Monday, December 23, 2013

How To: Alarmingly Large Sesame Street Muppets!

This past Halloween I agreed to make 2 Sesame Street Martian costumes for some coworkers.

Translation from Martian: "Help us! Help us! We are forced to perform
lessons for children! We are astrophysics professors! Why won't anybody help us?! 

Apologies to my friends at the The Ridiculous Puppet Company, LLC I will most likely forget my "Muppettiquette" (portmanteau, bitches!) and use the terms "muppet", "puppet", and "frikkin' pink abomination" interchangeably. This is technically bad form, my cherished readers, and you should head over to the website of The Ridiculous Puppet Company to learn why. At least, watch their videos from The Institute for Ridiculous Science.

I digress. I told my friends I would make their Martian costumes. Not the just the muppets, mind you; full-size costumes for full-size humans. The arrangement for the costumes was made about a week before Halloween, and as per usual, my procrastination burned that down to 2 days before Halloween to build the costumes. Here is my tutorial on

How to Build Two Adult Sesame Street Martian Costumes
at a Frantic Pace Because You Put it Off to the Last Minute:

Step 1) Blow off the project for a few days. Claim to be "formulating the process" in your head.

Step 2) Obtain your materials. When you realize you only have about 52 hours before the costume deadline (Halloween costumes are pointless in November), go to the local fabric store for materials. When you discover that their stock of novelty fur is decimated because Halloween, ditch them and drive over to the local fabric warehouse/outlet/wonderland that is S. R. Harris (only in Minnesota, ha). S. R. Harris has everything. Except, apparently, any muppet-appropriate faux-fur.

Non-Minnesotans: It's basically this, but more organized.

Step 3) Obtain your materials, for realzies. Return ashamedly to the chain fabric store and purchase whatever you can. In my case this was curly faux fur in neon pink and white (Convince yourself that making a spooky zombie Martian would be just as hilarious). Other materials you will need: matching pipe cleaners, 2" styrofoam balls (2 for each), black felt for pupils, a styrofoam ring or dome (cut in half to make 2 pieces), floral wire, black knit mesh fabric (1 yard, 60" wide), matching thread, and lots and lots of coffee.

Step 4) OK, these steps are going to be a lot more vague from here on out; I'm on a time-based deadline to publish this post and I still have to upload & caption the photos!

Step 5) Fold the faux-fur inside out, cut large U-shape to form the mouth. Begin worrying about how much the fur is shedding, because it's getting all over your room.

Abandon all fur-free hope, ye who travel here.

Step 6) Cut out the mouth shape from the black mesh. Set aside, to be repeatedly lost amidst the chaos of tools and scraps flying everywhere.

Step 7) Sew the body shape. Through trial-and-error. For 4 hours. Coffee. Then serge the black mesh (where the hell did I put it?) in over the mouth-hole. You now have a creepy, screaming, gaping, lifeless shell that is still shedding pink fur everywhere.

Monster construction has never been so cuddly!

Step 8) Trim half of the styrofoam ring or dome to fit into the bottom lip of the puppet. Sleep-deprivation has set in by now, so try on the muppet-form, eyeless, and make sure the mechanics of the lower lip work. Yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-uh-huh, uh-huh, yip-yip-yip-yip... Scare the cat out of the room.

puppet bone! um. Not that way, perv.

Step 9) Attach black-felt pupils to styrofoam eyeballs. Take a length of floral wire and sink both ends into the eye ball in a gruesome fashion. Thread the wire ends through the top of the puppet form and secure. Have a staring contest.

I lost. Better have more coffee.

Step 10) Use the pipe cleaners to make antennae, thread and anchor those onto the puppet, just behind the eyes. Avoid eye contact with muppet. can see my soul...

Step 11) Cut strips from the bottom up into the body. Leave the edges raw, because if your room is going to be coated in pink and white muppet-shavings, then so will the client's room be.
...kidding! Leave edges raw because it is now 2:00am and you still have a second puppet to make.

Step 12) Repeat steps 5-11 to make a second, even creepier (didn't know that was possible) white, zombie Martian. Wad both puppets up and stuff into plastic bags, so they can't stare at you anymore. Collapse into bed and get 2 1/5 hours of sleep.

They'll stare anyway. Oh, will they stare.

The reception of the costumes was great. The friend wearing the pink one had even practiced movements to mimic the "body language" of the Martians; the two of them went on to win the "Nerdiest Costume" award at our company's Halloween costume contest. I'll add their photo later; I didn't have the forethought to bring my camera, but 3 hours of sleep will do that to a lady.

They looked so convincing in their costumes that I discovered: even though I made them, these large, unblinking, inarticulate creatures still activated my slight automatonophobia. I'll consider that a job well done.

Photo credit to Klamkins. I couldn't even
get within 5 feet of either at this point.

Except I still have pink and white faux-fur dusting my workspace. The project I can never forget.

My work is based on this Instructable. I was able to discover some engineering improvements, though. I plan to make one last Martian to employ them in an orderly manner. During waking hours. Without sobbing into the faux-fur.

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