HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONSTRUCTION
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(01/10/2005•20:17) Costuming Lessons Learned [edit]KFelidae 
A few costuming lessons I ended up learning the hard way -- maybe you folks won't have to experience these things first hand.

First off, I use Aleen's Tacky Glue a lot in place of resin and epoxy. It covers many of my masks in great quantities, filling gaps and forming a second "skin". However, The second the stuff comes in contact with water, it simply dissolves. Almost as if acid were touching it, it's redused to runny goo. I didn't find this out until I had almost finished making a Ja-Kal mask. I hoped that my rubbing the existing Tacky Glue layer with water would smoothe out the bubbles that had formed when the glue dried, but instead it began eating its own hole! Ugh. Lesson: Aleen's Tacky Glue dissolves in water.

Back when my mom and I made costumes every year out of paper mache (long before we discovered lighter alternatives), we each decided to make our own instead of collaborating on one single mask. I went for a monoceratops, my mom for Jar Jar Binks. ...Yeah. Anyway. On the monoceratops, I opted for making a large, solid frill. I figured that, since the masks were fairly light when dried, the frill, even with multiple layers, would be managable. Boy, was I wrong. It went over okay while it was being made. The typical balloon head held the frill well, and supported its weight okay. It was ME that was the problem. See, even though the frill went more up than out, it was still enough to make me walk with my head down to avoid losing my balance and falling completely over backwards. Now, the major problem with this, aside from the cramped neck, was that the masks usually had very limited vision to start with. You saw out the mouth, which, on the momoceratops, was already pointing down. Lower your head even slightly, and you can't see the horizon. Any more, and you can't see anything but the faintest bits of colour that float by the wider sides. Needless to say I stumbled around like a horse with blinders on, ramming my horn into things and generally looking like an ass. Woop-de-doo. Lesson? Plan these things out, and don't make anything larger than your head out of solid paper mache.

One year, my friend Hissy decided to dress up as Nightcrawler for the annual Wizard Halloween Costume Contest. We were both entering, so we agreed to help each other out with our costumes. Wizard holds its contest around August, meaning that all the good party stores hadn't stocked up on Rubie's facepaint yet. Well, Hissy happened to have some white base makeup lying around, and we both agreed that the best way to use it would be to add blue food colouring. Never was all that good at forethought. Long story short, when it came time to wash off all that Nighty makeup, it... didn't. Hissy scrubbed and scrubbed, and yet the blue persisted. I think the worst of it was that she was leaving for Australia the next day... Lesson: Food colouring stains.

Finally, craft foam is a great little thing. It's soft, flexible, and cheap. It can be sewn and glued, torn and stretched. But, it cannot be spray painted. A friend dragged me along to the Doo Dah Parade a few years ago, and told me to bring along a mask. Lacking any time to make something new, I grabbed a kittybirg mask that I was kind of hoping to be a limited use type thing, and ran out the door. The kittybirg mask was made completely out of craft foam, sewn together, then spray painted. The entire process gave it a rather hard, leather like texture that I liked. What I didn't realize, or perhaps had ignored from the previous mask I'd done this on (the Hawkwoman mask), was that the spray paint not only made it stiff, but brittle. The headband, the sole link between the faceplate and ears, gave out toawrds the end of the parade, breaking clean in two. The only thing that had saved the Hawk mask was that the headband on that was made of plastic mesh, even if the rest was still foam. This had no such internal structure. When I got home, I noticed, too, that the movable jaw had begun to form stress lines, almost like small, cracking dimples, around the edges of the mouth. If the headband hadn't broken, the lower jaw surely would have dropped off. That would have been irrepairable. Lesson: Don't spray paint craft foam.



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