Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Smilin' Jack Pt. 2

I'm back! Sorry to be gone for so long. Had a serious eye infection which made it next to impossible to look at the computer screen. Now, where was I? Oh, yes...a head with no body!

Well, since my newly created pumpkin couldn't really stand on his own too well, I decided to create a Monster Mud creature using Jack. I soon realized that to make Jack proportionate to his head, he was going to be quite large. Mwuahhhhaaaa! Excellent!


Off to Home Depot to gather the materials. It just so happens that the gentleman working the plumbing supply this night is a Scout Master with experience in making paper mache masks! Once I told him what I was planning to do, he came alive! Boy, I've never had so much fun in the plumbing section in my life! We literally spent two hours brainstorming on how to build the body, gathering materials, changing our minds, putting everything back, gathering different materials, deciding we were genius' for improving the original agreed on design, and solving world peace. I congratulated the gentleman on such a successful collaborative effort and told him I would save a seat for him in Geneva, Switzerland when we accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. At this moment I took my materials and headed for the lone open checkout lane.

I then changed my mind and put everything back.

Did my wife mention I'm kind of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy? Yeah, it drives her nuts.

Seriously. She's going insane.

Ok, this is what I got:

  • 2   8ft metal T-Post fence posts (The kind used to build barbed wire fences)
  • 2   10ft length 2" Schedule 40 PVC pipes
  • 3   2" PVC T-connectors
  • 2   2" 45 degree PVC elbows
  • 2   2” 90 degree PVC elbows
  • 2   2" to 1/2" PVC adapters
  • 1   8ft length 1/2" PVC pipe
  • 1  Can of PVC plumbing cement (Looks like purple goo)
  • 4   Rolls of 3ft x 24ft Burlap (It's in the lawn and garden section)
  • 3   Rolls of 3ft x 25ft Poultry Fence (chicken wire)
  • 1   Roll of Duct Tape (Greatest invention ever!)
  • 1   5 Gallon bucket of Joint Compound
  • 1   Gallon of oops paint (this is actually mis-tinted paint I got from Wal-Mart)
  • 1   Gallon of Thompson Water Seal Multi Surface Clear

Time for assembly! There really isn’t a hardcore way to do this part. In the pictures below you can get an idea of how I proportioned everything. Do NOT go nuts with the pipe cement on this thing. Just dry fit everything until you are ready for final assembly. Actually, you may not want to use the pipe cement at all. The cement will make everything permanent. No going back. If you look closely on the build of the frame, you will see I drilled woodscrews into all of the joints to lock them in place. This was probably all I really needed. I figured this part out a little too late. On a side note, the frame was extremely solid.

Test fitting PVC

The hands were made from 1/2” PVC pipe, coat hangers, duct tape, and paper mache.  I admit the hands could have looked a lot better, but I was a little rushed at this point. Besides, after painting and in the dark…no one ever notices. The fingers are very thin and long, so they tend to crack and break a little. So, it looks like I might have to do a little repair work next season.

Come here my little pretty!!! Sitting on rebar to dry. 

I now had the hands and forearms for Jack. These I did not cement into the PVC frame. They fit into the ends of the 2” inch to 1/2” adapters I used to cap the ends of the arms. This allowed me to reposition the hands whenever I wanted. I placed the 8ft T-Posts inside of the two PVC pipes that came down from the shoulders. It’s not rocket science. You can get the idea just by looking at the pictures below:

I played with the 90 degree and 45 degree elbows to get the arms positioned just like I wanted and then cemented everything in place. Once the cement had cured, I carried the fence posts and frame to the yard along with my ladder and drove the fence posts into the ground with a carpenter hammer.

Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. My forearms were on fire! The neighbors thought I had lost it at this point. Which might have had something to do with the constant “PING! PING! @$!#? PING! PING! SONOFAB****” that was coming from my yard and my mouth! Next time I’m getting a Fence Post Driver like this:


Finally got the !@#$% fence posts in the ground and slapped Jack’s head on the top. The frame is complete! The neighbors are calling the police. The children have learned new exciting words. We are no longer anonymous in the neighborhood. Life is sweet!

At this point I am having a hard time getting any work done because EVERYONE is stopping to ask me questions! No one in my neighborhood does anything remotely like this, so I caused a little bit of a stir in the neighborhood. We are now known as “THOSE PEOPLE”, since no one actually knew our names after three years.

Chicken and Mud

This is where I got act like a three year old in the mud. Of course, the neighbors think I’m the eccentric guy next door all covered in suspicious brown “stuff”.


That up above ladies and gentleman is Monster Mud. It is nothing more than Joint Compound and exterior latex paint mixed together. It is a most wonderful, magical, and useful thing. Oh, and it’s very messy!

I covered the frame in chicken wire. I had to make a wire hood to cover Jack’s head, and then two wire tubes to go around his arms. I wired all of these together after I covered the main torso in wire. I then covered the thing with burlap the same way. I had to wire the burlap to the frame in places to keep it from shifting and blowing away in the wind.

Pre Mud baby!

Now all of the hard work is done and I can sling brown goo like a monkey and his poo!


I originally planned on painting Jack solid black or dark grey and then come back and dry brush him with white paint. But I noticed he showed up much better at night under our blue spot lights just like he was. Plus, he’s freakin’ HUGE! Do you know how long it would take to dry brush THAT?!?! I simply did not have the time.

It took him about a day to completely dry and harden. On the next day, I applied the Thompson Water Seal. Which was such a good idea, because we had a torrential down pour three days after I built Jack. He came through without hardly a scratch on him.

So below is the finished product posing with my boys during the day:

Halloween thru Christmas 2008 490

And here are two action shots taken at night. One with flash, and the other with a spooky blue spotlight.



Jack ended up being a HUGE success! My house is on the corner of a major road and everyone in town couldn’t help but notice Jack. I had several High School kids wanting to know how I did it. One guy showed up two nights before Halloween to show his Dad. I ended up talking with them in my front yard for a couple hours. All joking aside, this has been the best way to meet my neighbors!

The one downside to Jack? He was just too large. I had to destroy him after Halloween. I kept the frame and the head, so I can always rebuild him again.

I’ve seriously got the Halloween bug now! Can’t wait until 2009!! Bigger, better, scarier!!

1 comment:

suzanne said...

Very impressive! He must have been quite the celebrity on Halloween night!

Too bad he had to be destroyed but I feel your pain regarding storage of large props.

And congratulations on the Nobel Prize :D


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