Introduction: Mummy How-To

Mummy How-To
July 2011
Each Halloween, I convert my front driveway into a cemetery-themed extravaganza, complete with full-size coffins, headstones and the like. This year, I plan on expanding the cemetery theme by having a set of Mummies against my garage door, positioned and designed similar to one of the underground mummy chambers in Italy. One of these mummies will be walking away from its position, arms outstretched and wanting to grab you as you walk to the front door of my “Crypt”.

I’m not one for the half-assed cheesy look; I like authenticity, and short of actually getting a real mummy (I think there’s some sort of law against that!), I realized that I needed to build a mummy that was sturdy enough to withstand the outdoor elements but still looked like a real mummy.

So my quest began, starting with a trip into my storage shed. I found some old wetsuits from my scuba-diving days, which hadn’t seen the water in about 15 years. And the sparks went off! A wetsuit was the perfect base for a mummy!! It’s sturdy, can get wet in case it rained, and was just taking up space in an otherwise cluttered storage shed. So it was decided…

Now I had to figure out how to keep the wetsuit from collapsing on itself. Also inside my storage shed was some old corrugated 4-inch drainage pipe, the kind you dig a trench for and lay rocks on it, which collects water and sends it wherever you point it to go. I had just enough pieces to shove down into the legs of the wetsuit, which fit perfectly! Some leftover chicken wire from some tomato plant cages was also there in the shed, and I thought I could use that for the torso and arms.

My mummy was really starting to take shape in my mind. But how to get it to stay upright and still be able to move it around from storage to display and back kept nagging at me. I found some old “L” shaped angle iron from an old bed frame, and the light bulb went off again! I had a friend who could weld, and I cut the pieces so that I had two feet and two legs. My friend welded them together, and while he was doing that, I found an old small pallet at the local grass-supply place.

You can find pallets all over, and they’re usually free (merchants usually have to pay someone to come and haul them away, so you should be able to have as many as you want if you just ask!)…

The rest, as they say, is history! Read on for my step-by-step instructions on my mummy creation:

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials I used:
1 small pallet (for base)
2 pieces “L” shaped angle iron (for the legs and feet)
9 feet black corrugated drain pipe (to fill out the wetsuit)
1 old wetsuit
1 roll chicken wire (for the torso and arms)
wire ties
1 piece of 1”x2”x12” piece of wood
1 pair old gloves (for the mummy hands)
1 milk jug (for the mummy head)
2 feet white pvc pipe (for the mummy neck)
5 old white undershirts (the mummy wrappings)
1 old white sheet (more mummy wrappings)
1 box of teabags (to “age” the mummy wrappings)
1 box of screws
1 utility knife
1 pair of scissors
1 gallon pitcher (to brew tea)
1 can spray adhesive

Step 2: Step 1

Position the welded legs/feet onto the pallet, and screw them down.

Step 3: Step 2

Use the utility knife and cut the drain pipe into two 3-foot sections, and slide each one of these into the legs of the wetsuit.

Step 4: Step 3

Slide the wetsuit over the legs and let it rest on the pallet, then roll the wetsuit down and inside out over the legs, so that you can access the top of the metal legs.

Step 5: Step 4

Take the 1”x2”x12” wood piece and screw it onto the upper legs, to keep them spread apart at the top.

Step 6: Step 5

Unroll between four and five feet of chicken wire and cut it off the roll. Then, form it so that it will fill out the torso of the wetsuit. Wire-tie the end to itself so that it doesn’t unroll. Next, roll the top of the chicken wire down on itself, to give the top some stability and keep it from collapsing.

Slide the torso onto the legs and let it rest on the wetsuit. Wire-tie the torso to the legs to keep it held in place, then unroll the wetsuit back up over the torso.

Step 7: Step 6

Cut a two-foot section of the corrugated drain pipe; this piece will be the shoulders, so rest it on top of the torso and wire-tie it into place. Make sure that you wire-tie it so that the shoulders do not roll around, otherwise you’ll have some head/neck tilting going on later.

Step 8: Step 7

Unroll about two feet of chicken wire and cut it off the roll. Do this twice, as these will form the arms. Roll the arms and wire-tie the ends to itself, similar to how you did it with the torso. 

