If you've never heard of tape sculpture, Google the term and be amazed at some of the art that people have created out of tape. It's also called Plastic Wrap Sculpture by some (see www.instructables.com/id/Plastic-Wrap-Sculptures/ ). It's a bit like papier-mache, but it's not so messy and it's light and rather flexible. Like tape, the sculptures are usually transparent and can be illuminated from within to create some stunning things, but in my case I will paint the result.
Actually, I will just be creating the head this time - the wife sewed up the rest out of 4 yards of fabric.
Step 1: Items Needed
11-inch balloon, obtained from a party store or florist that creates balloon party favors. This will be plenty large enough to fit around a child's head.
Packing tape. Also called box tape or shipping tape. This is thick plastic tape, not like your average Scotch or Sellotape. It's around 2 inches wide and is either clear or brown. Color is not important in this case - brown tape makes it easier to see the finished shape as you go, but I used clear in this case to show you the interior of the costume as I went. Get 2 rolls.
Masking tape, 2 rolls of.
Cling film - plastic food wrap, like Saran Wrap or whatever
Paint to match your costume clothing
lots of pictures of the subject to model your costume after, or better yet a toy or model of it to get the shape in 3D
Not shown - a cardboard box to cut into shapes for the costume, and a sheet of craft foam rubber (white)
Step 2: Wrap the Balloon in Plastic Cling Film
Step 3: Plan the Shape of Your Costume
Step 4: Build Up the Shape of the Shark Around the Balloon Using Cardboard
I then roughed out one side of the triangle head-top on the paper, folded it in half, and cut along the lines I made. When I unfolded the paper, I had a symetrical shark-head shape. I laid this paper on top of a piece of cardboard, transferred the shape on to the cardboard, and cut out the cardboard.
I then laid the balloon onto the cardboard, with the stem where I had marked it on the piece of paper, and begain laying strips of tape from the balloon to the nose of the cardboard. I also taped the balloon's other end to the base of the cardboard,in a sort of tripod so that the balloon wouldn'tmove around as I added more tape.
I continued to add more tape between the nose of the balloon and the nose of the cardboard, until I had a solid wall of tape built up, making the nose of the shark out of a sheet of tape strips. I only did the nose at this point, since I would be adding cardboard to the base of the balloon, as you will see in the next picture.
I then took another piece of cardboard, bent in sort of a half-cylinder, and laid it on the balloon away from the nose. This would form the neck of the shark head. I taped this piece of cardboard to the balloon where I wanted it, and then added a few strips of cardboardbetween the cylindrical neck-piece and the top-of-head piece of cardboard (so that the neck would be fully supported and not collapse), and taped all that in place.
When I was finished, I had built up a basic shark's head shape that was stiff due to the cardboard, but light and round thaks to the balloon.
Step 5: Add Two or Three More Layers of Tape to the Whole Thing
Step 6: Get Rid of the Balloon
What you end up with is a cling-film balloon shape inside the costume head. This is no problem for traditional tape sculpture, but for a costume, it will get in the way of the wearer's head. So, cut away the cling film balloon shape as much as you can, hollowing out the costume head.
After you have hollowed out the head, there will still be some cling film scraps inside of the head, and there will also be a lot of bare tape, sticky side out, on the inside the head. The costume wearer's hair will stick to this if we don't do something about it, so take some more cling film sheets and stick them to the exposed tape inside the head, so that all tape of the costume is now sticking to something and no glue is exposed.
Step 7: Test Fit and Make Adjustments or Fixes
I decided to cut out arm-gaps for her arms to stick out, and then added two strips of duct tape inside the head to act as shoulder straps, much like a backback. To make sure that the duct tape didn't stick to her later, I stuck sheets of cling film to the sticky side of the tape, much like in the last step, so the straps are only stuck to the head of the costume and not the wearer.
Step 8: Even More Tape?
Step 9: Paint!
Step 10: Finishing Touches
I then made shark teeth out of a thin sheet of white craft foam rubber. You can get this at a fabric place like Jo-Ann, or a craft store like Michael's, or one of many big box stores that carry craft supplies (I got some at Wally's once). I could use paper for the teeth, but the thin foam rubber sheet won't fold or bend, and won't make paper cuts. Once the teeth are cut out, they are secured to the head with more packing tape.
I decided to just paint on the eyes and nose holes (actually used a Sharpie). The shoulder cutouts took up the area where the gill slits would go, so I didn't have to paint them on.
Success! Just remember to bring the packing tape with you as you go trick-or-treating, in case you need to do some quick repairs to the shoulder straps or the teeth or something.
The last two pictures below are of last years costume, a T-Rex. In that one, the 11-inch balloon was placed with the stem facing forward, so the head's snout came to a point, the top of the head was built up with cardboard and tape, and the eyes were made of a plastic foam ball cut in half. The whole thing was supported by the child's bicycle helmet, hidden inside and secured to the rest of the head with black zip-ties under the tape.