Introduction: How to Build a MYSTIC From THE DARK CRYSTAL
Second Prize in the
DIY Halloween Contest
The Dark Crystal is a 1982 Jim Henson Movie. It featured a power struggle between the evil Skeksis and the gentle Mystics. The Mystics were natural wizards with four arms and rustic lifestyle.
For Halloween I made a Mystic on weekends over a few months. Here is The front and side of the costume with a screenshot and a productions sketch from the movie.
Step 1: Materials Required
(note: all parts except the rubber and wigs were bought at garage sales, used thrift stores, dollar stores, or found dumpster diving, the more you can find for free or used the cheaper this will be)
Rubber parts and wigs
1 Nostro mask (and paint stripper) 80$
4 jumbo hands 40$
2 jumbo feet 25$
3 long grey wigs 50$
cotton gloves (sweat protection) 2$
red velvety material for armour 5$
thick brown leather for tail 5$
lightweightbrown ultrasuede for lining armour edges 10$
brown leather for swirls 10$
chest protector 5$
4 hockey shin pads 10$
2 hockey pants 10$
fur boots for uppers 10$
rawhide for shoe covers 5$
spool of leather stripping for stitching 15$
bunch of brown shoelaces 3$
camping backpack frame (black with good straps and belts) 5$
4 children's floor hockey sticks for arms 6$
4 foam pool noodles for arms 8$
4 sets hockey elbow pads 5$
various hockey pads for shoulder sculpting 10$
baby bathtub 2$
4 large U-shaped bolts and nuts 6$
20' aluminum doorstop tracking for neck 6$
8 keychain rings (large) 4$
tin (old cookie box) $0
old water cooler bottle $0
some styrofoam packing material solid $0
old plastic syrop bottle for head 0$
lightweight brown material to cover bodyparts for uniform colour 2$
6" bolt and nut 2$
stuffed toy lizard 5$
welders mask 15$
tenting screen 2$
1" thick bumpy yellow foam camping mat 2$
beige burlappy material for his shirt 12$
beige heavy shirt for you to wear 5$
brown rustic pants 5$
brown rustic belt 5$
old pillow with fringe 2$
old blanket with fringe 2$
macrame plant hanger 2$
beige thread 1$
brown thread 1$
toy disks 2$
jingle bells 2$
beading fringe (old shirt) 5$
copper spraypaint 5$
brown poster paint $2
hot glue (a lot) 12$
nuts and bolts several dozen various sizes 15$
duct tape 8$
leather hole punch
Step 2: The Starting Mask
We start with a mask called NOSTRO, which I bought on ebay. It arrived much redder than the picture so I ripped off all of the hair and stripped off most of the red paint leaving it more of a natural skin tone ( with a rag and some old furniture stripper). I then cut off both ears carefully making both cuts the same. Save the ear for the jaw later. The beard is also used later for filling in spots here and there.
Step 3: Pile of Parts
Pile of parts. Here is some of the main parts, with rubber hands, mask, etc.
Step 4: Making the Neck Skeleton
Pile of parts with backpack stripped of the fabric. Long strips of light aluminum door liner material cut to about the right length and bolted to the frame of the backpack .
Drill holes in the strips of aluminum to match the backpack frame and bolt on, always use 2 nuts for durability.
Step 5: Bracing the Neck and Adding Jaw Bone
Use some smaller strips of aluminum for cross bracing the neck and bolt in place
Add a third strip of aluminum (see 1) about 1.5' long to support the inside of the jaw (formerly the ear), bolt a plastic bottle about the size of the main mask to the top of the 2 frame strips and pull on mask, then fill with camping mattress foam pieces until the mask is solidly stuffed.
Step 6: Creating the Mouth
Fold the ear and the face mask together so they overlap naturally looking, and bolt the jaw (at 1 and 2) to the upper mask with the nuts on the inside, use some washers or a small piece of plastic the size of a nickel cut from a plastic bottle of some kind if you don't have any washers.
The back will be covered with hair so it doesn't have to be the best fit.
Step 7: The Overall Skeleton From Behind
The main body has 4 arms which we need to mount on something, so after looking all over for something lightweight, I found an old plastic baby bath that was perfect and I bolted it upside down onto the backpack frame and put the arms on the raised surfaces of the bath.
