Creative outlets are where you find them, or at least where you make them, and I can’t keep myself from rolling up my sleeves when a creative opportunity arises. Most recently, my creative elbow grease was applied liberally to the work of costuming my kids for Halloween. The gauntlet was thrown down when the costume choices were put before me, she-who-must-make-it-herself : “Yoda, Yoda, and Lieutenant Thire, Clone Trooper.” Hmmm.
If you asked me three years ago what my kids knew about Star Wars, the answer would have been “not much, they’ve never seen the movies.” These days the answer would describe a kind of obsession, while only the oldest has seen the original movie, all three have pored over any SW picture book they could get their hands on, collected Star Wars Legos with a vengeance, and watched every Lego Star Wars Youtube video we have allowed. As one of our wise-cracking friends put it, and without mincing any words, Star Wars is like a certain very addictive drug. You get the picture. So here we are, decades from the original Star Wars film release, with three little boys who imagine themselves Jedis and Clones and play out scenes from the movies on a daily basis. George Lucas got something right.
Admittedly, when it comes to costuming, my strengths lie more in the papier-maché mask-making and painting arena, and much less in the sewing department, but I agreed to forge ahead.
Without going into every detail, the photos of the Yoda masks in process will help tell the story–Yoda as re-imagined from illustrations for the new Star Wars the Clone Wars series–think a younger, fiercer, graphic design Yoda.
Now, while Yoda number one was drying, I had to get to work on the Clone Trooper costume. If you don’t know– I didn’t–Clone Troopers are good guys. Unlike Storm Troopers they have a little color to personalize their otherwise black and white armor, and the scuff marks to prove they’ve seen the battlefield. My brilliant idea was to buy a Tyvek coverall suit from Home Depot to alter for the trooper outfit. The only problem was that the “one size fits all” size is made Extra Large for an extra large man, and my seven year old happens to be tall enough, but extra skinny.
We zipped him up in the suit anyway, and I started folding, tucking, and clipping with clothes pins to figure out just how I would alter it down to fit.
I finished sewing the suit at about 10:00 on that Thursday night, with the goal to get at least the front side painted so that it would be ready to wear for the school costume party the next day. I had already painted designs on a pair of brown gardening gloves to go with the suit, and my son agreed earlier in the day that a hand-painted poster board mask would do until we could make a 3-D maché mask eventually.
Here’s how the suit looked painted:
I finished this costume just before the stroke of midnight, a decent hour for me. I have to say that given my lack of sewing know-how, the Tyvek was relatively easy to work with, partly because it acts like something between fabric and paper. It was easy to sew through a number of layers, and to fold, and cut away excess, and to paint on. I would try this method again, especially if I could find some smaller coverall sizes to work with.
The stamp of approval came later, in the morning, when L happily examined his suit up and down, and then again at school when he had the choice to take it off during his class party and he chose to wear it. Phew!
In the meantime, I’d been sewing away at Yoda tunics and hooded cloaks, each fabric carefully chosen by the wearer. I cut out the basic robe shapes using some small kids’ bathrobes for guidance, and added the hoods when the rest was sewn together. Again, I wished in this process I’d had a good sewing fairy on my shoulder, in the shape of my sister or one of my aunts to guide me gently along. In the end, each cloak worked and fit, even if the stitching and construction was a bit messy.
When Yoda mask number one was dry, I started painting…
then on to Yoda number two, and you’d have thought it would be smooth sailing from there…
but, Friday night I left the wet papier-maché mask for Yoda number two on the warm roof to dry, just as I had done with the first. Saturday morning at 6:30 I woke with a start to the sound of–what is that!?–raindrops! Yes, in dry southern California where it hardly ever rains, it was raining on my wet papier-maché mask, the morning before Halloween. In my pajamas in the half dark in the rain, I put up our slippery metal ladder and climbed barefoot to the roof to bring the soggy mask down and inside the house. Even in that crazy moment I saw how funny the whole thing would look from the outside. Later, when I told the same story to a friend, she laughed that I should write that story first in my life as a mom/artist autobiography. Think of this as a preview.
The mask was not lost, and with the help of some extra paste and a hairdryer, only a little worse for the wear. Here’s T helping paint his own Yoda on Halloween day:
In the end, only the youngest Yoda would wear a mask anyway, and the Lt could not find his helmet when it came time to trick-or-treat because he’d been wearing it constantly and forgot where he put it. The Jedis and the trooper came back with bags full of loot and could not have been happier with their Halloween experience. I had a bit of fun myself, and caught up on sleep after the fact.