Step 1: Get materials and figure out scaling ratio
For the structure of Mr. Peanut:
--a length of pigeon wire (around 10' long x 3' wide) -- hardware store
--a roll of duct tape -- hardware store
--2'x2' piece of cardboard -- old box lying around
For the papier mache covering of the structure:
--several pounds of old newspapers or scrap paper -- free at most newsstands (old newspapers)
--big bag of flour -- grocery store
--a little bit of salt and cinnamon -- mom's spice rack
--plastic disposable table cloth -- grocery store
For the details on the exterior of the structure:
--two paint brushes (one for papier mache, one for paint) -- hardware store
--one can orange spray paint -- hardware store
--one can of white primer spray paint -- hardware store
--pint of white paint -- hardware store
--pint of black paint -- hardware store
--a large magnifying glass -- pharmacy/hardware store
--two sets of cheap, white, women's stockings
For you to wear under the Mr. Peanut structure:
--white gloves -- costume store
--black shoes -- you don't have black shoes?!
--spats -- costume store
--black tights or black long underwear bottoms -- department store
--black long underwear top -- department store
--black cane -- borrow from gramps while he's not looking
Other equipment you will need (these don't get used up in the process):
--tape measure/ruler -- hardware store
--hot glue gun -- hardware store
--scissors -- hardware store
--wire cutters or snips -- hardware store
Step 2: Create the body structure
You'll have to figure out how wide you want the structure to be around your middle depending on your personal dimensions, but I found that roughly 5 feet long was sufficient to get around the circumference of my body, and since I made two of these structures I got a length of 10 feet of pigeon wire.
Once you have the wire, cut it into two 5-foot lengths using your wire-cutters or snips. Now roll each section into a cylinder and use the lose ends of the wire that you just cut to wrap into the other side. Each roll should now hold the cylindrical shape.
Step 3: Form the body structure
In order to do shape the cylinder into another form, you will have to bend individual wires together. By pinching two wires together with your fingers, it effectively tightens that bit of the cylinder making it narrower. So if you wanted to turn your cylinder into a sphere, you would have to leave the mid-section of the cylinder alone, and gradually pinch more and more wires together as you went toward the top and the bottom.
Of course, we're not making a sphere, so it isn't quite so easy as this, you'll have to feel it out along the way. For the bottom section of your Mr. Peanut, you will want to pinch a lot of wires together at the very bottom of the structure (to make it more spherical there), and you'll also want to pinch some near the top (to make the structure constrict into it's characteristic peanut shape at your chest). With the top piece, you'll want to make a spherical looking part at the bass (Mr. Peanut's head) and then leave it somewhat cylindrical above that (for the top hat). Don't worry about getting the brim of the top hat or the top surface of the top hat, as we'll use cardboard for that afterward.
This can be really hard on your fingers, so you may find that gloves can help with this. Be patient, this process can take a while, but at least if you make a mistake you can undo it because of the malleability of the wire.
Step 4: Fine tune the body structure
You may want to clip out some of the wire to make it fit better allowing more room for your legs or arms.
Additionally, you will want to wrap the sharp points with duct tape so that they don't poke you so much. In particular the interior should have duct tape to pad it. I also added some cardboard where the wire mesh was a little uneven.
You also want to add the brim and top of the top hat using the cardboard you set aside. Just cut a ring of cardboard to fit onto the top body structure as the brim, and then cut a circle out for the top of the top hat. Use the duct tape to hold these in place.
You will need to attach some sort of suspenders to keep the bottom section from falling off of your body. I used cheap women's stockings tied to the frame, and they worked well, but any fabric strips should work.
Try this on to make sure it fits and is to your liking. Once you start papier mache'ing, modification of the shape of the body structure becomes very difficult.
Step 5: Covering the body structure with papier mache
You now should have your two-part peanut body structure, a bunch of newspaper strips, and a big pot of papier mache paste. Cover the outer part of the frame entirely with one layer of papier mache using the paint brush and your hands. Let this dry and then cover it with a second layer. A third layer of plain white paper (printer paper) would be ideal to help in strength as well as preventing the newspaper print from showing through the paint, but it is a lot of work to cover this massive structure with papier mache so do what you can (I only did two layers). Let this dry and try it on to make sure it all fits.
Step 6: Priming and painting the body structure
I found some orange spray paint at the hardware store that was just the right color for Mr. Peanut. After the primer has dried, spray paint the whole body structure, except the hat. It doesn't matter if you get any on the hat, since you'll be covering this in black paint anyway. You may want to use two coats of the orange paint until you cannot see the newsprint of the paper mache.
Now use your black glossy paint and a brush to paint the hat black. Again, two coats was necessary. I marked with pencil where I would paint the "Mr. Peanut" text and the two shine-lines in white, and then didn't paint this black.
When all the paint is dry, you can use the white paint and a small brush to paint in the detail of the "Mr. Peanut" and the shine-lines on the hat.
Step 7: Detailing the body structure
I added some black lines to the peanut body to make it look more like the illustrations with the peanut texture. I imagine if you were really careful, you could have the actual peanut texture with the papier mache, but that was beyond me.
Use light pencil strokes to mark where you want the face to be. Then cut out the mouth so that you can see out of this contraption (don't worry, we're going to fix it, so it won't be obvious that you're looking out.) When you're happy about how the face looks, use the black glossy paint to finalize it.
For Mr. Peanut's monocled eye, remove the handle from your magnifying glass (or hacksaw it off if necessary), and cut a circle of white paper that will fit inside the magnifying glass. Then, hot glue the magnifying glass to Mr. Peanut's face as a monocle. He should now be looking pretty close to done!
Step 8: Adding dowels and a transparent mouth
In the last step we cut out a hole where the mouth is in order to see out of this costume. Now we'll cover this hole from the inside with stretched out white pantyhose or stockings. I did two layers of this which allowed me to see out without other people seeing me see out. People constantly asked me how I could see out of this thing, so it seemed to work.