The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 26, 2013

Get creative with costumes

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Halloween is right around the corner. As the leaves dry to a crunch and spooky decorations spring up around the neighborhoods, many people begin to imagine what they can become for that one night.

Dressing up on Halloween is a tradition in most of America. The many late-night costume contests testify to the fact that adults often carry this tradition well past childhood.

Most sources agree, the origin of All Hallows Eve, as it was called early in the days of Western Civilization, was a merging of the Celtic tradition of scaring spirits away and the Catholic Church’s All Saints’ Day. The tradition of Halloween, as we know it, developed in the communities of Irish immigrants and was eventually Americanized.

The holiday has emerged to become an event in which people of all ages can morph into a fictitious character for an evening. Many costumes are elaborate, and some are quite expensive. However, many incredible costumes can be made from material and make-up found in most households.

Eyeliner, lipstick and a good foundation can be the beginning of a creative costume. For a skeleton, use a good base of foundation and, with a soft black eyeliner, draw circles around the eyes and the nose, a dark line under the cheeks and, with mouth closed, draw teeth across the lips. Fill in the eyes and nose circles with the eyeliner; from cheek to jawline, blend a dark hollow; and fill in the teeth across the lips. 

Pair the make-up with black leggings and an oversized black shirt, and a walking skeleton is created. Use the same makeup template to create a zombie by adding blood in the form of red lipstick or jagged pieces of falling flesh by blending the eyeliner and the lipstick. 

Vampires can be created in the same way by using a base of light colored foundation and red lipstick. Slick the hair back with gel and, using black eyeliner, draw a triangle in the center of the forehead up to the hairline. A set of vampire teeth can be added for less than $1. An oversized black shirt with the sleeves tucked inside can be used as a cape, if it is pinned to the back of a collared shirt. 

Use the face as if it were a canvas. Use makeup like paint. Make the Queen of Diamonds or the Joker using confident, bold shapes. Sheets make wonderful capes, gowns and wraps. Cut strips to make a mummy, a wounded warrior or a karate kid. 

Children love to make costumes. The makeup is the beginning; the clothing can be anything, as long as it is warm enough and allows the child mobility and does not block his vision. 

The old sheet with two eye holes cut out is not the safest costume in which to allow young children to trick-or-treat. However, a little white face paint and an old sheet cut to fit the child makes a good substitute. Cut a hole in the sheet to fit around the child’s head. Cut the sheet off at ground level all the way around. Complete the look by slicking the hair back with gel or hair spray and use temporary hair coloring, gray eye shadow or talcum powder to make the hair look dusty and old.

Jesters are a little more complex. Take a pair of white leggings and a pair of black leggings. Cut off one of the legs. Put on both pairs of legging. Take a black button-down shirt and a white button-down shirt and cut both in half up the back. Pin the two shirts together up the back in the opposite order of the leggings. If a vest is available, wear it over the two shirts. 

Find two empty toilet paper rolls, a pair of black knee socks and a pair of black crew socks. Stuff the ends of all of the socks with paper, cotton balls or material. Fit the short socks over the empty rolls and then stuff the rolls to give them support. Use glue to shape a point on the end of the sock. Either sew or pin a jingle bell to the tip of each sock. 

Using a hot glue gun, paper clips or tape, affix the socks to a headband so that the jester bells point to each side of the head. Sew or pin another pair of jingle bells to the knee socks and wear them over shoes. Use glue to shape the pointed shoes. Paint the face using diamonds over the eyes and mouth.

Parents with babies can create a cute costume with three pairs of black socks and a baby carrier. Stuff the socks until they are stiff. Pin or sew the socks to the back of the shirt the adult is wearing and fasten them to the baby carrier. The adult may want to wear a black shirt and black gloves to complete the effect of a spider carrying its young.

Other costume ideas include using packing boxes and paint. A car, house, cake, the Empire State building, a horse, a dragon —  in short, anything that can be drawn on a box will become a costume. Make sure the bottom of the box is completely cut away to prevent an obstacle, and secure the box to the wearer with suspenders. The easiest method to keep the box on the shoulders is to use a medium gauge of rope and make a hole in the top of the box on all four sides near the arm. Thread the rope through the holes from inside to outside and wrap the rope around the bottom of the box, tying the rope on the inside of the box. Sometimes it is necessary to add another piece of rope across the back of the shoulders to secure the box to the wearer. A smaller box worn around the head with the front cutout and a few buttons colored in makes an interesting television costume.

Paper plates make great masks. Cut eye holes in the appropriate place by putting the mask to the face with the curve of the plate facing in and, with a crayon, put a dot on the eyes. Using a pencil, draw the face of a character, leaving room to cut the eyes out. Make a small incision in the center of the eye holes and enlarge the holes with scissors. Feathers, leaves, ribbon, tin foil and glitter may be used to create an effect.

Hobbits can find old clothes, make a ring of gold with paint or markers and glue brown yarn to the tops of large socks worn over shoes. Princess Leia’s hair can be re-created with yarn and hair extensions can be made in any color with yarn and a barrette.

Anything can be created with cardboard and paint or makers. Swords, shields, tridents, butterflies, flowers and ponies can be drawn and cut out of cardboard. Costumes can be accessorized with small stuffed animals pinned to strategic places.

Making costumes is a fun and easy way to get into the spirit of the haunted holiday, and it is not as hard as many may think.