Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Build of a GIANT SPIDER

This is my first ever gigantic spider build! I have been wanting to do a giant spider for a couple years now. I was first inspired to do this from Spider Rider Halloween and his amazing big spider. Definitely check out that link. He is very talented. :)

This is a tutorial of sorts or what i like to call - The Build of a Giant Spider. Everyone has their own style, but if you are looking to do something like this, my supplies list and process could surely help you along the way. This spider is 17' feet in diameter from leg to leg. The legs are detachable for easy storage and transportation. There is a full video of this process at the bottom of this blog post - FYI!


The body is made of tension wire and chicken wire. 
This is actually quite easy and very effective!
Here is what you need:

The head of the spider to give you a sense of scale
I originally made the head thinking it would actually be the body. Then i realized it was way too small for my liking and made an even bigger form for the body. The tension wire is found in the chain link fencing section of your big hardware stores. I got mine from Lowe's. : 170-ft Galvanized Steel Chain-Link Fence Tension Wire. The great thing about the tension wire is that it comes in a roll, so it is already formed for circular work. The head is 2-ft in diameter and the body is somewhere between 4-ft x 3-ft  which is more of an oval due to me shaping it the way i wanted. The tension wire is bendable so you can really make whatever you want with it.

So the way to look at this is to realize you need a 3-dimensional globe. To achieve this, the first thing I did was cut my first length of tension wire using small bolt cutters. I eyed this and honestly have no idea what the length was. This will probably vary depending on your final size needs. At times I found myself bending the wire a little to make sure it formed the proper roundness for my desired diameter. Once I got that under control, i overlapped the ends and tied them together using 2 zip ties. Tie TIGHT.  I made 3 more of these circular forms, all in such a manner as to create the globe. I attached them all together using more zip ties. Then I made a cross piece (the equator) to give it more stability. 
Then you wrap the globes with 1" chicken wire. I find it best to work in 2 ft sections. You cut your sections using wire clippers. Gloves are optional but be prepared for some finger cutting if you are like me :) When you start to wrap these globes you will find it challenging to get a clean wrap since the flat chicken wire doesn't act the same when placed over a 3 dimensional globe surface. I would cut small sections away and then connect the ends of the wire using the open ends of the wire itself and at other times, zip ties. You will find your way through this process.


We modeled our base off of a fake spider I had from my Halloween inventory. This meant we were going with a round design, something that would fit nice and snug under the belly. 
The base is made of:
1/4" or 1/2" plywood
(8) 1-inch 45 degree pvc elbows
(8) 1-inch psi pvc pipes cut into 8" sections
(8) 5/16 x 1-3/8 x 4-1/4 U-bolts
(8) 5/16 x 1-3/8 x 2-1/2 U-bolts
pvc glue
Gotta love glue that comes in Halloween colors. When combining this 2 part glue with the pvc, it binds pvc together forever.

Using a drill and drill bits big enough to create holes for your u-bolts, you simply place your leg connections where you would like them, mark your spots, drill and push those U-bolts through the wood.
Turn the whole thing over and then tighten the U-bolt nuts that came with the U-bolts using a ratchet wrench.
Don't forget to paint this so it doesn't show in the finished product. We painted the pvc purple for fun. We also numbered each leg because some were angled to create a certain look. The great thing about this though, is that if you mess up (like we did by accidentally painting over some of our numbers) these pipes can be twisted in a way to change the way the legs sit on the ground. This is also beneficial if you want your spider body to sit up off the ground or sit directly on the ground. I like to call it a universal spider. Just spin those pipes around to do whatever you want with them. They are just tight enough to do that but still hold.
Once your base is complete, it is time to secure the body to it. We used steel slotted metal flat bars for this. 
That is Kevin. He is actually inside the spider body as this point. I cut a hole open for him and he poked his head in there. He placed the metal bars inside the body and screwed screws through the bars, through the chicken wire and into the wooden base in several areas. 


There are 8 legs total. 
I purchased (8) 10-ft 1" pvc pipes and (16) 1" 45 degree elbows. 
The leg sections were 5-ft, 3-ft and 2-ft in length. 
Once your pvc is cut and legs are situated, glue the joints! Do not glue where the legs attach to the base if you want them to be detachable.


This is a technique that I think is fairly new the haunting world. I just thought the materials would go really well together. I was oh so right.

Great Stuff Spray foam
Spray Adhesive
Black flat Spray paint
Black glitter (optional)

I first cut strips of burlap (bought at Lowe's in the gardening section) across the width of the fabric. Cut lots and lots of strips. Too many to count. 
Then I simply roughed the edges by pulling the fabric apart to create a "hairy" appearance.
I wrapped the strips around the legs, spraying adhesive to the pipe for the burlap to stick to it, but leaving pockets between the burlap itself and the pipe. This will allow space for the Great Stuff spray foam to enter into and expand. 
You simply spray the Great Stuff inside the burlap and what happens next is quite magical. 
See a short video clip below of how this process works. Don't be like me. WEAR GLOVES!
This is an incredibly fun process and always brings different results giving an incredibly organic and gnarly feel! Once the Great Stuff cures, which is a few hours, it is time to paint! 
This was my favorite part of the project. I went through 1 can of paint per leg. Then as temperatures were going from 90 degrees to 40 degrees, the great stuff would do some weird things at it's joints so I had to do some touch up spray. Buy a couple extra cans. And a mask so you don't inhale fumes. 
The haunt community almost lost their minds when I told them I was adding glitter to this spider. What they didn't realize is that there is a wrong way and right way to use glitter in the details. A few believed in me and I hope the ones that didn't understand what I meant by subtlety. I added glitter to just a few areas of each leg to give it just a bit of texture without being cheesy. This also gives an amazing effect with lighting so the legs will sparkle ever so slightly, giving this spider the feel that is just crawled out of a diamond and crystallized ground. 


Items needed:
Hot Glue Gun
White Spandex
Black painted Burlap
As you can see above, the body is covered in a white fabric. That is cheesecloth. It can be purchased online, in craft stores & fabric stores. I knew I wanted a fuzzy spider so I did some research online for long pile faux fur and found the most amazing fur ever. 

This fur was purchased from  It cost me almost $200 for 6 yards. 
It took me a full day to get this fur on the spider. You have to do it in sections and make sure as you put the sections together, that the fur is going the same direction to give a seamless look. This is quite tricky but because the fur is so long pile, the fibers cover up any mistakes along the way. Just do your best to have those spikes flowing in the same direction. 
I forgot to take a picture of the layer of white spandex that is in between the cheesecloth layer and fur layer. As you can see in this picture, i cut out large holes for the eyes (and also left a hole in the chicken wire at bottom of head so I could put lights inside). The reason I use white spandex is because of how well it picks up light while also being opaque and not allowing you to see the chicken wire. The black in the eyes was a test piece of creepy cloth. I wasn't happy with the shape of these eyes though. It just didn't look mean enough. 
I ended up cutting a few small pieces of the fur to bring the eye shape down from the top for more of a menacing design.
Then to give that eye some texture, i cut some burlap, painted it black and even sprinkled a little glitter for some sparkle.
The king of the bug world approved our spider build. I hope you do too! I do not have nighttime shots of this yet. We plan to up light this beast with theatrical lighting and give the eyes an inner glow using string lights and el wire. As soon as this gets installed I will update this with the night shots, so check back around Halloween. 
I hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!

Check out the making of video! This is Part 2 in my Halloween Build Season Video Series. It is a 6 minute video of the build from start to finish!

For more info on the haunt, visit: