Introduction: Devilish DIY: Make a Halfway-to-Halloween Jersey Devil Costume
Maybe it’s a cryptid – maybe it’s a paranormal force. For the skeptics in the audience, maybe it’s even a farce!
Regardless of what it truly is, the Jersey Devil of the New Jersey Pine Lands is a formidable menace worthy of examination and (you guessed it) an Instructable.
As April 30 marks the Halfway-to-Halloween transition (yes, some people do keep track of that), now’s a great time to venture down the spookiest tree-shrouded path you can find in search of this elusive beast. But tread carefully, for the Jersey Devil is no gentle creature.
For you see, behold! Look upon its terrible face and tremble. The Jersey Devil in DIY costume form is discovered! And eek, yuck, is it one ugly bugger indeed!
Step 1: As the Story Goes…
The Jersey Devil is a legend with nearly three centuries of dark and tangled history.
While dates vary by account, legend holds that the Jersey Devil (see depictions one, two and three) burst onto the scene during a tremendous thunderstorm that passed over the Pine Barrens and across Burlington, New Jersey in 1735.
An accursed creature, the actual genesis of the Jersey Devil is disputed and surrounded by a cacophony of echoes that obscures truth from myth. In fact, according to The Jersey Devil by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller, Jr., that very elusiveness is all but spelled out in the history.
They write: “For two hundred and forty years, countless stories of [the Jersey Devil] have circulated throughout south Jersey, passed on from one generation to the next. The details vary, since each time a story is told it is subject to being enriched by the teller. But constant through the changing fortunes of the residents of the Pine Barrens is the legend of a creature which has regularly terrorized communities in south Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, and then returned to its lair somewhere in the Pine Barrens.”
McCloy and Miller go one step further by providing one of the most popular versions of the story to date. Legend holds, you see, that Mrs. Leeds—an overburdened mother of 12—reportedly cursed her thirteenth born while it was still in the womb. Way to go, mom!
Yelling out, “I’m tired of children! Let it be a devil!” the story holds that the unborn child emerged from the womb a far cry from the 12 before it; not only deformed in spirit, but more than eager to grant its mother’s putrid wish.
Regardless of when and how it arrived, the creature has been the subject of thousands of sightings over the years and has even attracted the attention of paranormal investigators.
For instance, one infrared image reportedly captured by investigators on the A&E program, Paranormal State, actually shows a raw outline (see AboveTopSecret.com) which echoes popular conceptions of the legendary shape of the creature. While the accuracy of this evidence is still up for debate (could it be a deer, or maybe two standing end to end?), you can imagine the excitement of the paranormal team when such a strange shape popped up on their cameras.
Often described as having a horse-like face, long neck, large wings, hooves and a long tail, the Jersey Devil is the stuff of nightmares. Given its proclivity for elusiveness, constructing a Jersey Devil costume thus becomes a journey of the imagination. After all, no one knows for certain what a Jersey Devil really looks like (or if it even exists for that matter), so your imagination is really your playground.
Once upon this journey, putting in your own twists and details is more than just an option – it’s highly advised for maximum dramatic effect!
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies
Just a small number of supplies with basic alterations can be employed to pull this look off with terrifying effect. Grab the following (see core products pictured below):
• Two base costumes (read ahead)
• A horse mask
• Devil horns
• A devilish tail
• Bat wings
• Side supplies: One tap light, super glue, duct tape, black paint, a red permanent marker and a paintbrush
Step 3: Begin Alterations
Hand painting the horse mask will give you the versatility to pull this look off however you’d like. In this case, you’ll ideally use black house paint as it won’t chip or flake; not to mention it does a great job of covering the mask in just one coat. By painting everything except the teeth and eyes, in short time, your horse will take on a sinister, black stallion look.
Before you proceed, remove your devil horns from their container and paint them from end to end in black as well. This process is quite simple and can be achieved by laying out some newspaper on a table and painting each item in turn. Any paint brush will do the trick, but a foam brush seemed to do a great job of spreading the paint easily while getting into the pours of the mask. This also prevented annoying brush marks from appearing on the final product.
Once the horns and the mask have dried separately, all you’ll need is some super glue to secure the horns to the mask. Place the horns directly over the ears of the horse mask and hold each firmly in place until the glue is thoroughly dried. Naturally, the ears will provide additional support for the horns.
