The Making of the Keeper of the Graveyard...




Introduction: The Making of the Keeper of the Graveyard...

Here we go with a more in depth look at the methods behind the madness that is "The Keeper of the Graveyard ". The 8' 6" monster that I built for Halloween 2011 and maybe 2012 as well!

Arduino source code now posted on last page.

Wiring diagram NOW ON LAST PAGE...

and video clip of monster in action to follow ASAP...

Step 1: The Basics, Chicken Wire, Phone Bills, PVA Glue and Lots of Mess!

The whole idea came about after seeing some of the factory produced large theatrical costumes wandering around a shopping centre and me thinking that I could do the same. Work started when I liberated some large holed chicken wire from between mine and my neighbours house. (For the purpose of this instructable I'll refer to the Keeper of the Graveyard as "He").
The stuff in question is the plastic coated 2mm wire mesh with 2" by 4" rectangular holes. First this was formed into a cylinder and then by forming the top three level of holes into an inwards ruffle the shoulders were formed. I trimmed the excess to form a waist line and used the off cut to form a smaller version which I then twisted together on top of the large one to form his head.
Now the messy part starts. with a very sharp knife and a straight edge I sliced up four years worth of household utility bills into 2" and 4" strips (so that they would neatly go through the holes in the wire) and starting from the bottom of the shell, layered them up like roofing shingles after dipping each one in a PVA glue and water mix (about 10 water to 1 of glue). The inside of the shell was strengthened with some 4mm steel rod that I fashioned into two semicircles, fitted in front and back and then tack welded the ends together to form a strong ring. Two uprights of c-channel aluminium were added and holes drilled in them to accommodate welding wire being twisted trough to hold it all together. You can just about see the internal harness that is attached to the strong points inside along with the waist band to stop it toppling forward. The arms at this stage are just old tent poles bent to shape and wire tied and welded into place.

Step 2: Mounting the Eyes and Nose...

Here is a close up of the initial state with the cross made out of tenon jointed recycled drawer runners. the "head scarf" is just a mock up to give me an idea of the way to take him from here. The brown stuff where his eyes and nose are is actually the type of fibreboard that used to be used in circuit boards. I cut out the shapes on my fret saw (taping two layers together to create symmetrical eyes) and drilled holes to accept the 8mm LED bezels and the car windscreen washer jet. these are attached like everything else on him be puncturing holes in the paper skin and wire locking them onto the wire frame. You can see the sketch up of the face drawn onto the skin. I borrowed that sweet smile from a picture of a carved pumpkin I found on the net.

Step 3: Face, Hands, a Good Base Coat of Black Paint and Then the Paper Mache...

This is where things really started to get interesting and Bill as I started to call him (because of what his skin is made of) really took on the appearance that I wanted. The outlines of the pumpkin ridges were drawn onto the face first and then, one at a time, I roughly twisted A4 paper into sticks, folded them in half and wrapped them up with masking tape to form a firm sausage sized packet. these were tapped into shape with a small hammer to fit the outline and then hot glued into place on the head. repeat this process until you have a snow pumpkin! I'll explain the teeth in a while but for this moment they were placed in to again get an idea of what should be done next. I decided at this point to strengthen his gum line or lips if you will with a line of 6mm (ish) nylon cord, hot glued in place towards the front of the mouth. When all was cooled down and the teeth were removed the whole face was covered over with a PVA wash and toilet roll was applied using a paintbrush to push it into the valleys. This process was repeated three times to build up facial skin (It took a long time to dry!) and then the whole face was painted white with external emulsion paint. I modelled the hands on my own (scaled up of course!) and took several attempts to get them in proportion to the head. the frames are made from twisted welding wire and once tack welded onto the arms they were covered with polystyrene cut to shape in pieces on the fret saw. WEAR A MASK when doing this as the bits that come of that stuff are a nightmare! Tape is used in this instance to secure the "fingers" as the polystyrene would have melted with the heat....don't worry, I found out the hard way first! The mess came out again as I covered the hands in paper but this time I trialled a PVA glue, Flour and water mix as it was a thicker option. It worked well but if you do it make sure you put some sheets down. It took me three hours to jet wash the front drive clean after my attempt.

Step 4: Chomp!!

