Happy Halloween! A little late... This year I dressed as the worrisome rag-doll Sally, from The Nightmare Before Christmas. To accompany my costume, I wanted to make the faithful little ghost companion, Zero.
This Tim Burton classic is a most beloved film, and here is your chance to make your very own Zero!
List of materials:
Plastic Wrap (standard kitchen plastic wrap will suffice)
Paper safe Spray Paint and craft paint
1. For the mold of Zero's head, I used basic Florist Foam.
This material is cheap and very easy to smooth and carve. To shape it, I used a butter knife and my hands. Any craft store or hobby center will carry this foam.
2. If you are a little overzealous in your carving (as I was) you can build areas back up with some wall spackle. I used Dry Dex Spackle.
3. To prepare the head for the papier-mâché, lightly seal the florist-foam so that it does not continue to crumble.
To do this use a paper-safe spray paint. I used white Krylon Fusion
Allow 30 minutes to dry.
4. Once the light coating of paint on your form is dry, coat it with something that the papier-mâché will not want to stick to. Plastic wrap creates a good non-stick work area for the papier-mâché process.
To keep the papier-mache from sticking to the mold I used some coconut oil, but you could also use Vaseline. Spread liberally over the form.
5. Papier-Mâché Time!
To make the papier-mâché mixture use about a 1/3 cup Elmers glue, a few pinches of flour and a bit of water. The consistency should be like pancake batter.
Dip strips of paper-towels, or heavy-duty toilet paper in the batter and gently smooth one layer onto the form.
Apply the strips to the prepped mold, keeping in mind that the goal is to coat the form in only one layer. You will be removing all of the foam when the papier-mâché is dry, so Do Not cover the bottom of the foam head. Otherwise you won’t be able to get the foam out after the papier-mâché has set.
While your Zero head is drying, you can start on Zero’s ears and bottom jaw.
Zero’s ears and jaw were both created by coating individual paper towel sheets in the papier-mâché mixture then draping them over bottles and cans (covered by plastic wrap) and allowing them to dry over night.
For the ears, I used one Viva paper towel folded in half, and cut to be roughly the shape of Zero's ears.
For Zero’s bottom jaw, I cut-out a long thin triangle shape from the paper towel, one layer thick.
6. Hollowing After the head has dried over night, you can begin to pull out the florist foam.
I used a small knife to break apart the foam in little chunks. If there are any small holes or tears you can patch them with some toilet paper and Elmer’s glue.
For Zeros neck, use a toilet paper roll cut to about 2” tall and using your Elmer’s, glue this ring to the base of the head to form his neck.
Once the toilet paper collar has dried completely, you can use a few more sheets of toilet paper and papier-mâché to make the neck seamless with the rest of the head.
A strong and stable neck will be important because this is where your main hanging string will be fastened.
Once the head, ears and neck are completely dry, use small amounts of Elmer’s, to glue to all the pieces together.
The final details are painting Zero’s head, and eye sockets. I used the same spray paint that was used for coating the foam head, to paint the head a solid white. For the eye sockets I used basic black, craft paint.
For his body, I coated a thin white fabric scrap in Niagara Heavy-Duty Aerosol Starch and allowed it to dry while draped over a plastic wrapped wine bottle. This gave his body movement similar to how he moves in the movie. For best results apply the starch heavily several times, allowing the fabric to dry completely in front of a fan, between the coats.
8. Take Flight
For Zero’s nose, I found a Halloween necklace at the drugstore with perfect plastic pumpkins on it. All I had to do was cut one off and superglue it to the nose.
Now to make your Zero fly you will need some nylon string or fishing line.
String your Zero puppet on some fishing line, knotting it thru the collar and mid way down his back, and PRESTO
your very own Zero!