My Oscar the Grouch Halloween costume in 2020 (worn by me) was inspired by piles of trash on my street. I’ve always created my costumes with some found objects and recyclable materials, but never have I given myself the limit of using only discarded trash as my material. What better costume to do that than Oscar the Grouch!
This year has been such an obvious compiling of issues on our planet, so doing this costume now when this problem is at its height with relevant 2020 trash seemed just right. I created this Oscar the Grouch Halloween costume with items from my local dump and personal trash bin, so it cost me $0 total.
Here’s what I did: I started with sewing the suit and gloves out of old upholstery fabric covered in layers of gaudy curtain fringe that I unraveled, roughed up, and matted with watery glue. The head was made from an enlarged puppet head template, papiermached, and covered in the same handmade fabric fur. The inside of the mouth was used filter material. I could actually see out of the mouth, which worked out great. The tongue was foam with discarded felt. I also made the eyes from foam, t-shirt rags, and tape. The eyebrow is a piece of a vintage mink pelt.
The trash can and lid of the Oscar the Grouch Halloween costume were created from cardboard, paper mache, a few plastic tube pieces, then painted to faux perfection. The palette is also cardboard and paper mached then painted to resemble wood. There’s a hole in the palette for me to stand and slide the trash can over my body. Most of the other fake trash items are paper mached from shipping materials and no item acts as the trash you’d originally identify it as.
For example, the Priority Mail box is made from a box, but painted to resemble a priority box, not an actually a USPS box. The mask is made from craft paper and string. The doggie poop bag, plastic bottles, banana, “scram” sign, torn Trump sign, dead roses, and fish bones are all made from paper and cardboard. The flies are shipping foam and clippings from zip ties. The ooze is that old filter material.
Slimey, Oscar’s worm friend, is also made from shipping foam sheet, cardboard, pins, and a wire (because he is a puppet too). Slimey even has a room of his own! I created a bedroom for him inside of the Priority Mail box. His bed and nightstand are cardboard, a sample of fabric, tissue paper, and foam. The lamp is an old tiny strand of lights that still turn on. He has a nice photo of his family to keep him cozy when Oscar is too grouchy.
With patience, a whole month’s worth, and plenty of trash around, I was able to create my dream Oscar the Grouch Halloween costume. I haven’t won competitions with this one yet, because there are no events. I am as proud of it as if I had though. After this costume, I won’t ever spend another dime on costume materials. There are, after all, miles of trash materials out in the world ready to be used for a creative project.