My first dragon costume, done in 1994, was sort of… well, an exercise in what not to do. 🙂
I did try to do a bit more with the body of the costume on this one than I had done with the velociraptor a year previously. The wings were a bit over-ambitious for the time, I fear. The structure for the wings was made from pieces of metal and hinges – my dad helped me with that part – but as it turns out, a “skeleton” without “muscles” or “tendons” does not tend to function very well! I ended up tying the wing joints together, so I was still able to spread the final hinge of the wings, but not to their full extent.
The mask was also extremely heavy. It was papier mache over a cardboard base, like the velociraptor, but the formulation of the Celluclay I was using at the time had changed. A heavy mask is very difficult to wear for any length of time, and can injure your neck if you aren’t careful!
I made the claws out of ceramic. This turned out to be a big no-no. Ceramic is a fairly heavy material, and chips easily. It can work okay for teeth if it’s the only material you have available, but there are better things to use.
Finally, my biggest mistake was that I started far too late in the year to correct any of the problems I had with this costume before Halloween was upon me.
Rather than consider this costume to be an outright failure, I try to remember the lessons it taught me:
- Comfort when costuming is very important! A full-body costume can be quite warm and often doesn’t allow for as good of eyesight as you’d normally have, but if it’s actually causing you discomfort, it’s time for a redesign!
- If you’re tring to implement a costume feature you’ve never done before, test, test, test! A quick test would’ve proven how poor a choice ceramic claws were, and how badly those muscle-less wings would work.
- Always give yourself enough time to complete your costume without having to rush things at the last minute! (This is good general advice anyway.)