Saturday, March 26, 2011

Making Zombie Arms

Tonight I'm making prop zombie arms out of bended pvc pipes to go with the zombie hands I made last year.

Two 9" pieces of pvc pipe.

Curved slightly by heating them up with a heat gun.

Holes drilled into the ends.

Fastened with zip ties.

Zip tie ends stuck into the open end of the pvc pipe and everything taped down with duct tape.

Next I'll coat the arms with construction adhesive (like liquid nails), stain them and give them a little touch up paint.


Jennifer McGrath said...

Can't wait to see how they turn out. I need to up my game and narrow down projects for this year. Looking for inspiration...

Jennifer McGrath said...

By the way what are you covering it with to give that "corpse" look?

The Undertaker: said...

Hey Jennifer! Great to hear from you! I'll probably hot glue a piece of t-shirt material under the arm to fill in the space between the bones. Then I'll cover the entire arm with Liquid Nails Construction adhesive. When that dries I'll stain the whole thing and touch it up with a little paint. That's how I did the hands anyway.

Jennifer McGrath said...

:) Well it's good to see someone who's still in the spirit of things. Liquid nails huh? I've been using carpet adheasive. Have you ever used that? Wonder what the difference is?

The Undertaker: said...

I haven't used Carpet Adhesive yet but I'll certainly give it a try. As long as it's goopy and looks like rotten flesh I'm sure it's perfect. What I do like about the construction adhesive is that it's already a dead flesh color when you put it on. (Maybe carpet adhesive is too, I don't know)

I haven't painted this hand yet. I coated the bone structure with construction adhesive and literally just dunked it in a can of stain. (I don't remember what color stain it was but I can find out if you're interested). I'll darken the areas between the bones slightly and maybe tap on some moldy colors and that hand should be good to go!

I only finished about half of the projects on last year's list so I figured I'd just keep going. That means that I'm already past the "what's my theme going to be" stage which is a welcome change for me. And I'm not throwing a formal party this year either which adds about 3 weeks to my season and eliminates the most time consuming and costly parts of my build. I'm shooting for a more fun, relaxing season this year. Last year was CRAZY and hectic!

Incidentally, I learned this entire process from the dvd at They teach you how to build an entire corpse but I only make the heads, hands and forearms using their process and dress my zombies from there. And the way they make teeth is sheer genius in my opinion!

Of course I'm learning as I go and am always happy to share anything I learn if I accidentally stumble upon something that works.

Jennifer McGrath said...

The carpet adheasive is an off white so when I corpsed those bluckys I used two different wood stains; one being an oak color and the other a very dark brown color to accent.

I don't particularly care when I see corpsed stuff all burnt and red. Then again I'm really not into the blood and gore either. Not that others who corpse like that are bad it's just not my taste.

I'm sure I will have a party this year. I will extend the invitation when the time comes. :) Can't even think about that right now.

I will check out that monster closet! A lot of the techniques I have done were taken as bits and peices from other haunters like ourselves.

By the way a few weeks back AboutHalloween on Twitter asked about halloween blogs. I mentioned yours (as well as plugged my own, lol). I think they added it to a list? I'm going to further investigate and keep you posted. :)

Jennifer McGrath said...

found it!

The Undertaker: said...

Thanks for submitting my blog to that site! I appreciate it!

I too am not a fan of the bloody, over-the-top gory corpses and favor a more Gothic, creepy look to what I try and do. I did recently stumble upon this site and their stuff really blew me away so I might try to make one "fresher" corpse this year.

I like your technique of using multiple stains too. I usually stain it one color, darken the low spots with a wash of black acrylic paint, then hit the high spots with dry-brushed white or yellow, then dab little areas of green to resemble mold. I sometimes go overboard and it ends up looking cartoony though.

I do have some blood red in my Halloween color palette but that's usually reserved for bloodying up weapons.

I can't wait to see what you do this year!!! Do you have any idea yet? I'd love to discuss it with you!!

btw, I'm already planning for Dragon*Con. I might carry a "corpse on a stick" this year and do the parade!

Jennifer McGrath said...

Your welcome!