Insert the arms into either end of the shoulders, and wire-tie them in place. Make sure that you wire-tie the top of the arm to the top of the shoulder, as there will be a large gap if you tie it to the bottom of the pipe. This gap should be under the arm, to simulate an armpit. You can position the arms however you like; I put one arm outstretched and the other hanging by the side. The outstretched arm I had to use a little extra wire-tie half-way down the arm to keep it in the raised position.

Step 9: Step 8

Take your old pair of gardening gloves and insert them onto the ends of the arms. You can wire-tie into place or just leave them as-is; the wrappings should hold them in place if you choose not to tie them down.

Step 10: Step 9

Take an empty milk or water jug and insert the pvc pipe into it. Screw the jug to the pvc pipe to keep it stable. Flip the jug upside down and look at it where the handle is – squint your eyes; it kind of looks like a head, doesn’t it? The handle will be the nose, but you’ll have to cut the handle at the base and fold it under to make room for a mouth.

Cut a small hole in the center of the top of the shoulder pipe. This hole will be where you insert the pvc pipe from your head you made in Step Eleven. Screw the pvc pipe to the corrugated drain pipe to keep it from tilting over.

Step 11: Step 10

Brew some sun tea; the more tea bags you use, the darker the tea is. Do this right before you start the next step.

Take one of the old white undershirts, cut the sleeves off of it, and dress the mummy (this will hide the darkness that’ll show through when you start to wrap the mummy).

Cut the sleeves off and the necks out of the remaining shirts; cut the sleeves into one-inch to two-inch strips. Do the same with the shirt themselves.  These strips will be used to wrap the hands, arms, and head and neck of the mummy.

By the time you get down cutting up these shirts, the tea should be done brewing. Put the strips you just cut into the tea and let them soak for about 20-30 minutes. While they’re soaking, proceed to the next step.

Step 12: Step 11

Take the old sheet and cut it into three-inch to four-inch strips. Once done, take your tea-soaked undershirt strips out and hang them to partially air dry; DO NOT WRING OUT!! Let them dry without wringing, because this will keep the tea’s darkness in, and thus “age” your finished mummy. DO NOT ALLOW them to fully dry!! If they are slightly damp when you start wrapping, they’ll shrink and tighten as they dry. I found this to be ideal for my finished product. 

Brew another batch of tea, and put your sheet strips in to soak. These strips will be used to wrap the legs and torso of the mummy. Let them soak for about 20-30 minutes as well, and then let them air-dry, also without wringing! Follow the same protocol as the previousstep above.

Step 13: Step 12

Start wrapping your mummy, beginning with the fingers/hands. I wanted each finger to be individually wrapped, but you can wrap the hand itself so it looks like a mitten rather than a glove. Anyway, wrap the end of the fingertip first, then around the finger and move towards the wrist. Let the ends just hang there, as the next piece of wrapping will cover the just-used end and help hold it in place.

Wrap the arms, beginning at the wrists and moving towards the shoulders. It’s important that you wrap in this way, as the larger leg and torso wrappings will help keep the shoulder wrappings held in place once you begin to wrap those areas.

Step 14: Step 13

Wrap the neck and head. These wrappings will need to be fully dry when you start this step, in order for the spray adhesive to work. Neck first, then head. I sprayed a liberal amount of spray-adhesive onto the jug before I started, to help keep the wrappings in place, especially going across the top and back of the head. I wrapped the top of the head first, making sure I covered up all of the exposed plastic of the donor jug, then I wrapped the back and front.

Step 15: Step 14

Wrap the legs next, starting at the crotch, and working your way down each leg. The head and neck wrappings are the only wrappings that needed to be fully dry before wrapping, so make sure these are slightly damp before wrapping.

Next, wrap the torso. Start mid-chest and work your way up and over the shoulders, then down and across the crotch.

Use any extra wrapping pieces as accents, laying them over the shoulders and arms.

Step 16: Post Script...

Enjoy your mummy!

For the tech-savvy or just ghoulish-loving, you can run some computer speakers into the mummy head or torso before you get to far along in the build process, and hook up an mp3 player or the like for some fright-night fun. I thought about adding a set of red LED eyes to my mummy, but decided he looked fine the way he was.

I’m going to use this same process to build some zombies next!

JULY 2011