordered a 24x36-inch poster of the painting. When it arrived, I used Mod Podge to mount it on a piece of foamcore. I used a box-cutter to cut away the shape of the woman. To make the frame of the painting, I got a large piece of cardboard from Lowe’s (stores that sell large appliances will usually give you piece of cardboard). I cut a hole out of the cardboard large enough for the poster to show through, but a little shy of the 24x36-inches so that there was some overlap of the poster-on-foamcore with the frame. I used duct tape to secure the foamcore to the frame.
Even though this is hard to believe, wood-grained shelf paper exists. I bought a role and cut pieces of it to fit the cardboard frame. It’s adhesive so I stuck it down. I also used this shelf paper to tape over the duct tape on the back of the costume so the frame looked okay from the back and not all duct tapey.
I looked hard the costume of the woman because I like the little details. I couldn’t find a shirt like hers, so I took a boy’s white polo shirt with a soft collar and cut off the collar and sewed it on to a long-sleeved black shirt. I found a cameo on eBay for $5. And I learned online from a costume blog by Pauline Loven that she had gotten the amazing company Spoonflower to produce the pattern on the apron. So I ordered that. I don’t sew so my friend Connie Wilson made my apron. I wore a long black skirt, and I had some shoes with a buckle so I wore those. I parted my hair in the middle and put it back with a hair tie.
The last thing was how to hold it. It was really light! I put a wire through the side of the foam core at the bottom and on the back to create a little handle. It was hidden by the frame, which was in front of it. I secured it with duct tape. That worked great.
I had to look somber in the photos, but the parade and after-party were festive. It was high time the woman in American Gothic got out and had some fun!