As soon as Daemon’s birthday rolled around this July, I knew it was time to start deciding on a costume theme. Daemon decided that he wanted to be Batman this year, so we all chose characters around that. Ezra decided he wanted to be The Riddler. Bass chose two-face. Amber was torn between Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Since the boys insisted I be The Joker, she felt Harley was the right choice.
I started Daemon’s helmet right away. I considered just using cloth, or maybe latex, but decided I wanted something stronger. I found a pepakura file for a Christopher Nolan “Dark Knight” style helmet. I scaled it up, printed it out, and cut it out of cardboard. About 6 hours of trimming and hot gluing later, and I had a perfectly fitting cardboard helmet. To keep it together a little better, I paper mached it using quilted paper towels.
I wanted to paint it black, but Daemon insisted “no daddy, I want to be Blue Batman!” I went through tons of pictures of all of the different Batmans, and could not convince him that Keaton’s Batman, or even Christian Bale’s Batman, were better than Adam West. I finally got him to agree on Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” Batman. Dark Blue on Dark Grey. Luckily I still had some dark blue felt from my Skeletor costume years ago. I coated the helmet in it, and made a nice ribbed cape.
To make sure Dae’s helmet would fit after it was coated and I had made the neck piece, I made a cast of his head and shoulders. I also made a cast of Bass’s face to model his half-mask on. I have some blue modeling clay that I have used for years, but I really don’t like how soft it is and how easily it deforms with the lightest touch. I have read about “Monster Clay” for years, and finally decided it was time to get some. It is AMAZING. It is like a cross between wax and clay. It is very stiff, and can be cut and shaped with tools, but you can microwave it, or warm it in your hands for a few minutes, and it works like soft clay. I modeled a creepy half-face with a bulging eye and exposed teeth for Two-Face. Looking online for a cheap alternative to foam latex, I found several people using common unflavored gelatin. The recipes all varied, but were basically a mix of gelatin, glycerin (at Walmart in the medicine department), sorbitol and water. Sorbitol is an artificial sweetner, and is supposedly not too hard to get ahold of, but I could not find it anywhere. I finally found a YouTube video where they said to use sugar-free pancake syrup. The main ingredients in that are sorbitol and water. I mixed them all together, poured them into my plaster mold, and waited. To my surprise, it came out great. Since gelatin is made from animal skin, it felt very flesh-like. It could also be melted and re-used.
I swore I would not sew another suit for the boys after last year’s Doctor Who. Cutting down a men’s (or women’s) suit to fit a child is a pain. After several months of searching thrift stores for a child’s green sports jacket, and two contrasting suits to cut in half for Two-Face, I had to give up. I found a women’s XL green blazer that I cut down for Ezra. For Bass, he already had a blue pin-stripe from last year. I cut it in half, and then found a nice bright red blazer at Good Will that I cut down to fit him. I tried to make him a matching pair of pants from the other half of the blazer, but there wasn’t enough material, and it ended up with weird seams and poofy parts. We finally found a pair of red women’s capris that were misplaced as little girl’s pants. I cut them in half, and they matched the pin-stripe pants almost perfectly.
We went through quite a few Harley Quinn designs before Amber and I agreed on something. Most designs were a tight spandex bodysuit, but she is much more comfortable in a dress. She really wanted an 1800’s style dress, but it was just WAY too much work. We found a 1950’s style dress and a circus style dress that we liked, so we combined the two into a final design. Using the duct-tape technique I have used for duct-tape dummies in the past, I created a bodice/corset design to perfectly fit her. I then pinned paper triangles of increasing size around her to create the skirt.
I was really not feeling up to being Joker. I didn’t want to do the Heather Ledger Joker, since EVERYONE is doing that. I considered doing the Jack Nicholson Joker, but could not find a purple suit ANYWHERE. Even online, there was nothing under a few hundred dollars. Going through all of the Joker iterations without a purple suit, I really liked the New 52 Joker. He has gone insane and peeled his own face off, and then re-attached it with wires. Everyone insisted it was WAY too scary, and would leave small children completely scarred. I finally decided on the animated “The Batman”‘s rasta Joker, with crazy green dreadlocks and a huge yellow-toothed smile. He had a straight-jacket and blue prison pants instead of the purple suit.
I started cutting and gluing soda boxes into a basic Joker face, and it felt very familiar. I was building a piñata for my head! I paper mached it using the smoothest paper I could find: an old roll of TP that the dogs had destroyed. It went very quickly, and by the time I finished it, I was totally in the Halloween mood.
To see a gallery of all of our costumes, click here