Zero From the Nightmare Before Christmas





Introduction: Zero From the Nightmare Before Christmas

About: For more about my costumes, crafts and general craziness, check out my blog:

This Zero from the Nightmare Before Christmas is easy and cheap to make. In fact, there's so little to it, we were able to make him while my partner and I were living out of suitcases in a motel room (so please don't judge us on the motel room decor in the photos).

Step 1: What You'll Need

Most of what you need is probably already lying around your house or in your recycling bin.

You will need:
  • carboard boxes
  • 2 L pop bottle
  • plastic container (I used a yogurt container)
  • masking tape
  • scrap paper or newsprint
  • twine or string
  • saran wrap or other plastic cling wrap
  • white fabric (a cheap flat sheet works well)
  • white glue
  • red and black felt
  • wire (I used thin jewelry making wire but you can use whatever you have on hand or just skip it)
  • small toy pumpkin (I found some party favour whistles that were the right size)
You will also need some basic tools like scissors, a paint brush, a glue gun and an exacto knife.

Step 2: Build the Body

Zero is made much the same way as I made my glowing dress lamps: first you create a form and then you cover it in fabric and stiffen the fabric before finally removing the body form to be left with just the fabric shape.

Zero's body is pretty simple, it's just a head on  the end of a long pyramid.

Start by cutting a cardboard box in half diagonally. Secure the end with tape.

For the neck, cut a plastic container to size and attach it to the body with tape.

To build the head, cut off part of the pop bottle and wrap it in tape to make it more narrow at the open end. Add tear drop shaped cardboard sides and a strip of thin cardboard to round out the back. Build up the shape of the head with scrunched up paper and more tape. Be sure to properly shape around the eyes with strips of cardboard and more paper.

Step 3: Prepare It to the Covered in Fabric and Glue

Add a cardboard strips for the tail and to round out the back of the body box.

Cover everything in plastic wrap. 

Step 4: Add the Fabric

For the main body, cut a triangle of  white fabric with a circle cut out for the neck. You can use very thin fabric for a more ghostly appearance, we just used the cheapest sheet we could find.

Drape the fabric over the body and secure the neck with masking tape. 

Wrap fabric around the head and trim it to size. Use string to hold the fabric around the head and neck.

The fabric will absorb the glue better if you first dampen it with a little water. Damp fabric will also be easier to shape around the head.

Mix glue with a little warm water and paint it over the entire thing. To raise the tips of his front paws you can use string taped to the walls or any other support you have handy (for the tail we used a stack of items from our recycling).

Allow to dry and apply additional coats of glue until it will hold it's shape (we did 2 thick applications).

Step 5: It's All in the Details

Remove the fabric from the body form.

Add wire to the front edges and "spine" to help hold the shape. Secure with hot glue.

Use hot glue to attach the head to the body and trim any excess fabric at the neck.

Cut 2 strips of fabric for the ears. Add wire along one edge of each ear and stiffen with diluted white glue. When dry, use a glue gun to attach to the head.

Cut eyes out of black felt and a collar out of red felt. Attach with hot glue.

For the pumpkin nose, trim a small plastic toy pumpkin to fit with an exacto knife and hot glue it in place.

Step 6: Hang Him Up in Halloween Town

Your ghost dog is ready to impress all the trick-or-treaters!

Hang Zero up in your Halloween display with fishing line.

To make him glow, shine a spotlight from below or fill him with little fairy lights. It you're lighting him up, don't forget to add a little orange LED to his nose!

If you make your own Zero this Halloween (or Christmas or whenever) I'd love to see pictures! Please post them in the comments!

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    I attached a picture but now I don't see it. Eh.

    How exactly do you remove the form from the fabric? I've made it up to the end of Step 4....and now I'm confused on how to take the form out? Thanks x

    3 replies

    When it is dry you should be able to just pull the fabric off of the form (after untying/cutting any string holding the fabric around the neck). The glue doesn't stick to the plastic wrap.

    That still doesn't make sense? I understand what you mean about pulling the fabric off, but surely the form wont fit through the gap where the neck is?

    At this point in the process none of the seams should be sealed. The neck is only held tight by the string. When you cut the string you should be able to peel the fabric off of the form. You'll be left with 2 pieces of shaped fabric, the body and head, that you will need to attach in the following steps.

    How does this hold up in the rain? Any suggestions to make it waterproof?

    3 replies

    How it holds up in wet weather will depend on the glue you use. White glue won't last in the rain, but you can try to find a waterproof glue to help it hold its shape if it gets wet.

    How do you think it would work out if I did a "top coat" of a clear sealant type spray paint, or just used that instead of the white glue coats in terms of waterproofing?

    I don't know if a spray-on sealer would have enough hold power on its own to keep the fabric in the shape you want, but used as a protective coat over the glue, it might help it hold up in the rain.

    I might try this with a little rotating counter balance to get him to shake and move

    1 reply

    He catches the wind really well, so hanging outside of our house on fishing line, he's constantly moving.

    Can you please please PLEASE contact me so I can purchase one? My arts and craft skills are worse than a 1 year old's, but, this would be for a very special event and would help make a young woman's very very happy. (I can give you more details in a private conversation.) Thanks a bunch - Joe

    Hi! I am trying to do this for Halloween. I was just wondering if there is any other way of sticking the parts together without having to buy a glue gun or hot glue?

    4 replies

    You could try sewing the pieces together with a needle and thread. I imagine it would be tricky but it might work.

    you dont think white glue or super glue (like loctite) would do?

    I'm sure that would be fine for the eyes and collar, but I don't know if that would work to attach the wire and hold the head to the body. You can always test it and try to borrow a glue gun if it doesn't work out.

    great thanks! I'll let you know how it goes, still on step 4

    You should make them and sell them on Etsy. I'd buy one. I am sure it would be a big hit.

    Im using a dheet but its not very thin will it still work? Looks good so far i hope so

    1 reply

    If the fabric is too thick, your finished Zero might not glow very well. You can test it out by holding the fabric up to a light to see how much shines through.