Sunday, 11 October 2015

Edward the headless fancy dress costume

As it's nearly Halloween I thought I'd blog about the fancy dress costume I made for Panic Room 2013.

I decided I wanted to make myself look headless (like this costume I made in 2010) but without it giving me a stiff neck .

I began by making a paper maché neck and shoulders: I created the shoulders by wrapping a pillow in a bag, wrapping it with brown tape to create a sausage. Then for the neck I taped a plastic plant pot to the top and then just covered it in paper maché (flour & water paste and strips of newspaper). I let it dry and put another layer on.

When it was completely dry (it took over a week) I removed the pillow, this was now my fake neck and shoulders.  Next it needed painting skin colour, and a then some bloody detail on the neck, so it looked like it had been hacked off.

My original plan was to re-use the red dress from the previous outfit, but there wasn't enough material in it to work.

So I googled "headless fancy dress costume images" and found my inspiration.

I trawled the local charity shops (there's an abundance in Whitley Bay) and found a big sized (XXL), long, leather-look coat and knew it would work, but I needed to find a way to mount the shoulders so that it looked realistic.

My structural engineer helped with this, the shoulders were attached to a wooden frame and the wooden frame slotted into a rucksack, the rucksack was zipped up to secure it in place. The coat was put on, over the rucksack so the headless part was wearing the coat (not me).

As I needed to see where I was going, I wanted to created the illusion that my head had been cut off and the headless person (Edward as I had nicknamed him) was holding their own severed head.

I had to work out where my head would come through the button fastening and how to create fake arms positioned to look like they we're holding my head.

The button fastening was easy, having Mr Lisa really helped as he could mark where I needed to stitch the coat/remove buttons.

For the arms I created fake arms using  screwed up newspaper wrapped in tin foil, tin foil is great for moulding, it's lightweight and holds it's shape, I secured the positions (slightly bend) by wrapping them up with brown tape. I created hands by repeating the process and stuffing them into a pair of old gloves and attached the hands to the arms and wrapped it all up in brown tape again, stuffed the arm into an old shirt and did the same with the other side. Then I "dressed" the shoulder and neck piece with the shirt, and the shirt in the coat, positioned and secured the head-holding-arm to the coat and it was done.

I messed up my hair, put ghoulish make-up on and just wore a vest top underneath (it was pretty warm in there) jeans and boots and I was done.

Edward won  2nd prize in the competition and he now lives in my loft. He's available for weddings funerals & bar mitzvahs