Time for the teeth and they were fun to make. I started by cutting about thirty 2" lengths of 1mm welding rod and bending 5mm of the end into and "L" shape. Off to the kitchen next and I mixed up a dough of flour, water and a fair amount of table salt to a modelling clay texture. The teeth were then formed around the metal L shaped ends and and neatly laid out on a baking tray lined with baking paper so they wouldn't stick. Don't use grease of any kind as you cant paint it afterwards. Once baked to a golden brown and filling the house with wonderful wiffs of bread they were removed from the oven and allowed to cool before being tried for size. A point to note here is that I actually made thirty teeth even though I clearly didn't need that many, that way I could pick and choose which ones fitted best into the mouth.
You may notice that the eyes now have there respective 8mm Bi-colour LEDs fitted into the bezels and have had McFlurry spoon ends hot glued into place over them to act as diffusers. I also stuck a layer of clear tape over them at this point to mask them up for the painting that was coming.

Step 5: Face Paint Time...

Painting the face was definitely one of the most rewarding elements in the build as he started to come to life.
The painting was carried out in four stages to end up with the desired look.

1. Paint the whole face with the white outdoor emulsion and let it dry over a couple of days.

2. I mixed up some PVA glue and some of my little boys poster paint to get a good pumpkin orange and painted all of the ridges with that. I made sure that they all got a good thick covering and that the paint went into all the crevices. This was alowed to dry over night.

3. Step three was again a messy one. i mixed up some black outdoor emulsion with water to create a thin wash. this was then painted onto the ridges a quarter of the face at a time, let dry for a couple of miutes and then rubbed off with a rag. This process left the black in the crevices to form the shadows and rubbed off some of the orange to show the white underneath to create the highlighted areas.

4. After a good two or three days dying time the mouth, nose, eye holes and surrounding head areas were airbrushed in with pure black outdoor emulsion and left to dry.

The teeth were painted and dried and were ready to be fitted. The simplest way was to punch holes in his gums with a skewer, apply a little hot melt glue and insert each tooth inn tern. Once the glue had set the teeth were in there for good! I than gave them a dust over with the airbrush to give them more of a monster look and less of the film star look!

The hands were given a base coat of poster paint and PVA that was as close to a zombie/dead thing colour as I could imagine.

Step 6: Speak Up!!

Time to make some noise!! This came with the fitting of a pair of speakers salvaged from a dead TV. These are wired to an old 200W car audio amp purloined from my brother and powered by a 12v battery from an unused electric scooter. Several jack plugs, cable ties and a switch later the iPhone was mounted and Bill began to sing. There are several free Apps out there that give you a good choice of screams and grunts, shouts and howls to get the juices flowing! You could always just record you own I suppose...

The car washer pump is hooked up to the scooter battery as well and with a switch in the "cockpit" to initiate the deluge the monster at this point had a runny nose! The reservoir is one of the types used by kit car builders, it is a soft bag type with the pump built in. it just hangs in the head on two welding wire clips. I will change this to a place lower than the nose as it sometimes sets up a syphon and I have to squeeze to pipe to stop him from dribbling!

Step 7: For Goodness Sake Put Some Clothes On!

After padding out his arms a little with the bubble wrap left over from a parcel I started the monumental task of dressing the beast. His robe and cowl (Hood) are made from about twenty Hessian sacks that I opened up flat, IRONED! and then sewed into place starting from the top down. The cowl is removable to aid future upgrades and repair but the rest is stitched together so as not to come off. I used a bodkin needle, one that is designed for the task and some very thick thread I got from a dressmakers shop. All the seams are done with a blanket stitch as I found this to be the toughest and the most rustic looking. Some seams were sewn inside and some outside (by choice not error!) to give it the village idiot feel about it. This took a long time and I got sore fingers doing it but it was well worth the pain.

Step 8: A Vest of Sorts to Cover the Viewing Window.

A simple task was evidently more complicated than I imagined as a fair amount of market research went into finding to correct material for the window cover. Not only did it have to stop people from seeing in but it had to allow me to see out as well. I tried Nylon tights at first but they were too fragile and kept tearing when I tried to attach them to anything. The solution came with a visit to a local charity shop where, sitting in a box with a hundred others of various colours was a black sheer ladies headscarf. Perfect! I welded up a frame out of 3mm welding rod in the shape of a breast plate like those belonging to the nights of old and stretched the fabric across it. After spending about an hour trying to peg it on with clothes pegs (a trick akin to herding cats!) I got it on and sewed around the edge to keep it taught. Et viola un Vest to stop the frightened hoard from spotting the monsters "driver".
After knocking up a quick pentagram shaped stencil out of some thick polythene sheet it was out with the airbrush again for a good days worth of tarting up.

Step 9: The Finishing Touches...

