Alex in Minecraft Costume
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Alex and his Minecraft self
|Costume type:||Costumes for Boys|
This homemade costume for boys entered our 2014 Halloween Costume Contest.
A word from Rebecca, the 'Alex in Minecraft' costume creator:
How did we come up with the idea for this costume:
My son, Alex, is eleven and a big fan of Minecraft. A couple of months ago I made him a new “skin” that looks like he does (in real life) to use in the game. When it came time to decide on a costume for Halloween 2014, he knew he wanted to do something Minecraft related. I had been joking that this year I would be going as myself (an exhausted special needs mama). He then told me he wanted to be himself, but the Minecraft inspired version of himself.
Alex and I are both autistic. So I knew that creating his costume would need extra consideration to accommodate his sensory challenges. His dad decided we would be using boxes and cut out some basic boxes but the plain boxes looked painful to me, even just sitting on the floor. I kept imagining the torture Halloween would be if Alex had to wear cardboard boxes with raw edges that would restrict his movement. The boxes seemed more appropriate for a stationary sculpture but not a costume to be worn while ringing doorbells on such an important holiday! Halloween is supposed to be fun, not torture!
I started brainstorming designs and materials to use to make a more comfortable costume for him. I went to our local craft supply store and selected materials and set to work measuring, cutting, and fastening everything together.
The Head: The head was made from scrap cardboard, cut into squares and taped with gummed brown kraft strapping. I then used his digital Minecraft skin and hair to sample the colors and I made sticker sheets using shipping labels and my inkjet printer. I cut the stickers into squares, following the same proportions as his Minecraft skin and applied them, one by one, to the cube “head”.
The Glasses: I then cut out eye holes but Alex and I were not crazy about the look so we discussed putting “sunglasses” over them so he could have large eyeholes and a much safer for tricker treating field of vision. He chose the red sparkle for the frames, to represent “Redstone” from the game, and I added dark grey/pewter glitter under the space the lenses would occupy and then fit purple plastic (from a spare plastic folder) as the lenses, to suggest the “Nether Portal” (from the game, of course).
The Shirt/Torso: For the shirt/torso I used spray adhesive to attach sheets of EVA craft foam to foam core poster board (chosen for rigidity and more lightweight than plain cardboard). I used strips of EVA craft foam to make the tops of the shoulders and the neck hole, as EVA craft foam can be folded to suggest a more squared shape, but it allows movement and is soft and smooth to the touch. Of course, I couldn’t get the shirt over Alex’s head (his regular, non-Minecraft, human being head) so I added Velcro fasteners and tabs to one shoulder. I did the same thing with the sides of the torso. At this point, it was hard to get things, with my skills, to fit right with measuring and cutting, so I started cutting and tacking/taping right on my surprisingly patient model. I added a panel of EVA laminated foam board to the arms, and EVA foam gussets to allow him to move his arms up and down (flap them like a bird).
The Arms: I took the hard cardboard arms his father made and I fastened them to the sleeves, allowing them to move and the sleeves to move more naturally, without accentuating all of the duct tape scaffolding I had placed to hold everything together. The arm on the side of the torso with the tabs and velcro for easier dressing also had a tabbed and fastener secured seam.
The Legs: The legs were basically rectangle boxes with the ends cut off. I cut the seams part way down to allow the tops of Alex’s legs to fit and also allow more flexibility and movement without distorting the Minecraft look. Seam binding tape was used to make suspenders to hold the tops of the legs/the thighs up and in place. The bottoms of the legs were to just rest on the tops of his shoes.
Store Bought/Ready Made Accessories:
The store bought parts of this costume are the sword (by ThinkGeek), his sneakers, and the decapitated creeper head (handmade by FriendlyFrogsPinatas.Etsy.com. It was actually part of his birthday piñata, repurposed to hold his Halloween loot).
Our neighbors are mostly older folks, but all of them recognized that he was a Minecraft character, as they have grandkids Alex’s age. We also took him to surprise his grandmother, and she is still mentioning the costumer on our voicemail even four days after the fact, and she is not easy to impress! I shared pictures with our friends and family, on facebook, and everyone was floored by how much he looked like he just stepped out of Minecraft.
The best reaction, and the most important one (in my opinion), was Alex’s. Due to the size of the costume when on his body, we helped him put it on outside of our apartment. He did not get to see himself until I showed him a shot of himself on my camera. He was over the moon! Once I saw his face, while looking at his image, I knew all of our hard work was well worth it. Being his Mama, who knows and sees how hard he works at everything, and how ecstatic he was, gave me the greatest joy. It just doesn’t get better than that.
Additional Information About This Costume
With Autism and G6PD Deficiency (a hereditary blood disorder), we are challenged by sensory issues but also cannot use most theatrical and halloween makeup products that are on the market. That makes creating his annual Halloween costumers an adventure, an experiment, a welcome challenge, a learning experience, and above all a marathon of collaborative crafting fun.
Autism and sensory issues make things and seemingly benign as a tag on a tee shirt or seams in a pair of pants feel like sandpaper or a metal file gouging his body. If his movement is restricted, he gets extremely anxious and panics. Too much heat can be a concern, as well, because we live in Southwest Florida. He has very sensitive ears and even the rubbing together of materials can put him into near-meltdown. The odor of materials can be an issue. tried to accommodate every sensory concern. Being autistic as well, does make some of that more intuitive, but people with autism are individuals and experience the world differently even from each other. Building this costume also gave Alex and I a welcome opportunity to spend more time together, focus on our communication with each other, and really listen to each other to make a costume that we both could be proud of.
The costume definitely was more comfortable than one made of relatively unmodified boxes. I think the EVA craft foam looked incredible and allowed for more flexibility and movement and a bit more comfort. The design definitely will accommodate Alex’s growth over the next year or so, and perhaps longer with additional modification, which is a bonus. I don’t know that he’ll wear it for another Halloween, but we are hoping to attend some Minecraft events with him in the future. After wearing it for a little while, he did take it off as he was less willing to tolerate the costumed trick or treating experience, because he is, after all, an eleven year old kid and he can’t eat the candy he collects. The cool thing about this costume is that we came home and talked about how to make it more comfortable for him, for the next wearing, and he even has some ideas on how to improve the mechanics of the joints. So the fun and collaboration continue!