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

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]

Paper maché candy corn decorations!

I made these candy corn decorations as part of a set of giant candy decorations for my haunted gingerbread house Halloween party! They were easy and fun! My main goal for the candy corn was to keep them super cheap and super quick, so I could make a ton of them!

Giant candy corn decorations - finished!

I started with a bunch of foam pipe insulation; I use these things for tons of art projects. I buy them at Home Depot in bags of four 36″ tubes for about three bucks each. Read more…

Published by Manning on August 30th, 2018 [No Comments]

Giant candy cane decorations!

I made these giant 4-foot paper maché candy cane decorations as part of a set of giant candy decorations for my Halloween party — that’s why they’re orange and black rather than red and white! Our theme was basically “haunted gingerbread house” so I made lots of different kinds of giant spooky candies. I did these in Halloween colors but of course you could do them in more traditional colors for Christmas!

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Published by Manning on August 30th, 2018 [No Comments]

Making an oversized medieval key prop

Check out my giant medieval key! I made this for our spooky gingerbread house themed Halloween party, to hang on our bathroom wall across from the bathtub-converted-into-a-cage-full-of-bones. This thing was so easy to make, and it only took one day (besides painting).

Medieval key prop - painting

I started out by doing a Google image search for medieval keys. There are so many cool styles to choose from; I sort of mixed and matched some elements from a few keys, with the goal of keeping the design simple and iconic. Read more…

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

Halloween 2018 theme revealed: Gingerbread house!

This is the earliest I’ve ever announced our Halloween theme! This year for our Halloween party we’ll be transforming our apartment into a haunted gingerbread house, à la Hansel and Gretel but Halloween-ified, with tons of giant paper maché candies, a huge witch statue and an oven, and probably some bits from other spooky fairytales mixed in. We’re still refining the theme but I’m very excited about this as a starting place! Read more…

Published by Manning on August 27th, 2018 [3 Comments]

Baroness de Pontalba skeleton costume, Mardi Gras 2018

This is my fiancée’s Baroness de Pontalba skull mask and costume for Mardi Gras 2018 — her very first mask for Skeleton Krewe! She was very clear from the beginning of the project that I wasn’t allowed to lay a finger on her mask during its creation, but she let me explain my methods and show her some techniques while I was working on my own skull mask at the same time. I don’t have any work-in-progress pics of her skull mask but I wanted to post the results, which are lovely!

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Published by Manning on August 27th, 2018 [No Comments]

“Good enough for Halloween!”

“Good enough for Halloween” is a phrase I say all the time; it’s basically my mantra during all of August / September / October, and I do not say it lightly!

I hope I don’t need to explain that Halloween is my favorite time of year, and I care about it so deeply that I can get super emotional about it if I’m not careful! So you might think that I’d want to obsess over every detail of my Halloween projects, but it’s really the opposite! I honestly try to cut as many corners as possible for my Halloween stuff. Read more…

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

Making paper maché shapes with a reusable base

This is my method for creating multiple paper maché copies of a shape using a reusable base. I’ve tried different variations on these steps over the last few years and have settled on this process as my favorite.

Start with a base

First, you wanna build a base for your sculpture, so that you can cover it in paper maché and make copies of it. Read more…

Published by Manning on April 7th, 2018 [No Comments]

Attaching a hard hat in a paper maché mask

Hello! I’m just putting this long boring article here so I can link to it from other posts rather than explain the same thing every time. I mount almost all of my big paper maché masks on a hard hat. Obviously all my masks are very different shapes and sizes, so a lot of this can vary, but this is my basic method that I’ve settled on…

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Published by Manning on April 4th, 2018 [No Comments]

Custom SLY skull trophy sculpture

SLY skull sculpture - painting finished!

I made this skull sculpture (skullpture??) for my good friend, Twitch superstar Slyvinlisha, aka Sly. I made the sculpture based on two different versions of her logo illustration, pictured below.

SLY skull sculpture - reference illustrations

I started with a nice plastic skull from one of my Halloween skeleton decorations that broke in half due to a spooky Halloween mishap! I broke the neck off at the base and put the rest of the bones away to use for other Halloween decorating purposes. Read more…

Published by Manning on March 31st, 2018 [No Comments]

My mask making process

Hooboy, I’m finally typing all of this up! Here’s my basic process for making big paper maché masks, including materials, my paper maché process, etc. These are just guidelines, and I change parts of this process for almost every mask, but this the basic stuff right here.

Design

I always design my mask on paper, through tons and tons of sketches. I always draw it from the front and sides, and sometimes other angles if they’re important to the design. Read more…

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

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 [2 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]