May 03

Kinetic Costume Guide

Going to a Kinetic Sculpture Race? Great! Will you be wearing silly clothes? Fabulous! If you’re lacking inspiration, this guide will help you plan your outfit.

If you’re not familiar with kinetic sculpture racing, you’re missing out! Giant human-powered sculptures lurch across land, sea, mud, sand and the occassional ice rink! Some races are really races, some are more like parades, but all are great fun and you should go at least once! Don’t forget your camera.

You can find kinetic sculpture races in Northern California, Maryland, and various other domestic and international locations.

How to Dress

Wear something absurd! Onlookers wear all sorts of goofy outfits, and you should too!

This is a good time to rummage through the boxes in your attic or a thrift store to find the perfect KSR outfit. Remember, though, that you need to be able to keep up with the sculptures in the race, at least for short distances. Good ideas:

If you find yourself with more festive garb than you can wear, bring it along and festoon spectators who aren’t with the program!


Don’t forget accessories! If you don’t have time to put together silly clothes, accessories can go a long way to give your boring clothes an aura of festivity!

Silly accessories you can get at a store near you

  • Craft stores like Michael’s have feather boas in a nice selection of bright colors.
  • Party stores carry cheap sunglasses which are most festive! The crew sports winged glasses from Party City.
  • Party stores carry bright colored plastic hats and leis for luau parties.
  • Target has silly things in their hair ornament selection. Look for The Great Pretend-Ear headbands with wings and ears. Look for pony tail holders with big flowers and other festivity on them. Some are stretchy enough to be used as bracelets.

Silly accessories you can get online

  • MTCoffinz has beautiful hair falls as well as punky mini skirts.
  • The Oriental Trading Company sells all manner of silliness, usually by the dozen, but it’s cheap, so go ahead, get 12 rubber animal noses and hand them out to other spectators!
  • Silly animal noses
  • Magic Makers has all sorts of costume accessories: wings, animal noses, ears, feather boas, wigs, tiaras.

Thift stores have a great selection of silk and satiny handkerchiefs in an astounding array of colors and patterns. These can be tied to you, peek out of pockets and be sewn to clothes. They also have a selection of bright-colored swimming trunks which can be worn over bike shorts or running tights to make them more interesting.

Silly clothes you might wear again

Straw Hats

Straw hats are easy to find and easy to make silly! Get a can of bright colored spray paint and one of clear from Home Depot or a craft store, apply a few coats of color and a few coats of clear paint, then hang small somethings from the brim all the way around. Candidates include pom poms, small toys, bright buttons, rubber chickens or even scrunched-up balls of bright colored paper. Visit Target or a dollar store to find great stuff to hang from your hat.

For more festivity, wrap tinsel around the top or attach a conical party hat or other ornament!


You’ll find a gallery of festive spectators at

May 08

2006 Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race Movies

A vast improvement over last year’s drenching! See for photos, write-ups, commentary and awards. The 2005 movies illustrate precisely the sort of doom and damp which we do not endorse.

My very favorite sculpture, the Platypus powerhouse shifts into four-wheel drive to chug steadily out of the water. Not content merely to have a wicked cool sculpture whose engineering is art in itself, the Platypus returned this year sporting a platypus so impressive that it could have been its own sculpture. Quicktime movie, 18MB, 30 seconds

The Platypus churns up Key Highway, pausing to shift the gears of their Suzuki Samari transmission, and daintily topples a cone when their lane becomes insufficiently wide. The lighter two-headed dragon flies up behind. Quicktime movie, 18MB, 29 seconds

A dapper pilot pops out of the squid-covered KinetiNautilus as it zips up Key Highway, passing the Frog. The Rat is next in line to leap past the leisurely amphibian. Quicktime movie, 16MB, 25 seconds

On our way to the water entry, we passed the spinning Hillbilly House, Suessmobile and Fifi cycling through downtown Baltimore. The effect as we accelerate away from them is quite fun. Quicktime movie, 13MB, 21 seconds

The Hillbilly House spins by and we play tag with the Seussmobile, pipes and bouncing limbs a go-go. Thing 1 graces us with a furry salute as we jet off toward the water entry. Quicktime movie, 19MB, 30 seconds

The overly-complacent crowd breaks and runs as Bumpo the elephant careens out of the mud with unexpected speed. Quicktime movie, 9MB, 14 seconds

May 04

2005 Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race

The cold rain that pervaded this year’s race caused the mud, which is usually the consistency of warm fudge, to be a brown puddle. Sculptures flew through with speed that probably surprised veteran racers.

Miso the segmented dragon bobs and sticks its tongue out as it rolls
Quicktime movie, 1.4MB, 14 seconds
Platypus trundles its 3500 pounds and nine riders with ease
Quicktime movie, 1.2MB, 11 seconds
Bomb Squad by the Belt Street Pilots’ Association
Quicktime movie, 1.1MB, 10 seconds

I was disinclined to take many photos this year because of the miserable weather. My camera got so wet that the LCD screen no longer works. Tom was not daunted though, and has a full selection.