Amazing Hand Made Art Deco Medusa Costume
Art Deco Medusa was handmade by myself and personally styled from the shoes to the headdress, leaving no element un-finessed.
The pattern for the dress is researched from 1920’s flapper-style dresses and is made from second-hand deconstructed garments. These garments included an old beaded prom dress, some oversized velvet shirts, and some lace-y undergarments. All of these components are hand dyed and screen printed and create a stone-cold color palette.
Inspiration for this costume:
The dress is heavily encrusted with beading, rhinestones, and painted metal tear-drops which resemble snake-scales. Down the center of the dress glittered rubber snakes are woven into the design and doused with shiny black “blood”. This effect is created with Rustoleum high-gloss enamel, and of course- lots of glitter!
The jacket is created from a discarded fur coat, which is sourced from an abandoned theatrical prop-shop in Pawtucket, RI. The shape is tailored to fit an authentic 1920’s silhouette, and is re-lined with a screen printed snake-skin design. Adorning the outside of the coat are over 500 metal tear-drop metal pieces in a snake-scale motif, (all attached by hand stitching.) I painted and embellished each “scale”. My ambition was to create a motif which honored an art-deco feeling but also closely resembled a snake.
To achieve this snake scale motif, my research included a trip to the Rhode Island School of Design’s Nature Lab, where I documented specimen snakes on exhibition. I drew the various patterns of the skins on gridded paper, and translated the grid designs to the jacket to create a realistic snake-scale pattern. The tear-drop metal bits that I found were perfect in style to indicate the art-deco theme, so of course I sourced over 500 of them. Sewing each one to the jacket with dental-floss and book-binder’s thread took about 16 hours alone.
The structure of the headdress supports 20lbs. It is created from a halved-soccer ball used as a skull-cap, surrounded by a styro-foam ring.
Some of the snakes that make up the headdress are wired-wrapped toy snakes, while others were fabricated from 3/4″ plastic tubing of which I inserted wire and LED light strands. In the darkness of a Halloween celebration, the snakes on the headdress illuminate the glittering, slithering mass. The headdress is coated with about 5 layers of paint to achieve a “crusty” stone effect.
The shoes, an essential accessory- also evoke a 1920’s flare. They are painted and embellished with the same metal pieces as the jacket and dress, creating a true continuity through the details, and thus the overall look. The pieces are drilled into the shoes to secure them as to not fall off on stage! This was one of the last minute adjustments that made performing in this costume a real pleasure and success.
I sewed feverishly and constructed sculpturally for over 100 hours, but this is not why I should win the competition. Combining the Art Deco style of the 1920’s with the horror and mysticism of a Grecian Medusa was a seamless marriage of which only true art reconciles. The project is a correlation between the Art Deco Style with one of it’s heavy characteristic influences- Ancient Greece. These ideas are balanced into an epic, ghastly explosion of glitz and glamor! The level of detail in this piece allowed me to be Master of my Make-Believe for a few weeks, and I enjoyed every second.