Tuesday, September 20, 2022

We Made Chicken Wire Ghosts!

Happy Tuesday, foolish mortals. WELCOME... to my first Haunted Mansion Halloween post of 2022.

These are your hosts. Your... GHOST... hosts.

And also what we're making today.

Yep, despite the blistering heat and monsoon-level humidity here in Orlando, John and I are in full spoopy brain-space. We picked a new theme for our outside decor this year: HAUNTED MANSION - and I'm so excited to brainstorm with you over which projects and costumes we should make!

First, though, is something I've wanted to try ever since seeing the jaw-dropping creations of Brandon Hardy: chicken wire ghosts.

We started with a small roll of chicken wire, a mannequin we bought on FB Marketplace for $25, and a Styrofoam head. (The foam heads run small, so I recommend using the male one.) You'll also need wire cutters, gloves, eye protection, a silicon thimble (which was a LIFE SAVER), and a spool of extra wire for making connections.

While you could easily do this without a mannequin, the torso is super helpful for getting all those tricky curves just right:

In fact the torso is the only piece we used; no need for the arms or legs. We wrapped, squished, and trimmed off the excess chicken wire in the back.

Same process for the head: wrap & squish the wire around the foam head, then trim off the excess and close up the back.

When you cut your chicken wire aim for the middle of each row, so you have wire ends you can bend/twist together to join with other pieces. Then add wire twists anywhere you need extra support.

This was for the skirt. We started with a smaller form-fitting skirt, then added on pieces to give it volume.

I adore Rachel Maksy - and highly recommend her ghost video - but her process is pure chaos gremlin and hard to follow, haha. So mostly we squinted at her end product sleeves and tried to match them.

Our one roll of chicken wire got us this far:

I gotta say, this was pretty exciting for a first try! You'll see later I go back and re-work her hands and hair, but overall she's good to go.

That was the week before Dragon Con, so last week we dove back in with a larger roll of wire to make our ghost a dancing partner.

I *highly* recommend working on a plastic table like this, btw. The chicken wire could easily scratch your wood tables or floors, so be careful!

For our next ghost we didn't use a mannequin at all: instead we started with what look like a big body pillow:

Next we added a head and thin tubes for arms.

My favorite part was making the pants: they're two larger tubes, with the top section left open and joined together:

Like so. (Surprisingly sturdy, too; he almost stands on his own, just a little tippy.)

The torso - which we made freakishly long to look like a suit jacket - slots over the pants to give the illusion of a higher waist.

Although I just realized the overlap also kinda looks like his boxers under there.

::head tilt:: Huh.

We'll call that a bonus.


Once the body's structure was done we started adding fun details like the hat, collar, ascot, and hands. Well, the hands weren't fun; those are HARD. I ended up making sort of open-ended mittens and calling it a day.

I also re-did the lady ghost's hair roll and added a top bun:

This is very much a "trust the process" DIY, especially with top hat ghost. He looked so boxy and wrong for the majority of the build, it wasn't til the very end that we liked him at all.

I'm still debating adding a short cape or jacket tails to give him something more flowy.

These end photos are directly off my phone; no editing at all! We just set the pair in front of our closed curtains and turned on one of those LED flood lights I keep raving about.

Playing with different lighting colors:

 I like the purple best:

Here's an outside test from when we had just the one:

We'll also have a fog machine going on Halloween. Awww yeeeeeeah.

What I'm most excited about with these dancers is we can leave them outside, so we'll actually have some decor up BEFORE Halloween night. Usually our builds are so fragile we have to set it all up the day of. This year we're aiming to have at least a few elements that are sturdier, so the house will look more spirited through October.

Now, please, HELP US BRAINSTORM. What do you want to see for our Haunted Mansion Halloween? Which elements are a must-have? What costumes should we and our friends wear? (Keep in mind it's 80+ degrees here at Halloween, so nothing too sweaty!)

Oh, and should we make more chicken wire ghosts, to replicate the ballroom scene, or should we just have a spot light on these two and leave room for other, bigger builds?

Speaking of, I'm too friggin' excited to keep our next big project a secret, so hold onto to your severed heads, boos: we're planning to use our thestral to make a (skeleton) horse-drawn Doom Buggy. A one-horse open SLAY, if you will. Except it'll have wheels. ;)

Our inspiration comes from Victorian hansom cabs, which already have a similar feel to the ride vehicle Doom Buggies:

In fact I have to wonder if this was the inspo for the ride vehicles to begin with.

