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

Axeman skull mask! — part 2

Axe Man paper mache skull mask

This is part two of my Axeman paper maché skull mask for Mardi Gras 2018; see part one here.

Making the mustache

You may remember from part one I wanted to make the mustache attach to the skull with magnets so it’s removable. Here’s my convoluted process for designing the mustache, getting it to match the curvature of the skull, and getting the placement of the magnets correct.

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Published by Manning on February 12th, 2018 [No Comments]

Axe Man skull mask for Mardi Gras 2018

Axe Man paper mache skull mask

Here’s my Axe Man skeleton costume for Mardi Gras 2018! The Axe Man was a semi-legendary serial killer in New Orleans in 1918-1919; you can read all about him here. This year Skeleton Krewe designed skulls and costumes based on figures from New Orleans history, to celebrate the city’s tricentennial, so of course I picked the creepiest guy I could find. Here’s how I made his skull mask, and don’t miss my other article about making the oversized paper maché axe prop.

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Published by Manning on February 12th, 2018 [No Comments]

Skeleton Krewe — That’s how we roll!

Just a fun animation I made; indirectly related to my paper maché skull masks!

Skeleton Krewe - That's how we roll!

A thing I used to keep quiet on this website but have gotten more in the habit of mentioning is that I’m a member of a Mardi Gras marching krewe in New Orleans called Skeleton Krewe. That’s (obviously!) the reason I make all my paper maché skull masks and skeleton clothes. I’ve been a full-fledged member of Skeleton Krewe since 2013, so I’ve made six skull masks so far. I’ll be unveiling my new one on Mardi Gras morning, February 13th! Read more…

Published by Manning on February 3rd, 2018 [No Comments]

Making an oversized paper maché axe

I made this big ol’ paper maché axe prop for my Axe Man skeleton costume for Mardi Gras 2018 (read about the real Axe Man here!). It was easy to make! Here’s how I did it…

Paper mache axe

(Wax mannequin for scale.)

Paper mache axe - printouts

I started by grabbing a photo of an axe online and editing it in Photoshop to be the size that I wanted; about 48 inches long total with an oversized blade that’s about 16 inches long. Read more…

Published by Manning on December 28th, 2017 [4 Comments]

Tiny hand-made crown for my bunny rabbit!

I made this tiny crown for my old blind bunny rabbit, Acide, for this 13th birthday! It was a quick last-minute project and I didn’t take any pics of my steps, but it was really easy; I’ll explain how I made the thing…

Tiny paper mache crown - Acide wearing the finished crown

I designed the basic shape for the crown on paper and then traced that onto craft foam and cut it out.

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Published by Manning on December 28th, 2017 [No Comments]

Painting a skeleton shirt with fabric paint

I’ve already posted two articles about painting skeleton clothes — my first skeleton suit, and a new pair of skeleton pants — and I learn something new every time I paint up some new clothes.

I’ve been wearing my skeleton suit every Mardi Gras for years now, usually with a black dress shirt, sometimes with a tie and/or vest, but last Mardi Gras (2017) was so warm it made me realize I also need an option that doesn’t involve layers. So I decided to paint this skeleton dress shirt. Read more…

Published by Manning on December 27th, 2017 [No Comments]

Craft foam sea serpent and other relief shapes

I made these layered craft foam reliefs to use as decorations on the paper maché globes I made recently.

Craft foam relief - Isabella the sea serpent

I designed three different relief elements for the globes: Isabella the three-headed sea serpent, a ship based on the Crewe of Columbus logo, and a simple compass shape. I decided to make two copies of each, so each of the two globes could have all three elements.

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Published by Manning on December 10th, 2017 [2 Comments]

Paper maché globe decorations

Paper mache globe - ship and compass

You may remember recently I posted about making a three-headed sea serpent sculpture for the Crewe of Columbus, a Mardi Gras parade group in Mobile, Alabama. The same wonderful client from that project also commissioned this pair of paper maché globes, which go along with the Crewe’s theme of world exploration; they’re going to be hung up as decorations in the same ballroom as Isabella. These were really fun to make!

