Halloween 2013: Cerberus

Matt and I were invited to a Heaven & Hell-themed Halloween party. Being the literary nerds that we are, we will be going as the Greek deities Hades and Persephone.

Not that there’s any contest, but I am very competitive, so I started preparing over a month in advance. I knew that the props to these costumes would be the key– the jewel being Hades’s pet: the three-headed dog, Cerberus.

I found a “tutorial” online on how to make a papier mache dog, but it sucked. No pictures of the process and the directions go along the lines of “Get some chicken wire and mold it into the shape of a dog.” Long story short: I kind of made it up as I went, but I tried to document the evolution of the underworld doggie.

Chicken wire from hardware store isn't crazy expensive and quite malleable.

Chicken wire from hardware store isn’t crazy expensive and quite malleable.

I never fancied myself good at anything 3-D, but chicken wire is fairly easy to get a hang of. The only tools you need are wire cutters and pliers to twist and bend the wires to your liking. The heads I made by rolling a length of chicken wire into a tube, using the pliers to twist the sharp cut wires into harmless loops, and kind of “scrunching” it into the shape of a dog head (x3).

It's a bit hard to tell what this is at this point...

Cerbie’s skeleton!

I built the body first and the appendages (legs, tail, heads) were attached by twisting the cut wires into “hooks” that looped into the body.

Papier macheing it up

Turning waste into art! Weekly shoppers and brown paper that was used as excessive package padding made the perfect ingredients for Cerbie!

I purchased some art paste for papier mache (a $4 box made like 15 cups of paste!) and started coating the chicken wire frame with strips of newspaper.

Zee arteest at work

Zee arteest at work.

I learned through trial and error that you need to kind of let the strips “hang” over a side, let it dry and harden to actually give your next layers something to latch onto– there are too many holes in chicken wire for the paper to get properly affixed. Oh well, at least I was prepared for many nights of repeating this process.

Brown paper is the best.

Brown paper is the best. It blends so well!

Once Ceberus was papered all up, it was time to paint. As a dog of the underworld, Cerberus is often portrayed as completely black, but I wanted him to look at least a little like my dog, Evie, and that meant adding some tan and white details. More work, but worth it:

photo 2

The key to awesome Halloween costumes is in the details. Cerbie’s not complete without collars! I made some quick dog ID tags out of salt dough:

1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water, 2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water, 2/3 cup flour


I cut out my tags with the center part of a blender lid (the one that pops out) and poked holes with a skewer. I baked them at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half, frequently checking that they weren’t burning.

Some paint, some varnish…


…some thread and ribbon and voilá:

Dog ID tags!

The finishing touch!

Well, there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this post. :)