I think a lot of us have enjoyed Tim Burtons' "The Nightmare Before Christmas". For me it was a great overlap of two decorative holidays. I think this is how a lot of people see it, because it has become the tradition of Disneyland to adapt that style to its Haunted Mansion each year.
Anyone who has been on the ride knows of the monstrous Man Eating Wreath that greats you fairly early in the ride. Well I will be going through steps on how to make one for your own house.
I know there are a few other Instructables on this but I wanted to simplify the procedure and work on how animated the final creation looked.
Keep note that everything was purchased at a local Walmart. As we go along I will make note of prices. In the end you may be surprised just how cheap it can be to make one of these on your own!
Step 1: 1-1 the Back Body
Keeping things on the cheap will mean that the standard green wreath is a bit thin for a monster of this style. Honestly would you be afraid of a thin shrub who would probably freeze in the snow? So in this build instead of using just one wreath we will be using two.
The first one, the back, is a 20in wreath that can be picked up for $2-$3.
This wreath will be spread outward from its ring as shown.
Step 2: 1-2 the Front Body
As stated in the previous step we are using two wreaths to give this bad boy some proper "fulliage" as I like to say.
This wreath is also 20in in size.
Now the difference in the prep is that this one will be shaped so its branches are going inward.
Step 3: 1-3 Body Overlap
Taking wreath one "the back" along with wreath two "the front". Two will be placed on one as shown.
Much better looking, right?
Step 4: 1-4 Body Wrap and Fluff
The great thing about working with these fake wreaths is that they are 80% wire. You use their own bodies to attach, wrap, fold.
What I did here was take a few branches from the top body and weave them into the bottom body. Making sure the connections were tight I then wrapped a few from the bottom to the top.
Because of how full two overlapping wreaths look you will not notice the few branches that are dug into it.
Another benefit of this design is you now have a full mouth with some proper depth.
From this point feel free to shape and curl the branches as you see fit to make a face shape you like.
Step 5: 2-1 the Red Bow
Take note here. There are 2 designs to the Man Eating Wreath, In the original film it was depicted with a red bow. Later on at Disneyland it was adapted to the what I call "Little Shop of Horrors Bulbs". As we are going with a more contemporary feel, along with not going crazy into design, mine will use a bow.
This bow was picked up for $1.
As you can see its simple in design and not overly big. This one has a twist tie attached to the backing with was used to weave into the wreath frame.
Step 6: 3-1 Those Eyes
Probably the biggest difference I have seen in all versions of the Man Eating Wreath has been its eyes.
The film depicts it with round white eyes. The ride has it with heavily slanted yellow orbs that glow.
I am going with the middle ground here. Going to use a egg shape that is slightly larger than the center of the red bow.
The egg being used is made of styrofoam. It was purchased in a mixed crafts bag for $6, the bag had 8 eggs, 2 of each size.
The egg will need to be cut in half. A SPECIAL NOTE on doing this. While cutting your egg keep going around, DO NOT try to just slice it in half. You want to keep the eye intact and round.
Step 7: 3-2 the Color of Your Eyes
I know that certain paints do not work well with Styrofoam, or lets say Styrofoam doesn't like it and will basically melt.
Of course we could keep the eyes white like those in the film but personally the yellow really adds to the character.
The paint used here was Acrylic, Lemon Yellow. A fair amount of paint will need to be used as the surface of the eggs is porous and will need to be filled in.
As you can see this choice has given the eyes a sort of Muppet felt look. It works well when it comes all together.
Step 8: 4-1 Cups for Teeth
Our monster needs some shiny white teeth to smile with. They also need to have some depth to them.
In one of the other Instructables it was suggested to use foam cups and it is honestly a great decision.
My build on the teeth with differ but I think it works out well.
These cups are of the 16oz variety. $1 for 14 cups. You will only need two.
Step 9: 4-2 Prepare the Cups
The foam cups will need to be cut in a few ways.
First, the removal of the top rim and the bottom. Most cups have ridges and its there that the cuts will be made.
Second, parsing them out to usage size. Cut the cup into 4ths.
Step 10: 4-3 the Teeth
Each cup 4th will yield 3 possible teeth.
That is a lot of teeth and you will not use all of them. Pick the ones you like.
When cutting the teeth you can do a "V" shape to the cup 4ths. This creates two off round shapes and one perfect round.
The mix and match of shapes helps with giving it character.
Step 11: 4-4 Teeth Mounts
The final step in building our teeth is the mounts. I have decided to use short skewers for this. They are cut to size then attached with hot glue.
The skewers were picked up for $3-$4 for 100 pieces. How many you use depends on how you want to cut them and how many teeth you want to place.
As you can see in the picture I prepared 10 teeth.
The skewers should be cut to give a firm backing and connection to the foam teeth, along with a long enough end to give a firm attachment within the wreath.
Step 12: 5-1 It Has Tentacles
This is a part of the Man Eating Wreath that I had to debate. Tentacles....
I know that in the film it is seen to have them via shadows and that it also has them on the ride. When I see other builds the tentacles just seem kind of off, usually limp and thin. Because of the known builds this made me hesitant on the quality I could make, but then a great idea popped into my head.
Just as I had doubled up the wreaths why not the garland? These fake wire garlands are $3-$4 each. The one pictured is 9ft. long, which will create a total of 4.5ft of tentacle.
I bought two but only needed one once I saw how this was working.
Step 13: 5-2 Tentacle Mount
The garland I looped into a circle then I proceeded to twist it. This made for a thick and bushy tentacle, something that made me feel like it could really stretch out and grab someone with.
Mounting it was a simple thing. As stated before the great thing with working with this fake wire stuff is it can be used to tie and weave. So I placed the tentacle at the center bottom, behind the red bow, and proceded to weave a few branches into the wreath body. Then also in turn taking a few wreath branches and weaving them into the tentacle.
The placement has given it two "arms" that measure roughly 2.25ft each.
Step 14: 6-1 Berries
Wreaths need decoration. Ours will be getting fake Holly berries, which I will be now calling "Bwarts".
While shopping at Walmart all I could find is the fake centerpiece/vase decore for $4. Honestly it works perfectly in the end design.
Step 15: 6-2 Harvest and Glue
I took the bushel of berry stems and cut off those clumps that looked best for use.
Taking those clumps I then used hot glue to the backs and then placed them firmly onto the wreath face. While placing I made sure to press hard enough to make sure the glue attached to enough green bristles to give a firm attachment.
Placement is completely up to ones own likes. I wanted to make them odd placement as I was thinking them as worts on a monsters face.
Berries and Worts... and so Bwarts were born...
Step 16: 7-1 Coming Together
The pieces are made and its time to get everything glued in place.
We already took care of the Holly Berry "Bwarts", now is time for the eyes and teeth.
The Eyes I made empty sockets to fit into. This was a fantastic idea as it gave it eye ridges. Hot glue was applied to the bottom, unpainted ridges of the eyes. The eyes were placed in a way to give a slight downward angle.
The teeth were placed first without glue to get an idea of placement and orientation. Placing hot glue on the stick stems they were then reinserted into the areas that work best.
Hot glue in this project works well because of the full fake bristles created by the dual wreath backing. The glue has plenty to adhere to and give firm placement.
Step 17: Final
One final step to the creation of our Man Eating Wreath was painting in the eye pupils.
This was something I wanted to hold off on till I got a proper look at the face that had been created. I have always believed that a proper creature must have lively eyes to be of attraction.
Once those pupils were in this bad boy went up outside. The tentacles were placed and wrapped and it is looking great!