Introduction: How to Make a Human Tape Sculpture

These are human-mold sculptures made out of plastic wrap and packing tape.
They are fun, easy to make, and can take on any pose you can think of.

I discovered these sculptures a few years ago while researching street art installation. This Instructable is inspired by artist Mark Jenkins (http://www.xmarkjenkinsx.com/) who is the original creator of these plastic wrap sculptures.
This is my attempt to recreate his amazing work.

(Also see ‘Plastic Wrap Sculptures!’ Instructable by TheJehosephat under the Art Section)

Materials

The plastic wrap sculpture requires only a few basic materials found at your local hardware or home supplies store. Total project cost depends on where you buy your materials and what tools you already have. I made mine for under $20.

You will need:

1 (100 yards) x Plastic wrap -Saran cling wrap works well and is relatively cheap

6 (54 yards) x Clear Packing tape -duct tape will also work but give a different effect because of color

1 pair Scissors

1 Tape cutter -You will be removing tape from your body, this will allow you to do so without injuring yourself.

1 cutting board surface

1 Box cutter -or other durable razor-sharp cutting utensil

1 Subject model – You can use yourself or a friend. I would encourage you to use a mannequin head in place of your own. Wrapping your head in plastic wrap is dangerous.

1 (or more) Friend -you can do this yourself but it’s much easier if you have a trustworthy assistant.

Stuffing Material (Optional) – you can use newspaper or other material to reinforce the sculpture mold.

Step 1: Prepare the Plastic Wrap

Most household plastic wrap comes in rolls 12” wide and various lengths. While this is ok for the larger parts of your body (torso, arms, legs) it can be too wide for the smaller parts of your body (hands and feet). To adjust for this I recommend cutting the plastic wrap roll in half, making it easier to work with.

Remove roll from box and place on cutting surface.


WARNING Blades are extremely sharp and can cause serious damage or loss of extremity if not used with extreme caution. To avoid injury, always use knife on cutting surface and keep firm grip on object being cut, keeping hands away from path of blade. Always retract or cover blade when not in use.


Use utility knife to cut roll in half.

Step 2: Wrap the Model

Wrap desired body part firmly and generously with plastic wrap.
Make sure part is completely covered.Do not wrap so tightly that you cut off your circulation.

The easiest way to wrap the model is to do it one piece at a time, and later fix the separate pieces together. I started with the left arm, from the wrist to the upper bicep. I then did the right arm, followed by each leg, the torso, the pelvic area, and finally the head (for which I used a drawing mannequin head). I had a friend help me with my back and shoulders, areas I could not reach. I chose myself as the model so I could easily monitor tightness and blood flow throughout the project process.

Step 3: Tape the Model

Wrap covered body part firmly and generously with packing tape.
Make sure part is completely covered. Do not wrap so tightly that you cut off your circulation.

The more layers of tape you use, the sturdier the mold will be. Press tape firmly against body part to maintain recognizable form.

Step 4: Remove the Mold

Use tape cutter to carefully cut a slit through the mold so you can free your wrapped body part.
Carefully remove body part from mold.

WARNING If you do not have a tape cutter, you can use scissors. However, you must do so with extreme caution so you do not cut yourself. Try to keep the number of cuts minimal, only enough so you can get out of it. Multiple cuts will increase the complexity of the next step.

Step 5: Re-Tape the Mold

Use small sections of tape to fix corresponding sides of the cut back together.

To make this easier, put one hand inside of mold and press up while placing tape. If you are doing this yourself, I recommend pre-cutting small sections of tape so you do not have to go back and forth between cutting and taping. Also, starting at one end and making your way towards the other will help this go more smoothly.

Step 6: Reinforce the Mold (Optional)

Stuff the repaired mold piece with reinforcing material.

This will increase the durability of the mold and deter collapsing. Newspaper is cheapest, but you can also use bubble wrap, tissue paper, packing peanuts, or expanding foam sealant. Make sure to follow directions on sealant packaging.

Step 7: Attach Mold Pieces Together

Tape separate mold pieces together to complete human form.

You can determine the pose of the sculpture by changing how you attach the pieces. Make sure each piece is securely attached to the other.

Step 8: Clothe the Sculpture (Optional)

This is where you can get creative. Dress your sculpture like a ninja and let it lurk in the shadows. Dress it like a scarecrow to protect your garden. Give it a suit and let it stand in at meetings for you. I use mine as a stunt double, it works great!

This project is meant to be fun and allow you to express your creativity. Try out different poses and locations for your model! Please feel free to comment with any questions and/or concerns. Enjoy!

Comments

author
Ms Cynthi (author)2017-01-27

Love it! I'm a 67 year old grandmother who still likes to play. This is going to be my next project after I finish my 9' tall cement Nativity. Thank you for sharing.

