With Halloween coming up, and my wallet feeling lighter, I've been thinking of ways I can be creative this year with my costume without having to shell out more money than I'd like to in order to have a worthwhile costume. Being someone with a passion for video games, I had an enormous pool or concepts and characters I could draw inspiration from. Unfortunately, all these ideas proved to be rather complex in their design, and it was hard to "find" pieces for them at the local thrift shop. When trying to use my head for a better solution, I realized all I need to do is use my hands. I can make a costume! What better video game to base my idea from than the world of Pokemon?
The 3rd generation of Pokemon (Ruby/Sapphire) was my favorite of them all, so I wanted to be a Pokemon trainer from the 3DS remake released a while back. It wouldn't be hard, all I needed was a blue windbreaker, a backpack, and a hat. I was missing something, however, but what?
The Mega Bracelet
In the recent generations, they introduced a "mega evolution" form that would let certain Pokemon evolve into an even more powerful form. The trainer initiates this new form using mega stones and a bracelet they donned on their wrist. I didn't have that, I couldn't find that, so I'm going to make that, and I'm going to share with you how I did it.
Allow me to preface this how-to piece with the following: I am by no means a professional prop designer, and this is not a professional level prop. It uses common household craft tools and basic crafting knowledge. This how-to is meant for your everyday person to be able to make something unique for their costume without much struggle. This would be a good activity to do with your children; all but 2 of the steps can be done by kids. With that in mind, let's begin.
These are the supplies you'll need.
- Styrofoam block (4 inches wide and tall, 1 inch thick)
- School Glue
- Warm water
- Silver paint
- Grey marker
- Exacto-knife OR hot knife
- A "gemstone"
- Hot glue gun
The entire process can be broken down into 5 steps.
- Cut out the shape in Styrofoam
- Paper mache over the form
- Paint the form
- Draw on the details
- Add the gemstone
All you need for this step is the Styrofoam block, and your cutting item. In the video, I used an Exacto knife, which while effective, can be time-consuming and mildly dangerous. One other tool I suggested was a hot knife. These are dull blades that are designed to heat up enough to melt through the foam. The hot knife is a more effective tool, as you can pierce all the way through the block and around the shape with minimal resistance. The hot knife is a less common household craft tool, however, and a more costly one than the Exacto-knife.
This is a step best left to a parent if you're doing this as a family activity.
To begin, round out the corners of the block until it is a cylindrical shape. Once it has become a smooth enough circle, you will cut out the center hole. You want the center hole large enough to fit your hand in, but not as wide that it would fall off easily. In the video one thing I did was cut out one end of the loop, allowing me to more easily slip the bracelet over my wrist, while still being small enough to not fall off on its own.
You want to make sure you have the bracelet thickness you want. Due to the cartoon nature of Pokemon, it should be a rather large bracelet. The block I used was a little under 2 inches thick, so I felt I did not need to thin it out. If you feel it is TOO wide, this is when it would be easiest to shave some off the side.
The final phase of step 1 is cutting out the gemstone divot. in the location that you will put your "mega stone" you will want to cut out a small hole for it to comfortably rest into. make it deep enough to nest in the bracelet, but still stick out from the surface (picture for reference) If you cut out a wrist slot like described above, make sure you do this on the opposite side.
Voila, we have a styrofoam loop.
Step 2: Paper Mache
The wonderful thing about paper mache is its versatility. While it is not a very strong material, it can be used to form whatever shape you need. This will give our rigid Styrofoam loop a smooth flat surface.
For this how-to, We are using a blend of school glue, and warm water. Take about a cup of warm water, and squeeze in the school glue. You only need about 2-3 tablespoons of glue per cup, but the ratio isn't very important, and adding more glue will do no harm. Simply add the glue and mix until its entirely diluted. Once you have your mache mix created and ready, we can start coating.
While newspaper is a common mache material, in this case, I used regular white printer paper. Its stronger than newspaper and its solid white finish will make painting the bracelet easier.
Take the paper, and tear off a strip about 1 inch thick and 2-3 inches long. You want relatively small pieces so that it doesn't have to fold over or bend too much when you conform it to the shape of the prop, while still being large enough to be able to connect and bond to the surface as well as the other strips effectively.
Tear a piece, dunk in the water glue mix, and lay onto the bracelet, covering more and more with each piece until the bracelet is completely covered.
I recommend adding 2 or 3 layers total. the extra thickness will allow you to sand down the finished product to a more flat surface and will add additional strength overall.
It will take a fair bit of time to fully dry. I let the bracelet sit overnight, rested on top of the glue mix cup. It's important that the bracelet is fully dry before painting, or the moisture will cause issues down the line.
Once it's dried off, one extra step you can take it to sand it down with sandpaper. Sometimes in the mache process the paper will fold over or overlap in a way that looks unappealing, and this is your chance to buff those out. Otherwise, you're all done with step 2!
Step 3: Paint the bracelet
This one is fairly to-the-point. you will take your now dry, paper mache covered bracelet, and paint a layer of silver paint over it. Of course, this is best done with a paintbrush, but in my video, I had forgotten to get one, and much like a child, finger painted. this worked rather well actually, and this is a great step for the children to do. Cover the entire bracelet in the silver paint, and allow a couple hours to dry.
practice good craft habits, and be sure to wash off your brush (or fingers) once you are done.
Step 4: Draw the details.
Thankfully the mega bracelet is a fairly simple design and can be drawn out entirely with a marker. I used a "slate grey" sharpie. Be sure that the color of the marker is a darker grey than that of the paint.
With image for reference, the pattern on the bracelet is essentially 2 lines along the sides, with some trapezoids thrown in. A ruler will be little help with the bracelets curved surface, so be sure to have a steady hand drawing it out.
Step 5: The Mega Stone
The arguably most important piece is the gemstone that rests in the center of the bracelet. in the game, this stone is what allows you to sync with your Pokemon and achieve the Mega Evolution they are capable of. For my bracelet, I purchased a small bag of decorating rocks and chose the one I liked the most. The stone is supposed to be a rainbow of colors, but that's difficult to achieve in the real world, so look for whatever stone looks the most colorful to you.
In the video, I used a hot glue gun, a craft standard. a squeeze or two of that will be plenty strong enough to hold the gem in place. In actuality, however, it doesn't matter WHAT you use to glue the stone in, as long as its strong enough.
Congratulations, you've just made your own Mega Bracelet from Pokemon. this will be the perfect touch to finalize a Pokemon trainer costume. It will be unique enough to have others praise you for your creativity while leaving you feeling proud that it's yours and yours alone.
If you made your own Mega Bracelet, Id love to see it. You can share them with our Facebook Page, our Twitter, or our Discord Channel.