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

Paper maché Necronomicon sculpture — part 2

This is part two of two of my paper maché demonic book project. See part one here.

Making the 3d “BOO!” logo

To create the “BOO!” logo in the mouth, I started out by printing several copies of the logo (designed by my friend Jon Morris) at the actual size; I’d planned out my sketch for the face along with the logo in Photoshop so I’d be able to plan all of these parts to fit together the way I wanted.

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Published by Manning on October 2nd, 2017 [2 Comments]

Haunted book paper maché sculpture for BOO! Halloween Stories — part 1

Haunted book sculpture - three-quarter view

I made this paper maché haunted book sculpture for the cover of the 2017 edition of BOO! Halloween Stories — a comics anthology that I’ve been doing with my friend Jon Morris off and on for about fifteen years. The cover is usually just a regular illustration, but this year Jon had the idea to have me sculpt a demonic book — you know, like the Necronomicon or whatever — and then photograph that for the cover of the digital comic. This was an insanely fun project; here’s how I did it!

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Published by Manning on October 2nd, 2017 [No Comments]

Three-headed paper maché dragon sculpture! — part 2

This is part two of two of Isabella the dragon! See the first part here.

The sea serpent’s bodies and heads and fins and other various parts were done, but I had to do some other steps before assembling them. It made sense to switch gears here and work on the pedestal and tray area, to figure out how they’ll fit with the dragons.

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Published by Manning on September 5th, 2017 [No Comments]

Three-headed paper maché dragon sculpture! — part 1

Isabella three-headed sea serpent sculpture

This was an incredibly fun commission piece I got to work on! I was contacted by a member of the Crewe of Columbus, a Mardi Gras crewe in Mobile, Alabama, and asked to make a sculpture of one of their parade floats — a very charming three-headed sea serpent(/dragon) named Isabella. The sculpture would have a serving tray area on top and be the centerpiece on one of the buffet tables at the group’s annual ball. The client sent me tons of photos of the Isabella float and asked for a sculpture that was approximately 40″ long from head(s) to tail(s). I couldn’t wait to get started!

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Published by Manning on September 5th, 2017 [No Comments]

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 wolf skull

Before painting the wolf skull 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]