Introduction: Jack in the Box of Chemicals
Halloween is rapidly approaching, so I wanted to make a new prop this year. This one is a static prop which will be near a bunch of potions, animal skeletons, and other creepy exhibits where I pass out candy. In fact, this year I might ditch my cauldron and put my candy in this. Yuck!!! (but cool)
Step 1: Supplies
Items you need:
- Cheap plastic skull
- Optional: I had large glass marbles to put in the eye sockets, but these aren't necessary.
- PVC pipe (1 inch diameter, approximately 2-3 feet long)- this is to prop the skull out of the box
- I used pipe insulation around the tubing, but if I had to do it over again, I would not use the insulation and would just paint the pipe.
- For the "spring": 1/4 inch landscape drip irrigation tubing and heavy gauge wire which can be slipped inside the tubing.
- Zip ties to attach the tubing
I built mine from 1 inch thick insulation foam (EPS) then hard coated it. You could also make one out of wood or buy one. Just ensure it is the appropriate size for the skull.
- Glue and Skewers to assemble the box. I use Glidden Gripper Primer and Sealer for gluing foam together.
- Ability to print out hazardous symbols/labels
- Mod Podge or similar product to attach labels
- PVC pipe (1/2 inch diameter, approximately 1 foot long) - "L" connectors for landscape watering (1/2 inch) - Optional: I used the bottom of a dollar tree battery operated candle stick to make the handle a little more ornate. I also used an old kitchen drawer pull to cap the handle.
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Silver spray paint
- Acrylic paints (2 or 3 types of green, black, yellow, burnt umber and/or burnt sienna/cinnamon)
- Chip brushes
Step 2: Jack
- I used a cheap plastic skull and glued some glass marbles into the eye sockets (optional).
- I used an X-acto knife to cut between the upper and lower teeth then part of the jaw line. Leave some attached and just bend the jaw down. Once you have the look you want (I made one side look like it collapsed a little into the skull), hot glue to keep the jaw in place.
- Get the hot glue gun and start squirting and dripping the hot glue onto the skull. To get long drips or to make drips between the teeth, use a little glue, let it cool, the use more glue to build up to the look you want.
- I used a dark green paint to coat the entire skull.
- Red paint was added in various areas
- I then used a lighter green to dry brush over the raised surfaces made by the glue.
- Lastly, I used a brighter yellow to do just a little bit of dry brushing over some of the raised areas. This helped give the drips a little glow.
- I mixed a reddish purple with a small amount of water and gave the eyes a few coats.
Step 3: Box (part 1)
My box is about 15 inches square and was made from EPS foam. The sides were glued together with Glidden Primer and Sealer the toothpicks were placed through the foam pieces to provide support. The box was given a couple coats of all purpose foam coat so it would be durable and easily painted. Don't forget to make a lid. For my lid, I glue two strips of strong cloth to the interior of the box and the bottom of the lid. No need for hinges unless you want that look. The straps won't really be that visible once I'm done and the piece is in the dark.
- I gave the entire box a coat of silver spray paint.
- Next, I took a little black paint and bushed it into a few areas, but not much.
- I then took burnt umber, burnt sienna, and cinnamon paints and used various amounts on the entire box. In many areas I put a little paint and spread it around so the silver would still show. Other areas were made to look more rusted. Typically, downward stroke were used and sometime I added a little water to the paint and let it drip down. A lot of the silver paint is covered, but you definitely want some remaining to give the impression the box is metal.
- The next step is to add various chemical warning labels to the box. I printed out appropriate sized symbols, cut them out, then tore pieces from the edges, and scuffed some with sand paper to age them. I them attached them to the box using Mod Podge. I also gave a coat of Mod Podge over them.
- Use some of your paints and "dirty" up the labels and surrounding areas.
Step 4: Box (part 2)
- I then dripped hot glue from the top of the box, various areas of the lid and wherever I wanted. Again, if you have to, let the glue cool, then go back to add more in order to build up areas or make drips bigger.
- At the point I had a happy accident. I had old green patio/pottery paint that had dried somewhat. It had a putty like consistency and I decided to smoosh and smear it on parts of the box. If you want a similar effect, I suggest using some paintable caulk. I'm sure it would work the same way.
- For the handle, I used 1/2 inch PVC pieces and 1/2 inch L connectors for landscaping drip water system. Cut the PVC to the length you want and glue together. Drill a half inch hole in the side of the box and insert the handle.
- (optional) I also used an old kitchen drawer pull to cap the handle. In addition, I used the bottom of a Dollar Tree candlestick for the base of my handle to make it more decorative and whimsical. These fake candles can be found pretty readily and Dollar Tree/99 Cent stores this time of year.
- I painted the glue and other areas in the same manner as the skull. Dark green then a lighter green, then a little bright yellow dry brushing. You also want to use a little water with your greens and let it drip here and there on the box.
Step 5: Attaching the Head
I decided how high I want the head coming out of the box then cut a piece of 1" PVC pipe to length. I heated the PVC a little and gave it a little bend.
When I cut and opened the jaw, I was left with space for the PVC pipe to go into the skull. If you didn't, just make a hole large enough for the pipe to be inserted.
When I built my box, I added a square pieced of foam in the bottom which had a one and a half inch hole for the pipe to be placed in. You could also attach a dowel or some other item to the bottom for the pipe to go over.
I originally added foam pipe insulation around the visible part of the PVC pipe and used zip ties around a few areas to give it a little texture. Ultimately, I decided a "spring" was needed to drive home the idea this prop was a Jack in the Box.
I took a length of 1/4 inch landscaping drip system tubing and ran wire through it (coat hanger size wire). This would allow the spring to hold it's shape. I zip tied an end near the skull then curled it around the pipe, zip tying the tubing to the back of the pipe/pipe insulation as it went toward the bottom. Once finished, hot glue and paint was applied.
Step 6: Final Prop
So, there you have it. This guy is going to be a great addition to my table of macabre this year. I'll probably add a green tap light or two in there to give it a nice glow when displayed. I hope you were inspired to make one or do something similar. Happy Halloween!