Hi friends! we'll take a little break from the regular photo booth posts to allow me to share a recent DIY build that I created for Halloween.
Halloween has always been a fun time in an office full of designers and creatives. In 2012, we had our 15-minutes of fame when our Halloween costumes made it to Good Morning America and was posted as one of the top picks of the year from Captain Sulu himself, George Takei. We did a DIY project and were dressed up as Pixar's Green Army Men.
In 2017, we decided to go bigger. We created Amazon Danbo characters dressed up as heroes and villains of the DC Universe. I immediately chose the caped crusader and I was Batman. All day, I walked around the office and announced "I'm Batman". It was a blast!
For 2023, my friends and I at work decided to dress up as Muppets from the Electric Mayhem Band. As soon as they asked me if I was interested, there was no doubt that I would be Animal. He was always my favorite Muppet aside from Kermit and Sam Eagle.
Follow along below for the full instructions with photos and videos of the Animal build. For full disclosure, I have affiliate links in some of the products highlighted below.
24" diameter heavy duty latex balloons
2 yards natural dyed feathers - Orange
Red felt fabric
Black felt fabric
Black fluffy Marabou boa (Eye Brows)
6' Halloween plastic chains
1 Ostrich feathers - Black
1 Ostrich feathers - Rose Pink
1 pack plaster cloth rolls
1 pack glue sticks
1 pair drumsticks
1 leather bracelet pack
Balloons and plaster
While my friends opted to go with paper maché, I decided to use plaster cloth. Just so you know, the plaster cloth feels much more fragile than the paper maché; even at basically the same strength, if you apply a lot of pressure to the paper maché it just bends; it never feels like it's going to break. But these thin plaster pieces area pretty easy to crack just by bending them a bit so just be warned.
Inflate the balloon to approximately 24" in diameter and make sure that the pigtail at the bottom of the balloon is tight. If you're able to do so, I suggest double knotting the pigtail to ensure that no air escapes from the balloon.
Take the plaster cloth rolls and cut them into manageable sizes. For this project, I cut the rolls into 6" strips. I wouldn't go more than 6" because it's incredibly hard to manage the cloth once it's wet. Using a deep bowl filled with warm water, dip the strips of plaster cloth and apply directly on the balloon, smoothing the cloth as you apply them.
This is a dirty, dusty, and messy project so I suggest having something to catch all of the dust, plaster, and water. I was fortunate enough to pick up this oversized box from work which I used for this project.
Continue to place strips of plaster cloth over your balloon until you have covered the balloon with at least two layers of plaster cloth and allow plaster to cure overnight. I was able to cover the balloon with four layers of plaster and it took approximately three days to complete the task.
The final result afrer the curing process will be a fairly solid (yet fragile) plaster sphere.
Cutting an opening
With the plaster fully cured and dry, it's time to cut the hole for head. Be warned that this is very dusty and time consuming process so please make sure you at least have a mask when cutting the hole.
Using a bowl as a template, I cut a hole by the pigtail using a rotary cutting tool.
Does it fit?
Once the hole for my head to go through was cut, it was time for a test fit.
Up next step was to mark and pencil in where Animal's features would go which required more cutting with the rotary tool! Be careful when you cut the mouth since this will be the weakest point as there isn't much material left.
For the nose, I used red felt and covered a 4" Styrofoam ball. I picked up one ball from Hobby Lobby. once you've determined the proper placement, cut a hole around 3.5" in diameter for the nose to sit in.
Reinforcing the head
Cut pieces of cardboard to reinforce the mouth area and secure in place with hot glue. You'll need to do this for both the top and bottom of the mouth. This is the weakest point of the head so be careful. you've done so much to start all over again.
Once I had the cardboard reinforcing in place, I grabbed some matte black spray paint and painted the inside of the mouth to cover up the light and hard to reach areas once I started lining the inside of the mouth with black felt.
Wrapping with felt
Once the paint dried, Animal's head was ready for the felt wrap. Using some industrial strength spray adhesive, I carefully sprayed a portion of the head at a time and wrapping the felt around the head. I determined that i wanted to see the smoothest portion by the face and keep all of the folds and tucks in the back knowing it was going to be covered with "hair" anyway. To keep the head from rolling around, I used the same bowl that I used to carve out the opening for my head to hold it in place.
Creating his facial features
Animal only has seven (7) teeth and two of them are incisors. So for this task, I used small pieces of a pool noodle I bought from the Dollar Store and just cut them with an X-Acto knife and gave them a little bit of a sharp, pointed look.
His tongue is red felt that I cut and using spray adhesive, glued to the piece of black felt-lined cardboard I used to strengthen the jaw.
To cap it off, I had some old black see thru sheer mesh fabric laying around and glued that to the top and bottom pieces of the mouth. This prevented anyone from seeing me inside the head. Scroll back to the previous photos and you can see me clearly as I wore the head.
His eyebrows were made of layers of black Marabou boa with black Ostrich feathers to make it appear light and fluffy. If you've ever seen videos of Animal, you'll notice that his eyebrows always fluttered in the wind every time he shook or nodded his head.
Cutting for hair
Using an old 2x10 board, I used two pieces of nails to mark out 12" lengths. My daughter was excited to give me a hand so I gave her this task of cutting Animal's hair.
She spun the yarn around the nails and cut them in two pieces for uniform 12" lengths. To bond the hair strands together, I used blue painters tape and with the sticky side up, lined up the 12" yarn in a row. once in place, I laid a bead of hot glue along the entire length of the tape. We created five (5) 36" lengths of yarn that we would eventually use up for Animal's head.
It's a weave!
With all five (5) 36" lengths of hair, we started attaching it to Animal's head. Just like laying roof shingles, you start from the bottom and work your way up. We overlapped each 12" strand of hair by half for a fuller look. By starting from the bottom, I was able to hide the glue marks as I made my way up Animal's head.
In the end, you'll end up with a thick head of hair for Animal. Once we had all of the hair glued on, my wife gave him a haircut so he didn't look like he had a bowl cut. She meticulously layered his hair so it looked full and thick.
Feathers and yarn
We left Animal's face pretty bare until we got the feathers delivered which we then applied to his cheek and upper lip carefully tucking in the satin liner that held the feathers together. I ended up tucking them under the eyebrows, his nose, and under his eyes for a clean look.
Details and layers
I used up over 230 yards of yarn for Animal's hair meticulously cutting and trimming them for that layered and textured look. Between the gaps and layers of hair, I also added bits and pieces of ostrich feathers to give it a hint of color.
The devil is in the details
Not too many people will even realize this but I added an extra layer to Animal's lower lip. He has a natural overbite and this allowed me to add that bit of detail. I took a slice of a pool noodle and wrapped it in the orange felt fabric and glued it to the bottom edge of his lip. This also allowed me to cover up the area where I glued some feathers and yarn for his goatee.
This project took about 50 hours to complete. Even though it was a lot of tedious work, it was incredibly gratifying to walk into the office and show the fruits of our labor. The chain completed the costume. Animal is known for having a similar chain hanging from his neck. To top it off, drumsticks were needed! And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did!
The Electric Mayhem Band
Meet Floyd, Janice, Mr. Teeth, Zoot, and Animal! What do y'all think? Who's your favorite?
The process was tedious and time consuming but extremely gratifying in the end. On to next year!