Introduction: Animal (Muppet) - Costume

About: I build drums, make costumes, work on house projects/repairs, dabble in Genealogy, eat tacos, and sometimes work in IT.

Halloween is hands down my favorite Holiday and time of year.

In 2010, I took on Edward Scissorhands and was quite successful. I fabricated the scissorhands from scratch, made a collar piece using belt offcuts, modified a pair of suspenders, and mangled a black wig. The rest of the costume was just clothing and an passable, but not great makeup application.

In 2011, I took on Bender from Futurama. I fabricated it mainly from cardboard (concrete forming tubes, as well as flat stock). PVC was used for the body framing, which was then wrapped in cardboard and contractor paper in an attempt to smooth out the shape. The body sucks .. the rest was acceptable.

In 2012, I was an Evil Scarecrow with a skeletal arm. My desire was to make a fully articulating arm from PVC trim boards, PVC tubing, elastic, and fishing line. It functioned, but the mechanism didn't operate smoothly at all. Burlap was used to make a long, tattered shirt (itchy as all get out) and makeup was used to turn my face into a skull.

This year I wanted to step up my game ... try to reclaim the fame and glory I achieved with Edward. I wanted to be fully disguised, but I didn't want the mess and hassle of makeup.

I decided to become a Muppet - the best Muppet ever ... Animal.

You can see the costume in the video below:

Step 1: Fabricating and Felting the Head

I started with a acrylic globe, which was/is 14" in diameter. It's actually what is used as the globe for yard lamp posts. After marking up the globe with several mouth layout options, I used a Dremel and a cutoff wheel to remove the material. I also enlarged the bottom hole so that the glove would fit over my head. Plastic burrs and sharp edges left from the cutting were removed by hand with 150 grit sandpaper.

The inside of the mouth was formed with cardboard and set with hot glue. I just placed a piece of cardboard in place, traced the outside edge of the globe, and cut it to shape with a razor knife. The top p;ate is about 2" wide and I left as much of the bottom as possible so that the mouth would have some support and just not sag inward.

The head was skinned with felt, which was more difficult than I expect since it has no stretch factor. There was no way around having seams, so I made sure to place them all on the back of the head in order to hide them with feathers in a later step. I worked my way from the front to the back of the head, ensuring that the felt was kept taut as I adhered it in place with hot glue. The mouth cardboard was skinned/covered with black felt - also with the aid of hot glue.

The lips were made by cutting a strip of felt, wrapping it around 5/8" foam caulk saver and sticking it all down with hot glue. They were then cut to length and glued to the head, along the edges of the mouth. Use the seam of the tube as your glue line and it will be totally hidden from sight.

Step 2: Noes, Eyes, Teeth, Tongue

I used a 3”Styrofoam ball skinned in red felt and attached with hot glue. Any necessary seams were kept to one side where they could be hidden.

The eyeballs are 2 ½” Styrofoam balls with a third cut off on the Bandsaw so they would look set into the head. The pupils are circles, cut from the black felt and hot glued in place. The bottom eyelid is more felt wrapped around two sections of caulk saver foam and then glued around the bottom curvature of the Styrofoam balls. The top eyelid is a piece of black felt glued around the top curvature of the eyes.

The teeth were carved out of 3/4" PVC trim board, which was left over from a window project. I cut a strip to 3/4" x 3/4 using the table saw and then chamfered all four edges using a 45 degree chamfer bit on the router table. I used a small parts cross cut sled on the table saw to cut a groove around the stock - it's around 1 1/2" in from the edge. I then used the oscillating belt sander to shape this section into a tooth. Once I was happy with the shape, I used the bandsaw to cut the tooth free at the groove location and then sanded the bottom flush using the belt sander. This process was repeated six more times and then the teeth were glued into the mouth using hot glue.

The tongue is a piece of pink felt, which I cut to my desired shape and hot glued to the black felt.

The crazy eyebrow was a costume mustache acquired at a cheap halloween store. I glued it around the top curvature of the eyes and used it to mask the transitions between different felt layers.

