The Repurposed Groundbreaker Prop

My first new prop of the season is out of the garage and ready to display. I took a prop that was purchased at a Big Lots store and I transformed it into something a little more to my liking. Let me show you what I did!

The Repurposed Groundbreaker

Here is what I started with. A store-bought, hanging skeleton prop consisting of a skull, neck, chest cavity, arms and some dangling legs that were held on internally by straps. For something that came from a store, it really wasn't a bad piece to begin with.

I quickly removed the fabric pants and sash, revealing a hollow torso and a plastic base form that was shaped for the hips. Straps of fabric were holding the base to the shoulders. And because this was a hanging prop to begin with, there was no "spine" to support it. So, I found a spare length of PVC to use as a spine. I drilled a hole through the center of the base and ran the PVC up to the area where the neck piece connected to the wire that was used to form the shoulders. It was a single piece on either side of the neck that was wrapped in foam to fill out the foam. I cut a 1" notch into either side of the PVC end wide enough so that the shoulder wires would slide down into the notch. I then glued the PVC end to the bottom of the neck piece, making sure that the PVC was wide enough to fit over the bottom of the neck.

After the glue dried, the new PVC spine worked great for supporting the form. I removed the unnecessary pieces, leaving a bare skeleton to build upon.

At this point, I tried my luck for the first time by using Allen Hopps' simple and effective corpsing technique, using .7 mil plastic drop cloth (ripped into various pieces) and melting it onto the skeleton with a heat gun. (A great video tutorial of this corpsing technique can be seen here.) I was incredibly happy with the results and was impressed with how quick and easy this technique was to complete.

I used about 3 or 4 layers of the drop cloth pieces, and melted them in a way that looked like rotting, torn, dried flesh. When I was satisfied with the amount of rot, I used a wood stain on the flesh, applying a fairly heavy coat across the entire head and chest, but then quickly rubbing off the stain from the raised areas with a paper towel. PLEASE NOTE: it's very important that you wear rubber gloves, as the stain gets pretty messy pretty quick. When the flesh was finished, I moved to the shirt and overcoat, applying the same stain and a few shots of brown spray paint to make it look like he had just crawled out of a grave. I was REALLY happy with the way this prop turned out!!

The only thing left to do was to set up some accent lighting and get some glamour shots! This prop is going to look great, rising from his grave in my cemetery yard haunt on Halloween night. With the right accent colors, he is going to look like a real rotten corpse, sure to frighten the children who dare get too close...



Mantan Calaveras said...

Woo, he looks really gruesome!

Post a Comment