Introduction: How to Create a Slinky Dog Costume!
I have been an artist for years and I love to create and push myself beyond my limits! I have made original costumes in the past, but this year I really wanted to go all out! I am a senior art major at James Madison University, and my focus is in studio art, graphic design, and art history. My classes take up almost all of my time and I am constantly creating art in many forms. Though, I rarely get to do for myself and create art just for the love of art and not just for an elaborate assignment!This year for Halloween I decided to change this unfortunate fact and do something completely original and completely hobby related. For once, this meant no school assignments, no critiques, no crazy deadlines, this was going to be just for me and I couldn’t of been more excited! I began my research months before Halloween. I surfed the internet for all kinds of characters I loved from all aspects of entertainment. Though, a lot of character ideas I came up with had already been produced and I really wanted to push myself to come up with a creative costume that had never been seen before! In the end, it was between Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon or Slinky Dog from Toy Story. I had to go with Slinky Dog, as he was an old time original and a great character in a movie I loved and that was obviously well known. It’s a possibility that Toothless will be my next year’s attempt ;) I was surprised to see that not one person had taken the time to make Slinky Dog work as a costume, with slinky parts and all. I knew I had a huge task ahead of me, but I was determined to make it happen.
I never even made a single sketch, which is unusual for me, as I normally need some kind of basis. Instead I just studied pictures of Slinky Dog and was on my way. Due to the limitations of schoolwork, I started this project ONE week before Halloween. I did not realize at the time that this was absolutely not enough time for a full-scale paper mache’ project! All nighters were the only way this costume became a possibility and trust me I paid for it the next week!
The Slinky Dog costume requires quite a few materials, but most of them are easy to find at your local Walmart or Michaels and even around your house!
30 stacks of newspapers
15 bottles of elmer's glue
5 rolls of masking tape
2 poster boards
4 pieces of dark brown felt/fabric
1 piece of red felt/fabric
1 exercise ball
1 rounded trash can lid
1 large roll of hollow small tubing
1 large roll of hollow medium tubing
1 roll of thin wire
1 roll of medium wire
1 pair of garden shoes (crocs)
1 pair of slim winter gloves
1 dark brown turtle neck
1 pair of dark brown leggings
1 can of metallic silver and light brown spray paint
1 bottle of black, white, brown, tan, and yellow acrylic paint
1 bottle of mod podge
hot glue gun/glue sticks
paintbrushes (large and small)
needle nose pliers
Don't forget you'll need about 40+ hours of work time, patience, creativity, and a great musical playlist to help get through it all! Read on to learn more :)
Step 1: Creating the Body (Two Halves of Slinky)
To start off, I used an exercise ball and pumped it up to maximum size. I decided paper mache was going to be the best medium for my costume in order to get a hard “toy-like” look. I did not want Slinky Dog to look like a stuffed animal, but of the plastic form we know from the movies.
To recreate this you also should blow up an exercise ball to its fullest capacity. Take stacks of newspaper and use scissors to cut them into small strips or squares. You can also use other forms of paper if you have no newspaper. Then take the stripes of newspaper and dip them into a glue/water mixture inside your mop bucket. The mixture is 1 part water and 2 parts glue. After dipping the stripes, wipe off any excess glue by pulling the paper in between your index and middle finger. Next place the stripes over the ball and smooth them down until they stick. Continue this until several layers are built up to create a sturdy enough structure for the body. Though, make sure to leave the plug on the ball uncovered so you can easily measure from this as a center to make two halves, and also to deflate the ball without damaging your paper mache.
For me this took several days alone, and after it was dry I measured and cut it in half for each side of Slinky. To do this Just measure from the plug all the way around, do the math and find what half of the ball would be. Draw with a sharpie a line on the half mark all the way around and cut with scissors. Don't forget to unplug the ball and let the air out before cutting with scissors or you will end up with a popped ball! After there were two halves I used poster board to give depth and create the middles of each side.
For this step simply lay one half on each of the poster boards and draw a circle around them. Then cut a circle onto each half; one the width of your head and one the width of your hips. This is for the top half and bottom half of the slinky body, so it will fit around you. Flip the halves over on the poster board and also trace the cuts you just made. Then cut the poser board circles out and use masking tape to attach it to the middles of the two half circles. Hot glue them in place and remove the masking tape. Lastly paper mache over the poster board several layers so that this is also sturdy! Use a glossy tan spray paint after everything is dry to match the Slinky character and your ready for the next step!
Step 2: Making Paws: Toy Feet/Hands
The hands and feet were done in similar ways yet, instead of having a solid structure I had to create one on my own. I used stacks of newspaper and molded them into the forms of hands and feet. Though, I had to find a basis and work off of them.
To recreate the paws of Slinky dog you will need old winter gloves and soft garden shoes for the basis. Start the feet off by covering the shoes in paper mache to give them a structure for newspaper and tape to stick too. Create the basic shapes you want for the paws by rolling and molding newspaper and using masking tape to keep the shape. Next the newspaper molds were taped onto each shoe and once built up to the desired shape, use masking tape all over for better hold. A lot of masking tape was used to get the final look of paws before I used a few layers of paper mache’ to harden them up.
