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 "tutorial":

Cuckoo clock skull mask, Mardi Gras 2016

Behold my cuckoo clock skull mask for Mardi Gras 2016! Wow, this one was complicated and fun! Here’s the short version…

Cuckoo clock skull mask by Manning Krull

Cuckoo clock skull mask with bird skeleton

This mask was made up of a lot of individual paper maché parts that I built separately and assembled. Here’s a very quick rundown of the parts and what they’re made of:

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Published by Manning on February 9th, 2016 | 3 Comments

Making foam board antlers

How to make deer antlers using foam board

My fiancée needed antlers for her Halloween costume — swamp goddess; it’s a long story — and I made up this method that worked great!

How to make deer antlers -- cutting out the shapes

First I drew an antler shape on drawing paper and got the lady’s approval. I kept the shape a little bit on the thick side; I thought this would be important in order to keep the antlers from being too fragile, but it turned out to be unnecessary. If I were doing this again I’d draw the antlers a little thinner.

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Published by Manning on October 28th, 2015 | 4 Comments

9-foot paper maché snake prop!

Papier maché snake on skeleton prop for Halloween

My latest project for my Voodoo Bayou Halloween party: I made this big ol’ snake! He’s made of foam tubing, wire hangers, tape, paper maché, paint, and a few other odds and ends.

I started with a package of black pipe insulation from Home Depot; four one-meter foam tubes for just $3! This stuff is fantastic to work with; extremely lightweight, sturdy, flexible, easy to cut, etc. It’s so great for creating organic-looking shapes that I ended up using a bunch of it on two projects before I tackled the snake: my six-foot bat decoration and a pair of horns for a devil mask I’m working on (pics coming soon). When it was time to start on the snake, I only had two and a half of the one-meter tubes left, so that’s about seven and a half feet for the snake. (I later added a tail made of bubble wrap for a total of about nine feet; more on that below.)

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Published by Manning on October 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Giant paper maché bat — part 3

Papier mache bat -- Painting finished

See part one and part two of my giant paper maché project. When we left off we were here:

Papier mache bat -- Paper mache finished

Now then, it’s time to paint!

Papier maché bat -- black spray paint base coat

I started my paint job on the bat by bringing him outside and protecting my work area with a cheap shower liner from the dollar store.

First, I simply applied a coat of black spray paint all over the whole bat.

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Published by Manning on October 20th, 2015 | 9 Comments

Making a giant paper maché bat decoration — part 2

Papier mache bat -- front view

See part one of this paper maché bat project here. Now, where were we? When we left off, I’d just added the wing membranes, and the head was nearly finished but not yet attached to the body.

Papier mache bat -- teeth and eyes

I cut the teeth out of an aluminum cookie sheet, and I put a layer of paper maché on them; this was very difficult and annoying because the shape was so small and intricate. For the eyes, I decided to stick with the buttons I’d been messing around with earlier, and cover them with paper maché so I can more easily paint them.

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Published by Manning on October 20th, 2015 | 3 Comments

Devil Man mask with horns — part 1

(See the finished mask in part 2!)

For my Voodoo Bayou Halloween party, I’m going as New Orleans urban legend the Devil Man! The Devil Man struck fear into the hearts of New Orleanians in the early 20th century; he’s mentioned briefly in this great book called Gumbo Ya-Ya, along with tons of other bits of Louisiana folklore.

There’s very little info available about the Devil Man; the only three details about his appearance that are listed in Gumbo Ya-Ya are 1) he has black horns, 2) he has eyes like a chicken, and even weirder, 3) he has “ears like pink sunflowers.” What the heck? Nothing else is mentioned about the Devil Man’s appearance but I set out to make a costume based on these details. I’m making a mask with horns and sunflower ears, and I’ll be sporting yellow contact lenses. I’ll be wearing an ugly old suit and white gloves, and I’m adding a monkey tail to the suit — one other detail about the Devil Man is that he can transform into a baboon! Naturally.

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Published by Manning on October 17th, 2015 | Comments Off on Devil Man mask with horns — part 1

Making a foam board coffin

Making a foam board coffin

One of my main decorations for my Voodoo Bayou party was this fake wooden coffin; I wanted to have it standing in the corner of the living room so people could pose for pictures in it. The main material in the coffin is foam board — 17 sheets total. I designed the coffin in Photoshop based on how large each sheet of foam board is: 20″x30″. Here’s my basic design:

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Published by Manning on October 15th, 2015 | 5 Comments

How to make a fake wood grain texture for signs and other projects

Believe it or not, these signs are just foam board! Plus a little spray paint and wood stain. I experimented with a few techniques, and here’s what I came up with…

How to create a fake wood grain effect

For the big Voodoo Bayou sign, I started by cutting out my foam board shapes and spray painting them with a light tan color. You can see that color on the white foam board at left, below:

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Published by Manning on October 14th, 2015 | 5 Comments

Six-foot Paper maché giant bat — part 1

For our Voodoo Bayou Halloween party, my fiancée told me she wanted a giant bat decoration. Okay!

I started with a rough pencil sketch of a bat to figure out the proportions, and then I transferred that to two sheets of foam board. I started with just the wing bones and body; no head. I cut out those pieces with an X-acto knife.

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Published by Manning on October 14th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Working with foam board for art projects; cutting, painting, etc

I use foam board (aka foam core) in almost all my big projects — masks, Halloween decorations, etc — and I’ve learned a lot of techniques that help make working with it a lot easier.

First, check out my article about buying cheap foam board in bulk. I’ve found that the cheap stuff is much easier to work with, and it’s less than half the price of the good stuff you’d buy in an art store!

