This Titanic costume is like no other, literally because it was made by our very own hands. It was a lengthy process however, the great comments we received made all our work worthwhile. Thought went into making it small enough to fit through doorways as well as keeping it large enough to allow that large Titanic feel. A few scrapes were part of the assembly but nothing that wasn’t tolerable.
Materials include PVC pipe, various PVC couplings, PVC cement, chicken wire, newspaper, flour, water, various paints, hot-glue, metal tie-wire, 16-penny nails, Styrofoam and Cheetos cylinders. Tools required are a heat gun, PVC cutter or hacksaw, and a tin snips. It took about 20 hours to construct. I would recommend adult construction of this project or at least very close supervision. My wife and I took this costume out on the town and had a great time getting pictures taken of us and of groups of people with us. The costume very fitting seeing as this year was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Creating the Frame
This took some skill but was definitely worth it. When buying the PVC and fittings I was literally laying it out on the floor in the isle at the store! The people at the store thought I had lost it, until I explained myself upon noticing the funny looks. With all the correct fittings, various t’s, l’s, and angled pieces the majority of the frame came together fairly easy. Getting the bow of the boat to curve on both sides and on bottom took some serious patience. I heated up the PVC with the heat gun, one piece at a time for what seemed like forever, until semi-pliable and then bent it into the desired shape and held it there until stiff again. I cut all the pieces to the desired size and then began gluing them together, starting at the rear of the boat and working forward toward the bow. For me this was the most fun.
PVC and Patience
papier-mâché is a mess!!
Once the frame is made and all the PVC cement has set then it’s time to give the boat the rest of its shape. We created this shape via chicken wire. If you haven’t worked with chicken wire before you’re in for a treat, not really. It will scratch you very easily so caution must be taken. We took it and rolled it out on the floor and just cut big sections out. We then took the metal tie wire and secured the chicken wire to the frame of the boat (by twisting the tie wire) while cutting and shaping as we went. We were sure to leave a spot at the bottom of the boat open so that our feet would still be on the ground when inside of it allowing us to move about while inside the boat.
Then comes the messy part. . . . papier-mâché!! My wife loved this part! Water and flour combine to make a pasty material that if you immerse strips of paper into the paste then place the paper on something it will dry pretty stiff. A LOT of newspaper was our paper source. Our driveway is now speckled white from doing this out there so I suggest laying a tarp or something underneath your work space We did it in sections, one side at a time, which made getting some of the paper through to stick to the already dried sections. I would suggest papier-mâché the whole boat in the same sitting by placing it upside down. We also secured a piece of Styrofoam cut into the shape of the bow, to create our deck. It was secured by tie wire. Also a smaller shelf made out of Styrofoam was crammed under our deck for our window lights to sit on.
Starting to look like a boat
Details, Details, Details!!
After the papier-mâché is all dried, it’s time to paint. First I cut out windows in the bow for our lights to shine through, you can’t see it in the picture however there is flashing light simulating electrical shorting in the bow windows, we used strobe battery operated candles for this effect. We painted the deck brown first then the bulk top portion of the boat white. We then painted the bottom portion black. Now we saw pictures of the Titanic with this color scheme as well as with the black and reddish color scheme.
We had black and white paint on hand so we went with it. We then outlined our windows with black. Because papier-mâché is not the smoothest surface, especially with chicken wire underneath it, creating a clean line with the paint between sections was tough. We improvised and used blue painters’ tape, which we also had on hand, to create the crisp lines between black and white and the deck and side of the boat. Once that was done the rest was just playing around. We created a railing using the tie wire and nails. A mast with lookout position using a wooden dowel painted silver with a matchbox hot glued to it. We used the tie wire to create mast supports as well. We used a threaded rod with a wheel off an old tricycle to create our steering wheel. Our smoke stack was created using two Cheetos cylinders glued together. The fire effect was created by a flashlight with a red lamp, a fan and thin cloth. This was all stuffed inside the Cheetos cans.
All the Bells and whistles
The desired result
Costumes bring it all together
Our costumes were found by our personal thrift store extraordinaire, my mother. We tattered the dress a little to make it less “pretty” and the captain costume had to be altered quite a bit since I am a smaller framed guy and whomever owned this previously was not, but other than that the costumes pretty much were found as you see them.
Our makeup took some time but it was fun creating the look. We used eye-lash glue to glue crystal like chunks to our face to create the icy effect. For the base we combined grey and blue eye shadow to achieve the pale frozen look. My wife, the trooper she is, dyed her hair red for the occasion so she could capture the essence of Rose. Yeah it was temporary but still a risk when she started blonde. Luckily it also gave her hair the frozen stiff look we desired as well. We also weaved a fake icicle into her hair for added effect. My hair received a light white powdering to give me a frozen older look as well. Even away from our boat patrons knew we were representing Titanic. They told us we made them cold just looking at us since we looked so frozen. The old attire my wife wore and the captain’s outfit were just lucky finds that made everything work so well.