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2013 was another Paper Mache year for us. We built Bowser for Halloween.   This is a wonderful project for recyclable material.  Bowser is made of newspaper, masking tape, wire clothes hangers, flour, water and spray enamel paint.    This method can allow you to be as simple or as detailed as you want while keeping the weight of the costume down

Step 1: Create Wire Frame Armatures

Once you have decided on the Costume.   Shape body parts frame out of straightened wire clothes hangers.  Tape all connections together with masking tape. Cover all cut ends of wire with tape for safety.  Create loops in the ends of the wire and crimp around the sections of wire your attaching to prior to taping connection.

In our costume,  the wire frame had to accomidate several things.
 1.  The shell is hollow to hold candy collected on Halloween
 2.  The Head piece locks into the neck slot on the top of the shell
 3.  The arms are slide in ( another option is strap on, however the look was not as good in the past.)
 4.  The legs are strap over boots that ride on top of the shoes.
 5.  The frame had to be large enough to create the character illusion while being strong enough to hold up to falling on the ground and keeping the weight as light as possible.

Step 2: Ribbing the Frame

Create Paper ribs by crushing up full sheets of newspaper.  Attach the ribbing to the wire frame with tape.  This provides the thickness of the costume pieces and gives good surface to tape the infill to.

Step 3: Infill the Wireframes

Once the ribbing is complete. Fill in all the voids with wadded newspaper taped into place.  Use as much tape as possible.   The parts at this point will closely resemble the end result.   Not exactly, but don't worry.  The wet work repairs alot.

Step 4: Paper Mache Everything

Once the  paper infill is complete on the frames.   Mix flour and water to a very thin pancake mix consistency.  Thicker mixtures will break off along with your paint job.  Apply strips of mix soaked paper 1 to 2 inches wide and from 4 to 12 inches long all over the pieces.  Work the 4 inch strips over the exposed edges and small tight areas where longer strips would be difficult to place.

Dry the piece completely, then apply a second layer.  The 2nd layer should cross over the first layer strips at opposing angles.   Check your work for gaps and open places in the frame.

Step 5: Paint Everything in Primer

Paint your artwork in a good primer before you go to color paint.  You can brush on or as we do spray paint our finished pieces.

We use a good enamel primer with 2 solid coats.  Dry before moving onto finish color.

Since we spray everything,  tape is used to cover the piece as different colors are applied.

Step 6: Finish Paint

Apply finish paint colors as desired.   After paint has dried, we form hair from unrolled twisted paper rope and hot glue it in place.  The eye glass and LEDs are mounted into place.  Spikes are hot glued on.  Shoulder and leg straps are mounted and paint touched up.

To make the paint last longer, you can apply a coat or 2 of clear finish.

The key to this process is how dry each step is before moving to the next.   We use a room dehumidifier in a small storage room to dry the wet paper mache and paint between coats.  The final paint job is also dried for several hours at a minimum before wearing.  If you dry the enamel paint for a couple days it priovides a remarkably hard finish

Step 7: Go Show Off Your Costume and Have Fun

Then put on your costume, turn on your eyeballs and go have some fun.

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