Saturday, October 20, 2012

Speaking of Spiders.. My Spider Inspired DIY Halloween Display

If you've read my last few posts you will have learned that in our one room school house spiders present a constant battle, particularly as the weather turns cool, and especially as we reclaimed the house from the mountain of overgrown weeds and ivy outside.

While I HATE being startled by spiders outside, and the thought of spiders inside gives me goosebumps, I must have been inspired by the little beasts, because spiders have played a major role in my Halloween decorations this year.   Below I'll show YOU how to create a fabulous spider display centered around a VERY spooky cocooned figure.

These spiders have just claimed a human victim, and have wrapped him up for a Halloween Feast!

Recreate this scene in your home by following these simple steps: 

1: Gather Materials:  
- Human Figure:  I used a dress form.  You could also use a few pillows or a roll of foam bound to create the look of a narrow waist, etc.
- Tulle Netting:  I had a roll of white tulle left over from some wedding decor.  This is an inexpensive purchase at the fabric shop, or you could use old drapery sheers, thin white fabric, cotton muslin, etc.
- Batting:  Use left over pillow fill,  batting scraps, or synthetic 'snow' from your holiday display.  Anything fluffy and white will work.
- Synthetic Spider Web:  Be sure to get the kind that can be spread into a full 'sheet' of web.  If you've purchased a bag that ends up being all short cuts of web, you can use that in place of the batting.
- Fishing Line
-Spiders:  Large spiders add drama and make the actual takedown of a human more believable, but a swarm of small spiders crawling on the body looks great too.

2. Prep the Body:  If your dressform is a bright color you may want to cover it in a neutral fabric to allow for a white spider sack.  Another approach would be dressing the form in tattered clothing.  I might try this look next year.  IF you plan to use this piece outside, think in terms of styrofoam or another rain resistant material. 

3.  Cut Your Netting:  Add the height of your torso and the distance you would like the body to hang to determine the overall length of the web sack.  Double this distance to determine the amount of tulle you will need.  Lay your length of fabric across your work surface and center your body within the length.  Please note:  I chose to hang my headless body upside down in the sack, so in my case the shoulders of my form align with the center of my piece of fabric.  You can face your 'dummy' in whichever direction the unlucky fellow wants to hang.  I've used tulle here because I like the look of lots of layers of sheer fabric in the finished piece.  The sheer tulle allows the figure's silhouette to show clearly when back-lit.  If you have a somewhat lumpy dummy, conceal the shape by using an opaque fabric at this step. 

4.  Add Batting:  You'll see that I used a combination of some fake snow from a holiday display AND the 'short cut' web material I mentioned in the materials list.  This was a dollar store purchase and I thought it was a waste, but I've finally found a use for it.   I like to add lots of batting at the bottom of the sack.  This helps create the classic teardrop shape in your finished piece. 

5.  Wrap Him Up:  After you've layered fluff onto the dummy, fold the second half of the sheer fabric up over the figure.  The two raw ends of the fabric will align at the top of the sack, and the fold will be at the very bottom of the sack.

6.  Twist:  A single width of fabric should be suffiicent to wrap around the side of the body.  To add bulk to the most visable side of the sack, I wrapped the side of the body and tiwsted the excess toward the front of the figure.  Work in terms of twisting as opposed to folding - it allows for a more organic shape in the end.  Once your body is covered gather the raw ends of the tulle into a bundle, securing it with a scrap of extra fabric.  Your body will hang from the tie you create at the end, so be sure this point is secure. 

7.  Add the Web:  It wouldn't be a spider's victim without the webbing!   Open your package of webbing and unroll the sheet to it's full length.  It will be a bit like a long sausage at this point.  Working on a large flat surface spearing the 'rope' into a wispy web look.   Remember this is a spider web and not a winter wonderland - stretch fluffy areas into sheer whispy strands.

8.  Seal His Fate:  Wrap the cocoon in the same way you wrapped the body in tulle.  Cover the front and back of the figure with the web sheet you've created, stretching web around the sides of the body to create one complete 'sack'.   Remember to leave extra web fabric to run up to the point from which the sack will hang.  The web will not support any of the weight of the figure, but it needs to look like it's the element that's binding the body in place.

9.  Hang Him Up:   Choose a ceiling corner or point in a tree to hang your body from and hang him high!  Remember to support the figure with your durable fabric layer NOT from the web material - that just wont work.

10.  Embellish with Spiders:   Whether your unsuspecting victim was trapped by one large spider or an army of tiny villains, be sure to hang spiders in the area to guard their prey!   Your guests will gasp and groan at the spooky addition to your Halloween decor.

NOTES:  Lighting:  Consider back-lighting the piece to highlight the silhouette inside, or use black light for an eerie glow.  

VOILA:   Add a few large spiders, lots of spooky webbing, and a few webs and you have a statement making decoration for just a few bucks!  :)  

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