This instructable is a continuation of my Mola Ram Halloween costume. When doing searches on this character, I noticed many people who dressed up as Mola Ram have used a heart as a prop. I wanted to do a different take on the character and the idea of making a replica of the Chalice of Kali was born. I recall seeing a video in YouTube on the making of a zombie trophy head and thought I could apply the same technique to accomplish this. Hope you enjoy it!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Here are the materials you'll need to make the Chalice of Kali:
- A human skull plastic replica
- Newspaper (or your favorite paper choice for paper mache)
- White glue
- Drywall joint compound (already mixed): for the paper mache clay
- Cellulose microfiber insulation: for the paper mache clay
- Aluminum foil
- Hot glue gun and sticks
- Contact cement
- Small section of poster board or cereal box
- Craft foam
- Heat gun or hair dryer
- Masking tape
- X-acto knife
- Clay sculpting tools (can also substitute items around the house: tooth picks, pen, etc.)
- Toilet paper or kitchen paper towel (preferably without texture)
- Oven bake polymer clay
- Modgepodge (or wood glue)
- Various paint colors: one of these must be an antique gold
- Satin varnish
- Reference pictures of the Chalice of Kali from the movie
- Good music (or your favorite movie)
Step 2: Creating the Skull Replica
Over the years, I've bought several plastic skulls on the Halloween clearance sales. I used one to create a paper mache skull replica. You can skip this step if you're willing to use the plastic skull as the frame on which you're building on details of the skull. Since I had time, and wanted to re-use the plastic skull for other projects or Halloween scenes, I chose to create a paper mache replica.
I started by removing the jaw from the skull and wrapped each piece in aluminum foil, applying pressure on the foil to capture all of the details of the skull (particularly around the eyes and cheek bones). I used masking tape to secure areas where the aluminum foil overlapped on the skull. Using aluminum foil, I added a little bit of material to the nose bone and then covered the face with masking tape.
The next step involves applying paper mache to the skull and jaw. As there are many recipes/blogs available, I won't cover the pros/cons of various paper mache techniques. I recommend following the one that works best for you. I mixed water and flour (1:1 ratio) to achieve a cake batter consistency and used newspaper (torn by hand) to apply 3-4 layers on the skull and jaw (allowing each layer to dry before applying the next).
Once dry, I used an X-acto knife to make cuts on the paper mache and carefully extract the paper mache replicas from the plastic skull and jaw. For the skull, I made a cut all around the crown of the head to remove this part. Then I did another cut starting at the back of the skull and followed it down to the area where the palate is located. Extracting the face portion takes a little patience and recommend using these cuts to slowly pull the paper mache out from the skull. It's OK if the mache rips slightly in some places; you can always fix the rips by adding a bit of paper mache to the affected areas. Once the paper mache replicas of the skull and jaw were out, I used more newspaper strips to cover the cuts I made and make the skull whole again.
The next step is to connect the jaw to the skull. The Chalice of Kali has a long tongue coming out and also contains various teeth. Hence, it's important the mouth is open wide enough to allow the teeth and tongue to be inserted. Using pictures from the movie, I determined how wide the mouth should be. In doing so, I realized the length of each side of the jaw needed to be longer so I added a bit of cardboard to each side and then covered it with paper mache. When dry, I used a hot glue gun to secure the jaw to the skull. To finish this step, I used a cereal box to trace the shape of the ears, covered each in paper mache and then glued them on to the sides of the skull.
Step 3: Adding the Head Features
As mentioned earlier, I had seen a YouTube video from Stolloween that summarized how to make a zombie trophy head out of paper mache clay and thought this would be a good technique to use in making the Chalice of Kali. I followed the instructions from the website (www.Stolloween.com) to make the paper mache clay ( see "How to: Paste and Clay" article for details) and used this to add details to the skull. Note: I kept a little bit of the paper mache paste before proceeding with making the clay.
Since I needed to apply the paper mache clay to the whole skull, I needed a way to do this without having to set it down and run the risk of flattening out the details I had introduced with the clay. I cut out a circle at the bottom of the skull so I could inserted it on a stand. It's important to save this circle as you'll need it later. For the stand, I used the bottom portion of an old lamp; however, you can make a really cheap stand with a PVC pipe. Using this technique, I was able to work on the various areas of the skull by rotating the stand.
