I have always loved watching Gremlins as a kid. This love has been passed down to my own children. They think the gremlins are so funny. My oldest daughter has noticed her 2-year-old sister has a lot of the same mannerisms as those little monsters, which just makes it funnier. (They don’t call it the terrible twos for nothing). It’s become a tradition to watch Gremlins every year at Halloween and Christmas. I, on occasion, even catch myself calling my kids “gremlins” when they are naughty instead of other choice words. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but this year was going to be the year I actually made one.
I really wanted the costume to be as inexpensive as possible, like $20 or less. I have 2 other children that needed costumes and it can add up quick. This costume started with a $1 Halloween hockey mask and a roll of masking tape. I started crumpling up newspaper and taping and shaping it to the hockey mask to make the face. To make the ears I used a piece of 55 pound galvanized steel wire that I already had at home. I taped the wire across the forehead right above the eyes. I bent the wire to shape the top of the ears and tapped newspaper around the wires to shape the top of the ears. To make the part of the ears that hangs down I used a layer of the weekly store ads folded over. I securely taped them to the top of each ear. Then I cut them into the desired ear shape and taped the layers together at the bottom. Then I started to papier-mâché.
I used shopping adds I already had at home for my paper. I just used flour and water for my paste. This process took days adding layers and letting each layer dry. Well, at this point I had gone too far down the rabbit hole to stop. I had to see this through now for better or worse. As I was adding the layers of papier-mâché, I used wadded up pieces of papier-mâché to add details to the face. For the details on the ears I rolled up strips of masking tape and gradually stuck them on the ear flaps with strips of papier-mâché to make the ears look veiny and more detailed.
To make the eyes, I used an old plastic Christmas ornament I already had home. I cut it in half and used a half for each eye. Each half of the ornament I cut a diamond shape out of the middle and painted it.
I mixed up the colors I thought looked right for the face and ears. I lightly painted red over the areas of the face I wanted darker to add depth. Around the veiny looking parts of the ears I shaded to make them look more realistic. The teeth are made from masking tape folded over itself multiple times and cut into shape. The gums are painted red. I used a little blue in between the teeth to make them look like they are textured instead of flat. After the mask was all finished, I realized the elastic on the dollar store mask was too flimsy to keep it on her head (sad face). I cut off the top of a pair of old panty hose and hot glued it across the back of the mask so it would cover the top and back of her head, without sliding around. It worked! Yay!
To make the body I bought a plain small long sleeve crop top shirt from thrift store for $1. The body of the shirt was small and short so the length of the shirt was perfect but the sleeves were extra-long. I cut the sleeves off at my daughter’s wrists. The cutoff sleeves were then used as leggings to match the shirt. The shirt was a little baggy in the armpits, so I sewed the seam up a little higher in the arm pits to make it fit better. Prior to painting I placed a piece of cardboard inside so it would not bleed through the shirt. I started with the stomach. I used acrylic craft paint that I already had in the garage. Around the outside of the yellow / beige part of the stomach, I outlined with black and brown to provide more contrast. I painted the stripes on the arms the same way. It took a couple of coats of paint to cover the shirt thoroughly. With a very light amount of paint I dotted darker green and brown randomly around the front of the shirt and on the sleeves between the stripes to try make it look more textured. Note to self, do not let paint dry on the cardboard. Pull the shirt away from cardboard before it dries all the way, or it will be glued solid to cardboard. Oh goodness, I learned that the hard way.
If I had to purchase all the materials, it would have only cost roughly $10 to $15. Most of the items were things I already had around the house. The only items I didn’t already have were the shirt, mask, and a couple small bottles of acrylic craft paint which totaled (drum roll please) a whole $3! Yay!
This costume was a labor of love. It took between 1-3 hours / day for about 2 weeks. It was a learning experience for sure. Looking back, it was fun making it, and it turned out better than I had imagined. My daughter absolutely loves it! That makes my heart happy. She is almost 3 and is the perfect height this year. She loves scaring everyone, dancing around, and doing a silly Gremlin voice that makes everyone laugh. It has brought a ton of entertainment to all our family and friends. I hope you enjoy this little gremlin too!
Well, that’s the story. So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz or your washing machine blows up or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, ’cause you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house.