Jack Skellington Puppet

The Nightmare Before Christmas



The skeleton was comprised mostly of PVC pipe and hinges. I made his ball joints out of office chair wheels. It took me a while to figure that out. They work pretty well. For stuff like that I would just roam the aisles of Home Depot until I came across something that caught my eye. I have a posable figure of him that seemed like it had the right proportions, so I basically used that figure's measurements to make it 7 feet tall, to scale.

His hands I carved out of wood. I don't really have the proper tools for this. I used a box cutter to whittle... I would wear a leather gardening glove on the hand I was holding the wood with, for when the blade would slip.

The head, I carved out of craft styrofoam with a steak knife. I read online that shop towels are great for papier-mâchéing. They're very flimsy when wet, and still very strong. This is the first time I've done papier-mâché so I don't know how it compares with newspaper, but it did seem to work really well. The first time I did it I used paper towel pieces that were too big. Once it dried I cut off/sanded the wrinkles and did it again with much smaller pieces. Then I plastered it with drywall plaster. After the first layer I sanded it down A LOT. Then I filled in the bigger holes (or as I called them, pock marks) with more plaster. At this point I realized that I just needed to plaster the whole head again, not just because of pock marks, but because I still needed to carve in his nostrils and stitches along the mouth. I spray painted it with a white gloss. Afterward lightly misting it with black. Hand painted the eyes/nostrils/stitches, then added some shading here and there by rubbing in paint, then wiping it off with a wet cloth. The look of the Jack's head at Disneyland was actually a big inspiration, even though he looks like an alien...

Connecting him to my feet was a challenge. It was hard to figure out how to make it comfortable and also not have my knee hitting his leg. Finally I bent a brace meant for wood into kind of a U shape. I drilled the bottom of the U into the bottom of some Goodwill shoes, and the top of the U into Jack's PVC legs. The shoes were perfect, a size too big to make room for the thick rubber insole I made to cover the screws on the inside, plus elongated toes to leave plenty of shoe to look like his foot. I wish his arms had a better range of motion, but they work alright. I toyed with adding poles to his arms to control them, but it seemed easier just to actually hold them, so I scrapped that idea.

I started by encasing his torso with off-white fleece and stuffing it. I made his clothes out of a black stretchy, velvety material I got for $2.98 a yard. I painted all his pinstripes on with "dimensional fabric paint". One thing that bothered me about all the costumes I found online, were that everyone seemed to just use a pinstriped material, but his pinstripes have definite patterns and aren't straight at all. Which makes it easy for doing freehand. Actually, that was a great thing about Jack in general, his style is very unsymmetrical and imperfect, so I didn't have to worry about things like his eyes or nostrils being the exact same size.

Jack's stats:

Weight - 22.5 lbs
Height - 7'3"
Cost - $250
Time to build - Roughly, a month and half.


Views 1190
Last Updated 7 years ago
Created 10 years ago
Series The Nightmare Before Christmas
Character Jack Skellington Puppet


Ragtime Mouth That is so cool and clever, awesome job.

Sheikahchica Seriously? No comments on this yet? WONDERFUL WORK!! Very nice alternative for a more realistic Jack! Really solves the problem of those thin limbs!