Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween 2012: Costume #2

     2012 would prove to be a very prominent year for fried chicken.  In June, Chik-Fil-A came under fire for espousing Anti Gay Marriage support.  In September, numerous US-based businesses (including a Kentucky Fried Chicken) were vandalized in the Middle East over a controversial video.  If anything, this should illustrate how pivotal fried chicken is to American culture.

     It’s no secret that I adore fried chicken.  I am not alone.  I found out about a Japanese KFC and how they decorate their mascot.  I was determined to make this my Halloween costume this year.

1:  Purchase a sectional sofa from Ikea
     Okay, that may be a bit extreme, but we really needed a new couch and by getting it from Ikea, we got a very comfortable sofa at the right price with the bonus of all this great double-walled corrugated cardboard.  This ensures that all my costume components would be of consistent texture, weight, grain, and detail.

2:  Cut out all the needed components
     I used two instructables (here and here) for what size and how many of each component I needed, and what the hole-template would be for punching the 2,090 holes.

3:  Customize
     I had repurposed a plastic katana from one of Cameron’s previous costumes.  We also had a Darth Vader helmet that was no longer functional, so I used the headpiece from that.  I had to Dremel off some of the front, then added a plastic dog-cone collar for a brim.  It looks less-Vader-y this way.

     Traditional samurai helmets have ornamental crests, or maedate.  The higher the rank of the samurai, the more-ornate the maedate.  Well, we’re talking about a Colonel, for Pete’s sake, I had to have something pretty fantastic.

The typical Google-Image-Searches didn’t reveal anything appropriate, so I had to brainstorm this one:
I settled on a spork

Spork of the mighty
     The spork is iconic of the KFC empire, I thought.  Against a vast mountain of instant potatoes and gravy, the spork is your greatest ally.  I needed to make one.  Rather than mess with heat guns and smoking plastic, I decided to raid the kids’ sandbox.  I found a discarded toy shovel that I thought would pass.  After some rough carving, sanding, and painting, I had my crest.

     It wasn’t enough, though.  I wanted more.  A lot of helmets have horns, which initially seemed pretty cool.  But then I thought “chickens don’t have horns”.  So what do chickens have?

Behold, my wishbone of power

     Fabrication included making a template from a manila folder (folded for symmetry), transfer to cardboard, then cut and paint.

     The spork and wishbone fit together like a fast-food Voltron.

Further decoration
     I needed logos for my armor.  I actually found a site that would generate the katakana characters for “Kentucky Fried Chicken”.  I verified this against the KFC-Japan website and it was a perfect match.
     There were plenty of English KFC logos to choose from.  I did want to combine the Rising Sun design with Colonel Sanders, just to really hammer the point home.  So after a few minutes in Photoshop, “Rising Sanders” was born:
     Soldiers had various designs painted onto their chestpieces, so I thought this would be best applied as a stencil directly onto the armor.

     I tried to balance authenticity with kitsch here – whenever I thought I was sweating the details too much, I reminded myself that this was all just cardboard.  If I thought I was being too cavalier, I just had to look at my picture of Colonel Sanders and how I wanted to do him justice.  And whenever I got tired of punching those holes…I remembered the smoking remains of that glorious restaurant.

Happy Halloween.  In case you missed it, check out the other costume I had to make this year. 

               Share and enjoy.

Halloween 2012: Costume #1

      It was that time of year again.  At the start of October, the majority of our family becomes preoccupied with a dire question:  “What do you want to be for Halloween this year?”

For my daughter, the answer was obvious.

“I want to be Chef Lady Gaga”

Challenge Accepted
     Those of you who are not-yet-familiar with Lady Gaga’s videography, I’ll quickly state that in her music video for the single “Telephone”, Lady Gaga is portrayed as a cook working in a diner.  Megan loves cooking and adores Lady Gaga, so the proposal was somewhat expected.
How to pull it off provided several individual challenges:

The major components of this costume:
  • Phone “hat”
  • Hair
  • Dress
  • Apron
  • Makeup
  • Shoes

     The hat looked like an origami sculpture piece, so I figured there must be some instructions on how to make it.  Sure enough, YouTube had some very helpful links on constructing the hat.  I made a few prototypes to ensure scale and sizing.  Some personal touches of my own:

