My daughter (age 6) LOVES bugs. Every year for Halloween (since she became old enough to make a choice) she chooses a different "bug" to dress up as. She has been a Death's Head Hawkmoth, a Snail, a Monarch Butterfly, an Isopod (Roly-Polly), and this year she wanted to be an Iridescent Stag Beetle.
I have no skills with sewing, and nobody makes Isopod or Stag Beetle costumes for little girls (imagine that!). So, when she was 4 and I needed to turn her into an isopod, I grabbed some cardboard, roughed out some shapes, covered everything with ducttape (silver/grey and waterproofing!) and hooked it all together with box rivets. It was a hit!
This year, we're going for an Iridescent Stag Beetle- so the process has been similar, but I've replaced the duct tape with some adhesive vinyl (like they make for cricut machines).
- Various Carboard boxes (whatever you have on hand)
- Box rivets (I like makedo)
- Tool for cutting cardboard (scissors if you have to)
- Duct tape or Vinyl contact paper
- Any fun accessories.
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Step 1: The Elytra (Wing Covers)
- Lay out the child onto your largest piece of cardboard and trace them (to make sure you can get big enough wings)
- Draw and then cut out a nice big circle
- Cut the circle in half
- Overlap the two halves at a slight angle and join the two halves with a box rivet (this lets them open and close a bit)
- Cut a smaller half circle shape for the top of the beetle's "shell"
- Fold this a bit to shape it
- Join this with two box rivets, one at each corner, to each elytra (wing)
- Add some shoelaces or other string through each wing as arm loops.
- Stick on the shell covering (when we made the isopod we used duct tape for this. This time, it is adhesive vinyl. For the wings I found some iridescent vinyl that shifts green/yellow/orange (orange being this girl's favorite color)
- Covered the inside of the wings with a contrasting color too.
- Test out on your kiddo.
Step 2: Make the Head
The head is the hardest part. Not the design of the head itself, but making it comfortable and making sure it will stay on and in position. I apparently didn't take process photos though. (Oops).
- Use thin flexible cardboard (like cereal box) to make a "crown" shape around the kid's head. I usually also add a strip that goes up and over the top.
- Then build the rest of the head is segments around it. This head is three cardboard strips, each held onto each other with box rivets at one pivot point.
- The box rivets were pokey, and the head kept slipping back so we improvised some padding into the head with duct tape (orange, because it is HER duct tape.)
- This is a stag beetle, so she needed awesome pincers. Traced one out, used it as a template to cut the other. Added some Popsicle sticks for extra support. Each pincer is two layers of cardboard.
- The pincers are attached with box rivets, which she asked me to leave showing because she thinks they look like eyes.
- Covered everything again in vinyl. This time in some shimmery brown.
- Added some antenna that she had leftover from a previous year (in the isopod costumer we added fake eyeballs at this stage as well).
Step 3: Making the Abdomen
For the abdomen, child requested that she have two features: bumps like a real beetle and an extra pair of legs. Trickiest part for me was deciding how to attach the abdomen to her body in a way that would allow the whole costume to come on and off easily with minimal adult help.
- Trace your kid again
- Cut out two vest shapes
- Cut one of the vest shapes into strips.
- Layer the strips onto the full vest to create a bumpy look.
- Stick everything together with box rivets.
- Take a pair of child's tights. Stuff with cotton, or old socks- whatever you have on hand.
- Attach the tights across the back of the middle section. These will be the legs. (You can attach these in several different ways- I used duct tape because we want to be able to reuse the tights, but rivets could work too)
- This will attach to child with two pieces= (1) a loop up over shoulders and behind neck and (2) and cloth band across middle to tie behind back (it is tucked behind one of the cardboard strips.)
- After everything is in place, coat all visible surfaces in your choice of covering (in this case, more brown shimmer vinyl)
- Test for fit (and because she is six and we have been testing everything every ten seconds)
Step 4: Final Touches
Dress the kid in one color of top/bottom (we chose black), accessorize as needed. Fiddle with the details, but remember that a six year old who wants to be a Stag Beetle is probably just thrilled that you helped her become a stag beetle! (Or isopod, or lady beetle, or I hear next year I'm making her into a preying mantis...)
And also, she got to help cut the cardboard with the cool little cardboard saw.
Enjoy being shiny and Iridescent!
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Cardboard Speed Challenge