Saturday, October 17, 2015

Namazu

Husband and I both had Japan-specific costumes for our last Halloween in Japan. For him, we opted for a woodblock-inspired namazu, the catfish of legend that causes earthquakes by thrashing about in its lair. (There are more ancient namazu woodblock prints than you might expect.)
Reference photos from here.
People tended to think he was a cockroach until they saw the reference photos, but then they got it. Not surprising, it's a bit obscure. Here's how I made it! Not nearly as intense as the robot costume I made for myself, but it was a whole new set of challenges. Step 1: paper planning. It's built around a bicycle helmet that we knew would fit Husband's giant head, so I put it on, took some reference selfies, printed one out and sketched the outline I wanted to create.


Step 2: use cardboard, craft wire, and duct tape to create the outline. Include padding as necessary.

Step 3: Add craft wire for lower jaw, experiment with shapes to get the chin, ultimately to be made of fabric. It turns out that the expandable foam padding that they put on wine bottles in our local stores is great for this sort of thing.

Step 4: make an educated guess at the size and shape the chin fabric needs to be (practice version pictured).

Step 5: guess at a pattern for a helmet cover, make a practice version of that too.

Step 6: turn cover right side out, evaluate, decide where to put the dart at the back of the head (couldn't get around darting no matter how I pinned it).

Step 7: make the real one from tee shirt fabric for the chin and pleather for the helmet cover. Note: hand stitch everything because it was faster to stitch the chin fabric without disassembling the jaw wire and because sewing machine really, really doesn't like the traction of the pleather. (This step not pictured, I was in a rush to finish so we could go out for Halloween a week earlier than I expected) 

Step 8: send Husband to the store for styrofoam balls and whisker material (he chose well for both) while finishing hand stitching. Cut foam ball in half, draw on pupils, hot glue to head. Stitch on foam strips (originally meant either to block drafts under doors or protect furniture corners) as whiskers.
Photo from the Metropolis Magazine Facebook page.

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