help me become Left Shark for Halloween
February 3, 2015 7:31 AM   Subscribe

you probably now know left shark from the superbowl halftime show. I need to be that shark. help me be that shark.

look at this idiot I love him

I have decent costuming experience, but all relatively normal clothes-stuff made from fabrics (cotton, poly-blends, etc.) and stitched together either by hand (eurgh) or with a sewing machine. I have worked with crafting foam before but that seems like a different beast. I know how to do patterns, basically. But everything I've done is for humans.

Specifically what I (firstly) need help with is the "fabric" I would use to make this thing. What even is it? Some kind of foam? I want it to be properly flexible but also stiff... I'm not sure if I'd want to go the full-on mascot route (heavier material possibly with a wire frame), but would it be possible to make something that can sort of stand up under its own stiffness/with careful pattern and stitching work, but still be kind of soft and 'collapsible'? A shark-lite if you will. A lot of the foam I'm familiar with seems like it would be far too stiff/heavy (craft foam, for example). Possibly upholstery foam? What would be the best way to get that to the proper color and still maintain a certain fabric quality (e.g. would painting be an option as opposed to layering another, colored fabric on top of a base)? And what's the best method to make seams with that material (still just sewing in stitches, hot glue--that doesn't seem very durable)? It looks like it might just be some kind of foam base covered in colored fleece but eh I dunno.

Some of this I can answer myself once I have a better idea of the material that needs to be used. But then there's also logistics like suggestions for the buttons or whatever in the back to close the costume up, how the eyesight works (through a mesh mouth most likely right?), the mouth closing mechanism, etc.

I googled some stuff but didn't have a lot of luck, maybe because I'm not even sure what to search for. Hell, if you can even just point me towards a better forum to go to that would be helpful. I've been to/used to be on but that's an entirely different beast not geared towards sharks. Mascot forums I've looked at also seem to be going very far in the thicker/heavier materials and crafted animal heads direction, which I don't want.

God knows if I can actually do it and I have no doubt my costume would be very sad in comparison with the glory that is Halftime Left Shark, but I'd like to do the best I can (or at least see if it's even feasible budget/skillwise). Halloween's only 9 months away, so I figure I better get started.
posted by nogoodverybad to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My first thought was neoprene. And it would be apropos...
posted by dinofuzz at 7:47 AM on February 3, 2015

Best answer: I've only seen the pictures you have there, but that looks like jersey and/or stretch velour and/or polartek material sewn over some kind of frame for the head and arm-fins, and then just a baggy jumpsuit everywhere else. It's not even bending like I would expect foam to bend.

If I was doing this, my starting point would probably be a secondhand backpacker hiking frame to comfortably hold the weight, and some stiff-but-bendable wire to make the skeleton.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:19 AM on February 3, 2015

Best answer: There was a recent episode of Mythbusters where they built a Homer Simpson costume* by cutting and gluing foam together. With the new format of the show they spent a lot of time showing how it was done. I think you could apply the same techniques to building the shark.

Search around on Google or cable reruns for "Mythbusters Simpsons."

*It wasn't a costume, now that I think of it, but it used similar techniques to costume building.
posted by bondcliff at 8:37 AM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

bondcliff: "There was a recent episode of Mythbusters where they built a Homer Simpson costume* by cutting and gluing foam together. With the new format of the show they spent a lot of time showing how it was done. I think you could apply the same techniques to building the shark. "

That's what I thought of exactly. I don't think my new hero Left Shark's costume was foam, but I think foam would work just fine and be a lot easier than making some sort of armature.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:48 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

And actually, I would probably just do foam for the head and arms and use some sort of blue footie pajamas or similar for the lower half of the costume.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:49 AM on February 3, 2015

Best answer: I was a shark (Jaws, from the movie Jaws) for Halloween a few years ago. It was a soft flannel fabric cut and sewn into a shark shape and then jammed to the gills with cotton stuffing (a LOT. In that picture I had lost most of it). I'm a clumsy seamstress and made it all in one night, but with 10 months you can engage in a lot of trial and error to make it 100% accurate. I would advise fabric over foam because, having had costumes made of both before, foam gets really, really hot and it's not as flexible.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:09 AM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

How about asking the shark himself?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:28 AM on February 3, 2015

There seems to be a shark suit in progress and I would guess it would be ready by Halloween if you want to go that route.
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: MeFi's own ColdChef knows the costumer (link if you follow him on twitter)
posted by ersatzkat at 12:52 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Whoa, thanks for the input all. I'm coming down with a cold and my brain is fuzzy but 1) thanks for all of the ideas 2) everybody had matching towels, looking classy in that shark costume 3) I am super tempted to be lazy and just get that shark suit but I kinda wanna make my own

you guys are the best, back to my soup
posted by nogoodverybad at 3:12 PM on February 3, 2015

Here's another one in progress from Bonobos.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:40 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your input-- I actually had no idea how popular Left Shark was until after my devious plans were in progress.

Obviously I won't be able to put an update here once the time comes around because it's so far off but you've given me a lot of ideas to work with. I figure I'm gonna go ahead and close this ask (if this is a thing you can do... I haven't used mefi in a while) as I've probably gotten all the responses I'm gonna get. Feel free to message me though if you want.
posted by nogoodverybad at 7:43 AM on February 10, 2015

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