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How-To: Make a Classic Robot Costume


If you’ve never made a halloween costume before, don’t feel intimidated. This project can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Before beginning, you’ll need to gather supplies, but luckily, this costume can be made almost exclusively using household items. 


  • Large box: should be large enough to fit your body. Our box measured 12” x 21” x 15”
  • Medium box: should be large enough to fit your head. Our box measured 15” x 15” x 15”. (As an alternative to wearing a box on your head, you might prefer painting your face, or wearing a mask, hat or helmet. If painting your face, you could use white, grey or silver cosmetic makeup or face paint.)
  • Optional Embellishments: bottle caps, jar lids, packaging, foil, corks, thread spools, wrapping paper, cans, wire, cassette tapes, circuit boards, buttons, stamps, stickers, CDs and records.
  • Pair of gloves or mittens
  • Paint and brushes
  • Glue  
  • Scissors, utility or X-acto knife
  • Pencil


Using the pencil, mark the large box, drawing a circle for each of your arms. The top of the holes should be about 2 inches from the top of the box. The size of the holes depends on the size of your arms, approximately 6 inches in diameter. We recommend using a utility knife or X-acto knife, but scissors will work.

Follow the same steps for the neck hole and cut a key hole shape, starting at the back edge to make the costume easier to put on. The hole needs to be a little wider than your neck, approximately 6 x 11 inches. Then, cut the entire bottom of the box.

Mark and then cut a 4-inch diameter hole to look through the medium box or, if you prefer your entire face uncovered, cut out a square.

Paint the boxes gray or whatever color you prefer, or skip the paint entirely. We recommend using a 3-inch wide brush.

Once the paint is dry, it’s time to embellish. Glue on the thread spools and caps to look like knobs and dials. For heavier items, poke a small hole in the cardboard and insert the item. Be creative. Use vintage holiday light bulbs, 7-inch records, foil for antennae and cardboard tubes for arms.

Put on your costume and gloves. Rock out!

ruth schanbacher, anna cherniahivsky and jon vitale are members of Handmade Philly and Horsey: a noise + art project


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