Our oldest daughter dreams of being a paleontologist when she grows up. to celebrate that she asked to be a T-Rex skeleton for Halloween.
Step 1: Planning Phase
Our local science center has a T-Rex skeleton so we headed there to do a little research. What became immediately clear is that actual skeletons are really, really complicated and that we'd need a way to simplify things.
That simplification came in the form of a small, balsa wood model. Not only did the model give us the ability to visualize and manipulate the individual pieces but it also came with a printed visual key to the model, which effectively served as a pattern for us to create our own, slightly larger model. I simply scanned the key and printed an enlarged version
Step 2: Construction Part One: the Body
For the body of the T-Rex we needed something rigid, and strong but also lightweight, and easy to cut. Fortunately for us, our nation's political system was just wrapping up a round of local elections and the streets were littered with those corrugated plastic campaign signs.
We traced onto and cut out all the pieces we needed from the signs. We opted to use a double thickness to make them just a bit more rigid. This also enabled us to scab together the larger bones with overlapping pieces.
we needed something to mount the assembled bones onto. A marching band snare drum harness worn backwards was the perfect option. ultimately we'd paint the harness black.
for the covering, we purchase a mottled brown felt, which we adhered to the bones using Super77 spray adhesive. After all the individual layers we covered on the one side, we glued the pairs of layers together with Fabri-Tac using spring clamps to hold the two layers together until the glue set.
For the leg and arm bones we went a lightly different route. We basically made a little bone-shaped pillow of each piece without any stuffing and sewed each piece to a black body suit. This gave her complete range of motion and masked her outline within the skeleton.
As a final step. we painted a layer of gloss Mod Podge onto all the bones. This stiffened the fabric and and also gave the bones a nice glossy sheen with more closely matched the actual bones found on the T-Rex at the science center.
Step 3: Construction Part Two: the Head
For the head we wanted to take a slightly different approach. The two-dimensional look of the balsa model wouldn't work because we wanted to hide her head inside.
We did take the model plans as a base for the head however. we took the paper and wrapped it around a bicycle helmet. This allowed us to see how we needed to modify the pattern to get it to fit. We then transferred the pattern to 1" green foam and glued it together using Fabri-Tac.
We then covered the whole thing in the same felt that we used on the rest of the skeleton.
We molded teeth from modeling clay and glued them to the jaw. because the foam is a little floppy we needed to support the mouth to keep it open so we connected the top and bottom teeth at the front of the jaw.