The creative process: Halloween edition

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I don’t consider myself to be cheap. I don’t even consider myself to be thrifty. (I just heard my husband yell “Amen!” in my head.) However, I’m not one to buy things that I consider to be ridiculously overpriced, especially in these uncertain economic times.

Enter Halloween costume shopping for my 11-year old daughter and 15-year old son.

My daughter wanted to be a whoopie cushion. If you knew her as I do, you would understand just how well this costumes suits her. And at $29.99, I was willing to buy it off the shelf at the local costume store and be done with it.

As for my son’s costume? He wanted to be Captain America. He’s 15–a few years past the trick or treating age. But since they’re both going to Halloween parties, I agreed to get him a costume. That is, until I started adding up the cost of said costume. Basic Captain America suit: $79.99

And while the shield is pictured, it is not included in the price. What self respecting Captain America would be caught without his shield? Which, incidentally is $24.99

At $105 plus tax, the chances of my son being Captain America for Halloween were quickly waining. But then I saw this tee for $9.99 and the creative juices started to flow:

I could buy the $10 shirt, probably pick up a pair of blue sweats for less than $20. For $30, the costume is halfway complete. But what about the shield and the mask?

I’ll be honest. I walked around Party City with that shield for a long time, but I just couldn’t justify paying $25 for something that would be used once. Then I happened down the catering supply aisle and found this plastic sandwich tray for $5.99:

The first thing I noticed was that it was the same size as the overpriced shield I was holding in my hand. Next, I noticed that the circle in the middle of the tray was about the same size as the as the circled star in the middle of the shield. Exit shield, enter plastic sandwich tray and craft paint.

That left the mask. I almost bought this for $19.99:

But it’s not really a mask. It’s a winter hat. Besides, I think it’s sort of stupid looking with those long braidy things on the sides. I left Party City with an incomplete costume plan but determined to get started on the shield.

The plan:

Paint the underside of the plate beginning with the silver star in the center and layering the paint outward, then go over the painted portion with silver duct tape to keep the paint from chipping off when the shield is flung forcefully at someone. My son’s a 15 year old Avengers’ fan. You know that’s gonna happen. Worry about attaching a handle to the underside later.

The process:

The beginning of the process went smoothly. I found a star shape in Microsoft Word, sized it to fit inside the circle. Print, trace, step one complete. Step 2 was even easier: paint the rest of the circle blue. It was only when I contemplated the painting of the red and white stripes that I ran into trouble. Because the stripes needed to be evenly spaced and evenly sized. And the steps required to accomplish that goal came dangerously close to involving math–my arch nemesis. (Yes, I know I’ve said the grocery store is my arch nemesis, but for the purposes of this story, it’s math.)

I began to measure and calculate. And check email, Twitter and Facebook. Because when the going gets tough, the ADD afflicted procrastinate and avoid. Then it happened. As I stood typing on my computer which sits on the bar which looks into my kitchen, I spied the solution to my creative block. A way to create evenly spaced stripes without using math. The chicken plate:

Brilliant, no?


Let me explain. Wait, let me show you a picture–often worth a thousand words, but in this case probably more like 120:

Do you see those red stripes? Do you see how they’re relatively even? What’s that UNDER those stripes?

Chicken plate, BABY!

The rest of the project was easy peasy. Couple coats of red paint, couple coats of white. Duct tape, epoxy and a belt my daughter no longer wears, and Presto!

Wait…that’s not that impressive. Ahem…


Random trips to the mall and the grocery store later that day netted sweat pants for $15 and a mask for $9.99:

The Results:

Voila! Complete Captain America Costume for $41.00:

All done without math! Well, except just now when I added up all the stuff I bought.

And just between you and me?

I used the calculator app on my iPhone…

Happy Halloween!

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