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Published by Manning on December 10th, 2017 [No Comments]

Ancient Egypt Halloween party

My Halloween party theme for 2017 was ancient Egypt! This is one I’ve been wanting to do for about 20 years! The theme is so rich with built-in imagery, colors, mythology, monsters, etc; it was insanely fun to explore. Here are some of the projects and costumes that went into our ancient Egypt Halloween party…

I started off by sending out our annual animated invitation; I make these every year, and my friend Robbie Davis always supplies music, and in this case, lots of cool sound effects. Read more…

Published by Manning on November 8th, 2017 [2 Comments]

Paper maché Anubis mask

I made this paper maché Anubis mask for Halloween 2017, for my ancient Egypt-themed Halloween party.

Paper maché Anubis mask - finished!

My main goals for this mask were to make something that would be wearable for all or most of my party; I wanted to figure out a way to make a large paper maché mask like this that allowed me to hear very well, see very well, and have good air circulation. I’d never worn a full head mask like this for my Halloween party, and I know from experience with my big Mardi Gras skull masks that seeing and hearing can be a challenge! Read more…

Published by Manning on October 31st, 2017 [No Comments]

Cleopatra headdress

I made this feathered Cleopatra headdress for my lovely wife for our ancient Egypt Halloween party in 2017. I neglected to take any pictures of this thing while it was in progress! I was so rushed in the last week leading up to Halloween I just didn’t have time to document my process. But I’ll explain how I made it.

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Published by Manning on October 31st, 2017 [No Comments]

Making a foam board Egyptian sarcophagus

I made this standing sarcophagus for Halloween 2017 — basically a big selfie booth! Here’s how I did it…

Paper mache Egyptian sarcophagus - finished!

Making an Egyptian sarcophagus - designing in Photoshop

I started by planning out the dimensions of the sarcophagus in Photoshop. The red and cyan boxes represent 30″ x 20″ sheets of foam board, and the grid is square inches, with dotted lines to denote feet. I don’t have a Photoshop template for this stuff; I just wing it and lay out and measure whatever parts I think are going to be important. You can see that my design was 6’2″. I built the sarcophagus at this size and later decided to add three more inches at the bottom, for a total of 6’5″. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 30th, 2017 [No Comments]

Paper maché ancient Egyptian canopic jars

Paper maché ancient Egyptian canopic jars

I made these canopic jars as decorations for my Halloween 2017 party. Canopic jars are a set of four jars with the heads of Egyptian gods on top, and they were used during the mummification process to store various organs. I’ll let Wikipedia explain more about them rather than try to write about them myself. I wanted to make these for our ancient Egypt Halloween party to use as decorations in our mummification scene. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 30th, 2017 [2 Comments]

Spiked ceiling for my ancient Egypt Halloween party

I made this spiked ceiling for the entranceway into my ancient Egypt Halloween party. We have a small private hallway that you have to go through before entering our actual apartment, and we wanted to turn this space into the entrance to the tomb, like with hidden traps to foil would-be thieves or explorers. I didn’t take a ton of work-in-progress pictures of this project because there’s not a whole lot to show; this was a pretty easy one!

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Published by Manning on October 30th, 2017 [No Comments]

Paper maché pickaxe and shovel decorations

I made these here pickaxe and shovel decorations for the entryway into our Egyptian tomb Halloween party. They were super quick and easy! I didn’t need to make them sturdy at all, since they were just for display, and they only needed to last one night, so I was able to cut a lot of corners! I didn’t take any photos of my steps (I was in a huge hurry for all these latest Halloween projects!), but they’re pretty easy to follow; check it out…

Paper maché pickaxe and shovel decorations in the entrance to our ancient Egyptian Tomb Halloween party

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Published by Manning on October 30th, 2017 [No Comments]