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STARK Raving Mad
937 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I realize there are probably dozens of Duct Tape Dummy (DTD) tutorials out on the web and even some in this forum, but this one is specifically for making a 3-layer DTD Mummy (or Duct Tape Mummy).

BACKGROUND: I have made several Duct Tape Dummies. In doing so, I have made, and learned from, several mistakes. Here is a detailed, step-by-step instruction that will help you make your own DTD without having to make the same mistakes I did. For example, standard DTD instructions say to apply at least 3 layers of tape. My first few times, I started with the horizontal layer (round & round), then added a vertical layer (up & down), then a final horizontal layer. However, I noticed that the vertical layers tend to be smoother than horizontal layers. So now I start and finish with vertical layers, and the result is a smoother finished product. Also, I originally had the model tearing off the pieces of tape for me, but later started tearing my own tape, since every piece is a different length and I got tired of saying "ok, about 2 inches longer than that last piece", etc. However, I still make the model hold the roll for me while I apply the pieces.

1) THE MODEL: Find a model that is tall & thin and willing to commit themselves to the entire, hours-long taping process. Since the process requires applying tape to the ENTIRE body AND pressing on it to make it stick well, it is probably best to pick someone you are VERY familiar with (or would like to be). However, if necessary, I found that the end of a tightly rolled up wash cloth can be used to press the tape down and spare the wrapper some embarassment (apparently, it feels about the same to the model as using your fingers... oh well). Plan on spending 2 evenings together or a total of about 4 - 6 hours. For the purpose of this tutorial, I shall refer to the model as female.

2) SUPPLIES: For the wrapping sessions, you'll need:
:: A well-fitting, long-sleeved Pajama Top - This will become a permanent part of the DTD, so pick up something at GoodWill.
:: A pair of XXX-Large Pajama Pants (also from GoodWill) - Must be large enough for the model to comfortably stand up with both her legs in ONE PANT LEG. Cut off one pant leg (left or right) SQUARELY at about mid-thigh (5" - 6" below the crotch). Save the cut off piece. Cut off another 4" piece from the same side of the pants (that leg should be just about gone by now). Cut the 4" piece on each side of the seam to remove it (throw the seam away) and turn it into a strip of fabric 4" wide several feet long. Save this piece as well.
:: An old pair of long, white Sweat-Socks - Stretched out is best.
:: "Modesty" Clothes (biker shorts and a sports bra) - The modesty clothes are what your model will be left wearing after you cut away the pajamas & tape. Making them snug will make it easier to cut away the pajamas & tape and NOT the biker shorts and sports bra.
:: AT LEAST 4 rolls of 2" wide duct tape (depending on how many feet are on each roll). If you buy too much, big deal. It's duct tape. you'll use it. Better to have left-overs than have to tell your half-wrapped model to sit tight while you run to the store for more! Also, since I recommend taking 2 evenings to do this, if you use 3 rolls the first evening, you'll probably want to have 3 rolls for the next evening's session.
:: A pair of medical scissors (the kind paramedics use to cut off people's clothes). They have angled blades, a large handle, a folded tab at the point (to prevent cutting into the person's skin), and can cut through just about anything!
:: A ball point pen or Sharpie to draw the cut lines and mating marks (explained later).
:: A piece of poster board
:: A wire hanger or a 3' long scrap of stiff wire.

Later, you'll also need:
:: 1" x 8" x 12" long scrap of Lumber -or- plywood (any thickness)
:: A 1" Closet Pole, at least 6' long
:: A Styrofoam Wig Stand
:: A Staple Gun with 1/2" staples
:: A Drill Press (or Handheld Power Drill) with 1" & 1/8" Bits
:: A Jigsaw or Scrollsaw (Table or Handheld)
:: Some Needle-Nose Pliers
:: Some Wood Glue
:: Some 1" long screws (3, to be exact)
:: A 3" long screw
:: Lots of newspapers and plastic grocery bags
:: A Roll of Paper Towels
:: A Quart of Craft Glue
:: A Quart of Latex Paint
:: A 1-Gallon Paint Can or similar container
:: 4 Yards of Fabric (it's your mummy - you decide what kind of fabric looks right)

3) WRAPPING SESSION ONE: Have your model wear the pajama top over her sports bra. Since we will not be wrapping the bottom half until later, she can wear whatever pants or shorts she wants. Slide the white socks over each hand and tuck the pajama top's long sleeves into them.

