Jack Skellington Puppet/Costume

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Introduction: Jack Skellington Puppet/Costume


I wanted to dress up as Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas for Dragon Con '07. However, it is impossible to make a good Jack costume because his proportions are so drastically different from me and (hopefully) you. So, instead of a traditional costume, I built a nine-foot-tall mobile puppet that I could control from behind. The head is mostly paper mache reinforced with spray foam. The skeleton is PVC pipe. The suit was custom tailored by myself with the pin-stripes added with fabric paint. The hands are wood with copper wire knuckles for poseability. The harness I'm wearing is motocross armor that connects to Jack via a square aluminum pipe. Braced aluminum bars attach my shoes to his so he can walk. I'd love to make an instructable from this, but, alas, my documenting skills weren't great back then.

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32 Discussions

What'd you use for the feet?

i wish there were more pic of the feet lol

The elbows, hips, and shoulders were all connected by drilling two holes into the pipe and running a piece of cord through them. I needed to the knees and the ankles to only bend on on one axis so I ran bolts though the ends of the pipe and connected them with a small piece of aluminum on either side. Looking back on it now, I probably only needed to do that with the ankles.

Basically, the torso, shins, thighs, forearms, and upper arms are all the same length. However, I'm not sure about the shoulders, neck, waist, or head in relation to rest of him; you 'll just have to guesstimate. The thighs attached to the bottom of the torso without any kind of pelvis, making an upside-down 'Y'. Good luck! Also, you might want to think of another way to hold the fingers together than copper wire. While it made his hands pose-able, they were very easily bent into odd positions by the slightest knock. Think about keeping them in a fixed position.

Honestly, I would say this is my favorite costume for this year. It's a novel way of getting past the fact that Jack is not really human proportioned, I really like that you stepped entirely out of the costume, yet literally maintained your connection to it.

In future years, I would hope that you keep a camera at hand to document the process. I want to see a full instructable from you on a detailed costume like this! This is absolutely brilliant!

I would love to do this costume sometime! Looks like fun and everyone knows who he is. ;D

At any rate I have a few questions:

How did you make the head? What did you paper mache the head around? What are the teeth made of? How did you fill out the body? (Foam? Pillow?)

If I ever get around to making this I would love to document it for you. ;)

3 replies

I was also wondering how you made the details on the head, such as the ridges around the eyes and the mouth...

I started by making a sphere around a Punch Balloon, the type they have at kids parties. I used two layers f paper mache using construction paper. Next, I taped copper wire (14-16guage) to the face using masking tape (the best when paper macheing). Then I uses strip of masking tape to bridge the gaps between the wire and the rest of the head. The lower jaw is curved piece of poster board. Then I added two layers of paper mache using news paper. For the final layer I covered the entire head with the cheap brown paper towels you find in public restrooms; it really gives you a nice smooth skin.

The teeth were carved from blue insulating foam. Before yo paint the teeth, brush on a layer of elmers glue to give them a protective layer.

For the body, I only padded the torso. I used bubble wrap for the interior then covered it with upholstery foam. The torso is wider than the rest of it, so I began by adding cones of bubble wrap to each side of the spine before I started adding layers.

Another thing you can do for the head is buy a giant foam ball from a craft supply store. They can be expensive, but they stay on the torso easily. I used one and then molded the faces with dryer lint mache and then paper mache. I used the cheap brown paper towels to finish it off too.

I made one of these a few years ago. Did it practically the same way, except I made "animatronic" hands on mine. Attached to my harness is Zero the Ghost Dog, complete with glowing nose. He floats about three feet in front of Jack to avoid being kicked. I also created a rig that allows his head to turn if I turn my head. This year, I'm stitching up his Sandy Claus suit. The kids love it and now expect to see him on the streets every year. My oldest started Kindergarten and the school has a Halloween carnival, so Jack will be making a visit. I've also made an alien puppet based on the same structure that attaches to the harness.

1 reply

Yeah, I wanted to make the hands move, but I got some bad advice, so I simplified them.

Have you by any chance attended DragonCon in the past?