The base of the gondola was an auto mechanic's creeper. On top of the creeper was a canoe-like frame built from PVC pipe (rigid) and PVC irrigation hose (flexible). I wrapped the frame with black felt, and held it taught with a rivet eyes/string system (similar to how shoes are laced). The top is cardboard, covered with the same black felt. Other details were cut from chloroplast / plastic cardboard (old election signs). Finally, I added some soft red fabric and a cheap-o dollar store dress-up boa.
All told, I had probably $40ish in this costume, the creeper, felt, and PVC pieces being the most expensive. As with most of my costumes, I actually had many of these things laying around.
For the gondolier: got a cheap hat and striped shirt online, paired with black slacks and long strip of red fabric as a sash.
Step 1: Supplies
2 - 10' sections of 3/4 rigid PVC
4 - 45 degree electrical PVC conduit bends (they make a more gradual front/back)
10 - 3/4 "T" connectors for rigid PVC
5 - 45 degree 3/4 rigid PVC couplers
2 - 90 degree "T" connectors (3/4 rigid PVC) (for the bow/stern points)
4 - straight -> threaded 3/4 rigid PVC couplers (because the only 90 degree "T" connectors I could find had threads on the lower section)
1 - 16' of flexible 3/4 PVC irrigation tubing
1 - set of PVC primer / cement
1 - couple yards of wide black felt (not exactly sure how much I ended up using)
1 - small amount of red fabric to cover seats
3 - large sections of cardboard (one for seats, one for the top in the back, and one for the top in the front)
1 - old election sign (chloroplast / plastic cardboard) - for the front fin and side dragon/mermaid decorations
1 - Probably 10' of string/rope/twine to tie the "skin" of the gondola taught
1 - Riveting tool and eye rivets
3 - pieces of scrap wood for seat base
20? - zip ties. Really, they are the new duct tape. :)
1 - can silver spray paint
1 - bottle of school glue
1 - shaker of gold glitter
1 - hot melt glue gun / several sticks of glue
Step 2: PVC Construction
To "lock" the sections in place, I'd drill through the connector and the flexible tubing and insert a zip tie. All the pipe-to-pipe connections (rigid) were test fitted first and then glued using PVC cement.
Step 3: Wrapping the "canoe"
For the center section where the laces couldn't criss-cross, I just wrapped under and around the side rail of the frame, so the skin still over-wrapped the top of the frame.
After covering, small holes were placed in the bottom of the fabric to allow for zip ties to connect the frame to the creeper.
Step 4: Add Seat
Step 5: Final Details
To "glitz up" the dragons, I covered them with a thin coat of school glue and sprinkled glitter on them.
I spray painted the fin with silver spray paint.
They were attached to the frame using zip ties.
The seats were covered with red fabric (stuffed with crumpled paper), and it was held down with hot glue. The red boa was the fur trim on the seats, again held down with hot glue.