It appears the teeming millions are getting restless and have moved on to outright taunting and casting disparaging remarks on the lack of output this month. Normally I would give some elaborate excuse as to why I’ve been negligent from my duties all in an effort to mask likely pure laziness. Fortunately, in this particular case I’ve just been really busy. The first part of this month was dedicated to the Annual Halloween Party and the days since them has been either spent on my day (often leaking into nights as of late) job or processing hundreds of photos for this and upcoming posts. In an effort to prevent burning effigies figured it was time to get something out…I don’t want to here anything about nightmares out there.. you demanded a post.. I picked this one!
If you are like me, you are probably looking for another pair of shorts about now. Before you grab your AR’s and head into the woods, I should assure you this menace is just a decoration. Anyone that has been a reader of this blog in the month of October know I enjoy Halloween even more than Christmas. Each year we have our Annual Halloween Party and along with it usually comes a homemade decoration to add to the collection. A popular part of our party is the Haunted Trail (link here). Each year it gets bigger and bigger and each year my additions get more elaborate. This year was a big year for new designs. This killer clown was one of two for this year – yes, you will get to see the other one in an upcoming post. Here’s a night shot from the trail .. damn, this thing still scares me every time I look at it. Thought it would provide some therapy to get over my phobia .. failed
Hit the jump if you want to see how I went about making this decoration. The best part of this is that it gives me an easy platform to produce new additions for years to come. There were three goals going in – “scare-ability”, “pose-ability” and “storage-ability”. Think I hit this one out of the park!
First off, the idea for this decoration came during a training run. For those non-runners out there, I’ve never really consider training runs fun by any measure and anything that helps to keep my mind off of what I’m doing to the body is welcome. During that run I ran through a number of design options and managed to quickly scratch out what I thought the best one immediately upon returning home. Forgive the bad scribbles, but hey, I was pretty exhausted, so happy it even looked close to the idea in my head.
I did decided to change out the bottom design during the build process thanks to a better idea about how to handle the legs. For the record, the drawing above was the one and ONLY one done for the entire project – getting pretty adept at PVC design over the years and now just cut and build as I go.
- 3/4″ to 1″ reducer ($0.77)
- 3/4″ T
- 3/4″ Cross ($2.37)
- 4 – 3/4″ 90’s
- 1′-2′ straight pipe
- 3 1″ ends ($0.45)
- 14 – 1″ 90’s ($0.47)
- 5 – 1″ 45s ($0.84)
- 12- 1″ T’s ($0.59)
- 1″ Cross ($2.15)
- 10′ straight pipe ($2.48) .. length depends on your costume size
- Costume – Large at Spirit ($40)
- Shoes ($20)
- Knife ($10)
- Black Rust-Oleum Plastic paint ($4.19)
- 12 gauge wire
Step one was to build a base so I could build the decoration in my basement and not have to fight trying to keep it upright. You could choose to skip this to cut some costs but it sure made it easy to place along the haunted trail. Nothing too fancy here – just an outer square with an inner brace to hold upright of the leg. This is when I also decided on the leg change which you will see in a bit. Your choice on painting it – I used Rust-Oleum Plastic spray paint. Note, was not happy on how easy that paint scratched off so be careful if you use that.
Next up was the hip frame. Again, fairly simple rectangle with three T’s on the down segments – One in the middle to support the body post ..
and two on the ends facing the opposite way to hold the legs. It occurred to me during build that I could replace the single supporting down post with two to represent actual legs. Pretty easy change to make but glad I had that idea early in the process. Oh, before I forget, while designing/building the first time I do not like to glue my PVC pieces together in order to accommodate changes in the design and to support storing. To help fix the shape I’ll usually drill a quick hole and drop a 12 gauge wire down it to keep it from moving.
The key aspects of this design is I can rotate the thighs to any angle I want and put the hips at any angle to the body by simply rotating the middle T to the desired angle – as well as rotating it around the body upright. Next you will need to have your costume in order to get the body sizing right. I went to the local Spirit location (those Halloween stores that pop up every October in abandoned stores). The minutes I saw the Killer Clown outfit I had to have it. Here’s a tip. The costume comes in multiple sizes. I originally found this one in the adults area and it was $50. While touring the rest of the store, the same costume was spotted in the kids section and it was only $40 – it was listed as a large and figured at the time that a Killer Clown Kid would be twice as creepy… turned out it was plenty big enough to fit an adult frame. I also picked up some Clown Shoes and a rubber knife while I was there. Another tip, make sure you check your costume to see if it comes with a mask – if not you will have extra expenses to add one.
Okay, now time to put the hips in place and that means adding a leg to the stand. I used one of the T’s to outline a circle on the bottom of the shoe. From there I simply cut diagonals that allowed me to slip it over the bottom frame support T – the pie shapes help lock it onto the PVC. I ended up standing in front of my wife’s full length mirror to figure out what pose I wanted the leg in. It seemed natural to have it running after someone with a knife… after all it’s a KILLER clown. It isn’t like someone is going to actually WALK up to it!!
