STOLLOWEEN How To: Spiders

How To: Spiders


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The Spiders are made from balloons, plastic grocery bags, wire, newspaper and other miscellaneous household materials. Spiders always prove to be one of the more challenging projects when it comes to papier mache.

2008 Spiders

For 2008 I wanted to create several new spiders inspired by the shape of this plastic toy spider that I have always found to be intriguing.

The abdomens were made by stuffing a plastic grocery bag to the desired size. Masking tape was wrapped around the plastic bag to create a nice even round shape. A piece of galvanized wire was wrapped around the bag; a loop was formed in the rear of the abdomen creating a means to hang the completed prop.

An empty water bottle was cut in half, filled with crumpled newspaper, and hot glued and taped to the abdomen. The water bottle forms the cephalothorax.  Newspaper was wrapped around the water bottle to add bulk and definition.

Four holes were punched through the newspaper and water bottle, 16 gauge galvanized utility wire was threaded through the holes forming the armatures for the legs.

Newspaper and masking tape were wrapped around the wire adding thickness and definition to the legs. Plastic strips cut from milk jugs were used to reinforce the point where the legs met the spider’s body.

NOTE: In the future a sturdier means to create the legs must be used. The combination of wire, paper and plastic still resulted in the legs cracking or breaking.

Newspaper strips soaked in paste were applied to the entire form. Homemade papier mache clay was used to add strength and definition to the spider. Note the different patterns sculpted into the spider’s abdomen.

 Fangs were added by hot gluing pieces of corrugated cardboard to the front of the spider. Papier mache clay was used to add dimension to the cardboard fangs.

Eight eyes were added by pressing plastic beads into the wet clay.

Hair was created on the cephalothorax by inserting small pieces of broom bristle into the wet clay. The bristles gave a nice prickly appearance to the finished spiders.

Once the spiders were dry they were painted with a base coat of flat black latex. White latex primer was dry brushed on to the entire spider highlighting the pattern in the abdomen, the hair, the eyes and the fangs.






Our 2007 Halloween Yard Display featured two large, anatomically incorrect spiders. This article will feature the initial concept and various stages of construction.   


The designs are more a less a miniature version of my demon reapers. The idea is to make the final sculpt very smooth, paint them all black and lightly highlight (drybrush) all the edges to make the shape of the spider visible. 

The basic sketches:


The basic body and head shapes are papier mache balloons that have been cut in half lengthwise:



The basic shapes represented in the sketches were cut from poster board, then fastened to the head to create or block the basic shape:


One thing I was very aware of was how the spider would look from above. The idea is to have the spiders clinging to some giant webs, so they will be viewed primarily from the top. Papier mache clay is being used (in small steps) to fill in the shapes created from the poster board cut outs.


The legs were made from rolled up newspaper filled with papier mache clay. The legs were bent or curved and allowed to dry. A combination of wire, adhesive mesh tape and hot glue were used to attach the legs to the body. The entire spider was coated with papier mache clay, sanded, painted and sealed with several coats of shellac.


The eyeballs were ping pong balls with a paper iris, then coated with epoxy. A tremendous amount of clay was used to assure that the body would withstand being hung and that the legs were solid. Each spider ended up weighing over 10lbs each.