I made these creepy hands for my “guy being strangled by a ghost” costume! (Article about that whole thing coming soon.) You could use this same method for posable, realistic hands for any kind of monster decoration: a witch, a vampire, a zombie, etc!
First, I traced my own hand onto a sheet of craft foam (aka Wonderfoam). I kept my thumb stretched way out since ultimately I wanted these hands to be in a strangling position around my neck.
I got the idea for this lamp when I saw this plastic bottle of almond milk in our fridge; it’s a neat bowling-pin shape that’s perfect for an old-timey lamp. I decided to add this lamp project to the list of lightweight paper maché furniture that we’re hanging from the ceiling for our spooky séance party.
Okay, one last piece of furniture before I lose my mind! This time, a floating haunted nightstand with a floating haunted lamp.
I started the nightstand with three big pieces of foam board — the front, back, and top.
This mantel is possibly the biggest paper project I’ve ever made! (Well, this or the giant spider.) I don’t have a ton of work-in-progress photos for the construction of the mantel — I did a tremendous amount of sketching and measuring beforehand, and a lot more along the way as the thing came together and I kept adding things. Almost all of the pieces are foam board, with a little bit of poster board, all held together with lots and lots of packing tape and masking tape.
This is part two of my paper maché furniture projects for my séance Halloween party; see part one (chairs!) here.
With the chairs done, I moved on to the table! Unlike the chairs, I didn’t have a real table handy to use as a model for this, so I just made up a table based on some Google image searches for victorian round table.
For my upcoming séance party I wanted to have a few pieces of paper maché furniture stuck upside down on the ceiling — a table with a crystal ball, two chairs, maybe a little dresser with a lamp, etc. The main guidelines I set for myself are: the furniture all has to be extremely lightweight, since it’ll all be attached with thumbtacks to the ceiling, and it doesn’t have to be super realistic, since the lighting in the party will be low. I started with the chairs; here’s how I made ’em!
I have some simple Ikea chairs that I used as a model. My plan was to trace and/or draw the various pieces of a chair onto foam board, and then cut out all the pieces and assemble ’em and hope they resemble a chair.
Check out our animated séance party invitation! You (probably) ain’t invited but feel free to check out the video.
Coming soon: tons of paper maché and other ghostly decorating projects!
In all of the large paper maché masks and heads I’ve made, the teeth are always, always the most labor-intensive and challenging (and sometimes frustrating!) part. I’m always amazed at what a large proportion of my time and effort go into such a small part of the head! I’ve tried a few different methods for making teeth over the years, with varied success. Here are the methods I’ve used, and some pros and Cons:
Okay, I wrote up some more of these tips! (Part one of my tips for making big paper maché masks is here.)
Design a base that’s easy to break apart
Maybe my favorite part of the whole mask-making process is the step when all the paper maché is dry and it’s time to cut the mask open and remove all the foam board, styrofoam, poster board, etc, along with tons and tons and tons of masking tape. While fun, this can be challenging and a little annoying at times because lots of the large shapes are locked into the paper maché and you have to do a lot of work cutting them apart from the inside before removing them in pieces. Read more…
In making all my big paper maché masks I’ve learned a lot of important things along the way — things I could only figure out through trial and error, but now that I know about them they’re a huge help in every subsequent mask I make. I’m by no means an expert! I’ve only made four big skull masks so far, and I have two more in the works (one skull and one non-skull) but with each one I can see them getting easier and easier to make and to wear, thanks to these tricks I’ve worked out over the years. Here are some of them…
A friend of mine took this video of me opening and closing my mask on Mardi Gras morning, around 9am at Jackson Square. The hinge mechanism in the door (made from a plastic file folder and some magnets) held up great over the course of the long day. Check out parts one, two, and three of my process for making this mask, and the article I wrote about making the little cuckoo bird skeleton. Fun!
I made this bird skeleton for my cuckoo clock skull mask for Mardi Gras 2016. Making this skeleton was extremely challenging, and I basically made up all the steps as I went along. I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned a lot and I’m very happy with the end result. I didn’t take as many pictures as I should’ve along the way, so I’ve done some sketches to explain certain steps.
The main materials in the bird skeleton are:
Where were we? Oh yeah, it’s time to paint!
Painting the mask
I painted the clock body and the roof separately for the most part before joining them together. I first protected the screen in the eyes/nose/mouth with blue masking tape (the kind that’s really easy to remove), and then I spray painted the entire exterior of the clock white. I separately spray painted the roof black. I let these pieces air out for about three days outside.
Scale-pattern shingles on the roof
I started the roof with two foam board panels. My process for creating the scale-shaped shingles was kind of convoluted…
The pattern on the roof is made with a few layers of craft foam (aka Wonderfoam). I made this way harder for myself than it needed to be! Since all my wall and roof panels were irregular shapes — there isn’t a single 90-degree angle on this whole mask — I needed the scale-shaped roof tiles to start out larger near the top of the roof and get smaller toward the bottom. I ended up designing the whole roof surface in Photoshop, starting with a nice regular scale pattern on a rectangular shape (figure 1). Read more…
Behold my cuckoo clock skull mask for Mardi Gras 2016! Wow, this one was complicated and fun! Here’s the short version…
This mask was made up of a lot of individual paper maché parts that I built separately and assembled. Here’s a very quick rundown of the parts and what they’re made of: