If you do want to try it, PLEASE do it in a well ventilated
area. I don't want to be responsible for anyone else's brain damage and
those darned bats that keep making strafing runs at my face while I'm working
and drinking my coffee, don't think I didn't notice and....I...um...what was
I talking about...?
Hot Glue Art
Well, they say every artist has his best medium and
it looks like, at least for awhile, mine had become hot glue. Several years
ago at Halloween, I asked my husband to pick up some craft temp hot glue
sticks for me while he was shopping. There must have been a sale on, as he
came back with several grocery bags full. Having so much to play with, I
began to experiment with it.
I immediately began to make hands from hot glue.
My first attempts were over wooden dowels, but it became apparent that this
wasn't strong enough as the hands broke apart after a year or so and the
hot glue separated itself from the dowels. It occurred to me that hot glue
wouldn't separate from itself, so next I made hands completely from hot glue
sticks. I've several pair that have lasted a couple of years now.
This year I attempted heads. I wanted to make
heads to cover stripped down Douglas Firs and I really didn't want to try
paper mache and chickenwire (because I'm REALLY bad with paper mache),
so one night I began fooling around with an old plastic skull and I hit on
this method. So far so good. Please keep in mind that this was all done "hit
and miss". I hope I can write this clearly enough to be understood.
I'm quite sure there's someone out there with an
improvement on this. Maybe someone is a master at making molds and working
in latex. If so, I'd love to hear about it. I've never attempted it, therefore
it frightens me. We fear change. This worked for me.
UPDATE: Christopher, of Lamar Manor, turned
me onto Crayola Modeling Magic, an air drying "modeling clay" that dries into
a soft foam. I'm thinking this might be a better way to do this. Maybe someone
will try it and let me know how it turns out. Lord knows, I wouldn't suggest
this hot glue method to others, it was just what I had handy at the time.
Basic Hot Glue Head
I haven't gotten any of those 4th class Bucky skulls
yet, but I'm quite sure you can do the same with them as I have. I used a
plastic skull I bought at Walmart several years ago as a form to make these
heads. I've used the same one over and over.
- Disconnect the jaw from the rest of the skull.
- Tuck small balls of aluminum foil in the eye sockets,
so they aren't quite so deep and the holes are closed up.
- Cover both skull parts in foil. This keeps the
hot glue from getting into all the tiny crevices and make getting the head
hard to remove from the skull.
- Cover again in masking tape. Use smaller pieces
to fit around crevices and in the eye holes, etc. The reason for this step
is because without it, the foil keeps the hot glue warm longer and it becomes
a thinner "head". The tape also serves as extra strength.
- Here's the gosh-swell-golly fun part. Start covering
each piece in hot glue. I've used both high temp and low temp. I prefer low
temp as it cools faster, but either works. Remember that the jaw piece doesn't
have to be entirely covered, just the outside, but you do want to make sure
it's thick enough to hold its shape yet thin enough to not weigh down the
mouth mechanism. After the piece is entirely covered, I put on a second coat.
- A butane torch is immensely helpful here. After
you've covered the skull and jaw with hot glue, you're going to want to do
any smoothing or "tweaking" of the surface while its still on the skull.
(Trust me on this. I have attempted it while it was off the skull and it's
a pain-inna-tuckus as it tends to collapse on itself.) A quick stroke or
two over an area melts everything together nicely. It's just time consuming.
You do want to do this, however, as if you don't there's a great probability
that when you remove the head, it will come off in pieces. It won't be very
strong and certainly won't last very long.
- After the head is smoothed and melted into one
piece, heat the blade of an X-Acto knife and slice the head in half, down
to the plastic skull. I did it ear to ear, but I don't suppose it matters.
- Pop the head off. Repeat with the jaw, which you
most likely won't have to cut.
The "Fun Part"
Oh boy, you're really gonna enjoy this part. I could
very well just shout "Now make a head!" and leave it at that, as I
think that would be as much help as I'm going to be here--but we persevere.
I can only give tips.
- First, you're going want to cut out not only the
area around the skull eyeholes, but part of the sides of the skull--the temple
area. Save these, even if they are in pieces, as you're going to want
- Fit the face of the skull over your douglas fir,
cutting away as needed. The heated X-Acto blade works like butter.
- You'll need to fit pieces of foam or something
at the top of the head, to balance the tree trunk on. Keep in mind, this
is the way I did it. After I was done, it occurred to me that I could
have just as easily removed the eyes and mouth mechanisms from the tree,
but being no mechanical genius I didn't think of it until it was too late.
MrKeeba also mentioned to me--oh, say, the day of Halloween--that he wished
I hadn't build necks over the bottom workings of the tree--but I won't even
go into his thoughts on that.
- After fitting the face onto the tree, I believe
I put the back of the head on at this point.
- Using the pieces you cut out (the temple area--those
little cups of glue) and use those, reversed, at the sides of the eyes. This
is what gives mine that bulged eye look.
After this, you're kinda on your own to add scrap
pieces of hot glue here and there to shape the head, using the butane and
heated X-Acto knife. You'll need several large pieces of hot glue to create
cheeks and jowls, etc. I made theme by simply melting large splotches of
glue onto an old wooden TV tray. They pop off after they are hardened. Do
not do this on a nice wood surface--it WILL pop off some varnish.
I replaced the eyes with halves of ping pong balls
and left them unpainted, as the Christmas lights inside made a nice pupil
effect when they lit up. NOTE: The ping pong balls are extremely flammable.
One too many close swipes with the butane and I was replacing an eye.
The jaw is attached in much the same manner as those
who created animated skeletons from their Buckys. I removed the green jaw
plate and hot glued the jaw piece directly to that. You'll want to adjust
the tension of the jaw as needed. To do this, look at the mouth mechanism.
You'll see a thin wire fitted into one of a circular series of small holes
on the mechanism. Adjust tighter or looser as needed. You'll probably find
yourself doing this several times as you add and remove glue, add skin and
After I fiddled together a working head and neck
(I used rabbit wire, cheesecloth and more hot glue), I covered mine with
paint and tissue for a textured skin look. Don't forget the eyelids. After
dry, I gave it all a second coat of paint, then sprayed it with a couple
of coats of clear acrylic sealer. When that was dry, I painted the entire
head in a woodstain, quickly wiped it off and let dry. This gives it an aged
look. Then I finished it off with another couple of coats of sealer.
The jaw movement is somewhat "ventriloquist dummy"
looking, which is why I added the fake fur hair and beard. Depending upon
the movement of your jaw, the beard may not be necessary. The "gypsy fortune
teller" I made for the local Jaycees (see picture above) didn't need a beard,
the long mustache was enough. They wanted the "ventriloquist dummy" look
The hands are made completely from hot glue sticks. I
merely cut glue stick "bones", using my own hands as a size comparison. I
cut them on angles as I wanted them bent, melted them back together. The
hands are pieces of several glue sticks put together, the lower arms are
several full long sticks together with pieces of coat hanger between the
sticks (loop left at the "elbow"). After the basic hand and arm were together,
I coated the entire thing (carefully) with another coat of hot glue and smoothed
it all out with the butane. Did the skin same as for heads.
More On Hands
See? I told ya I wasn't sure how much help instructions
Hope this was of some sort of help. Good luck!