Introduction: Jack Skellington Puppet/Costume

Picture of Jack Skellington Puppet/Costume

I wanted to dress up as Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas for Dragon Con '07. However, it is impossible to make a good Jack costume because his proportions are so drastically different from me and (hopefully) you. So, instead of a traditional costume, I built a nine-foot-tall mobile puppet that I could control from behind. The head is mostly paper mache reinforced with spray foam. The skeleton is PVC pipe. The suit was custom tailored by myself with the pin-stripes added with fabric paint. The hands are wood with copper wire knuckles for poseability. The harness I'm wearing is motocross armor that connects to Jack via a square aluminum pipe. Braced aluminum bars attach my shoes to his so he can walk. I'd love to make an instructable from this, but, alas, my documenting skills weren't great back then.


ConstantineM4 made it! (author)2016-11-15

The way I made it for Halloween 2016 is pretty much the same, except I attached his ankles to my ankles so it was as if his feet were mine and he was just crouching down, also he was only attached to my harness through ropes attaching from the loop screws screwed into the PVC pipe underneath his clothing, to my harness. Lol dog in the background.

That is awesome!!! I like the head, btw. Did you make it from scratch or is it a recycled mask?

It's a recycled mask because we were coming down to the wire, only being a few days from Halloween. We ended up just stuffing a full face mask.

It looks great. It's wonderful when quick fixes work so well.

TekoMuto (author)2015-11-29

What'd you use for the feet?

haventmadeabombyet made it! (author)TekoMuto2015-11-29

Yes, I wish I had taken more pictures of the feet. Originally I made kind of bracket to attach my shoes to Jack's shoes, but I refurbished him recently and the bracket had been lost, so instead I simplified it by using a 1/2" aluminum L beam. I used drywall screws and drilled directly into the rubber. This worked well with my shoe, but I need to use nuts and bolts for Jack's shoes.

TekoMuto (author)2015-11-29

What'd you use for the feet?

TekoMuto (author)2015-11-29

i wish there were more pic of the feet lol

anapet01 (author)2014-03-26

Omg I want him so bad


arpoky (author)2013-09-22

What were the elbow, shoulder, hip, and knee joints made from?

The elbows, hips, and shoulders were all connected by drilling two holes into the pipe and running a piece of cord through them. I needed to the knees and the ankles to only bend on on one axis so I ran bolts though the ends of the pipe and connected them with a small piece of aluminum on either side. Looking back on it now, I probably only needed to do that with the ankles.


Paulina-MojePotwory (author)2012-10-06


Im going to replicate this for halloween could you list the proportions for me? Thanks so much.

Basically, the torso, shins, thighs, forearms, and upper arms are all the same length. However, I'm not sure about the shoulders, neck, waist, or head in relation to rest of him; you 'll just have to guesstimate. The thighs attached to the bottom of the torso without any kind of pelvis, making an upside-down 'Y'. Good luck! Also, you might want to think of another way to hold the fingers together than copper wire. While it made his hands pose-able, they were very easily bent into odd positions by the slightest knock. Think about keeping them in a fixed position.

jessyratfink (author)2011-11-13

I love this so much. Makes me want to try Slenderman!

Much thanks! Slenderman would be pretty sweet.

depotdevoid (author)2011-11-12

Honestly, I would say this is my favorite costume for this year. It's a novel way of getting past the fact that Jack is not really human proportioned, I really like that you stepped entirely out of the costume, yet literally maintained your connection to it.

In future years, I would hope that you keep a camera at hand to document the process. I want to see a full instructable from you on a detailed costume like this! This is absolutely brilliant!

D00M99 (author)2011-09-10

I would love to do this costume sometime! Looks like fun and everyone knows who he is. ;D

At any rate I have a few questions:

How did you make the head? What did you paper mache the head around? What are the teeth made of? How did you fill out the body? (Foam? Pillow?)

If I ever get around to making this I would love to document it for you. ;)

D00M99 (author)D00M992011-09-11

I was also wondering how you made the details on the head, such as the ridges around the eyes and the mouth...

I started by making a sphere around a Punch Balloon, the type they have at kids parties. I used two layers f paper mache using construction paper. Next, I taped copper wire (14-16guage) to the face using masking tape (the best when paper macheing). Then I uses strip of masking tape to bridge the gaps between the wire and the rest of the head. The lower jaw is curved piece of poster board. Then I added two layers of paper mache using news paper. For the final layer I covered the entire head with the cheap brown paper towels you find in public restrooms; it really gives you a nice smooth skin.

The teeth were carved from blue insulating foam. Before yo paint the teeth, brush on a layer of elmers glue to give them a protective layer.

For the body, I only padded the torso. I used bubble wrap for the interior then covered it with upholstery foam. The torso is wider than the rest of it, so I began by adding cones of bubble wrap to each side of the spine before I started adding layers.

Another thing you can do for the head is buy a giant foam ball from a craft supply store. They can be expensive, but they stay on the torso easily. I used one and then molded the faces with dryer lint mache and then paper mache. I used the cheap brown paper towels to finish it off too.

o_grande_rei (author)2011-09-29

I made one of these a few years ago. Did it practically the same way, except I made "animatronic" hands on mine. Attached to my harness is Zero the Ghost Dog, complete with glowing nose. He floats about three feet in front of Jack to avoid being kicked. I also created a rig that allows his head to turn if I turn my head. This year, I'm stitching up his Sandy Claus suit. The kids love it and now expect to see him on the streets every year. My oldest started Kindergarten and the school has a Halloween carnival, so Jack will be making a visit. I've also made an alien puppet based on the same structure that attaches to the harness.

Yeah, I wanted to make the hands move, but I got some bad advice, so I simplified them.

Have you by any chance attended DragonCon in the past?


SHIFT! (author)2011-03-14

Oh my god this is amazing! I love The Nightmare Before Christmas and your "Bone Daddy" is absolutely spot on!

I wonder if the same puppeteering mechanism can be rigged for a life scale Oogie Boogie? He's my favorite character :)

08motooley (author)SHIFT!2011-08-28

it probably could but i can see it being slightly more complex due to his massive bulk

poofrabbit (author)2011-04-25

WOW! This is amazing. I could see the technique used for different things, any chance you will make an instructable on how you did it? Simply awesome! Voted for you for the I made it! Good luck!

Maybe one day, but I wouldn't hold your breath just yet.

LOL I can understand, it's brilliant though! :)

empty___ (author)2011-04-21

Thank you, It's really amazing! :))

elleadnih (author)2011-03-15

is there a video? it looked like it was a great show! :0

It's all I've found. Didn't have much time to practice working Jack after I built him, so I'm not as agile as I'd like.

scoochmaroo (author)2011-03-14

Brilliant! What costume shop is that?

That's the Constans Theater Costume shop at the University of Florida, or their craft room anyway. Half was made there, and the other half was made at home.

insomniaSAH (author)2011-03-12

Several years back, inspired by the cheetah from the Broadway take on The Lion King, I had an idea for a bunraku Skeleton Jack. I didn't have the budget or time for it back then though, and after a while just never got around to it - I always figured, eh, now that I've thought of it, someone else will do it :p

Sure enough, this popped up

But yours is definitely closer to what I envisioned. You did an EXCELLENT job with the design and follow through on this :D

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