NOTE: Once, I tried covering the model in just toilet paper and taping over that instead of an outer layer of clothing. It worked ok, but was a pain to keep the TP in place. Several times, the TP shifted and I applied tape directly to the model's skin.

UPPER HALF, FIRST LAYER: Have your model sit VERY UPRIGHT (as in "great posture") on a stool with her arms in her lap (for now). To make it easier to wrap, pinch and fold the shirt to take out any slack. Use small pieces of tape to hold it in place. Turn the shirt collar up. Wrap the 4" wide strip of former pajama pant leg around the neck (over the collar) and tape it in place (you can shorten it so it only wraps around one time, but leave a couple of inches for overlapping). Apply one horizontal piece of tape around the model's waist. This will be the bottom limit of the Upper Half's tape. Apply your first official piece of DTD tape along the model's spine, from tailbone to neck. DO NOT hold the tape at each end and apply, as this can introduce inconsistancies between the tape and the outer layer of clothing. Instead, line up the tape and apply it at one end, then run your hand along the tape to the other end, applying it as you go. This "irons out" any wrinkles in the clothing and produces more tape-to-clothing contact. Then, once "tacked", go over it again more firmly to "really stick it to it". Apply the second piece of tape next to the first, roughly overlapping by half, and repeat the "tack" then "stick " process. Repeat this process all the way around the torso. Due to the irregular shape of the human form, some "vertical" pieces will tend to become sorta horizontal. This is expected. Just follow the natural lines & curves and it will be fine. Once you reach the sides, the model will need to bring her arms up in the traditional crossed position to give her shoulders the appropriate shape. When you reach the front, only move her arms out of the way enough to allow you to apply the tape, then return them to the posed position. Finish this layer with the arms and hands. Remember, this layer goes up & down, not round & round. Use long pieces of tape from the shoulder to the elbow and from the elbow to the hand. Apply a piece across the ends of the "fingers" before taping the hands to prevent gaps.

SECOND LAYER: Starting at the waist, apply long PIECES of tape horizontally. I say "pieces" because actually wrapping continuously all the way around creates a very wrinkles surface. I recommend doing the back first, making each piece long enough to reach around almost to the front. As before, overlap each piece by half. Once you finish the back, continue in front. Overlap the ends of the back pieces by an inch or two. When you get to the arms, try to stagger where you start and end your pieces so you don't end up with a visible ridge from the overlapping ends. Oh, and just go nuts at the elbows. You'll see what I mean.

THIRD LAYER: Follow the same pattern you did for the first vertical layer. Remember, this is the final layer, so take extra care to keep your surface as smooth as possible. I know that by now you and your model are both getting tired, but now is not the time to rush. Remember, after this, the hard part's over (at least for this session...).

CUT LINES & MATING MARKS: Using the pen or Sharpie, carefully draw the cut lines. Start with one down the center of the back (along the spine), from the top edge of the 4" collar to the bottom of the shirt tail (yes, I know, there is no tape there). Next, draw one horizontally from mid shoulder-blade to mid shoulder-blade. You should now have a "cross". Extend the horizontal line to each side (keep it horizontal) all the way around to the side of the upper arm (you know, where guys like to punch each other). Finally, draw one along the outer-most side of each arm, from the knuckles, across the back of the hand, back of the wrist, and up to the bend of the arm (not the point of the elbow). Follow the curve of the elbow up to the side of the upper arm and connect with the horizontal line you drew before. Next, draw your mating marks. Every 2" along the cut line, make a short (1/2" long) cross mark. Be sure each mark is centered on the cut line. These will allow you to correctly rejoin the two sides later by lining them back up.

