Friday, September 11, 2009

This monster is growing out of control...

Your skin tingled and the hairs of your arm stood erect as you beheld the sight from your hiding spot. The witch had returned to her seething cauldron and begun chanting in some foul tongue not meant for Man's ear nor should have ever been uttered in the light of the brightest day, let alone this cold dark eve.  The ground convulsed in agony and was rent asunder. Upwards from their dark prison spilt these ashen and phantasmal denizens of another, alien world. Escape seemed to be their goal, but they were soon transfixed by the uttering and swaying of the witch. Massing together, they were powerless against her trance and were compelled to serve her will...

It seemed like a simple project...

I created a witch last year for my graveyard. She was going to stir her cauldron, but I couldn't get the mechanics to work out right... This year, being inspired by Stolloween to be ambitious, I would make a helper for her, holding a spell book. It would be a mass of ghosts erupting from the ground. Pretty cool, I thought.

I started by creating some paper maché heads and built the armature around it using salvaged plastic contailers and sticks from the woods. Orginally there were going to be 5 heads, but added a 6th for good measure.

The plastic I taped together using a combination of duct tape (handyman's best friend, just ask Red Green) and packing tape. I inserted longish sticks to be the "spine" of the ghosts (if ghosts can be said to have spines...). I then connected a stick across the spine stick to be the shoulders, for if these ghosts were going to hold the book, they would need arms. The orginal idea called for all the arms to be reaching up and holding the book, but I couldn't figure out how to make them strong enough to actually hold the darned thing. As a compromise, I built a small lectern to physically support the book and wrapped the hands of the tallest ghost around it so that it appears that he is grabbing it from both sides.

The next step was a tricky one, skinning the beasty.

I used a combination of cardboard and duct tape (handyman's best friend) to create the initial boundaries of where the skin should go, then started to apply the paper maché in large strips to jump the gaps. If not done with enough strength, the paper maché can be quite fragile. I used paper bag material for a couple of the coats to add to the rigidity of the skin. In total, there are about nine layers of paper for the skin, with the outermost one being textureless paper towel to try to smooth it all out.

-- edit: Here is a pic of how Lou and his Crew ended up:

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