Using pictures from the movie as reference, I applied small amounts of paper mache clay to the skull and used my hands and/or clay tools to sculpt the features. The great thing about the paper mache clay is that you can add features using your fingers or sculpting utensils while it is wet. I recommend listening to your favorite music, or having one of your favorite movies play in the background, as you add the details to the skull.
As with the Mola Ram headdress, I was not after an exact replica of the Chalice of Kali. Rather, I wanted to add enough detail so it would be recognizable. In looking at pictures from the movie, I noticed areas of the top of the head where the flesh was decomposing and I pinched out areas of clay to introduce this detail. I wasn't very concerned about achieving a smooth finish; however, I did use a little of the paper mache paste (which I had saved earlier) to make some areas smoother. Once happy with the details, I allowed everything to dry completely (this may take 3-4 days depending on the thickness of the paper mache clay). Placing the skull in front of a fan or in an area where air circulates is recommended to aid this process. Once the paste was completely dry, I took the skull out from the stand, glued the circle I had removed earlier from the bottom of the skull and applied a little bit of paper mache clay to cover that spot.
Step 4: The Base of the Chalice
The base of the chalice looks like a gravy boat combined with a wine goblet. At the time, I thought I would use the paper mache clay to mold the whole base of the chalice. The steps were done in this order (allowing the clay in each step proper time to dry completely): 1) I started with making the cylinder part of the goblet first, 2) added paper mache clay around the skull to make the gravy boat, 3) glued the two sections together with paper mache clay and 4) finally added paper mache clay at the bottom to make the base of the "goblet."
I noticed that the paper mache clay took a very long time to dry and was getting worried that it could begin to mold. In retrospect, I would probably follow the steps done for the skull if I need to re-create this in the future. In other words, I would make an aluminum foil armature of the base (a little smaller than needed since I would need to add the paste on top), and then cover everything with regular paper mache (newspaper strips). Once completely dry, I would make a new batch of paper mache clay and add it on top of the armature, making sure that the skull fits in nicely. It is very important to allow the paper mache clay sufficient dry to completely dry. I cannot stress this enough.
Step 5: Adding Details: Tongue, Teeth and Wrinkles
Once both the skull and base of the chalice were done, I traced an outline of the tongue on a cereal box and cut it out to test it on the skull (it took me some trial an error to achieve the final look). When I was happy with the length, width and shape of the tongue, I transferred this to a piece of craft foam. The tongue has an interesting curvature and decided craft foam would be ideal to create this. I applied heat to the craft foam, making sure to keep moving the heat source (I used a heat gun but you can probably use a hair dryer) to avoid burning the foam. While heated, I bent the craft foam to achieve the curvature of the tongue and allowed it to cool to retain the shape. Once cooled off, I covered it with newspaper strips using the traditional paper mache process.
While the tongue was drying, I sculpted teeth with the oven bake polymer clay and baked it following the package directions. I recommend looking at reference pictures to determine the shape and length/width of each tooth. It's important to keep the tongue nearby so you can determine how much space is left for the teeth once the tongue is in the mouth.
While I added details to the head when sculpting with the paper mache clay, I wanted to add a few more details and wrinkles. I used Modgepodge and toilet paper to make some of the wound features of the head more pronounced and add more wrinkles or rotting details to the head. Then it was time to let everything dry.
Step 6: Adding the Teeth, Tongue and Painting
Using the dremel, I drilled some holes on the upper and lower jaw and used the hot glue gun to secure the teeth in place. At this point, the skull is ready for painting so be creative in your color choices. A friend volunteered to paint the skull while I was working on the Mola Ram headdress so, by all means, feel free to enlist the help of a friend if you have faith in their painting capabilities. :)
The base of the Chalice is an antique gold so pretty straight-forward with any of the gold paint varieties already available. The tongue is painted with the same gold paint. To create the appearance that red wine had flowed through the tongue, I diluted a blood red paint mixture with some water and poured that down the tongue (be sure to have a container underneath to collect the diluted red paint). Once all the painting was dry, I applied a couple of coats of satin varnish. The last step was to glue the tongue on the skull and glue the skull to the base. I used contact cement for both of these as I wanted a stronger bond than I could achieve with the hot glue gun.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Kali ma... Kali ma... Kali ma... shakthi deh!