REMOVAL: Using the medical shears, CAREFULLY cut along the cut lines ONLY (be sure every mating mark is equally visible on each side of the cut before continuing). Remember, you are cutting through the outer layer of clothing (and 3 layers or duct tape) only - do NOT cut the models inner layer of clothing (unless that was your intention all along). Now, if your model hasn't frantically done so already, carefully remove the DTD, starting with the arms. Gently lay it aside, on it's back, with the arms crossed (please don't let the model throw it across the room...). Yes, I know it's all wet inside. What did you expect?

4) WRAPPING SESSION TWO: Have your model wear both the sports bra and biker shorts this time. Next, convince her to put the DTD upper half back on. No, seriously. Ok, then find another model with the exact same body. Ok, that was easier. Close up the top half by bringing the cut edges together, aligning the mating marks (aren't you glad you made them?), and taping it all together with several 4" - 6" long pieces of duct tape. This is temporary - these pieces will be removed later. Now grab the pants (the ones you have been hiding from her until now). Have your model put both her legs into the one intact pant leg. Yes, you'll have to help her with that whole balance thing when she starts to wobble and fall over. Assure her that she does NOT look rediculous and promise you'll make this all up to her... later. Find the fly and tape it closed. Now, turn the pants so that the cut-off leg is behind her (so she can't see what you're doing). Pinch together the extra material of the pajamas and cut it off, leaving a little extra fabric to allow you to tape it closed. Tape it closed. Tuck the shirt-tail into the pants (it's ok if the pants cover some of the tape). Finally, find the bottom half of the removed pant leg (the first piece you cut off) and use it to cover her feet. I know, I know, more wobbling and balancing stuff. Deal with it. By the way, this would probably be a good time to tell her that she'll be standing for the duration of this session. I mean, what is she going to do - run away screaming into the night? Seriously? The good news is that the lower half doesn't take QUITE as long as the upper half...

Oh, I almost forgot... By this time, she needs to be standing in the middle of a piece of posterboard. Later, we'll trace the outline of her taped feet onto it to make a template for cutting out the wood base.

NOTE: I guess if you're feeling sorry for her having to stand AND hold her arms in that awkward pose for hours and hours, you could at least support her arms with some tape or some sort of a sling.

Ok, so now that she is properly dressed for wrapification, let's continue. Using the same techniques as with the upper half, apply vertical, horzontal, and vertical layers to the lower half. Be sure to generously overlap the upper half. Also, add a couple of extra layers around the ankles and shins, since they have the least amount of tape but support the entire prop. Don't worry about the bottoms of the feet. Just start with a horizontal piece that goes all the way around the feet (actually, make it several times around) along the posterboard and shaped to the top of the feet. Do NOT shape it to the bottoms of the feet. Leave it "square" to the posterboard. Later, after all 3 layers have been applied, add one final horizontal piece then carefully trace around her feet with a Sharpie. Remember, this is the template for cutting a piece of wood later to fit inside the tape, where her feet are now. If you aren't precise, the wood will either be too big and require trimming or will be too small and alter the shape of the mummy's feet. Also, don't try to draw where you believe the inside face of the tape is. You will compensate for the thickness of all those layers later.

So, got her all wrapped up? She looks good, huh? Like a giant silver movie award statue thingy! And you traced her feet, right? Good! Lets continue...

STARK Raving Mad
937 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Duct Tape Mummy Tutorial (continued)

HEAD MARKER: Before we proceed, we need to go back and add one item to the upper half: a Head Marker. This will allow us to quickly, easily, and accurately add the mummy's head later without a lot of placement trial & error. So, take the wire coat hanger or scrap of copper wire and bend it to the shape of the model's head, neck, and top of shoulders (from one shoulder, over the ear, across the top of the head, across the other ear, and down to the other shoulder). Make a loop (about the size of a quarter) at each end. Using a generous amount of tape, attach the wire frame to the shoulders and neck. The wire should follow the model's scalp, not her hair.

