Brilliant, Jill. Brilliant.
I put it off for weeks and weeks. I literally had no idea how to start. We had a lot of boxes and a pirate costume and time was ticking away. The incredibly crafty, Cassie has been posting How-To instructions on her blog for making the phenomenal costumes she has made for her son over the years. Top on her lists of materials is a glue gun. I don't glue gun. I have used one before and it was messy.
I do, however, use duct tape very efficiently. So, with a couple rolls of tape and a box, I set out on my pirate ship adventure:
Step One: Get a friend who is slightly more crafty than you. My friend, Jen, agreed to help me tackle the pirate ship, which was very good because she kept me focused when I stared blankly at the mess in my TV room and wondered what in the world we should do next.
Step Two: Get a big box and draw a picture of what you want to make. I wanted a pirate ship that would fit in my van (very important!) and that would not impede the use of Kingsley's wheelchair. And if it was easily identifiable as a pirate ship, well that was just gravy.
Step Three: Measure twice... then have someone else measure and then cross your fingers and cut anyway. We started with a long box, but knowing the size of my trunk, knew we'd have to trim it down. It gave us about a foot in front and behind his wheels to work with. We cut out the bottom, then the ends so that we could have them come to a point, then taped it all together. At this point, we were using packing tape. It is forgiving enough to let you redo until you get it right.
After that came some more blind cutting as we tried to figure out how to get the box closer to the ground. We cut out space around his wheels, foot pedal and brakes, along with a hole in the top to allow the handles to go through. Next came a hole in the top for Kingsley to go through.
Step Four: Customize to fit your kid. Once we trimmed enough to make it easily slide down over his wheelchair and trimmed a hole big enough to easily put him in and out without having to dismantle anything, and made sure the brakes, handles, and wheels were all free, we stuck him in and let him wheel around a bit. Quickly, we realized we would need to trim the sides a bit so that he could better reach his wheels. Once that was done, we were set. Out came the Gorilla Tape and all edges were taped up for extra waterproofing and a seamless look... since I am not that skilled with an exacto knife or scissors and it was a bit of a hot, jagged mess. ;)
Step Five: Have your crafty brother-in-law come over and tell you how to pimp the ride. At this point in our adventure, Jen and I were about tapped out in the creativity department. Kevin, who pretty much lives at Home Depot, dropped by and was accosted and asked for input. Some of his suggestions regarding parrots and canons were a bit over our heads, but others like port holes and a crow's nest were completely doable. We hit up Home Depot and were all set. We bought 2 dowels, one thick, one thin, and made a mast out of them with duct tape of course. We cut a hole in a black bandana and slid it over for the sail. Then got a small green fruit basket for the crow's nest (out of my compost bin, not Home Depot!), construction paper (from Rachel's craft bin), and zip ties to attach it. We cut a hole in the bottom of the fruit basket so it would slide down the thicker dowel, then made a tape ring to stop it from sliding too far.
It fit perfectly in my van (phew!) except for the mast, which we assembled in the parking lot of the Halloween party with the zip ties and then had to cut off to go home. My mom suggested zip tying a waterbottle to the back of his chair and then dropping the pole into that, so I'm going to test that idea out today.
I should also mention the Jolly Roger that I made for his mast:
I hadn't planned on doing anything more than the skull and bones, but when I googled to get a better idea of what one looked like, the wheelchair pirate popped up and we knew that he had to have that instead. I modified the wheel into a heart because I love 3E Love and what they represent.
Most importantly, Kingsley LOVES his pirate ship. He sailed around in that thing like a boss. It's a very light costume and the box just rests on his chair, doesn't actually attach in any way. It was WAY easier than I thought it would be, but looks quite impressive if you don't look too closely!
So there, all you uncrafty mama's out there. It is possible. ;)