Department of Drama
Felix Morlock

Static Displays

Static displays are the mainstay of a halloween haunt. Effectively utilized, the theme or plot is enhanced, heightening the terror. So how to put them together. There are a few approaches; PVC, Chicken Wire or Morlock's Trick Stick..

The simplest frame for a display is made from 3/4 inch pvc pipe and connectors. It provides a simple, cost effective changable and storable frame for displays. Pipe wrapping can give it a little substance for arms and legs.

Chicken wire is the most widely used method. It is somewhat moldable and bendable, and provides enough strength to retain its shape when covered with clothing. You can usually get chicken wire at any Home and Garden Center or Hardware stores. Get the 1" mesh, it's stronger and holds up better. Make sure you have a good pair of wire cutters made for cutting chicken wire. Also have a good pair of Work Gloves. There is nothing worse than getting cut with chicken wire. It stings and bleeds alot . Trust Me, I Know!

If you're going for a realistic look, use your own body or a friend's as an example. Get the following measurements:

Neck: Circumference and height
Shoulders: Length from armpit to armpit
Waist: Circumference
Torso: Length from waist to shoulder
Legs: Circumference at thigh, length heel to hip
Arms from wrist to shoulder

The trick to using chicken wire is to make each separate piece then weave them together by taking the wire gently bending the wire to interwine the pieces. This is the part where you have to be extremely careful. Some intricate work may require the gloves to be removed. Work slowly or pay the price.

Chicken wire does have drawbacks. For one, the body parts should be molded in one position, if the display is sitting, mold it that way. Once the chicken wire is bent, it loses it shape. Second, its not that strong, your display can easily be flattened in storage or transit. Look below for an example. See how Frank looks a little flat. Lastly putting on clothing can be difficult. Ok there's a couple of solutions.

1. Morlock's junk stock quick stick trick lock mannequin armiture.
2. Monster Mud

The first solution is Morlock's junk stock quick stick trick lock mannequin armiture. It's posable, easily modified and contains it's own storage bays for control boards, batteries, speakers, CD/Cassette, whatever. What you'll need:

1X6 about 18 feet. or 1 pallet ( businesses are throwing away good wood, I built my workshop from 8'x10' pallets from a glass company. In the last three weeks we've acquired about 2000 linear feet of 1X6 and 500 linear feet of 2X6 and 2X12. and yes that is the workshop in the pictures)

An electric jig saw and drill with a 5/16" and 1" bit

8 2"X 1/4" bolts and nuts, 2 3" X 1/4" bolts and nuts, 12 2'" drywall screws

Directions and materials list
These go together pretty quick, about 5 a lazy day

To finish the mannequin, take the chicken wire or foam if you don't like chicken wire and form it around the various parts and appendages, molding and stapling it into place (use 3/8" staples). On second thought, I tried it today, foam works better and can't cut you. OK it's ready for clothes. Finish it by inserting the head of your choice (See Headmolding)

The second way to cover chicken wire is with "Monster Mud"

Monster Mud has been around for years in the haunt world, it is simple requiring no tools at all. Monster Mud is nothing more than Joint Compund mixed with Latex Paint, about 5:1 ratio. Use black or dark gray water based latex paint. After it's mixed, dip strips of burlap or other coarse cloth in the mud and begin layering them over the chicken wire armiture. I have tried with some success to soak clothing in this mixture and clothe the armiture, you get some really neat folds. Let each coat dry about two to four days. With a little work you can acheive dramatic results. This method works great for mummies. Use 2" strips and follow the pattern of the mummy at right. Remember to coat your creation with polyurethane when it's done to protect it from the elements. Be sure to wear gloves when applying the Monster Mud as it dries out your skin terribly. It also makes clean up easier.
There are alot of ideas at the "Monster Mud Playground"

OK, so you've got a body, a head but what about arms, hands, feet, legs?
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