My Grandsons love Nintendo video games and this year they asked me to make them Bowser and Mario.
I have been using plumbing pipe insulation (will refer to it as foam) for several years to form a variety of costumes. I originally found it when wandering around the hardware store looking for something that I could make snakes for a Medusa headpiece. It’s so great because it is so very lightweight, which enables you to make really large pieces without having the burden of weight.
When cut into strips you can form anything with it. I glue it using low temperature hot glue and small clamps. High temp glue will melt the foam and your fingers! The glue sets very quickly and so the process is quite quick.
I began the Bowser costume by forming a hat style shape around my Grandson’s head. I then made the same kind of shape for his body as I wanted the body to look as large as the head. Next I began to shape the features, using Styrofoam balls for the eyes. My grandsons face would be inside the mouth, so I made sure that he had good visibility on the sides.
Once I was happy with the general shape, I began to fill in the spaces, strip by strip. Periodically I would try the piece on my Grandson to ensure that the pieces I had added weren’t changing the basic shape. Once complete, I covered the head with felt and painted it with acrylic craft paint.
I used semi circles cut from craft foam to form the teeth and hot glued them into the open mouth. I couldn’t find fur for the hair in the right colour, so I used some scrap fur and brushed orange paint over it and then worked the paint in with a fork. I cut this into small rectangles and folded them into tubes, glued them and attached them to the head, one by one, to form hair and eyebrows. I finished the head by adding extra fabric to the bottom to form a neck. This tucked into the body suit.
When shaping the body, I left the back open, so that my Grandson could step easily in and out. The shell would later cover this opening. I didn’t fill the body suit in completely, just enough for the foam to create and retain its shape. The tail was completely filled in for extra strength. I hot glued fabric over the entire suit, creating the arms and legs with fabric alone.
I painted the front off-white and painted gold scales on most of the costume. I added spikes on the tail tip made from craft foam that had been cut and formed from a semi circle.
I formed the hands to hang past my Grandsons own hands but made pockets on the inside so that he could control them, but slipped out easily for trick or treating.
I took a pair of my Grandson’s shoes and formed the feet to fit snugly over his own shoes. I was able to make larger feet than he has without them causing him to trip. I used craft foam for the nails.
The shell was formed by making an oval shape and then crossing 5 equally spaced strips horizontally and vertically to form what resembles an apple pie. This feels flimsy but when the fabric is attached, is very sturdy. I glued on more spikes and again added paint to create the shell look.
To attach the shell to the suit I used wire. I would have used Velcro but I ran out so I improvised and used craft wire, forming hooks on the shell and loops on the back of the body suit. This worked well, but I had to make sure the ends weren’t sharp. I taped them with duct tape and then glued them beneath more foam.
My youngest Grandson was Mario and I purchased a red long sleeve shirt and denim overalls. I purchased white gloves and a cap from the dollar store and added red fabric with hot glue to make the cap look more like Mario’s. I used craft foam to make the white oval and ‘M’ and formed the wings using the pipe insulation, which I then painted white. The paint will eventually chip and that’s why I normally cover the foam with some kind of fabric. I knew that this would only be used for one night and it did last.
Both boys had a great Halloween and are already talking about what I am going to make them next year!