Step 8: Adding Arms
The arms were made from some childrens hockey sticks that had convenient holes in them that would fit the keyrings so they would swivel, for some bulk I then slit some foam pool noodles lengthwise and taped them onto the sticks. I broke one of the holes in the process, so i reinforced them by wrapping some tin around the head of the stick hammering it tight and cutting a slot through it. This made them much stonger.
I originally used round eye bolts for the connection, but they swivelled and fell out of the plastic so I got some heavy duty U-shaped bolts that stayed much better and never moved. I put a keyring through the head of the reinforced hockey stick and then connected it to the U-bolt on each of the four arms
Step 9: The Tail Structure
After removing the back limbs of the stuffed animal lizard, and sewing the holes shut I tried various things to attach him to the back (note: cheap stuffed toys filled with foam balls make one heck of a mess everywhere, do it outside for sure)
I ended up bolting him on by the legs with a piece of aluminum and then bolting his face later.
Step 10: Elbows
The arm joints were old hockey elbow pads I pick up at garage sales all summer whether I need them or not, they come in handy for robots and aliens too. The rear arms are all fake so they add a nice structure under the sleeves and make the joints easy to do. The front one you put your arm through and with the extension above so the arms look a couple feet longer than your own. I bolted them right to the hockey stick handles at points 1,2,3, and then wrapped the velcro straps around the stick and bolted that too. The front arms should give you lots of movement when you wear it. Try different lengths with tape before bolting them to the sticks.
Step 11: Shoulder Blades and Back Forming
On the shoulder blades, I ripped some of the padding out of some old hockey pants and made shoulder blade forms by bolting them right to the heads of the hockey sticks (red arrows). I cut a watercooler bottle in half and bolted it onto the babybath on the back to make the body more of a hunchback (green arrows) after shoving a large piece of styrofoam under it to support it upright.
Step 12: Tail Leather
The tail was made from an old leather ottoman of thick saddle leather. It was a cylinder shape with circles on top and bottom and the sides made of rectangular leather pieces connected in a cylinder. I ripped it apart in chunks using the rectangles in 2, 2, 3, 3 pieces, wrapping them in cylinders themselves, and then using the top and bottom leather near the top. I stitched the lower parts at the connections with some shoelaces but bolted each cylinder to the one above it. The last two large pieces were bolted right to the baby bath frame. The Stuffed animal was inside to keep them from collapsing.
Step 13: Checking the Skeleton for Fit
This is the basic skeleton when crouched down
It is important that the front arms are strapped on securely with the elbow pads, and you have lots of free movement.
The elbow joint should be well clear of the upper arm or you won't be able to move.(red arrow)
Step 14: Fleshing Out the Skeleton
The back of the structure was too rough, so I taped and hot glued in a bunch of pieces from the foam mattress to round out the body and cover up the ledges of the plastic around the shoulder blades. Basically, you are putting muscles on the skeleton to make it nice and plump, like a real body.
Step 15: Making the Armour
Now his back armour. I got some used hockey shoulder pads and cut out some 2" wide strips of brown ultra-suede and folded them around all the edges fastening them with hot glue (1). I used some reddish velvety material to cover the entire surface except for the brown edging.(2) Then I cut out some nice swirl shapes from leather and hot glued them onto the padding(3).
Repeat with the old chest protector (1), and the oddly shaped back-supporter out of some old hockey pants (2).
Step 16: Mounting the Armour
I played with the configuration to get a saddle shape for his back and bolted them together at (1). The ends of the pads at (2) got bolted onto the uprights of the camping backpack frame (to the left and right of your ears when you wear it). Later I also bought a 6" bolt and placed it right in the centre of the armour and put it right into the baby bath frame to keep the whole structure from flopping around.
Armour bolted to the frame of the backpack
Step 17: Arm Bracers
The mystic also wears braces (fore arm guards). So it removed the hard plastic parts of some old hockey shin/knee pads and covered them in the same manner as the back Armour. Make sure you get shin guards with vulgar straps, you can just paint them brown, its easier than covering them and glue doesn't stick to vulgar very well.
Step 18: Shirt
For the beige shirt I originally bought some ugly linen curtains but I had trouble with the design. I found some old 2' square burlap-like rags at a surplus store and just used them instead, building up the shirt a little at a time. I make four tapered cylinders for the arms, ran a bunch of squares in a line up his back then extras on each side, then attached the cylinders roughly, and then filled in a few squares here and there to cover needed parts.
