We found some vintage photos at an antique shop the other day. Vintage photos themselves are great because folks didn't quite know how to behave in front of these new-fangled camera things and as a result there's something about the portraits that is a little... off. A little creepy.
I used PhotoShop to up the creepy factor a little bit. Just click on the photos and it will bring you to the larger version that you can right-click and "save as". Find a funky frame or just spray paint one black and add some silver details.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
As you can see, my face is visible inside the wolf's mouth. This, I explained, was because my face was the Hunter looking out the wolf's throat getting ready to make his move. You could also combine it with a black see through mask (or even black pantyhose) like I did with the Parrot Head Hat if you don't want your face seen.
I began construction by building the muzzle down from the hat brim with black craft foam. This gave ma a base for the fur. As you can see in the photos, the head was covered with three distince pieces of fur. To achieve the effect I wanted I started with three rough cut strips of fur slightly larger than I thought I would need. I began with the top, center piece and painted a stripe of fabric glue about half an inch wide down the middle to secure it tentatively to the hat. This piece I cut longer so that it would hang down my neck and tuck it to whatever shirt I wore. The center strip starts at the top of the nose, and makes the top of the muzzle. When it reaches the spot where the brim meet the rest of the hat, that's where the eyes will be , so the fabric should fan out to create the brows and then continue upwards to the ears. Glue the top down.
The side pieces of fur meet in the front beneath the nose and continue to wrap around the back beneath the the neck flap. I used the same process of gluing a small strip down, trimming to the shape I wanted and then gluing the rest down.
The nose is just a folded piece of black craft foam glued in place.
The eyes were painted buttons, and I cut the fur around the eyes in the typical diamond shape of a wolf's eye and tucked the top of the button underneath a flap of the top strip of fur.
The lower jaw was constructed out of 1/2 inch upholstery foam and attached to the bottom of the hat with a large button as a hinge. The teeth were added last, cut from 1/4 inch white craft foam and glued in place.
For the rest of the costume I made really simple fingerless gloves out of the fur and really simple shoe covers. The nice thing about using fur like this is that you can't get caught up too much in fiddley details because they just won't show. Finish it off with either a flannel shirt and jeans or go the Grandma disguise route and find your self a nightgown!.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Another entry into your expanding costume closet should be the Labcoat. Got invited to a party Friday AND Saturday? You can't go as the same thing to BOTH of them; that would be gauche! Enter: the labcoat.
From the humorous to the horrific, established characters to spontaneous creations, the lab coat is a really flexible costume piece. Mad scientist is the first obvious choice, but should you make up your own or reference someone people already know like Dr Frankenstein, Doc Brown (from Back to the Future), Dr. Horrible (the Joss Whedon creation)? Dr. Stranglove, Bunsen Honeydew or Beaker, Dr. Hackenbush(any Grouch Marx fans out there?), Dr. Jekyll, and Dr. Octopus are all options depending on how much time you have.
Maybe you want a more historical figure like Einstein, or you could make a political statement and go as health care reform (pantsless? shirtless?). Make up your own medical doctor character and spend the night handing out prescriptions ("drink two of these and call me in the morning") or baggies of jellybean "pills". This leads us into humorous ideas which include the proctologist and gynecologist gags that have been popular the last few years.
Surgical accidents can make for a grusome theme with blood spattering and spare bodyparts tucked in your pockets. You could carry around a jello brain and hand out samples ("Oh, he won't be needing it anymore"). Or maybe your dentist is scary enough.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
My favorite sugar cookie recipe is only improved by some cool cookie cutters and food dye. I highly recommend using black paste to color your dough. The paste is concentrated and assures a dark, sinister, black cookie dough, without too much hassle. Glass or metal mixing bowls and an apron are also a good idea, since this stuff stains.
White icing is a great contrast, and shows up well in black light. Yes, we do spend time thinking about how we'll light our food (sometimes with sad results - see Brain Jello Mould post). I'm a firm believer that food that lends itself to the general theatrics of Halloween should be showcased.
Black spiderweb cookies with white icing look fantastic, and the black makes a nice background for a pumpkin cookie iced in orange.
A good shortbread recipe and some nuts become creepy fingers for nibbling. An online search will turn up several recipes, but this one at Allrecipes.com is one I typically use.
