Okay, so this is by far my favorite Halloween project so far. It started out as a special commission for a feature horror film called "A House is not a Home" and I had such a fun time doing it and was so happy with the results, I had to make one for myself...and now I'm sharing it with you too.
Please vote for this if you like it...and more importantly, if you make one of your own...send me pics. I can't wait to see it!
Step 1: MATERIALS
For this project you will need
1. Acrylic paint in various gory colors. I used the cheap stuff from Michael's (about $1 a bottle or less with coupons) in the following colors: Red, Black, White, Brown.
2. Foam brushes. LOOOTS of foam brushes. You'll go through a ton for this so get a pack of 10 from Michael's for about $4.
3. Liquid Latex. You can pick this up either online or at any Party City, RIP, Spirit Halloween...etc. I bought 4 16oz bottles (about $14 a bottle) and had a bit left over at the end.
4. Headliner foam in tan. You can get this at Joann's fabric. By far the most expensive thing on my list at around $18 a yard, so bring along your coupons when you go. I used a 60% off one and scored 2 yards for around $15.
5. Clear acrylic spray/sealer (for the end)
6. Scissors (not pictured, but I hope you know what they look like already)
7. Waxed leather working thread in black. I got mine at Tandy leather but I think you can also buy it at Michael's in the leather section. I like the thick stuff because it really stands out but it is harder to sew with.
8. BIG sewing needle. I used a leather needle.
9. Hair dryer -- Not essential, but if you're impatient like me, it helps. (see #6 for note about image)
10. Big flat cookie sheet (same as the note for 6)
11. Spray bottle of water
12. Grommets (optional)
Step 2: Measure Twice, Cut Once
First thing you want to do is measure out the table you want to cover. I made mine big enough to not only cover my entire table (8 feet long by 3 feet wide) but wrap around at the edges by a good 6 inches. The nice thing about this project is it's supposed to be a patchwork look, so if your fabric isn't wide enough, just hack it into pieces and stitch it together!
Now with the headliner foam, you want to remember that the foam (yellowish) side is the back and the fabric (tan) side is the front...
The reason I use the headliner foam is twofold. First off, it's already a sort of fleshy color which is great and secondly, the foam adds a bit of "spring" to the material when you press it down which mimics the feel of real flesh in just the right way (read: creepy!)
Now it's time to cut out your fleshy bits! (that just sounds wrong).
I started out by marking roughly how I wanted each piece to look by first making a stippled outline using red acrylic paint, but you can also just freehand it as you go along and just cut the fabric into random shapes. I've found by stippling the shapes I wanted, it also helped me cut down on my overall edge painting time, but it's up to you...
Step 3: Paint. Paint. Paint.
Guess what we do in this step?!? That's right...paint!
Take your acrylic paints and thin them down using water and just start dabbing away on each piece until you get a look you're happy with. I liked making my edges darker and letting it stay lighter towards the middle of each piece to help really sell the idea that these are bruised and abused pieces of flayed flesh.
I found that by spraying the foam pieces with water and really saturating the material, the paint would "crawl" along and help diffuse any brush marks, making it really look good and real.
I did a lot of layering and subtle shading to try to get the depth I wanted to the look. You can see in the photos where there are painted pieces next to unpainted pieces just how I worked from the edges in towards the center.
Use your brushes to not only add in the bruising, but faint blood vessels as well. I did my vessels in a red/brown blend and then spritzed them with water to fade them a bit so they look more "sub-dermal." We'll get to exterior veins in a bit...just wait. :)
Once they're dry (here's where you can use your hair dryer if you're impatient!), brush a coat of liquid latex over the top of each piece. It'll be white at first, but as it dries, it'll turn to clear so don't worry.
**Note** Liquid latex contains AMMONIA which STINKS and is also really bad for your lungs. Once I started using the latex, I moved my project out into the garage for better air circulation.
Step 4: CRUMPLE!