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Published by Manning on September 7th, 2015 | 55 Comments

Paper maché alligator — waterproofing and painting

Paper mache alligator painting completed

It’s finally done! This is part three of my paper maché alligator project. See part one and part two.

With all the paper maché done, it was time to waterproof and paint the alligator. Originally this guy was just meant to go in the bathtub during my Halloween party and then get thrown out, but as I made the thing I got pretty attached to it, so now I’m hoping to be able to waterproof it well enough so that it might not be in too bad shape after being submerged in water during the party, and maybe I can keep it and use it as an all-year-round decoration in my apartment, maybe on top of my bookshelf, or hanging on a wall. So I’m trying to approach decorating this thing like it needs to look good not just in the tub but anywhere.
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Published by Manning on July 27th, 2015 | 21 Comments

Making plastic bones look aged and dirty

How to stain plastic with wood finish

For my bayou/voodoo-themed Halloween party, I ordered a hundred little plastic bones; I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with ’em, I just knew I wanted ’em! They were pretty cheap; I got ten packs of ten bones for a total of about $22 from some online party supplies store.

When I got the bones, they were pure white and smooth and shiny, and I wanted to make them look old and dirty before incorporating them into my decorations. This is what they looked like right out of the package:
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Published by Manning on July 27th, 2015 | 3 Comments

Cabaret de L’Enfer Halloween party — devil mouth doorway

How to make a Cabaret de L'Enfer devil mouth doorway for your Halloween party

The theme for my Halloween party in 2012 was the Cabaret de L’Enfer — a Hell-themed café in the red light district of Paris in the 19th century. You can read all about it and see some amazing pics of it on my Paris website, Cool Stuff in Paris, and I have a whole post about the party decor here. Of course, the main decorating project I wanted to tackle was the iconic devil mouth doorway of the cabaret.
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Published by Manning on June 26th, 2015 | 3 Comments

Tips for applying Halloween makeup, hair color, fake blood, contact lenses, etc!

zombie makeup tutorial

My makeup method is pretty simply and I use different variations of it almost every year.

For my face, the main type of makeup I use is Ben Nye Creme Colors (paid link) — they come in a little flat jar and you can find them at a lot of Halloween stores, often behind the counter because they’re a little pricier.

For zombie makeup or general scary ghoulish makeup, I usually just use black and white Ben Nye Creme Colors, and I just use my fingers to apply it. I start off with a base of white, all over my face. Then I use black makeup on my finger tips to apply heavy black areas around my eyes, under my cheekbones, etc, and blend them out toward the white. I use my finger tips to add shadows down the creases on the side of my mouth, and on the sides of my nose, at my temples, above my brow ridge, etc.
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Published by Manning on June 26th, 2015 | No Comments

10-foot grim reaper Halloween decoration!

Giant grim reaper Halloween prop

This giant grim reaper prop I made for a Halloween party in 2010 was the first paper maché project I ever tackled! (Well, not counting art class back in grade school.) I seriously had no idea what I was doing but it turned out okay, and my success with this project really inspired me to keep trying to make bigger and more complicated Halloween decorations every year.
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Published by Manning on June 23rd, 2015 | No Comments

Making a straight jacket for my Renfield costume

How to make a straight jacket for your crazy Renfield Halloween costume

When I was working on my asylum-themed Halloween party in 2014, I decided I wanted to go as Renfield from Dracula! I really wanted to get the straight jacket perfect. I’m not used to working with fabric and clothing, so this was an interesting challenge.
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Published by Manning on June 22nd, 2015 | No Comments

Simple paper maché animal masks

Paper maché animal masks; easy Halloween decorations

For one of my Halloween parties I had the idea of creating tons of simple, spooky paper maché animal masks and hanging them up all over the walls. So my challenge was: how to make lots of masks quickly and cheaply? I came up with a plan that worked out great. Here are the materials I used:
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Published by Manning on June 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

Paper maché skeleton lion prop

I made (or modified, really) this little paper maché skeleton lion prop for my fiancée’s skeleton lion tamer costume. She mentioned there was this weird soft rubber lion model at her work that they didn’t need and I told her I could paint bones on it for her so she could use it as a prop for her costume. But when she brought it home I saw it had these deep grooves all over it to imply a fur texture, and I knew it would be basically impossible to paint nice clean lines over it for the bones. So I did a couple layers of paper maché over the whole thing, and then painted it; easy! See my post about my paper maché process here. Because the scale is much smaller here than for my usualy big skull masks and other projects, I did the paper maché a little different; I started with my usual alternating layers of newspaper and brown wrapping paper (just one layer each), and then I added a final layer of tissue paper to get the surface as smooth as possible. Then I spray painted it black and painted the bones on with white acrylic and a brush. Fun!
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Published by Manning on June 22nd, 2015 | No Comments

Padded walls decoration for an asylum-themed Halloween party


I was planning an asylum-themed Halloween party in 2014, and I really wanted to figure out a way to make realistic padded walls as a main decoration for the party. I wanted something with a nice 3d quilted effect, not just a flat painted texture, and I needed to keep it lightweight enough to hang on drywall and sturdy enough that it wouldn’t fall apart if people touched it. I was really pleased with how it came out! Here are the main materials I used:
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Published by Manning on June 21st, 2015 | 20 Comments

Spooky mausoleum drawers Halloween decoration

Halloween party morgue drawers decoration

I was in charge of creating some decorations for a huge cemetery-themed Halloween party at a friend’s house several years back, and we decided to turn the dining room into a morgue/mausoleum by putting fake marble drawers on the wall. These were fun and extremely easy to make, and they’re great for a cemetery-themed party, a zombie-themed party, an asylum-themed party, etc. Here are the materials I used:
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Published by Manning on June 21st, 2015 | No Comments