This Mr. Monopoly costume I made for Halloween 2012 has won me 4 costume contests in 2 days! In this how to I will show you step by step construction so you can go out and make a winning costume for yourself!
Things you will need:
24" Beach Ball
Newspaper cut in to 2" x 12" strips
Elmer's Glue (or equivalent)
Large Mixing Bowl
Plaster Casting Material (available at local craft store)
Fishing line (20 lb test)
Black window screen material (available at local hardware store)
Foam Poster Board
Masking Tape (brown)
Black 3" satin ribbon
Acrylic Paints (Black, White, Brown and Clear Coat Sealer)
Artist paint Brushes (Smaller tips for detail work)
Clothes of your choice
Total time to complete for first try 40hrs
Step 1: How to make the base
Take a 24" beach ball and fully inflate it. Tie some string or fishing line (20 lb test) to the valve on the beach ball to hang it. Then take your glue and flour and mix them with warm water in your mixing bowl. I use about 1/4 cup glue, 1 cup flour and about a litre of warm water. Take your newspaper strips and dip them in the mixture. I prefer using the semi glossy ads because they hold up better when wet. Allow the strips to become saturated and then gently ring out the excess moisture. Begin placing the strips on the beach ball working from the top to the bottom in a criss cross pattern for strength. Make sure to leave about a 6" opening at the top of the beach ball so you can remove it later. Place only 1 full layer at a time and allow them to dry in between. If you do more than 1 layer you may run the risk of it becoming too soggy and falling apart. Continue this process until you have 8-10 layers built up. VERY IMPORTANT: Monitor the inflation level of your beach ball once the layers begin to dry! You must deflate it a little bit each time to avoid expansion and possibly bursting your project.
Step 2: Adding the details
After you have your base construction complete, you can then start on the detail work to give your costume more character. I took wadded up newspaper and molded it to the shape I wanted for the nose and mustache. Wrap the shapes with masking tape so you can have them hold their form and then tape them to the primary structure of your costume. Try to be mindful of positioning of eyes and opening for the head. I had to guess when I did this, so the shapes are not 100% perfect. After you tape on the nose and mustache, twist up some single sheets of paper towel and wrap them with tape. These are used for the eyebrows, ear trim, mouth, and hair line. The ears base construction were made out of pieces of foam poster board and taped to the sides. After you have all pieces on where you want them, cover the entire project with another 2-3 layers of newspaper (paper mache). Note: You may need to cut smaller strips of newspaper to work the detail sections since the large pieces tend not to form properly around the contours.
Step 3: Plaster Casting
Once you have your paper mache layers completed it's time to move on to plaster casting for strength. Follow directions on plaster casting material that was purchased from the craft store. It comes in rolls that you wet and apply similar to paper mache. I had to cut strips to the size I wanted and place them on one at a time while trying to butt the seams next to each other to avoid overlapping which creates lumps. After applying a layer, allow it time to dry before applying another. Once you have a couple layers applied you will be able to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Assembling the top hat
The same rules applied for constructing the top hat as they did on the head. I used a 5 gallon bucket for the form. Once you have enough layers built up on your bucket, remove it and then take more poster boards and trace out a circle for the top of the hat, and trace a ring for the brim. Attach the top with tape, then wrap in paper mache and finally plaster cast. Once you have the base structure completed seat it on top of your head and use plaster cast to attach the two together. The brim will be a separate piece that will be attached later.
Step 5: Attaching the brim of hat
Once you have completed joining the hat to the head, take the ring you traced for the brim and cut it in half. Take the 2 halves and re connect them around the base of the hat by taping them back together. Then wrap the brim with a layer of masking tape, followed by a couple layers of plaster casting. Paper Mache will not be needed for the brim since it will add too much weight.
Step 6: Test fitting
Once you have completed the structure it is time to do a test fit. Remove the beach ball. With an exacto knife trim the opening for your head so it is not too tight and not too large, but large enough to fit a hard hat with the brim cut off for support. Once you cut open the head set the hard hat inside and do a test fit. See if the hard hat is tall enough to touch the top of the head without any space in between. If it is not you may need to attach something to the top of the hard hat to give you enough space so the head does not sit on your shoulders. Once you get the proper fit, cut out the eyes and mouth carefully sawing with the exacto knife. After all holes are cut, put a couple layers of plaster casting lining the inside of the head piece for solid support.
Step 7: Inner construction
Once the inside has been lined with plaster cast, it's time to do the support system. After your test fit line your hard hat up where it gives the most visibility. add some weight to the inside of the hardhat to hold it in place. Take the spray foam and spray a little at a time since it expands. Spray in sections around the top working your way to the brim. Foam will expand and as you can see in this photo, I may have used a little to much, so use it with caution. Take the screen material and thumb tack it around the eyes and mouth to hide your face, but still allow visibility. Allow proper dry time before flipping project right side up again.
Step 8: Time for paint
To paint, I used 3 primary colors. Black, White, and Brown. I Mixed White with a little brown at a time until I got the color I wanted for the flesh tone. White was used for the mustache, and black for the hair, eyebrows, and top hat. I painted on several coats making sure that there was no plaster showing.
Step 9: Final touches
After paint has dried, take a clear acrylic spray (gloss or matte finish is entirely up to you) and spray the entire project with a couple coats to seal the paint and keep dirt from sticking to it. Attach the ribbon around the base of the hat and that's it! You are ready to win some costume contests! Make sure to give a shout out to me for the inspiration when your friends keep asking "How did you do that"! All clothing is entirely your choice, I went for the original character, however there are several variations of clothes that you can choose to make the costume your own. I also printed out Monopoly money and get out of jail free cards for some extra touches. Hopefully this how to inspires people to take the time to make their own costume, since buying one is too boring in my opinion. Have fun!