Saturday, October 31, 2009

Domo arigato

Well, the robot costume was a hit. We finished the helmet portion today by gluing some "buttons" (actually painted bottle caps - this robot costume brought to you by Yuengling) onto it and letting them dry. Incidentally, I learned something new - perhaps if y'all are the crafty type you knew this already - rubber cement and styrofoam don't mix. The noxious chemicals in the rubber cement totally dissolve the styrofoam into a sticky puddle of goo. Lesson learned. Elmer's glue used on styrofoam helmet.

Lemme back up a minute, give you the play-by-play on the robot costume (I'm pretty proud of it, actually - I enjoyed working on it with Nolan and it was fun to see it take shape.) We started about a week ago with a trip to first Lowe's and then Ben Franklin Crafts. Nolan had some very specific things he wanted - red "fuzzballs" and two "straight wires" for the robot's antennae. We got red pom-poms and silver pipe cleaners at Ben Franklin, along with some acrylic paints and paint brushes. At Lowe's we procured silver spray paint, an eight-foot section of dryer vent, silver "metal repair" tape (I had no idea such a thing existed!) and rubber cement.

We began with the body of the robot. We had TONS of boxes of various sizes, as you might expect, but it seemed best to go with a smallish box, one just big enough to fit Nolan's body. I wanted him to still be able to see where he was going and have a relatively easy time walking, so we picked a small book box. First we taped the box shut with the metal repair tape and cut a hole for his body/legs and a hole for his head:

Then we made some armholes and attached a couple lengths of dryer vent for the arms.

(Nolan was very patient. I had to periodically call a halt to the proceedings to go find things like wire cutters for the dryer vent and a pencil to trace where the holes should go. One of the most frustrating things about moving is when you KNOW you've seen something in one of the boxes you've opened but you just can't find the frickin' thing. Nolan was very good about laying on the floor playing with Legos for 15 minutes or so while Mommy went in search of her tool bag or the contents of the junk drawer.)

Then we took the box and the styrofoam six-pack cooler we used for the helmet out into the alley and spray-painted them silver.

(Something about that picture makes me want to waggle my hands frantically by the sides of my face and shout, "It's the wrong trousers! They've gone wrong!")

They had to dry for a while, so we painted bottle caps and baby-food jar lids (saved over the past few weeks) with the acrylic paints. These were going to be our buttons and dials.
Once the buttons were dry, we rubber-cemented them onto the robot body.

Then I cut the face portion out of the helmet so Nolan could see through it.

We stuck the antennae through the top of the helmet and glued some buttons onto it, too.

You can't see it very well, but the buttons have numbers painted onto them - 11, 33, 44 and 55. Not sure why he requested those specific numbers, but that's what they say.

That was this morning. (I am a Grade A procrastinator in all things, but I think this time at least I have a semi-excuse: we just moved, dammit!)

Here's the finished costume:

We got some nice early trick-or-treating done and were home by 5:30. We started giving out candy at 5:45 and were completely cleaned out by 6:30. Oops.

Nolan got lots of compliments on his costume.

I'd write more, but I'm totally fried now. I'll leave you with Miles in his "costume."

Hope you all had a happy Halloween!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The distant future, the year 2000

Nolan wants to be a robot for Halloween. We're going to make his costume this time (contrary to every non-crafty bone in my body) instead of buying a pre-made one. I figure, how hard could it be, right? It's not like there's ONE acceptable way to make a kid look like a robot. Last year, when he wanted to be a giraffe, I was like, 'Yo, costume catalog, here I come.' Because everyone knows what a giraffe looks like, and if you fuck it up, your kid is in for a lonnnnng night of "And what are you supposed to be, sweetie?" over and over and over again. I will happily pay $39.95 so my kid can avoid that fate.

But not so with a robot. There are many acceptable forms, shapes, sizes, and finishes for robots. It's not too hard to recognize that when a child rings your bell on Halloween wearing a silver spray-painted box with some bottle caps glued to it, he is supposed to be a robot.

We have been working on the "design" of the robot, and Nolan has sketched out some ideas. His first attempt ended up with the robot looking inordinately sad, for some reason:
(The figure to the left of the sad robot is Mickey Mouse, in case you were wondering...)

I asked him why he drew the robot looking sad and he said, "I didn't TRY to draw him sad, Mommy, he just turned out that way."

We've been talking a lot about feelings recently. Nolan knows we're moving again soon, and although we've tried to emphasize to him that it's only our house that will be different, that he will have the same school and the same friends and the same playgrounds and all that, he is still pretty anxious about the whole thing. Not that I blame him. I'm pretty anxious myself.

So I totally over-analyzed the sad robot and was like, "My child is so upset that even his drawings are subconsciously coming out sad!" Never mind that Nolan has basically just started even trying to do intentional representational drawings.

So he drew another "design" for his robot costume:
(He tried to draw it in green because that's my favorite color, but then realized that since this was his robot costume, he should draw it in red because that's HIS favorite color. Note the buttons on the front of the robot's body and the very deliberate smiley face the robot has.)

So now I'm afraid because I made such a big deal about the sad robot, Nolan's going to think that it's not okay to show when you're feeling sad. Sigh. It's so easy to over-think things as a parent.

I will post pictures of the finished robot costume once it exists. We are not going to even attempt to start it until after the big move (which is next weekend) because I figure we'll have so many boxes at that point that we'll have plenty of room for error.

Thanks for reading.