Introduction: Boo Mario Costume
This is my completely home-made Boo Mario costume. The Boo (ghost) is a Mario Bros. video game staple from very early on, but this particular version is a power up attained in Super Mario Galaxy where Mario turns into a Boo by going into a haunted mansion level and picking up a Boo mushroom. The costume is simple in design and, once I figured it all out, not too difficult to execute. I estimate that this took about 20 hours to complete and cost somewhere between $50-75.
Here are the materials I used:
-Hot glue gun
-White poster board
-One bag of 36" balloons and one bag of regular 8-12" balloons from the party store
-Lots of newspaper
-Elmer's glue mixed with warm water for papier mache
Step 1: Sketching/Planning
Step one, as always, is to break the costume down into simple shapes and sketch things out. As you can see from the pictures, I originally wanted to try using hula hoops as a skeleton and bedding foam for the body. This didn't work, but it was still good to draw things out and try to break down what materials I'd need. I'm not the best artist in the world, but I always find that learning to draw the character makes it easier to visualize how to create it as a costume.
Step 2: Balloon
So after some trial-and-error I found that the best thing to do was to get a large balloon from the party store, blow it up to the right size, and papier mache it to create the body. I used my lungs to inflate it. You can use a pump of some kind if you like, but I'm not sure if that will affect the balloon's size once you start working with it. The pressure of the air plus the weight of the newspaper, along with changes in temperature over the time you're working, might make the balloon warp and distort your final product.
One important note about the size is that the completed costume was tough to get through some entrances/exits. I had to take it off and turn it sideways at times, and even then it was tight. Consider this when choosing the size of the balloon you're working with, and also keep in mind that the hat, arms, and tail will increase the overall size of the finished costume.
Once inflated, I tied the balloon off and started covering it in papier mache (BE CAREFUL! I popped two balloons and had to start over each time), leaving holes at the top and bottom for my head and legs. I used glue and warm water mixed together for the adhesive, and relatively thin strips of newspaper. The smaller the newspaper pieces, the easier it will be to avoid ripples and creases, but the longer it will take to complete a full layer.
The more layers you add, the sturdier and tougher the costume will be. I spread out the work over 5 days, adding one layer a night and alternating directions of the strips from vertical to horizontal to crosshatch and strengthen the final product. After the fifth layer I carefully deflated the balloon to separate it from the shell.
Step 3: Features
For the features (eyes, nose, mustache, mouth, arms) I decided to print out an image of Boo Mario from the game and create a grid to measure the dimensions of everything relative to his body. The next thing was to scale up the measurements based on the size of the papier mache body I had. Algebra! I also Googled how to create a cone shape of specific dimensions, which I then drew out, cut, and taped together for Boo's "arms".
I made poster board stencils of the other features and taped them onto my shell so I could eyeball the layout and check if my scaling was accurate.
Step 4: Features 2
For Boo's nose I repeated the balloon method. Once finished I attached it to the body with hot glue, and added more papier mache to strengthen the bond and smooth out the design. I added the arms and tail in the same fashion after covering them in papier mache separately.
To get the rest of the features I traced my posterboard stencils onto a sheet of bedding foam and cut them out using an x-acto knife. I hot glued all the features that were going to be white onto the body to prepare for spray painting. You can see it's beginning to look more like the finished product.
Step 5: Hat
The hat is a very tricky shape, and was tough to figure out how to break down into pieces I could cut out. Once again, I did more sketching to learn the best way to do it, and used a Mario toy I had for reference. Once I got it close enough, I cut the individual pieces out of the bedding foam, hot glued them together, and cut out a hole for my head to pop through the top. Make sure the hat covers the hole you allotted for yourself on the Boo's body. The symbol on the hat is just a poster board disc with an M cut out of it (I also spray painted it white to give it some shine).
Step 6: Spray Painting and Gluing
Before spray painting I cut out the mouth hole using the mustache I glued on as well as pictures from the internet as references.
To spray paint the body I started with a solid coat of white, then a coat of sky blue, and another coat of white to finish it all up. The result was a bit of blue coming out in places where the light shined on it, and a little blue-gray coloring on the mustache and eyebrows, which helped a lot to distinguish them from the rest of the body.
Next I spray painted the eyes and glued them onto the body, along with the Mario hat. Using poster board and the piece of the body I cut out to make the mouth hole, I traced out a shape I could crease and glue together into a 3-D mouth that is recessed, giving the costume some more dimension and depth. I sprayed it black and glued it to the inside to create the mouth. Next I tried out some paper mock ups of the tongue to get the right size and shape, cut it from bedding foam, and glued it to the inside.
That's it! Now, to try it on!
Step 7: FINITO!
I didn't bother cutting arm holes because the size of the costume would have prevented me from doing much with them anyway. Apart from that the costume was very comfortable to wear and walk around in. As I said earlier, it can be tricky to get through doors, and large crowds might make you nervous about some of the more delicate pieces, but overall the costume was great and survived quite a bit of heavy use.
This was one of the funnest costumes I've ever made, and the result was probably my favorite of all the ones I've done. I performed in it with my band for our big Halloween show (www.bluefood.com), and enjoyed the NYC Halloween Parade as well.
Hope you enjoyed it, and Happy Halloween!
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