Things Are Coming Along Nicely

I spent the bulk of Saturday afternoon working on a costume for the Motor City Comic Con. For those who missed earlier posts about this1, the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers of which I am an officer as well as member, has been attending the convention as dealers for half of a decade. A few years ago we started doing themed days where each of the people working the table/booth dress in costume. I think Firefly day was the best so far.

I don’t think that we have officially posted our costume themes for this year’s convention so I won’t say any more on the actual individual I will be portraying. I don’t want to spill the beans. Unfortunately, that my make this a bit difficult to follow.
2 Adding to the confusion is the fact that part of the reason I am writing this is to make a sort of checklist for myself. If you want to skip this post, I totally understand.3

The way I have it figured in my head, there are some big things which need to be done and then some smaller things and finally some detail work which needs to be done.

Big Things

Build main frame for the body

Build Wing Support

Build Head

Smaller but Still Pretty Big Things

Costume (sewing)

Actual Wing Shapes

Create Exposed Body

Create Arms

Detail Work (Which Will Take A Lot of Time)


Put Feathers on Wing

Affix Exposed Body to Basic Costume

Create and affix eyes.

Then of course there is the whole putting the head together, putting it on the body frame, affixing the complete wings, all that good stuff.

The main frame of the body, I am pleased to say, it pretty much done. It took me the bulk of this afternoon and 30 feet of PVC pipe, but I am just about there. Why so much? Because this is not going to be a run of the mill costume. This is, in fact, my first big build. That is part of the reason that I am so excited.

I reached out to the people at the
Motor City Haunt Club for ideas on how to build part of it. One of the members pointed me in the direction of the Stalkaround costumes which came out a few years ago. Fortunately, enough time has passed that a number of people have attempted to reverse engineer the costumes. Most of these people have been helpful enough to put their plans on-line.4

What I have done
5 is create a frame out of PVC pipe which resembles the frame of an old hiking backpack. Most of the people I found on-line fit this frame directly to themselves or actually attached it to a backpack frame. I rigged it to the tactical vest I used as part of last year’s Halloween costume. It is very sturdy and distributes the weight nicely. The vest will also provide back support, which is always nice.

In my stocking feet the costume ends up being about 7 1/2 feet tall. That my come down a little. I need to add one central support so the two pieces which will hold the head in place will not separate and rip the head apart.

My next step will be to fabricate the wing support. I plan on using pool noodles (which I have from a previous costume) with wing shaped fabric draped over them.
7 When I get to the detail portion of the operation I will attach the feathers to the wings. Before I do that, however, I am going to load the movie and run it on my projector. I will get the precise wing shape and all of the facial details by tracing the actual movie images.8

I’ve gone back and forth about the creation of the head itself. My plan yesterday was to get a large block of styrofoam and carve the head. My plan today is to work the facial details on a large sheet of styrofoam and glue this to one of my foam heads. I am not sure how well this will work, though. So I should probably try that soon so I have enough time to redo the head if I need to.

The Mrs was nice enough to come with me to JoAnn Fabrics
9. We had coupons so be bought what I think will be enough fabric to do what I want to do. In the film the character in question spends the bulk of its screen time in a large robe like outfit with the upper half of the desiccated torso exposed. My plan is to have black fabric completely covering the understructure. I then planned to build the “body” out of a different colored fabric and sew this on the front. Since the black is thin enough for me to see out of but not to allow others to see in, I can then look out certain areas of the body. The Mrs suggested that we use a couple layers of different colored tule and mesh to make the body, which would increase my ability to see.

She’s a genius.

I have already constructed the arm extensions out of PVC and elbow joints. I will attach them to the “shoulders” of the frame with hook and eye type closures. This will allow me to manipulate them easily but not have to always be holding them (like the arms of my reacher costume).

There are also multiple eyes to be made. I have styrofoam balls which I will use for eyes. I will either be painting them or creating lids out of fabric scraps.

One of the cool things, as far as I am concerned, is that this particular costume will not be a one off. If my plan works out correctly, I will not have to permanently attache the wings to the frame. The head should also be removable. I’m not sure about the “body” but regardless, what I will end up with is a frame that allows me to portray a larger than life character with just a change of the head. If the wing attachments work the way I want them to, I could even have a multi-headed character.

Insert evil laugh here.

1 Like this
one and this one and of course this one.

2 If you figure it out on your own, shoot me an e-mail. Maybe I will send out prizes to the first few people who figure out what the Hell I’m doing. Other than the information in this post I will give you one other hint -- I am doing everything in my power to make a fairly accurate replica of a character who appeared in a movie.

3 Of course you will be missing hysterical footnotes, but that’s on you.

4 I do so love the internetz.

5 Don’t worry, I took pictures. I’ll post them once the project is completed.

6 I was originally going to attach the head to a universal joint which would then be attached to a length of PVC running from a helmet I would wear, but I decided against it for right now.

7 I have already figured out how to make the wings unfurl, but I am going not going to do that for this time around. I will be wearing this in the booth while selling things so I don’t want to run the risk of knocking things over. When I do version 2.0 you can expect more mobile wings.

8 I told you I wanted this to be screen accurate.

9 Like I really needed to twist her arm to go there.