Spooky spooky spooky aaahhhh

a styro ball, hangers & scrim just doesnt scare anyone

click on images to see full size



 All information presented 
 on this website is 
 presented 'as is', 
 with no warranty, 
 or fitness 
 of purpose implied.
 I do not accept any
 responsibility for any injury
 resulting from use 
 or misuse 
 of this information.

 Your use of this information 
 constitutes acceptance 
 of  these terms.

I made an Axworthy flying bicycle-wheel ghost last year and it needs to be upgraded. I have chosen to start with the ghost itself. A new head, body, and extended arms, all the while lightening up the character as compared to the original. It will have looser joints, a wig form head, more sculpted body and different frock.

In other words, last years version was not as cool as it can be. I think everyone gets caught up in the mechanics, so I want to touch on the aesthetics.

The materials are pretty basic. A wigform, some dense polyfoam board, some stiff wire, and scrim. Liquid Nails will hold most of it together (note that I started using PolyUrethane Glue (PUG) as it holds the foam so much better than liquid nails). So the whole thing to this point will cost maybe 10 bucks. Start with a wigform like shown.

cut head down the middle

I took the head, and sliced it in half. I wanted it lighter, so I hollowed it out a bit using a forstner bit on my drill press. Make sure not to thin it out to much, since it gets whipped around pretty much on the cable when rounding bends.
hollowhead.jpg (61184 bytes)
forstner bit

Next, I will need a body, really just shoulders and arms to attach this to. Take a piece of the hi-density foam, and cut a strip about 5-6" tall (this is the 1" thick stuff) and then trace a hanger, preferably a heavy duty suit style hanger, onto 1 end of the foam strip.
hanger.jpg (26022 bytes)
This will give you a basic form, and length the strip needs to be. Cut off at the end of the tracing, and then make 5-6 pieces from the strip the same length. Glue them together face to face to make a stack, with the tracing on the outside. Let the liquid nails dry.
slab.jpg (25601 bytes)
Now measure down about 1.5" from the top of each shoulder and draw a line on the foam. Where the llines meet near the apex  and hits the ends of the stack will be the outline of the shoulders. Now cut the top excess off the stack to get the rough pyramid form, and lay it on the side. Measure the width of the neck on the wigform, and draw a line across the stack face that wide, below the apex. Cut off excess above that line to give you the neck base. Place the stack so that the neck stump is facing up, and place the wigform on top of that flat area. Trace the neck onto that flat. This will give you a outline to sculpt the foam to for a more natural looking set of shoulders. Personally, I used the combo sander to grind away all the excess rounding out the shoulders and getting a nice taper around the neck outline.
shoulders.jpg (24808 bytes)
At this point, you can cut out the excess below the shoulders (you drew those lines earlier) to lighten it up more. We just left it there before to make the whole thing rigid while shaping it, now that its shaped, the excess is unneccesary.
torso.jpg (27215 bytes)
I think the prop would look better with the head slightly tilted back, since it will be floating around overhead. This will give it the appearance it is flying towards the ToTers as opposed to just flying around. To do this, I took the wedge that was cut out from beneath the shoulders, and traced the neck of the wigform on to it.
trace.jpg (31719 bytes)

Now that gets cut out.
wedge.jpg (29209 bytes)

And glued into place on the shoulders with some liquid nails.

Before I glue this together, I ground the base of the wigform neck down a bit to make a better transition to the neck stump.  Then you need to glue the wigform to the neck stump, but only the front half gets glued since I will be putting a battery with leds to make the eyes glow inside the wigform hollow, and a connector (a fishing swivel with leader hook) to connect the whole assembly when completed to the guide line with.
orient.jpg (32695 bytes)

glue2.jpg (27308 bytes)
After it all dries together, I will contour where the neck base of the wigform meets the neckstump so the transition is better.
glued.jpg (26448 bytes)
Next I seperated the head sections, and added some traced out and formed foam arms using shishkeebob skewers and PUG to hold them in position, just slightly askew.
Simply traced my own arms tilting the marker in under my arms to get a thin outline, cut them out with a razor knife, and glued them in place. The arms are not equal in size or angle as relative to the shoulders, and this causes a slight amount of wobble as the BWG travels on its lead.

