Homemade costumes are tough fit

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 11, 2013

Store-bought Halloween costumes were banned in the Hillyer house when I was a youngster.

When other neighborhood children were showing off their thin plastic masks molded in the shape of Batman, the Incredible Hulk or some other super hero, my sister, brother and I sported Hillyer Halloween originals.

My mother swore against paying money for one of those cheap, vinyl and polyester suits that all the other students in my class were wearing.

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They were flammable and dangerous, she said as if we were planning on walking the streets with trick-or-treat bags in one hand and blow torches in the other.

I know my mother relished transforming her bag of makeup and rags into something creative — or so she thought.

If my mother created some wildly imaginative costume in the shape of a six-headed dragon or a Rubik’s Cube, I wouldn’t have complained.

Instead, my brother and I would dress up as a clown or a hobo.

My sister might end up being something a little more creative, like a witch.

One might think that as a dad, I wouldn’t want to put my son through the same Halloween humiliation I experienced as a child.

As much as I want the convenience of pulling a costume off the rack for my 4 year old, there is this deep creative urge to run home, pull out the cardboard and the spray paint that can only be described as genetic.

So when Gibson said he wants to be Ironman for Halloween, I started surfing the Internet to see if I could make a homemade costume of the Marvel comics superhero.

My best advice for those who ever get the urge to create a Halloween costume is don’t surf the Internet.

My quick search of the Internet of homemade Ironman costumes resulted in a collection of some of the most amazing costumes I have ever seen — many of them made out of cardboard and spray paint.

The pair of red long johns that I planned to buy and decorate with scraps of gold fabric and a couple of flashlights were no match for costumes that took weeks, maybe months, to create.

I knew there were some stay-at-home fathers that created such elaborate costumes. One such dad is James Griffioen, a San Francisco lawyer who quit his job to take care of his two kids while his wife continued her own legal career.

In his spare time, Griffioen writes the blog sweetjuniper.com about his adventures in fatherhood.

In recent years he has been making for his children dragon masks, samurai costumes and other elaborate outfits that rival costumes from some Hollywood designers.

A recent visit to his website had me shaking my head, wondering how he finds the time.

It made me realize that one of those polyester, puffy costumes from K-mart might not be bad after all.

For a split second, I felt guilty. I was going over to the dark side.

That didn’t last very long when I saw the picture my mother texted from her latest trip to the mall.

It was a picture of an Ironman costume she found at Marshall’s.

“Look what I found,” she texted.

“Buy it,” I said.


Ben Hillyer is design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.