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

Experiment time: paper maché and wood filler

One thing about working with paper maché is that it’s very time consuming, because you’ve gotta do lots of layers and they all take a long time to dry; most of my big masks and sculptures need at least seven layers of paper to be thick and sturdy enough. I’m always looking for any kind of shortcuts that might speed up the process of building up a surface that’s nice and strong, while also keeping the cost of materials in mind.

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Published by Manning on January 14th, 2019 [2 Comments]

Experiment time: paper maché versus plaster cloth

I’ve always used paper maché for my big masks and sculptures, and although I really enjoy the paper maché process it can be very time-consuming. A friend of mine mentioned that she recently tried plaster cloth — aka plaster wrap, plaster of paris strips, craft wrap, etc — and she said it saved her a ton of time. She’d made a couple Halloween masks with the stuff and they definitely looked great; she said she was so happy with the results that she’d never go back to paper maché. Huh! I was skeptical, but intrigued.

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Published by Manning on January 13th, 2019 [No Comments]

Creating 3d relief shapes with craft foam

A few years ago I made up this method for cutting out precise shapes with craft foam, to create 3d relief shapes on a lot of my various sculpture projects.

Craft foam, aka wonder foam, is a soft rubbery material that I often describe as being similar to a yoga mat, but much thinner. You can buy it in any arts and crafts store, and it comes in tons of colors. Read more…

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

Spray painting tips for paper maché projects

Spray paint is a big part of my process for creating most of my paper maché masks and sculptures, and it can be a huge time-saver when you’re working on any large shape. Here are my tricks and tips for working with spray paint, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro!

I use Montana Golden acrylic spray paint for all my commission projects and any of my more-serious personal projects like my Mardi Gras skull Read more…

Published by Manning on December 14th, 2018 [No Comments]

Paper maché wolf mask

I made this oversized paper maché wolf mask for Halloween 2018! It was a rush project without a lot of planning, and I took a lot of shortcuts, but it still came out pretty cool (but, uh, way bigger than I was thinking)! Here’s how I made the thing…

Paper mache wolf mask - paint job finished

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Published by Manning on November 2nd, 2018 [No Comments]

Axe Man sculpture from History Bones!

I’m still recovering from Halloween, and this is a thing I’ve been dying to post about for weeks: Lee from History Bones sent me her sculpture of my Axe Man costume! Holy shit! Incredible! The whole thing is not even 7″ tall! The mask comes off! And the likeness underneath is uncanny!

Axe Man sculpture by History Bones

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Published by Manning on November 1st, 2018 [No Comments]

Giant witch statue! — part 2

This is part two of two of my giant witch statue for Halloween 2018. See part one here.

Making the witch’s oversized broom

I needed the witch’s broom prop to be much longer than a real broom, so I started with two metal mop handles from the dollar store. I connected these at the ends with a couple layers of shipping tape wrapped around, which felt a little flimsy, and then I rolled a piece of construction paper tightly around the connection point, and then I wrapped some more shipping tape around that. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 29th, 2018 [No Comments]

Giant witch statue! — part 1

My fiancée and I made this giant 8-foot witch statue for our 2018 Halloween party! This is by far the biggest thing we’ve ever made. It was a great learning experience. Here’s how we did it…

Giant witch statue made from paper mache, foam board, plastic table cloths, etc

I used my fiancée as a model for the witch! I had her pose with a broom and I took pictures from various sides to use for reference. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 29th, 2018 [2 Comments]

Making a paper maché kitchen knife

I made this paper maché kitchen knife prop to go with one of my evil gingerbread people that I made for Halloween 2018!

Paper mache kitch knife - finished!

I actually did another fake knife project several Halloweens ago, but the goal of that project was to create lots of knives very quickly, and I knew they’d be hanging up high enough that no one would get a good look at them, so they didn’t need to be perfect. Read more…

Published by Manning on October 15th, 2018 [2 Comments]

Paper maché gingerbread men!

I made these evil paper maché gingerbread men (excuse me, gingerbread people!) for Halloween 2018. They were easy!

Paper mache gingerbread men - finished!

I started by designing a basic gingerbread man shape in Photoshop so it would fit on a sheet of 20″ x 30″ foam board (aka foam core). I printed it out as several pages, taped ’em together, and cut the shape out.

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Published by Manning on October 14th, 2018 [No Comments]

Another giant paper maché lollipop

I made this giant paper maché lollipop with a spiral design (the one on the left, duh) as part of a group of giant candy decorations for my gingerbread house Halloween party. Here’s how I did it…

Paper mache Halloween lollipop decorations - finished

Paper mache spiral lollipop - foam board circles

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Published by Manning on October 13th, 2018 [No Comments]

Jack o’ lantern lollipop prop

I made this big jack o’ lantern lollipop decoration (the one on the right, duh) for my Halloween party in 2018. It was easy!

