Cardboard Mermaid Costume

There wasn’t much time during the frenetic week leading up to Halloween to share the details of the cardboard mermaid costume with you, so those of you who have been wondering what happened to the pile of brown cardboard fish scales, well here they are in technicolor:

The mermaid costume was my favorite of the cardboard costumes I made for my family and myself because it involved a whole different approach to working with cardboard- threading together many cardboard pieces to create a kind of flexible cardboard skin. The costume is very securely held together, so one of the problems, in fact, was that is was a little hard for my daughter to move around in.

Remember the sage advice I passed on to you at the beginning of the challenge about creating a costume that you could sit down in? Well, we had a few problems in that department….

You can see the back of the costume here, which was covered with a cape for warmth, as well as to hide the paper cords. It’s possible to create a costume that is seamless, but because we had to take my daughter in and out of the costume a lot, I didn’t work too hard to make it all fit together perfectly. I’m thinking of adapting this costume into a downloadable PDF someday, so I’m going to keep expanding on some of the new ideas I tried while making the cardboard mermaid gown.

We painted the scales with regular watercolors, which worked beautifully and gave the costume soft, romantic coloring. I loved the fact that every scale was a little bit different because of the blending of the blues,  greens and yellows.

The great thing was that the costume was well loved, and my daughter just beamed on Halloween night, scooting carefully around from house to house with her sister Little Red Riding Hood.

19 thoughts on “Cardboard Mermaid Costume

  1. I’ve been resisting painting my cardboard masks, but the way you’ve rendered those scales makes me want to reconsider. I love with the effect of having different tones on the overlapping scales. Looks as if they are reflecting different streams of light. Nice photography too. Keep up the good work!

    • I Know how you feel! I hate to paint cardboard too, but I was pleasantly surprised by the watercolors, there is definitely something synergistic about the combination.

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  8. This is such a beautiful costume! I am Grade 3 teacher and our focus this term is on fashion and using recycled materials to create clothing. I am really wanting to replicate this, as a class project, with my children. Can I ask, how did you ensure that it all stayed together? Did you hot glue gun it? sew it? If you could give me any advice, it would be much appreciated!

    • Awesome idea. We took this to our summer camp class and the kids loved making it and parading around in them at the end of the week.
      We used a hot-glue gun for pretty much everything. We just highlighted the importance of being careful and using the glue-gun exactly how we showed.
      Besides some glue on the carpet – everything went fine.


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