I'm a big fan of cosplay and wanted to try my hand at making a group costume for C2E2, Chicago's ultimate fan expo, in the spring of 2016. I created a dragon costume using the character Haku from the 2001 Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away. My general idea was to make one similar to the dragon costumes commonly seen during the Chinese New Year with a few of my own touches for detailing on the head.
The biggest undertaking was creating a handle frame for the body segments that were both lightweight enough to move around with freely and sturdy enough to support the weight of the body fabric (made of faux fur). I used some 3/4 inch plastic PVC piping secured with screws and hot glue to create the arched supports. These were affixed to one inch PVC pipes for the handle base, making them both lightweight and easy to transport.
For the head base, I made a frame for it using a foam yoga mat, lots of hot glue and chicken wire for reinforcement. The yoga mat provided a lightweight surface for the foam muscular base forming Haku's cheekbones and browline. After trimming down the foam to create a smoother surface, I crafted the headpiece pattern from a combination of faux fur, fleece and fake flower petals for muzzle detailing.
Upon finishing the fabric casing for the head, I painted a pair of foam half circles for the eyes, secured with hot glue onto the base. The whiskers were made from over-sized chenille pipe cleaners with additional support from thin fishing line secured to the horns. The rest of the body required some mane detailing down the spine as well as securing straps for the supports on the underside of the body material. Overall, the body material measured 22 feet long, including the tail.