How to make a Residents costume?
August 26, 2009 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Please come up with suggestions for making my own Residents costume.

So, I've been playing with the idea of making one of those huge eyballs that form the centerpiece of the costume. The rest of it is obviously relatively trivial to obtain. In case you don't know, The Residents are one of the weirdest bands ever, are awesome in a very, very, special way, and have been going for something like 40 years now. Moreover, the costumes are super-awesome (in fact that's probably the reason I gave them a chance) and I'd like to own one for various costume parties and suchlike.

That eye is a bit of a headache. Firstly, where could I get a plastic or plexiglass globe like that reasonably cheaply? Secondly, what would be the best way to get the veins and iris and various parts of the eyeball on the plastic?
posted by Zero Gravitas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
clear plastic dome. (24")

You could use a grinder to take down the lip at the seam. Not sure if $100+ counts as cheap. Otherwise, I'd say you're looking at paper mache. You could build that around an inflatable beach ball.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2009

Start with a white beach ball and paint the details in - it's just a circle with some lines, and some veins. If you're not feeling confident enough to do it yourself, ask a friend. This is very basic painting we're talking about here. A beach ball (the thick plastic sort, not the inflatable sort) will hold its shape even with a hole cut out for a head. Put other small holes in the back and sides and front for ventilation and for your own little eyeballs.

You could use acrylic paints, permanent markers, or even vinyl decals cut out to the shapes you want.

Or....papier mache.
posted by iconomy at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2009

(start with a balloon for the papier mache, build your shape, and pop the balloon. there are eleventy thousand million sites that explain how to do papier mache.)
posted by iconomy at 1:10 PM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: How I might go about doing this:

Step 1.
Balloon + paper mache = round, add shape to make standout veins.
Step 2.
reinforcement on the inside with a coathanger.
Step 3.
Cut hole for glass view.
Step 4.
Paint eyeball and veins
Step 5.
Pastiage the outside of the eyeball to smooth and shine the surface (I've done this on walls and shirts, never paper mache eyeballs)
Step 6.
Install Blue disc, either something like a sectioned hampster ball or plastic serving bowl.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2009

For the basic shape, I'd use papier-mâché. You'd need something like a beach ball to start with. Coat it in petroleum jelly to make it easy to release the paper later, then form layers of papier-mâché round that until you get a reasonable thickness. Deflate the ball once it's thoroughly try, and then cut a hole. It might work best to attach something like a bike helmet inside to make it comfortable and secure.

The papier-mâché can be sanded, painted and coated with whatever glossy finish you need.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2009

Hey, here's a shitty website! But maybe it'll be helpful.
posted by Skot at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2009

As for the detailing, with plastic that's a cinch, just paint on the inside of the ball with plastic-compatible paint, animation cel paint would be ideal. Wash the ball with detergent inside to make sure the paint can stick.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:12 PM on August 26, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, it would probably be easier to get, and cheaper, to use papier-mache like many of you are suggesting, but would it be possible to make that look shiny, like an actual eye? I have a feeling that it would look cruddy, and I'm trying to make this a really good costume.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 1:24 PM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: I'm pretty sure the originals are fiberglass. But that might be messy and unpleasant for doing yourself in the kitchen.

A good search term for a DIY version seems to be "acrylic light globe" e.g. 16" light globe $38
posted by ecurtz at 1:27 PM on August 26, 2009

I confess that, in idle moments, I too have daydreamed about a Residents costume. I wonder if the pupil would be best served by window screen spray-painted black.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:46 PM on August 26, 2009

I have a friend who did exactly this a few years ago! It looked incredible.

He made the eye by laying papier mâché over a cheap beach ball, which was later removed. He cut out the pupil and covered it with a black mesh, which was wide enough to see through, but fine enough to appear black from the outside.

I'd suggest hitting a big fabric store for the mesh, I'm sure you could find an underskirt/tutu fabric for a few dollars at most.

Good luck!
posted by rhinny at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice, people. I'm now inclined to go the papier-mâchê route, on account of its being cheap and easy to work with. My only worry is that I can't get it smooth enough. Hell, if it turns out well, maybe I'll fool my band into getting identical costumes, although perhaps one with a black skull for the singer. Maybe I'll post a picture somewhere when I get it finished.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 5:49 PM on August 26, 2009

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