The final product, with its distressed, mange hair and sinister black profile already transforms before your eyes into something one might imagine the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would ride.
Step 4: Finer Touches
You might notice another small alteration that seems to add some threatening appeal. Indeed, coloring the eyes with a little red paint and permanent marker really pushes the look over the edge.
The process was quite simple here. Start with your red permanent marker and carefully color the brown of the eyes on the horse mask red. The marker is weaker in tint than any red acrylic paint, so this will lay the base that will give the eye its layers. Next, simply paint the bottom half of the newly reddened portion of the eye in a half circle. This creates a balance of two tones that gives the eyes texture, depth and character.
Altering the mask is really dependent on your own artistic ability and the level of effort you want to put in. While this artist is certainly no Pablo Picasso, some unique details soon emerge and even the simplest addition like two-toned reds will really add a demonic stare.
In the case of the tail, most store bought demon sets are your characteristic bright red coloring. In that case, much as before, you simply paint the tail black. Since the tail is stuffed fabric and a bit awkward for applying paint, just expect to get your hands a little dirty and you should be fine!
Step 5: Add Your Costume Bases
Here is where those without the most impressive sewing skills can leave it to the experts, while at once, maintaining artistic freedom. By combining two costume bases together, creating a foreboding body is really as simple as unpacking and zipping up.
First, you will want a nice, dark black base. In this case, the black second skin suite comes in rather handy. Perhaps the best part about it is that this costume alone can later be used for creating the look of a ninja, shadow-demon or other costumes that can incorporate it.
Toss in the legs of this amazing half-man, half-goat costume (each can be found on HalloweenCostumes.com), and you quickly take on an animalistic look that is absent everywhere but Narnia, or in this case, your worst nightmares.
Step 6: Small Finishing Touches!
Here is where you can either be done, or go that extra mile for a look that kills.
Who isn’t a sucker for light effects, really? If you are like most people, now is a good time to add the tap light to your arsenal that you heard about earlier. You won’t regret it!
While perhaps someone, somewhere makes a red tap light, it is sometimes easier just to take matters into your own hands and color the light to your preferences. In this case, the red permanent marker prevails once more and spreads on easily for creating a spooky, red ambiance.
The long snout of the horse mask comes in handy here, as you simply push the tap light into the bottle neck of the snout and duct tape it in place from the inside. (Even without duct tape, it tends to fit in there nicely, as seen quite clearly through the nostrils which now give off a hellish, red glow.)
Step 7: Get Geared Up!
Now is the part you’ve been waiting for. Time to suit up! A quick assessment of all your supplies will give you a good idea of what the final costume will look like. Now that’s one sinister looking set up!
Step 8: Unleash the Devil Within
Put on the black second skin suite first (you’ll need someone to help you zip it up). Next, add your Satyr lower body to the mix with the pants from the costume on the right. The costume comes with its own tail, but cutting off the Satyr tail and safety pinning your own special demon tail will give the costume that distinctive demonic presence. Throw on your bat wings, which are as simple to wear as strapping on a backpack, and the look has nearly gelled.
At last, stuff the horse mask with bubble wrap, a towel or anything that will fill up its volume and make it sturdy and firm. Why you ask? Because you want to elongate your neck!
By simply propping the now stuffed mask on top of your head, a single strip of black duct tape can be added to the inside of the horse face to pull the back flaps of the mask together tightly in a manner that secures the mask to that beautiful cranium of yours much like a hat or a crown. You’ll be able to see through the second skin suit and interestingly, grow a foot and a half in the process!
It might sound a bit strange, but in the end, the look speaks for itself. Happy Hauntings! And Happy Halfway-to-Halloween!
8 years ago on Introduction
Just stumbled across this today and I have to say, as a fellow New Jersian, I love it! Great use of materials HC2012
9 years ago on Introduction
Very interesting project. No reason it has to be a "Jersey Devil" of course, the Horses head is an unusual twist, but I'm sure there are other animals costume parts that could be adapted in a similar way.
Reply 9 years ago on Introduction
Thanks Dream Dragon! I think you could probably go a number of routes. I just particularly liked these two conceptions, which fit the horse angle in my eyes: http://theshadowlands.net/jd1.gif and http://weirdnj.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/JerseyDevilIllustrationFinal.jpg
Thanks for the comment!