This is the sixth year that I’ve made Halloween costumes for one or both kids. I guess they really haven’t been costumes so much as hats. One drawback is that the kids have to spend a lot of time explaining what they are. Last year Kelly’s Kingfisher was primarily mistaken for an Angry Bird and a “jay” but also for a “robin” and a “blue bird.” At least Timmy’s Ivory-billed woodpecker was mostly identified as some sort of woodpecker, although its grumpy look made a few people guess Angry Bird as well. The most entertaining suggestion was pterodactyl. Tonight we’ll see what people guess for this year’s hats.
I always feel pressure to beat the previous year’s efforts. My wife, Liesl, got me to start these earlier this year. That is good and bad. These projects are like a gas… they expand to take up any space they are given. The good news is that for the first time I finished the day before Halloween!
This time I gave the kids one limit when they were selecting their bird of choice: They had to agree on the same basic bird type so I could use the same armature for both. This would streamline my production time… in theory. They ended up choosing to be warblers: a Kentucky and a Blackburnian.
Now for the questions I always get…
How long did those take?
This is pretty much the first question everyone asks when they see these. They are probably evaluating just how crazy I am. Well, the quick answer is, “I really don’t know!” That’s probably for the best, since they get worn for a short period of time. On the other hand, I don’t do much sculptural work anymore, other than 3D on computer, so this keeps some old skills in use. That being said, the hats take a ton of time and could probably be used as evidence that I’m certifiably nuts if my wife ever wanted to have me institutionalized. I think she has a pretty extensive list compiled somewhere. Come to think of it, building an eight-foot tall trebuchet “for the kids” a few years back probably didn’t help my cause.
What are they made of?
The bird hats are made of sheet craft foam, hot glue and acrylic paint. The color choices of the foam are pretty limited for a project like this, so I paint the sheets before cutting them to size (and shape).
Below are previous years’ efforts. You can see how the hats have gotten more complicated with time. At the end are a few shots of them during construction.