This costume is good for Halloween as well a Renaissance faires.
Tolkien in Lord of the rings had tree monsters called ENTS. This is basically what you will be.
The costume will end up being about 8 feet high to the top of the leaves. Having a wrangler always helps, if you can find a friend with a less restricting costume to shoo away drunks, kids, and touchy people your life is much easier.
Basic tools like hole punch, scissors, glue gun, nuts and bolts, carpet knife jigsaw with metal blade, drill, and all the other things anyone attempting an epic costume will already have.
Tree witch mask
Long fingered gloves
Several yards of textured brown vinyls or leather thicker the better (new or kill an ugly sofa)
Sports equipment: (garage sales in the summer usually 10 bucks or so each) :
baseball chest protector,
baseball catchers shin pads
elbow or knee pads
Several yards of heavy electrical wire 3 phase mains the best about an inch around with large bare copper wire inside
Aluminum frame backpack preferably brown or black straps
Tree witch mask
2 artificial ficus trees
Various ivy, leaves, flowers, foiliage, moss to suit.
Small birds nest and fake bird
3 feet of corrugated black plastic pipe
Some black netting
Some old foam blocks from seat cushions or similar
Selection of nuts and bolts and old pop bottle plastic.
Brown and green paint, brown stain
Baggy brown pants, shirt boots
Step 1: THE MASK ( Tree Witch) and Gloves.
The costume will end up being about 8 feet high to the top of the leaves. They will flex but this is not an indoor costume. We start with the TREE WITCH MASK.http://www.amazon.com/Tree-Witch-Mask/dp/B002C71KLW available on amazon and cheaper elsewhere if you search. This mask is one of the best masks ever made. Usually masks look good in the pictures and then look crappy in real life, but this one is so high quality it looks BETTER in person. It is hand painted very bark like, and covered in real moss. It is creepy just looking at it on the mannequin. The eyes are blue painted and stare at you at all angles. You cannot see the wearer’s eyes, but it fits well and you can mostly see. I do recommend punching a few more air holes in it near the ears and out of site under the chin. It fits tightly so it is a stretch to put on, but fits like a glove once on your head.
I also found some long rubber devil biker gloves that were red and black and I used wood stain to make brown. Paint doesn’t stick to rubber well, Stain works best. A bit of brown paint in the ridges after to finish. These were the only 2 regular costume pieces I used. Wear fabric gardening gloves under any rubber gloves or your skin will sweat touching rubber. I had some thin cotton brown gloves under them. These were the only 2 regular costume pieces I used. We will build the rest of vinyl foam and sports armour.
Step 2: Tree Branches
I started with the wire. I cut about 5 or 6, 3-4 foot pieces of heavy duty 3phase wire that I got used. It was old orange and had several heavy wires inside that were clad in some sort of papery stuffThe heavier the better. I exposed about a foot of each end and spread the wires out to make branches. I made two trunks – each with full wires of different lengths were twisted together for each.
Rip all the leaf groups out of the artificial trees. Use pliers they are well attached.
Artistically recreate the artificial tree using the wire for sub-branches and twisting the exposed wire around the artificial leaf stems. The wire looks better then the artificial tree because it spreads better and is flexible to get under doors and such.
Step 3: Building the Superstructure on the Backpack Support.
First we build the super structure and then cover it with the skin.
The backpack I had had a top cross bar, which I used the jigsaw to cut off. File it for safety after.
The branches you made will be wired to the uprights AFTER you attach the sport equipment.
I wanted all the sports equipment to be attached to the backpack frame for weight support.
I removed the bag of the backpack and filled in the hole of the back of the backpack with some webbing just by wiring it on. This will provide a support for the later sculptural element cubby hole.
The armour I started by attaching the baseball chest protector to the under-side of the chest portion of the shoulder pads with wire. I continuedby wiring the shoulder pads to the back of the frame (poke wire right through them after drilling or scissoring a hole for the wire – best to drill through a piece of plywood into another wood chunk or the fabric can stick and wind up on the drill bit and tear). The front of the shoulder pads then flip up over your head and the straps come around under the armpits to attach to the chest, and the baseball chest protector straps go around your waist. Be sure they are not on your fat roll for breathing. Try out the fit before wiring them.
I wired the branches to the uprights of the backpack just winding wire around the posts.
