Intro: The Maitlands From Beetlejuice
As someone who loves to make unconventional costumes, I jumped in delight when my husband asked me to make us these Beetlejuice costumes! I had seen a few tutorials on this before but knowing what it's like to wear large headpieces for long periods of time, my main goal was to make these costumes not only epic looking but very lightweight. I hope you like my tutorial!
- flour & water
- white fabric
- black nylons/tights
- wire hangers
- wire mesh
- duct tape
- craft foam board
- Crayola Model Magic
- gardening wire
- Mod Podge or glue
- fake fur
- plastic gloves
- plastic eyeballs (12)
- bicycle helmets
- book box
Step 1: Building the " Skeletons"
First, I cut out thin strips and jaw shapes out of craft foam board. I attached them all together with bent out wire hangers (for extra support) and duct tape and then attached them to the bike helmets. While you can use any type of headpiece to build your heads on, I highly recommend bike helmets for two reasons. 1) They have ventilation holes at the top which will keep you from overheating and 2) the chin strap helps you support the headpiece much better when wearing it.
Once the skeleton was properly laid out. I began building the form of Barbara's jaw with wire mesh (again this technique made the head much more lightweight). I bent the wire mesh into the shapes I wanted and then attached them to the jaws with duct tape. Adam's head didn't need the mesh hence no pictures
Step 2: Filling It Out
Now for the fun and messy part of the build: paper mache. Using a blend of water and flour, I began laying strips of the mache over the heads. Be sure to let your paper mache dry in between layers or you risk it getting moldy. The first two layers were just to build a base and then I began creating shapes, like Barbara's eye sockets, by rolling up paper mache into strips and molding them into place.
After the paper mache had dried, I added a little Mod Podge to my flour/water mixture and began adding more mache layers but this time, I used white fabric instead of paper. This step is not necessary but I find that doing fabric mache adds some strength to the paper mache without adding weight. Plus it creates a good base to paint on.
While the heads dried, I began working on the other extremities I needed to make: they hand on Adam's head and the tongue in Barbara's mouth. For the hand, I took a plastic kitchen glove, stuffed it with polyfill and taped it closed. For the tongue, I cut a shape out of cardboard and lined it with flexible gardening wire (attached with duct tape) so I could bend it into the curly shape I needed. I then repeated both paper mache steps on both pieces
Step 3: Now You Don't See Me
One key part to this costume was hiding me and my husband's faces under the costume. To achieve this, I hot glued stretched out black tights in the back of the mouth for Barbara and in the big eye holes for Adam. Using the fabric here perfectly concealed our faces while also making sure there was still air flow through.
Step 4: Paint Time
After everything was dry, I attached the hand and the tongue to the heads using hot glue. (Note: when attaching the hand to Adam's hand, HOLD ON TO IT while it dries. I let mine go a little prematurely and it ended up slightly crooked)
Once everything was attached, it was painting time. I made sure to use a color slightly darker than the main skin tone to define the pull marks on the face. Once the paint dried, I hot glued the plastic eyeballs onto the tongue and then sprayed the inside of Barbara's mouth with gloss paint. This step isn't necessary but I thought it would add a little extra realism to have the mouth look "juicy".
Once everything had dried, I attached the teeth to Barbara's mouth with hot glue. I made these out of Crayola Model Magic the night before applying them (to allow them time to dry) and then placed them on the mouth. The more irregular the teeth looked, the better the all over look of the costume.
Then last of all, I attached the hair. For Barbara, I bought a cheap long curly wig and hot glued it to the head. For Adam, I purchased fake fur and glued it to the head around the hand. Adam's hair was way trickier to do but it still turned out great
Step 5: Extra Accessories
After purchasing a hideous flower dress and white/black plaid shirt from a thrift store, there were only two more things our costumes needed.
Adam's character wore multiple eyeballs on his fingers so I bought a bunch of hollow plastic eyeballs from the Dollar Store (same ones I used for the eyes in Barbara's mouth) and drilled holes in them to fit the size of my husband's fingers.
We also needed a Handbook for the Recently Deceased. For that I went to the craft store and bought a paper mache book box. I painted over the box in brown, added some stick on letters to spell the title and pasted on a print out of the book's image from the movie. The great thing about using a book box instead of just a book is that you can use it as a clutch purse. When my husband wasn't wearing his eyeballs, I stored them in the book box.
And that's it! A very easy to make, cost effective and lightweight costume that will definitely have you turning heads...or spinning them, in Beetlejuice's case.