Pattern for the shirt. sew green 1 to green 2 to make the sleeve then attach each sleeve to the back line of squares red 1 to red 2. Fill in as necessary.
I put cuffs on the sleeves since they were too long, just by folding them and stitching. I cut up a small buff coloured blanket with some fringe on it to make a Shawl over the shirt, with a long triangle down the back. A second piece filled in the top part. I had an old macrame hanger that I cut the lower part off of, and wired it to the end of the lizard in the tail.
I found a heavy beige sweatshirt the same colour as the mystic's outer shirt to wear. I sewed some extra rags onto the sides of the mystic's shift so that they crossed over my chest and buttoned them on.
Step 19: Securing Armour Flaps
The flaps of the armour would move and slide behind my arms and look stupid when I was testing it walking around, so I used some more of the macrame rope plant hanger to tie all the dangling bits of the armour flaps together, bolting them at the 4 places X.
Step 20: Decorations
For some decorations I had bought a shirt with dangly beads that I cut off and glued to the back of the armour (1), some crystal hair baubles that I put on the strap holding the armour flaps, and some jingle bells on the back of his shawl (3). I lightly spray-painted all of them copper coloured to make them seam like they matched.
Step 21: Feet
The rubber slip-over-your-shoes feet wouldn't have lasted the long walk to the bar, so I made him some rawhide overshoes. I put the feet on some scrap rawhide I had and folded it around the feet, cutting where needed to fold up over the toes, and heel. After some experimenting on paper first (always use paper before the expensive material) I got a working design and stitched them together with leather cord I bought. I got to use my new leather hole punch to make all the holes. I really like it. It makes such nice holes that don't rip. Unlike just scissors pushed through. Good investment.
The joint of the top of the rubber was sloppy, so I found some old fur winter boots (1) at a thrift store that were too small to wear, so i ripped the soles off of them and put them like legwarmers over the foot (2,3). The first night I went out the tail kept hitting the back of the right shoe making the heel slip off, so i used a shoelace to tie the fur part to the back of the heel (4) to hold them up. Worked fine the next night.
Step 22: Hair
The mystic has wild long grey hair. So after buying one long grey wig and finding it insufficient, I hurriedly ordered 2 others, which didn't match but that was okay in the end. I tied wig 1 to wig 2 and shoved them under the armour and tied them to the 6" bolt that was holding the whole armour on to the middle of the back. Wig 3 I sewed to his neck, and bits and pieces of the beard hair from the original mask, I put on the forehead with hot glue (as I was running really late and almost missed halloween).
Note: the costume is slumped over a rocking chair in this picture
Step 23: Necklace
He needed more ornamentation so I made a long necklace with leftover leather cord (1) by braiding 3 pieces together about 2' long. I found a large plastic moon (3) some toy disks with neat centres (2) which I spray-painted copper like the other ornamentation.
Step 24: Covering Your Face
I didn't like my face showing and was really sick of swallowing bits of hair so I needed a mask that allowed me to see, but not let hair get anywhere near my face. I bought a welders mask, replaced the glass with tenting screen and covered it with ultra-suede with hot-glue. I ran some fringe ripped off an old pillow around the bottom with hot glue to hide the neck shirt interface. This worked out okay, because I wear glasses and I could wear the mask and the glasses at the same time. I would recommend a strap on the glasses though, because everyone in the bar grabs the nose of the mystic and shakes it knocking you around a bit.
Step 25: Staff
Mystics usually carry a staff. I found a nice gnarly branch and added some beading some velvet spirals and a dangly star on the handle. I put more swirls along the length, and spray-painted it lightly with copper to match everything else. The staff helps you with finding the floor in the dark, on sidewalks and stairs in dark places. It is also good to hit idiots with who grab the mystic's nose and shake you around.
Step 26: Inside Rubber Gloves
From long experience I know to wear cotton gloves under rubber hands so you don't sweat to death and have a gallon of water dripping out of them.
Step 27: Final Look
Add some rustic pants, Touch up things like covering the body in places the shirt shows too much underneath, and pad the straps on the backpack since it is a heavy costume. Hide any straps with paint or covering with fabric.
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