Be creative with your substitutes - jam instead of red food coloring, or pistachios (rather than almonds) for extra nasty fingernails. Don't leave out the knuckle details - they add to the gross factor!
The serving presentation is another opportunity for creativity - I envision these on a lab-white plate with raspberry sauce drizzled suggestively around the edges...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Invitations can really set the stage for your guests as to what to expect. Someone who receives a invite that obviously suggests a theme is less likely to show up in a t-shirt and more likely to get into the spirit. If your theme happens to be monster/ mad scientist kind of thing, this freebie should be just what the doctor ordered. So to speak.
Toe Tag Invites. The file includes simplified instructions on the second page for cutting and folding, so make sure when you print it you just select page one. After putting the the invited together we took small test tubes from American Science and Surplus and sprinkled in some red glitter and a small plastic spider. We used the ever popular cheap plastic spider rings that you always see around and cut off the ring part. The year after we used these I found small rubber fingers that would have worked nicely as well - use your imagination!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Fake fur can be useful to make creatures, costume accents and in my case puppets as well. This is the time of year that I skulk around Joanne's Fabrics because they gotten the new fall stuff in and that usually includes a good batch of furs. Plus right now there is a 30% off sale on fur as well as other homemade costume staples.
Now Joanne's didn't pay for a plug, but I can plug myself: my latest puppet in a contest at the appropriately named puppetcontest.com. Please check him out and cast your vote!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I was first introduced to the work of Tim Burton in the late eighties when his "Vincent" short appeared on Nickelodeon's long since forgotten Turkey Television. It amazed me. Already his trademark style was evident with long, drawn faces holding gigantic tired eyes. It was like nothing I'd seen; deliciously creepy and the first glimpse in to the mind of a man who seems to breathe Halloween.
Then came Beetlejuice and Batman, and Edward Scissorhands. Then The Nightmare Before Christmas came out and developed a cult following like no other stop-animation before it. Like no other Halloween movie that didn't involve young women being killed in excruciating ways (not that I can think of many others that don't).
Nightmare was Burton's sketchbook come to life. And in that sketchbook is a bevy of design ideas that can be adapted to your own Halloween. His jack o'lantern designs are the most obvious in their off-balanced creepy brilliance, but pay special attention to he color pallets as well. His use of shadows is no accident either.
So this year, when you're planning your party, pop in a Burton flick and let his craft influence yours!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Stopped by Micheal's craft supply this weekend to check out this year's Halloween stuff and noticed something funny. Martha Stewart is selling Bat silhouettes for your walls in much the same idea as the freebie BATS template that I posted last year. Not that I'm suggesting having any influence over Martha's empire, but why pay ten bucks for paper bats when you can make your own for FREE? (minus black construction paper costs of course.)
I guess I'll have to post some spiders and crows as well.
Deciding on what to be for Halloween can sometimes be the hardest part. If you have a few stock items in your wardrobe it can be a big help -- especially if the invite arrived at the last minute. One of my favorite standbys is the ever useful cloak. A cloak is an extremely versatile costume accessory, appropriate for numerous characters and creations.
I have a black cloak that Kate graciously made me using a the Simplicity pattern to the right. You go the direction that they are evidently suggesting and use your cloak to create an Aragorn Lord of the Rings type character or some type of Jedi or Sith from Star Wars. It would also make a good base for a wizard costume. Or add a skull mask or face paint and be the grim reaper. Or a top hat and a dagger and you're Jack the Ripper. The first year I had the cloak I went as a De Niro style Frankenstein. Peek out below the broach and carry a jack o'lantern and you can be the Headless Horseman. Need I say Vampire? Steam punk? Goth? It works equally well as a medieval character as it does Victorian.
Because of the cut of this particular cloak some year I would like to go as Batman from Mike Mignola's Gotham by Gaslight.
Plus, in the years that you decide not to use the cloak in your outfit it can be combined with a mask and turned into a prop character greeting guests, completing a scene, or just lurking in a corner. Indispensable! We also like this other Simplicity pattern (9887) and made some nice cloaks for my brother and his girlfriend this past year. Just keep in mind where you live when choosing the fabric; a heavier cloth drapes nicely, but can be a killer if this party is just indoors or in a warmer climate.