Saturday, November 8, 2008

Grim: Step by step


I have had a lot of questions about my "Grim" prop that I built for 2008. I plan to put a full blown tutorial on my website sometime, but for now here is a brief step-by-step tutorial with some never before seen pictures.


I stated with a basic wooden frame, made from 1X2's and 1X3's. I actually stood in the position I wanted "Grim" to be standing in so that I could get the angles of the arms and legs right. I wanted the legs and arms really long and the torso a little smaller.


I came up with this idea from seeing the three skulls on a rope decoration, and thought that Grim needed to be holding these as sort of his "captives". I wanted them to have rather happy faces, as they do not realize the terror they are about to experience. I lit these using three small candelabra sockets that I got from Lowe's, and 4 watt nightlight bulbs.


Next, I covered parts of the body in chicken wire to break up the blocky look, and made a few "thorn-like" projections. I made the hands and feet out of wire coat hangers, paper towels and duct tape. I also ran the wire at this point for the light that would be in the head, and the string of pumpkins that he would be holding.


I used paper mache for the skin, (paper towels, and an Elmer's glue and water mixture: mixed to about a 50/50 ratio). I used both brown and white paper towels... no particular reason, I just had both and was experimenting. The brown paper towels were probably stronger, but wouldn't stick as good as the white paper towels. I used about three layers of these all over the body. While it was still drying I dipped sections of different kinds of rope and cord in the Elmer's glue and water mixture, and wrapped them around the legs, body and arms randomly. I wanted these to have a vine-like appearance, and look kind of like they were just growing wildly. I also tore paper towels into long stringy looking pieces and randomly placed these around in different places.


Last, I painted him flat black as a base coat, then went back over that with a couple of shades of brown. I also added some cheesecloth that was dyed brown and shredded up. I put this around the torso area. The head was a foam "Funkin" that I carved and airbrushed. I lit it the same way that I lit the smaller pumpkins, with a candelabra socket and 4 watt bulb.

That's pretty much it, the total cost to build this was probably about $40.00, with the head being about half of that cost. (I had a lot of the materials on-hand though, if I had to buy everything to make just this prop, it might have been about $60.00.)

33 comments:

Splatter said...

Thanks a ton for the how to. This is such an amazing prop and its always nice to see how it was done.

Johnny said...

Oh sweet!
This will be a big help with an idea I'm working on.
Not to mention just wanting to steal the idea. ;-)

jay's shadow said...

you make it sound so easy,it only took simple materials to make,and in the end it turned out to be this tall evil pumpkin with the grin of satisfaction of holding its three victims. great job
cant wait to see how you made your lanterns

Johnny said...

I have not worked with chicken wire yet but I will have to for the new stuff. Forming chicken wire has me confused.

Grim said...

It's not too bad really. The most irritating part is it wants to stay rolled up when you cut a piece off. I just wear a good pair of work gloves and mash, bend, and staple it the way I want it. I use a lot of staples to attach it to the wood and a lot of small zip ties to hold it all together. Also, a pair of needle nose pliers will come in handy to wrap the loose ends of wire (where you have cut it) through other loops in the chicken wire to help hold it together.

Grim said...

Also, one roll of chcken wire will go a looooong way. I bought two small rolls over two years ago and have made three monster mud men, used some for Grim, two cloaked ghosts, and a couple of other things and still have over half of it left. So buy one roll to start with, it will last a while.

Jeffrey said...

How did you connect the pumpkin head to the wood post? The photos don't seem to show the wood coming through into the empty cavity of the head. I'm putting a light socket in the cavity, as you did, but I don't want people to be able to see a large wood post inside the head. Thoughts?

Grim said...

The post actually goes into the head about three inches (I cut it off shorter than it is in the pictures where you can see it), but it isn't very visible. I cut a slot in the back of the head the same size as the 1X3, and just slid it on. If you cut the slot out just big enough to get the 1X3 in, it will fit tight and stay on without any glue or anything like that.

Jeffrey said...

