Introduction: Pumpkin Beast
It's that time of year when my creativity goes into overdrive and I have to come up with a new killer costume. This year my focus was on my wife (When isn't it? :-) With the success of the Ultimate Grim Reaper last year, I wanted to give her something that would get "almost" as much attention.
The Pumpkin Queen has been in my sketch book for a couple years and I finally decided to make it this year. The primary inspiration was when she found this vicious looking pumpkin mask last year after Halloween. The key was to incorporate it into something that was going to look like something you simply cannot find anywhere else. Obviously, it was time to got to Home Depot - my favorite Halloween craft store!
To make this work, I needed distort her body shape and craft something that looks as good in the daylight as it will in the dark. Here's what I did...
Step 1: Body Double
This would be one of those costumes that would take some time to craft and would definitely a model that would standstill. If you knew my wife, standing still is not her thing! Solution, the Duct Tape body double. You can find many references on Instructables on how to do this so I won't go into too much detail here.
Pickup the following from your local hardware store:
- 2 - 3 rolls of heavy duty Duct Tape
- Packing plastic stretch wrap - comes in a 5 inch wide roll
- a couple hours and a very patient subject
Basically, you wrap your subject in the plastic stretch wrap (don't get any wrong ideas you Dexter fans!) and then apply duct tape strips around her body. I'd recommend that you have the subject wear some sort of skin tight tights or shirt under this. It helps when you attempt to cut off all the duct tape.
You'll need to cover each spot with about three layers of Duct Tape to build a sturdy and well formed double. The plastic wrap does a great job of protecting her body from the sticky side of the tape and as you apply strips of the tap, try to apply it in different directions to create a weaving effect. This helps with the strength of the final form.
We did this in two parts, below the waist and above the waist. Gave her time to rest and move between each section. Once you have finished taping, carefully cut enough of the tape form open so the subject can slip out. Once free, simply use more strips of tape to seal up the cuts and you'll end up with a perfect body double when finished.
At this point, you have many options to fill the body. You can stuff it with about anything. I chose to get rid of some trash to fill the gaps and then use insulating foam spray to fill the form. I did the top and bottom separately one day and then on the second day after the expanding foam completely set, I taped them together and used more foam to seal the deal.
The completed body form was perfect and we were ready to start building this costume.
The added benefit of creating this body form is that you can use it to store the costume and set up as a full prop at parties. It looks just like someone is wearing it and everyone is even more freaked out.
Step 2: Foam It
My wife chose some tight fitting old sweat pants and sweat shirt. We dressed the body double form and then used expanding foam to create a lumpy and twisted, stick-like appearance to the body. Carefully observe how your subject moves to create foam lines that will bend with her as they move. The foam is not flexible and will break off if stressed too much while moving around.
After the foam has fully cured, I knew it wasn't going to stay on the clothing without some help.
Step 3: Dress It Up
This step involves two parts, Liquid Latex and Raffia. We used some leftover black Liquid Latex from last years project, RD-407 Mask Making Latex that I got from www.monstermakers.com. The raffia came from a Natural Raffia Table Skirt, 28in x 9ft - Party City. Latex expensive, Raffia cheap.
We used the latex to cover where the foam meets the underlying garment. This created a wonderfully flexible means of keeping that brittle foam in place. The latex is also an excellent glue that remains flexible. As we applied the latex, we pressed in strips of raffia to give this a hay like appearance.
The strips of raffia are long and rectangular which doesn't look that scary. This was easily solved by scraping the raffia with a metal paint brush cleaner comb. Easy to find at home stores in the painting goods area. Basically use the metal comb to shred the raffia to give it a very ragged look.
Next you paint it. I suppose you could probably do this with paint cans but I prefer to airbrush. I started with brown and then used black to darken areas and break up any patterns on the body. The two colors also make the raffia look old and rotten, which is ideal.
Step 4: Creating the Head Piece
This was rather easy. Instead of just wearing the mask, we took an old bicycle helmet and used a few spot ties to secure the mask to the black foam helmet. Because the helmet is longer than my wife's skull, it give the head a nice long shape to work with.
Adding the raffia was simple too. We layered on black latex to the helmet just behind the mask and then pressed in a strip of raffia.
TIP: To dry the latex quickly, use a heat gun or hair dryer. This will get the latex to dry to a point where you can apply another coat and continue adding several layers of raffia for the hair in a short time by drying it between layers.
Inside the helmet, I added a number of pieces of foam to customize the fit to my wife's head.
For the eyes, I picked up some bright red led automotive light strips, the type you can cut into lengths. There are dozens of ways to create lighted eyes so look this up on Instructables to decide how you would like to do this yourself. For myself, I just soldered a couple wires to the Led strip and connect that to a 9-volt battery. I fit the battery into one of the openings in the foam helmet. The lights were easy to place with a little tape and then I covered it with the black latex to keep it all in place. A couple spot ties through some drilled holes ensure that it won't move.
A little more airbrushing to give it that rotten appeal and you have one of the creepiest head pieces going.
Feet and Hands were accomplished using the same methods noted above. My wife picked some old footwear and gloves that we covered with latex and raffia to match the costume.
Step 5: Putting It On
Because of the body double, the first fitting with my wife went very well. Discovered a few changes that were needed to cover some gaps or remove some foam from the thigh area to make it easier for her to walk. Also added some raffia under the chin of the mask to cover her neck better. Plus the beard seemed like a nice touch. lol
We took her out for a trial run a a local event a few weeks before Halloween and entered her into a contest and won second place. Not bad for the first time out.
We've been two two other major parties since then and this costume is getting a lot of attention as hoped.
This costume can be completed in about 3 - 4 weekends and was a lot of fun to build. I hope you enjoyed it and decide to make your own.
Thanks for viewing and Happy Haunting!
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