Costume making as always been a huge part of the Halloween tradition in our family. So you can imagine my disappointment when my son - who was obsessed at the time with Greek Mythology - decided that the Greek warrior costume at our local Halloween store was perfect for him to wear as Perseus. Could we at least make the shield out of cardboard and paint it up to show the scars of battle? Nope. "There is a perfectly good one in the toy chest", he says. What about the sword? Cardboard with aluminum foil, maybe some red paint for dried blood? "They have some nice ones at Toys R Us", he says.
... But wait! How will people know that you're Perseus, I ask, and not just a random Greek soldier? That's it! Medusa's severed head! And it could double as candy carrier for trick-or-treating! Now where are you going to buy that?
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Cheap plastic halloween mask
Wig of black hair (if not attached to your mask)
Snake stuffed animals (can be purchased at the dollar store)
Plastic pumpkin candy bucket
Ping pong ball
Hot glue gun
Drill and drill bit
Step 2: Modify Your Mask
Halloween masks come in all shapes and sizes. The style of mask is not very important for this project, but you'll want to remove any protruding features. Mine came with horns which needed to be cut off.
Carefully remove the wig portion of the mask if it has one. Try to keep the wig in one piece so you can re-attach later.
Step 3: Attach Mask to the Candy Bucket
This is where Medusa's head will start to take shape. Position the mask over the face of the pumpkin on the candy bucket. You may have to slide it up or down a bit to get a good fitting position. The mask can then be attached with masking tape.
My mask extended up above the top of my candy bucket. To give the illusion of a human head, I needed to build an extension off the top of the mask so that the top of my head looked uniform. This also provides a surface to which the wig can be attached. My extension was made by taping on some foam strips I had laying around. This could easily be done with cardboard as well.
I then applied tape to all the seams, and covered up any holes that remained (specifically those that were created when I removed the horns).
I also attached a foam neck to the bottom of the candy bucket. This serves as a stand, and also makes it look more like a severed head. Again, rolled cardboard would probably work just as good for this.
Step 4: Cut Access Hole for Halloween Goodies
At this point the top of the plastic pumpkin is nearly completely covered by the top of the head. The back of the pumpkin must now to cut away so that it can be readilly accessed for depositing (and withdrawing) candy during the trick-or-treating festivities.
Use wire cutters to cut an access hole in back.
Step 5: Apply the Plaster Strips
The next step is to cover the entire head with plaster strips. The purpose is to give it a unified look.
Cut the strips into 6"-12" lengths. They can then be dipped in water and applied. Be sure to leave the eye-sockets open.
Step 6: Painting
This is where the mask is made to look like both evil and female. Start by applying a coat of light green to the entire head. Bright red lips, eye-liner, eye lashes and eye brows are then added. These combine to give this nasty evil goddess her feminine traits. My first attempt at the 'makeup' was less than successful. My wife, who has vastly more experience with makeup than myself, was called in to finish the job.
Any paint will do. We used both Tempura and Acrylics.
Step 7: Adding the Eye Balls
Spherical eyeballs will add to the level of realism. I cut a ping-pong ball in half, and use one-half for each eye.
Once the ball is cut, hold up one half to the eye-socket opening. This will give you an idea as to how large of a hole you will need to put in the plastic pumpkin for mounting the ball. I started by drawing a rough circle on the pumpkin from the outside. Then a 1/2"hole was drilled in the center of eye-socket. This allowed room for wire cutters to be used to snip out the larger hole. It took a few iterations- cutting and then holding the ball up to the hole from the inside - before I got them where I wanted them.
The balls could then be hot-glued to the plastic pumpkin. Black pupils can be added with a Sharpie.
Step 8: Adding the Snakes
The defining feature of Medusa is of course her snakes. In the interest of saving time and money, I opted to use a black wig (which came with my mask) with interwoven stuffed animal snakes.
Our local dollar store had a selection of stuffed animal snakes. These didn't look very realistic, but would to the job. Large rubber snakes would probably work better here, but I didn't have much luck finding these.
The snakes were about 24" long. I cut them to about 8-10" to match the length of the hair on the wig, and then sewed them closed. The snakes were then secured by sewing them to the wig (the wig came with a fabric mesh backer that could be sewn into).
The wig was then hot-glued back onto her head. I had to cut the wig in back so as to not cover up the access hole.
Step 9: Making the Eyes Glow (optional)
Using ping-pong balls for the eyes allow the cool feature of "glowing eyes". I velcroed a small flashlight to the inside of the head. It was oriented to shine forward into the back of the eyes. This ends up looking very cool at night.