Our Son of Grim has the frame and chicken wire all fleshed (bad pun) out. On to the paper and glue. We were slightly surprised how much he leans.... we made SoG wider than the Father and so it just may be that the simple wood screw and 1x2 joints can't stand up to the weight. Required a lot of reinforcement and redrilling. Sounds like there are a few copycat Grim builders out there, so they should be aware that too much weight will start to pull Grim over. I've already resigned to drilling stake holes in the feet to secure him to the ground.

toenee said...

How did you build the feet to stand up? I am having trouble figuring out how you attached the legs to the bottom.

Grim said...

I basically made two triangular shaped pieces to start with, and attached them to the bases with screw coming through from the bottom. Then used to long pieces for the "shins" and attached them to both sides of that triangular piece, and put screws through from the bottom on those also. It doesn't have to be a very big piece, if it's too big it will mess up the look of your foot. Then when you get to the "thigh", use one board attached to the middle of the two "shin" pieces. Hope that helps... you can see it a little bit in the picture where you can see the wooden "skeleton".

Anonymous said...

How does this hold up in rain being made of paper mâché? Love love the design!

Grim said...

It holds up better than you might think. I usually wait for it to dry before I move it, because it can get a little soft. Usually, If I know it's going to rain, I'll move it under the front porch or something. It has been in the rain a few times, and still looks about the same. For future projects, I'm going to brush on a coat of flat black for the base instead of using flat black spray paint like I used to, so hopefully it will help protect my props from rain, etc.

martie said...

Love this prop!!!

kathryn said...

I am just curious as to how wide you made the base? I have all the materials, and was guessing about 2' wide. I am creating my diagram before building. Just trying to get dimensions right for balance.

Betty Boo! said...

My family and I are doing this guy, thank you soooo much for the how to and the fun idea!! I would love to send pictures just don't know where... if you would like you can email me where to at theroberts1031@gmail.com.

Betty Roberts

Grim said...

Kathryn, 2 feet sounds about right. I think I could have made them a little smaller and it would have still worked fine.

Sam Landsberg said...

Love it.. we just finished the basic skeleton of it... thanks for all the tips.. is there how to steps on the other creatures??

Grim said...

Thanks, Sam... I see you found the one for the ghost also. There might be one showing the inside of a groundbreaker and how I used to make the skulls for them around here somewhere. :)

Sam Landsberg said...

Thanks yes I found how make the the heads using the skull thanks..

Kwsejs said...

Where did you find a foam pumpkin large enough?

Grim said...

I used a "Funkin" that I got at Michael's several years ago. I haven't been able to find them locally for a couple of years, though. :(

Kwsejs said...

Do you remember the size? I found one that is 11.5" x 15", will that be big enough? We made him almost 7' tall. This is the coolest project I have found! Thank you for posting this and the how too!!!

Grim said...

I don't know exactly... that sounds about right, though.

Razenyce said...

Do u have any dimensions?

Grim said...

Not anything specific, I just made it up as I went. The whole thing stands about 5 feet tall.

X andre said...

I have a question about the base at the very bottom.... how did you get a flat wooden base in that "X" formation... did you have to use some kind of metal enforment under neath?

X andre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grim said...

I used two pieces that were about 2 feet long to make an "X", then cut four additional smaller pieces that I attached to the longer pieces to make them look even and flat across. I attached the feet of Grim with screws through the bottom of the X. I think I could have easily made them even smaller, maybe 1' by 1', and they would have worked ok.

Grim said...

Here is one version, a little different from how I did it but it should still work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M4Ng3fHjpY

Unknown said...

what size screws did you use to hold everything together?

Anonymous said...

Any idea how much total lumber (in feet) was used to build the frame?

Grim said...

I can't remember exactly what size screws... I have a big box with four different sizes of drywall screws in it and I would just grab the right size out of there.

I really don't know how much wood I used, either. I usually have a good supply in my shop to grab from, and I'll just go back and buy more 1X2's, 1X3's, etc. when I run out.