THE WORLD'S CHEAPEST FURSUIT.
Pup E.Dog 1986-1988
The Pup fursuit's one purpose in life was to be a joke, and could drive a car and look cool at costume parties. Mainly, I wanted my mouth to move, so I could talk. Reality has always been important to me, and I didn't want something that looked cartoony. I also didn't have a lot of money with Pup.
I picked an easy dog. Old English Sheepdog. Why not? I'm familiar with that breed :) Hey, they have the most fur right? I could hide my eyes behind that mess of fake fur, and sell the costume effectively.
Well, I didn't have a cent. I needed cheap and real. I designed Pup completely out of paper and masking tape. (Don't laugh, masking tape from "Manco" is quite sticky on fabrics, and it's cheaper than hell.) Again, if I had some money, and I had it to do all over, I would have designed it totally differently.
First, I had to make the mouth move. This was a pain. I designed a canine mouth by smashing and taping flat a wrapping paper tube. (Smaller tubes work best. Then I used a larger whole tube at the snout, simply taping off the hole at the front and magic-markering it black.) Now, I made masking tape molds to my mouth, that could hold the mouthpiece in. That was awful because masking tape hates water, let alone saliva. So, I wrapped it lots, and frequently re-wrapped it when it came unraveled under use. I also used a large rubberband to hold it tight in my mouth. Not very comfortable, but effective.
The nose was different. I built the sloping mold by piling masking tape on my face until I had a satisfactory looking slope. Now, I first taped these pieces to my head, but the minute you start sweating, they fell off. (DUH!) So I switched to rubber bands and elastic strips. It's still uncomfortable, but nothing "falls off". I then took long strips of shredded paper to put around my neck, and face, to hide every piece of skin. I also took an old hat and layered paper fur all down it's rim, attaching ears to the sides. Without the hat, my entire head was exposed, but you couldn't tell it was a head piece while it was on. Therefore the costume was easy to put away. No solid pieces to worry about crushing. For paws, old socks covered in fur with the pads drawn on for the fronts. On my feet, this was tough. I knew I'd be walking on dirty surfaces, and cleaning had to be easy. I wrapped a sock around an old tennis shoe and covered it in fur. Nobody really looks at my paws, they want to watch the mouth move when I talk (of course those were people, not other furs.) The rest of Pup was paper on old pajamas. I was able to button it up, yet you couldn't see the buttons. The paper was so much more forgiving. Wanna see more?
THREE EXISTING PICS OF PUP E. DOG
Full size view of Pup in car window. (What did you do to that dog?)
Pup head and paws standing up. (Hey, is that a maroon McDonalds uniform?)
The Shaggy Dog behind the wheel! (What made it all worth it.)
RIC O' CLASSIC
Ric O Classic: My personna. (Name changed when RicSheepy came about.). I wanted to build my next costume out of real fur. Now, I hadn't been satisfied with the quality of furs at the fabric store. All the shaggy stuff looked so artificial, and shiny. I didn't want to wear polyester cheapness or look like an amusement park giveaway. I was lucky, after searching all over town, I found a store with "bunny fur", which was just shaggy enough to be dog, and very real looking. It's not shaggy dog looking, but it would do.
1. Found materials. I actually started on Ric O Classic because I happened into AMES (RIP) and they had a larger craft section that most department stores, and they had packs of faux fur. I saw the type I had always wanted, and I bought them. Two swatches, enough to make paws. I did. I had to make the rest of it.
Again, my goal was to go as cheap as possible. I wanted fangs and retractable claws and a realistic molded nose and, well those will make it on my next FURSUIT design. (Whenever that will be...) I found a hell of a product.( Fabric glue. It works like a charm.) Fake fur sticks like crazy to any plastic surface with fabric glue, and it's easier than hot glue to fix a problem.
Disadvantage? Fabric glue doesn't like water. You'll have to re-glue your mask to the fur when you wash. I've done it, and it's no big deal. I used an old gallon water jug for the mask basis, and tied it to my head with elastic straps. I also got a few types and colors of felt, to make the mouth lining and a pink tongue. I went to the fabric store three or four times and got lots of construction ideas, but I still used my favorite standby, masking tape.
2. I got a book. Big doggy photos with all angles and sizes. I tried a few times to design a muzzle and snout that was real, but never by looking right at a picture. Without a guide, they always stuck out wrong, and looked like I was wearing toilet paper tubes. I wanted this one to be realistic as possible on no budget, so I cut and copied and taped and KABOOM! I had a dog nose and mouth that was damn near close.
