Series: Halloween Costume, 2011: The Tree
Halloween is coming up in a couple weeks, and this year Alyson and I are going to Nashville to a big party a friend of hers is throwing. I decided that I had better get a good costume together, because of how much I hate looking the fool in front of people. For the last few days, I've been working on a new costume.
I will be going as a tree this year. I thought about keeping it a secret and letting you just guess what I will be from the pictures, but it will be pretty obvious when you start to see it. Alyson and I went off to the craft store to stock up on supplies and hot glue.
Here are some quick sketches of my plan. My body will be the trunk, and my head and arms will be branches. I figured I would make, essentially, a suit of armor out of cardboard, and then decorate it to look like bark. I'll use real branches on my head, shoulders, and elbows, to give some texture. I spent some time thinking about what season I should be, but ultimately decided that since it's October, I'll be an autumn tree. Also, the craft store had a bunch of decorative autumn leaves on sale which would work perfectly.
I could already anticipate some challenges. First, my sketches looked a lot more like some sort of awkward deer-man than a tree, so I will need to be sure to make it not look like antlers. Second, since I'm already very tall (which is why I thought being a tree would be fun), adding a few feet of real branches to my head would make for a very cumbersome individual. I could always just wear brown pants, a brown shirt, a green hat, and green gloves, and call it a day, but that's just no fun at all.
I figured a perfectly reasonable place to start would be:
Part 1: The Head
I decided that I would first figure out how to attach branches to the top of my head.
I got these little foam half-balls at the craft store. I feel like they would be pretty handy for a lot of different costume ideas.
With my trusty multitool, I got to work hollowing out the bottom a bit, so it would fit on my head a bit better, since I have a generally round-shaped head.
Here is one, somewhat hollowed out. I suppose I could have just jammed the sticks right into my skull, but then again, that's a terrible idea.
Elliott wanted to help. Foam balls are actually his favorite thing. Even when fresh, these half-balls left little foam particles everywhere. After wearing this costume, I will have some serious dandruff (or a lot more serious dandruff).
Here are both half-balls, finished. When hollowing out foam half-balls, a knife works much better than a flat-head screwdriver. That's a real tip that you can use on your own tree costumes.
If the tree thing doesn't work out, I can always just turn it into some sort of buxom babe costume.
Elliott helped me pick out which branches I would be using. I found this big branch that had fallen out of a tree, and snapped some smaller branches from it.
Elliott agreed that these looked the best of the lot.
One of the branches had some damage during its life on the street from a squirrel or something, so I patched it up with some hot glue.
I cut the end of the branch off so it would have a cleaner base.
At this point the batteries in my camera died, and I have lost the charger for them somewhere, so I had to use Alyson's camera for the rest of the pictures. I am sorry about the drop in picture quality from here on.
I got this cheap-o sock cap at K-mart (I guess it's a "Kap"). You can't really tell, but the two foam half-balls are inside it.
Told you. I had built basically a foam half-ball padded bra.
I cut the branches down a bit, and added a few little twigs and things to make them a bit more interesting. They are ready to be inserted into the Kap here.
Here is the first branch inserted into the foam half-ball, through the Kap. I was very surprised by how sturdy the sticks were, just jammed into about an inch and a half of foam, but they aren't terribly heavy, so there you go.
The Kap adds about three inches to my skull, and the branches add about three feet. Take that, doorways. Here's hoping Alyson's friend doesn't have any ceiling fans.
I was worried about the Kap holding on to my head. I didn't want to have to hold my neck straight all night, because that would end up being pretty painful. I therefore glued this headband to the inside of the Kap, and it provides a great deal of stability, although it's a bit harder to put on, now.
Oh yeah, so my plan to make the bark would be to take a bunch of paper grocery bags (you can see them in the background of some of these pictures) and crimple them into a sort of faux-bark texture. It's just like faux-fur, except this is still made out of a tree.
Here I am crimpling my first stretch of paper for the Kap.
It actually works pretty great. Since it's heavy paper, it meant I could just glue it directly to the Kap, instead of using cardboard for structure, as per my original plan.
Now I just had to wrap the Kap up like a . . . sandwich. I couldn't think of a better "wrap up" analogy, so sorry about that.
The first little bit is applied here, the tree's scalp. You can almost make out what movie I'm watching here. If you can guess, I will give you a real prize.
More paper applied. Does it look like a tree yet? Does it look like a deer-man yet?
I don't know why I took so many pictures of this process. It was a bit tedious to do, and I'm sure it's a bit tedious to watch. I guess I was just trying to make sure it looked like bark. I mean, it does, right?
The apartment looks really messy in this picture.
Here is Alyson, modeling her Sea Urchin headpiece, which she made out of a foam half-ball and food skewers. I told you those foam half-balls would work for other things.
The top of the Kap is pretty finished here. I wrapped paper around the sticks, to give it a transition from Kap to branch without looking too much like somebody just shoved some sticks into a Kap and called it a day. I don't like all the seams in the paper, but hopefully when I paint it those will go away some. I also might add some more paper in the future.
Look at this cool dude. Such a cool dude.
I then added a bit around the back of the head, to "connect" it with the main body of the tree (i.e. my body).
I had built a samurai helmet out of paper bags. Perhaps I will be a sort of awkward deer-shogun.
I added some crinkled paper around the face hole, to give it more of the feeling of being an actual hole in the tree. When I saw how neat this looked on my face, I decided that I would paint my face to look like an owl, peering out through this hole in the tree. Maybe I shouldn't say that, in case I decide not to do it and I end up looking the fool.
Alyson tried on the (mostly) finished tree-Kap. It looks pretty big on her head. I think I will add a bit more paper at the bottom, as per the sketches I made, to fully frame the face and cover up my neck completely.
So that's the first part of the costume, (mostly) done! Stay tuned for the next part of the whole ordeal, and feel free to leave your comments below. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know so I can try to incorporate them (before it's too late!). Also, let me know what you'll be dressing up as for Halloween.