Back in february I posted some pictures of a standing paper mache zombie.Paper mache corpse
I had a few people wanting a tutorial so when I built the second one I started putting this tutorial together. Go easy on me, this is the first time I have ever posted a tutorial.
(14 ft.) 1” PVC pipe—the amount depends on how tall you want to make it. Mine is approximately 5’6”, so I used the biped calculator from Zombietronix. This is a cool calculator I’ve used for some other figures before; it’s also handy because it will tell you how much PVC you will need depending on your figure.
(4) 1” PVC 90°
(1) 1” PVC cross
(1) 1” PVC T
(1) 1” dowel
1 ¼” screws
(18) #10 flat washers or corresponding washers to the screws you are using
(6)2 ½” Corner L-brackets
(8) 2” mending brackets
(2) 4” mending brackets
Small zip ties
(~15 ft.) Garden hose—You can use an old hose, sometimes neighbors/friends might have an old one. Home Depot around here also sells damaged garden hoses or stuff they just can’t move really cheap. I picked up a 100ft hose there for a couple bucks.
(~ 5ft.) 14 gauge wire
Elmer’s All-Purpose Glue—I buy it by the gallon because I use it quite often, but you shouldn’t need to use the whole thing
(2) Scrap plywood—approx. 2’ by 2 ½” (It does not have to be these dimensions specifically, smaller would be okay, just keep stability in mind)
PVC glue and primer
Crayola Model Magic
Recycled Cereal box
Recycled paper (newspaper, printer paper)
(~18 in.) twine or yarn
PVC cutters (a saw will work perfectly, these just make things a lot easier)
Needle Nose Pliers
Some type of saw to cut wood dowels
Begin by cutting the PVC to length for the shoulders, hips, and upper arms and legs. I just directly used the measurements from the biped calculator from Zombietronix. Only glue the PVC cross to the main center PVC pipe and leave the rest of it unglued, this will make it easier to attach the ribcage.
Next is building the ribcage. I have a bunch of anatomy books but there are a ton of good diagrams online to use as a reference. Start by predrilling a hole about a half and inch below the center of the PVC cross as shown. This is where you will be attaching the sternum
For the sternum itself, cut approximately an 18” piece of garden hose. You also want to predrill a hole at the tip of the garden hose using a small drill bit. Don’t get too close to the edge or you might end up tearing the hose. Attach this end to the PVC cross using a 1 ¼ screw and washer. For the other end, predrill the hose and PVC before attaching it about ¾ way down the PVC (as shown in the picture).
To make the first set of ribs, cut (2) pieces of garden hose about 13” in length, I think I did end up trimming a little off both ends but I would rather have enough to work with than not enough. Next, predrill two holes off-center on the back of the PVC cross. After predrilling the ends of the garden hose ribs, attach the two ribs to the back using screws and washers.
Alright, this is the part that may seem a little confusing so I will try to use as many pictures as possible. It’s really not that difficult once you figure it out. Where the ribs meet the sternum, drill two holes vertically on the center using 3/16” bit, the holes need to be wide enough to slip a small zip tie through them. Space the two holes approximately ¼” apart.
Thread one small zip tie through the holes, looping it back through the other holes so it reconnects with itself. Pull it tight, but not too tight, you may end up ripping the hose and you also want a little wiggle room. Now thread another small zip tie through the original zip tie (See picture).
Drill holes in the end of the two rib pieces, then thread the small zip tie through them; this requires a little finesse because the hoses will try to spring back. This is the part where a needle nose pliers comes in real handy because it can reach in to the areas where it might be a little difficult getting it with your hands. After pulling through the two ribs, reconnect the zip tie with itself and tighten (as before, don’t over tighten).
Continue attaching ribs in this way, but increase the size of the rib length by about ½ - ¾”. Use a diagram as reference; just make sure the ribs don’t extend past the shoulders, unless this is something you are going for. When you get about halfway done with the ribcage, start decreasing the size of the ribs to get the curve of a ribcage.
The last set of ribs, instead of attaching it to the center PVC pipe, I just attached it to the rib directly above it, trying to make it as anatomically correct as possible (I guess this is where the biologist in me wants it as accurate as possible), but I don’t think this step is absolutely necessary. On the last skeleton that I made, I just attached the last rib to the PVC and I think ended up looking alright. It’s your choice; I will say it is considerably easier to just attach it directly the PVC and if I were making another one this is what I would do.
Before you glue the arms together, make sure you have already decided how you want them positioned. I just mess around with them until I decide how I want them, when I have it where I want it I mark it so I know how to line it up when I glue it. For this skeleton, I knew I wanted the arms angled up, but I hadn’t quite figured out exact positioning, so I decided to build the entire arm first before I glued the PVC 90s on. Take the 1” wooden dowel and cut the ends at an angle, the steeper the angle, the more bent the joint will be. You will need to cut (2) of them for both elbow joints. Cut the dowel to be about 3-4” long. Glue these two pieces together to form the joint using wood glue. For the first skeleton I used regular wood glue and let it dry overnight- however, for this one I found some really cool hot wood glue sticks. These things were awesome since they held REALLY well and dried quickly so I could keep working on it. If you don’t have them, they are definitely not necessary and regular wood glue will work perfectly, just make sure it dries thoroughly before continuing on. At this point, I also added (2) 2” mending brackets on opposite sides for both of the elbow joints. These were kind of a “just in case.” I bought the smallest cheapest ones I could find; I think Wal-Mart ended up having the best price on these. Even though it is not shown in the picture, I predrilled and added another screw through the end and up into the dowel. I was worried about the joints since I built a Pumpkin scarecrow type figure last year and a lot of the kiddies hung on his arms; unfortunately, one of the joints broke and his arm ended up dislocated.