Every year we try to come up with a fun project to add to our Halloween decor. Last year we went huge with the guillotine project. This year . . . a bit smaller. My daughter came to me with an idea to make some giant candy corns. We tossed the idea around a bit and came up with a way to make them fit in with the overall spooky theme of our yard. Next was a plan to make them easily with materials we already had laying around. This is the result.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Bandsaw or Jigsaw
- X-acto Knife
Nice to Have Tools
- Miter saw
- Belt sander
- Spindle sander
- Random orbit sander
- Hot glue gun
- 2x4 Lumber - doesn't need to be nice, but try to avoid pieces with excessive knots
- Spray paint
- Cardstock (for template/stencils)
Mr. Potato Head arms
- The best source is direct from Hasbro, but requires planning ahead because they quote 4-6 week delivery time.
- Failing that, they can be found in accessory packs at some stores
- Also check Ebay
- Eyelets (for painting)
Step 2: Make a Template
The first step was to come up with a decent size for the enlarged versions. Since I have a lot of 2x4 pieces sitting in the garage from other projects, we decided this would be a good base size. We printed out a candy corn shape on some cardstock and then transferred it to a scrap piece of 1/4" plywood. This was cut out and sanded to serve as our template for making several of the little buggers. Leaving it as just a cardstock template would work just as well, but I see making more of these in the future, so thought the plywood would be more durable in the long run (hardboard or something would probably be even better, but I didn't have any handy).
Our template wound up being approximately 3.5" wide by 4.5" tall, perfect.
Step 3: Cut and Mark the Blanks
Next up was to cut the blanks from surplus 2x4 stock. I gave myself a little wiggle room and set a stop on the miter saw for about 4.75" and lopped off 10 lengths, then transferred the pattern to the blanks. It is okay that the outline rides off the edge a bit at the bottom because the edges are all going to be rounded over later anyway.
Step 4: Shape, Route and Sand
I introduced the blanks to my bandsaw and cut out the basic shape. Then they all moved over to the belt sander for final shaping. Careful with that by the way . . . with all the corners being rounded over, I threw more than one across the garage. Oops! Next up is the router with a round-over bit to soften up the edges while saving time with the sander. Finally, I sanded everything with a random orbit sander using 80 grit paper to get any bandsaw or belt sander marks out (plus any texturing some of the 2x4s had) and then finished with 120 grit.
Step 5: Prepare for Paint
Now is the time to do anything extra with them before you get the paint out. I decided to make a couple of them look like they'd had bites taken out of them. This was done with a 1/2" oscillating spindle sander. You could achieve the same effect with a 1/2" drill bit if you were real careful, but the sanding method is much easier.
Holes are drilled in the sides for attaching the Mr. Potato Head arms to complete the effect when we're all done. Giant candy corn with faces--a bit spooky. Giant candy corn with faces AND arms--the stuff nightmares are made of! ;)
The arm holes are 1.5" from the bottom and centered. They are also drilled perpendicular to the side angle so the arms will stick out straight. The holes are 15/64" which is almost perfect for the arm pegs, but still not exact (tad too loose). But 7/32 is too small and 1/4 is too big. *shrug*
Also, when I paint little stuff like this, I like to use eyelets for holding and hanging, so I screwed one into the bottom of each.
Step 6: Time for Paint
Now that all the prep work is done, time to paint the pieces. I used Krylon indoor/outdoor primer and Montana Gold for the colors. Krylon you can find pretty much anywhere but I got the Montana Gold from a local craft store. I brought in a couple of real candy corn pieces and they had the best color match. I used White, Mango and Orange. They have a Dark Orange that actually matched the true color a bit better, but I felt the regular Orange would show the faces better than the darker color.
Another advantage of the Montana Gold paint is that you can buy different spray nozzles for the cans. They come with a general purpose nozzle, but I purchased "thin" nozzles for this project (a paltry $0.39 each). You still have to spray pretty close to the material to prevent excessive overlapping, but works much better than a typical spray can nozzle. I considered masking off the stripes to have a clean division between colors, but if you look at a real candy corn, the colors blend together a bit, so to match that I sprayed the colors without any masking. It took a couple of tries to get the method down right, but once I had the optimal spray distance figured out, they turned out great. Candy corn aren't perfect, so your painting doesn't need to be either.
I used two coats of primer and probably should have sanded the second for a slightly smoother finish, but opted not to. This got a day to dry and then I added the colors in this order: Mango at the bottom, White at the top and then Orange in the middle. I didn't allow any dry time between the colors, just painted one after the other.
For the faces and other stuff, I just used standard Testor enamel model paint (the little glass bottles) and an airbrush. I found some faces I liked online, printed them on cardstock and turned them into stencils with my trusty X-Acto knife. I only used black and white this go around, but you could certainly go beyond that with other colors as well.
If you plan to put a clear coat on to make them look more shiny, I would recommend doing that BEFORE spraying on the faces. I learned the lesson the hard way and tried putting a gloss acrylic spray on top of mine and it started to disolve the model paint. A different type of top coat might work better, but certainly stay away from the acrylic if you're using the Testor enamel paint. After doing one, I left the rest without a topcoat.
After the paint is all dry, attach the arms and call them good. Since the holes are a little loose, I put a little hot glue in the hole and then inserted the arm. *But* I wanted to be able to reposition them, so I turned the arms in the "socket" until the glue cooled down. This made the arms fit snug without fixing them in place. You could also wrap them with a layer of tape, but I liked the glue better.
Step 7: Conclusion / Lessons Learned
A few things I took away:
- Try as you might to avoid it, these things are going to wind up looking somewhat "cute". You can spray some red on the arms and add props (like the eyeball) to spook them up a bit more.
- Guards on your belt sander are there for a reason
- Testor enamel paint needs to be thinned before going into an airbrush
- Using parts from other products can be problematic if you are short on time. I had a very difficult time getting Potato Head arms and in the end didn't have enough. But pretty good for short notice. Luckily I now know I can order arms direct from the source, but that doesn't help for this year.
- Acrylic paint over enamel is a bad idea
Fourth Prize in the