Realize my idea of a man-sized three-toed sloth Hallowe'en costume, and win everything.
I've been entertaining the concept of a man-sized sloth costume for about five years, and this year, I finally realized it.
A beautiful, majestic, strange, amusing and defiant animal, the Sloth is an oddity of evolution. The only members of the genus Bradypus (and the family Bradypodidae), they are distant relatives of the giant Megatherium, an elephant-sized animal who generally loved nature, eating and resting, but slowly died out near the end of the Pleistocene about 10,000 years ago. '
By all reckoning, it's simply incredible that any family of animals such as sloths ever existed, thrived, and is still around even today after millions of years. There are countless other reasons why this is my favourite animal (able to turn their heads 270 degrees, sleeping an average of twenty hours a day, inadvertently using moss as camouflage, excellent swimmers, etcetera), and thus why I chose to fabricate a man-sized sloth costume for Halloween 2015.
Based on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, I deduced that this could be done relatively easily with a few key items:
- 4 yards of faux animal fur (enough to trace out a pattern)
- something malleable yet durable to shape the claws
- black contacts
- makeup + fur
- sewing machine
The fur was easily the most difficult and costly item to procure. Despite my trips to virtually all listed fabric/stoffe shops in Berlin and the surrounding area, I was ultimately unable to find a perfect and affordable material, though I think I came very close, and successfully avoided the costume looking too much like a goddamned wookiee, ewok or sasquatch.
In the end, I found this fake fur at Stoffhaus in Freidrichschein for €18/y. I intended to utilize the sewing machines available at Modular here in downtown Berlin, but ultimately found that:
A. thick fuzzy material is a bitch to sew with a machine, and
B. their hours did not coordinate with my availability to sew, nor my penchant for building shit in my underpants while watching science documentaries in the comfort of my loft.
Thus, I used needles and some durable thread leftover from a previous leather bottle holster project to make the slothsuit onesie by hand. Sewing the thing was an effort, taking about eight hours overall, including zipper and hood. Of course, it's a bit warm in there, as it's basically a full-body fur coat. I could afford to be messy with the stitching however, as seams, buttons and edges could be easily hidden by the long fuzzy fur texture itself.
To complete my slothsuit, I used coffee to subtley stain the main areas, referencing the previous sloth images throughout. I used black, brown and white acrylic paint for the more heavily coloured areas, and made sure to include the black stripe above the tail.
I included a small nubby tail on the ass, sewn into the seat as a finishing detail.
For the claws, I considered sanding them from bamboo, some kind of plastic tube or wooden dowel, Plastimake, or twigs. A sculpting substance, Plastimake is a medium that starts as soft, malleable plastic, and hardens after shaping. I ordered a shipment, but it has yet to arrive... thus, I was forced to resort to plan B on October 28: scavenging fallen tree branches and whittling twelve separate wooden claws. I shaped the claws individually a common length, then fit them using masking and box tape + cut toilet paper rolls to my index, middle and ring digits of both hands, completely covering the phalanges (while still allowing for independent yet basic finger mobility). I thus kept my thumbs and pinkie fingers available to move freely inside the furry onesie sleeve, out of view yet still able to awkwardly grasp items (such as beer).
The feet are of similar construction, with the addition of a pair of old runners sewn into the fabric to ground the feet, provide comfort, traction and aid mobility. I mounted the claws into the toes of the shoes prior to sewing them into the fabric to conceal their construction.
I bought black, full sclera contact lenses to complete the eyes, as I couldn't find massive dark brown ones. Without these, the entire costume would be incomplete, the whites of my eyes glaring inconsistency at all who beheld me.
The zipper was easy to find at the same shop as the fabric... however, upon later testing, I realised that this was not a viable closure solution, as the long hair of the sloth suit tangled into the zipper teeth. Thus, I ultimately installed button snaps under the hood, much like a shirt.
I still had black makeup and black, brown and tan-coloured fake fur material leftover from last year's Perchtenlauf / Lycanthrope costume, but went out and bought additional brown makeup just in case. This combination provided the definitive look of the face, as pivotal as the claws for differentiation from other hairy brown animals and common pop culture references.
LIVE SLOW, DIE WHENEVER