Wow, creepy collection has some serious stuff, good find.

As for the mold, have you tried using the technique from those How to Haunt books? I think there is an example in the 1st book if I’m not mistaken. Wherein they take dryer lint and mix it with some paint, and apply it to their tombstones? Also you can use moss, which can be purchased at the dollar store and that bag goes a long way.

Projects and ideas this year will be mounting those bluckies I corpsed last year. I need to get them into position (standing, crawling, etc..). Then I got some inspiration from this blog I was watching the youtube clip he posted, and those skeletons that are draped in cloaks really appealed to me. I was thinking if I used some burlap and either used a fabric stiffner or maybe dip it in some type of stucco concoction I can mold the burlap the way I want giving it a drape effect. Just a thought not sure if that will actually work, but my common sense tells me it just might. Other than that the only other thing is I have all these styrofoam tombstones that I have purchased throughout the years, I would really like to get them more stable and give them more weight. My thought was to make that monster mud and paint over them? Again just another thought, not sure if it will work they way I’m thinking.

Nevertheless I really need to organize my garage and see what I’ve got. I really enjoyed turning that scarecrow into the skeleton vampire last year.

Oh, and the carpet adhesive is quite messy (use latex gloves), tacky, and goopy. I added toilet paper to the carpet adhesive when making corpsing. It also takes a good week to dry. Not sure what the chemical reaction is, but once you put that stain over it after it dries it turns out pretty raunchy! Raunchy = GOOD!

What else have you got up your sleeve?

HA! Dragoncon, you bet your ass I’ll be there this year! I had such a great time last year. You didn’t do the parade last year. I think we got there a little too late and missed it.

The Undertaker: said...

I only have the first How to Haunt book. :( And I only have that one on Kindle. I have seen the method using dryer lint but haven't tried it. Funny, I stuff the coffins I make for my hot sauce with Spanish moss but have never even thought about using it for props until you mentioned it. DOH! For mold I was thinking about painting my prop with a small area of glue and then using coarse sandpaper to sand down some green and/or yellow chalk or pastel onto the gluey area. I dunno.

I guess that monster mud stuff can be used for stiffening fabric and for weighing down tombstones. I’ve never made any but it seems to be a haunt industry staple. I know the folks at Davis Graveyard use it a LOT! I saw that the how-to-haunt book suggested covering tombstones with monster mud but I’ve never done that either.

Your scarecrow to vampire/skeleton is BRILLIANT! Excellent job! I love it!

I can’t wait to try the carpet adhesive now! I like it RAUNCHY! Thanks for the tip!

The Undertaker: said...

What’s up my sleeve? Why my rotting arm of course! Muahahhaaaaa!! In addition to that, I want to make 5-6 more Styrofoam tombstones including one obelisk shape, and 6 or so rotten wood crosses tied together with rope or twine, a rectangular crypt (you know, the ones that look like a rectangular slab of stone laying about 18” off the ground supported by brick or stone walls), much more cemetery fence and maaaybe some cemetery pillars this year. I also want to make 5-6 fake handheld lamps with those flicker candles inside.

I’ve also been toying with an idea to make an area outside my Moonlit Hill Mortuary where coffins might be made. I’ll have an unfinished coffin leaning nearby and planks of wood piled around. Hanging there will be some schematic diagrams and coffin blueprints. The “scare” will come from a large fake circular saw that will suddenly turn on as people approach making that loud saw sound and splattering them with blood! (ok, it’ll just be water but the saw will have glossy red paint on it so it might fool them for a second) There may be a decapitated body on it too…maybe a chance to try out my corpse look. Lots of logistics to work out on this idea though.

I want Dragon*Con to be something special this year so I‘m trying to get organized early. Last year I showed up just as the parade was finishing. This year I think I’d like to be in the parade again but since they don’t want businesses promoting themselves, or allow tossing things into the crowd as I used to do, maybe I’ll just make a corpse on a stick to carry or push a coffin cart or something. In addition to The Undertaker character I may go a second day and unveil a new character!! Hell, Maybe I’ll just stay Friday afternoon through Saturday night!

