Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fashion Design: DIY Duct Tape Mannequins (What to do and what NOT to do!)

It has taken us almost four weeks, but I do believe we are in the home stretch and almost done making our DIY mannequins!
Needless to say, black is NOT a color of duct tape I would suggest using to make these.  Maybe it's just my mind going to the gutter, but the black mannequin form I made just looks like it could be more suggestive, I guess is the word, than the silver ones.  It also doesn't help that I'm a bit more busty than the rest of the girls in the class either...lol!

So, here is how we made our mannequin forms.  I did TONS of research on Pinterest on the best way to go about doing this.  There are tons of different suggestions out there...stuffing with pillow stuffing, newspaper, straight spray foam (and then peel the tape off and cover with fabric)...  I know Phyl over at There's a Dragon in My Art Room made one a while back and wasn't too thrilled with her outcome, so I was a bit nervous at doing this.  Just like I have the students do with the packaging tape sculptures in Studio Art, we wrapped their bodies, but this time in duct tape.  Three out of the four students brought in old t-shirts to wear, as it seemed easier to me to just cut through the t-shirt AND duct tape together at the end, rather than try to miss the shirt.  The fourth student elected to be wrapped in saran wrap first, which was fine.  Either way worked well in the end.
Just like Phyllis mentions in her post, I would HIGHLY recommend wearing a turtle neck underneath. The old shirts my girls brought in were tank tops and we still had to figure out a way to cover up their necks and shoulders, so we improvised with shopping bags.  When my hubby helped me make mine, even though my hair was up, he still managed to get it stuck in the tape and yanked quite a bit out at the roots.  :(

Once we cut everyone out of their tape casts, we taped up the back and stuffed them with newspaper.  It's really truly best if you can do the newspaper right after you are out of the form, otherwise it'll go flat.  In my form (in the top picture), I did spray foam first, filling from the neck and arms up to the chest.  It literally took me about 4 cans just to do that, and I knew it was going to cost us booko-bucks if we didn't do something else to fill the insides.  So, I had the girls stuff with newspaper.
One students made her own neck with newspaper, and attached it with tape.

Stuffed mannequins with newspaper!

 Next was the fun, but tricky part.  Spray foam is NOT fun if you get it on your hands!  I highly suggest wearing gloves.  Using an X-acto knfe, once all of the arms and necks were sealed up, students poked a hole in the arm pits and started filling around the newspaper, adjusting the nozzle to get a different angle every time some foam would start to leak out the hole.  Wipe the hole off and apply a piece of tape over it to cover it up once you're done working in a certain spot.  You've got to use one can all at once, so make sure you don't waste it by walking away for a minute or two.  Once that foam starts to harden inside the long nozzle, you're done for with that can.

Here is what I called Part 1 of my mannequin form.  In the torso, I did fill it with newspaper before filling around the outside with the spray foam.  I bought a broom handle for $4 at my local hardware store, stuck it up the middle of the newspaper, and then spray foamed around it, letting my mannequin sit upside down to harden.
Here's the funny part, and why I called this PART 1.  Notice the third boob?  Yeah, that's right.  When you are putting the duct tape on, be sure to make a nice, tight "X" in between your ladies, especially if you have bigger ones.  Use small pieces of tape to cover the boobies so that they aren't deformed or flat.  LOL  Also, on my back of my mannequin, I had a big "boil".  Literally, it was some spray foam that must not have had any aerosol in it because it just liquefied and didn't harden.  I poked a whole and literally squeezed a yellow, clear "puss" out of the back of my mannequin like Dr. Pimple Popper on Facebook! GROSS! (If you've never seen Dr. Pimple Popper, do NOT look her up if you don't like weird, gross, nasty, doctor videos...just don't.)

 I used a hand saw to shave off the bottom where my foam was uneven, and then taped it up.

Today, my very awesome shop teacher and one of his wood-working students helped me make the bases for our mannequins.  We measured out 2' wood planks and screwed them together in an "X".  Next, we added a little leg to the bottom of each side of the top board, so it would be even and not wobble.  We had to add a third layer to the boards so they would be thick enough to hold the mannequins without wobbling.  Next class we will get the mannequins all onto their posts and then finally get them onto the stands, using shims to make sure they are tight in the holes.

I've decided that Part 2 of my finished mannequin is going to have to suffice.  I decided to go at my mannequin with a hand saw to try and get rid of the third boob.  I also sawed off a bit of a "tumor" my mannequin seemed to have on one side.  Needless to say, I'm not the thinnest of people so I knew my mannequin wouldn't be either, but the added lumps didn't make me feel too great about myself.  I'm a bit happier with it now, and I know if I keep trying to "fix" it, I'll never get it right, so it's time to just leave it alone.

 So, here she is.  My finished mannequin.  My boobs are two different sizes, my stomach looks like it has an alien moving in it, but, that's all right.  I am debating about heading to JoAnn's to find some stretchy fabric that I could now cover it with to maybe hide some of the imperfections that the shininess of the duct tape shows off, but we will see. (The link I posted is a super extensive way to cover a mannequin form...I've seen a few other ones floating around that are a bit simpler, but I couldn't find them to link to them in this post...go figure!)  For now, she'll be good enough to hold my clothes for me while I pin the pieces together and sew!  My student's mannequins have turned out a bit better than my tester mannequin did, but they're also smaller and less curvy, so they were a bit easier to cover with the duct tape.
All in all, this mannequin cost ME about $40 to make.  The cans of spray foam were $3 each and I used a total of 7.  Now that I know that the newspaper is helpful to fill the inside, it wouldn't cost me as much if I were to make one again.  Also, when buying duct tape, do NOT buy the Duct Tape brand of colored tape.  It's SUPER expensive compared to the generic solid colored duct tape.  Being the size 14 that I am, I used two rolls of the duct tape brand (which is only 20 yards) and that only did my waist and half of my top half.  You need at least two solid layers of tape, and if you're curvy, you need more tape to get in the crevices of your girls and such.  Buy a big roll of 60 yard generic stuff.  It's the same price and you get more!

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