Tag Archives: Papier Mache

DIY Halloween: Materials You Need

It’s August, and since Halloween is less than 100 days away, it’s time to start your projects.  You might think, “It’s only August.  I have PLENTY of time.”

You’re wrong.

Just check out this picture I took today:

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Yep.  That’s the beginnings of a Halloween store. Halloween Express to be exact.  They’re getting ready for the holiday, and so should you.

If you’re new to the DIY Halloween thang, you might be wondering where to start.  Well, look no further for I have been sent here to enlighten your minds!  Or at least I’m prepared to help get you started.  First things first, we’re talking materials.

DIY Halloween_ Materials You Need(1)

PVC Pipe

I wrote a whole post about this stuff, so you should check it out here.  From monsters to cages to mausoleums, this stuff can be the base for anything.  Adult tinker toys, ladies and gentlemen.  That’s what they are.  Buy some pipe and fittings today at Lowe’s or Home Depot.  And don’t forget your pipe cutter!

Papier Mache

Newspaper and the glue mixture of your choice is all you need to make a crazy awesome prop.  I used some to make a cool scarecrow head one year (read here), and I also made a witch head for a prop last year, which I’ve yet to discuss on the blog.  That’ll come later.

Monster Mud

This stuff is like heavy duty Papier mache used for bigger projects.  To make this stuff, all you need are drywall joint compound (found at any hardware store) and any latex paint you have lying around.  Color doesn’t matter because this stuff is fully paintable after it dries.  Mix it with a drill and paint-stirrer attachment in a large bucket.  After that you can dip fabric in the stuff to cover your props or just paint on the mud itself to create an outer shell.  There are a ton of tutorials online.  Just check out Google or Pinterest for some ideas.

Wire

You can use different gauges of wire to do different things.  I like to use a lighter gauge wire to hang props and heavier gauges to make moldable fingers, spiders, etc…

Foam Heads

These can be found at most craft stores, and they can be used for – well – prop heads.  I made a severed head out of one, which you can read about here.  They can also be used to finish off a full-size prop or even hung with cheesecloth to make a ghost.  Oh, that reminds me…

Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth is pretty versatile.  You can use it to make ghosts and shrouds, you can drape it over mantels or tables for a creepy effect, or you can pair it with monster mud to create detail or make clothing for your props.

Old Clothes

What?  You want your props to be naked?  Well, that’s your decision to make, but for those of us who want props suitable for the eyes of tiny trick-or-treaters, clothing is kinda essential.  Go to garage sales or just raid your closet for old items you don’t want anymore.  The fun part is aging them.  Bury your prop clothes, rip them, paint them, run them over with your car – anything to make them look nice and old.

Paint

This one is a no-brainer.  You want to make some props, you gotta paint them or it’s just going to look unfinished.  I use spray paint for larger projects and latex/craft paint for smaller crafts and detail work.

Scrap Wood

I think everyone who has a house probably has a few pieces lying around.  I haven’t really used wood to create a large prop, but I’ve nailed pieces together to make a sturdier base for some.

Foam

I don’t have much experience using foam in my crafts, but I’m going to remedy that this year.  You can buy large sheets of foam at home improvement stores, and I’ll be buying some soon to create a life-size coffin.  Foam can also be used to make tombstones.  I’ve got a foam cooler that I plan on fashioning into one in a few weeks.  It’ll be my first foam-based project, so I hope it turns out okay.

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Well, that list should give you a good start to your DIY Halloween projects.  So gather your materials, folks, and get to crafting.  You don’t have much time.

Project Scarecrow: A Song of Paper and Glue

It’s time for another DIY Wednesday!  Since I shared my love of PVC pipe last time, this week I thought I’d talk about another one of my favorite project materials: Papier Mache.

When my love of Halloween prop DIY began, I ate up everything I could online.  There are so many awesome Halloween blogs out there with so many great projects that I felt a little overwhelmed but so excited about the possibilities.  Although I looked at every Halloween blog I could find, my three favorites for inspiration were (and are) Stolloween, Pumpkinrot, and Spookyblue.

I fell in love with all the cool, creepy props the artists had made, especially the scarecrows.  I liked the scarecrows so much in fact that I decided I would try to make one, too.

One of the first steps when doing a papier mache project is to create a base.  This could be a number of things, whatever you can use to create the shape you want.  I wanted to make a large pumpkin head, so I used a large plastic grocery bag filled with newspaper.  To get the pumpkin ridges, I used masking tape to create the right shape, and for the stem, I used a rolled up piece of a magazine secured with masking tape.

Like so.
Like so.

After the base has been made, it’s time to make the glue.  There are so many recipes for this stuff online.  Choose whichever one works best for you.  For mine, I mixed flour and water at a ratio of 1 to 4, and then added some white Elmer’s glue and some liquid starch because I read that it would help the mixture adhere to the paper more easily and create a stronger hold.

Next, it’s time to get messy.

Take strips of shredded newspaper and dip them in the glue mixture. After they’re completely covered, start laying them over your base, making sure to create a thin layer over the entire thing and allowing it to dry a bit before adding a new layer.  It’s best to do multiple layers for a stronger prop.  I think I used about seven layers for my scarecrow head, but you could do more or less depending on what you’re going to be doing with the prop.

Next up is the detail work.  After my scarecrow head dried, I removed the newspaper and bag from a hole in the bottom.   You can use your own judgment to decide whether or not you need to do this step.  If you’re not going to cut into your prop, you can probably skip it.  Since my scarecrow wouldn’t be scary without a creepy face, I drew an outline on the form and then carefully cut out the mouth, nose, and eyes with a craft knife.

For the finishing touches, I used spray paint and dry brushing to give my scarecrow head some color and creepiness.  Pieces of dried cane from my husband’s grandmother were used to make the scarecrow body, fastened together in a T-shape with tape and twine.  Lastly, I draped some creepy cloth over the arms to flesh it out a bit.

Voila!  Scarecrow.

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Sure.  It might not be the fantastic creations of Spookyblue and Pumpkinrot, but although it might not measure up to those guys, I was pretty damn pleased with the final product.  Plus, it was my first attempt, and practice makes perfect.  I even got compliments from the trick-or-treaters that came to the house.  I call that a success.

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I’m already looking forward to making some new creepy things this year. There aren’t many days left until Halloween, so I better start planning now.  What about you?  Are you planning on any cool props this year?  I’d love to hear about your creations in the comments!