Costume crazy: Halloween fans strike a DIY pose

  • Article by: AIMEE BLANCHETTE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 31, 2013 - 10:31 AM

For some Halloween fanatics, a store-bought costume is just downright frightening. Take a ghoulish gaze at these DIY aficionados who obsess over their homemade creations.

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Andy Weisberg, age 59, likes to stand behind a tree and scare trick-or-treaters. Halloween is the time of year to flex your creativity, but for some, October might as well be called the Month of Overachieving.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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After celebrating Halloween at Fantasy Fest in Key West, Fla., last year, Laura Mager, 35, and Kurt Peterson, 44, wanted to make it to one more party. So they drove almost 2,000 miles straight back to Minneapolis, making it just in time for the highly competitive First Avenue costume contest.

Wearing almost nothing but body paint — as pop stars Kimbra and Gotye — they made the contest’s finals for the third time. Dressed as B-movie sensation “Sharknado” this year, they’re hoping to win.

“We’ve received so much attention we almost feel like celebrities with all the people who ask to take our photos,” Mager said. “We thoroughly enjoy our 15 minutes of fame.”

Every year on Halloween, there are those who enjoy dressing up in a costume — and then there are people like Mager and Peterson. These devoted do-it-yourself costume makers — call them costume snobs, if you want — would rather be eaten by a horde of zombies than buy something off the rack. (Oh, the horror.) They need to get their hands dirty by designing, sewing, knitting, gluing. Some spend months planning their masterpieces. For them, the spirit of Halloween is a true DIY endeavor.

Some of the most passionate might be the parents.

“Every year when I finish the costumes, it’s like Christmas morning times 100,” said Andrea Budke, a Minneapolis resident who makes her 6- and 10-year-old daughters’ costumes from scratch each year. “It’s one of my proudest achievements as a mom.”

This year, her kids are going as matching ice cream cones with sprinkles.

Behind the masks

Americans will spend $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes this season, according to the National Retail Federation. But that number is down from last year. Is the handmade craftiness of these DIY devotees having an effect on the industry?

“Homemade, one-of-a-kind costumes are the key for us,” Mager said. “There’s no way we would wear cheaply made, mass-produced, one-size-fits-all costumes that we would see multiple people wearing.”

For some DIY-ers, this is a yearlong journey.

“Doesn’t everyone start a list of costume ideas on Nov. 1?” joked Sarah Oknick, 31 of Minneapolis. Oknick’s costumes have included the Grady twins from “The Shining.” She outfitted her entire house to reflect the set of the classic horror movie.

Then there was the year she paid homage to Kristen Wiig’s strange character from “Saturday Night Live” — the one with tiny baby hands and a giant forehead. That costume landed Oknick in the emergency room. Turns out she was allergic to the adhesive she used to attach the bald cap.

“It ended up being a $1,000 costume with the ER trip, prescriptions and EpiPen,” Oknick said. “Totally worth it.”

Now that’s costume devotion.

 

Aimee Blanchette • 612-673-1715

 

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