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

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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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]

Sculpture technique: making box shapes out of foam board

Most of my sculpture projects start with a base of foam board shapes connected with tape and/or glue. I made up this technique for creating sturdy box shapes in any kind of shape or size, and I use it for almost every project, with some slight variations. This technique works great for anything from very geometric shapes to completely irregular custom shapes, as long as they’re flat on two sides. Here’s what I do…

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

Custom paper maché sword piñata!

My boss at my day job asked me if I’d be up for making a paper maché sword piñata for our company’s 10th anniversary, and I jumped at the chance! This thing is a giant-sized replica of a wooden sword that periodically changes hands among different teams here as a trophy for amazing creative work. Here’s a pic of the real sword and one of the winning teams, on our company’s Instagram. Anyway, I’d never made a piñata before, but I always wanted to try — it was fun!

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Published by Manning on August 2nd, 2019 [No Comments]

Love 2 make new Friends

paper mache heads

It’s June, and that means Halloween preparation is well underway! This here is the very early stages of making a dozen paper maché severed heads!

I’ll post a few pics of the heads in progress below; full article coming soon!

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Published by Manning on June 5th, 2019 [No Comments]

An even bigger Skeleton Krewe doubloon!

I had a lot of fun making a 15″ Skeleton Krewe doubloon recently, so I decided to make a much larger version! I considered a few different sizes based on the different materials I had to work with, and landed on 33″ in diameter as the size for this big one.

Giant 33-inch Skeleton Krewe doubloon - with shiny silver paint job

Many of the steps for making this giant 33″ doubloon were the same for how I made the 15″ version, so I’ll refer to that article several times here rather than type the same stuff again. Read more…

Published by Manning on April 10th, 2019 [No Comments]

Skull mask with marching skeletons — pics from Mardi Gras!

Here are some more pics of my mask in action on Mardi Gras day with Skeleton Krewe, and another video as well!

You can check out my posts about making this mask here:

Part 1 – making the gears and moving parts
Part 2 – making the little skeletons
Part 3 – building a skull mask around all this
Part 4 – painting, hat, finishing touches, etc!

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Published by Manning on March 7th, 2019 [No Comments]

Skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 4

This is part four of my skull mask project with rotating gears and marching skeletons. See parts one, two, and three.

Installing the hard hat

Almost all of my big paper maché masks are mounted on a hard hat. Hard hats are great because they’re cheap and they provide a lot of comfort and stability in a big mask. I usually saw off some parts of the hard hat for each mask depending on its shape, in order to reduce weight and to help the hard hat fit in the mask as well as possible. Read more…

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

Skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 3

This is part three of my skull mask project with rotating gears and marching skeletons. See parts one and two.

Building the skull shape

In part one I built the whole mechanism with the gears inside of a big circular wall; this would become the outer wall of the skull mask at around ear-level (not my ears, the skull’s ears — uh, wait a minute…). Read more…

Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 [No Comments]

Paper maché skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 2

This is part two of my skull mask project with rotating gears and marching skeletons. See part one here.

Attaching the skeletons to the rings

Dancing skeletons

I drew all 29 of the dancing skeletons at a larger size (about 6″ tall) on sketchbook paper, keeping the designs as simple as possible since I’d be re-painting them by hand at a much smaller size. I scanned ’em and cleaned ’em up in Photoshop, reduced them to about 2″ tall, and printed them out. Read more…

Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 [No Comments]

Skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 1

Welcome to the newest installment in my ongoing quest to kill myself with overly complicated art projects! For the 20th anniversary of Skeleton Krewe (my seventh year officially with the Krewe) I decided to make a paper maché skull mask with moving parts! Yikes! The mask has a crank and gears and 29 little skeleton figurines representing my fellow Krewe members; a sort of best-of selection of our skull masks and skeleton outfits over the last two decades. Here’s how I made the thing!

Skull mask with gears and rotating rings

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

Paper mache horse skull mask!

This year for Skeleton Krewe’s 20th anniversary, my fiancée decided to make a mask of our mascot, Skelly the skeleton horse! And I’ve decided to steal it for blog content. This is her second big skull mask project, and she let me be her assistant!

Horse skull mask - close up

The real Skelly is a fiberglass horse on wheels; she used to one of many gold horses that were mounted on top of tractors that pulled the floats in the Mardi Gras superkrewe of Rex. Read more…

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

Making a giant Skeleton Krewe doubloon!

I’ve been marching with Skeleton Krewe every Mardi Gras since 2013, and every year we give out either wooden nickels or metallic doubloons with the Krewe’s logo on them. This Mardi Gras the group is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and I decided to make this giant-sized doubloon; I’m not even sure what I’m gonna do with it yet! Here’s how I made the thing…

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Published by Manning on February 23rd, 2019 [No Comments]

Making a 20th anniversary Skeleton Krewe rosette medal

This year for Skeleton Krewe‘s 20th anniversary we were encouraged to make and wear anything with an “XX” to commemorate the occasion, whether it was something incorporated into our skull mask, or our costume, our makeup, etc. I decided to make this rosette-style medal to accentuate the skeleton suit I wear every year. It was fun to make! Here’s how I did it…

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal

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Published by Manning on January 28th, 2019 [2 Comments]