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A good zombie takes a full-body commitment

October 3, 2012
By ANDY GRAY Tribune Chronicle ( , Tribune Chronicle |

Kerri Rickard created flesh-craving creatures the Youngstown Zombie Crawl and "Evil Dead: The Musical," designed severed children's toes for "The Pillowman" at Youngstown Playhouse and gave the Deadbeat Poets and its audience a ghostly pallor in the band's new video for "Who Is Hieronymus Bosch?"

The Niles artist has helped many clients create their dream Halloween costume.

One of her costume pet peeves, which she attributes to doing hand and arm makeup at Kent State University at Trumbull Theater, is when people concentrate on the face when creating zombies and monsters and ignore the rest of the body.

"What completes the costume is when you pay attention to the arms and hands and legs," Rickard said. "Have bones popping out. Your face didn't just get injured. The rest of your body did too."

Here are some of her tips for creating eye-catching Halloween costumes:

- There are two types of makeup, grease or cream. Greasepaint, the type a clown would use, doesn't come off the skin as easily. Cream makeups will come off with soap and water, while grease requires cold cream or a removing balm.

- Be careful of skin allergies when applying makeup.

- Buy costumes, makeup, appliances and accessories from a knowledgeable staff and ask questions before buying.

- Liquid latex or "Zombie Skin" is good for creating wounds, peeling flesh, scars, scratches or burns. Add plain bread crumbs to liquid latex once it's applied to the body for a creepy texture. Rigid Collodion products also are good for making scars and skin imperfections.

- A little make-up goes a long way. Use brushes, sponges or Q-tips to apply.

- Cutting out a bald cap from a plastic bouncing ball makes a great alien head.

- A safe adhesive can be made by mixing flour and Karo syrup to form a paste. It can be applied to the face with a Popsicle stick and then covered with paper towels. The paste can be tinted with store- bought makeup colors (not grease).

- Tooth decay make-up is an underestimated costume necessity. It comes in many gross colors.

- For blood splattering, pour fake blood into a spray bottle and adjust the nozzle for the type of stream/spray desired (be careful because some products stain).

- Thrift stores are a good source for clothing for ghosts, long-dead zombies and period characters.

- A simple way to make clothing look aged is to crumple it up and lightly spray it with green or black spray paint. Other suggestions include shred them, walk on them, get them dirty with leaves, add Spanish moss and/or gauze-like materials.

- When Halloween is over, the best way to store a latex Halloween mask is to clean the inside with isopropyl alcohol, let it dry, dust with baby powder and store somewhere cool in a plastic bag or pillow case.

Wearing someone elses mask or used appliance pieces is a great way to spread bacteria.

Rickard is a Niles-based make up and special effects artist. She can be reached at



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