Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Props Part II

This was a smaller project, but it solved a problem I've been thinking about for a while: how do you make ribs?

In a few years of playing with store-bought and homemade Halloween props, I've decided that the reason it's so hard to find a somewhat realistic skeleton at most Halloween stores is that ribs, spines, shoulders, and hips are probably hard to cast and even harder to ship and display without breaking. You can get a 4th quality bucky skeleton on Amazon for just over $100, but my budget wouldn't allow for that this year, and I really wanted a full size skeleton.

Last year I picked up a ground-breaker: a semi-realistic set of complete skeleton arms, hands, legs, feet, and a head that you're supposed to position so it looks like it's popping up out of a grave, still half-buried--but, no midsection. I bound them together last year with aluminum scraps and wire coat hangers and set up a Pepper's Ghost illusion (where the object is lighted and displayed reflected in a pane of glass, creating the illusion of a floating ghost). The lack of shape and the metal guts weren't a problem then, as the image was so faint in the glass that nobody would know the difference. This year, however, I decided to recycle the parts into a prop that would be displayed fully, and I needed more support in the body.

There are a few tutorials on the internet for making skeleton ribs, but nothing really great: expanding foam, plastic buckets, paper mache. All different ways to tackle the problem, but I wanted something less messy and dead simple. So, using thick guage wire, plastic tubing for a sternum, duct tape, and anatomical pictures from google, I threw together a passable frame, knowing that it would be covered in some kind of cloth. But, of course, I built it while it was still hot out, and once it reached about 100 in the garage, the duct tape failed and I was left with a pile of goopy tape and loose wires. One more try with industrial glue, and viola...insta-ribs.

This creepy little creature is going to be hanging from the ceiling under a blacklight with a fan blowing up onto her shroud, so it kind of looks like a flying ghost. It will be dark enough that you won't be able to see her metal parts, but the added bulk in the chest should help sell the illusion a bit more. The 200W lightning flashes will be right behind her, and there will be branches from my poor dead elm tree framing her, aiding in the flying-above-the-graveyard thing.

Next project: a nasty creature who goes by the nickname Jerkyboy.


Cate Gardner said...

I so need to trick'n'treat at your house.

Jamie Eyberg said...

You have some serious talent. If you need a second career you could always go to Hollywood.

Aaron Polson said...

You need to go pro. Seriously.

I have some bad images floating around in my melon when I hear the name Jerkyboy.


Jeremy D Brooks said...

Thanks guys...

I would totally do this for a living if I could. Given that my position with my full-time employer is going away soon, that has definitely been on my mind.

Natalie L. Sin said...


Mary said...

Are those all just homemade? Well that was really scary. My dad would love to have the hanging lady. I am sharing the page to my friends. More power to you and to your site!

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