Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Rooster Man Halloween costume!


Published by Manning on November 17th, 2021

For Halloween 2021, my wife and I went as two urban legends from her island, La Réunion: La Dame Blanche (“the white lady”; a classic vanishing hitchhiker story with a twist) and L’Homme Coq; the rooster man, who eats children for some reason! This is my favorite Halloween costume I’ve done in many years; here’s some info about how I made everything…

La Dame Blanche and the Rooster Man Halloween costumes

I remember many years ago when my wife first told me about L’Homme Coq and explained that he was half-rooster, half-man, I was like okay, uh-huh, and then when she mentioned he’s rooster on one side of his body and human on the other side I was like wait wtf???? How strange! Anyway, I originally pictured the rooster man as being more like an actual rooster on one side, but for my Halloween costume I decided to design a sort of stylized humanoid rooster suit for one side of my body.

Rooster half-mask and hat with crest

Rooster Man costume - making the mask out of paper mache

I didn’t take pics of most of my steps for all the pieces of my costume! Sorry about that. Anyhow, I made the rooster mask out of paper maché. I started by building a base shape out of foam board and lots of tape and hot glue, and then I covered that with shipping tape to act as a release agent for the paper maché. You can read about my paper maché process and materials here. I covered the base with six layers of paper maché, all in one go, and then let the thing dry for two days, leaving it in direct sunlight whenever possible.

While the mask was drying, I worked on the hat and crest. I bought a cheap black trilby/fedora-type hat off of Amazon. I used masking tape to carefully make a straight line down the middle of the hat, and then I covered one side of the hat with newspaper, with more masking tape to hold it in place.

I spray painted the hat over several steps. If you apply spray paint directly to any kind of fabric it tends to soak through in some spots and generally look uneven, so I spray painted the hat with many very light coats, doing just a dusting of paint each time. The first dusting barely looks like anything at all. But you can let that dry for ten minutes, and then do another, and just keep doing that until you get nice solid, even coverage.

Magnets!

I made a plan for making the rooster mask attach to the hat using magnets, so that I could easily take it off and put it on throughout our Halloween festivities.

I took two rare earth magnets — the kind with a hole in the middle — and used a needle and thread to sew them onto the underside of the brim of the hat; one in front and one on the side. These are the connection points where the half-mask will attach.

Next: the rooster crest. I cut the crest shape out of foam board, doing a little trial and error to get it to fit perfectly onto the hat. When the shape was perfect, I then built up one side of it with a couple layers of little shapes cut out of craft foam, to make the crest appear 3D on that side. When that was done, I covered the crest with just two layers of paper maché.

Rooster Man costume - making the crest

Rooster Man costume - other side of the crest

Rooster Man costume - front view of the crest

Okay, back to the rooster mask. When the paper maché was 100% dry, I cut out the mask using an X-acto knife; I cut all around the edges and I also cut out the eye hole.

Rooster Man costume - magnets, screen, foam

I needed to attach magnets to the top of the mask, but the thin top edge didn’t have a surface where they could go, you know what I mean? So I took two tiny metal shelf brackets and taped them in place so that each magnet would have a little place to sit on. I taped the magnets in place on the brackets. I then covered all this stuff — the magnets, the brackets, and the places where the brackets connect to the mask — with about four layers of paper maché. I let that dry for a full day.

(Obviously these pics are somewhat out of order, since you can see I’ve already painted the mask and added the screen for the eye. But this is the only pic I have that shows the brackets. One more thing! I added two more magnets underneath the brackets to make the connection even stronger. That’s why you can see magnets in this pic; the first ones I added are on top of the brackets and covered with paper maché. The more magnets you stack up, the stronger they get.)

Painting!

Rooster Man costume - painting the mask

I spray painted the rooster crest matte black on the flat side, and red on the 3D side.

When the crest was dry, I attached it permanently to the hat by poking some holes in both the crest and hat with an awl and running some twist ties through; I did this in the front, back, and the bottom of the crest.

I spray painted the interior of the rooster mask black, and then I spray painted the outside green.

I let all that set for a couple hours. I then used blue painter’s tape and newspaper to mask out the red parts of the face, and spray painted those red. Waited a couple more hours, and then did the same thing with painter’s tape and yellow spray paint for the beak.

For the eye hole, I cut out a piece of screen door material and hot-glued it inside the mask. I then cut out a small circle of yellow construction paper for the iris and hot glued it onto the screen.

When I tried on the hat and mask, they were almost perfect! The mask leaned in toward my face a little bit, so I attached a piece of black foam (a small chunk of pipe insulation) inside to help it stand out from my cheek.

The magnets worked out great; the mask never fell off the hat, but it was easy to manually pull off whenever needed. And to put the mask back on, it was easy to just lift it toward the hat and the magnets would jump into place perfectly. I’m really happy with how the whole thing came out.

Okay, that’s all the most complicated stuff out of the way. Here’s what I did for the rest of the rooster man costume.

Jacket

Rooster Man costume - attaching feathers to jacket

I spray painted one side of a black jacket using the same technique as for the hat: masking tape and newspaper, and many very light dustings of green spray paint until it looked solid and even. (I didn’t bother painting the back of the jacket! I actually ran out of spray paint and just said screw it.)

I’d ordered some green feathers online and wasn’t sure how I’d have to attach them. I thought I might have to sew each one in place, which would be torture. I decided to try a lazy experiment of just hot-gluing a few in place, and wear the jacket around the house for a little while and see if they’d fall off or if I’d knock them off. They were fine! So I hot-glued the rest in place all the way up one arm. During our Halloween party I think only two fell off; I consider that a success!

You may have noticed I glued a few feathers into the band on the hat as well; that was an afterthought but I like how it worked out!

One shoe and one glove

I had some black gloves left over from my various Skeleton Krewe costumes, so I took one and cut the fingers off and spray painted it green, just like I did the hat and jacket. Easy!

Rooster Man costume - green glove

I painted a chicken foot onto one shoe using masking tape and yellow spray paint, and then when that was dry I used a brown paint marker to paint some details onto the chicken foot. Also easy!

Rooster Man costume - painting a chicken foot on one shoe

Two-tone shirt

I’m terrible at sewing. I only know how to hand-sew (badly); I don’t have a machine. Anyway, I bought two of the same cheap dress shirt in black and yellow — it was a real challenge to find a shirt on Amazon that came in both colors, and with the right size available in both!

Rooster Man costume - sewing two shirts together!

Anyway, I cut both shirts in half, and then clumsily attached them with safety pins and sewed them together. Here’s a closeup of how badly I did this! I didn’t care how this looked, since luckily the seam is in the back and would be hidden by my jacket.

While we’re talking clothes, I’ll mention that I didn’t do anything interesting for the rooster man’s pants; I just wore plain black pants. I realized later I should have cut one leg off at the shin and worn a long yellow sock! Oh well.

Accessories

Rooster Man costume - skeleton guy in pocket

I accessorized the rooster man costume with a couple extra things: I wore a black bandana around my neck, and I threw on a string of Halloweeny Mardi Gras beads with skulls on ’em. I painted my nails black on the hand with the green glove. And I attached a little plastic skeleton thing inside the pocket of my jacket. I hot-glued him in there, and then I hot-glued a few green feathers behind him.

Rooster Man costume - finished! a view of the rooster side

Rooster Man costume - human side and front view

This costume was a lot of fun to make, and even more fun to wear! Can’t wait for next Halloween!

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