Monday, October 31, 2011

hip hippy hooray

As I created a hippopotamus costume (or as my daughter calls them, "hippies") for our daughter's school assignment, I was amazed at the talent of the previous generations of they had to create a costume with craftiness and ingenuity.  Before being able to just "look it up online" to get ideas.  Before Martha.  Before every single corner store on every block sold Halloween costumes in every shape, size, colour and level of cuteness (or grotesque).
This past weekend, I thought of my Mom and now fully appreciate all the fantastic costumes she had sewn for me. The Strawberry Shortcake costume.  The Princess Leia costume.  How this time of year must have felt daunting to create yet another "bright idea" from her children.  Yet, she did it every year with a smile, without complaints.  And I realize now, that before she ever had children, she came from a country where Halloween was absolutely foreign, and had to adapt to this strange North American tradition once she had kids.  She didn't know what it meant.  All she knew was that it made her kids happy to dress up in something fun (we had a rule in our house...nothing scary).  To make believe for one night, visiting neighbours, to be able to say hello in our new found "personality".
I know today, Halloween is quite sacrilegious to some people...and in my humble opinion, I  think they're missing the point.  I don't think it's a gateway to becoming a witch.  It's no different of a ritual than putting cookies out for Santa at Christmas.  We know it's not the's just an embellishment.  An imaginative folklore.  Although Halloween has evolved into something more commercial today, it is still all about the make believe (and arguably, the candy).  Nothing more.  I don't think I turned into a witch (although my husband may sometimes argue that one!)

As long as I continue the tradition of what my Mom started in our make the meaning of these festivities more about the people.  The intention.  Greeting neighbours, neighbourhood kids getting together as friends, and of course, the thrill of the long as I keep that intention, I think our kids will turn out okay.

Hippopotamus Costume
This is a fairly easy costume that can be done with the kids as an arts and crafts activity.  The mask is a paper mache project and the costume is really a no-sew drawstring bag with armholes...easily done if you have kids who know how to tie knots.


For the mask

  • Newspaper strips
  • Equal parts of glue, flour, water (approx. 1 cup each)
  • Grey paint
  • Balloons (approx. 9" or the size of child's head)
  • Elastic
For the body
  • Approximately 2- 4 yards of felt material, depending on the size of your child. (check out your local thrift store for remnants...I found my felt fabric for $4 for 4 yards!  Just wash first.)
  • Scissors


For the Mask:
  1. Cut strips of newspaper, approximately 1 inch in width.
  2. Blow up the balloon. Gather all the materials.
  3. Create the "glue" by mixing equal parts of glue, flour and water.  I used approximately 3/4 cups of each.
  4. Wet the strips of newspaper with the glue and attach in layers on the balloon.  I only ended up using one balloon...for the snout, I attached scrunched up newspaper using the glued newspaper strips.
  5. Ensure that there are holes for the eyes, the side for the elastic bands to go through (to hold the mask onto the head).
  6. Creating mini cones with newspaper, attach as ears.  Scrunch up newspaper for the snout and attach.  Let dry overnight.
  7. When dry, paint with craft p.
  8. Attach the elastic bands to the holes.
  9. When the paint is semi-dry, paint the details
  10. Using a market, draw the snout.
For the no sew costume:

  1. Using a large piece of felt fabric, fold in half so it's approximately the size of the child. Cut one inch slits all the way down the open side.  
  2. Tie all the slits together, into double knots.
  3. Turn inside out, so the the "fringe" is on the inside (revealing the braid)
  4. Turn the fabric so the braid is on the back, and cut out the arm holes approximately 1 inch from the top.
  5. Cut the slits at the top, and then knot the two strips together.
  6. Fold the top and bottom approximately 2 inches, and cut slits approximately 1inch apart, all along the bottom and top.
  7. Taking a strip of 1 inch width ribbon (I used remnants of the fabric and cut strips), attach a safety pin to one end and weave through the slits along the top and bottom, creating a drawstring effect on the top and bottom of the costume.
  8. Pull the top drawstring and tie a bow on the front.
  9. Pull the bottom drawstring and tie a bow on the back (so it would look like at tail).

Hip Hippy this is done!

 {Attending these beautiful  parties... Homemaker on a DimeCoastal Charm, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia and Tatertots & Jello, Nifty Thrifty Things, Fireflies and Jellybeans}

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