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Callisto

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CallistoEven though the costume is not complete, it is at least wearable, as you can see in the newer pictures from Halloween of 2005. It was a great night, with more trick-or-treaters than we'd had come around for the past few years combined. Everyone who saw Callisto seemed quite impressed with her; often, the adults were more frightened of her than the children!

There is still much detailing that I have left to do, but this poor demon dog just keeps getting put on the back burner. She really is not that far from being completed! Her back feet still need work, she still lacks a tail, and there should be wounds and visible bones on her body to match the mask. Now that I'm better at working with latex, it shouldn't be too difficult... it's just a matter of sitting down and doing it!

I was inspired to start working on this costume when I visited Verdun Manor. My initial thought was that it would be a great effect for a haunted hayride or some similar outdoor Halloween event.

So, what is Callisto? She is a demon-dog of sorts, a hellhound. She's a tattered, undead monster, shaped vaguely like a cross between a bear and a wolf. She has a gaunt, emaciated appearance, and walks on all four legs. She is an aggressive, evil creature, viciously attacking anything she meets.

Along with Eclipse, this was the first time I started putting any thought into the backstory of the costume. Callisto's name comes from Greek mythology. In some versions of the legend, Callisto's father was Lycaon who, because of his cruelty, was changed into a wolf by Zeus (some punishment!) Callisto herself was changed into a bear by the jealous Hera. Since this costume was patterned after wolves and bears, the name seemed appropriate.

Callisto's story began when a young woman named Lillian, living in 19th century New England, disappeared without a trace one evening. No one knew for sure what had happened to her, but soon after, a monstrous creature began terrorizing the town. While some thought that the beast, who became known as Callisto, had attacked the missing girl, no one dared to suggest that this terrible creature was what poor, sweet Lillian had become.

If you'd like, you can read the more detailed version of her story here, inspired once again by Verdun Manor. It's a little gory, PG-13 or so.

Now, on to the costume itself!

Callisto is a quad suit; she really does walk on four feet. From the start, I was planning on making some sort of extension for my arms so she could do so. I ended up constructing the arm extensions out of PVC pipe — very useful stuff! I wouldn't trust it to support my weight, but the angle at which Callisto stands is very slightly upright, so my weight is still entirely on my own legs. The front feet just rest on the ground.

The PVC is covered with a layer of upholstry foam for thickness. On one leg, the foam is shredded all the way down to the pipe. Once painted, appeared like a deep wound with part of the bone exposed. The toes and claws are made of rubber latex. The toes are angled down slightly, so that when I lift the front feet off of the ground, they don't remain at an unnatural-looking 90º angle. It's a simple effect that makes quite a bit of difference.

I built a cardboard chestpiece, strengthened with papier mache and padded with foam, that goes underneath the fursuit. It gives the costume a more hunchbacked appearance, and a deep, narrow chest; the 'human' outline is broken up nicely. There is room inside of the chestpiece to place a small fan, or perhaps to hide a water bottle.

This was the last cardboard-based mask I created. It is strengthened with a layer of papier mache, so it's not as fragile as it would otherwise be. The papier mache is sanded down on the muzzle, and where part of her skull is exposed, I smoothed it out further by adding a layer of interior spackling. To create the effect of rotting flesh over the rest of her face, I brushed on a couple of layers of rubber latex. After those had dried, I started tearing and pulling it away from the papier mache in places. I made a stringy-looking muscle out of cast rubber latex and attached that to her cheek. Because it weighs less than ceramic, I decided to make her teeth out of rubber latex as well. I painted her rotted skin a mottled brown and black, with the exposed muscle and bloody areas in shades of red. The bone area got a bit of yellowish detailing, and stands out nicely. The effect of all this was great; she is absolutely grotesque looking!

Because the jaw is very lightweight, the moving mouth is especially effective on this costume. You can see the effect in some of the photos. I left the eyes open so I could retain full vision in this costume, but I might yet cover the eyeholes with mesh for a more skull-like appearance. We'll see.

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