Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Skeleton Pile Kids!

Long time no paper maché! I haven’t been able to work on any sculpture stuff in a few months, as I’m quarantining away from home and I don’t have all my materials and tools and junk with me. So to kill time time I’ve been working on this illustration project: Skeleton Pile Kids! These are drawings of all my fellow members of Skeleton Krewe; the names and concepts are mostly inside jokes within the Krewe but hopefully they’re fun to look at anyway. Check ’em out on the Skeleton Krewe website!
Read more…

Published by Manning on May 17th, 2020 [No Comments]

Spider skeleton costume for Mardi Gras 2020! — part 2

I made this six-armed spider skeleton costume for Mardi Gras 2020! This is part two; see part one here for how I made the mask. A lot of people have asked me: why only six arms, rather than eight? — ’cause with my legs that’s eight limbs total, duh! Anywhere, here’s how I made all this stuff!

Read more…

Published by Manning on February 25th, 2020 [No Comments]

Spider skull mask and costume for Mardi Gras 2020! — part 1

I made this spider skull mask and six-armed spider skeleton costume for Mardi Gras 2020! I know, I know, spiders don’t have bones; they got like an exoskeleton or somethin’. Deal with it, nerds. Anyway I’m really happy with how this whole thing came out, and now I’m going to bore you with every detail of how I made it!

Spider skeleton costume - finished!

Read more…

Published by Manning on February 25th, 2020 [4 Comments]

Skelly’s Quest!

Okay, this one’s not a paper mache project, but since this blog is basically where I post all my creative stuff these days, I’m gonna write about my newest creation: Skelly’s Quest! It’s a retro-style metroidvania platformer browser game thing. I did all the art and animation and level design — everything but the programming and music/sounds; those were done by my friends Chris Moody and Robbie Davis. You can play Skelly’s Quest here!

Read more…

Published by Manning on February 24th, 2020 [No Comments]

Mardi Gras 2020 is in the works!

That’s right, it’s not even Christmas yet and I’m working on next year’s Mardi Gras mask! This will be my eighth year with Skeleton Krewe, so this is my eighth big skull mask. Our skulls are top-secret until we unveil them on Mardi Gras morning, so I can’t show you what this thing is, but I can tell you I’m really excited about it, and it’s less insanely complicated than the mechanical skull with marching skeletons I made last year; that thing nearly killed me!

Read more…

Published by Manning on December 18th, 2019 [No Comments]

New Orleans Devil Man mask — the sequel!

I made a mask of the New Orleans Devil Man back in 2015 for my “Voodoo Bayou” Halloween party. I no longer have that mask, but I made another similar one this year because I’ll be in New Orleans for Halloween and I wanted to reprise the costume. I wasn’t trying to make the same exact mask again; I figured I’d just start over and include a lot of the same elements, but let the style go in different directions as I work on it.

New Orleans Devil Man mask

Read more…

Published by Manning on November 4th, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché bear trap prop

I made this paper maché bear trap prop as part of my Halloween costume for my Summer Camp Slasher party. It was pretty easy!

Bear trap prop - painting finished

99% of my projects start with lots of foam board and tape and end with paper maché and paint, and this one was no different. I started out by building the “jaws” of the bear trap. I measured and cut out a few 1.5″ strips of foam board to serve as the jaws, minus the teeth; those will come later. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 29th, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché machete, hatchet, meat cleaver, sickle, etc props

I made all these paper maché weapon props for Halloween 2019 — a machete, a meat cleaver, a sickle, a scythe, two hatchets, a hand saw, a pitchfork, and a few knives. They were easy!

Paper mache meat cleaver, knives, etc - spray painting

I used a lot of the same process for these that I did for my paper maché kitchen knife prop last year and this paper maché axe that I made a few weeks ago, so check out that article if you want some more details and pics. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 29th, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché archery target decoration

I made this paper maché archery target decoration for my 2019 summer-camp-slasher-movie-themed Halloween party! Here’s how I did it…

Paper mache archery target with skeleton decoration - finished!

Paper mache archery target with skeleton decoration - cutting out foam board

Paper mache archery target with skeleton decoration - making the circle box shape

I started by deciding on a size for my target — 36″ in diameter. I taped two 30″ x 20″ sheets of foam board together with heavy duty shipping tape, and drew a 36″ circle on ’em. (See my article about drawing precise circles here.) I cut out this circle with an X-acto knife. I then made a second copy of the same thing.

Read more…

Published by Manning on October 28th, 2019 [No Comments]

Skeleton bunkbeds!

I made these skeleton bunkbeds to transform my apartment’s bathroom into a summer camp dormitory for my 1970s-summer-camp-slasher-movie-themed Halloween party. They were easy!

Skeleton bunk beds prop - done!

