Candace Garrett came prepared to help a youngster become a Pippi Longstocking or an Indian maiden for Halloween.
Instead, most of the little girls arriving for a recent two-day costuming workshop made a beeline for the fancy prom dresses stacked on a table.
"The two boys in the class were easy to please," said Garrett, a Clearwater artist, sculptor and costumer at the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center. "One wanted to be Dracula and the other, the Grim Reaper. But when the girls saw the prom dresses, that was it. Almost all of them wanted to be princesses."
Garrett said the purpose of the workshop was to help youngsters 7 to 13 years old design costumes that would allow them "freedom of movement and safety, above all, for trick or treating."
With a piece of duct tape here and a staple there, plus beads, fake pearls, purple, silver and gold glitter, cardboard, glue and aluminum flashing _ the material used to weatherproof joints on houses _ Garrett helped the young girls transform the dresses into outfits fit for a princess.
"We'll use aluminum flashing for the crowns," explained Garrett, 46, who was a costumer in Los Angeles for a decade before moving back to Clearwater. "It's more durable than cardboard and it's easier to glue material to the crown."
Meanwhile, in a corner of the room, Steven Buis, 7, of Belleair was learning to sew a belt for his Dracula costume, while his brother, Michael, 10, helped glue red material to Steven's cape.
Michael's Grim Reaper costume was piled in a heap on the floor, awaiting glitter and assistance from Garrett.
Steven is a second-grader at South Ward Elementary School in Clearwater and his brother is a fifth-grader.
"I like everything about this," the younger Buis said of the workshop. "I like art, and I never tried to sew anything before. This is cool."
Garrett said she tries to keep things simple. "I'm a costumer, not a seamstress," she said. "I try to show the kids that these costumes don't have to last . . . and they can be made out of things that are around the house."