Saturday, October 31, 2009



I haven't worn a Halloween costume for more than 25 years - that was for the final community Halloween carnival at our local elementary school. At that time, the school carnival was the social event of the year in our small community. Everyone joined in - many in costume - regardless of whether they had kids in the school. I wore a full-cover hazardous waste suit I had borrowed from work. [The next year "Halloween" was redefined by the new principal, who decided to host a "Harvest Festival" (no costumes allowed). That lame substitute ended several decades of school-sponsored carnivals.]

I was invited to play this year's Halloween concert with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, and costumes were "expected". At first I wasn't going to dress up, but eventually I decided to become a mummy. This was not going to be a simple task, so I consulted the internet:

First, a trip to Salvation Army for a white dress shirt and white pants.

Then I ripped two old bedsheets into 1-1/2 inch strips, and soaked them for several hours in a solution of hot water and 40 bags of black tea. The dried strips were varying shades of reddish brown off-whites, with darker edges.

After a brief sewing lesson about which buttons to push [but primarily to make sure I didn't screw up the machine] I spent the next several evenings stitching the costume together.

I ripped out the inseam of the pants to lay each leg out flat, and started sewing on each strip, beginning at the bottom and overlapping each successive layer like shingling a roof. Every few rows I left the end dangling to make it look as if the mummy's wrapping was falling apart. After the legs were done I sewed the inseams back together and finished layering the rest of the pants up to the belt.

For the shirt I cut off the cuffs and collar and then ripped open the seams of the sleeves before sewing on the layers of wrapping. After reassembling the sleeves I removed the buttons and sewed the lower two-thirds of the shirtfront closed. Then I finished sewing on the layers all the way up to the neck.

For the headpiece, I cut the bill off an old white ball cap and used a hot-glue gun to layer the strips around the hat. Three or four extra layers were hung from the back of the hat to cover the back of my head.

With the antiqued colors and dangling strips of cloth it began to look pretty good, but it seemed as if something was still missing. I also needed to figure out what to do about the wrists and neck. Then I stumbled across a bolt of gauze in the sale bin at Jo-Anns. After cutting it into strips and dying them in the tea-solution I used the hot-glue gun to tack pieces of gauze so they would stick out below random parts of the layers around the hat. I hung a three-foot loop of gauze from one side to the other and tacked pieces to the collar and cuffs. These were for wrapping loosely around my neck and ears.

Tan-colored socks and a pair of tan loafers completed the costume.

Then the makeup: I ordered a Woochie "wound" to show the mummy's face in decay. I painted the blood-red areas of the plastic wound black (since mummies don't have blood, of course). I applied woochie wounds to my cheek and chin with spirit glue. Then I painted black grease-paint makeup around my eyes and used white grease-paint to cover the rest of my face and feather the edges of the wound. And then, black lipstick.

Finally, I prepared some grey fingernail polish using some black and white polish that came with the makeup kits, because mummies' fingernails would also be decayed, right?

With two concerts scheduled (last night in Homer and this afternoon in Kenai), I had to costume up twice, taking about an hour and a half each time. But, even if I say so myself, I think the costume came out pretty good.

I'll post something about the concert itself in a day or so, after I've had some time to relax and reflect. [All in all, they both went really well. I came up with a action-list of several areas to focus on in my lessons for the next several months.]

That is an amazing costume. Did you get any cello action shots?
Wonderful costume--very creative and thorough approach! Wish I could have seen the concert!
This is scary! I wonder how you played cello with the costume.
Good to see you got a chance to, umm, unwind!
Leave it to you to do it right! :)
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