Steampunk Circus Costume
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the ring master and his exhibit
|Costume type:||Costumes for Couples|
This homemade costume for couples entered our 2018 Halloween Costume Contest.
A word from Amanda, the 'Steampunk Circus' costume creator:
If there's two things I love, it's Halloween and cool costumes. I have always been fascinated by science fiction, and one of the best sci-fi aesthetics, to me, is steam punk. The idea that historical clothing, settings and style can be mixed with futuristic technology? how cool! I have also been obsessed with halloween for as long as i can remember. Itís the one time of year that you can be anything you want to be. Once I decided that I wanted to be a steampunk character this Halloween, my imagination went crazy. I began to think of occupations that could be reimagined with steam punk, and decided on the idea of a ringmaster, his newest oddity, and how steampunk originated. The ringmaster was a simple design, blending classic circus style with gears and goggles. the creature took a little more development. I have always wanted to change my appearance to the point where I no longer look like a human. But that isn't particularly easy when you're standing up right. The solution was to give myself four long limbs by making four stilts. The rest of the look fell into place once I did a few drawings. The result was a creature that didn't look like any other animal, and definitely not a human which was exactly what I was going for.
In 19th century England, A ring master struggles to keep his failing circus alive. Months have passed without a single ticket sold, and he is running out of time to find an act that will draw in the crowds. He begins to grow desperate, and one day begins to build a creature within his deserted circus tent. The creature is part animal and part machine. Gears and steam power its four legs, allowing it to walk. Parts of it's head and body are alive and, are made of the resurrected remains of animals. The ringmaster, delighted with what he has made, prepares to present his new oddity to the people of England. At high noon in the middle of October, he leads his creature through the streets, waving his baton and exclaiming "behold the steam powered cyborg!" the creatures' head sways from side to side as it follows the ringmaster, staring at the stunned onlookers with black eyes. The following day, crowds gather in front of the circus tent to see the new exhibit and to inquire about the new technology that the ringmaster invented in his desperation, which allows steam and gears to power a living machine.
How it's made:
If I learned one thing from making these costumes, it's that stilts are not easy to walk in! However, making them is not as hard as it looks. And this is coming from someone who can barely tell the difference between phillips' head and flat head screw drivers. I enlisted some help from Andrew (who is wearing the ring master costume) and got to work. the stilts for the creatures front legs are simply a pair of old wooden stilts that we acquired from an attic. the back stilts needed to be constructed. We used a 2X2 piece of wood and cut it into four 1.5' pieces. Two pieces were used for each stilt. these pieces were overlapped about six inches and screwed together so that platforms could be added on top of the bottom piece for me to stand on. after the stilts were reinforced with screws and extra pieces of wood under the platforms for the feet, I screwed an old pair of tennis shoes to the top of the platforms as a way to secure my feet to the stilts. The 2X2 wood pieces extend a little past the knees, so I used large pvc pipe halves and Velcro to create straps to hold my knees to the stilts. so, to put them on, I put on the shoes and strapped in my knees. rubber table stops were added to the bottoms of the stilts to stop them from slipping on the floor. I learned that I needed them the hard way. My knees were not happy after that fall! when the stilts were complete, I was a full 1.5 feet taller than normal, so the next step was teaching myself how to walk. I practiced standing and walking with both the stilts and crutches. eventually, I started to get good at it. next, I needed to add bulk to the legs. For this, I used sheets of polyfoam from the craft store and cut it into pieces. the pieces were wrapped around the stilts and crutches. hot glue was used for attachment. once all the polyfoam was added, I returned to the fabric store and bought brown and black fabric. I covered all of the exposed polyfoam (using more hot glue) and then began to rip the fabric scraps into strips. these were added for detail. the creatures' back was constructed out of a piece of foam matting. it was cut into an oval and heat formed with a heat gun until it was shaped like a turtle shell. more polyfoam was added to this and the whole thing covered in fabric. the twigs were added for detail. I got them from the floral section of the craft store. all of the large gears were drawn onto a piece of crafters foam, cut out and spray painted silver. the face of the creature was purchased online and glued to a baseball cap so it would sit firmly on my head (my actual face is facing the ground, not looking through the eyes of the mask so I can see where I'm walking but not much else).
most of the supplies for the ringmaster ensemble were found at thrift stores. the red coat, vest, top hat and pants were all found separately. I cut the back of the red trench coat into tails and began detailing everything to fit the steampunk aesthetic. Goggles, gold trim added with hot glue, a pocket watch, gold chains and of course, gears! the baton he carries is a piece of pvc pipe which was cut and spray painted silver. the skull on top was at a local Halloween store. It lights up different colors when turned on. I spray painted it silver and glued it atop the pvc. the finishing touch was to add black makeup to Andrews' eyes.
I have to admit, I was nervous about going out in public in my costume, mostly because I was afraid of falling on my face. But when Andrew and I went to a Halloween street party in Mobile AL, everything went perfectly! we walked several blocks among hundreds of people of all ages. Everyone really seemed to enjoy our costumes! we were stopped for photos, and were asked lots of questions. most people were thoroughly surprised to learn that the costumes were hand made and not purchased. Many were also interested in knowing more about our characters after learning that they are originals and not from a movie or book. one group we encountered thought that I was an animatronic of some sort and not an actual person in a costume (they actually took bets within their group and asked us to confirm!) children had mixed reactions to the creature. some really wanted to get close and others didn't at all. One little boy only stood with us long enough for his mom to get a picture of him, but there was one little girl wouldn't stop waving at me and loved it when the creature would shake its head in response. Getting to interact with people in costume was definitely the best part of Halloween this year. Andrew and I both felt like celebrities because of all the people who stopped to meet us. neither of us expected that much attention! later that night, when my arms and legs were too tired to walk in stilts any more, we took off our costumes and walked back through the crowd to get dinner. nobody realized that we were the crazy costume people from earlier. It was a great way to celebrate our favorite Holiday. Happy Halloween!