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My Sleeping Skeleton Pirate

Last Halloween my wife, Wicked Grandma, saw this sleeping skeleton in a Lakeside Collections catalog.

Sleeping skeleton catalog ad.jpg

This was a sound activated, sleeping skeleton with a chest that would rise and fall in sync with a snoring sound effect. Thinking it would be a great addition to our haunted forest she bought it. Sticking to our long standing principle of why take the time to read the description when there is a nice photo to look at you can imaging our disappointment when it arrived and we found it was not a “real” skeleton at all but a miniature house decoration of only about 30” tall. However, the hammock was a nice, respectable size of about 8’ long…which made the little skeleton seem even smaller in comparison.

Original Sleeping Skeleton Photo.jpg

Since we do not have anything in the Haunted Forest that is not “life size” this decoration was not acceptable for our haunt. So I decided to make it an organ donor by simply putting the working part of the sleeping skeleton into a more appropriate, life size recipient. This is how I did it.

First I separated the small skeleton from the cloth shroud and working mechanism of the decoration. The skeleton was glued to the shroud so I just cut the cloth away.

Remove original skeleton parts.jpg

Next I separated the cloth shroud and working mechanism from the hammock. Again, just cutting the cloth from the hammock.

Cut hammock from snoring mechanism.jpg

I then painted the cloth of the shroud with flat black paint. I did not use fabric paint since this is just to cover the cloth with a flat black color so I used cheap Wal-Mart spray paint. The working mechanism is inside the shroud. I decided to keep the mechanism in the shroud to help hide and camouflage the mechanical mechanism when it is inside the chest of the skeleton.

Paint snoring mech.jpg

Now it is time to prepare the new skeleton. I used a more realistic Wal-Mart skeleton for this. The first thing to do is to make the chest so it will rise and fall with the snoring action of the mechanism. The front of the skeleton chest is attached to the back of the chest with staples. Using a pair of wire cutter or regular pliers simply pull out the staples holding the ribs together.

Remove staples from chest 2.jpg

The upper ribs are attached to the collar bone with two plastic ties. Cut these plastic ties to completely separate the front and rear halves of the rib cage.

Plastic tie at collar bone.jpg Remove rib cage top.jpg

Then I clipped a little off the ends of each of the ribs so when rib cage is reattached to the collar bone there was some room for the chest to rise and fall and not get caught on the fabric of the shroud that contained the movement.

Clip ends of ribs.jpg

The movement mechanism was on a cardboard base so to secure it to the skeleton I glued two wooden blocks on the skeletons back ribs with hot glue. These wooden blocks were about the same thickness as the skeleton’s spine so the mechanism had a solid and fairly level base to rest on.

install wood supports 2.jpg

Once the wooden blocks were in place I then reattached the ribs to the collar bone using new plastic ties. I did not tighten the plastic ties because I wanted the ribs to be held loosely in place and be able to rise and fall smoothly with no binding.

Install cable tie at collar bone.jpg

Then I transplanted the movement mechanism into the skeleton’s chest. Again using hot glue I secured the shroud and mechanism to the wood blocks with just a dab of glue to hold it in place in the chest. After that another small dab of hot glue secured the sternum to the shroud containing the movement mechanism.

Snoring Mechanism in chest 2.jpg

I wanted the mechanism to activate remotely. It has been my experience that sound sensors in Halloween decorations do not work very well so I replaced the sound sensor with a driveway alert trigger system. Here is the link to the forum thread that describes how use driveway alerts for prop triggers.
http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutorials-and-step-by-step/120923-extremely-simply-pir-prop-trigger.html

wire in driveway alert trigger.jpg

Now all that is left is to dress the skeleton appropriately. Since I wanted a sleeping pirate I put pirate duds on him.

Finished skeleton.jpg

The hammock is next. The original skeleton was glued to the hammock but I decided this was not necessary. I just added a wooden 3/4" dowel to support each end of the hammock and the skeleton just lays in the hammock. The dowels were the same width as the hammock and I painted them brown. They were attached to the hammock with plastic ties and glue.

Lay dowel on Hammock.jpg

All done. And after Halloween the prop can be folded up and stored in a plastic tub until next year.

Skeleton for storage.jpg

Here is my sleeping pirate in action. I think he is going to be pretty cool in the cabin of our pirate ship this Halloween.

http://s1051.photobucket.com/user/scarypapa/media/Video Album/SnoringSkeleton_xvid_zps841c78f3.mp4.html

http://s1051.photobucket.com/user/scarypapa/media/Video Album/SnoringSkeletonCloseup_xvid_zps25a9e539.mp4.html
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone. Yeah the rum bottle is a good idea Pirate Dex. I have a drunken skeleton sailor on the Pirate ship dock drinking from a big rum barrel but this might be a good bit of additional decoration for the sleeper.
 

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Great job, Scary Papa!!! He looks awesome... I might consider doing something like this next year, as it looks like a small enough build that Mrs. Creepy won't object! :)
 

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I wanted to do this when I first saw the skeleton, but never got around to it. But since seeing your tutorial, my skeleton is on his way now! Can't wait for it to arrive.
 
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