Friday, April 8, 2016


So one of the first projects that I wanted to get a jump on were the compys that will be all in the front yard.  These guys are important, as they're the first thing that my trick-or-treaters will see, and they'll set the scene for the rest of the haunt.  And if they look like crap...again, it sets the scene.  It's definitely a bit of a risk making them pretty small instead of doing a much larger dinosaur for the front.  They'll also be easier to steal.  But I'm hoping that the goodwill of Halloween will prevail...and I'll have serious garden stakes on them.  But I digress...

I wanted to make a prototype and hopefully make some notes about the construction of these, and at least get an idea of how long each one will take so that I can figure out how many are reasonable to make.


  • 1 dasani water bottle (1 liter)
  • Ping pong balls (3)
  • Duct tape (hella amounts)
  • Aluminum foil--the medium weight--not the super flimsy one (hella amounts)
  • Wire/galvanized steel, ~16-12 gauge.  Whatever is reasonably malleable, and won't kill your hands.  I found 18 gauge too flimsy.  
  • Sand (about 1 cup)

First up.  Wrapping wire around the bottom of the bottle for the legs.  Dasani turned out to be perfect, because it has grooves already in the water bottle, which helped hold the wire in place.  I took a super long piece of wire and wrapped it around the bottle, twisted it, then had it come down both sides.  Duct tape down. Do the same slightly higher up with a slightly shorter piece of wire for the arms. Duct tape down.  Cut a fairly large piece of wire for the tail.  I made it long enough to wrap around the neck for added support.  Loop around neck, duct tape all the way down the 'back'.  

Pull out a ping pong ball and cut it in half.  Tape one side up at the joints where the wire meets the bottle.  This will be your joint.  Next up, pull out the foil.  This was perfect to use to sculpt the legs. I used layers and layers going up the legs.  This particular dino is rather slim and slender, so I had to be careful not to bulk it up near the legs.  Take another ping pong ball, and tape it up just under the tail.  This serves as a tushie and gives you a bit of support when building up the tail.  

As you go, building up the tinfoil and duct tape is an easy way to see the dino come together.  I built up layers on the 'butt' and the tail, then did layers of duct tape.  The tail was again gradually decreasing layers of tape until it tapered off.  The tip was only duct tape.  Note: make sure to entirely cover the tip so that you don't get poked by wire!  The arms.  For these, I took a length of wire equal to double the length of the arm (roughly) and twisted it around the existing arm, staring up near the bottle.  This served to give me 3 wires that I can turn into claws.  And it added stability.  I did this with the legs, but only doing at the end, not the entire thing.  Hindsight note: Add wire farther up the leg for more stability, as this is the thing that the entire structure will rest upon. 

Wish I had taken an interim picture of the next one, but alas.  So before I taped up the bottle, I added about 1 cup of sand to the bottle.  Partly to give it weight, but also to add the ability to counterbalance any weight that I added to either end.  The neck was built with 2 pieces of wire, looping over the neck/cap at four sides.  I inserted balled up tinfoil in between the wire before wrapping it up in duct tape.  Note: leave the top 1/2" of loop uncovered. 
The head--take 1 ping pong ball; cut out 2 oval pieces with straight bottoms to serve as the jaws, and tape them to the ping pong ball with just a slight gap.  Cover whole thing in tinfoil.  Add pieces of duct tape to sides of 'jaw' to build up.  I rolled up 2 small pieces of tinfoil to serve as eyeballs and duct taped them on to the head.  I clipped the 2 loops of wire at the top of the neck so that I had 4 spokes of wire, and inserted the ping pong ball head in between them.  Duct tape to secure it.  

Finished the second prototype tonight.  Made the legs a little stronger, and made a few body adjustments.  Still having trouble with the head, and it being a little duckish looking.  But not overly concerned.  Experimented with changing up the neck arrangement.  I think I'll add a little movement or individuality to each of these, otherwise they'll get a little lost in the herd. 

And then there were two.

Finally some movement on this project.  For by birthday, I ended up doing a layer of paper mache on one of these guys.  It worked decently enough, the layer went quick enough--definitely have to use smaller strips, especially for the head, but then you can do a couple layers.  Might switch alternate layers out of the phone book just to make sure that there's full coverage.  The main problem is that because it goes fast, there's a lot of waiting around between layers.  It makes no sense to do more than a layer or two before you have to wait for it to fully dry.  And it's still a bit rainy out, so not the ideal time.  So at the moment I'm waiting a day or so between layers, but if I can make a bunch of them, then on a nice hot day, by the time I got to the last layer of the last one, the first one might be dry enough to go again.  Here's hoping anyway.  But it looks like the basic forms are decent enough to work that I can start building more of them with the wire.  I've already got some modifications I want to do and different poses I want to try.


Got the head of a new compy to stop looking quite so duck-like.  Might be a bitch to paper mache...maybe I just won't do the teeth--I like the dino actually having teeth.  

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