Frank N. Stien

I’ve always been a big fan of the Frankenstein Monster, even when I was a little ghoul.
I’ve also been so ‘wowed’ by some of the advanced pneumatic Frankenstein/Creature props
such as ‘Bolt’ or ‘Frankenstein Assault’ (you can google them)  The trouble is that those props cost
thousands of dollars.  That exceeds my budget by thousands of dollars

My idea is to make ‘art’ out of junk and therefore ultra low cost.

The goal is to have a full size creature on lab table.  There will be pneumatic s to ‘jolt’ the upper body to life.

We’ll see how it turns out.  This is intended to replace the ‘It’s Alive’ prop from 2009

The start of this project is almost exclusively paper mache work.
- Newspaper
- Coat Hangers
- Flour
- White Glue
- Shop Towels/Paper Towels
- Paper Clay (play dough may work as well)
- Scrap wood, screws, anything else that looks useful
- Paint
- Patience
- More Patience

This project takes a bit of time for the paper mache and paint to dry. I am guilty of rushing steps, only to regret it later.I was unhappy with the results during many stages, mostly due to not being patient.So that being said, here's my take of Frank N. Stein

Part 1 - Basic Shape

The head was created using crumpled newspaper, adding a layer of newspaper at a time until a general shape and proper size was created.  Masking tape was used to retain hold the newspaper together  Smaller wads of newspaper formed the brow, nose and mouth.  The eyes are a ping pong ball, cut in half.
The first paper mache layer for the head used old brown packaging paper.
The Mache mix was a flour/water mix.  Flour is added to the water until it's the consistency of a cream soup.
At this point in the project, I had severe doubts.  The head looked like an alien or ancient Egyptian thing. Not much like what I had envisioned.
I also started forming a body using an inflatable dummy. The torso pictured has a coat of paper towels on top of the newspaper.I used a coat of tin foil around the torso so the glue/paper wouldn't stick and damage the dummy.  When the paper is dry, I can deflate the dummy and simply pull it out.
I suppose you could use lots of crumpled newspaper to build a body, I would think the effect would be similar.
I wanted the arms to move, so making the upper arm out of paper mache would create a rigid attachment to the body.  An old shirt will be worn by Frank.  The sleeves' will hide the upper arms and allow for full movement.
The forearms and hands were made from coat hangers, cut and shaped to look like a hand. The wire is really two 'V' shapes and one long wire from the middle finger to the elbow (with a little extra to connect to the upper arm) See picture to the right.
I then duct taped the pieces together and used tape to form the 'webbing' of the hands, between the fingers.
Crumpled newspaper formed the bulk of the forearms and palms. I wrapped newspaper around each finger (and of course a bunch of masking tape)
Finally paper mache layers were applied.

Part 2 - Next Coat

The next coat added more detail.
Using White Glue/water mix and shop towels.
I find the paper towels add nice ridges and wrinkles.  The towels can be molded and pushed to create features.
Rolled and folded paper towel are used to create the split forehead and other scars
OK... it's getting to look more like what I want.  Kind of like a member of the Pale-Blue Man Group.
When all is dry, it's finally time to attached to the body.
A 2x2 wooden 'T' frame is assembled in the body for strength, and adds something to attach arms to.
A little 'Great Stuff' was applied to empty areas between the 'T' frame and the body case. This made the shoulders rigid and bonded the body to the frame.   For the most part the torso is hollow and the whole prop is fairly light weight.

