Brett King's 2014 Halloween Costume Contest Entry

Brett King

New Member
“Clockwork Cthulhu” By Brett King

Here is my entry in the 2014 Halloween Costume Contest, under the "New Members" category. I've been doing costuming for about 3 years, pretty much exclusively in the steampunk genre. I've won a number of costume contests with my Steampunk Arctic Explorer costume.

My inspiration for this costume came from a desire to do something with an undersea theme to fit the Dragon Con 2014 steampunk ball’s theme, Mechanical Masquerade: Atlantis. I’ve always been a big fan of HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos. Cthulhu is a great old god lying dormant under the sea. He has the head of an octopus, a humanoid body, and small wings. I wanted to do a steampunk version of Cthulhu called “Clockwork Cthulhu”.

I begin all of my projects with a sketch. I started documenting the creation process on my Facebook page,

My original vision included tentacles similar to those I had seen built for motion picture props. I imagined the face made out of brass, with mechanical irises for eyes. I also wanted to a staff with an electrical effect inside as well as a video of a trapped soul.

I began construction by molding the shape of the face out of Monster Clay. The intent was to use the clay as a base to hammer brass on top of. It was my first time sculpting a mask with clay or hammering brass. The upper portion of the face can be seen in the picture below. I also sculpted the upper lip out of clay, but it is not seen in this picture. I used a safety helmet and old paintball mask as the base.


Next I worked on hammering the brass face. I mocked the shape up with paper first, and then cut brass sheet to match. I annealed the brass following instructions I found online to make it easier to work with. ( process.html)

For the eyes, I wanted to have something mysterious, since Cthulhu typically makes the heroes of the stories go insane. So, I searched and found some infinity mirrors online for the lighting effects. The infinity mirrors look like the lights go into the eyes forever.


Next I worked on the mechanical irises to cover the eyes. Again, I had never made irises, so I went online and found a calculator that would generate the general outline. I then modified the output and mocked the eyes up in paper. After I convinced myself that the design would work, I cut the blades of the irises out of brass. I used decorative wood circles as the outer rings and assembled everything with brass screws and rivets.

Here's a video of the effect: [video][/video]

Next I constructed the tentacles. I modified dowel rods to have the proper shape, and then cut them into sections. I drilled each section to run wires through. I painted a Cthulhu-like rune on each piece, and I glued a brass button on the bottom of each piece to represent a tentacle sucker, which I imagined were electrified in my clockwork version. In the picture below, I started to assemble the head.

The back of the head is a wire trash basket that contains sparkly Christmas lights. I wrapped a brass cage around the trash basket and lined it with one-way bronze auto tint. This allows the lights to shine through when they are on, and look like metal when off. The twinkly lights represent the “brain” of the clockwork cthulhu.


My next step was to finish assembling the head, including aging the brass in the oven to give it a green patina. To give the brass sheet an aged patina, I followed the verdigris technique here.

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I then created the hands. I wanted tentacle-like fingers, so I used toy wooden snakes that I attached to a wooden disc and then velcro'd to gloves.

For the chest, I wanted something that had a control panel-like feel. I created a box out of wood and etched it with a laser engraver. I embedded an antique thermometer inside the box. Behind this is a "brass" plate made from ABS plastic that I heat formed.

The under-costume is a purchased black duster. I created some simple leather boot covers to make my feet look suction pod like. I eventually want to add wings, but I didn't get them done in time for Dragon Con or Halloween.


Finally, here is the "proof" selfie. Apologies for the poor quality - it's hard to take a picture through the mask with tentacle hands. :)

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