CUT LINES & MATING MARKS: Remove the tape you used to rejoin the upper half (the 4" - 6" long temporary pieces), leaving one piece in the center of the back and one on her neck. The upper half should now be almost all opened up in back and you should see the cut line disappearing under some of the new tape. Using the pen or Sharpie, carefully continue the upper half's cut line from where it disappears all the way down to the floor. Draw your mating marks every 2 inches.

REMOVAL: Using the medical shears, CAREFULLY cut along the cut lines, remove the last 2 pieces of tape from the upper half, and remove the complete DTD. Be very careful not to change the shape of the wire Head Marker. Gently lay the DTD on it's back, with the arms crossed. Help your model crawl out to her car and send her home.

THE STAND: This part requires a little woodworking. I'm not going to go into a lot of procedural details, because if you don't know how to do what I'm explaining, you need to find someone who does and have them do it for you. Sorry I had to take that tone, but, well, you know how some people are. Anyway, lets start with the base. Go take a peek at the DTD's feet, specifically the thickness of the tape around them. Now, on the posterboard, carefully hand-draw a line just inside the traced line. The space between the 2 lines should be about the same as the thickness of the tape around the DTD's feet. Carefully, cut out the template along the INSIDE line. Trace this onto a piece of 1x12 or a 1" thick piece of plywood (or 2 or more layers of plywood glued and screwed together to make 1") and cut with a jig or scroll saw. Now fold the template in half (left to right) forming a crease down the center (between the feet). One third of the way down the crease (closer to the heels than the toes), make a small hole (with a pencil point). Place the template back on the wood, re-align, and mark the wood through the hole. Drill a 1" hole all the way through the wood, centered on the mark, then lightly sand the inside of the hole just until the 1" closet pole can be pushed through it without binding. Do NOT glue it yet.

CLOSURE: Start stuffing the DTD's hands with plastic grocery bags until the "skin" is firm to the touch. When you reach the first Mating Mark, staple it closed. Carefully line up the Mating Marks, hold the cut edges together, push the staple gun firmly against the mark, and shoot a staple across the cut. Make sure your fingers are NOT under the tape when you shoot! The staple should penetrate all the way through the tape and end up flush. It should also be centered on the cut (if not, it might pull through the tape). If it is a good shot, use the needle-nose pliers to manually fold the points down (towards the center of the staple). Folding them over is not required, but it sure reduces the number of scratches on your hands later! If the staple is not centered across the cut or doesn't penetrate one side, pull it out, throw it away, and try again. Eventually you'll get the feel for this and most of your shots will be good. Continue stuffing. When you reach the next Mating Mark, shoot and fold another staple, then go back and put a 2" x 2" piece of tape over the previous staple, closing the gap. As you go, keep testing the firmness of the skin, pushing more stuffing into any soft areas you find. Continue all the way up each arm until you reach the torso. Do NOT yet staple/tape the cut running from mid shoulder blade to mid shoulder blade.

The DTD should now be front-side-down. Temporarily place the closet pole inside the DTD, extending out through the neck and the feet. Slide the base over the pole (at the feet end) and fit it inside the feet. You might need to stretch the tape a little. If it is too snug, go do some sanding or carving. Once it fits snuggly, temporarily but securely tape it in place Continue to stuff. Crumpled up newspaper can be used in the torso/legs. Stuff all around the closet pole. As the DTD is filled, adjust the pole so it protrudes from the center of the neck opening. When the shoulder blades are firm enough, staple and tape them closed. However, put a staple every 1" along the mid shoulder blade to mid shoulder blade cuts. You'll see why later. The DTD should now have one continuous cut, down the center of the back, from neck to floor. It should also be about 90% stuffed.

