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 candy corn decorations!


Published by Manning on August 30th, 2018

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. For this project I used the 3/4″ size, which I think refers to the diameter of the pipe that would normally go through the hole in the middle.

Since the insulation tubes are 36″ long, I decided to cut them in half and design my candy corn shapes to each use one 18″ segment.

Giant candy corn decorations - cutting out the foam

I sliced the foam tubes down the middle with an X-acto knife to get two half-cylinder pieces. There’s a seam on one side that’s really easy to cut through, so I did that one first, and then I just looked down through the middle of the tube and eyeballed where to cut for the side that’s opposite from the seam. This doesn’t have to be 100% precise since all of this will get covered over with other materials later on.

So, each 36″ tube ends up being cut into four 18″ half-cylinders. That means one bag of four 36″ foam tubes for ~$3 becomes 16 pieces of giant candy corn! I bought four bags of foam tubes with the plan to make (uh… math…) 64 pieces of candy corn.

Giant candy corn decorations - building a frame

To make a solid base for the candy corn, I measured and cut strips of foam board to fold into a triangle shape. You’d think since the segments of foam tubing are 18″ long, the sides of the triangle should add up to 18″ — and you’d be wrong! The foam tubing is very firm and I found out it loses a lot of its length as it bends around the corners of the foam board triangle. I had to do a ton of trial and error with different-sized triangles to find the perfect size; this ended up being 5 5/8″ – 5 5/8″ – 4 1/8″. These sides add up to a total of just 15 3/8″ — much smaller than I expected to fit the 18″ length of foam tubing.

Although the foam tubing has a diameter of 2″, I cut the foam board strips for the triangles to be 1 13/16″ wide, to account for the the way the foam tubing gets a little more narrow in the places where it has to stretch.

I folded the foam board strips into triangles and taped the ends together with shipping tape.

I then wrapped the half-tubes of pipe insulation around the foam board triangles, and taped them in place with masking tape. I found that giving the foam tube segments a good stretch before wrapping them around the triangles helped loosen them up a bit.

Giant candy corn decorations - assembling with tape

I covered the open areas on both sides of the candy corn shapes with a layer of shipping tape.

Giant candy corn decorations - paper mache

Finally these were ready for paper maché. I covered each piece of candy corn with just one layer of paper maché. (You can read about my paper maché process and materials here.) For these simple Halloween decorations, one layer of paper was fine; if they were meant to be more permanent I’d probably use about four layers. With just one layer of paper the candy corn pieces feel pretty flimsy, but this is totally fine for Halloween party decorations that only need to last one night. Sticking to one layer of paper also helps keep the weight down, which is a good thing for any kind of decoration you’re going to hang up.

The candy corn shapes end up kind of weirdly concave on the big flat surfaces, which isn’t ideal, but it’s totally fine for a quick Halloween project like this. The concave shape is due to the way the foam tube segments bend around the foam board triangle — it bunches up a bit at the corners, making it a little wider there, and it stretches along the flat parts, making it more narrow there. A somewhat convex shape would’ve been more realistic, and I briefly considered trying to puff out the candy corn with other materials, but then I reminded myself that I wanted to keep this project as quick as possible, and also that these things are just going to be displayed at a Halloween party with low lighting and everyone is going to be drunk; no need to agonize over little details! They shapes are totally fine as-is. (A mantra I repeat to myself all Halloween season while I’m working on these projects is: “good enough for Halloween!”)

When the paper maché was dry, I painted all the pieces of candy corn in a three-step process. I used white spray paint to cover the tip of the candy corn shapes down to a little more than a third of the length. (I forgot to take a pic of this step.)

Giant candy corn decorations - orange spray paint

I let the white spray paint dry completely, and then I used masking tape and newspaper to protect the white section, and then I did a coating of orange spray paint to paint the middle stripe. In the pic above I’ve just removed the masking tape and newspaper so you can see the white strip and orange strip with a nice clean line in between, and the orange blurs out toward the brown. And of course there’s a paper maché giant candy cane and a paper maché giant gummi bear that are drying as well.

Giant candy corn decorations - yellow spray paint

I then did the same thing with more masking tape and newspaper, and yellow spray paint.

Giant candy corn decorations - finished!

I did all of these steps very quickly and I wasn’t very precise with the masking tape, so in the end a lot of the lines between the colors are blurred, and I’m fine with that! No need to obsess over the details with these kinds of things; imperfect is okay! Especially when making so many of something.

The finished pieces of candy corn ended up being about 8″ long. I’m still making more of them as I write this! I’ve got about 32 so far, hoping to have around 64 by Halloween.

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