For our Harry Potter themed Halloween, we wanted to add at least one important prop from each book/movie. For the Chamber of Secrets we chose to build the Door to the Chamber of Secrets. This project was made almost entirely out of types of foam with some paint, velcro, plywood, and a pvc pipe thrown in. hope you enjoy.
Step 1: Materials
If I had been thinking ahead, I would have taken pictures of things before they were cut to the right size and shape, but of course I wasn't so I'll do my best to describe everything. the door is made up of 1" foam insulation panels. We chose to size it according to what would best cover the dining room window, so it ended up being 6 ft in diameter and took 4 panels to make. we were able to use the excess for other projects so it wasn't a big deal.
The snakes were made of 5 pool noodles and 2 strips of upholstery foam taken out of a piece of junk furniture. by the time we started working on the door it was late august and we were able to pick up most of the noodles at yard sales. The snake heads were made of great stuff foam and will be discussed in the next step.
The pieces of the door were glued together with foam glue after having abase coat of dark brown acrylic paint added. the bronzing was achieved by sponging on gold, lighter brown, yellow and a watered down green chalk paint to add a weathered effect. It was time consuming but worth it in the end.
Step 2: Heads
The snake heads were made using a mold of a carved foam snake head for our Nagini. The first picture indicates the original head among the great stuff heads.
The mold was made using Silicone I caulk (100% silicone), liquid dish soap (I used Blue Dawn dish soap) and a dish pan of luke warm water. I added about half a bottle of dish soap to the dish pan full of water, mixed well, and squeezed 3 tubes of caulk into the water. You need to knead the silicone into a ball working the soap into it enough till you feel it becoming more solid, I highly recommend wearing gloves for this. Once the mass of silicone starts to stiffen, you want to thoroughly cover the object being molded (the snake head) having at least an 1" layer covering the object. After using this mold, I would recommend creating a support for any larger molds because they might not hold their shape depending on your casting medium. The expanding foam put more pressure on the sides of the mold than I expected so a cardboard box with some spray foam iI set the mold into worked for me. ******CAUTION****** This process smells terrible, like burn off your nose hair horrible, if possible do it outside.
It will take at least an hour for the mold cure. Because of its size I left mine over night before trying to un-mold the original.
The different heads pictured are different types of expanding foam. I tried all the different kinds to see which one made the best cast. As you can see in the picture some of the types of foam did not hold their shapes well at all. I ended up liking the Window & Door foam ( the blue can of Great Stuff) the best and finished the rest of the heads in that. The more yellow heads(the two in the back and the one on the opposite side from the original carved head) are the window and door foam.
FYI: The purple foam things on the work bench went to the Whomping Willow tree.
Step 3: Adding Snakes
I wish I had a picture of painting the pool noodles, if only to show how frustrating it was.
The pool noodles were run over a hot wire foam cutter to create a flat base for mounting to the door. We sealed them with a layer of craft glue(mode podge) so that they could be spray painted in the hopes of saving some time. If you ever need to paint pool noodles, DON'T used spray paint. The tail coil was a piece of capped 1" pvc pipe wrapped with a flexible self-sealing pipe insulation tube.
The scales were achieved by using a dragon scale stencil ordered from an online airbrush supply site(www.chicagoairbrushsupply.com). We used a dark brown base with the scales being done in metallic bronze paint that looked really good until you tried to move the noodles. the glue and spray paint flaked off first in little flakes, then larger chunks. By the time the snakes were positioned we had to repaint almost all the noodles entirely. The tail coil and the two smaller snakes made from upholstery foam did not have this problem and held their color fine. The upholstery foam did end up being a bit darker than the pool noodles even though the same paint was used.
The Heads were Painted with the same bronze as the scales and attached to the bodies with foam glue. Heavy duty velcro was used to secure the snakes to the door. We used velcro so the snakes could be removed for easier storage.
Step 4: Mounting to the House
The completed door was mounted to a piece of luan plywood that covered the window entirely so no light could be seen around the edges. The plywood also allowed for the door to be secured to the house with screws so we would not have to worry about it falling in the middle of the night.
Once the door was in place, we did have to spend some time doing touch ups on the pool noodles where more paint had flaked off when touched in the mounting process. If you look closely at the picture you can tell where the touch ups are because of the difference in color.
Even with the painting setbacks it was a wonderful prop to have. If we end up using it again, I think I will replace the pool noodles with something else.