The inspiration for (and recipient of) this costume was a young neighbor boy who I discovered perched on the post of our front port landing, crouched into a ball with a little chicken bone between his teeth. I knew immediately what he needed to be for Halloween...
This gargoyle costume is a fairy easy costume project to do on a budget for a child or an adult. It takes a few days in order for the mask to dry and add layers, but is generally about a five hour project.
Here are the supplies you may need:
- Model Head (Plaster of Paris Skull, styrofoam head, balloon?)
- Maleable Material (clay, play-dough, etc.)
- Eggshell Carton
- Newspapers torn into strips
- Paint (Spray paint or other oil-based paints)
- Black or dark grey fabric
- Old electrical cords (monitor cords, internet wire, phone lines, etc.)
- Hot Glue
Step 1: Papier-mâché Gargoyle Mask
There are many techniques for using papier-mâché, but I went a fairly simple route that I am sure could be improved on.
- Draw out how you want your Gargoyle to look. I referenced several Google images (while reflecting on the personality of the intended recipient!) before deciding on big ears and a furrowed brow.
- I got the skull on sale at a local craft store for $3, but you could make due with other head-sized objects. This mask ended up being for a child, so it worked out, but I would have had to do something different for an adult to fit their head in the mask. I propped the skull up with a mason jar, which also served as a mold for a neck.
- Cut the eyes out - I used an old eggshell carton that I poked holes through - and affix to skull.
- Cut the nose out and affix to skull. Again, I used an old eggshell carton and just compressed it in the shape I wanted.
- Cut the ears out and affix to skull. I made the ears out of cardboard and made cuts parallel to the edges to be able to give the ears more shape.
- Roll out eyebrows and affix to skull. I used pottery clay I had laying around to roll out three sets of eyebrows.
- Create horns and affix to skull. I rolled up and taped cardstock together to get the horns in the right shape.
- Cut out the mouth shape. Depending on how you want the mouth to look, you may want to add an ovular piece of cardboard like I did.
- Add teeth to mouth shape. Again, I used leftover clay to make fat, triangular-ish teeth. Then I flattened the base and stuck the base in the mouth slit of the cardboard.
- Affix the mouth to the skull.
- Papier-mâché over everything. Helpful tips here include using some kind of buffer to cover the entire peice BEFORE starting so that the papier-mâché does not glue strait to the skull or glass materials. Tape would have been my first choice, but I have heard of using vaseline or a special kind of papier-mâché paper layer. My mixture was approximately 1 tablespoon of flour for a cup of cold water - I've heard adding glue or heating the mixture can add different effects. The biggest advice is to let things dry thoroughly between each layer and do several layers since the horns and ears are somewhat delicate.
- Remove the skull, and trace and cut out the back of the mask once it is thick enough to be sturdy and completely dry.
- Paint the mask. I chose a cement gray spray paint. Make sure to do this outdoors!
- Hot glue elastic to the back sides of the mask.
Wa lah! You now have a mask you could wear or just hang somewhere to guard your house in festive spirit! For the complete look though, you really need a pair of wings!
Step 2: Gargoyle Wings
These wings would really work for a whole range of costumes such as a vampire or batman (as was suggested by the 6-year-old I made this for), however I think they suit a gargoyle particularly well. You can make these wings as big or as small as you want. Mine are scaled to fit a little longer than the arm span of a 6-year-old (about 4').
- Cut your cardboard back to be wider and sit taller than the intended shoulders, with the bottom of the cardboard hitting between the shoulders and waist.
- Cut a thick electrical cord a couple of inches longer that the arm span on both sides.
- Center and hot glue the electrical cord to the outer upper edge of the cardboard back.
- Cut and glue larger electrical pieces to stick up from the raised tips of the inner upper part of the cardboard back (this makes it so you glue them to the opposite side of the long cord).
- Lay out your fabric and cardboard back to determine how much fabric you will need. I ended up using three layer. The outside layers were made of a flimsy black material and I chose a stronger material for the middle. You probably really only need to layers of fabric, but this did help cover up and protect the cardboard on the inside of the wings.
- Sew the wing layers together at the top and iron flat. I was lazy and sewed mine in a straight line, knowing that this would cause bunching later. If you are more ambitious than me you could actually cut the top layers to match the curve or your cardboard before sewing them for a cleaner effect.
- Center fabric and cardboard back. Mark where the two electrical pieces should stick out and make holes in the fabric for them to poke through
- Hot glue the fabric along the top edge of the cardboard on both side (making sure to keep it tight under the electrical cord that is lining the top).
- Sew the remaining top edges to encase the electrical cord where the cardboard back ends to the edge of the wing.
- Layout and cut electrical wires that will serve as wing veins. I suggest using a ruler to try to make the sides match up.
- Glue electrical cords to inner fabric facing the outside. My outer fabric was really sheer, so this allows you to see the cords through the fabric. I used a yardstick to help me glue the cords in a straight line.
- Trim remaining fabric leaving nice scalloped edges between the veins.
- Pin and sew remaining edges.
- OPTIONAL: Paint outside of fabric. To give mine a dustier gray look I used some of my gray spray pain on the exterior side.
- Cut 4 pieces of elastic to serve as shoulder straps and wrist straps and tie in loops.
- Hot glue elastic loops to the wings. Make sure to figure out where you want the wings to sit on the person - I had to add a second set! I glued mine with the knots out so that they could be retied to adjust for different sizes. I also reinforced the hot glue by pressing it with pieces of scrap fabric (other wise it would have come right off). Again, a more ambitious person could have sewn adjustable straps in.....I welcome you to try that for a sturdier design!
Your gargoyle costume should be set!