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

Posts tagged "skeleton":

Skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 4

This is part four of my skull mask project with rotating gears and marching skeletons. See parts one, two, and three.

Installing the hard hat

Almost all of my big paper maché masks are mounted on a hard hat. Hard hats are great because they’re cheap and they provide a lot of comfort and stability in a big mask. I usually saw off some parts of the hard hat for each mask depending on its shape, in order to reduce weight and to help the hard hat fit in the mask as well as possible. Read more…

Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 | 2 Comments

Skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 3

This is part three of my skull mask project with rotating gears and marching skeletons. See parts one and two.

Building the skull shape

In part one I built the whole mechanism with the gears inside of a big circular wall; this would become the outer wall of the skull mask at around ear-level (not my ears, the skull’s ears — uh, wait a minute…). Read more…

Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 | No Comments

Paper maché skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 2

This is part two of my skull mask project with rotating gears and marching skeletons. See part one here.

Attaching the skeletons to the rings

Dancing skeletons

I drew all 29 of the dancing skeletons at a larger size (about 6″ tall) on sketchbook paper, keeping the designs as simple as possible since I’d be re-painting them by hand at a much smaller size. I scanned ’em and cleaned ’em up in Photoshop, reduced them to about 2″ tall, and printed them out. Read more…

Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 | No Comments

Skull mask with dancing skeletons, part 1

Welcome to the newest installment in my ongoing quest to kill myself with overly complicated art projects! For the 20th anniversary of Skeleton Krewe (my seventh year officially with the Krewe) I decided to make a paper maché skull mask with moving parts! Yikes! The mask has a crank and gears and 29 little skeleton figurines representing my fellow Krewe members; a sort of best-of selection of our skull masks and skeleton outfits over the last two decades. Here’s how I made the thing!

Skull mask with gears and rotating rings

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Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 | 2 Comments

Paper mache horse skull mask!

This year for Skeleton Krewe’s 20th anniversary, my fiancée decided to make a mask of our mascot, Skelly the skeleton horse! And I’ve decided to steal it for blog content. This is her second big skull mask project, and she let me be her assistant!

Horse skull mask - close up

The real Skelly is a fiberglass horse on wheels; she used to one of many gold horses that were mounted on top of tractors that pulled the floats in the Mardi Gras superkrewe of Rex. Read more…

Published by Manning on March 5th, 2019 | 2 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

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

Painting a skeleton shirt with fabric paint

I’ve already posted two articles about painting skeleton clothes — my first skeleton suit, and a new pair of skeleton pants — and I learn something new every time I paint up some new clothes.

I’ve been wearing my skeleton suit every Mardi Gras for years now, usually with a black dress shirt, sometimes with a tie and/or vest, but last Mardi Gras (2017) was so warm it made me realize I also need an option that doesn’t involve layers. So I decided to paint this skeleton dress shirt. Read more…

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

DIY mummy props

My fiancée and I made these mummies for our ancient Egypt Halloween party. I didn’t get any pictures of our process but they were really easy! I’ll explain how we made ’em…

We started with a 5-foot articulated plastic skeleton; we buy these whenever we see them on sale and we’ve got a ton of them now. We ended up using two of the skeletons to make two mummies; the others went into different projects.

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Published by Manning on October 30th, 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

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

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 | 6 Comments

Skeleton playing a cello decoration

This is just a fun thing I want to share; not much of a “making stuff” project, but a really fun decoration. I recently got my cello out of storage and decided to work it into a Halloween decoration for my seance party: a skeleton playing the cello in a bathtub full of blood!

Skeleton playing the cello in a bathtub full of blood -- Halloween decoration

I had a nice store-bought skeleton that I’ve used for several scenes I’ve set up over the years. These skeletons come with very limited mobility, but I’ve modified mine to make them better for posing. Normally their mobility is limited to the following: their arms can only swing forward at the shoulder and bend forward at the elbow, and the legs can swing forward at the hip and bend back at the knee. Read more…

Published by Manning on November 11th, 2016 | 1 Comment

A video of my cuckoo clock skull mask in action!

A friend of mine took this video of me opening and closing my mask on Mardi Gras morning, around 9am at Jackson Square. The hinge mechanism in the door (made from a plastic file folder and some magnets) held up great over the course of the long day. Check out parts one, two, and three of my process for making this mask, and the article I wrote about making the little cuckoo bird skeleton. Fun!

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Published by Manning on February 22nd, 2016 | No Comments

Making the bird skeleton for my cuckoo clock mask

I made this bird skeleton for my cuckoo clock skull mask for Mardi Gras 2016. Making this skeleton was extremely challenging, and I basically made up all the steps as I went along. I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned a lot and I’m very happy with the end result. I didn’t take as many pictures as I should’ve along the way, so I’ve done some sketches to explain certain steps.

Cuckoo clock skull mask -- bird skeleton

The main materials in the bird skeleton are:

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Published by Manning on February 9th, 2016 | 2 Comments

Cuckoo clock skull mask — part 3

This is part three of my cuckoo clock skull mask project. See part one and part two.

Where were we? Oh yeah, it’s time to paint!

Painting the mask

Cuckoo clock skull mask - roof and clock body spray painted!

I painted the clock body and the roof separately for the most part before joining them together. I first protected the screen in the eyes/nose/mouth with blue masking tape (the kind that’s really easy to remove), and then I spray painted the entire exterior of the clock white. I separately spray painted the roof black. I let these pieces air out for about three days outside.

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Published by Manning on February 9th, 2016 | No Comments