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LittleBilly (author)2016-11-04

How did you do your head

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Lburnhamw2 (author)LittleBilly2017-01-21

I have done these with high school students. We put a bandana on the model's head before the plastic wrap. Them there is no way the hair would be cut when the mold is cut away. We did not cover the mouth at all. The tape for the mouth area was added at assembly time. We completed the head in one sitting, the upper body in one sitting, and the legs in a third sitting. Use Kindergarten round-tip safety scissors to cut wrap/tape off so the model doesn't get poked with sharp tips. We drew marks with a fine point Sharpie every 6 inches or so that were perpendicular to the cutting line prior to cutting so the marks could be aligned for re-assembly.

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Talenthia (author)2016-10-10

I just did this to my 14 year old son in less than an hour. I put a layer of cling wrap, then a layer of press and seal on before the tape. I only had a little cling wrap. It worked great. We are going to do another one and make a Grandpa and Nana sitting on the porch over looking their graveyard. Love the idea of using this to make arms sticking out of the ground too!

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TargusM (author)2015-10-29

To cut it off use first aid sissors. they are ment for cutting off bandages and clothing as the have a speical tip.

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em loves crafting (author)2014-11-12

I'm making on for school

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i want learning...

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AndiMN (author)2014-10-29

We used this to make a ghost decoration for our yard for Halloween. We used my hands & forearms to make the arms, then used a plastic skull to make the head. Then we put lights inside them, stuck them in the ground like he was crawling out of it, & voila! Ghost!

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BridgetB2 (author)AndiMN2015-10-07

What did you use for lights and to stick it in ground?

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YvonL (author)2015-07-24

I think this is a great idea, but I can't help but think that my wife would think that having a packing tape statue of myself would be a little. or a lot tacky. It might make a good decoration for Halloween, I like the arm coming out of the lawn. It would be a good way to get a garden statue for cheap. http://www.adagiftshop.com/np1-listing-dept-30110

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joedix (author)2014-10-30

I made one of me.

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deputyjwb (author)2014-10-27

that's cool. run some Christmas lights through it.

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Arabian Outdoors (author)2014-10-25

If you filled it up with a little bit of expanding foam it would be awesome and would last forever. Like athao1 said it would make an amazing archery target and would be very durable

but not too much foam so it gets deformed when it expands

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stupidname (author)2014-10-22

Another way to do this is to skip the plastic wrap, but instead wrap yourself sticky side out then sticky side in over that

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jwbril (author)stupidname2014-10-24

Yes, that would work too. I found that the wrap stays in place much better and is generally quicker, but if you have the time and patience doing 'back to back' tape wrapping would be a good alternative.

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Bobmonkey07 (author)2014-10-22

I've been planning to do this, but with an additional wire "skeleton" and filled with expanding foam to have a really good mannequin. I might try a few for my parents as house on halloween to have more dummies sitting around.

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jwbril (author)Bobmonkey072014-10-24

The wire skeleton will help strengthen the model. I would also recommend linking the wire together at points of intersection, where you are taping two pieces together. Wire and foam will add weight, and tape may not be strong enough on its own to support the addition. Thanks for your comment and good luck!

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blopez579 (author)2013-08-06

Hi there! thanks for the tutorial. Have you heard of anyone using wire inside the structure for more moldability? How about using the tape shell as a casting vessel? If you use the expanding foam with a release agent, do you think you could then cut the tape off, and further "sculpt" the resulting mold by sanding and carving?
I can't wait to try!

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jwbril (author)blopez5792014-10-24

Sorry for not responding sooner. Yes, we also did a few renditions of this process but used flexible chicken wire between the plastic wrap and the tape. It definitely adds rigidity to the model but be careful of wire poking through the tape.

Using the shell as a mold could work, though you'd probably want to make sure it is sturdy enough to support whatever filling agent you are you using.

I have not tried using the expanding foam as a 'sculpting' medium. I would imagine you would need quite a bit, since you would want extra material to sand down so that you get your desired form.

Thanks for the comments, these are some great ideas!

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athao1 (author)2014-10-23

Archery target

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Raitis (author)2014-10-22

I think this has a real potential to become an awesome slenderman decoration if you put a nice even layer of white film/fabric last and dress it accordingly.

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jruhlman (author)2014-10-22

Awesome idea!! You could also use this to go in the carpool lane, lol!!!!

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patatarium (author)2014-10-22

So cool

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terrefirma (author)2014-10-09

And if you are able to talk your teenager into sitting for this, by all means READ the instructions carefully. Nothing worse than seeing the plastic wrap sitting there and wondering when it goes on, then having your daughter observe- isn't that going to hurt when the tape pulls his hair off? and realizing you also forgot the oil...

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twilightfox (author)2014-08-16

O_o

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Air_Assassin (author)2014-02-15

thats scary lol

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WolfKodi (author)2011-10-27

Oh my, that looks exactly like a live wrapped human!

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