I’m undeniably proud of the Cardboard Craze that I started at Dragon*Con back in 2005, especially of the guys who have been such dedicated cardboard costumers along with me since that time! After our great success as cardboard troopers last year, a lot of people have expressed their desire to join us in at the upcoming convention in September. Several folks have expressed that, while they have the desire, they just don’t have any good ideas on exactly how to build a good costume out of cardboard. So, as a service to those people, I’m going to begin a series of posts that will continue up until September, designed to provide you some design ideas and construction techniques. First out of the blocks is my design for Chewboxxa, a “Booxiee” from the planet BoxxaHarveyKorman.
Marvel at his tremendous bulk and undeniable (albeit cardboardish*) ferocity!!
Before we begin I need to review the rules of Cardboard Costuming, namely:
The Fundamental Rule of Cardboard Costumes
If your cardboard costume looks really nice, you’ve done it really wrong. Your costume must look as though it were ripped from the inside of a garbage compactor. It should have strange, upside down logos. It should be hastily taped together with obvious seams, obvious mends and similar errors of construction. Basically: it should look thrown away.
Kids, get your parents and/or legal guardians to help you make your Chewboxxa costume because you shouldn’t play with sharp box cutters without adult supervision.
To build your Chewboxxa costume you’re going to need a rather large box, preferably a tall appliance box (in relation to your own size). If your first thought is “I know! I’ll use a refrigerator box!” you’re on the right track, but stop and think for a second: surely your body isn’t wide enough for your arms to comfortably poke out of the sides of a refrigerator box. Imagine how uncomfortable that would be. Consider taking a box that’s tall then cutting it open along one side then refolding it so that it keeps the height but reduces the side-to-side, front-to-back width. Arm comfort is always paramount when you’re wearing cardboard.
Booxiees are really, really tall. It follows then that their heads should be really, really way up their body, near the top… probably higher up than your own head. But what makes Booxiees funny is the fact that their head is part of their body, they don’t have a neck!
All you need to do is worry about your Booxiee’s face so go ahead and cut out some good looking eye holes way up above where your head will actually be. Your Booxiee’s intelligence will be inferred by its eyes. If they’re really close together it will look stupid. If they’re far apart it will look creepy and slow. I recommend trying different sized eyes and you should never, ever make the eyes square and even. Asymmetry is the window to a cardboard costume’s soul! Have fun with the mouth, which should be drawn with a fat, black marker.
For you to actually see out of your costume you’re going to need to cut out some “practical” eye holes at the level at which your eyes will actually be located inside the costume. Better yet, I recommend that you cut a thin horizontal slit all the way across the front of your box, that way you’ll have a really good view of everything in front of you and the line might be lost to casual viewers in the cuts and folds and patches that make up your costume.
The box should come down so far over your legs that you only need to create cardboard “spats” that cover your legs from the knee to the ankle. This should simply be a square cardboard tube big enough to slide over your lower leg. Do it with your shoes off then put your shoes back on. This will “lock” the spats in place on your leg.
I’m going to do a write-up about how to make good cardboard arms in a later post. For now take a look at the drawing and you’ll get the basic idea.
For a really “showy” look you might consider using Chocolate Pop-Tart boxes taped into place. But if you’re in a pinch why not just bend and fold your own clips and tape them in place. Remember, nothing on your costume should be glued on. A good cardboard costumer will always have a roll of duct tape with them, ready to be patched at any time. If your costume begins this way you won’t be surprised when something falls off and you’ll be much better prepared to repair yourself when the time comes.
Remember the Point!!!
This is to have fun! If you’re busy worried about tearing or staining your costume then you can’t have fun. Go on, eat, drink and spill all over your Booxiee costume, it’ll only get better!!!
I’d love it if some of you would like to post your comments below suggesting other costumes you’d like me to illustrate in subsequent posts leading up to September. I feel that this provides a valuable service to the fan community.
* Cardboardish: a term first identified by Alfeo “Lightspeed” Dixon, the “caution tape” trooper from 2006.