If you take a deer skull and cross it with a wire Christmas Reindeer frame what do you get?
Well, I guess the answer to that could be more than one thing, but I ended up with a 2 time award winning, rotted and grotesque looking reindeer suitable for Halloween. LOL!!
Step 1: Step 1
First get yourself a deer skull. Mine came from my brother-in-law who got it from a butcher during deer season. They just throw them away so you can probably get one for free. Only problem is, it's gonna be whole and you will either have to clean it all yourself or wait until the spring and let the nasty little bugs do it for you. (**Note - you should check on the laws in your area about possessing wildlife remains. I have heard that in some states it's a no-no.) After it is all cleaned off you are going to have to re-attach the lower jaw. I drilled a hole and attached it with small screws. Be careful not to tighten too tight or you will crack the bones. If you are going to remove any teeth, you should do so before attaching the jaw. It will be much easier. While you have your drill out, drill one or two holes in the top of the head for antlers (size of hole(s) will depend on the base of the antlers you chose) and a small hole in the back of the skull to attach to the wire frame.
Step 2: Step 2
What to do for antlers? Well, I just took a branch from my corkscrew willow tree and painted it black. I liked the twisted branches because it gave him more of a wild look. But you can use anything you can think of really. Currently I am working on upgrading Rotoff's antlers and will post a pic when they are completed.
Step 3: Step 3
Now you can begin corpsing the skull. I used the liquid latex over cotton batting technique but there are different techniques for corpsing, so go with what you are most comfortable with.
Step 4: Step 4
Time to prep the frame. First remove the motor mechanism if it is an animated deer. The head will be too heavy for this motor so take it off so you can use it for something else. Next cut the head of the deer off with a hacksaw or your tool of choice, but leave the top piece of wire to slide the head onto. If it is an animated deer, you will also have to secure the neck to the body of the deer in whatever position you want. I used zip ties. Next cover the body with chicken wire so that when you go to corpse the body it does not sag in between the wire sections. You can either use chicken wire on the legs or go with the spray foam to give it more dimension. Take Styrofoam poster board and cut it to fit inside the leg areas. Now spray the foam to give it musculature. Take another piece of Styrofoam poster board and rap it around the underside of the midsection and use the spray foam to create a few ribs. Design something for a tail. I used a piece of chicken wire and attached it to the back end.
If you plan on lighting your deer, now is the time to do it. I used 2 strings of orange lights (replacing 2 with green for the eyes and one purple one for the nose) but I am sure that LED lights would be much easier if you know how to do them. To secure the lights in the eye sockets, I used rope caulk. I lined the eye sockets with a piece of a disposable aluminum pan to reflect more of the light. Leave the extra lights hanging out on both sides of the skull where it attaches to the body. Once you have any lighting you want to do completed, attach the head.
Step 5: Step 5
Corpse the entire body making sure to overlap onto the skull. Now you will have a deer that looks like a ghost. LOL!! It would be wise at this point to cut/poke a few holes in the underside of the deer so that any rain that may enter through the open mouth of the deer can drain out.
Step 6: Step 6
Now you are ready to stain it. You will need at least 3 different colors of stain. I used oak, maple and mahogany. I used the oak (darkened slightly with a bit of the maple) to cover the body. Then I used the maple to darken creases and areas of the hanging/torn pieces of flesh. The first pic is with just the oak and maple stains applied. The following 2 pics are with the 3rd color - a reddish mahogany - to give it more of a dried blood look.
Step 7: Step 7
Once the stain is dry you will want to seal your creation to protect it from the elements. I used polyurethane and applied it liberally. I even applied it to the teeth to help protect them too.
Step 8: Step 8 - Optional
This step is an option. I used horse hair to give Rotoff a little bit more freakiness. You can apply as little or as much as you like. Use a bit of the liquid latex to attach it. Then use stain to blend it in. Finally seal the areas. I like the look of the hair when the wind blows. It give Rotoff a bit of animation.
Step 9: Step 9
Time for some reins. I bought 5 black faux leather belts at the dollar store (one for the neck and 2 for each side) cut the belt buckles and part with the notches off. Sew, stitch rivet or tape 2 of them together for each side of the reins. Measure and cut a piece for the collar. Now poke holes through the collar and reins for the lights. I taped the wire between each light to the back of the straps but it's not mandatory. Don't worry about the extra lights. They will be concealed inside the "Slay" with Crisp Kringle. You can also use the extra lights to light part of the Slay if you choose. I used 2 of them to light the eyes of the skull on the back of the Slay.
Step 10: Step 10
Make a Slay & corpse to drive the Slay. I used a Blucky, corpsed it and dressed it in a black robe from the dollar store. I used a witches hat with the brim cut off for the elf/santa hat. The Slay is constructed from insulating foam board that you can get at any Lowes or Home Depot. I believe I used the 3/4 inch. The drawback to using foam as opposed to a thinner plywood is that it will break if you are not careful. The wind can also snap it. However, it does have it's advantages. It is lighter weight and much easier to cut when doing more detailed things like flames and cobwebs.
Well, that is it! You know have a creepy Reindeer for Halloween. Hope you have as much fun as I did in making him!
Second Prize in the
DIY Halloween Contest