For the Halloween party this year I needed to bring a dish, something to drink and of course be dressed in a costume of some kind. Nothing unusual I guess, you don't go to Halloween parties empty-handed either, do you?
I wanted to keep it simple and cheap because there are other projects which require both time and money and I have my doubts about spending cash on something which will probably be only used once. Regardless of whether it is so for you, this instructable should still be of use, since I don't just want to be fast and cheap, being interesting is above it all!
Once again my mind was fuelled by ideas seen both on instructables and the internet in general. A special thanks goes to mikeasaurus for the Gentleman's ski poles, a grain of alt for the Living severed arm and everyone who posted the severed finger cookie 'ibles I saw plenty of here (more or less followed the one by Sonia Thomas). There were also other sources of inspiration I will share along the way.
Step 1: The Stuff You Need
For the costume:
- A chequered shirt
- Blue jeans or cargo pants
- Beard (preferably denser than mine)
- Working gloves
- Some good smelling wild stuff (I used dried sage and pine needles)
- Red paint
- Plastic tube and white paint if the tube is not white
For the props:
- Axe head
- Axe handle
- A food safe tube (Ø12mm inner, Ø16mm outer in my case)
- A preferred beverage in a bottle
- A nice log or piece of firewood
- Small dowels
For the cookies and the plate:
- Cookie dough
- Any red jam
- One of the instructables from the search linked in the intro
- A nice flat split log
- White marshmallows
- A drinking straw
- Something to cut round shapes with
- A drill
- A router
- An axe
- An auger bit of the same diameter as the tube
- A frostner bit a little bigger than the bottleneck
- A chisel and a hammer
- An orbital sander
- An angle grinder (maybe)
You should be good with either only a chisel or only a router as well and without the frostner. Heck, even only a drill would do if you're really persistent.
Step 2: The Mighty Axe: Derust (optional)
The axe is a tool the lumberjack relies on. Therefore it must be special and functional. Oh and in case you forgot, this is not your usual lumberjack, but a rather moody one. That's why the axe in use is actually a butcher's axe as you'll see. Paint the further picture from here for yourself.
Since I only had plastic handle axes or ones too small for the purpose at home I decided to ask my friend for an old axe I'd give him back after Halloween. It was rather rusty so I had to make an axe-vinegar soup and use some elbow grease to give it at least some kind of look. You can surely avoid this unnecessary job, but just in case it's the same for you, I've added some pictures of derust process. In a nutshell it went like this:
- Brush the rusty head lightly to get rid of loose rust
- Soak it for a day or two in vinegar (around 40h in my case)
- Manually brush away more rust and let it dry a bit afterwards
- Wear eye, ear and breathing protection
- Use a wire brush on a drill/angle grinder to remove even more rust
- Use a grinding wheel on the angle grinder to even out the surface a bit
- Use a sandpaper wheel on an angle grinder for primary smoothing
- Use a velcro pad with sandpaper on the angle grinder for quick, but smoother removal of material
- Sand up to desired grit using an orbital sander
- Clean up the inside with dremel/wire brush/something else
You should have it nice, shiny and ready to chop now.
Step 3: The Mighty Axe: Making It Special (obligatory)
What else can you add to an axe you may ask. Well, given the fact that the moody lumberjack needs to deal with a witch or two occasionally it's a good idea to have a secret life saving compartment in the axe to store a dose of mana potion or something else of your preference.
You will need an auger bit and some plastic food safe tubing of the same diameter for this.To make the drilling easier I bought and used a non-hardwood axe handle (looked like birch to me), but I'd probably go with a hardwood next time since it wasn't that bad.
Make sure you mount your handle for drilling somehow since you have a pretty small margin for error here and long drill bits and bare hands don't really mix anyway.
Check your aim constantly (especially in the beginning) and it should be good. A good way to do that is using a flashlight - if you see the light on the handle when shining into the hole, you better start correcting your aim. If you shine from the side of the handle you can see a light spot looking into the hole even through thicker layer of wood - a simple way to compare wall thickness and aim based on lightness difference between sides.
Since the drill is shorter than the handle in my case I drilled from both ends. You should do the same unless you don't want a hole going through, which is up to you, of course. When you have the hole - check if the tube really fits all the way through. It's likely that the holes you drilled from both ends won't meet perfectly and you will have to do some sorcery lumberjackery with the drill to fit the tube through.
Unfortunately, your favourite liquid won't stay in the tube unless you plug it well. Fortunately you don't need to reinvent the axe for that. Just modify some wine corks to fit. You can do that with a sharp knife or by mounting the cork in a drill to make an improvised lathe, if you don't have a real one to use. Since you need to be able to unplug one of the ends, make one of the plugs big enough to grab. In my case that was the one at the head end of the axe. The bottom one was put into the handle and sanded smooth. It could be glued as well, but why glue when it sits there just fine?
