Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weeping Widow

The Weeping Widow is a unique prop that has been used in at the Stringer Haunted Yard, the Little House of Horrors and Lake WinnepeSPOOKah.  You may have thought it was commercially available, but it's not.  We built it.  Here's how we did it, but you won't find this info on Instructables!

The first thing we had to do was select a mannequin.  I was lucky enough to have acquired this one from a friend.  Mark Fults found this broken mannequin at a thrift shop for about $25.  We had several used ones at the shop, but I thought this darker complected one would be a good addition to my window displays, so I bought it from him.  Sadly, she was to broken to be of use as a store display.  Her legs were at an awkward angle and both her waist and one shoulder were broken.  However, her almost straight stance, slightly bowed head, beautiful face and torso were perfect for this project.
The first thing we knew we would have to do was try to make her 'weep'.  Jeff cut away part of her head, drilled holes in her eyes and holes for the water hose.  We found a water pump for a bird bath, but it didn't have enough pressure to raise the water over 5 feet to her head.  It took a few tries to find one that would work.  After finding the proper pump, we discovered that the angle of her head made her 'weep' only from the lower eye.  to fix the problem, Jeff had to cut her head off, then reposition it with the eyes level.  We that gave her a much more serene appearance which was even better.

After we got her to 'function', it was on to making her beautifully frightening.  I knew that she would need a wide tripod stance to be steady on her feet.  We would also need a place inside that would hide the water pump, so we attached a PVC pipe to the base of her spine to give her support and create a pocket under her sculpted skirt for the machinery.

After the pole was securely attached, the messy but fun part started.  I had purchased large amounts of black cotton fabric from Yates Bleachery in Flintstone, GA to use to drape the haunted house walls, but many of the pieces were to small to cover a wall.  They became the widow's gown.  Jeff mixed up a bucket of Monster Mudd (Joint compound and latex house paint) and I dipped the fabric into it.  It had to be worked around to cover all the fabric, then I draped the wet, plaster coated fabric around the body.  A long narrow strip around the neck covered where the head had been cut off and reattached.

More fabric was added to the front of her skirt to give it a more layered, draping appearance.  A train covered the support pole and formed the empty space needed to cover the pump.  The extra fabric gave her a much more Roman Statue feeling.  Extra plaster was used to fill the gap on her lower stomach to fill the gap where her torso joined the hips.

Jeff attached Bucky arms from the Skeleton Store to her shoulders after the skirt had time to set up over night.  He custom fit a wooden plug into the missing shoulder socket and used large screws to attach them.  He also used wires and glue on the joints to position the arms in an open gesture implying that she wanted to embrace the viewer.  He also attached the water hoses.  Extra drapes were applied to cover the elbow and wrist joints.  Finally a large head drape covered the head and obscured the pipes shoulder joints.

When all the drapes were completely dry, I started the touch up work.  Extra plaster was applied to any points that looked thin or to fill in any cracks.  After that dried, it was time to take the sand paper to her 'flesh' parts to remove or smooth out any plaster.

The paint job was actually several layers of different shades of spray paint.  We started with black in the recesses, then grey on the highlights.  We had to set her on a table to get a better angle for some of the painting.  The top layer of color is Flecstone grey from Krylon.  As she was always intended to be a fountain, she got two very heavy top coats of clear deck water proofing sealer.

When on display, the Weeping Widow stands on a small platform inside a child's wading pool.  The outside of the pool is decorated and red food coloring tints the water.  She greets Halloween celebrators with bloody tears.

Just FYI - I personally have always thought it was difficult to make a truly frightening female monster.  This one however, is very creepy.  She has the elements of being beautiful, even sexy, thus she is alluring.  The skeleton arms and hollow eyes are frightening reminders of our own mortality, even when she is not weeping blood.  Yet she also stirs memories of statues of the Virgin Mary standing in cemeteries and hospitals.  The Weeping Widow both attracts and repels people at the same time.  Hence, she's just creepy as all get out.


  1. She's absolutely stunning! I've always been a HUGE fan of monster mud. How has she led up over time?


    1. HELD UP, I meant held up over time LOL

    2. She's got some battle damage...But that's to be expected...The real fun thing about her is...You have to play with the water pump at first because you'll either get barely a trickle out of her or it'll be like a Monty Python skit and the blood will shoot out of her times...:)

  2. LOL I didn't even notice the type-o, Tracy. It's mostly her arms that take damage because of the position. People bump into her or she falls during transport. Jeff has had to glue those back several times. Some of the drapes are cracked from impact. But considering that she's been moved in and out of storage and did at season at Lake Winnie, she's in really good shape. When Jeff decides he can use her again, we'll pull her out and take photos of the repair process. It's most likely going to be re-glue the arms AGAIN - add monster mud 'bandages' over the crunched spots and then re paint the whole thing. All that red dye takes a toll.