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

Magic the Gathering cosplay — Avatar of Woe: scythe

After I finished the Avatar of Woe’s helmet, I moved on to her scythe.

Avatar of Woe scythe - foam board base

I drew the shape of the Avatar of Woe’s scythe blade onto foam board and cut it out with an X-acto knife.

Avatar of Woe scythe - adding foam shapes

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Published by Manning on August 31st, 2017 | No Comments

Magic the Gathering cosplay — Avatar of Woe: helmet

Avatar of Woe -- paper mache cosplay helmet

Another fun commission! This client wanted to cosplay the Avatar of Woe card from Magic the Gathering, and she hired me to make this custom horned helmet and scythe.

Making the basic helmet shape

Avatar of Woe helmet - bubble wrap on base

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Published by Manning on August 31st, 2017 | No Comments

Repainting a miniature Halloween gazebo

Repainting a Halloween village gazebo - before and after

Repainting a Halloween village gazebo - before

I was at the dollar store looking at Halloween decorations with a friend of mine when she noticed an item I would normally skip over — a 3″ miniature gazebo molded out of plaster or something, like the kind of thing you’d put in a little Halloween village set-up in your living room. Not the kind of Halloween decorating I normally do! My eyes usually skip right over this kind of thing. However, she thought it was cute, and upon closer inspection I agreed; the sculpture itself was really neat, with lots of detail in the skulls and bones, but the whole thing was kind of ruined by a bad factory paint job; hey, whaddaya want for a buck? So I decided to buy it and repaint it and send it to her as a gift.

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Published by Manning on August 27th, 2017 | No Comments

Repainting a dollar store bird skeleton

Repainting a plastic bird skeleton - before and after

I’m sure it goes without saying that I vastly prefer hand-made Halloween decorations to store-bought ones, but when I saw this really cool spooky bird skeleton for just a buck I couldn’t resist! A few years ago I actually made a tiny bird skeleton for my cuckoo clock skull mask, and it was an insane amount of work for such a simple little skeleton! I’d never use a store-bought piece for one of my Mardi Gras skull masks, for I’m okay with it when I’m decorating for a big Halloween party; the more shortcuts I can take the better! Anyway, I knew this little plastic bird skeleton would look great in this old birdcage we have lying around, so I snatched him up.

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Published by Manning on August 26th, 2017 | No Comments

Paper maché baby chicks! — part 2

This is part two of two of my paper maché baby chicks project; see part one here.

Making the chicks’ legs and feet

This was a fun challenge: I wanted the legs and feet to be hollow and removable, so when my client received them she could add a lot of coins in the legs/feet for weight and then insert them back into the body, so the chicks would have a nice solid heavy base. Without this weight, the chicks would probably fall over, and if I added the weight permanently while making the sculptures, the shipping cost for the chicks would go way up. Read more…

Published by Manning on July 22nd, 2017 | No Comments

Paper maché baby chicks! — part 1

Another fun commission project: three big paper maché baby chicks!

I was contacted by a wonderful new client at Canadian Crane who commissioned three sculptures of these cartoon baby chicks that their company has in some of their marketing materials. They sent me a pic and I started planning…

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Published by Manning on July 17th, 2017 | No Comments

Paper maché cupcake sculpture!

I was commissioned to make this cute paper maché cupcake sculpture, and it was a lot of fun! I’m so used to doing monsters and skeletons and stuff, this was a really neat diversion. The cupcake was to be used as a decoration in a tradeshow booth with a couple signs on it with logos and messaging, and the whole thing is painted in the client’s brand colors. Here’s how I made it!

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Published by Manning on May 3rd, 2017 | 2 Comments

Twin paper maché skull masks

A new project, a new experiment! I received a custom order for a pair of twin paper maché skull masks; the request was to base them on the design of my first Mardi Gras skull mask and keep them more or less identical, and there was a very short timeline to get them both done. So, I decided to try a reusable base! This was a first for me.

Twin paper mache skull masks - finished!

Luckily I have that article about how I made that first Mardi Gras skull five years ago; otherwise I probably wouldn’t remember how I did it! Of course it would be impossible to get these new ones exactly the same as that one, but I’d do my best to get them close. Read more…

Published by Manning on March 20th, 2017 | No Comments

Wolf skull mask — part 4; making the ears

This is part 4 of my paper maché wolf skull mask; see part 1 here.

I wanted to give my wolf skull some ears; I had this idea because in researching wolf skulls I realized that basically all carnivorous mammals’ skulls look almost indistinguishable, and the main different from one mammal head to another is the ears. So my hope is that adding ears will help people recognize my skull as a wolf (or at least a dog! I’ll settle for a dog!). Read more…

Published by Manning on March 2nd, 2017 | 2 Comments

Wolf skull mask — part 3; painting, etc.

Painting the skull

Before painting this mask, I applied a coat of gesso over the whole thing. Gesso is a thick white paint-like substance that can help smooth out any imperfections in your paper maché surface. In this case it really helped smooth out the teeth in particular.

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Published by Manning on March 2nd, 2017 | No Comments

Paper maché wolf skull mask — part 2

What big teeth you have!

Hooboy, the teeth were one of the hardest and most time consuming parts of this whole mask project! Like I mentioned in part 1, the four big fangs were made out of foam insulation tubing and masking tape; those were pretty easy. I tried a few different methods for the other teeth; I’ll spare you my failures and just show you where I ended up…

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Published by Manning on March 2nd, 2017 | No Comments

Paper maché wolf skull mask — part 1

Paper mache big bad wolf skull mask

I made this here paper maché wolf skull mask for Mardi Gras 2017! It’s got detachable ears, a movable jaw, and it’s one of my most lightweight and comfortable skull masks yet. It was a lot of fun to make; here’s how I did it!

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Published by Manning on March 2nd, 2017 | No Comments

Painting new skeleton pants

I’ve been wearing my hand-painted skeleton suit for five Mardi Gras in a row now, with a few Halloweens thrown in there as well, and for some reason the pants seem to be harder to squeeze into every year! Huh! I wonder how that could be; they must keep shrinking in the wash a little more every single year! Yeah, that’s gotta be it. So anyway, it’s reached a point where I absolutely needed to make new ones for this Mardi Gras; last year I seriously thought they might split open on me during a parade! I learned a lot from how I made these last time, and luckily this was a much more successful project my second time around…

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Published by Manning on February 13th, 2017 | 4 Comments

Now offering custom paper maché masks and sculptures

Interested in a custom papier-mâché mask, sculpture, cosplay armor/accessories, etc made by yours truly? I’ve been getting a lot of requests about paper maché commissions lately so I’ve added a page about custom pieces, with some guidelines about timing and pricing. Drop me a line and let’s talk!

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Published by Manning on January 14th, 2017 | 4 Comments

My process for writing and drawing comics

Okay, a change of pace today! Instead of paper maché and stuff, I’m going to write about my process for writing and drawing and coloring comics, since it’s something I get asked about a lot, and this is the place where I write about my processes for various art things. For reference, you can see a bunch of my comics in my illustration portfolio.

Of course there are other ways of organizing a comic project, but this is the rhythm I fell into many years ago and I’ve basically worked this way on all the comics I’ve ever done. Read more…

Published by Manning on January 2nd, 2017 | No Comments