3. Head! Cheese. I stumbled on this one. I needed something to attach the nose too, so I started with an ED GRIMLEY mask. That's right. I was using what I had. The mask didn't work however because it had contours, and the plastic was too light to attach elastic straps without tearing the mask itself. Well, I was frustrated, and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. As I poured, I notice the handle of the water jug seemed to be at the right angle. IT'S TRUE! THE FACE IS MADE FROM A WATER JUG!! ( I got the weirdest inspirations while making this fursuit.) The rest of the water went in a pitcher. I trimmed and cut, opened some eye holes, and bingo. It was perfect. I took a couple elastic straps and attached to the mask. I then ended up laying out the fur and cutting around the mask, eventually cutting holes through the fur for the mouth and nose and my eyes. I molded the nose to the mask with a s-load of masking tape. I covered all the tape with packing tape to help make it somewhat "sweat resistant". Then I attached the rest of the fur around it. Did it work? I have no idea how.
4. Mouth. It had to move yet, still be able to remove it easily and wash it. It was my toughest design and it took me the longest. You see, Pup's biggest problem was the masking tape on the mouthpiece. I couldn't wash it and it's covered in nice glue stuff. Because of this, after one of the showings of Pup, my throat became irritated after taking it off, and that ushered in the worst flu I'd ever had. I was on my ass for three days and missed work. I'd NEVER missed work in my life. So Ricochet's mouthpiece had to be totally different. I started with athletic mouth guards. The mouth bounced with no control. I solved the rubbery problem by making elastic bands connected the side and pulled the mouthpiece very snugly to my mouth. It worked with two drawbacks.
1). I slobbered a lot. Like Frank Drebin in the dentist's chair in that TV episode of Police Squad!
2.) I mumbled. Ever try talking with a mouthguard in place? No dice.
SO I modified my design. I scrapped the mouth guard and attempted to design something better. I was more successful, but I'm not completely satisfied. I ended up using the handle from the milk jug, but it had a hard plastic and sharp edge. To dull it, the rounded edge from a McDonalds cup lid. THAT'S RIGHT, I USED A McDONALDS CUP LID!!! (Told you I had weird inspirations.) It's washable, the movement is satisfactory, and it's reasonably comfortable.
5. Nose. I want to make a real looking nose for Ric O Classic some day, but I didn't have the technology. So I experimented with cardboard, tape, anything that could look like a real nose. What did I use? AN ALL-SPORT CAP! Cut in half, with the top of it angled in. It was a real enough effect to satisfy me. I literally didn't throw anything away while making Ric O Classic. The head looks REAL. I was amazed at this picture....
6. Paws. I used the tennis shoe trick again, this time covering the soles in masking tape. It works well enough that, when I went out on a rainy day, I was able to manually wash all the fur, and replace the tape. (Just did a costume party recently. Same thing, washed out the dirt, replaced the tape, good as new.) Click HERE to see all the parts.
7. Body. Well, I wanted to get the top done before ConFurence East 2, and I did, but it was a rush job. I took apart an old blue shirt, and traced the parts onto the fur backing. SUGGESTION: always, OUT-TRACE the size you need, the zoot just fits perfectly, had I cut close to the marks, it would have been too small and a complete waste. Sewing the damn thing by hand was the other pain. If you know someone who can sew it for you, DO IT! However, if you hand sew, use "carpet string" , and sew very tightly. Every hole in the backing of the material gets a stitch. Nothing on my Ric O Classic zoot has ever come apart because I took the time to sew it this way. Manually.
Okay, so I looked like a Flintstone. I had the body sewn, with one mistake. Be careful which sides you cut and how you put them together. I got it backwards, and had to use a barely big enough piece of fur to do the job. My zoot now had a gap down the front that was angled. Oh well. No money to do it over.
How to fasten it? I thought about Velcro, but knew it wasn't to be. I move too much and have too much weight to Velcro it, so I got a nice thick, heavy zipper and sewed it up. This left it showing..a little, but not horribly. Solution? Black vest! I bought the black vest to cover up the bad seam in the front, and it was perfect. It made the suit and adds to the personality I project. I'm very happy at the result.
8. Tail: Turns out I had a scrap of fur that was almost perfectly shaped for a tail. I wanted to make one with Hollofill and a chain running through, but I was inspired to just build it. It took about two and a half hours...but comes out just right and proportioned very well. It's just a droopy one. It may be stuffed in the future, but it's pretty fluffy by itself. I have sewn into it a steel clasp which attaches to the belt loop of my jeans, and with the vest covering it a bit, the effect is good. Click HERE to see it.
