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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2nd element to my column project for 2008: the Skeleton Torso

Some of you have watched my column build a few months back and I have finally gotten around to completing the next part of this project: the skeleton torso.

The skeleton torso is supposed to be a pirate who was caught stealing and for his punishment, chained to the column as a warning. There to die, what’s left of him hangs chained to the entryway column.

The torso, arms, hands, and skull were all made out of paper maché and painted with latex paints. The chains are the foam kind found at OTC. Spanish moss, regular green moss and cheese cloth were also used to add to the effect.

The skeleton torso is removable from the column for easy storage. The chain is attached using a shower curtain ring at the top that opens and closes and 2 plastic hooks are used to support the chest/ribs on the back.

Here are some progress photos of the build:

The ribs, spine, and arms made of rolled newspaper and duct tape. The skull is just a stand-in for sizing and positioning.

Here is a close-up of the ribs and spine completed and painted.

A shot of the hands made with cardboard, wire, plastic soda straws, cotton, duct tape and masking tape attached to a newspaper arm bone.

The arms and hands where covered with a tissue paper maché and painted with latex paint. I made some eye-hooks out of thin wire and attached to the lower arm bones to allow for some movement.

The skull was next and made the same way, newspaper and tissue paper maché. I used the tissue paper to build up some of the features for a better looking skull.

The skull completed and painted with latex paints.


The rest of the photos of the build are in my photo album:
Halloween Forum - aSmarterU's Album: 2008 Skeleton

I hope you enjoyed the project and I'll try my best to answer any questions.

Discussion Starter · #3 ·
WOW!! You have some real talent. You give hope to those of us who don't have the cash to blow on a few Buckies this year. I'm gonna' go to the garage and grab me some newspapers. Fantastic job on everything!!!!

Just one question. What did you use as a base for the skull.......to get the basic shape???
Rookie, thanks for the kind words.

The skull form was made using the foam skull in the first pic with the newspaper ribs and duct tape. I covered the foam skull with plastic wrap, then covered with tin foil and duct tape. I used a 50/50 white glue/water mix and 3 layers of newspaper. I then used tissue paper (kleenex or toilet paper) as a "clay" to build up the features and used for the last layer. Each layer needs to cure/dry for 12 to 24 hours before starting then next.

Base of skull cut and taped back together.

The foam skull was fine, but it did get a little messed up during the demolding. I can still use it as the mold for another one but it won't take to mass producing it. I think a plastic skull would work better for making a lot. I had to cut the mache skull into 3 pieces and then use duct tape to "glue" it back together. The tape seams were mached over 1 time before the details were added.

It isn't really hard to make but it will take you at least a week to 10 days if you work on it every day. I didn't so it took me almost 4 weeks.

Hope it helps and inspires you! :D

Don't Drink and Fly!!
2,959 Posts
What a great job!!! Thanks for the how-to pics, they are really helpful. Like Rookie said, it gives the rest of us hope that we, too, can be prop-makers!!!

Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey ASU, how did the skelly turn out as far as strength? Is it soft and mushy or did it come out pretty firm after the paint dried???
It's fairly firm before the painting started but I wouldn't want to use it for any type of repeated movement display. As a static prop, it should last a good while. I rolled the newspaper fairly tight, covered any soft spots with duct tape and coated with 2 layers of mache. I used the dry-loc on the ribs only, but I really didn't need it.

Everything has at least 1 coat of latex paint and 2 more colors for the aging. The skull is hollow and stuffed with newspaper for bulk and it's not attached to the neck. Everything stayed rather light in weight so hanging it was easy. I used 2 plastic hooks glued to the column and after 24 hours, it's solid. I tested today and it hasn't moved in over 5 hours.

Good luck and post pics when you do yours! :)

Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would like to think that with the plethora of prop-building artisans here, my own creation may serve as a basic guide to something better.

I am always amazed at what you guys dream up and I don’t hold myself in that league. My skills in prop-building are very limited and still in its infancy. (2nd year and counting).

It was a blast to create and I hope it does inspire those to further this basic prop to the next level!

You are very welcome and I patiently await the pictures Rookie! :)
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