Halloween Skeleton – in Progress

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A few weeks ago a reader named Addie sent me an email describing her latest project – a full-sized skeleton made from PVC pipe and paper mache. Just thinking about all the challenges in a project like that makes my brain hurt, so I had great respect for Addie, even before she sent photos of her pile of bones.

Yesterday she sent some photos of the skeleton, and she’s made great progress. I’m happy that she gave me permission to let you all see what she’s done so far. She said she would appreciate any tips, but the bones look great to me. I can’t wait to see the skull.

The only suggestion I made was to try the new paper clay recipe with the aluminum screen mentioned in the video for the ribs, just because it might be easier than getting the Claycrete to stick to her wire form. Photos (and a slightly edited version of her two recent emails) below.

Rib Bones and Backbone
Rib Bones and Backbone

I just wanted to show you some progress. It has become quite the multi-media mache. I wanted to try some of that Claycrete for some detail and around that rib cage. The other picture is a pile of arms and legs. …

… I fitted each joint (elbow, knees, hips, etc.) with elbows for the cpvc. The arms have a 45° angle and the legs or knees and such have a 90°. Then when I am completely done I can just pop them back on the “joints”. (I have left room and tested that part as well).
Thanks for the heads up about the screen. I have been wondering what to put around the rib cage. when the Claycrete gets heavy the lead wire doesn’t seem to want to hold up so well. but, live and learn.
I would love to get some feed-back from others so feel free to put it up on your site, and once again thank you so much.  Addie
Great job, Addie. I can’t wait to see the finished skeleton. I hope it’s done in time for Halloween.

20 thoughts on “Halloween Skeleton – in Progress”

  1. Hi Addie: Your bones are beautiful! I can see that this is a very popular project around this site. I would very much like to see the completed project – you have until October- my favorite time of the year. Good luck!

  2. if its not to late. i found that making the cpvc pipe joints for whatever angle degree you are looking for work okay. they are movable but they will pop out of joint easy. i attatched the pelvis to the cross “t” (the area is the spine and 4 way joint or an 3 way “t” drilled hole in the top. then the pelvis are two short pipes and elbows. at a 90*)u covered them as much as i could so that i could still detatch them and then put them away. i so wish i had my home computer to show you some pictures. THE HOUSE HUNT CONTINUES!

  3. The skeleton looks cool

    My buddy and I are working on an exercise science project

    we need to make a functional hip joint(including the major bones, muscles and ligament)

    So any suggestions

  4. Addie, LOVE the spine!! can’t wait to see the finished skeleton! will you put the skeleton together so that you can move the joints or are you going to have it all fused together in one position?
    great job!!

    • Laurie,
      Thank you!
      I plan on leaving the shoulders and hips moveable and detachable for storage. I have one knee as well so that i can casually cross a leg. 😉

  5. we all love your website and look forward to our weekly latin class where we are able to use computers and check updates secretly on your wonderful site instead of doing our reflexive verbs. Recently we have been trying to persuade our art teacher to let us paper mache kitty kats for our gcse coursework.some of our friends tease our new hobbie but we dont care because its just so cool…You ROCK!!!
    from the latin class in england 🙂 x

  6. A most ambitious project that looks fascinating, I really like the details in th spine too. The leg and arm “bones” look terrific, how did you make the flare at the joints?

    If I understand your post correctly it seems you have made this like a skeleton “kit” where the arm and leg joints can come apart for easy storage, transport and reassembly? If that is close to correct, more details please!

    I hope you will furnish pictures when this prop is complete.

    • Bob,
      Actually the arms and legs are all cpvc pipes. I just cut them up with a hand saw and fitted them with the joints all 1/2 inch and all from the local hardware store.
      I bought 3-5foot pieces roughly measured myself and hacked away. Where I would have a joint I popped in a elbow. While applying the paper i left 1/2″ of space to allow for it to be put back in. Plus it makes it easier to mache seperate parts.

      The flare at the joints are made from exapandable foam. Like Great Stuff. What you use to seal your house up with. Dap works great too. Dap is a little less ridged after drying, but doesn’t shrink, where Great Stuff does. Great Stuff is drill-able and shave-able. If that makes sense. They both hold up great to the paper mache.
      I have other projects as well and I can send them to Jonni as well and we can all see. I will also post more of the skeleton when I am done.
      I appreciate everybody’s feedback! Thankyou!

      • Yes, Addie – we definitely want to see those other projects! The expanded foam is an interesting idea. I keep looking at the cans at the store, but I have never thought of anything I could use it for. Now I know. Isn’t it fun to find our art supplies at the hardware store?

        • Jonni,
          I used your recipe for the paper clay. IT’S FANTASTIC! I cannot thank you enough for sharing. It’s exactly what I needed to get these small details in order.

          • It’s pretty cool stuff, isn’t it? I should have mentioned in the video that you use two rolls of cheap 1 ply toilet paper – or one roll of 2 ply toilet paper. Everyone probably figured that out already…


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