I cut off the exterior of the hockey pants to get to the under armour which is usually separate plates that make a W shape wrapping around the hips, and hand down around tailbone. This was on the OUTSIDE of the branches and the backpack. The belt of the hockey pants goes UNDER the chest protector.
The upper body is thus all one piece and all the heavy parts are supported by the backpack frame. It weighs about 20 pounds so is fairly light by epic costume standards.
Step 4: Legs Enclosed
For the legs, I used catchers shin guards because they have lots of straps and stay on when you bend. For the back of my calves I shortened some hockey shin pads just cutting off the bottom of the plastic armour about 2/3 of the way down. I left the foam and material portions. I Bolted them together directly n one side and some 2 inch long Velcro straps at top and bottom of the hockey and baseball shin guards so they wrap around and stay on. I dislike sewing so I BOLT everything together. I cut out ovals of old plastic pop bottles to use as washer front and back of the bolts to prevent tearing. I find bolts last longer and are easier to change if you have to adjust the placement.
I then cut out a few 8 inch or so pieces of corrugated tubing to make some stubby rootlets and just bolted them onto the catchers shin guards. I beveled the top with the carpet knife so the flow into the shin.
The kneepads I wore on my elbows were not structurally modified.
Step 5: Testing and Skinning With Vinyl "bark"
To make the back more interesting I took some seat cushion foam and cut out two layers, one of them a hole, to rough in the structure of a hidey hole like trees in cartoons have that are homes to owls and squirrels. I was intending to put something living in it, but that is optional.
This is a great time to actually put on the costume and wear it around. Not just standing there but go for a walk, like half a block. I always do this now after finding out that a dragon neck I made once was fine for the few steps in testing, but once you get really moving, the oscillations from bouncing around can cause things to swing wildly once you get serious about walking more than a few steps. Adjust the tree branches if this happens. So basically the rest is just decoration.
The rest is just mostly tedious work nothing creative. You now just have to take pieces of vinyl and cover everything. I Sort of followed the armouring of the sports equipment for size of pieces. You can basically wrap the vinyl around the plates in the armour and rubber cement (if the vinyl is plastic the, hot glue comes undone after a week orso, but I did use it for some stray areas once I was done. My vinyl had some furry texture on the bad side so it stuck well mostly. You want to be very wrinkly when you do this to get that bark-like texture. My vinyl was not exactly like the mask, but I had some nice alligator scale pieces that were closer so I used them around the neck as transition. It worked fine. I had found a whole roll of vinyl for a 1.25 a yard, so I was generous with it. I cut out a larger piece wrapped it around each plate of armour and then glued it on the underside and cut off the excess. I tried some overlapping pieces on the chest so it looked more bark like. Use smaller pieces around the neck to get the sculptural feel.Paint any edges, straps, etcbrown or black to hide any mistakes.
Step 6: Adding More Foliage on the Bark
I sewed some fake autumn leaves onto some netting and wrapped that around the feet for leaf litter like the forest. I glued or wired various foliage around the seams of the armour to hide gaps, as well as some moss and some short needled miniature xmas tree twigs in various parts for lichen.
I had some nice long artificial Ivy that I wired to the elbow pads, This made sure they were secure around your elbow and not in areas where your arms swing where they would inevitably be wrenched off by collisions.
A baggy brown shirt and pants (women’s goucho like size have a regular waist to fit but lots of fabric – thrift stores got me those).
Step 7: Secondary Interest Bird Nest
Now a costume wouldn’t be complete without the finishing touches, so I went out and found a small bird’s next and hot glued it to the top of the tree inside so they only notice it on second glance. A bird xmas ornament I glued inside the nest.
It was a creepy costume in a dark bar, and also at a ren faire in the trees on a really sunny day. You could stand beside the bushes and people would just not see you and then move out and scare them.
Of course you have to beware of woodsmen and their evil axes.
Faire can be fun in costumes...end ENTS want to be princesses right? :)
Funny story: This costume was when when forest Gump came out. After the bar, having stayed late to win the costume contest, the only bus left that night to get home was already down the block about to leave..So facing a two hour walk home (won’t fit in a cab) we hustled across the street to the bus, to the chorus from the smokers on the patio “RUN FOREST RUN!”Kind of made the night for me!