Mario Hair

I’m a fan of elaborate Halloween costumes. I’m also an enormous fan of home built fx projects, like Missmonster’s full body werewolf costume, and about everything Volpin Props has ever made. Back in ’05 I got an itch to create a Dr. Mario costume. Of course for any successful Mario costume, you need the signature jet black Mario coiffe and pillowy mustache.

It started out with bribing some friends to wrap me in plaster bandages. The process was pretty painless, all in all, with the exception of removing my face from the plaster mold. I’d used oil as a release, but had been kind of liberal with it around my eyebrows and lashes. Unsurprisingly they stuck in the mold, which made the subsequent foam cast of it kind of eerie. The new foam head came out with my eyelashes embedded in it.

I lost a fair amount of facial hair that day.

After a little spackle and a base I was ready to sculpt. I referenced the Dr. Mario model in Smash Brothers: Melee for the hair, and built it out of stoneware clay. Stoneware is my default mold making and sculpting clay, being cheap, reasonably lightweight, and easy to get out of molds.

Once the model was sculpted and sealed with shellac, it was time to mold just the hair. I used a Smooth-On brushable soft plastic for this bit, which proved to be a mistake. There ended up being a load of little pockets and delaminated spots where the plastic didn’t quite cure or didn’t properly adhere to the previous layer. If I were to do it again, I’d go with a matrix mold or glove mold.

I emptied the clay out of the soft plastic mold, leaving a hollow between it and the hard foam head. Into this I cast an expanding soft foam which was then painted with black tool-dip for that eerily sharp rubbery black effect Mario’s got going on. Add to that the mustache, a stethoscope, and a lab coat and you’ve got yourself a bona fide Dr. Mario costume.


You can find a few more photos of the process on Flickr.