Saturday, October 22, 2011

See how I transformed this old rat into a most delightful hat...

From the outset I mentally divided the Mayor's construction into thirds: his head, his hat, and his body. Keeping this outlook, I can now say that I am two-thirds through the costume. Perhaps that is taking liberties given the proportionality of work between the hat and the body, but I'm going with it. The hat itself took longer than I expected it to, but I am content with the result. 

The first step was taking a piece of cardboard and placing it on the Mayor's head, in order to estimate the appropriate circumference of the base. Once this was established I drew a circle aligned with the rim of his head, to determine where I would start building the unwieldy cylindrical tower.

Having penciled this on, I had to draw an outer circle (if I could call it that; though the hat is supposed to be somewhat unshapely so its imprecision was partially by design) which would represent the brim of the hat. After cutting out the shape with a stanley knife, I was left with:

From there I started to build upon the inner circle. While I used strong cardboard for the base, I knew I would need lighter, more flexible cardboard to build the tower. This is because the vertical cylinder is not strictly cylindrical; rather, it thins in the middle before slightly widening again towards the top, as well as being slightly curved. To portray these features I built small sections at a time so I could shape them accordingly. I used pizza boxes which matched my criteria of being light and flexible, and thus relatively easy to shape. 

I had no predetermined measurements (such a foreign concept when it comes to Halloween construction) so I built until I felt that the balance was right; between film-accurate scale and the harsh mistress of practicality. As I'm not one to let practicalities influence my building too much, I continued to build vertically until I was nearly into nose-bleed territory. The chronology went like this:

The next step was the relatively simple task of applying papier mache to the construct...

...and subsequently painting it:

The final part of the hat was the grey rim of fabric that runs around the base of the tower. Initially I was going to paint this on; but I realised that it had to be fabric as it quite clearly is in the film. I bought a quarter metre of felt and cut it down to shape, using fabric glue to attach it to the hat.

Before placing the completed hat on the Mayor's head, there was one piece of unfinished with the head itself: the mouth. That gaping smile through which I am supposed to see needed something that would hide my face without obscuring my vision (too much). For this I enlisted the help of my girlfriend as the most suitable fabric we could think of was, shamefully, ladies' tights. Yep, shame tends to depreciate when it comes to Halloween construction. 

With the head now complete (save for a touch up of the paint, which needs to be done as the picture above broadcasts) I present two-thirds of my 2011 costume:

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