Cockroach Costume

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This one is an old story, but I just found some old digital photos of it, so I thought I would show them.

I had been itching to re-live the Halloween costume glory from my time at U.C. Santa Barbara, but without the UCSB Halloween street party, it wouldn't be the same. Sacramento was definitely lacking a good venue to show off a big costume.

In 1998, I was invited to Ambur's Halloween Costume party. It wasn't going to be huge, and I was remarkably poor at the time, but I was determined to make a big costume.

I decided to go as a cockroach.


I needed a helmet, a shell and three sets of legs.

Cardboard was, and still is, among the cheapest craft materials. I planned to cover cardboard forms with black plastic film from garbage bags for that shiny roach appearance.

A disposable paper painter's hat makes a great foundation for a roach head. Shoes and gloves are also pretty  complicated to craft from scratch, so I almost always start with a commercial pair, and modify them to suit my needs.

Scrounged cardboard boxes provided the raw material, and I taped pieces together to create a human-sized shell. The  cardboard shell was ugly, taped together with overlapping thicknesses, but I knew its imperfections would be covered in black plastic, so I wasn't concerned.

On my arms, I devised pointy three-sided roach legs, with a hole for my thumb. Holding a drink was a priority, as it is for most insects. Four more arms were designed to attach to the back shell.

Two problems with black plastic:

  1. Nothing sticks to it, and 
  2. It always looks just exactly like black plastic.

Only by taping the entire loose edges of the black plastic was I able to effectively fasten it to the cardboard. Even spray glue failed.

Mark came and helped model for some photos. Those bent things above his head were supposed to be the front legs.

The helmet was simple, with just a narrow slit that allowed me to see.

The eyes were just clumps of wadded newspaper over-wrapped with yellow electrical tape. 

In this side-view, you can see the shoulder-pads which served as the building platform for the whole costume. The back shell and front shell pieces hung from string.

Mark posing without the helmet.

Instead of the arms only having a thumb-hole, I decided to leave my entire hand exposed. This would give me a lot more control. I'd be able to perform complex tasks such as opening door knobs and hosting a cooking show.

With all the loose ends wrapped up, the costume looked great! A black turtleneck and some black pants finished the  look.

Cheap, but great! One of the great parts of the evening was the two-mile walk to Ambur's apartment.




please continue reading page 2 of the Cockroach Costume to see pictures from the party.

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