Step 3: Feathering the Head

The last step was the laborious task of gluing on chicken and turkey feathers to the orange felt. The feathers were acquired by dissecting several feather boas. I started with the front of the face and chin, which have the least amount of feathers. I used several reference pictures and tired to keep the color dispersion symmetric. The turkey feathers are thinner and I mainly used them around the lips for the whips y appearance. The chicken feathers were uses sparingly on the chin and upper lip, but totally covered the sides and back of the head. I started at the bottom and worked my way up, so that the point of glue contact would be hidden by the next row. It's the same principle used when laying shingles on a roof ... except you find feathers in your house for the next year.

To keep the globe from moving around on my own head, I padded it out with dense foam salvaged from a packing crate.

There is a section of black mesh fabric in the back of the mouth, which I’m able to see through. It was glued in place from the inside and attaches to the unseen sides of the mouth cardboard.

Step 4: Fabricating the Body

Upper Body
Since I didn't have sewing patterns and didn't want to buy any, I made my own templates on cardboard by tracing a long sleeve thermal shirt and then adding a seam allowance. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I made the arms separate from the body. I figured if I tired to make it all as one piece, it would be sized wrong ... aka, way too tight.

On the body, I extended the neck, so it would hide my neck and terminate inside of the costume head. The template was traced twice (one front and one back). I did try to sew these together, but I hadn't used a sewing machine since middle school. Since I was racking a deadline, I took the easy way out ... hot glue stitching, which actually works on felt. The front of the body was cut up the middle and snaps were hot glued on so that this is basically worn like a vest.

I extended the length of the arm templates, so I could just tuck them inside of the body piece during wear. The template was traced 4 times, cut out, and hot glue stitched. My idea for keeping the arms from sliding down was to add two snaps to each arm. The the snap parts interlocked, one side was glued to the inside of the vest. I then put on an arm, tucked it into the vest, added some hot glue to the remaining snap face, and pushed it against the arm.

In retrospect, I should've gone with sewn on snaps and attached them by hand with needle and thread. While the hot glue holds, too much pressure pulls them right off of the felt. Each snap has to be separated at the metal with fingernails or some tool.

A T-shirt covers up all the snaps and body part transitions nicely.

Lower Body
Thankfully animal wears pants. I acquired some brown pants on the cheap from a Goodwill. Simple one seam, felt tubes were made and glued into the pants. The bottom hems were removed and then I just cut up the bottoms until they looked torn and tattered.

At this point, I left the felt legs long. Once in costume, I would determine the finish length, but them off, and hot glue a hem.

Step 5: Fabricating the Feet

The feet were made from more packing crate foam. I worked with what I had, which was two triangle pieces. I traced the triangle onto cardboard, traced my shoe within that triangle, and then drew an ok representation of Animal's foot. This cardboard template was cut out using a razor knife and then traced onto the foam, ensuring that I had a left and a right. The foam was easily cut with sharp scissors.

Each toe was skinned with felt individually to keep it as smooth as possible, and then the rest of the foot was covered with a larger piece of felt with one seam at the back of the foot.

Three strips of elastic hold the Animal foot somewhat tightly to my shoe. The front and back strips are against my shoe sole, while the middle strip goes across the top of my shoe.

Step 6: Fabricating the Collar

Animals primary accessory is his spiked, metal collar, which I decided to make using more 3/4" PVC trim stock. These two strips of PVC were formed around a paint can with the aid of a heat gun. Once shaped, they were trimmed up on the table saw until the two sections formed a basic circle.

The two halves were connected at one seam with a small door hinge, which was attached using two part epoxy and the supplied screws. An offcut section of the bent PVC was used as the front clasp. Half of it will be glued to one side collar section, while the other side will have a rare earth magnet, which will align with a mating magnet on the opposing collar section. A metal ring was cut in half to give an appearance of a D-ring. It was glued into two holes within the center of the clasp ... after sliding on a length of plastic chain.

For the look of rivets, I cut the heads off of 20 carriage bolts, drilled holes in the PVC for the stubs, and set them with epoxy. Spikes were made by shaping more PVC on an oscillating sander (similar process as the teeth) and attaching them with epoxy.

The collar was finished with primer, metallic spray paint, and a few coats of spray lacquer.

Step 7: Glamour Shots

Coming Soon - I'm edting this old Instructable since it was my first ever and I was a total Newb.

Step 8: The Videos

While this is primarily a video to demo the Calderwood Animal Drumkit replica, the costume makes an appearance.

Halloween Costume Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest