I have been an artist for years and I love to create and push myself beyond my limits! I have made original costumes in the past, but this year I really wanted to go all out! I am a senior art major at James Madison University, and my focus is in studio art, graphic design, and art history. My classes take up almost all of my time and I am constantly creating art in many forms. Though, I rarely get to do for myself and create art just for the love of art and not just for an elaborate assignment!
This year for Halloween I decided to change this unfortunate fact and do something completely original and completely hobby related. For once, this meant no school assignments, no critiques, no crazy deadlines, this was going to be just for me and I couldn’t of been more excited! I began my research months before Halloween. I surfed the internet for all kinds of characters I loved from all aspects of entertainment. Though, a lot of character ideas I came up with had already been produced and I really wanted to push myself to come up with a creative costume that had never been seen before! In the end, it was between Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon or Slinky Dog from Toy Story. I had to go with Slinky Dog, as he was an old time original and a great character in a movie I loved and that was obviously well known. It’s a possibility that Toothless will be my next year’s attempt I was surprised to see that not one person had taken the time to make Slinky Dog work as a costume, with slinky parts and all. I knew I had a huge task ahead of me, but I was determined to make it happen.
I never even made a single sketch, which is unusual for me, as I normally need some kind of basis. Instead I just studied pictures of Slinky Dog and was on my way. Due to the limitations of schoolwork, I started this project ONE week before Halloween. I did not realize at the time that this was absolutely not enough time for a full-scale paper mache’ project! All nighters were the only way this costume became a possibility and trust me I paid for it the next week!
To start off, I used an exercise ball and pumped it up to maximum size. I decided paper mache was going to be the best medium for my costume in order to get a hard “toy-like” look. I did not want Slinky Dog to look like a stuffed animal, but of the plastic form we know from the movies. Paper dipped into a glue/water mixture was placed all over the ball until several layers were built up to create a sturdy enough structure for the body. This took several days alone, and after it was dry I measured and cut it in half for each side of Slinky.
After there were two halves I used poster board to give depth and create the middles of each side. The hands and feet were done in similar ways yet, instead of having a solid structure I had to create one on my own. I used stacks of newspaper and molded them into the forms of hands and feet. Using old winter gloves and soft garden shoes for the basis, the newspaper molds were taped onto each. A lot of masking tape was used to get the final look of paws before I used a few layers of paper mache’ to harden them up. Next I worked on the head, which was a giant mistake. The head should’ve been done first, as it took me the longest and was the most intensive!
A rounded trash can lid from my apartment was the basis for the very detailed Slinky Dog head. I had quite some problems with this, because once I paper mache’d over the lid I could not get it off! I had to recreate this several times, using Vaseline underneath the layers hoping it would pop off but for some reason this still did not work! I decided to move on as I was wasting valuable time. So, I started shaping his mouth and eyes in the same way I did for the paws. I also used very large amounts of newspaper and masking tape for Slinky’s face, but this turned out to be way too heavy to hold up on its own! I then realized the trash can lid would be perfect to help me hold up the front of his head and I kept it under the paper mache after all! I guess I can say I really got lucky, but in the long run I now need to buy a new trashcan! Once I finished molding his face and eyes I also put towels in the back of the lid to give more balance to the heavy face so it would sit on my head evenly. I then paper mache’d his face as I did everything else.
Last came the final touches and piecing it all together! I hand painted every single aspect of Slinky Dog. I paid special attention to his face and eyes because I wanted his head to be recognizable as Slinky and not some random dog head. I added felt ears and a tongue with a hot glue gun. The slinky body and tail were last and also extremely hard to create. I used hollow tubing and painted them metallic silver to mimic the slinky look. I took an immense amount of thin wire and thread it through the tubes and into the body in order for them to stay in place. Thicker wire was used for the tail so it would “boing” like a real slinky!
I had to leave a good amount of gap at the bottom of the slinky body so I could actually get in and out of the costume. I barely got it to work but after several tries I was successful! Finally I bought dark brown leggings and a turtleneck to wear underneath to mimic Slinky’s dark colored body! In order to get in and out of the costume I constantly needed a friend to help me and I am very thankful I had help or this costume would have never been possible! I wore the costume out on Halloween night and I must say it was a huge hit. I was getting comments everywhere I walked and was constantly asked if I had actually created the costume myself. I couldn’t of been happier with the way this costume turned out and I spent at least 40+ hours creating it! I honestly did not know at the beginning of this massive project if this costume would even be possible! I am so incredibly happy that I somehow made it work! I feel I have achieved something great in my art career and will definitely create more costumes in the future! The only problem with Slinky Dog was the heat that accumulated in the costume. It is quite surprising how well newspaper insulates and I had to take my head and paws off several times throughout the night. If I were to change anything about this costume I would figure out a way to cool myself down so I could wear this for hours and get full enjoyment out of it!
Thanks for checking out my costume, and I really hope you like it and appreciate my efforts! I am willing to answer any questions or give any tips, just comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! ☺
DON’T FORGET to watch my video of the Slinky Dog costume at:
or type in Slinky Dog Halloween Costume 2010 in the search box!
Submitted by Kaleena Thompson, Harrisonburg VA