My 2013 Halloween/Comic Con costume. I wanted to do something I'd never seen before, and this amazing thrift store dress was my color palette inspiration.
Step 1: The Base
Most of my masks start with a cheapo store bought base just to make sure the eye holes are symmetrical and head size is approximately correct. In this case, I went with a long-nosed Venetian style cardboard base, thinking the long nose might be easy to convert to a snout. I decided to alter the existing eyes shape to get those big almond eyes. The cardboard wasn’t easy to cut, but having a clean edge didn’t really matter at this early stage of construction.
Step 2: Wire Frame
I like to use 12 gauge, coated wire to build out the frames of my masks. Why coated? Well, mostly just because its less sharp and pokey to work with. I tape the intersections with masking tape to lock the frame into place.
You can see here that I hacked off the end of the nose since I didn't need the hook of the beak.
Step 3: Filling It Out
One thing I didn’t get a photo of was the padded phase. Meaty parts of a face can be built out with upholstery foam. In the case of Falcor, I stuffed two rounds of it into the front for a nice round muzzle. You can cut and shave the foam into the rough shape of something, knowing it will ultimately be covered and smoothed by your paper mache.
Usually I would go the extra mile and do cloth mache instead of paper, but since I intended to cover this piece completely in fur and scales it hardly seemed worthwhile. Good ol’ newspaper would do! Using long thin strips worked well for getting around curves and smoothing out the imperfections of the foam padding.
Once I had a dry paper mache base, I used super sculpey to make the nose, teeth, and wrinkles under the eyes. Another light layer of my paper mache medium (elmer’s glue, water, flour) and very thin small strips of paper were used to integrate these clay add ons.
After the piece was dry, I used basic craft acrylics to do a white base coat over everything. I blended a little black inside the nostrils for depth later on.
I decided early on to make the head a cap instead of a face covering mask primarily for comfort reasons. I’ve suffered through many a costume event unable to speak, drink, or breathe, and wanted to make this costume as easily worn as possible. After all the paper mache was dry, I actually ended up making incisions inside the head and pulling most of the foam back out. This wasn’t part of the plan, but the finished head was just too heavy. Hollowing him out made it more comfortable to wear and the incisions would later be hidden by various linings inside.
Step 4: How to Skin Your Dragon
A few years ago I had the honor of meeting a woman who worked at Henson for decades. She taught me a really neat trick for patterning any pre-existing three- dimensional object. Basically, you mummify it in masking tape until the shell of tape is so thick you can just pop it off. Then you make cuts with scissors until your “pattern” lays flat. Where you cut will be your seams. I like saran wrapping my object before using the tape, just to make sure I don’t rip off any paint.
“Skinning” the head was a lot of fun. I bought several different grains/ lengths of faux fur and the iridescent scales fabric at JoAnn’s. My tape mummy patterns helped a lot, but there was still plenty of draping, hot gluing, and trimming on the fly.
Step 5: Face Detail
The eyes are pieces of black vinyl, painted with cheapo craft acrylics. I installed them from the inside and then top stitched a white fleece lid in front to give that dreamy, sleepy look he always has. This picture isn’t the greatest because of all the white on white on white. Vintage iridescent clear/white sequins line the bottom lid to tie in the the scales fabric and the bodice of the dress. The nose is actually flocked with Martha Stewart flocking powder in Swan. I used Pewter gray for inside the nostrils. I’ve been really impressed that after all the petting he has gotten that flocking is still intact.
The ears are just what you'd expect; big floppy dog ears, attached at the top.
Step 6: The Body
The body was the beast of this project. For the underside, I chose a light weight white cotton over something fuzzier to keep this from getting too hot to wear. There wasn’t a lot of measuring involved here. I just made body shapes the entire length of my fabric because I wanted him to be GRAND! I planned to wrap the body around me like a boa to keep it from being too back heavy, so the longer the better, right?
I used my sewing machine to sew the strips of “scales” and fur to the back, then hand sewed his little arms and legs out of the same fur I used on the face. I carefully glued white eyelash yarn along the edges of where the different fabrics met for a more organic transition between scales and fur. I sewed the dorsal and belly halves together using the usual inside-out machine sewing method .
Step 7: Attaching the Body
There are easily two bags worth of poly-fill inside the body, loosely packed to reduce weight and heat. The body tube was attached to the back of the head using E-6000, then merged with a toupee of white fur. I hand stitched this bridge piece in place and picked the fur out for a pretty seamless transition. The second photo here is the underside of Falcor. You can see where the body meets the head and where I've concealed all edges and connections with fur. If you look closely at the middle of the back of the "skull", you will see a slit in the paper mache. I usually make one or two of these in every mask so that I can use mini hair clips to clap the mask in place on my head without using any dorky looking elastic straps.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
My one regret with this costume is that I just eyeballed his body length without checking it against my own height. The longer the better? Ehhh…not quite. I’m just a little shorter than he is, so I have to keep him slung over my arm at all times to avoid dragging on the ground. Lesson learned: ALWAYS MEASURE STUFF! I wear platform shoes with this costume to minimize the issue.
To finish off the look I made little fingerless gloves from the fur and scale fabric, as well as white fur boot covers. A flowing white wig was a must and I found one for super cheap on amazon. Many of you probably already know that they have some very affordable cosplay wigs if you're willing to wait an extra week or two for the international shipping.
Step 9: Done!
As far as I know, nobody else has done a Falcor interpretation quite like this before and the fan love has been very rewarding. I've had girls run up to me nearly teary eyed and ask for a photo because NES is their favorite movie of all time. Random dudes will see me from across the room, thrust a fist in the air, and yell “ARTAX!” Part of me wants to remind them that Artax was the horse, not the dragon, but I appreciate the enthusiasm nonetheless. If anyone out there does Rock Biter, Atreyu, or Night Hob, we need to hang out!