Paper mache Halloween lollipop decorations - finished

Paper mache jack o' lantern lollipop prop - cutting out foam board

I started by drawing the shape of the jack o’ lantern on a piece of foam board and cutting it out with an X-acto knife. I then traced and cut out two more copies, for three total.

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

Paper maché peppermint decorations for Halloween

I made these oversized paper maché peppermint decorations as part of a set of giant candy props for Halloween 2018. Here’s how I made ’em…

Paper mache peppermint candies - finished!

Paper maché peppermint decorations - cutting out circles

I gathered materials to make three peppermint candies at the same time. I cut out six 12″ circles, two for each candy. See my article about drawing precise circles! I cut the circles out with an X-acto knife.

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Published by Manning on October 11th, 2018 [No Comments]

Making a giant paper maché lollipop

This giant paper maché lollipop was the easiest project in the world! I made this along with a bunch of other types of giant candy for my gingerbread house Halloween party. Here’s how I did it…

Paper mache giant lollipop - finished

I started by searching Amazon for “inflatable ball” and bought the cheapest one I could find in the 15″ – 18″ range; it turned out to be a globe, which is kind of funny because the last time I ordered inflatable balls it was to make two paper maché globes!

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Published by Manning on October 5th, 2018 [No Comments]

Hansel and Gretel light-up oven prop! — part 2

This is part 2 of my paper maché oven prop for Halloween 2018; see part 1 here.

Making the fake flames

Making the fire was an interesting challenge! I needed to find a material that would be translucent enough to diffuse the light properly, and also rigid enough that it could stand up in the oven. One thing I thought of ahead of time was that if I curved the material for the flames, that might help it stand up better; think about holding a piece of paper vertically and curving it a bit so it’s somewhat rigid. Make sense? More on this coming up.

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Published by Manning on September 25th, 2018 [No Comments]

Hansel and Gretel light-up oven prop! — part 1

I’m making this big light-up oven prop for my haunted gingerbread house Halloween party in 2018! It will eventually be a lightweight wall hanging with some battery powered lights and one Hue light inside. So far so good! Here’s what I’ve done so far…

Hansel and Gretel oven prop - paper maché on the the bricks

Building the oven base

First I designed the basic shape of the oven in Photoshop — it’s 40″ x 30″; I chose this size out of convenience because it allowed me to base the design on two sheets of 20″ x 30″ foam board connected side by side. Read more…

Published by Manning on September 25th, 2018 [No Comments]

Giant scary clown Pez dispenser — part 2

This is part two of my giant scary clown Pez dispenser project! See part one here.

Giant evil clown Pez dispenser - finished head

Making the evil clown head

For the spooky clown head, I started by cutting a panel of foam board that’s the same size as the top panel of the Pez dispenser body (see part one), to use as a base for the head, in order to ensure the head will fit nicely on the “neck.” I built the rest of the head onto this panel.

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Published by Manning on September 16th, 2018 [No Comments]

Making giant paper maché Pez candies

I made these giant paper maché Pez candies to go with my scary clown Pez dispenser prop for Halloween 2018! I made half a dozen of them, one to go in the Pez dispenser and the others to have strewn around nearby. They were easy to make! Here’s how I did ’em…

Making giant PEZ candies - finished!

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Published by Manning on September 16th, 2018 [No Comments]

Giant scary clown Pez dispenser!!! — part 1

I made this 6-foot scary-ass clown Pez dispenser for my Halloween party in 2018! The idea came to me when I was working on some other giant candies and realized this would be a pretty easy project that would really add to the overall ambiance.

Giant evil clown Pez dispenser - finished!!!

My first step for this project was laying everything out in Photoshop and figuring out the exact measurements for the “body” of the Pez dispenser — the evil clown head I pretty much just freestyled!

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Published by Manning on September 16th, 2018 [No Comments]

Paper maché giant gummi bears!

These were so fun! I made these paper maché gummi bears as part of a set of giant candy decorations for my haunted gingerbread house Halloween party!

Paper mache gummi bear decorations - finished!

I created a reusable base for the giant gummi bears; I built one nice solid gummi bear shape and then used it to make multiple paper maché copies. (Other projects where I used a reusable base: paper maché baby chicks, twin skull masks)

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Published by Manning on September 1st, 2018 [No Comments]