The result? Since 1996, every stitch has been tight. It's had a lot of washings and a few updates to how he looks, but for the most part, a minimum of care. I still pull him out every now and then. It's fun to be on awful websites :)
Here's what I paid to make Ric O Classic with all the parts included:
Water Jug..................................................... $ 0.69
All Sport Bottle (cherry)................................ $ 1.29
Cardboard.................................................... $ FREE
Manco Masking Tape (2 rolls) ......................$ 1.29
Fabric Glue................................................... $ 0.99
Packing Tape................................................ $ 1.99
Felt (red, black and beige)............................. $ 1.00
McDonalds cup lid (comes w. beverage)....... $ 0.89
Carpet String + assorted needles................... $ 2.29
X-Acto Knife kit .......................................... $ 7.49
Surgical Scissors........................................... $ ????
2 swatches Faux fur (the paws) ..................... $ 7.49
Faux Fur remnant (rabbit fur) 2 sq. ft plus.......$22.99
Old Sneakers+socks..................................... $FREE
Leather Vest................................................. $19.99
Steel Clip (for tail) ........................................ $ 0.99
Elastic strips.................................................. $ 0.99
Large Zipper................................................. $ 4.99
Sharpie Marker (black) ................................. $ 0.69
TOTAL: $ 76.05
Plus it took about 100 hours of hellish sewing and experimenting, but YOU CAN DO IT!!!!
(or how to be gifted a gently worn sheepdog.)
Blessed be the sheepdog with a network for dear friends. Brokken built Archie a number of years back. Because I met him through Smash Greywolf, he knew of my sheepdog connection, he said Archie was inspired by my sheepdogishness. (There's a word.) Being I'm from ova dey and Brokken is a Cali wuff, I never got to see Archie in action. I did see a pic or two of Archie and well, I only hoped someday I'd craft a suit that gave me the next step to being a sheepdog.
Fast forward until about 2004 or so. I believe it was a meeting at Midwest Furfest where Brokken and I started chatting. I had forgotten about Archie, but the few times I had spoken with Brokken, he mentioned again, his inspiration for building it. Basically, he said he was going to retire Archie, and floated the question about if I'd like to take posession of him.
"EXQUEASE ME? BAKING POWDER?"
...What's more, he was going to GIFT it to me. It was the nicest thing, and well, I couldn't. Not without paying for it. I mean, all that work went into it, why not take something for it. He decided if I could pay for the shipping from CA to OH, that would be good enough. I was grateful, and told him I'd pay more and owe it to him. He could tell me what he wanted, and I'd do it. Well, the next MFF rolled around. Again, we met and he said he was sorry he didn't get Archie to me. I wasn't about to pester him. We went a bit further, but another year went by.
Enter my friend, Herbie Bearclaw. We'd known each other for years as well and he was a fellow fursuiter. Herbie helped me discover: 1. How to draw better than stick figures. 2. That I wasn't scared of rollercoasters. (15 years) 3. I wasn't scared of flying. (20 years) ..all in about 4 months after meeting with a ton of other furs at Cedar Point. Well, at MFF that year, I told Herbie about the standing offer Brokken had put out there for Archie and that one day, we were going to do the deal. Herbie was not a fan of Ric O Classic, and said my zoot "freaked him out". I didn't think anything about it, but Herbie was really excited there was such a nice offer from Brokken.
So, it was 2007 and I was putting my art up on my Live Jornal and Herbie contacts me and asks for various measurments. Not sure why and not sure what my measurements were, I gave him the basics. I was going to Orlando in a few weeks to be on the Pawpet show, so I figured it had something to do with that. Plus, there were plans to attend a big furry party, so the other info I gave didn't alert me.
I went to Orlando and was having a great time. In the afternoon before the big party deal, there was a ACTIONPACKER (TM) awaiting. Sure enough it was Archie. He needed some work so he could fit my rotund and taller skeleton and Herbie had taken it upon himself to grant me what could best be described as the most incredible gift anyone had ever given to me EVER. No kidding. I had another step into the fur and I was shocked. Herbie wanted me to try it on to make sure it fit, just in case it needed more work. I did. It fit great. I took it off and well, didn't want to take it to the party because, I couldn't put it back on. Not then...