Once the glue is set, I use a dair driven die grinder and a course bit to soften the lines of the arms rounding them over a bit so the fabric to be placed on the figure drapes nicely without a crisp crease.

With the arms formed and attached, it is time to move on to the head, and the glowing eyes. 

First, find the centerline of the eyes on the wigform and draw a line to the back side of the rear half of the wigform, This gives you a reference line to align the posts that will support the LEDS. Following that, I added some posts to suport the LEDS stuck into the foam and afixed with a dab of PUG. While I am working on this part, I figured it was time to add a hanging loop from some heavy gage copper motor winding wire I had on hand, so I tried to find a reasonable balance point on the figure (
to keep it from being to head heavy and leaning forward too much). Next since this was to run only at night, and it has a battery to power the LEDs (this is running on a loop course, so it would be very difficult to provide a plug in power source) and I wanted to be able to switch them on and off. I drilled a hole for a single pole single throw toggle switch on the base of the wighead where it meets the top of the neck, passed the switch thru the hole added a dab of glue, and afixed it with the retainer nut. Next a 9v battery connector was soldered to one of the switch contacts. 

Then the LEDs were soldered in series, seeing that these are UV LEDS with 4 volt draw, I figured between the cold and the hours of usage, I was pretty safe not using a resistor, and was correct. These UV LEDS are pretty tuff. 

Not being the electronics wiz, Todd Snyder put together a little tutorial on how to calculate for what size resistor is needed in this excepted email from the Halloween-L list serve:
"Each LED requires 4 volts across it to light up. If you want to light up more LED's you string them together (but current only flows through them in one direction so you have to string them up in series). Dont worry, if ones hooked up backward, it blocks all current and nothing will happen. 

Total voltage has to equal 4 X (number of LEd's).

What you say you only have a 9 volt wal wart to power these. Well, then your gonna need a resister in-line to limit the current. (NOTE:if you only had a 6 volt walwart two LED's would never light) 

Now its more complicated. Here's a simple illustration.

How many LED's do you want to light up (strung in series of course with proper polarity on the LEDs). Lets just say two.

Those two LED's together need 8 volts across them to light up. Your wall wart is 9 volts. Subtract the 8 volts the LED's need from the 9 volts you have available...One volt left. Oh no!!! We have to make that 1 volt go on a resister that we will put in series with the LED's. Now, what size resister? Gotta use Ohms Law for that one. 

Voltage = Resistance X current

You needed that extra volt to go on the Resister, and you needed the current to be 30ma so 

1volt = R X 30ma

Solve the equation .... 1volt / 0.03Amps = 33.33ohms"
Here is the raw formula for calculating resitance needed using LEDS when you know approximate values. 
Thanks to Wicked Beer Nut for this excerpt:
R = (V1 - (V2 x N)) / A
R = current-limiting resistance (in ohms)
V1 = battery voltage (in volts)
V2 = LED voltage drop (in volts)
N = number of LEDs in series
A = LED forward current (in milliamps) P.S. If you don't have a value for 'A' use 15.

The battery is taped to the inside base of the neck. I used heat shrink tubing to attach the LEDs to the posts, and soldered all the connection together. 

On the other side of the face, I wanted a defined skeletal appearance, and created a stencil of a skull outline, pinned it in place and then gently dry brushed black paint creating the skull features. After this dried, I used some RIT whitener in solution, and highlighted some of the features, particularly around the eyes. The UV LEDs illuminate this gently, and other black lights around the yard occassionally make the RIT glow in other spots on the figure as it glides by them. 

Once the face was painted, I draped on cheesecloth and nu-see-um scrim, in alternating layers (to add a little body), and used a razor to cut the material up yielding a nice ragged feeling. Afterwards, used grey spray paint to dirty the finish, which also stiffened the fabrics some, and got the materials to curl and rope up a bit, a nice effect I think.
I had been inspired by Circe Du Soleils Quidam show, and wanted a very grey, very dark, slow moving ghost. 

Back to the Axworthy Flying Ghost

You are visitor # Hit Counter to this webpage since March 30th, 2001
You are visitor # to this WEBSITE Since October 7th, 2001
Copyright © 1999-2004 Ten Men Productions. All rights reserved. Revised: April 20, 2005