On the home run now and the airbrushing really brought out the textures of the material. I concentrated on making it look dirtier, deepen the natural shadows that fall on the robes, decorate him with his stars and to try to make the seams pop out a little to. I think I stopped in time, not too much. The hem was trimmed while it was being worn by someone of similar height to me and to stop me from killing myself by tripping over the robes my eldest son came up with the great idea of putting a hula hoop around the bottom. A hula hoop I did not have but I did have a garden hose, I DID have one! A bit of it is now the hem guard!
The rat was a little side line idea I had and I wasn't really sure what to do with it. Initial thoughts were to have him hold it but in the end I decided for the on the shoulder look. It was made out of the collar of one of my wife's discarded jackets and stuffed with the fluffy stuffing that I found inside! The final part of the whole ensemble was the addition of the rope belt that I simply wrapped around him, tied it off and stitched it into position. I then added a couple of loops at the back for good measure.

Step 10: What's That You Say? My Scarecrow Needs a Brain?

You'd be right and that brain came in the form of an Arduino Uno that my brother bought me for my birthday. The code was easy for a beginner I suppose when regarding the few lines that actually needed to be written, a small amount of copying and pasting was all that was necessary to finish the job with all the lines being available from the web site. The Arduino is powered by two PP3 9v batteries in PARALLEL for a longer life and the whole circuit is housed at the moment in an old Chinese meal tub until a more permanent solution can be found.

In a nutshell the controls are very easy, when you turn the power on the monsters eyes glow green in a fading in and out sort of effect. This we are calling "Happy Mode". When you want to add more scare to your act you can get slightly more mobile and push another button to turn the eyes to a fast flashing bright red. This should be accompanied with sound effects as well! This we call "Angry Mode!".

Sadly I'll have to wait to upload the code and the wiring diagram for the Arduino eyes as soon as I get back home to my main PC.

I'm away on a work related training course at the moment...yes that's right...a course that will see me two hundred miles away from my monster...

without a car...


sigh.... :-( maybe next year...

Arduino source code as promised:...

const int buttonPin1 = 2; // the number of the pushbutton pin
const int ledPin1 = 7; // the number of the red LED pin
const int ledPin2 = 9; // the number of the green LED pin

int buttonState = 0; // variable for reading the pushbutton status
int brightness = 0; // how bright the LED is
int fadeAmount = 5; // how many points to fade the LED by

void setup()

  pinMode(ledPin1, OUTPUT); // initialize the red LED pin as an output:
  pinMode(ledPin2, OUTPUT); // initialize the green LED pin as an output:

  pinMode(buttonPin1, INPUT); // initialize the pushbutton pin as an input:

void loop()
buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin1); // read the state of the pushbutton value:

if (buttonState == HIGH) { // check if the pushbutton is pressed.if it is, the buttonState is HIGH:

digitalWrite(ledPin1, HIGH); // turn LED on:
digitalWrite(ledPin2, LOW);
delay(20); // wait for a 50 milliseconds
digitalWrite(ledPin1, LOW);
delay(20); // wait for a 50 milliseconds
else {

digitalWrite(ledPin1, LOW); // turn red LED off:

analogWrite(ledPin2, brightness); // set the brightness of pin 7:

brightness = brightness + fadeAmount; // change the brightness for next time through the loop:

if (brightness == 0 || brightness == 255) { // reverse the direction of the fading at the ends of the fade:
fadeAmount = -fadeAmount ;

delay(50); // wait for 30 milliseconds to see the dimming effect



I'll get the diagram drawn for you all ASAP and post it now I'm home.

Halloween Epic Costumes Challenge

Finalist in the
Halloween Epic Costumes Challenge

4th Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
4th Epilog Challenge

1 Person Made This Project!


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9 years ago on Introduction

This inspired me to make this: Look at my Instuctable for details! ;)


10 years ago on Introduction

wow i might do a cheaper verison out of pvc,paper machie and chesee cloth


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Yes Sir, It does. My Son wore it for Halloween and did a great job by all accounts. There were tears from a few of the littler children! Oops!


10 years ago on Introduction

Hi, this is TOTALLY AWESOME! But I actually would love to see a video with this in action! With all of the sounds and stuff. (I'm sorry for my terrible english, i'm from holland and only 13 :/


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the comments little buddy, I'm away from home and my monster at the moment but when I get back (After Halloween sadly) I'll Make a video of him in action and upload it for all to see. (along with the wiring diagram and code for the arduino). Glad you like him but would you like him so much if he chased you down the road on Halloween night?! :-)


10 years ago on Introduction

That is an incredible job - I hope it's properly appreciated on The Night.