Introduction: Human Packing Tape Sculpture

Hi everyone!

After reading, 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald and getting a creative assignment to work on for class, I decided to make a sculpture depicting a central theme of, 'The Decline of the American Dream' in the novel. What better way than to make the sculpture solely out of tape? Below, I will show you the steps I took to create this piece and how you can create a budget friendly tape sculpture yourself.


Step 1: Materials

My goal of this project was to make it as beautiful as possible while also being as inexpensive as possible. Due to this I only used a few materials to create it:

  1. Packing tape (48mm x 50m) - $1.25 per roll
  2. 2 rolls of 50 yard cling wrap - $2.50
  3. Mannequin head - Beauty Supply Store (mine was from Clore Beauty and was $3.00)
  4. 8 clear garbage bags - $2.00
  5. Garbage bags
  6. Fairy lights - (Optional, I had these at my home already. These were purchased at Walmart)
  7. Extension cord (Also optional if you use lights. I had this at my home already)

Now for the packing tape, cling wrap and garbage bags, I created legs and feet for the project but felt like I didn't need them so I ended up not adding to the sculpture but rather using it to stuff the torso. Due to this, I used 10 rolls of tape including the legs and feet but only 8 rolls of tape for everything else. I also didn't need the garbage bags anymore as I only purchased them to stuff the legs.

This project for me came up to $25. This could could be cheaper if I didn't attempt to create the legs (meaning no garbage bags and less rolls of tape) but it still wouldn't be much of a difference anyway

Step 2: Legs + Feet

As I stated previously, I didn't use the legs and feet in the final project but rather used it to stuff the torso. To make them anyway, wrap one layer of cling wrap around the leg. Once that is on wrap the leg 3 - 5 layers of tape depending on how sturdy you would like it.

Once the tape is fully on, cut a straight line to get the piece off of the person.

Once it's off, tape it together with the packing tape.

Do the same with the feet

There should be a total of 4 legs and 4 feet! (If you actually use legs + feet in this project)

Step 3: Arms

Do the same thing as the legs. Wrap a layer of cling wrap and then follow up with 3-5 layers of packing tape. Cut that off in a straight line and do the same for the person's other arm. And then do this with the second person's arms.

Once the piece is cut, tape it together with the packing tape.

Even if you use only one person, there should be a total of 4 arms!

Also sorry about the image, I forgot to take a picture of the arm alone. The image is one of the arms in the final product.

Step 4: Torso

Wrap one layer of cling wraparound the person's lower waist, up to the their shoulders where you also wrap it around their shoulders to create a sleeve the arms will connect to. Follow up with 3-5 layers of tape. Cut it out (better if you do it from the back) and tape it together with packing tape.

Do the same with the second person's torso or use the same person if you please.

There should be a total of 2 torsos.

Step 5: Head

Using the mannequin head + the neck, wrap it with a layer of cling wrap followed by 3-5 layers of pacing tape. Cut it off at the side, and stick it back together with the tape.

Do this step again with the same head.

There should be a total of 2 heads.

Step 6: Putting Everything Together

For this step, use you the tape to stick the pieces where they would go (an arm wouldn't stick out of a person's neck haha). Use about 5 layers of tape to make sure everything is sturdy.

Once I placed the head on, I made sure to get a few strips of tape to position one of the heads downwards down by placing it on the front of the neck and on the torso. I made sure to position the other head upwards by placing a few strips of tape on the back of the neck and onto the back of the torso.

Step 7: Lights

This is definitely optional but it went great with the theme of my project + I used golden fairy lights that I had at home from Christmas. Cut the back of the sculpture's head and back of their torso and just stuff the lights into it, placing them wherever you please (e.g one side or both sides).

Then, if you'd prefer none of the lights sticking out of the sculpture, you can connect the light to an extension cord, like I did and plug it in.

I only added lights to one of the people, which I explain at the end of the project, but once again this is only optional!

Step 8: Final Product

The decline of the American Dream is one of the themes presented in The Great Gatsby. The American Dream is essentially the idea that one can live a successful, happy and picture perfect life through hard work. During the 20s, America began losing its moral values and people instead were fixated on money and materialistic things. In the novel, Daisy was Gatsby’s American Dream. He came from a poor background and worked really hard in order to attain what he thought would bring meaning to his life - Daisy. He was so desperate he resorted to bootlegging, which is a very hollow way to make money. Instead of actually trying to get Daisy through love and understanding, he thought he could win her over only by becoming very rich in very immoral ways. In the end this is what caused Gatsby’s downfall. In the 1920s, people fell into the hands of money, greed, power and got involved in illegal activities to get what they want which ultimately caused the fall of the American Dream and Gatsby’s death.

The sculpture displays Gatsby and Daisy with Daisy symbolizing the American Dream and being lit with golden lights to show how she is the golden girl of the novel. It shows how people can get a feel of the American Dream but in the end, they will never attain it in the hollow ways they’ve attempted to in the novel. It also depicts how this dream has controlled Gatsby’s life, holding onto him but with him not able to hold onto it back due to how corrupt it has become due to the fixation on money and loss of moral values in the 1920s.

Thank you and enjoy!

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