Every year I let my kids choose which character they want me to attempt to make from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Last Halloween they chose the Frightful Fountain and so what follows is my best attempt at a tutorial on how I made mine. Here is a picture of a small Disney replica of it:
My biggest concern was figuring out what to use for his head. Every year we buy this big plastic barrel of packets of Halloween pretzels from Costco. The brand is UTZ and I think we paid around $15 for all the pretzels. The shape and size worked out perfectly for his head.
Whenever I am recreating a character, I take the one object that isn't changeable size wise, i.e. this bucket for its head or in the case of the Jack Skellington gates, the hula-hoop/pumpkin face. I print up a photo of the character, measure each part and then I do a mentally taxing math process which tells me what size to cut all of the other parts. Example, if the head measures 2 inches on the paper and the actual head is 24 inches, then I know for every inch I measure on the paper character translates to one foot on the piece I am building. Of course it NEVER works out to one paper inch equals one foot of character which is why I describe that whole process and mentally excruciating.
I found this stuff at Home Depot, its like those foam sleeves you by to put over your exposed outdoor pipes in the winter except much thinner.
Here is a side by side comparison of the foam sleeves and the backer rod. I used an exacto blade to slice halfway down the backer rod so that I could then slide it over the exposed edges of Frighty's mouth.
It's hard to see in this photo but I am just sliding it right over the exposed edges of what will be the mouth. I used styrofoam glue to adhere it and some pieces of tape to hold it in place while the glue dried. I used some of the same backer foam to create the eyes. The horns are two foam wands that I found at Target in the Halloween department for $1 each. They are called foam glow wands and they had a green glow stick in each one. I cut the bottoms off and pulled out the glow stick part. My goal is to keep everything as light as possible as I am concerned that too heavy a head could cause the PVC frame to bend. The teeth are cut from white foam board ($1 for a poster board size sheet of it) The neck is PVC and then covered with a swim noodle (called a Funoodle, used for swimming) The funoodles were also $1 each because I bought them at the end of summer. I used two of them.
Here is where I would like to suggest that you WAIT to glue the teeth until AFTER you have painted the inside of his mouth black. In the movie, Frighty's teeth are white but have black sides and black gums so after I got black spray paint all over the teeth, I just went over them with some white paint.
Next I assembled the PVC for his arms (pictured left) and the wings (pictured right)
|Arms and Wings|
Wire bent to shape the wings and then duct taped to the PVC. I then covered the entire wings with duct tape and glued the foam backer rod onto the wings.
Here is the basic frame of the FF. Next step was adding the foam swim noodles and also the foam pipe insulation and more duct tape. I used an entire roll of duct tape on this guy because I did not want any part of him expanding from underneath the papier mache.
While I waited for the layers to dry, I started work on the green stream of vomit he spews out. Beautiful imagery, no? The best idea I could come up with was to cover a gift wrap tube with parchment paper and then I began the process of hot gluing straws together around the tube. I bought 100 light green and dark green straws from Walmart and then a huge box of clear straws from Costco. Total straw count 350.
Before I started gluing the straws, I mixed some bright green acrylic paint with water and poured it down through a bunch of straws that were rubber banded together. Acrylic paint dries pretty fast so I just kept pouring it through until I got the amount of coverage I wanted and then sat them in front of a fan to dry completely.
Once I finished gluing them all together, I hooked the end of the green Christmas lights onto the end of the cardboard gift wrap tube and then pulled the tube out from the opposite end. If you're careful, you will now have a hollow tube of straws with a string of green lights inside!
You will also likely have hundreds of thin long dried glue strands all over your green straw tube making it look messy. Get out your hair dryer and go over them and they will melt away into oblivion! Not TOO hot though or you'll melt the glue that's holding your tube together.
More layers of papier mache and then a layer of cardboard scales that I cut out of empty cereal boxes. I ended up using hot glue to anchor the cardboard down and also to go over any seams or edges of newspaper that were sticking up. While that was drying, I added a coat of grey primer to the head, painted the teeth white and added some shading around the eyes.
Papier Mache complete and after a few coats of BEHR paint and primer in Cathedral Grey. The hands were made using the backer rod foam, wire and some hot glue.
Next up, a can of Rustoleum stone texture spray paint in Stone Grey. I could still see the paper lines from the newspaper and the hot glue so I thought textured paint would remedy that. This stuff is a bit pricey, $10 for one can. (I don't know why picture is sideways)
Close up of the textured spray on the scales:
And a closer shot of the head, hands and neck:
Next up is the base of the fountain! I got a really late jump on starting this guy so I was pressed for time. As a result, the exterior pool part of the fountain is painted cardboard. I wanted to make it out of foam blocks and ultimately will but it just won't be on this years display.
I will be back to add more photos later!