STOLLOWEEN How To: Buster Gravesley

How To: Buster Gravesley


You agree that the use of this website and all information and content contained herein is at your own risk and there is no warranty expressly made herein.


You agree to hold Scott A. Stoll and harmless for any property damage, personal injury and/or death, or any other loss or damage that may result from the use of the following information, tools, materials and/or techniques.


Questions or comments should be sent to




Buster Gravesley is my 2010 entry in the Hauntforum $20 Prop Challenge.


Buster is a Zombie/Coffin Groundbreaker standing approximately 4 feet tall and mounted on a plywood base that can be angled in different directions when displayed.


This prop was made from numerous recycled materials including; newspaper, cardboard, plastic bags, aluminum cans and plastic milk jugs.


The project was started March 4th, 2010 and completed on April 2nd, 2010. The total cost for this prop was $19.03.




Plastic Milk Jugs

Carboard (Corrugated and Cereal Boxes)

Plastic Grocery Bags

Aluminum Cans

Plastic Kitty Litter Container


Scrap Plywood 22”x33” or 5.04 sq. ft x .20-$1.01

Scrap 2×4’s 5 feet x .08 per foot .40

10 Large 4” glue sticks @ .10 (Walmart)- $1.00

24 Large 12” glue sticks @ 12/$2.00  (Dollar Store)-$4.00

17lbs flour (2) 5lb @.99 (Glenn’s) and (2) 5lb @1.28 (Walmart)- $4.03

Color Plain Paper Print (eyeball)-.08

12”x12” piece aluminum foil 20ft @ 1.19 (Walgreens)-.06

½ roll clear packing tape 6 @5.99 (Staples) -.50

¼ roll masking tape 1 @.50 (Dollar Store) -.13

1 recycled/used L-Bracket new price 1.18 (Lowes) x .3 -.35

5 lbs Drywall Compound 63lbs @ 10.65 (Lowes)-.85

1/10th bag Cellulose Fiber Insulation 1 bag @6.48 (Lowes)- .65

12-2 ½ in recycled/reused Drywall Screws 50@2.77  x .3 -.20

½ oz Pledge Future Shine 27oz@5.37 (Walmart) -.10

4.5 feet Crepe Paper 81ft @ .57 (Dollar Store) -.03

6 ft 14 gauge utility wire 110 ft @ 6.97 (Lowes) -.38

6ft  Drywall Patch Tape 300ft @ 4.98 (Lowes) -.09

¼ Gallon Black Latex Paint 1 gal @ 10.41 after $5 rebate (Lowes)  -2.60

½ Cup Gray Latex Paint (Free but calculated @10.41/gallon) -.36

½ Cup Brown Latex Paint (Free but calculated @10.41/gallon) -.36

1oz Yellow Acrylic Paint 4oz@1.00  (Dollar Store)  -.25

1oz Red Acrylic Paint 4oz@1.00  (Dollar Store) -.25

1oz Brown Acrylic Paint 4oz@1.00  (Dollar Store) -.25

6oz Golden Pecan Stain 32oz @ 5.87 (Lowes) -1.10

TOTAL  $19.03


Please note that many of the techniques used for this prop were the result of working within a $20 budget. Various armatures such as the spinal cord and coffin frame would be better served using stronger commercially available materials such as PVC pipe, wood or steel.


The Skull


The skull was created using pieces of recycled cardboard to form the basic shape or armature. The entire armature was covered with strips of newspaper and recycled brown paper soaked in papier mache paste. The paste used for this project was flour, drywall joint compound and water. No starch or glue was used in this project due to budget considerations.


The skull was further detailed using homemade papier mache clay. The eyeball was made with crumpled newspaper, aluminum foil and a eyball (iris) designed in photoshop and printed on plain copy paper.


For additional information on creating skulls see the Demon Reaper page on this site.


The Body


The spinal cord was made with recycled aluminum cans fastened together with clear packing tape. The ribs were cut from recycled cardboard and detailed with papier mache clay and strips. Once the separate pieces were dry the entire body and head were assembled.


The original concept was to use the bottom of a plastic kitty litter container mounted to a piece of scrap plywood for the base, but the plastic could not support the weight of the body so a scrap L-Bracket and scrap 2×4’s were used as the main support.


The corpsing technique involved using recycled plastic grocery bags glued to the body then melted with a heat gun creating a shriveled and stringy flesh look.


Credit for the plastic bag corpsing  technique goes to SpookySam from HauntForum and his 2009 $20 Prop Challenge entry “The Gravity Grabber.”  See SpookySam’s technique here.


The Arms and Hands


The arms were made from tubes of rolled up newspaper. The hands were made in a similar fashion with each finger bone being a rolled tube of newspaper and connected with a knuckle made of crumpled newspaper. Fingernails were cut from recycled milk jugs and cut to look splintered. Melted plastic bags were used to create the rotting flesh look on the back of the hands.


Shackles and chains were made from recycled cardboard, each piece cut to the desired shape then covered with strips of newspaper and clay.

The Coffin


The coffin was made entirely out of recycled corrugated cardboard. The coffin frame was created out of 4” strips of cardboard that were scored and formed into a L-shape similar to angle iron. The pieces were hot glued into place.

Each plank was cut from corrugated cardboard, individually papier mached then textured with papier mache clay. A plastic fork was used to create the wood grain texture. The screws were formed with papier mache clay.

The Assembly


The coffin was attached to the plywood base with drywall screws then the body was secured inside. The hands were attached with utility wire, hot glue and papier mache clay then the arms were secured in the proper position. The coffin acts as the support for the hands and arm stabilizing the body and making the entire piece very solid.


Hot glue and melted plastic bags were used to secure the arms to the body and the hands.

The Painting


The entire prop was painted with flat black latex paint. The paint was diluted almost 50% making it very easy to spread and saving money in the process. Various shades of brown and gray latex paint were then dry brushed onto the coffin creating a convincing wood illusion.


Gray paint was dry brushed onto the zombie bringing out the texture sculpted into the clay and created by the melted plastic bags. A coat of Golden Pecan stain was applied to the creature giving the flesh and bones a yellow hue.


The shackles and chains were painted with red and brown acrylic paint…a rag was used to rub the paint onto the surface.