Jumping Spider Prop Upgrade

My first new prop for the 2022 season is done, and I'm pretty darn happy with the results...

Right after Halloween last year, I had a chance to check out the clearance sales at the local Spirit Halloween and Halloween USA stores, eventually grabbing this Jumping Spider prop. I rarely ever buy anything from any of these types of pop-up Halloween stores, as I never find anything that I absolutely need for my haunt display. I ended up going back and forth on this one, eventually plopping the cash down, figuring that I could do SOMETHING to it to make it a bit cooler for the following Halloween.

As I'm finally getting into build mode for this season, I remembered this prop sitting patiently in my basement, and went to work on ideas to make this a worthy piece to fit in my display. Upon pulling the spider out, dropping in some batteries, and then watching its mechanical arm spring into life, I was actually pretty impressed with the lunging action as well as the quality of "spider sounds."

The only thing lacking was the spider itself. Bland and a little "cartoony" looking for my liking, but definitely a solid base to work from.

I decided that I'm going to have this in the far end of my display, hiding out in a dark, web-laden corner of my front yard. I will have him triggered as trick-or-treaters walk down the sidewalk, lunging out from a shadowed cluster of bushes. I think it will make a great jump scare. But as is, the spider was just too dark. I wanted something that was going to be VERY noticeable as it lunged from the darkness. So I started doing some spider research...

I ended up using this beautiful Yellow Orb Weaver for reference. A perfect combination of bright and bold colors on the body, but still incredibly creepy-looking. In reality, it's a fairly harmless garden spider, but it will absolutely terrify passersby on the big night.

The paint detailing actually went pretty quickly. I masked off the glossy eyes, and then gave the entire body a quick coat of flat black for a base color.

Once the base coat was dry, I mixed up a nice grey for the face and "fur ring" behind the head. I then painted the fangs white and gave each of the spider's eyes a dot of white to simulate a light reflection (I wanted to make the eyes look a bit more shiny and reflective).

After detailing the head, I went to work on the legs, adjusting the position of each, and then loosely painting a dull yellow ring pattern on each leg. I manipulated each wire-and-fabric positionable leg to look as close to real as possible...

And for the last (and most detailed) step, I painted the Orb Weaver's detailed yellow splotch pattern down the back, using a multi-surface acrylic paint (it has to be multi-surface in order to stick to the fabric of the spider's body). The most difficult part was mirroring both sides of the pattern. It wasn't completely perfect, but it looks really, really good as a finished piece.

This thing is going to look SUPER creepy as it jumps out at you. And it was the perfect choice as my first prop of the season - a quick project with a huge improvement in looks, and it really gets the creativity flowing for the next project on my list. The only thing left for this is to add a thick plywood base to further anchor it down during the lunging motions, and then to staple down that attached cotton spider webbing material around it. Once everything is finalized, I'll be sure to post up some video of this thing in action.

Watch out, trick-or-treaters!



Lady M said...

Wow - cool makeover. I saw this at Spirit last year - it scared the daylights out of a little kid. I think it will be a brilliant jump scare.

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