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Have a Mesozoic Halloween.

Have a Mesozoic Halloween

Imagine opening your front door and finding three colorful but friendly Mesozoic monsters and a distant relative of Big Bird staring at you. With feigned horror and a suppressed smile, you'd willingly hand over some Halloween treats and send the monsters back into the night.

The oversize but surprisingly lightweight head masks have the look of messy papiermache projects we all tackled in grammar school. But less mess and time are involved. The underlying chicken-wire skeleton gets an instant skin of masking tape, and a project that would have taken days to complete can be finished in a few hours.

We copied our masks from pictures in children's books. You could make any kind of animal or fanciful creature following the basic technique described here, developed by artist Steve Snyder.

Note: these creatures can't see well. Don't send children wearing them into the night unless an adult goes along.

Materials list: a little from here and a little from there

From around the house, you'll need wire cutters (or tinsnips), small paintbrushes, paper towels, an old pair of panty hose, and a pair of garden gloves (leather or sturdy cotton). At a hardware or art supply store, you'll need to buy:

6 feet of 36-inch-wide, 1-inch-mesh chicken wire

Large roll of 1 1/2- or 2-inch masking tape

2-ounce jars of acrylic paint or a soft paste shoe polish (the polish becomes translucent on the tape)

For additional details, you may wish to buy styrofoam balls (for eyes) and cones (for horns on the triceratops). Scrap cardboard and construction paper are useful for teeth and eyelashes.

Making the masks: a few tips

The foremost rule for working with chicken wire is wear gloves. You'll avoid nasty scratches and cuts.

Extra wire can make the ears or the palate. For triceratops, add a square of wire across the back. Add facial contours by putting wads of paper towel under tape.

For better vision and ventilation, stretch pieces of panty hose over the wire where the wearer will be able to see through them. Tape them on, but don't put scales over them. Camouflage with paint.

Photo: 1. Roll finished (not cut) edges of chicken wire toward each other. To make neck tabs, snip in toward center and then toward rear. Bend and interlock wire to form snout. Weave ends to close back of head

Photo: 2. To make jaws and other features, cut, bend, and squeeze wire to desired shape. Snip along sides of snout to make upper and lower jaws. Make large mouth and head openings for ventilation and vision

Photo: 3. Tape on eyes (or horns) of styrene foam, then cover wire frame with overlapping pieces of wide masking tape to make scaly-looking hide. Bend sharp points away from wearer and cover them with tape

Photo: 4. To steady mask on head, loop lengths of panty hose through wire so they run behind wearer's head. Cover inside by pressing paper towels to exposed sticky side of tape. Color outside with paint or polish

Photo: Grrrrr! Roar! Skreeeee! and Quack? This well-dressed group of creatures is loosely based (clockwise from top) on the archaeopteryx (earliest known bird), tyrannosaurus, and triceratops, plus a giant duck. Children or adults can wear the lightweight masks
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1986
Words:546
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