You see, if you've read through this site at all, you know how I feel about being a sheepdog. My shock about being that much closer was too much. I went to that furry party and had a great time, all the time, in the back of my head, keeping that fursuit on my brain. I took it to the Pawpet show the next night. I wore it for the first time in public on the show. It was the first time I felt more like the goofy sheepdog than I ever had before. I was a step closer. I was very quiet after my segment, almost dazed. Yappy even asked me if I was OK.
The tears flowed later that night when I got to see the playback of myself, as an anthropomorphic sheepdog in action. Wow! It was a dream come true. Herbie helped me secure the ACTIONPACKER (TM) for the trip home and I was a nervous wreck. What if the airline lost Archie? Ship your body seperate from you some time. Ohy.
I made it home and tried it on then and there, even went to lunch with a non-fur friend that got to see me being goofy. I renamed him RicSheepy (hence the name of my old Ric zoot became Ric O Classic.) Ahhh, but problem #1 came up when I wore the costume longer than a few minutes (and I wasn't running on adrenaline like during the Pawpet show.)
Because RicSheepy had been made for Brokken, when I stuck my "rotund" head and neck into Archie's head, I couldn't breathe! I did an appearence at Morphicon in Columbus that was a disaster. I attempted to put it on in my car, then went in and ran out of oxygen. I gasped for air, went into the bathroom and cooled a bit in the stall. I went out to walk again and it was like someone had slugged me in the gut. I couldn't breathe. Back to the bathroom I went and out of suit.
Mother of invention I am. I rigged a way to breathe in the suit by sawing apart a snorkel and breathing through that. For the next two years, it seemed to work okay as long as I wasn't in the suit for more than 20-25 minutes. Problem was, I slobbered. Like a St Bernard. Also, I overheated real easy. I couldn't eat or drink anything, and I talked like I had marbles in my muzz. I lived with it.
Next problem killed a bit of the uniqueness that was Archie. That blue nose, was made from tightly sewn vinyl. I dropped the head on the nose and that split the vinyl. I tried to use a blue marker to cover it up, but to no avail. I had to marker RicSheepy's nose to black. Also, the add on "expansion" pieces parts of the costume had started to work their way loose. Sewing experience from Ric O Classic helped that. Next was the feet. Having worn them once in a drizzle, they sopped up water like mops. I bought some size 13 slippers and they worked okay, not great. I still used the Ric O Classic feet for outdoor fun. Then, I bought business carpet squares. I put them together with glue and well, I have all weather footpaws to wear. Problem solved.
Enter Anthrocon 2009. I was lucky enough to have a one day pass to do the grande damme of all fursuiting events. The AC fursuiting parade. It was huge. I decided to try a fan that Boomer The Dog had rather than the snorkel and it seemed to work fine. Problem one was, I missed the elevator down from the 17th floor. I had to walk the steps. Next problem was, the waiting. A good half hour getting into confusion. We started walking and I was okay until about 3/4 the way through. I hit that Morphicon wall but kept going and made it to the area where the picture was to be taken. Not outside mind you, where it was more pleasant, but in a auditorium without air flow. I could take out the fan and at least drink water, and drink I did. It was a good half hour later when they took the picture. By then, I had to hide in the corner and pop my top. It was a long way back to the room. Drank more than my weight in water, left the space and wow. I was losing it. I took a shortcut back to the hotel but lost my power for the fan as the batteries went down my leg. Then, I didn't know what room we were in exactly. When I finally got out of RicSheepy, you could have poured me into the shower. RicSheepy wasn't fun anymore. It would be short bursts of wearing it, but that was all.
What's a Fluppy Wuppy Sheepy Like Me To Do?
Mother of invention! Part of the problem is that my mouth and nose didn't match up with RicSheepys mouth opening. I was breathing out but most of what I was breathing out got breathed right in again. The snorkel took some of this away but I still would breathe through my nose too, and that made it hot and tired me out just as much, only it took longer to do it. So, using the packaging for something I'd just bought and my old friend duct tape, I fashioned myself an insert. It fit inside the head and made all the air I was breathing funnel down and out on the muzzle. Test tries were encouraging. MFF 2009 was the proof. I could spend long amounts of time with RicSheepy on, and I'd get tired because of not being in the best of shape...but for the first time ever...I COULD BREATHE! I danced, I paraded, I wore it on the bus too and from our hotel, all the time, I COULD BREATHE. It's all good. I could even drink and speak.
Again, thanks to Brokken and Herbie for making "me" happen.
GO BACK TO RICOCHET'S HOMEPAGE
This page modified as recently as 10/24/16 ...try to control yourself.