Introduction: Building a Witch
This Instructable will show you how to make a witch for Halloween.
The witch's head is made out of paper machie, which I put over a base form that I made from aluminum foil. If you want to get the head done quicker, you can also put the paper machie over a plastic skull. I made the body of the witch out of scraps of wood that I had sitting in the garage. I put some chicken wire over the shoulders for some shape, and dressed the witch in a black tablecloth.
It's simple enough to do, and it's a much better Halloween decoration than all of that store bought stuff. Please continue reading...
Step 1: Make a Base for the Witch's Skull
The first step is to make the witch's skull that will be a base for the shape of the head. For this there is two options. The first and easiest option would be to go and buy a plastic skull and move on to the next step. The way I did it is a bit more complicated, but in the end you'll get more satisfaction knowing you made the entire witch from scratch.
Basically what I did here was take a whole bunch of aluminum foil and shaped it into the shape of a skull. This will be covered in paper machie and will be used as the base. Focus on the upper part of the skull a whole lot more than the jaw. The jaw really isn't important in this step. Make the eye sockets deeper than you think they should be because you will be putting paper machie over this aluminum foil form.
Step 2: Cover in Paper Machie
Now you're going to cover the skull in paper machie. Here's how I make paper machie glue:
1- Get some sort of plastic container. I like using the quart size Chinese restaurant soup containers. I have them lying around the house, and they are disposable, so who cares if you're filling them with glue and paper.
2- Get some flour. It doesn't matter if it's bleached or unbleached at this point, but later on when doing the final steps I would recommend using bleached flour, so why not use it all the way through? Put a few spoonfulls into the container. The exact amount really doesn't matter. On average, I put 3-4 scoops into a quart size container.
3- Add some salt to the flour. I read that it keeps the bugs from eating the flour in you paper machie, so I'm going with adding salt. Again, the exact amount doesn't matter. I use a lot less salt than flour in the mixture.
4- Add water. Normal tap water will do. Fill it up to the top of the container and mix well. You want the clumps of flour to be broken up while you mixing, and sometimes that takes some work on the first mix.
And there you have it, paper machie glue. Now take whatever kind of paper scraps you can find and rip them up into strips. Old newspapers, junk mail, Christmas catalogs, it all works. Dip the strips one at a time into the well mixed glue. Crumple them up while submerged to get all of the paper's fibers well soaked. Then remove the paper from the glue and rub off any flour that didn't get mixed properly (you'll have this problem at first, but as you do more and more, the flour will get mixed better and better). Take the glue covered paper and stick it on the aluminum foil skull. Repeat this until the whole skull is covered. Then do another layer of paper. I like alternating between two different types of paper so I know where I covered and where I didn't on each layer. Do three layers of paper and let the skull dry overnight. Then do three more layers and let the skull dry for a few days.
(if you're using a plastic skull, it's basically the same process)
Then move on to the next step...
Step 3: Cut Off the Paper Machie...
The paper machie covered skull should now be dry. Draw a vertical line around the center of head (if you're looking at a profile). Now take a cerated knife, and cut through the paper machie along the line. What you are doing here is cutting the paper machie off of the aluminum foil/plastic skull so you can use it to make more molds in the future. Start at the top of the skull and cut down. Only cut enough so you will be able to pull the aluminum foil/plastic out of paper machie. In my experience, I never had a big problem having the paper stick to the base skull. The paper would much rather stick to other paper than to another type of surface using my recipe for flour glue.
Once you have the base out, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Seal the Paper Machie Skull
You just put a nice wound in you're hard work by cutting a big hole in it. Now you're going to repair that hole. Put the paper machie skull back together and tape it shut. You're paper machie skull should still have two connected halfs or be in no more than two pieces. Any tape will work, but the stronger the tape the better.
Get your paper machie glue back out and put another three layers over the skull, especially over the taped part. This will seal your skull back up into a solid piece.
Let it dry and move on...
Of course, you could stop here if your happy with just having a skull. Skeletons need heads, you know. But a skull isn't what this Instructable is about. It's about making a witch...
Step 5: The Neck Bone Is Connected to the Jaw Bone...
You have you're skull now. This is the base for the witch's head, so it isn't going to look like this for too much longer. You're going to be adding more paper machie to the skull from here on out, so now is a good time to give the witch a neck. This will make it much easier to apply the paper machie, and will allow it to dry more evenly. Figure out where you think the neck should be going into the skull, and draw an X there. Then take something sturdy and trace it around the X. Cut out that circle, and stick whatever you used into the hole in the skull. I used a 1 inch PVC pipe.
Now is also a good time to attach the jaw to the skull. If you figured out a way to do this in the previous steps, good for you. I wasn't able to, and that is why I said not to worry much about it. I rolled up some newspaper and taped the roll so it would stay. I then bent it into the jaw shape that I wanted and taped the jaw to the skull. It won't be attached well at this point, but later on it will be secured with more layers of paper machie.
Step 6: Nose
For the witch's nose, roll up paper into whatever shape you want. Use lots and lots of tape to hold the shape. I wanted a long crooked nose, so I basically took a roll of paper and bent it for the crooked part of the nose. I then made the end of the nose come to a nice point by twisting the paper towards the end and covering it with tape.
Take this nose, and tape it into the appropriate place on the skull.
Next, take some black paint and paint out the eye sockets. My witch didn't have any eyeballs (like Shakesphere's blind witches that shared one eyeball), so I wanted the sockets to be dark. You could be messy because a thin layer of paper machie will be going over this painted area.
Step 7: Put on the Final Layers of Paper Machie...
Now I got my paper machie glue out again and added some more layers of paper machie using any type of paper over the sensitive areas like the nose and jaw. Once these seam coverings were dry, I added the final layer, or the witch's skin.
For this, I used tissues rather than scrap paper. Be very careful when dipping the tissue into the glue. If they fold over, there is no unfolding the tissues. It took me a while to get this successfully. Apply the tissue skin carefully, keeping in mind that this is what your witch will look like. Sculpt any last features you want with these tissues, like angry looking eye sockets. One layer of tissue actually went into my witch's eye sockets, and you got a nice shadow effect. Also, put a layer of tissue under the jaw and add teeth if you want. I used some broken toothpicks painted white.
Let the tissue dry (very well) when you're satisfied. I then sprayed the head with a light spray of an off-white spray paint, and also covered the head with a few coats of polyurethane to seal the head.
And with that, my witch's head was done.
Step 8: Body Building...
I then dressed up the witch with a black tablecloth and safety pins, and the witch was good to go for Halloween.
The witch got some good reactions from the trick or treaters...
You can see the witch in video form here: