It’s no secret that Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. It’s an excuse to spend my time doing the same thing I do throughout the rest of the year—but without explanation or justification. Which is to build costumes and props. (I’m highly conscious of those stares coming from the clerks at my local Dollar Store when I’m frequenting their shop in Mid-May and buying an armful of wigs. In my defense, they’re not all for me. Some are for my art therapy and creative writing students.)
This year was a double-dip for me. The Surrey International Writers’ Conference always takes place the week before Halloween and this year I was invited to present. The conference had a theme on the Friday Night: Once Upon a Time Machine.
“You don’t have to dress up,” board member kc dyer told me.
Yeah, right. I probed further to find out that the “Once Upon a Time Machine” theme was basically to do with fairy tales. Or steam punk. Or both.
I could have easily just used my costume that I was working on for Halloween, but I’ll take any excuse to build. So I decided to go as steampunk White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
The inspiration came when I found a hat in the local costume shop with a pair of rabbit ears and a clock on it. It didn’t quite make sense, since the designer seem to be conflating two characters: the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.
But it was enough to get me started. I bought the hat, removed the cheap plastic clock and put on my own steampunked version using the lid from a glass milk bottle and a plastic plumbing component. I still wanted a proper clock for the White Rabbit to carry, so I started building the clock at the same time. Here’s my work in progress:
As you can see, the cat was wholly unimpressed. Here’s the completed clock and hat. For the hat, I also ended up goggles decorated with different steampunk components.
I still needed some other pieces for the costume. I swooped into Carousel Theatre’s annual costume theatre in early October and scooped up some great pieces for my costume, including a colorful vest. Then it was just a matter of tracking down a few other pieces, such as white gloves and a fake nose. Luckily, I had kept an old pair of round spectacles. People think I bought Harry Potter glasses at a costume shop, but these used to be my real glasses that I wore long before Harry Potter existed. Back then, we called them John Lennon glasses.
The final costume came together very well:
The costume was a big hit at the conference. As kc dyer told me, “That’s the best thing you’ve ever done.” (Well, I have written a book or two, as well. Which I thought was the reason I had been invited to speak at the conference—but, hey, I’ll take my invites any way I can get them.)
Speaking of kc, here is a photo of me and her at the conference. She went as steampunk fairy godmother. So, we pretty much rocked.
After the conference, it was time to turn my attention in earnest to Halloween. My wife and I had decided way back in July that we would go for a Narnia theme. Marcie decided to be Jadis, the snow witch. I wasn’t entirely sure who I would go as. My initial thoughts were Digory from The Magician’s Nephew—I could wear an English boy’s suit and carry a silver apple.
But then I decided it would be more fun to go as the snow witch’s dwarf slave. He goes unnamed in the book, though in the Disney movie he is known as Ginarrbrik. I already own many bits and bobs that would go well with his outfit. The main things to figure out were the nose, the beard, and his hat.
As it turned out, my mom found a faux-fur coat at Value Village and was able to make me both a hood and a vest from it. I pinned my ears to the hood so that I wouldn’t have to contend them falling off all night (which they always do when I put them on my own ears.)
As for the beard, I bought two of the exact kind from the costume shop then set out using pieces from the one to augment the other, distressing them with paint and braiding them with bits of twine. I didn’t want it to look too polished—after all, this was just a dirty minion of the snow witch!
I was able to buy a fairly high-quality nose from the costume shop and just attached it with spirit gum. I also took snippets from the beard to attach to my eyebrows. Put it all together and the result turned out quite well:
Here’s me with Marcie as Jadis:
She ended up buying a wedding dress from Value Village then augmenting it was a white faux-fur throw rug. She made the staff with a Christmas ornament. As for the crown, she procured that from Etsy.
A key part of the costume was all of her make-up:
We attended our annual “Scooby-Gang” Halloween party. The costumes there can get quite intense. Here are some fun photos from the party . . .
First of all, here is the amazing cake made by my friend, Carrie. YES, that’s a cake. (And it tasted delicious. Though, admittedly, I ate a part that didn’t involve the eyeball.)
Here’s this year’s host, Luke and Kallie, as a phoenix tamer and dragon tamer. The phoenix cried real tears and had flapping wings while the dragon could open it’s mouth.
I guess Ginarrbrik can’t compete with Dilbert. He ended up getting a kiss from the snow witch. That’s my friend Jeff inside the costume. He built Dilbert from scratch.
This is my friend Carrie (of cake fame) as a zombie hunter.
My friend James also went as a zombie hunter.
James has already stated in one of his blog posts that his costume has inspired his writing in all sorts of ways. That’s really cool—because it underscores something I’ve long believed: when you are a creative writer, you have to be creative in many areas of your life. And that’s why I spend so much studio time not staring at a computer screen, but building props and costumes. And that, takes us full circle.
Happy Halloween, everyone!