I've been meaning to make a gravedigger every year since 1999, but I just never get around to it.  This year, I decided it was time.  I'd like to introduce you to Ernster Gräber.  The name literally means "grave digger" in German. 


Click on the pictures for a larger view.

I started with one wig head and made several paper mache casts of it.
First, I tried some dryer lint clay for building up facial features.  It works fairly well, and this is my first attempt at using it.  Thanks to Black Cat for the recipe -- recycle recycle recycle!!
I even made some ears.  These were tricky since my dryer lint is full of cat hair, it stuck to my hands and made it hard to shape the ears.
I got 'a-head' of myself (hahaha) and decided to fill them with Great Stuff and a PVC neck before putting the eyes in.  I did these just like I did the witches and Frankenstein's monster.
So I had to improvise with the eyes.  I cut a ping pong ball in quarters and cut a couple of slits in the paper mache where the corners of the eyes would be and inserted the ends of the PP ball pieces which made nice tabs into them.

Then I spritzed the eye area with some water, and applied Gorilla Glue to the edges of the "eyes" so it would expand and hold them on there.

I added some irises and used a yellow and red marker to give him some bloodshot in the whites.  His eyes are wet with glue in this picture.  Then I added some eyelids and built up his lips and fixed a spot on his chin and his ears.
I wanted him to look kinda creepy, so one of his eyes is wider open than the other.  I built up his brows and his nose, and worked on his mouth some.
I added some wrinkles to his neck and face, plus I built up his nose some more.
Side view of the new nose.

I just coated the whole head in a layer of Cementex Expired Casting Latex.  It dries clear, unlike the regular fresh latex.  He's still wet here.


As of 8/10/07, this is as far as I've gotten on him.

I coated him with a couple of layers of latex, then a coat of greenish-gray tinted latex to try to figure a color for his skin.  I wanted grayish, but couldn't figure out how to get a skin tone gray with the wrinkles showing without having to paint down in the wrinkles separately.  I hate doing that because it never turns out right.  I'm not good at painting faces at all.
I used a tiny detail brush and painted some red around his eyes to make him look a little more on the bloodshot side.  I hate doing this because I'm always afraid it will look really crappy.
I started to paint in shadows in the grooves of the wrinkles and around the eyes and under the nose and stuff, then I just went ahead and painted the whole dang thing with a very dark gray.  I regretted it as soon as I got done.
I drybrushed with a medium gray and then a vanilla color to highlight the texture.  I used too much on the nose and tried to fix it, but it just never looked right so I gave up.  He's still pretty dark, and nowhere near the color I envisioned, but it'll do.
The eyebrows were a pain and time consuming.  I used gray paint to "glue" them on a small section at a time.  I cut a little section of hair, maybe 25 hairs at a time, then dipped one end in the paint and then stuck it to the brow area.  I did the same with the hair, only I used hot glue and boy, what a mess.  I should have just stuck a hat on him.
He looked like an owl when I got done putting on the eyebrows.  I wanted bushy old man eyebrows.  I trimmed a LOT of the length off of them.
Here he is completed.  I'll be getting to the body later when I can get my son to sit still long enough for me to DTD him.  ;-)
Of course, the mouth didn't look right either.  The good thing is, it'll be dark.. so who cares?  I'm the only one who knows what I had in my head, so if he doesn't look right.. whatever.
I picked out some clothes from the closest thrift store for Ernster.  I got the whole outfit for like 10 or 12 bucks.

I made him a basic PVC frame body, with a duct tape dummy made with my son's help.  Scary, isn't it?

His hands were made using the Bic pen method.  I didn't bother fleshing them out or detailing because he's gonna be wearing gloves to do his work in the grave yard.
And this is how he looked in the display.  I think he turned out great.  At several points Halloween night, I was startled by his presence out there while taking pictures.

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