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!