I also added a leather grip on the axe handle at the spot where you hold it for most control. If my sewing looks like a hack job, that's because you hack with an axe, and that's how it was sewn!
Alright, time for truthI guess: despite managing to get a nearly perfect aim drilling from one end, I failed on the other one and drilled out of the handle (see pics). Since I didn't really feel like trying to drill another one (and probably failing again) I just covered it up sneakily. I also considered making a wood inlay in that spot, but having never done that before wrapping leather seemed like a better idea.
Edit - field report: the looks you get while pouring into a shot glass from an axe are completely priceless and totally worth the effort making it. That's even given the fact that I've surprised everyone with the lumberflask beforehand.
Step 4: The Bloody Fingers
Nothing much to comment about the preparation and cooking process since I tried to follow this 'ible. By tried I mean that it was all in recommended order until I had to mix together more than sugar, butter and eggs. I then added flour as mentioned in the recipe. Then added more to achieve the texture I liked, since it's hard to form anything from flour which is gooey. Not that the recipe is bad or anything, just keep in mind that there's a lot of room for changes which won't ruin the end product.
Thanks to another cookie finger 'ible I decided to use white marshmallows as bones as well. The issue was that you can't really find marshmallows that small over here, so I just cut round shapes out of bigger ones using a funnel. No particular reason to use a funnel as well, it was simply the only thing which had a hole of the diameter I wanted and could cut.
There was also some trickery involved in getting the jam to stay on: I added some gelatine to the jam (around 3:1 jam:gelatine ratio), heated it up to melt it in and waited for a while after mixing until it was around the point of starting to set. This is a little tricky if doing a higher quantity of fingers and you will probably have to re-heat the gelat-jam repeatedly to have just the right thickness for application. Aim for the point where it won't drip when applied, yet it still spreads easily. Apply marshmallow bones right after putting the jam on, thy should stick. I also cut the finger ends flat for easier jam application.
Oh, and here's some advice for those who don't cook sweet things too often (like me):
- Fingers will spread while cooked so roll them around 2 times thinner
- When you take them out after 8 - 9 minutes they will still be soft - don't worry, they will be just right after cooling
- Do some test bakes with different finger sizes and cooking durations just to see how your dough acts
- I also baked at 200°C which is more than in other 'ibles and it was just fine
Severed finger cookies would also be an awesome addition if dressed as Hitchcock's Man From the South
Step 5: The Plate for Fingers
The improvised plate had to look like I seriously chopped those fingers off. Wood sure does the trick for that at the same time adding to the image of a lumberjack. Getting a flat piece of wood is pretty straightforward - just split one off a piece of firewood. You could use a piece that is already split somewhat square, but splitting is good, because you will have a nice clean piece of wood where it is freshly split and clean which is good because food is going to be on it.
Since the chop marks needed to look somewhat realistic as well, I hit the log several times with an axe through a drinking straw filled with the same jam and then arranged the fingers. There will be pieces of straw left in the jam afterwards and despite the fact that a white straw looks like chopped pieces of bone, you don't want to eat plastic so it's a good idea to remove them (tweezers will do the trick). You may want to leave a bloody looking axe in the same piece of wood near fingers for added effect, just keep in mind that if you hack hard enough along the grain your plate may split again. That's why I avoided the axe there.
Step 6: Making the Lumberflask
The compartment in the axe can only hold a single shot of liquid so you're going to need another place to put the major part of your preferred party liquid (pre-belly). To maintain a proper lumberjack image you'll need something better than a mere bottle.
I found some instructables on making wooden mugs and flasks, but didn't feel like it's the thing I want to make or had doubts about proper functionality, that's why I went for something a little different - decided to simply put a bottle in a piece of firewood.
A good start for making this is getting the bottle you intend to hide, then go and find a piece of firewood or a log which is slightly bigger than the bottle in every direction. Probably more than slightly on the bottom and top, since wood may break easily with grain there.
Now that you've found one - split it in half with an axe and mark the outlines of the bottle on both sides and route along the lines you just marked. I left the bottleneck area unrouted and drilled it on both halves simultaneously with a frostner bit when it was clear how exactly the bottle is going to sit, but it could effectively be routed as well.
Since I wanted to do it quickly due to below freezing temperature outside where I was working I chose to route the outline and remove the inners with a chisel. You could effectively do it with either only a chisel or only a router. The looks on the inside don't really matter as well. Check how the halves fit in the end and fix any quirky spots and you should get a nice fit fast. Since the log is split the grain will fall together nicely and you'll know it's good immediately.
