Thanks to all of the voters who helped this instructable place in the 2010 Halloween Contest!
Need a realistic, life-size spider?
Try out this design - using little more than scraps of paracord and wire, you can create a lifelike spider in an hour or less.
Whether for an inexpensive prop, a simple prank, or a frightening seasonal decoration, this instructable will help you make a tough, virtually-indestructible spider that will be much more realistic than the crudely molded toy spiders that one can find commercially available.
Recently, I found myself in desperate need of a spider. My search was triggered by the startlingly visceral close-up magic effect created by Jim Pace ("The Web") and further developed by Andrew Melia ("Box of Fear"), which I in turn have adapted to my own impromptu street style of performance.
After frustratedly searching the internet for a life-sized spider model that would suit my application, I stumbled across a unique website, filmflies.com (founded by artist Gary Owen, whose creations are featured in many popular films and TV shows). After seeing photos of his amazing arthropod replicas, I was inspired to come up with my own simple method for creating a spider.
My goal was to create a replica spider with readily available materials and that could not be pulled apart, no matter how realistically fragile in appearance. This spider costs next to nothing to make, and can be built under almost any conditions (even in a third-world country).
Step 1: Tools and materials.
You will need:
- 550 cord ("paracord", 2 pieces, approximately 8" in length)
- wire (see notes below)
- super glue
- paint marker, modeling paints, or pigment markers
- lighter or pencil torch
- scissors or a knife
- wire cutters (or fingernail clippers if using small-gauge wire)
- an assortment of small pliers / forceps (at least two)
- leather gloves (recommended)
For 550 cord (type III parachute cord, or paracord), I recommend tan, OD green, or black. Each of these colors will result in subtly differing shades of dark brown or black when melted. If you are able to keep it from burning during the melting process, white 550 cord will take minimal amounts of carbon from the flame, resulting in a slightly translucent and lighter brown color.
Select wire gauge based on the desired diameter of your spider legs and proportional to the overall spider size that you wish to construct. By my best estimate, the wire that I used for this project is 26 gauge, or 0.018" in diameter. I would have preferred to use wire with a much springier quality, such as piano wire, in order to resist deformation when the spider is crushed, but I don't have anything else available to me at this time.
More on material selection - if you want to, you could experiment with other types of synthetic rope or cord for the spider body. Each different polymer type used in the rope fibers will have different melting characteristics, so keep that in mind. Again, I am constrained by materials available to me.
In conjunction with 26 gauge wire, you can choose to add segmented legs using approximately 8" of CAT5 cable, or insulated wire of a similar size. If you are using larger gauges of wire for this project, then you will need to select an insulated wire of corresponding internal diameter.