Part 3 - Upper Half Refinements

First paint coat was a very light beige to even out the paper mache colors.
Recesses were darkened. Some additional paint detailing was added as well.
To smooth out some unintended bumps and flaws I applied some paper clay.
Very little paper clay was required to get a look I liked.
I've never used the product before, but I really like it.  Easy to work with and smooths out very nicely.
The clamps on the forehead are paper clay as well.
Subsequent paint layers involved a base coat of a flesh tone with a brown dry brush.  Gray, green blue were added to eyes, lips skin folds etc.
Forehead bolts were 1" length of wood doweling.  I pre-drilled a hole trough the length of the dowel.  Then a 1.5" screw was inserted and screwed to the forehead (plus some glue for good measure).  I used paper clay to hide the screw end.
Metallic silver was applied to the clamps and bolts.
Flat red was added to the open scars.
Hands were painted in a similar fashion.
Frank is supposed to be the product of assembly from cadavers. The 'Y' is intended to be an autopsy incision .
The incision is paper towel soaked in glue/water mix.  The towel is rolled and twisted to the shape I want.
After drying, Red paint is applied.  Green & Black are dry brushed to get the unhealthy look of rotting.
The forearms arms are attached to upper arms.  Upper arms are appropriate length 2x2 scrap wood with more newspaper padding.
The excess coat hanger wire from the forearms were wrapped around screws added to the upper arm.  This allowed for some range of motion at the elbow.  Similarly the arm was screwed to the body's 'T' frame.
An old shirt was added to hide the shoulder/upper arm.
Not sure about the incision.  Frank looks like a zombie Yankee's fan with body painting.
Pupils are added.
The pupils are paper cut-outs, glued to the eye ball (pupil cut out is courtesy of Haunters Hangout - Easy Eyes)
A few coats clear nail polish (from the dollar store) went over the pupils to give a teary shine.
Also added a couple of neck bolts for good measure.  Done the same way as the forehead bolts.
The open wounds needed some attention in my opinion.
I cut plastic zip ties, cut to .5" - .75" lengths.  Then hot glued to the wound. A little black, silver and red paint made the stitches look embedded in the skin.
There are a couple of chest bolts made from old bottle caps, glued and painted silver.
Clear, fast-drying spray sealer was applied to make the surface more hardy.
I think he's looking ok (for a dead-ish guy)

Part 4- The Lower Body

Originally I thought of just using shoes, but why not a barefoot creature?
Feet were constructed with a 3″ W x 1″ H x 8″ L pieces of wood.
Coat hanger wire was used to form toes (wire was duct taped to the wood). Newspaper crumpled & wrapped to fill-in bulk (and more tape).
Finally paper mached.
The 2×2 wood will form the legs, but will be hidden by pants (I don’t think a pant-less creature would go over too well)
They look a bit like flippers right now.
More painting of tones (and toes).
A little paper clay was used to make toenails.
The feet need a dirty look. The kind of look a monster would get wandering around the country side barefoot.
Pedicure was not included.
The lower legs (with feet) had chicken wire wrapped and stapled to the 2x2 wood.  The Chicken wire went from above the ankle to below the knees. This was a quick way to build calves.   Paper mache wasn't needed since clothing would hide all the detail anyway.
Upper legs used scrap 2x2 wood, about 18 inches in length.  Newspaper was crumpled and taped to bulk up the thighs.
The lower legs were connected to the upper legs using hinges.  I wanted the legs to be able to bend to give more 'flexibility' to the design.
A 2x2 was screwed to the 'T' support at the bottom of the torso.
Hinges were then attached to this piece.
This created a pivot point at the waste.
The legs and ‘hips’ are screwed to the hinges at the bottom of the torso.An old pair of pants finish the look.The pants were fixed to the body by placing a screw through the pant material to Frank’s hip.So if he looks a little cranky, it’s understandable. Who wouldn’t be? Using screws in the hips to hold up your pants!
Here he is assembled and ready for the next step.

Part 5- Details, Mounting and Animating

A cheap dollar store wig was used to give Frank some locks. The Wig was dissected and glued to the head, below the incision at the top of the head.Since the plan is to have him thrash about when animated, longer hair should look better.He has slightly longer than shoulder length hair.
I had an old wooden shelf that was about 6 feet x 2 feet. The 2 foot width is a bit narrow, but it’s all I have.The surface was in really bad condition, so I used a drop sheet to give a medical look (medical, as in mad scientist medicine). Instant examination table.Alternately, the board could have been painted silver and aged, but I’m not sure the effort would be worth it, since the Frank hides most of the board.Frank was attached to the board at the waist (with deck screws). This allows forward movement at the waste.A 6 inch pneumatic piston is mounted to the rear of the examination table. The bore head is attached to Franks back.At about 40psi, the movement should be good enough.I got a hold of a used picoboo 103, so that will be perfect to use a controller for the movement effect.
Here’s a quick video of Frank in action[local /wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Its_Alive.flv nolink]
And with a test using the picoboo controller[local /wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Its_Alive2.flv nolink]

2011 Update

Frank got a bit of a face lift for 2011. Thinned out the nose and tried to give him a more “upset” look.
Upon review Frank looked more surprised than under duress in 2010.

2012 Update

Frank had a substantial overhaul. Beginning with a new sculpt of his head. The head is a paper mache base, with clay sculpt overlay.

To call it paper mache at this point would be inaccurate as the paper mache only provide a canvas.


The pneumatic's were replaced with a wiper motor.  The pneumatic's were starting to rip old frank apart.
Once again the creature has a make-over.  New cranium, scars, body shape.  He'll be mounted on an operating table again for Halloween.

rebuild -v2-p1

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