I’m excited about Halloween.
Cody and I have decided to pair as Dr. Horrible (her) and Captain Hammer (me). They’re simple costumes, so they don’t really fulfill that deep-seated need to construct something epic. However, they’re fun costumes that we can achieve with the time we have. Most of the attendees at the party we’re attending should recognize the outfits, which is a bonus.
So, that’s good news.
From a more long-term point of view, I did some reading up and I severely underestimated the utility of papier-mâché. I’ve been imagining a future filled with hot ABS plastic and noxious fiberglass-resin fumes because those seemed the only ways to get good, smooth, solid costume pieces. I’ve always thought of papier-mâché as crude and flimsy. In the form I used, it was. But that’s because I was only exploring part of it. Check out this guy.
It makes a lot of sense, if one pauses to think about it. At its most basic, papier-mâché is the same thing as fiberglass: fibers suspended in a glue. Paper is a lot stronger than one might give it credit for, too. Sure, we can rip paper by pulling nearby sections in opposite directions, but have you ever tried to tug on it from two opposite ends? It’ll give, but not without effort and usually local to the area where you’re pulling, not in the middle where the highest stress is. Paper’s strong stuff. Add glue to the mix and you’ve got a decent material—if you execute it correctly.
What’s more, the “strip” form is only one of the two ways to use papier-mâché. The other, using pulped paper, ends up as a clay-like material that can be molded and shaped however you want. Way more versatile. Layer something up with several layers of strips, work in detail with the clay form, and then waterseal it with lacquer of some kind and you’ve got a pretty formidable piece of hardware that’ll stand up to a good amount of weathering.
Get some fine-grained sandpaper to smooth it down, and you might, might have something on par with ABS plastic or fiberglass—as far as costuming goes, anyway—and at a fraction of the cost and risk (glass fibers can do terrible things to your lungs; where’s the risk in water, paper, and flour?).
Suffice it to say I plan to test out this hypothesis at the earliest opportunity. If it works, hoo boy. I shall become a costume making machine.