Jennifer McGrath said...

I LOVE spanish moss. I will have to take an inspirational picture for you when I head down to Orlando next month. The trees are covered over there! Great creepy look. Actually when I mentioned the moss I had the green moss in mind, I know the spanish is a little on the grey side.

I will check out the Davis Graveyard this evening, thanks for the link. Also knock the dust off those books I have and take another glance at them to pinpoint exactly what I need to do with the tombstones I have. I’d much rather revamp then buy new or even attempt to make my own. One day... but not now.

*bows* thank you very much. Your complement that day on my blog made this gal feel good!

The step by step process of my corpsing is all on my blog. Not sure if you can do a right click and save or zoom in on the pics so you can take a better look.

Jennifer McGrath said...

You know I got this huge lot of stuff off of craigslist last year. Some were wooden crosses (like stakes) they weren’t tall, but I put them to the side as I didn’t want to “offend” my neighbors. I will check to see if I still have them but if I do and I didn’t throw them away I will be happy to hand them off to you. Once I head into the direction of the garage I will take some pics and send them over.

Would love to see how you work out the lanterns. I’m intimidated with anything electric!

Your next project sounds great! Sound effects make great additions and add the realness to it. I’m sure that will freak the trick or treaters out. I’ve always wanted a coffin, and would love to make one with some good ol rickety wood.

Ohhh I recall you mentioned that about the flyers at DragonCon. Night time was much better. My girlfriend and I were considering doing the same and stay over night. That was my first year so this year should be a charm!

The Undertaker: said...

I definitely want those crosses if you're not going to use them. My neighbors across the street are easily offended and I take great pleasure in torturing them.

I'm not doing anything electrical either for the lanterns. The only electrical I've ever done is to splice a flourescent light fixture starter cannister into an extension cord to give any lighting I plug into the cord a random flickering effect. I'm making the lanterns like this:

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

I might make mine out of wood because I have lots of wood scraps lieing around from making coffins, and they'll be a little more durable. I'll also make the "panes" from clear plexiglass instead of real glass so there's less of a chance that I'll cut my head off. ;)

I called a few local fence companies asking them what they did with the old fence planks that they tore down from jobs. One said that they filled a dumpster and they allowed me to dumpster dive! (I have no shame) I built a coffin, a bar and had some left over (which apparently are full of carpenter bees...and it's spring-time! Yikes!)

My coffin and some planks. The coffin in the foreground was made from regular old pine Home Depot fence planks and painted to hopefully look more weathered.

The Bar. Fence planks and kitchen cabinet doors for a top.

I'm going to study your site closely and check out your excellent corpsing methods and multi-color staining. I love it!

Jennifer McGrath said...

I will be happy to put those crosses to the side for you. I will be hitting the garage within the next few weeks, if I find anything else I will let you know. We can always meet up at Dragoncon to give you the goods.

Do you ever check craigslist? I hit it everyday and type in “halloween” (of course!) looking for people getting rid of stuff. I got 2 good lots of stuff last year.

Love those lanterns. I was thinking of those other kind; metal with glass bulb around the flame. I have a few of those in my cemetery. I recall seeing that coffin last year. I was impressed! You had the corpse in there with the spiderwebs.

The Undertaker: said...

Thank you for putting those crosses aside for me and thank you for the kind words re: the coffin amd lamps! I was SO excited when my spider webs finally worked.

I bought those lamps a few years ago at World Market. They were shiny chrome so the first thing I did was paint them sloppily with flat black latex paint and then painted the glass with a strong saltwater solution to "fog" it. The saltwater solution caused them to rust quickly over the course of the next couple years so they're almost falling apart now.

I use oil in them and scatter them around my cemetery but I try to keep them away from where people will be walking. I think I could just pop a battery operated flicker candle in them for the same effect but safer.

I tried to use spotlights to light up my graveyard last year but I wasn't happy with the results. I think I'd like a LOT more smaller lights actually inside the cemetery. Maybe some witch jars too!

I have checked craigslist a few times but I don't think about it often enough to have found anything good. Maybe I'll set up some calendar reminders. ;)