Introduction: The Build of a Giant Spider
Second Prize in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2015
This spider is 17' feet in diameter from leg to leg. The legs are detachable for easy storage and transportation. It is made of a chicken wire frame for the body and pvc for the legs. The fur finishing is not weather proof but I did have this outside for Halloween through rain and it stood the test of time for a while. Eventually I had to change out the fur so I do recommend storing indoors and covering for the elements when you can.
Step 1: Materials and Supplies
- Tension Wire
- Chicken Wire
- Small Bolt Cutters
- Steel Snips
- Zip Ties
- Scrim / Cheesecloth
- Faux Fur
- Spray Adhesive
- 1/4" or 1/2" plywood
- (8) 1-inch 45 degree pvc elbows
- (8) 1-inch psi pvc pipes cut into 8" sections
- (8) 5/16 x 1-3/8 x 4-1/4 U-bolts
- (8) 5/16 x 1-3/8 x 2-1/2 U-bolts
- Threaded rod
- Fender washers
- Lock nuts
- Pvc glue
- Black spray paint
- (8) 10-ft 1" pvc pipes and
- (16) 1" 45 degree elbows
- Burlap by the roll (gardening section)
- Great Stuff
- Black Spray Paint
- Glitter if so desired
Step 2: Making the Body
The body is made of tension wire and chicken wire. The tension wire is found in the chain link fencing section of your big hardware stores. I got mine from Lowe's. : 170-ft Galvanized Steel Chain-Link Fence Tension Wire. The great thing about the tension wire is that it comes in a roll, so it is already formed for circular work. The head is 2ft in diameter and the body is somewhere between 4-ft x 3-ft which is more of an oval due to me shaping it the way i wanted. The tension wire is bendable so you can really make whatever you want with it.
So the way to look at this is to realize you need a 3-dimensional globe. To achieve this, the first thing I did was cut my first length of tension wire using small bolt cutters. I eyed this and honestly have no idea what the length was. This will probably vary depending on your final size needs. At times I found myself bending the wire a little to make sure it formed the proper roundness for my desired diameter.
Once I got that under control, I overlapped the ends and tied them together using 2 zip ties. Tie TIGHT. I made 3 more of these circular forms, all in such a manner as to create the globe. I attached them all together using more zip ties. Then I made a cross piece (the equator) to give it more stability.
Then you wrap the globes with 1" chicken wire. I find it best to work in 2 ft sections. You cut your sections using the steel snips. Gloves are optional but be prepared for some finger cutting if you are like me :) When you start to wrap these globes you will find it challenging to get a clean wrap since the flat chicken wire doesn't act the same when placed over a 3 dimensional globe surface. I would cut small sections away and then connect the ends of the wire using the open ends of the wire itself and at other times, zip ties. You will find your way through this process, possibly bleeding and frustrated but that's how chicken wire is :)\
If you want to illuminate the inside of the eyes, leave a hole in the underside of the head so you can insert lighting.
Before you cover the frame, you should move on to the base and legs.
Step 3: Making the Base
We modeled our base off of a fake spider I had from my Halloween inventory. This meant we were going with a round design, something that would fit nice and snug under the belly.
Cut a piece of plywood into your desired size. This one was roughly 24" in diameter.
Cut pvc into 8" sections, place your leg connections and elbows where you would like them and mark your spots.
Using a drill and drill bits big enough to create holes for your u-bolts, drill and push those U-bolts through the wood.
Glue the pvc sections and elbows together.
Insert pvc sections through ubolts.
Turn the whole thing over and then tighten the U-bolt nuts that came with the U-bolts using a ratchet wrench.
Don't forget to paint this so it doesn't show in the finished product. We painted the pvc purple for fun. We also numbered each leg because some were angled to create a certain look. The great thing about this though, is that if you mess up (like we did by accidentally painting over some of our numbers) these pipes can be twisted in a way to change the way the legs sit on the ground. This is also beneficial if you want your spider body to sit up off the ground or sit directly on the ground. I like to call it a universal spider. Just spin those pipes around to do whatever you want with them. They are just tight enough to do that but still hold.
Time to make the legs.
Step 4: Constructing the Legs
There are 8 legs total.
Using a table saw, I cut the (8) 10ft pvc pipes into 5-ft, 3-ft and 2-ft sections.
Once your pvc is cut and legs are situated, glue the joints! Do not glue where the legs attach to the base if you want them to be detachable.
Next spray paint all legs with any black spray paint of your choosing. I prefer paint for plastics as they adhere and coat better. Let dry.
Now is a good time to attach the body to the base.
We originally did this using flat steel slotted metal pieces that I believe are used for hanging duct work. Later we updated this by removing the flat metal pieces and inserting threaded rod through the base and then securing with fender washers & lock nuts. We attached the chicken wire body using zip ties.
Step 5: Finishing the Legs
This is a technique that I think is fairly new the Halloween prop making world. I just thought the materials would go really well together. I was oh so right.
I first cut strips of burlap across the width of the fabric. Cut lots and lots of strips. Too many to count.
Then I simply roughed the edges by pulling the fabric apart to create a "hairy" appearance.
I wrapped the strips around the legs, spraying adhesive to the pipe for the burlap to stick to it, but leaving pockets between the burlap itself and the pipe. This will allow space for the Great Stuff spray foam to enter into and expand.
You simply spray the Great Stuff inside the burlap and what happens next is quite magical.
See a short video clip below of how this process works. Don't be like me. WEAR GLOVES!
This is an incredibly fun process and always brings different results giving an incredibly organic and gnarly feel! Once the Great Stuff cures, which is a few hours, it is time to paint!
Painting these legs was my favorite part of the project. I went through 1 can of paint per leg. Then as temperatures were going from 90 degrees to 40 degrees, the great stuff would do some weird things at its joints so I had to do some touch up spray. Buy a couple extra cans and a mask so you don't inhale fumes.
The haunt community almost lost their minds when I told them I was adding glitter to this spider. What they didn't realize is that there is a wrong way and right way to use glitter in the details. I added glitter to just a few areas of each leg to give it just a bit of texture without being cheesy. This also gives an amazing effect with lighting so the legs will sparkle ever so slightly, giving this spider the feel that is just crawled out of a diamond and crystallized ground.
Time to fur the spider.
Step 6: Finish the Body
First I covered the body in the scrim material using spray adhesive and a hot glue gun.
The spider fur was purchased from www.distinctivefabrics.com It cost me almost $200 for 6 yards.
You have to do this in sections. As you are putting the sections together, make sure that the fur is going the same direction so you get a seamless look. This is quite tricky but because the fur is so long pile, the fibers cover up any mistakes along the way. Just do your best to have those spikes flowing in the same direction. Use hot glue gun for seams.
I originally cut out large holes for the eyes but wasn't happy with the shape as they just didn't look mean enough. I ended up cutting a few small pieces of the fur to bring the eye shape down from the top for more of a menacing design. I simple hot glued on.
Then to give that eye some texture, i cut some burlap, painted it black and even sprinkled a little glitter for some sparkle.
Step 7: Install, Illuminate and Enjoy!
We decided to put this spider directly on the house but you can sit him on the ground, on a tree, on the roof, anywhere! We up lit this with Par 38 can lights and different gels.
Making of Video:
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