Ours will be an interpretation, of course, and we're HOPING to make our Doom Buggy a photo opp the neighborhood kids can sit in. Stay tuned! There's no turning back now.


If you're new here and love Halloween, be sure to check out our Ghostbusters year with a life-sized Stay Puft head, and last year's big Beetlejuice build, complete with an ENORMOUS candy-spitting Sand Worm. Needless to say we've been bitten by the Halloween bug, and every year we go a little bigger.

Also if you like the silly stuff we do and feature here on Epbot, and want to help fund the fun, you can support me and John through Paypal! Whether it's a one time tip or a monthly donation, every little bit helps us keep pouring our time and hearts into this little corner of the internet, so thank you, truly.



  1. You need tombstones with terrible puns, of course

  2. You need a Madame Leota somehow...and a bride with a hatchet. Lots of punny tombstones. Maybe more chicken wire ghosts (maybe the boy blowing out his 13 candles?)...

  3. I suggest John and Jen dress up like the Haunted Mansion cast members. Or maybe steampunk-ify the uniforms to be more over the top.

  4. I second the punny headstones. There are also some great online tutorials for the singing busts - you can do so much with some projectors and foam heads! I've been inspired by the giant spider webs at the Mansion - I'll be stringing a big rope web between our palm trees, then adding a giant spider with blacklight paint on it. A "lemme outta here" coffin is a must, too, and with some insulation foam, it shouldn't be all that hard to construct. As I told John at Dragon Con, I am SO EXCITED to see what you two come up with for my favorite ride!

    1. Yes, the singing busts are a must! And another vote for punny headstones, especially because those can go up ahead of time. I see maybe two more ghost couples dancing, if possible. Maybe friends can dress up like the portaits that stretch, the bride, Madame Leota, etc?

  5. get a big piece of plexiglass, add a mirrored film to it, then when people look at their reflection in it, project a dim animation of the ghosts onto it from the other side so it looks like the ghosts are beside them, just like they do in the ride!

  6. Those came out amazing!

  7. More dancers would be awesome and take up some room on the lawn. Then, you could have some torso ones sitting in the carriage like they're arriving for the ball. I think dressing up like tourists decked out in Haunted Mansion branded shirts/hats would be hysterical- especially if you come up with something related to your decor like "Boo Ball 2022". Or you could dress as servants for the ball.
    -Barbara Anne

  8. What about a painted photo backdrop based on one of the portraits in the elevator? Visitors could pose in front like they're the one in the painting.

    1. Oohh that's a fun idea!

    2. I like it! And maybe someway that it could EXPAND and get taller?

  9. I did the same thing with plastic, bubble wrap, and packing tape years ago. Very cool looking and less painful!

  10. Now I want to re-watch the Muppets Haunted Mansion! Ahem, definitely a graveyard with pun filled headstones. I wish there was a way to make a head in glass globe photo op. Like the meerkat viewing stations at my local zoo. Thanks for sharing your Halloween fun!

  11. I LOVE how the gHOSTS came out! Great job! As everyone else has said pun filled gravestones would be fantastic! Have you thought of trying to do pepper's ghost for the ballroom scene, maybe have it look like it is going on inside the house and you can just see it in the window? Or even just a ghost showing up in one of the windows?

    I'm very much looking forward to the project updates and and final results! The Haunted Manson was my grandfather's favorite ride so we always went on it, even after he passed it was the one ride that had to be ridden in his honor! It holds a special place in my heart. :)

  12. Am I the only one who first read this as Ghost Chickens, and thought "hey, what a great idea"? No? Just me? :D

    1. I too was expecting ghosts of chickens.

    2. Ha ha ha - yep, was looking for ghost chickens

  13. Could you also hang some of the ghosts from sticks (like big fishing pole stuck in the ground kind of idea) so they float/twirl? You could maybe also add some guazy stuff to them to add to the ghostly ness/ pretty party dresses aesthetic.

  14. Ooo there's that ghost or someone who says something as you leave the ride - something sorta spooky. That might be fun to have on a sign at the end of the driveway as people leave.

  15. Hitchhiking Ghosts!!!

  16. I think a cape is a great idea - what about two pairs of ghosts, each on a 'lazy susan' and those 'lazy susan's' on a larger one so that the dancers can rotate and revolve!?

  17. I know you guys are sorta inland, but are you evacuating for Ian?

    1. No, at the moment our friends more on the coast are evacuating here to Orlando, so we're hoping/anticipating we'll be Ok & just lose power for a while. (Since we always lose power, heh.)

    2. I guess you know how to weather this. Looks nasty. Be safe.


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