Tuesday, October 20, 2015

DIY Glowing Halloween Ghost: Part 1

     Hello everyone!  As you may have guessed from my sneak peek image (and from the title of this post) this week I am showing you how I created a ghost for my Halloween graveyard. If you didn't see the sneak peek and wonder what I am talking about you can follow me on twitter at HawkimamaV. 

     I did not originally intend for this to be a two part post, but this project proved to be more time consuming than I originally anticipated ONLY because mass quantities of packing tape and small children do not mix. Something about the ripping sound of tape and the magical stickiness makes kids think "oh hey I'm gonna put this in my hair, on the wall, on the cat..." anywhere you DON'T want packing tape. I'm telling you now if you have small kids resolve yourself to only working on this project after the Littles go to bed. Consider yourself warned. 

     For this first part I'm going to show you how I made the main part of the ghost, the head and torso. Tomorrow's post will be about adding the details, how I am hanging/securing it outside, and lighting it up.  I will also include some photos of the graveyard scene and our outside decor, so make sure you check back to see the final result. 

What You Will Need:

This is what you will need for today's part of the tutorial:
  • Clear Packing Tape - at least two large rolls
  • Styrofoam Wig Head - you can find these at Hobby Lobby for $4.
  • Saran Wrap
  • Scissors
  • Pillow, dress form, or someone volunteering to be your "torso" 

Step 1: Wrap the Wig Head in Saran Wrap

Wig Head (bought at Hobby Lobby)

     Try to get it as tight as possible, covering all the surface of the Styrofoam. It does not need to be smooth, and the number of layers does not matter, although to keep the details of the nose, you may want to limit layers to 1 or 2.

Step 2: Apply 1st Layer of Tape Sticky Side UP

I added some tape around the chin/neck first, then started in on the top of the head

     I found the easiest way to work around the curves and details of the face, was to work with smaller/shorter pieces of tape vs longer pieces.  Lay the pieces down slightly overlapping each other creating one cohesive layer of stickiness covering the full head.  On tight curves and angles (nose, chin, neck, etc) feel free to fold the tape over on itself to mimic the shape in the tape. Again do not fear wrinkles and folds in the tape.  You do not want this to be perfectly smooth, the wrinkles will catch and reflect the light adding to the overall glow of the ghost.  It's more important to get a solid layer of tape that covers the entire shape. 

Step 3: Apply 2nd Layer of Tape Sticky Side DOWN

What it will look like after two layers of tape, note the wrinkles and folds

     In other words you are making a packing tape sandwich, with the adhesive sides being the tasty peanut butter middle.  Again for the head, it's best to work in smaller pieces, working slowly over the surface to ensure that there are no sticky parts left exposed. 

     For a time reference, I made the head while watching The Walking Dead, and Talking Dead.  So I spent roughly two hours just on this one part (the torso took far less time).  It was time consuming but I am far more pleased with this part of the project.  Spending the extra time was worth it. 

Step 4: Carefully cut the "Cast" Off the Head

Beginning of the incision, just wiggle the scissors under the tape

     Using a pair of scissors, I created a "T" cut.  The main vertical part extends up the back and the short horizontal slice is along the top of the head.  The tape layers are fairly sturdy, but if you use too much pressure it will rip along the parts you cut.  I found it best to gently fold the tape flaps back and ease the head out using a consistent and constant pressure. 

The vertical and horizontal cuts making the 'T' incision 

Step 5: Pull Off Remaining Saran Wrap and Tape Up

The 'cast' is fairly sturdy, use additional tape to close up the incision

     After the head cast is off the Styrofoam form, pull off any Saran wrap that is easily removed.  If some parts remain stuck to the tape, just leave them and cut off the excess.  "Stitch" the cut on the back of the head with packing tape, use at least two layers to keep it secure. You can reach the inside of the head via the bottom of the neck to cover up any exposed adhesive. 

Step 6: Create Your Torso Shape 

This is a king sized pillow, a standard pillow will work fine as I didn't use the full length

     I didn't feel like using a human model, nor do I have a dress form, so I created a vague torso shape using a pillow.  I simply tied a piece of saran wrap around the middle to create a waist.  In hindsight I do wish I had borrowed a dress form or found a human model as I think it would offer a better definition of shape, but this turned out fine too.

Step 7: Create the Torso Cast with Tape

Wrapping the tape around tightened up the form a bit, causing it to lose some shape. 

    Create the torso cast by following the same steps used for the head. Since there are fewer curves and details to work around, I sped things up by using larger pieces of tape.  The removal process was also the same as the head, I made a cut up the back and pulled the pillow out.  

     To attach the head, I cut a circular opening in the "shoulder" part of the torso. I then inserted the neck into that hole and secured it with pieces of tape.  I did this before stitching up the large cut on the backside of the torso so that I could place some tape on the inside. When in doubt add more tape! Just keep going until you have gone over the entire junction of the two pieces.  Doing so creates a surprisingly stable head. 

Triangle incisions made at the bottom to help flare out the base 
    This ghost will have a fuller skirt.  To start the beginning of that form, I made some triangle shaped cuts along the bottom of the torso, flared out the bottom, and added some additional tape to get a wider shape.  This isn't necessary, it's just something I am doing. If you want your ghost to be a man you can stop here or you can create some legs and attach those in the same manner I attached the head. 

Completed torso, it's fairly sturdy and very light

     That is it for this part.  Tomorrow I will continue with the skirt, some additional details and the hanging and lighting of the ghost.  If you have any questions on a particular part of this tutorial, please feel free to ask below in the comments.  I will do my best to answer/explain more of what I did.  Being a visual person myself, I tried to include photos where applicable, but unfortunately this project doesn't lend itself to easily being photographed.  

I will see you tomorrow!  


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