Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monster Muddin'

I've been trying to pick up the pace with my prop building now that there's less than three months to Halloween! Despite plodding along all year I feel like I haven't accomplished much. We know that's not true, but I still need to get some more props built for my haunt.

To that end I've started working on a figure called "The Acolyte." Anyone who has visited Steve Hickman's awesome Terror Syndicate site should be immediately familiar with this figure. Although similar in most details, I decided to try my hand at making the head rather than using a mask. To do that, I thought I'd use a combination of techniques: the insulation mache clay used by Stolloween and the cloth mache technique popularized by Dan Reeder, the Monster Man.

I previously used Stolloween's paper clay on a test dragon I made (you've seen him in the corpse group photo) and I wasn't exactly enamored of it. However, I was thinking that was because I didn't make the clay properly and so wanted to give it another go. I figured my Acolyte head would be a good place to restart.

While I've been building my props, I've also been looking at Dan Reeder's website, Gourmet Paper Mache, and reading through his book "Papier-Mache Monsters." His technique for constructing the mache forms look so easy when he did it I thought it would also be a good time to implement that style too. Okay, admittedly I've got to practice a little bit more with this whole thing, but in the end I decided I really liked both. I'm willing to use these methods again and again. I think things will improve as I move forward.

What I like about Reeder's mache method is that it's not the time consuming strip mache style commonly used. He uses big sheets of paper, or only slightly smaller torn sheets. It saves bundles of time for a similar outcome.

Once I had my basic head shape, I switched to Stolloween's paper clay to add details such as a more prominent nose, brows, etc. Once that dried, I went back to Reeder and used his cloth mache. This adds a lot of character to the features but will be an area that I'll need to use a little more patience with. The resulting face looked a little too "busy." Although in the daylight the Acolyte's head doesn't look all that great, at night -- under an LED spotlight -- he'll look creepy enough!

Inspired as I was, I decided to use both techniques to build my next prop, the Pumpkin Reaper. There's a little bit of Grim Hollow Haunt's pumpkin creep (I forget what John Graham calls it) but I think mine will be different in several respects. Right now, though, all I've got is the beginnings of the pumpkin head -- papier mache underneath, paper clay on top to accentuate the ribbing. Tomorrow I'll be adding the cloth mache and that's where the differences will really become apparent (or so I hope!).

Today, though, was a day for Monster Mud. The Acolyte was coated in two coats and I'm enjoying the look of it (with all the caveats mentioned above taken into consideration). But there's a lot more to build, a lot more Monster Mud to play in, and more to paint. Onward!


  1. Thanks, Frog Queen. So what are the chances of an Easy Coast campus opening for the Davis Graveyard school of prop making? ;>



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