Once your first coat of latex is dry take each piece and crumple it up just like you'd ball up a piece of trash paper. Don't compress it too hard, you're not actually throwing it away...you just want to give the surface of the material some wrinkles and creases (I call it character...)
Step 5: MORE Painting...more Latex...and Now Some Stitching Too!
Once you've painted your pieces with the acrylic paint, added on your first latex layer and lightly crumpled them all...it's time to really get to the "meat" of the project. Ha ha!
First thing I did was put all my pieces together in the order I wanted them. The clamps you see in the picture were more to hold down the edges I'd extended past the table so I wouldn't keep bumping into them and knocking them onto the ground...nice to have but not necessary. Now that you've got it laid out, time to start stitching your pieces together using the thick wax thread... Use a rough and sloppy stitch. This ain't pretty and we ain't Martha Stewart so make this look as bad (or as good) as you want! As you stitch each piece down, you also want to start brushing on the second coat of latex.
Again, this ain't Martha so get sloppy with that latex. You want to make sure you cover every part of the surface of your material, but don't worry about some spots being thinner or thicker than others...this adds to the idea that you're using actual flesh for your table and helping disguise the fact that it's fabric.
You can see in the photos how the latex goes on white, but dries to a clear(ish) finish.
***Note*** Dog is optional assistant. You don't need one in order to make this project work, but it helps.
Step 6: You're So Vein!
Now that we've stitched things together and put on another coat of latex, it's time to start adding in some gore!
First you want to pour out a tiny bit of latex into a shallow dish. Add in some of your acrylic paint and mix it up until you have a color you like.
Now you get to use the cookie sheet! Using a foam brush, lightly brush a thin layer of latex on the surface of the metal. Then...wait! The latex will dry quickly but if you're in a rush, you can always use your handy hair dryer.
Once the latex is dry, gently rub your fingers along the edge of the sheet to start creating a "roll." Roll the latex up into long worms. Don't worry, latex loves to stick to itself so this will be a simple task!
Roll your veins as thick or as thin as you want and then peel them off the cookie sheet.
Figure out where you want them on your stitched flesh pieces and put down another thin layer of latex "glue." Gently press your veins into these spots and let the latex dry. If you find your veins aren't sticking down exactly as you want, you can first dry your latex glue a bit with the hairdryer until it's good and tacky and then stick them down.
Once you have them where you want them, go over them with another coat or two of latex to help seal them in. This keeps them from not only not peeling off, but makes it look like they're a part of the skin.
But why limit yourself to just veins? I've peeled dried latex out of the bottoms of my paint dishes before and just stuck that down and it looks equally disgusting! Play around with this stuff...make it nasty!
Step 7: Almost Done!
We're so close to being finished, I can almost taste it! Now comes the final steps.
PROTECT: Yup. Spray that puppy with a good coat of your acrylic sealer. Now for this you have two choices...if you want a "gooey" look, go with crystal clear. If you want a slightly softer look, go for matte. For this one I did a combination of the two, first hitting the entire piece with matte and then focusing in on spots where I wanted high gloss (ie, wet blood spots)
OPTIONAL STEP: Grommets. I put these on because we wrapped the edges around the table and used cord to zigzag tie the material down. This kept it flat as well as slightly stretched it out...it also kept it from slipping and sliding.
Step 8: Bask in the Glory of Your Disgusting Creation!
Congratulations! You've made something that would make any serial killer proud! Now sit back and enjoy looking at your new table cover...or better yet, put it to good use this Halloween and throw the most disgusting dinner party ever. Just be careful when you post photos on social media...you might have some explaining to do!
VIDEO TUTORIAL UPDATE!
Some of you still had some questions and so I figured the easiest way to tackle these was by including a full video walkthrough tutorial of me demonstrating the various techniques you'll need for this project. See the whole video here:
I have even more disgustingly delicious recipes available online both through Instructables.com as well as my blog, The Necro Nom-nom-nomicon.
Enjoy and have a deliciously disgusting Halloween!!
Second Prize in the
Halloween Decor Contest