Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Centipede.. With Human Features

It's that time of the year again! Halloween! One of my favorite holidays to prepare for, but not necessarily have. I only say that because for me creating a costume is more fun and exciting than actually wearing it. Last year I was The Riddler. That costume was hell to make, but in the end it came together swimmingly!

Sometime during the year I found my old Mr. Centipede doll from James and the Giant Peach. My favorite character from that movie! I thought it would be an easy costume to execute and allow me to reuse my newsie cap that I've used so many times before.

Two months before Halloween I started looking through thrift stores for necessary materials. I settled on a light gray thermal shirt ($1), fabric markers to draw stripes on the shirt ($6), a similar looking gray blouse to create extra arms ($1), brown striped trousers ($3), and Model Magic clay to create the hands and single horn sticking out of the hat ($6). My very first pair of suspenders ($8) and an orange pair of gloves ($10) from H&M rounded out my costume. I even got some turquoise contact lenses for a nice touch. As an accessory, I wanted to make a cigar that actually lit up at the tip. I found a Star Wars lightsaber M&M's dispenser ($5), wrapped it in paper/stuffing, rolled a cut up brown shirt ($1) around it, and taped a smudged cotton ball at the end. The effect was charming.

The arms presented a challenge. Sewn to the sides of my shirt, they just dangled lifeless and created "fat rolls" in the shirt. I knew I needed to connect them to my real arms so that they moved in coordination. I ended up using safety pins on my real arm sleeves and tied fishing line to it. Then with a sewing needle, I stitched through the artificial arms. It worked pretty well, but the weight of the artificial arms drew down the bottom of my sleeves and it did not look good. So I cut up an old sock and put the safety pin on that; drew the fishing line through a hole in my sleeve where I wear the sock directly on my arm. Success!

All looked to be going as planned, but then I did a full dress rehearsal with face paint. Whereas The Riddler costume came together beautifully, I was not happy at all with the overall look of Mr. Centipede. What was wrong? The makeup for one was not good. I looked nothing like the picture above. My head just isn't the right shape. And worse, my gloves were a brighter orange than everything else. It looked like my hands were badly sunburnt.

Because the costume needed work, I didn't wear it to the annual Trick-or-Treat tour at work. Which is pretty disappointing. Instead, I donned a generic Hogwarts costume with a double lightning bolt scar that I was told looked like a Nazi symbol. Oy!

So I ran to the store and found some gold felt squares (it was the closest they had to orange!) for Mom to stitch me up some homemade gloves ($1.20). They weren't perfect, but the toned down color blended better than the neon orange H&M gloves (waste of money!!). But there was still the problem of the makeup.

It was a game time decision, but I thought, what if I just drew an orange triangular nose. It's the most notable color on the character's face. So I drew a triangle. But the color blended too well into my real skin color, so I used red face paint to draw the outline of the nose. Then I decided to just accent my face with orange and do a minimalist approach. So I drew some orange lines above my eyebrows and some on my cheeks and chin. It worked!.. well enough. I was actually happy with how it looked. A stylistic take on Mr. Centipede.

I went to a bar last night in costume and no one really knew who I was. But I guess I didn't really expect people to know. I'm just glad I didn't hear many Human Centipede comments. Tomorrow night I'll be heading down to West Hollywood for the giant Halloween bash! Hope I get recognized!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Four Days With a Four Month Old

Ellvin, Grace, and Peytan came by last week for a visit (to see Grandma Kwan) and so I took most of the week off. We only see each other maybe 3 times a year (if that) and so it was important to max out as much time spent with them as possible.

At this moment Peytan is 4 months old and she's a big baby! My goodness. Holding her is tough! But she's a total sweetheart! She's not yet in a clingy separation anxiety phase, so she willingly goes to anyone. She's quiet and adorable. And for maybe 4 hours each day (spread across 20 minute intervals), she's playful!

One thing that I love is that she sleeps with a cute Winnie the Pooh plush pillow doll I gave her. Grace said that in the morning she will often times talk to Pooh and reach out for him.

We were able to throw a party for Peytan on the last night they were here. It was the first time all the new babies in our family were in the same room together.

And just as quickly as they blew in, they were gone; headed back to New York. The next time I see them will probably be next May when Peytan turns one! I might have to plan a New York getaway sometime in between.

Sigh. I miss them already. But I am already working on my next gift for her. :)