Introduction: The REAL Pumpkin King!
This is the REAL Pumpkin King, not that skeleton impostor, Jack Skellington. His head was originally made from Papier Mache covered with aluminum foil tape, but it did not survive storage. The new head is made of 2-inch insulation foam board. His body is fabric, and the leaves and vines are plastic, fabric, and burlap. His fingers are swimming pool noodle foam. His eyes flicker as if there was a flame inside the head.
Step 1: Forming the Pumpkin Head
The original pumpkin head for this costume was made out of Papier Mache. I used a trash bag filled with crumpled newspaper, and a large inflatable "Yoga Ball". I tied rope around the bag to form the sections of the pumpkin, then laminated strips of newspaper over the bag. The paste was a mixture of flour, water, and white glue. I let each layer dry, by hanging the head in front of a fan, before adding another layer. I built up 8 layers of paper.
After the final layer was dry, I covered the entire head with strips of aluminum foil tape, then rubbed it to smooth the tape. I primered it with Rustoleum automotive primer. I then coated it with several layers of white acrylic Gesso.
Step 2: Facial Features
I cut the eye-and-mouth holes with a Dremel tool. To make eye ridges and teeth, I cut pieces of foam from a swimming pool noodle and spray-glued them onto the head. I covered the foam with aluminum foil tape, gessoed it, then painted the entire head with Rustoleum Effects Satin Fire Orange.
Step 3: Finishing the Head
I used an airbrush to detail the head, using brown primer, black, and green paint. I installed a hard hat using a piece of foam packaging from a computer. The eye lenses are pieces of plastic milk jug.
Step 4: Lighting the Eyes
The eyes are made out of a plastic Christmas ball that comes in two pieces, designed to allow you to put things inside. I used the halves as reflectors, and drilled holes in the centers. I hot-glued two "Flickering Candle" tealight LEDs (With wire leads added) into the holes, positioned to reflect in the ball halves. I glued the reflectors behind the eye lenses.
I added sheer black fabric over the eye lenses, so the eyes wouldn't be white in a camera flash, and a piece of the same fabric into the mouth as a scrim, so I could see out but viewers couldn't see my face.
Step 5: Head #2- Foam Build
Since the paper head didn't make it through the year, I made a new one for this year. I layered rings of 2" insulation foam, then carved it to shape. I cut the holes with a Sawzall, installed the eyes, and was going to make a new face. I discovered that the foil tape face from the old head would peel off the paper, so I delaminated it and transplanted it to the foam head. I covered the edges with foil tape, coated the rest of the head with thin fabric, then painted it.
This head is about as heavy as the original. It has a softball batting helmet with face cage inside, which allows for ease in wear. There is a laptop blower fan in the top of the head, which ventilates through a hole near the stem.
Step 6: The Hands and Boots
The hands are a pair of welding gloves from Harbor Freight. I taped the fingers together with Hockey tape, so there are three fingers. I made long "vine" fingers out of slices of swimming pool noodle reinforced with a piece of wire shoved inside. The hands were painted, then had leaves and Spanish moss added.
The boots were made the same way as the hands- I took an old pair of rubber "Wellington" boots, glued strips of swimming pool noodle to them to make "Roots" then painted them brown and added leaves and vines.
Step 7: Costume Body
The body was a shirt made out of thin brown fabric, loosely shaped with extra-long sleeves. The pants were an old pair of black sweatpants. I cut pumpkin leaves out of green cotton fabric, and spray-glued them to the shirt and pants. The vines were made out of strips of landscaping "Weed-block" burlap, which has a loose weave. I saturated the burlap with spray glue, then twisted the burlap ino shape, I clamped both ends, and let it dry, then spraypainted the vines with brown and green paint.
I added a lot of plastic ivy and grapevine leaves, and put layers of fabric strips on the pants.
Step 8: Neck Ring and Humpback
The head is heavy- probably around 12 pounds. After I wore it for an hour, my neck was seriously sore, so I made a quick "Cervical Collar" support out of a foam noodle. I covered it with fabric, then added vine leaves.
Because the head is so large, I wanted to add some dimension to the body, so I made a "Hump" out of foam noodles. It is held on with rope shoulder straps, and covered with brown fabric. It has vine "Tails" that hang to nearly knee-length in the back.
Step 9: Pumpkin King Rising!
The Pumpkin King in action- I discovered that fluttering the fingers makes a creepy rustling sound. I would crouch with the hands alongside the head, then rise and spread the arms. The costume is easy to wear. The head is very heavy, but the neck ring supports it and takes the weight off my neck. I wore it every weekend for the haunted amusement park I work in, and took it to several costume parties.
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