To hold the halves together I used some Ø5mm dowels. The spots for holes were chosen simply by looking where there is space left. To get the holes facing each other first drill smaller holes and add pointy skewers barely higher than surface. Then put the halves together as they should be and push together as hard as you can. This will result in tiny marks on the other side - you should drill there. If you have a better technique for this - please share. The dowels were glued in only one half of the log, therefore leaving the ability to open the log and maybe even use again sometime.
Having gone through this much effort leaving the bottle neck with cap exposed would've been unacceptable, so I found a small piece of firewood, cut the end off and hot glued a matching diameter wine cork to the bottom of it. I initially tried to hot glue the wood piece to the original turning cap, but my log has a diagonal top and that creates more issues than I thought.
The lumberflask may also make a nice touch for a Groot or Ent costume!
Step 7: Make Hand and Dress Up!
You probably know where to find clothes locally, either new or used. You also know how a stereotypical lumberjack looks because you searched for that on google or just knew it, so I won't even start about either of those things.
As for the severed arm - you can't go much wrong with the 'ible a grain of alt provided, but remember that it's always possible to replace materials with something else you have at hand as was in my case.
The piece of arm and fake fingers and palm in glove were pretty much made out of insulating foam of some kind (something like they put on water tubes). It's amazingly easy to work with and glues really well with hot glue because it melts a little and it's also possible to paint it to a degree. I also used some semi-hard plastic in some places, including a not so effective support for my wrist so it's easier to keep bent. The bones were made from the same tube used in the axe sprayed white and glued in with pieces of foam sprayed red inside it to imitate bone marrow. Did I go too far with the last one?
Keep in mind to use a loose enough glove - I thought the stretchy one I used will be ok, but it doesn't wrap around the forehand fully and there's a gap left. Not a big deal, since it's on the underside which is not visible too often and the shirt is red as well, so the only thing contrasting is Velcro straps.
It's also easier to fake the arm if you dress it up in a piece of torn sleeve or something. This way your wrist goes out where it usually does on a long sleeved shirt and you can also hide the trickery going under the glove easily with extra fabric.
Other than that, contrasting suspenders would've been a nice touch. As well as a make-up for the severed hand making it more witch-like. But enough is enough.
Step 8: The Smell of the Lumberjack
You did not plan going to a Halloween party dressed as a moody lumberjack wearing something like Acqua di Gio I hope?
A lumberjack has to smell like a lumberjack (such a deep thought). According to me, a lumberjack smells like forest and wilderness and that's already a foundation to build on. After I asked a fragrance-literate friend for advice and got inspired by watching campfire cologne videos the way to go was clear to me.
I got some dried sage from my grandma and then acquired a branch of pine which had a plenty of needles and some resin as well. Pine or fir needles might be an issue in some climates, but not in mine, so you either have them or don't I guess. Sage was a bit of an issue, but it's sort of traditional medicine so your best bet might be people, especially older who may have such stuff.
In pictures you can see the trials I endured to try get the smell of a forest into a tshirt (as a test piece) to tell you now, what doesn't work. To summarize: I used a clean grilling tray to hold the t-shirt. Test #1 was above a boiling pot with some water and pine needles, result: almost no change in smell and a wet shirt, the room smelled good though. Test #2 was with smoke, result: a smell which is too strong for my liking, but this can be avoided by holding the garment over smoke for less time. One important find which I will probably go for when dressing up for the party: dried sage on embers gives a really nice smell which isn't as strong as wood smoke.
All of this goes down to trying and seeing what and if works for you. A possible and probably better alternative would be use of essential oils. If you try something that works - make sure to leave a message, thanks!
Step 9: The Story of the Moody Lumberjack
What's a well thought out costume worth without a story to accompany it? Probably still a lot, but you got to have something to tell to that gracious cat woman on the other side of the room! So here it goes:
When the moody lumberjack was just a little kid running through the fields and forests of the middle earth he was just like any other cheerful kid. But one day everything changed. He hurt himself running in the forest and started crying. A witch flying nearby heard the cry and became so annoyed by it, that she cursed the little boy so he wouldn't cry ever again. It's just that shouting curses while flying a broom is no easy feat, obviously too hard for this witch, who accidentally messed up the word order and cursed the little lumberjack in a way which made his mood change suddenly from peaceful wood chopper to a vengeful witch finger hacker. The curse didn't add anything to the accuracy however, so sometimes instead of fingers, he chops an entire arm off.
Now that you know why this costume involves a severed hand and severed fingers there's just the right amount of time left to prepare yourself and go for an exciting Halloween night witch finger hunt!
Runner Up in the
Halloween Props Contest