     The video recommends using aluminum can lids for the rotary dials.  The problems I saw with these were that they would be sharp and also non-reflective.  Instead, I repurposed the platters from a discarded hard-drive.  These were the right shape, the right weight, coated with a mirror-finish, and in great surplus in my basement.
Whatever used to be on this drive is GONE now
     For paper, I laminated some manila folders with solid light-blue wrapping paper.  The wrapping paper was the correct shade of blue, plentiful, and inexpensive.  I used spray adhesive to glue the manila folder onto the wrapping paper, then cut the squares to size.
     I used a gloss-acrylic finish to make the blue paper shiny.  I had mixed results with this method.  In order to get the shine I wanted, I found I had to use a LOT of spray – this also runs the risk of killing the paper.  A better (albeit more-expensive) solution would be to use light-blue gift bags that are already glossy instead of semi-gloss wrapping paper.
     Instead of using foam punchouts for the phone buttons, I used a painted wooden dowel, and cut the buttons to length.  This way, they would stand out more from the dial.  I just couldn't find any free plastic cylindrical buttons of the right shape for this.
I went with a silver spray-painted phone cable instead of matching-blue.  The silver really stands out and I didn’t have to go through the headache of color-matching the blue paper.
     Interesting note:  The video advises using aluminum foil for some of the silver details of the hat.  I couldn't resist thinking I was making a tin-foil hat for my daughter.

     I couldn’t coax my daughter’s hair to grow 8 inches and blonde before Halloween, so we had to resort to a blonde wig.  Not just any blonde wig, though…because once she saw the Lady Gaga approved hair at the costume store, well, it was all over at that point.  During the dress-rehearsal, she found the wig was itchy, so I had her wear her spandex swim-cap underneath and secured the wig with some large bobby pins.  This made it more-comfortable for her.  I also added a strip of velcro for more security.

     Gaga’s dress in the video is a semi-transparent white with clean lines and nipple-tape.  I didn’t have any translucent plastic and nipple-tape was definitely out.  However, I did have this:

Use symmetry to your advantage
     There’s something “Gone With The Wind”-ish about making a dress from a window treatment.  It seemed perfect.  All I needed was to make it.  First off, the shade I used was broken due to an overzealous daughter not-knowing-her-own-strength.  Let me also say that this would be the first time anyone in my house used the sewing machine.
     Thankfully we had all the parts and it still worked – I did need to purchase white thread and a new needle.  After a few test-stitches, I was set:  I cut out a pattern on cardboard using one of her existing dresses as a guide, transferred the pattern onto the window vinyl, cut out the front and back, then sewed them together.
     The only improvement for next time would be to incorporate a back-zipper to make getting in and out of the dress easier.
I'm sure this is how Vera Wang started out

     Megan is still a size 6T, so a discarded white T-shirt provided enough material to fashion a makeshift apron.  I had her work at a greasy-spoon to get authentic kitchen-stains on it.

OK just kidding.

     My daughter did insist on one modification to the apron – she wanted a pocket to hold her iPod.  That way, she could queue-up “Telephone” and dance to it while in costume.  I was able to sew one on large enough for an iPod Touch 4, angling it for easy access.

     I toyed with the idea of making the apron like a marsupial pouch for Halloween candy, but she already had a treat-bag.

     We’re not yet ready for Megan to wear everyday makeup yet, so we had to use costume facepaint.  Blue for the eyeshadow, black for eyeliner, and pink for lipstick is all that she will tolerate.  She REALLY dislikes makeup in her eyes, so I couldn’t get too close.  Combined with everything else, it is very convincing.

     Megan did not have white lace-up boots.  I couldn’t find any in her size.  I considered using some of the window-vinyl to make a pair of boots, but had no experience in shoe-making.  That, combined with the fact that she would actually be walking, running, and dancing in these made my choices very limited.  Megan did have a killer pair of gold sandals which fit her interpretation of Gaga.

That’s it.  This Little Monster is alive.

"Thank you, daddy"

Gaga + Tarantino
Trick or Treat!

 If you liked this one, check out what I made for myself.Happy Halloween everyone.