It’s no rocket science what this year’s theme for Mardi Gras would be when Junior is obsessed with ‘Sparta’. Inspired by the wonderful site Storm the Castle, he has put together a full Spartan armor. One piece of advice: take a newspaper subscription, as you’l be using a lot of newspaper. This is a paper mache project with a capital P. When we started I was quite shocked that Junior didn’t even know what paper mache was (what do they teach those kids in school?!) but know he is a selfmade paper mache expert. Don’t feel guilty about your online shopping either, as you’ll need cardbox too.
The armor consist of the following pieces you’ll be making:
- Leg guards
- Serving tray
- Masking tape
- Gold spray paint
- Thick crafting paper
- Textile yarn
- Wallpaper paste
- Broom stick
- Play-Doh type clay
- 1 yard red cotton cloth
- Electric wire
- Newspaper, a lot of it
- Hot glue gun
Storm the Castle uses a round sled as a base, which is a great idea. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any. It probably would be too big for Junior anyway. So we used a serving tray and tape onto a large circle of cardboard. We then covered the entire thing with masking tape, which would help the paper mache to stick better to the base. Onto the smaller circle we glued a V-shape of cardbox (for lambda, the Greek letter L). This base got one layer of papermache, which then got a coat of gold paint. We made the handles on the back side of ductape.
Junior used 2 large sheets of thick crafting paper. We tried out which size the holes for his head and arms should be. Junior looked up an anatomical drawing on internet of the pectoral and abdominal muscles, which he then cut out of cardboard en glued onto the base. Then, we followed the tutorial of Storm the Castle.
The helmet was the trickiest part. It was hard to get the width right, as the ballon that serves as a mold shrinks during the process. I recommend you at least add 2 inches to head width you measure. Storm the Castle recommend you use some kind of foam for the comb. That’s sounds logical, too bad we couldn’t find any cheap. As an alternative, we use some the cheapest Play-Doh style clay we could find. After getting the shape right, Junior punched holes into it for the hairs later. We air-dried it for a night and then glued it onto the helmet. The clay was still flexible, making the helmet a bit fragile, but it will dry out slowly. I can too well remember stepping onto those rock hard crumbles of dried out Play Doh! We then spray painted it gold and glued the hairs of the broom we pulled out into the holes.
Check out the tutorial for a Spartan helmet by Storm the Castle.
Vambraces and leg guards
Storm the Castle shared some nice printable template on his website, but those were no use for Junior’s 10-year old wrists and legs. So we sized him up and Junior drew his own templates. From there on, we fully followed his tutorial for vambraces and leg guards.
This is the easiest part. Junior drew a spear point twice, making a cut in the middle. This way you can fold the two pièces together. After painting the tip black, we taped it onto the broom stick with ductape.
Hiton en cape
Storm the Castle made this Spartan armor as a replica of the costumes in the movie ‘300’. That’s right, the movie in which Gerard Butler and friends parade around in brown leather underpants. That might be sexy and all, it sure isn’t G-rated. No way my 10-year will be running around in winter like that! Besides, it’s historically incorrect too. The style back then was a hiton, some kind of knee-heigth tunic pinned together on one shoulder and belted at the waist. We made it out of 1 yard of red cotton. To finish it up, the cape is a simple red blanket wrapped around the shoulders.
And there you have it! Four weeks later and 30 euros poorer you’ve got yourselve a fully homemade Spartan Warrior costume. Have a happy Mardi Gras! (Or Halloween, or ComiCon or any other excuse for dress up).