Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Can't Sew? Duc' it! Costuming with Duct Tape: an ApolloCon 2007 panel

Panelists: Chuck Coshow (moderator), Mary Miller, Shaista Mohammed, Val Villareal

Description in the program book: It's light on one side and dark on the other and holds the universe together. Now you can use it to hold your costume together. Our team of guerilla costumers show tricks and techniques for non-sewn costumes using duct tape.

Who would have thought that duct tape is the unsung hero of costuming? The panelists could not praise its versatility high enough. It comes in a variety of surface colors and textures, and you can make all sorts of costume parts out of it. It is also infinitely repairable. To repair a tear, simply tape another piece over it. The panelists demonstrated some basic costume parts you can make with duct tape. For example, in the picture below is a boot, completely covered with shiny red duct tape. (The boot is reclaimable: the tape can be peeled off and the boot restored to its original condition.)










Shai Mohammed with a boot covered in red tape Picture of a picture of Chuck and Val's costume
Shai Mohammed with a boot covered in red tape Picture of a picture of Chuck and Val's costume, made with (among other things) tons of duct tape.


The horns Chuck is wearing in the costume above are shown up close below on Val. Yes, they are made mostly out of duct tape. The tape is wrapped around the frame that was made -- IIRC -- cardboard tubes from used-up paper towel rolls.










Valerie's horns Chuck's mask
Val with horns Chuck's duct tape mask.











Val with a roll of tape, making Chuck's mask Mary Miller
Val with a roll of tape, making Chuck's mask Mary Miller


In the course of the panel Chuck and Val made a simple mask. Chuck cut the mask out of a paper towel and covered one of its sides with strips of green and black tape (see above). Then Val made a two-sided headband (left) out of tape and attached it to the sides of Chuck's mask.


Val with a roll of tape, making Chuck's mask


The paper towel backing is a good thing not just because you don't want the tape to stick to your skin, but also because the towel provides an absorbent (albeit minimally) layer. And this brings us to the an oft-emphasized advice. The wearer should keep in mind that duct tape does not breathe. He or she will be sweating like hell under all that tape. It is imperative to wear absorbent garments underneath, unless, quoth Mary Miller, your character is a slug and is supposed to drip-drip-drip across the stage.

I must say, this panel nearly inspired me to get into costuming. Or get back into costuming, actually, after a brief foray I made into it 15 years ago. If only I didn't already suffer from hobby overload...

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