This project originated from a previous Zombie Geocache I made. For that project I ordered a resin skull online which cost me about $20. I had it out of the box for about 15mins when one of my kids threw it on the floor and smashed it. I ended up completing that project with a $2 plastic skull and it turned out fine, but I still had the pieces of a smashed skull.
I took what was left of the skull and filled it with expanding foam. I then sculpted and painted the foam to make it look like brains. The effect was pretty cool but I didn’t really know what I was going to do with the skull until I came up with this plan on a full sized Zombie Geocache with a detachable head.
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Step 1: Making the Rib Cage
To make the rib cage I used some irrigation supplies. The width between the ribs was determined by the size of the star joints that I used so I made it with four sections. Each section was made from two 30cm cut tubes, with the bottom made from 35cm tubes to shape it differently. I found that when I tried to curve the irrigation tubes they would crimp so I cut some lengths of wire from wire coat hangers and fed that through the tubes. This made is easier for me to shape the ribs the way I wanted them. To give all the joins more strength, when I was finished I wrapped it all with cloth tape.
When I finished I used brackets to attach the rib cage to a backing board to act as the main support of the finished geocache.
After I did this I found that proper hose works better, it will hold its shape and can be bought by the meter cheaper.
Step 2: Shaping the Back Board and Adding the Central Column
When I attached the rib cage to the backing board I left room at the top to add arms later. Then using a pen and a ruler I drew the shape that I wanted for the board. I looked at some pictures of skeletons to get the shape right. When I was happy with the shape I simply cut it out with a saw.
Next I added a central column. This was a wide PVC pipe that would act as both the central spine and the actual container for the geocache. I found brackets that were able to fasten the PVC pipe to the back board, but raise the pipe a little so it could run through the middle of the rib cage.
I ended up adding a third bracket for the central column to make it sturdier. For the measurements I used my own body as a guide.
Step 3: Adding Shoulders and a Collar Bone
The shoulders were simple enough. I just connected a smaller PVC pipe to the top of the backing board using two brackets. I then added right angle joins to each end of the pipe. After looking at it I decided that it needed a collar bone so I cut two more pieces of pipe. These I connected to the other parts simply by wrapping tape around them. Where the two pieces meet in a V-shape I put wire wrapped in paper through the two pieces to give the middle join more strength.
Step 4: Making the Arms and Legs
To make the arms and legs, I wanted them moveable. I had a product called a ‘Bag’o’Bones’ that I bought from a cheapie shop for $7 last Halloween. This bag contained a few random bones, hands, feet and a skull. As the final product was going to have clothes on it, I made the arms and legs half PVC pipe and half bone prop. For the joins I drilled holes in each end and connected each piece with a cable tie.
To add extra bulk to the PVC section of the arms and legs I wrapped some cheap insulation foam around them.
To attach the legs, I made a v-shaped piece out of PVC pipe and 135degree joins. The original idea was to attach this to the backing board using brackets. But, after making it I decided to go for more flexibility so I drilled two holes in the bottom of the central column and hung the legs from it using cable ties. I used thicker PVC pipe for the tops of the legs.
Step 5: Corpsing the Body
By now I was pretty happy with the way things were going.
I figured it was time to get to the fun stuff and corpse the skeleton. For this I started with the body so I took the arms and legs off. I propped up the body on a block over a drop cloth. I did a lot of research into corpsing techniques but I was limited by not wanting the bones to be seen. I came across a method using rags and liquid latex much like papier Mache. I didn’t know where to get liquid latex so I chose to use clear PVC cement. It’s cheap and I have used it before for home projects.
I bought a bag of rags and a 500ml bottle of PVC cement from the local hardware store. Together these cost me about $12. I poured the cement a bit at a time into a plastic bucket and would put a few rags at a time in the bucket to soak up the cement. I would then apply them to the body like papier Mache. I didn’t really know what I was doing so I experimented as I went.
This process took a while, I added a couple of layers for extra strength. As I was doing it I had the idea to leave a hole in the side. I had some guts left over from a previous project and thought it would look cool to have some guts spilling out. The guts were easy to make, just make a mound of expanding foam and then spray paint it red. I cut out a section of the guts and shoved it in the hole, then I added a couple more rags securing the guts in place.
The next step was painting. I painted a couple of black lines on the body where I wanted extra shading, then I painted the body with mahogany wood stain. I bought a 80ml sample which was more than enough. This turned out much darker than I was expecting but I was happy with the result. I then went over the dark shading with black spray paint.
I waited a day for it to dry and then I added a second coat with walnut stain to give it more of a skin tone. When that was dry I sprayed it with gloss enamel to give it the wet look.
Step 6: Corpsing the Bones and Skull
I figured that the head and skull would be easier to corpse individually so I took all the bones apart. First I painted the bones with walnut wood stain. For the bones I went a more traditional route and used pantyhose for the skin.
I was surprised how good the bones looked with just the walnut stain. Once I added the pantyhose I painted the pantyhose with clear PVC cement and waited for it to dry. I did the same with the skull, except as the skull already had a brown look I skipped the walnut stain.
Once all the PVC cement was dry I painted the pantyhose sections with the mahogany stain. I had just enough left from my 80ml sample tube to complete it all.
I then retouched the exposed bone areas with another coat of walnut stain. I also stained the brain area on the skull and gave it a few squirts of red spray paint to give it an open wound look. To add eyes I bought a couple of wooden moth balls that fit perfectly. I painted them white and fixed them in place using epoxy.
Step 7: The Geocache
As this was made as a geocache, my idea was that you would pull up the head pulling out the spinal column, some guts, and the cache container. To the base of the skull I screwed a PVC cap that fitted on the central PVC pipe. This meant the head would sit on the neck and not fall. I painted the cap black on the topside and red on the underside. I then screwed a hook on the underside of the skull to hang the insides on.
I made a chain out of the neck bones that came with the 'Bag’o’bones', a sample jar I bought from a chemist and some cut pieces of cloth. The sample jar was to hold the log book. I glued the cloth to the sample jar with PVC cement, later I added a couple of cable ties for extra support. I used some chain from a hanging plant holder and some hooks to connect it all together. I then spray painted the whole thing red. The result looked suitably gory.
Step 8: Dressing the Zombie
This part was easy! I found some old clothes of mine I was planning on throwing away and touched them up a bit. I cuts holes in them and then sprayed the shirt with a bit of black and red spray paint. I then drizzled a bit of the walnut stain on the clothes.
For the base of the Zombie I wrapped some old shirts around the bottom area for extra padding.
I also drilled a couple of door stops to the top of the back of the backing board. This enabled the Zombie to be propped up against a wall and still leave enough room for the head to be easily pulled on and off.
Now all that is left is to hide the geocache and wait for the screams!!
Participated in the
Brave the Elements Contest