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Cardboard costumes: A Montrealer's 20-year tradition

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Many Montrealers are running to big box stores for Halloween costumes this weekend, but one man is taking 'big box' to a whole other level.

Trevor Kjorlien is making his 20th costume out of recycled cardboard.

"Inside of every cardboard box is a Halloween costume trying to get out," said Kjorlien.

In 2002, the then-teenager didn't have a costume to wear, but he did have an old computer box.

"I was really into Rubik's Cubes at that time, so I had the box and thought, 'that will be easy, just paint that,'" he told CTV News.

The following year, he made a Listerine bottle. Two Halloweens eventually became three, then four.

"Rubik's Cube, Listerine bottle, iPod, TicTac(s), Canada Post mailbox..." listed Kjorlien, a space educator by day and amateur costumer by night.

To date, he's crafted twenty jumbo versions of everyday objects made entirely of cardboard boxes put out for recycling in his neighbourhood.

Over time, Kjorlien started to follow some rigid rules to narrow down his options.

"They can fit in your hand, you know you've seen them before, they have brand recognition," he said, adding, "that just came out over time, it wasn't like an intentional decision."

It's a tradition among his family and friends to guess what the object is ahead of its reveal, but this year CTV News got a sneak peek -- watch the full video above for the surprise.

Kjorlien's process starts by ensuring the dimensions are exact. Then he traces the outline and gets painting.

Along the way, he pays attention to every tiny detail.

"The thing that people really enjoy is the like, 'oh my god, look at the detail of it,' and when they get close to it, they go, 'wow, you put that part in, you even put the trademark symbol.'"

That's why this year, he plans to include a meticulous ingredient list. He expects it will take him 3-4 hours to complete the one panel alone.

Kjorlien estimates he spends 40 to 50 hours creating his costume.

After roughly 1,000 total hours spent with cardboard boxes, his favourite has a special slice in his heart.

"The one that stands out, I think just cause the painting effect worked so well is the cheese grater," he said.

The cheese grater and all his other originals are safely secured in storage.

While he says he still enjoys it, lately, Kjorlien wonders how he'll keep thinking out of the box --until inspiration strikes him, just days before Halloween, in the frozen foods aisle.

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