The bunkbeds consist of a few main parts: the beds themselves, the ladder, and the vertical supports holding up the top bunk. I made all of these out of just foam board, tape, and hot glue, using my usual techniques Read more…

Published by Manning on October 28th, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper-maché severed head props!

I made these severed head decorations for Halloween 2019, using paper maché and clay and a bunch of other stuff. They were fun! Here’s how I made ’em…

Making a dozen paper mache severed heads

I started with a couple of styrofoam heads I already had laying around; one dude and one lady. I’d bought these ages ago for some project or other; I don’t even remember what it was specifically because I’ve ended up using them for a million different things — as a stand for masks I was working on, as a base for other Halloween head props I’ve made, etc. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 28th, 2019 [No Comments]

8-foot foam board rowboat prop

I made this big rowboat prop for my 2019 Halloween party — Summer Camp Slasher! It was a somewhat complicated project but I tried to simplify everywhere I possibly could and take every shortcut I could find. I made this whole thing in one afternoon!

foam board rowboat prop - finished!

Here’s my weird idea I came up with for creating this slightly complex boat shape: I started with two giant foam board panels — one to be the bottom surface of the boat, and one to span across what would be the open upper surface; this one would be removed when the shape was done. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 22nd, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché fireplace prop

I made this paper maché fireplace for my 2019 Halloween party — Summer Camp Slasher!

Paper mache fireplace prop

Of course I started by measuring and sketching the fireplace to make sure it would be the right size for our wall and tall enough to reach our ceiling. I built the basic big shapes using my usual method for building box shapes out of foam board. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 14th, 2019 [No Comments]

Fake wood summer camp sign decoration

Here’s a quick and easy one; I made this summer camp sign mostly by re-using techniques I made up a few years ago for these fake wooden signs. Here’s how I did it…

Fake wooden sign - hatchet prop!

I started with two sheets of foam board; one for the wooden planks and one for the background. I cut wavy lines with an X-acto knife to make the four planks, and I trimmed the background piece to be a bit smaller.

Read more…

Published by Manning on October 11th, 2019 [No Comments]

2019 Halloween theme revealed: SUMMER CAMP SLASHER!

This year my Halloween party theme is 1970’s summer camp slasher movie! I’m super excited about it! Check out the invitation video, with art and animation by me and music and sound by Robbie Davis:

Halloween 2019: SUMMER CAMP SLASHER

Read more…

Published by Manning on October 3rd, 2019 [No Comments]

Freddy Krueger hand prop accessory!

I made this Freddy Krueger hand prop as part of my wife’s 2019 Halloween costume; soon it’ll be a wearable prop that’s bursting out of her chest! For now, here’s how I made the hand itself…

Paper mache Freddy Krueger hand prop - finished!

Sculpting the hand

I definitely went overboard with building the hand; I totally could’ve just stuffed a glove with wadded-up paper towels or something. But that would leave me with a really lifeless, fake-looking hand, and I wanted something more realistic, with more tension in the way it’s posed. I’m always up for overkill on these things!

Read more…

Published by Manning on October 1st, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché chainsaw prop

This thing was fun! And relatively easy, really! I made this paper maché chainsaw prop as a decoration for my 2019 Halloween party. There are so many different little shapes to this thing, and I was really winging it along the way, so there’s no way I can accurately write about every single step or this article would be twenty pages long. But I’ll show you some of the broad strokes…

Paper mache chainsaw prop - painting done!

Read more…

Published by Manning on October 1st, 2019 [No Comments]

Home-made Jason Voorhees mask!

I made this very quick and easy Jason Voorhees mask prop for Halloween 2019. Sure I could’ve bought one for a few bucks, but it’s always more fun to make my own, and I like for all my Halloween decorations and props to have a really rough DIY look to ’em.

Paper mache Jason Voorhees mask - finished

Read more…

Published by Manning on September 30th, 2019 [No Comments]

Making a paper maché rifle and gun rack prop

I made this paper maché hunting rifle and gun rack as a wall decoration for my summer camp slasher movie Halloween party. It was easy!

Paper mache rifle prop - painted

Paper mache rifle prop - with gun rack

I started by doing some image searches for old hunting rifles, to get an idea of the shape and size. I found an image I wanted to use, scaled it up in Photoshop and printed it out as several pages, then taped the pages together and cut the rifle shape out.

Read more…

Published by Manning on September 30th, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché axe prop

I made this here paper maché axe prop for my 2019 Halloween party — theme to be announced soon! It was really easy; here’s how I did it…

Paper mache axe - finished!

A little background: you may remember I made a way-oversized axe prop a while back for my Axe Man skeleton costume (why would you remember that?). So I’d already learned a few lessons from that project, and I decided to do this one a little differently. Along with being oversized, I intentionally designed that axe to be a little bit exaggerated in its proportions; almost a little cartoony. Read more…

Published by Manning on August 5th, 2019 [2 Comments]