Landstriders

The past few years a friend of mine and I have been working on progressively more difficult and elaborate costumes. The first year, she was a Southern Belle and I made my own original design for Death (technically I made her costume too, but she assisted in the cutting out, which I hate). The next year she made a Skeksis costume and I finally managed to make a Toad costume. I had wanted to dress as Toad for a number of years. Last year, she went as Pan from Pan’s Labyrinth – complete with elevated stilt-like feet and I dressed as Po from Kung Fu Panda. Last summer, we completed life-size versions of Neil Cicierega’s Potter Puppet Pals for our participation in the Polaris 22 Masquerade up in Toronto.

A lot of the costumes we made are actually cobbled together from everyday supplies like cardboard, wire hangers and craft supplies. I’m actually amazed at some of the stuff we’ve managed to piece together. Despite our Everyman approach to costuming (we are far from professionals) we continue to look at making more and more difficult costumes.

The other day I broached the possibility of a joint project to Maggie. I looked over at her in the middle of the coffee shop and said “You know what would be really cool to do? The landstriders from The Dark Crystal.” Her response was a look that seemed to be a combination of “Are you NUTS?!” and “That would be awesome!” She actually thought for a minute and told me “If we did them, we’d definitely need to have a room at the convention. That way we could get ready in the room and just come down in the elevator.”

I can picture what that elevator ride would be like. ::glee:: I figure, if we end up doing the costumes, we’ll have to wear them on a day when we don’t really want to go to anything. Moving around a lot won’t really be very feasible, and we’ll probably just need to station ourselves in one location for people to take pictures. We’ll also need “handlers.” Not a new concept – Maggie’s Skeksis costume requires one – but I hope folks won’t mind helping out.

I’m pretty sure she’s on board for trying to figure it out and, as I think about it more and more, I’m getting tremendously excited.

I’ve been looking up pictures on google for going on two days now – studying the original b&w photos of the landstriders in action in the movie, and looking at the versions that other folks have made. It appears that the landstriders are actually a very popular occurence at Burning Man. I’ve never actually been to Burning Man but, believe me, I’ve heard plenty about it. I’m half tempted to go, just to check out the landstrider costumes. The big problem I can see is the presence of the stilts. That might be an issue – especially considering I have tend to not do well with heights. Hopefully the presence of hand canes for the front legs will help me feel a good deal sturdier in the costume.

I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out how we’re going to manage the heads. We’ve made half-masks before, and I think that’s the route we’re going to go. It’s just going to be interesting attaching all of the little bits and pieces that need to come off of the head.

I’m going to have to break out my dvd of The Dark Crystal. I know that there’s a feature on there about the making of the puppet structures for the Skeksis, Mystics, Garthim and Landstriders. I’m pretty sure that there’s a section devoted to the movie in the book No Strings Attached: The Inside Story of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Yay costume research!

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