Introduction: Creating a Walking Centaur
This Halloween I felt I needed to step up my homemade costume game for my daughter. Every year I make my son and daughters costumes but it seemed the last few years my son's costumes always had the extra wow factor, leaving her in his shadow. So when I stumbled across a pin talking about how to create homemade Faun hoofs.....I ran with that idea and created a full fledge centaur that actually looked like it was walking!!
Step 1: The PVC Frame
We measured the body for the horse based on the size of my daughter...how tall her behind was from the floor paralleled with a length that would look proportionate. We used a heat gun to bend half inch PVC into the shape we wanted the spine, giving a nice bend from the withers and back up for the rump before curving down where the tail would be. Then we made the vertical base that attached by a 4 way at the top of the rump. This started creating the "hips" of the frame. The hips are made with four 90deg connectors, half inch PVC and two four way connectors (both four way connectors running through the main vertical support) making a rectangle in support. The bottom 90 deg sections on each side is where the first moving joint (shoulder) is attached. The moving joints are made by over sizing holes in the PVC for 10-24 x1 1/2 machine screws and nylock nuts. The "Hoof" is affixed by taking 5inx1/4in carriage bolts and drilling them into the tire of lawnmower wheels. Nylock nuts were used to keep the moving parts loose but not coming apart from movement. The axle running from wheel to wheel is half inch all thread, running through half inch PVC T'd off from base of vertical support. This axle housing can be shortened or lengthened to create the appropriate width for the walkers front feet. This video shows our first fit test with one moving leg attached. We altered the size and length of the moving PVC pieces till they match the proportionate size of the Centaur being created then copied it for the second leg.
Step 2: Making the Bulk of the Centaur Frame
Making the body could have been a number of ways from different materials....I choose newspaper because it was cheap and light. I started adding hunks of it with masking tape and kept building until I had a torso shape I was happy with. This is just like you would do when starting a paper mache project. This photo was taken when I was happy with the shape of the body, although we wound up taking off about 6 inches from the front as it was too long for my 6 years olds body. When she stood in front it looked too much like a worm because of her short legs. Short legs= short torso. You can imagine her body standing in front of this form and adding more length from the back of her behind to the front of her waist. You have to remember your putting a round body in front of your torso and adjust as necessary. You can also see how the "shoulder" bone was shortened to be just a bit longer than lower working bone segment making for a nice, realistic stroke of movement for the hoofs.
Step 3: Building the Bulk of the Legs
For this step I used 2" craft foam. I feel it helped with the movement of the joints. At the top hinge where it connected to the rump of the horse I made an accordion like shape out of the foam. This help with movement as well as shape when adding the fur later. The foam on the upper bone went on the inside of the thigh and the foam for the lower bone went on the outside. this created the thickness needed for the leg as well as leaving the pieces free to move without friction or sticking when the foam became scrunched. Be sure your foam at the base of your hoof is clear of the turning nut attached to the wheel....it will grab the foam and cause jarring in the movement of the hoofs. I tested the movement many times before attaching the fur to be sure all joints were free and clear of any catches and foam.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Now the fun part begins!!! The craft stores have a plethora of different colored and textured furs. You could even have a Painted Centaur using their bicolored cowhide looking fabric. You can make a colorful Disney's Fantasia centaur or more woodland type like I did. I choose a little bit more furry fabric since this was my first creation and it was definitely more forgiving where the seams were. I bought 2 and half yards of fur. I kept it in one piece and laid it on top of the body with the fur running front to back like it would on a real animal. I kept about 8 inches of over hang in the front. I used this overhang to create a second "belt" for helping hold up the body and mainly for the visual flow of the bodies of my daughter and the horse. I used Velcro to help secure the extra belt of fabric around my daughters waist. I used spray adhesive to start attaching the fur on the back of the horse and the sides and smoothed it down. Then came the more challenging part of guesing where to make your cuts and tears so that the fur would cover evenly as I maneuvered underneath and around the legs. *NOTE* with fur...your just snipe the fabric where you want to start the cut...then you can tear it and it will tear in a straight line with the grain of the fabric. Do not cut the fabric as you will also cut all the hair making it look like your pony just left a $2 barber. When you tear it your fur will stay nice and flow right off the edges so they are not visible. This is also how you can hide mistakes if you made your wrapping too short...just hot glue pieces in as needed making sure your fur runs the same way and it blends right in!
For her front legs you could just sew pants out of the fur. I opted to hot glue the fur to a pair of jeans. This helped when attaching the centaur body to her as I used a belt ran through the T at the beginning of the spine...I then ran the belt through just through the side belt loops on her hips to help hold the centaur body in place at the small of her back, before wrapping the excess fabric belt around her.
Then I made her accessories. I made a crop top vest to show off her mid section so you could see "skin" of the human. I used belts purchased at Goodwill for accents. The big belt buckle one was perfect for hanging around her shoulder like an armor of sorts and since it was longer than needed I used pieces of it to make matching accents on her quiver and her arm cuffs. The arm cuffs were cut out of cardboard and I used fake leather looking fabric to cover them. I hot glued in Velcro to attach around her wrists and also glued leather string for more accent. Her quiver was made the same way starting with cardboard and wrapped it in the same thin fake leather fabric. I used part of the thick belt again to accent and to attach it to another belt. I used this to hang around her mid section. The arrows are simply wooden dowels with craft store feathers hot glued to the ends. I then glued the arrow shafts into the quiver so they didn't move and bounce around. I found a third leather woven belt at Goodwill and used it for a head piece accented with feathers from the fabric store. For the horses tail I purchased a wig at my local party store and used zip ties to attached it the PVC part of the rump. (*NOTE* I ran the zip ties for the wig around the PVC BEFORE I put the fur on and snipped holes in the fur where needed for zip ties to run through.) I also accented the wig tail with strung feathers to match her hair. I purchased a nude body suit to help with warmth in our Midwest trick or treating....this body suit and the wig made up 50% of the centaur cost. They were each about $25....the total cost of this centaur was right around $105.
Step 5: You Are Now Ready to Show It Off!!
My daughter is shy one....but she LOVED all the attention this costume got! People everywhere were pointing, gasping, exclaiming their wows and even Googling on their phones to try and find out where I had ordered it from, lol. I loved walking behind her a ways just to watch everyone's reactions as she strolled through the crowds. I could have saved time and put two stiff legs on coasters so they just rolled along behind her...but the whole WOW in this costume IS the wheels and the movement of the "hoofs". It looks like it's really part of her!!!
First Prize in the
Halloween Contest 2018