FINISHING UP THE DTD: Take a standard styrofoam wig stand (preferably a "male" one since "female" ones usually tilt slightly to one side) and carefully drill out the hole in the base to 1". Try not to drill all the way through and out the top. Clean out all of the styrofoam pieces. Slide the wig stand onto the closet pole and place the neck of the wig stand in the neck opening of the DTD. Use the Head Marker wire to properly align the wig stand and temporarily but securely tape it in place. Temporarily tape the torso closed with 3 or 4 pieces of tape. Turn the DTD onto its back. Gently push the closet pole further through the base to stretch out the DTD. When satisfied with the overall appearance, mark the closet pole at the bottom of the base. Remove the closet pole, base, wig stand, and temporary tape. Cut the closet pole at the mark then glue it into the base. Set overnight. Drill (3) 1/8" pilot holes 1/2" deep into the closet pole at the top of the base (at thirds around) and at a slight downward angle. Insert (3) 1" screws 1/2" into the pilot holes. Insert the opposite end of the closet pole into the wig stand and mark the pole at the base of the wig stand. Remove and drill a 1/8" pilot hole 3/4" deep straight into the FRONT of the closet pole at the mark. Reinsert the closet pole into the DTD through the feet opening. Work it through the stuffing until it reaches the neck opening then insert a 3" screw 3/4" into the pilot hole at the wig stand mark. Replace the wig stand and base as before. Staple the feet of the DTD to the base with at least 10 staples. Permanently tape the wig stand to the DTD, covering the entire wig stand in the process. Continue stuffing, stapling, and taping until finished.

CORPSING: Corpsing the DTD firms it up, permanently seals it, and keep the duct tape from unpeeling. Mix equal parts of craft glue (non-hardening, like Ailenes) and latex paint in an appropriate container. Tear off a whole bunch of 2-ply paper towels, separate the plies, then tear them into quarters. Starting at the base, brush a little paint/glue mixture onto the DTD, stick a piece of paper towel to it, then brush over that with a little more mixture. Repeat until the entire DTD is covered with paper towels. Let it dry thoroughly.

MUMMIFICATION: Tear the fabric into 3" - 4" wide strips. Starting at the base, wrap the entire DTD, using small pieces of tape every few inches to hold the fabric in place. When you get to the head, cover under the chin and the top of the head before wrapping the rest.

Call your model, take her out for a nice dinner.

STARK Raving Mad
937 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
LV, those are really great instructions. The best I have seen of many. Thanks for taking the time to post that. I have a question. Why do you staple the seams shut instead of using tape?
The staples with tape over them, even when the staple points are not folded over, hold the seam closed WAY better than just tape (especially in our Las Vegas sun). I know, why bother when I'm corpsing it anyway... Well, call it an extra layer of protection. As stuffed as it is, I'm not 100% sure that a separation wouldn't cause the corpsing to separate as well. With the staples in place, I could hang from that thing and it wouldn't separate.

Oh, and thanks for the kudos!

STARK Raving Mad
937 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Um, I have to confess. When I made my Duct Tape Mummy, I broke the cardinal rule of Halloween Prop Building... I didn't take pictures. So, please, if any of you decide to actually follow these instructions and make your own DTM, please, Please, PLEASE take pictures from time to time. Then, with your permission (and crediting you, of course), I will incorporate them into my text for a proper tutorial. Or, you can add my text to your photos.

Also, if I missed a step (which is likely, since I typed that whole thing yesterday at one sitting, from memory, 5 months after building it), please let me know and I'll edit it into the original text.

Undaunted Haunter
1,627 Posts
I understand about the staples now. Thanks for clarifying, as I probably would have skipped those. And a little extra work up front is a whole lot better than rebuilding a whole prop. I think even without pictures you did such a good job of explaining it all that it is quite clear.
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