The same goes for the hands, though I did not do anything special to the gloves prior. I just had regular thin winter gloves and taped the newspaper molds to them. After placing masking tape all over i could actually pull my gloved hand out because fabric doesn't stick to tape! Therefore I have a fully wearable newspaper structure. Also paper mache over the hands and let dry. Afterwards, you can paint both sets of paws to match each other. I used a mixture of yellow, tan, and brown acrylic to get a light tan color as Slinky has in the movies. I then mod podged over them to get the glossy "toy" look! Your paws are ready to go!
Step 3: Recreating the Head of Slinky Dog
Next I worked on the head, which was a giant mistake. The head should’ve been done first, as it took me the longest and was the most intensive!
A rounded trash can lid from my apartment was the basis for the very detailed Slinky Dog head. I had quite some problems with this, because once I paper mache’d over the lid I could not get it off! I had to recreate this several times, using Vaseline underneath the layers hoping it would pop off but for some reason this still did not work! I decided to move on as I was wasting valuable time.
So, I started shaping his mouth and eyes in the same way I did for the paws. I also used very large amounts of newspaper and masking tape for Slinky’s face, but this turned out to be way too heavy to hold up on its own! I then realized the trash can lid would be perfect to help me hold up the front of his head and I kept it under the paper mache after all! I guess I can say I really got lucky, but in the long run I now need to buy a new trashcan! Once I finished molding his face and eyes I also put towels in the back of the lid to give more balance to the heavy face so it would sit on my head evenly. I then paper mache’d his face as I did everything else.
I would probably suggest using a different medium for the round part of the head, like a plaster base, in order to get the head to stay balanced and this way you do not have to worry about wearing a trash can lid all night like me! As for molding the face, just follow the instructions for the paws but remember to use a source image in order to get Slinky's characteristics just right! After the masking tape step you are ready to attach it to the round base. Hot glue the entire face onto the base, but keep in mind you will need a lot of glue to get it to stay. Once attached use the two styrofoam ball halves for the eyes by hot gluing them on and then shaping them also with masking tape. Then paper mache one layer over the entire face, as it is already heavy and does not need to many layers or it will not stay balanced.
Lastly I used brown felt for the ears, which i hot glued 2 pieces together to make them longer and then placed them on top of each other and cut my desired shape (this way the ears will be close to identical). Also hot glue these onto the sides of the head and cut a tongue from red fabric and also hot glue it to the back of the mouth. In order to see in this costume you also need to cut a large slit out of the mouth back and line it up with your eyes. For the final touches, use the tan glossy spray paint and the same mixture you used for the paws to paint the details on his face. I used smaller brushes for his eyes and white and black acrylic. Use dark brown acrylic for the mouth insides and also mod podge the whole thing to get that glossy toy look all over again! Move on to the next step!
Step 4: Making Slinky Coils and a Slinky Tail
The slinky body and tail were last and also extremely hard to create. I used hollow tubing and painted them metallic silver to mimic the slinky look. I took an immense amount of thin wire and thread it through the tubes and into the body in order for them to stay in place. Thicker wire was used for the tail so it would “boing” like a real slinky!I had to leave a good amount of gap at the bottom of the slinky body so I could actually get in and out of the costume. I barely got it to work but after several tries I was successful!
In order to create the slinky body you have to take each half of Slinky and use thin wire to hold them together however far apart works best for you body type. To do this use an exacto knife to cut holes in the middles of the halves and run the wire through one half to the other half and attaching them. I did this in about four places to balance the weight out. The take the tubing and tie it to the top half of the body, take measurements to see where each slinky ring should lay and mark it up with a sharpie. Then cut holes through each ring with the exacto and string wires through all of these consecutively. Do not attach the slinky rings to the bottom except in one single spot. This allows for the wearer to pull the slinky rings up in order to crawl into the costume.
The tail is done in the same fashion except using thicker wire to mold the tail and to get it to bounce back and forth. Also use a paper mache, painted bowl as the base. Just glue it onto the bottom half in the back with hot glue and attach the wires from that point. Keep twisting the wires until the end and use a paper mache oval like ball as the final tip of Slinky's tail! Paint it dark brown and also make sure to paint any wires that were not originally silver so it all looks cohesive.
Step 5: Piecing It Together: the Finale.
Finally I bought dark brown leggings and a turtleneck to wear underneath to mimic Slinky’s dark colored body! In order to get in and out of the costume I constantly needed a friend to help me and I am very thankful I had help or this costume would have never been possible! I wore the costume out on Halloween night and I must say it was a huge hit. I was getting comments everywhere I walked and was constantly asked if I had actually created the costume myself. I couldn’t of been happier with the way this costume turned out and I spent at least 40+ hours creating it! I honestly did not know at the beginning of this massive project if this costume would even be possible! I am so incredibly happy that I somehow made it work! I feel I have achieved something great in my art career and will definitely create more costumes in the future! The only problem with Slinky Dog was the heat that accumulated in the costume. It is quite surprising how well newspaper insulates and I had to take my head and paws off several times throughout the night. If I were to change anything about this costume I would figure out a way to cool myself down so I could wear this for hours and get full enjoyment out of it!
Thanks for checking out my costume, and I really hope you like it and appreciate my efforts! I am willing to answer any questions or give any tips, just comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! :
DON’T FORGET to watch my video of the Slinky Dog costume at:
or type in Slinky Dog Halloween Costume 2010 in the search box!