Marvin the Martian Glow Costume

Halloween... one of the best times of the year! Unfortunately, all of the effort that goes into making amazing costumes can be wasted if the details can't be appreciated in the dark. This instructable will show how to create a costume that really stands out using EL wire to create a glowing costume that will guarantee you'll be the hit of the party, the most visible nighttime trick or treat-er, and the talk of the club.

Step 1: Planning

Marvin the Martian Glow Costume
Marvin the Martian Glow Costume

First you need a good idea! Cartoons work well. When in doubt keep it simple. I happen to be a mechanical engineer who works on Mars rovers so I couldn't imagine anyone better to be on Halloween than Marvin the Martian. Starting with some research, I realized Marvin is a bit out of typical human proportion. To work with this, I thought of a cool twist. If Marvin is in his flying saucer, it would appear as if he is flying through the air in the dark. I sketched out several options until I came up with a design I liked. Then I went full size with my sketching, using a black dress for sizing.

Step 2: EL Wire

Marvin the Martian Glow Costume
Marvin the Martian Glow Costume
Marvin the Martian Glow Costume

I played with a few different techniques. For the mask, I used some 18 gauge steel wire to make the basic shape, then followed the shape with the EL wire, securing every few inches and critical points with zip ties. To bridge gaps, I used black electrical tape to block light from unwanted areas. For the top of the helmet, I needed some added stability, so I included a few tape wrapped Popsicle sticks. A 3-1 splitter allowed me to use white for the eyes, green for the helmet and yellow for the helmet topper and only 1 battery pack. A cheap hairband sewn to the wire proved to be enough to hold up the mask and provided a nice place to clip the power pack in the back, where it can be hidden behind my hair.

For the body I went with a different technique. A quick search of the local hardware store turned up some black mesh material, used as non-slip surface for inside kitchen cabinets. This provided a good combination of flexibility and structure, while having many tie down points for zip ties. The actual wire routing takes a bit of planning and art, but is easy to go back and refine by clipping a zip tie and re-securing elsewhere.

Step 3: Secure to black clothing

Marvin the Martian Glow Costume
Marvin the Martian Glow Costume

Finally, I sewed the mesh EL wire design of Marvin's body and spaceship to a black dress. I left some space under Marvin's arms wide enough to wrap a belt through so that I can clip the power packs to the belt while wearing the costume. 2 power packs and 2 more 3-1 splitters takes care of the rest of the dress. The mesh technique worked out surprisingly well. It was flexible enough to sew to a form fitting dress, yet durable enough to protect the wire from excessive bending.

Step 4: Show off the final product!

Marvin really looks like he's flying around in his spaceship. I can't wait to hit the club with this costume. Dancing really brings him to life.

Marvin the Martian Glow Costume
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