Now that the pose was determined it was just a matter of combining 90 and 45 degree connectors with proper straight lengths. This is why you need the costume ahead of this step since you want to set the leg length to the size of the costume. The combination below got me to the desired right leg pose.
From there you can attach the hip structure and if you used the base it should stand on its own. Next up was the left leg. Again, based on the mirror session I knew the desired angles to produce the running pose. One 45 at the knee and another at the end worked out perfectly. Same cuts made on the other shoe and matched the leg length from the other side.
The purpose of the 45 degree connector at the end was so I could put a down post on to sturdy up the frame. The foot needed to be propped up higher on the post to give the illusion of it running – to help that I put a zip tie on to keep it from falling back. This section will technically show so you might consider shooting some black on it.
Now for the body post. Nothing complicated here, just cut a straight piece to fit the size of the shirt you bought. As mentioned before, the design allows me to put any angle I want on the body – can bend it to the left
or bend it to the right … complete freedom to fit any standard body mechanics form you want.
Now for the should frame. My Killer Clown has strong upper body strength thanks to hacking so many people up so the shoulder frame was wider than the hips. Like the hips, the outer T’s are used for the arms and can be rotated into the desired position. The middle connector is actually a cross and not a T since it also has to support the head structure.
Slap the shoulder frame on the body post and things are starting to come together nicely.
Again, because of the design you have full freedom to angle the shoulders in any horizontal angle you want.
Pretty familiar with the arm posture based on the numerous training runs over the years so put my own arm in the desired position and just matched it with a 45 at the shoulder and another 90 at the elbow. Again, use the costume sleeve length to set the length of the arm.
The left arm is the slashing arm so rotated that shoulder up and slapped a 90 degree connector at the elbow. You might want to put the shirt on first before hooking in the arms just to make it easier to negotiate.
The main parts of the body structure are done – now time for the finishing touches – first off the hands. I knew it needed to be able to hold a knife and didn’t want to cheese out and just tie it on. A few minutes of deep thought led to the following design using an end cap.
Sorry for the bad execution on the picture. Basically I drilled 10 holes into the end cap just big enough to push a 12 gauge wire through. From there I took 5 pieces of wire twice the size of the desired figures (actually recommend making them quite a bit larger than you want. Bend them in half and put each end through holes in close proximity. Pull the two ends through so it they are tight on the inside and then twist them together provide a nice finger structure. Now cut them to the desired length.
I hit them with black paint, but that depends on how exposed they are going to be – I knew mine were going to be in gloves but went ahead and hit them with paint anyway. I really really wanted to find just thin white gloves but struck out in time for the party – ended up going with some white leather white gloves I happened to have.
put the finger structure into the glove and in my case placed the knife in the palm.
From there just bent the fingers into the desired positions to hold the knife – worked perfectly and no additional materials were needed to hold the knife in place.
At the time was thinking it would be creepy to have it carrying some severed heads in the other hand but decided that might have been pushing some boundaries knowing how there were tears on the trail last year. Maybe I’ll add it next year, but this year went with a standard open hand.
That left the fact structure and this is where the build process slowed a bit as I tried to figure out the best way to fill out the mask. One decision was to switch down to 3/4″ pipe – the 1″ just looked too big and the connectors were already end to end so no way to make it smaller without changing pipe size. Now that the size was figured out, a couple of test runs produced a working model. A cross connector provided structure up, down and to each ear. 90’s at the ears gave something to wrap the mask on at the ears and the top of the head and chin filled out that direction. Another 90 off the chin gave me a nice connection point with a T that allowed for the head to set forward of the neck.
Here is a side view that shows the offset better. Note, the large pipe at the top gave the tension in the face needed to make it nice and full – guessing you will need to custom size that to your particular mask. Since the pipe size changed I needed a reducer to affix to the frame.
Here is what it looks like from the back with the mask on. You can see how the upper pipe puts the right amount of tautness on the face. To keep the sides on I just wrapped the strap on the back around the 90 degree couplings.
It case you didn’t catch this earlier, the key component of this design is it allowed for posing in a number of different positions. The head could the tilted by simply rotating the downward T of the neck.
Place the reducer in the neck connector on the shoulder frame – the rotation of the reducer allows for positioning the head in any desired angle as well.
Here is the straight on pose …
maybe you want it rotated a bit to give a more dramatic view (yes, definitely want the more dramatic view)
.. and the totally demented view … I’m not even ready for that terrifying look yet… holy crap!
I mentioned one of the goals was storage-ability. Space for storing all the decorations is an ongoing issue so anything to help condense it is highly desired. Pop a few wires out and presto… a nicely collapsed decoration.
perfect for storing in a medium box with just a few longer parts to store along a wall.
That’s all there is to it. My investment was in the $92 range but you can easily get that down by a) buying your costume and accessories AFTER Halloween and picking up the PVC components minimally at a Menards 11% off sale. I would really shoot for the $40 range if you plan on building this yourself. Now that I have a standard structure I’ll be able to crank full new decorations out each year. Might even have people keep an eye out for scary costumes at garage sales to cut the cost down even more!!!