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!

Halloween Decorations Contest

First Prize in the
Halloween Decorations Contest

Make It Glow Contest

Participated in the
Make It Glow Contest