Making a Monster / Step 3 : Cutting the Teeth

Continued from – Step 2 : Bones of the Beast

Full Disclosure – this project began before we decided to create the blog –  There is inadequate photographic documentation in this post and I apologize. I hope to do a better job with future posts.

The most important aspect of Alex Pardee’s design for this beast was the TEETH. They needed to be huge, sharp, gnarly and there needed to be LOTS of them.

Monster sketch by Alex Pardee.

Since this was a costume and the teeth needed to be lightweight, I opted for the new, super cool ‘made-for-kids’ product “magic Dough” made by Crayola (other off-brands seem to work fine too). This stuff is a bit spency, but you can buy it in bulk at many craft stores like Michaels and Jo-Anne’s Fabrics or art stores like Blick. I love this stuff because it  can be formed into just about anything. It air-dries so it does not need to be baked in an oven. It is paintable within 24 hours for a pristine finish and less if you don’t care so much about cracking. The tentacles, eel tail and frog leg shown below (for another project) were all made with Magic Dough.

Attaching all the teeth was done by using 1/4″ pieces of Luan (plywood) cut to fit the inside of the monster’s mouth. I needed three total. one for the bottom jaw and two for the upper jaw. After I cut the wood base forms to fit the monster’s mouth, I drew circles on the wood to give me a sense of how many teeth I needed.

To make each tooth, I used a tape measure while working to make sure I had a variety of sizes. I formed the clay into the size of a sloping tooth with a gum line at the base. I used 18m gage wire that was long enough to go to the end of the tooth with enough sticking out of the bottom to be able to poke it through a base. A small pigtail loop was created at the base of each tooth to help keep the clay from slipping off once it was dried.

The molded tooth shown before I pushed the wire inside. the pigtail curl was placed inside,  about 1/4″ from the end of the tooth.

To make the gnarly texture on the teeth I simply scrapped the dough with my fingernail.

Each tooth was placed in foam to dry for 24 hours.

I drilled a hole into each circle on the wood, so could I put each wired tooth into a specific place.  I needed to be able to adjust the teeth position, so I taped my wood base to a 5-gallon painters bucket which allowed the wires to poke through. Once I had the positions of all the teeth where I wanted, I permanently secured them with a large dollop of hot glue at the base. (Sorry no pictures of this.)

I ended up make 66 teeth all ranging from 6″ – 9″. Once the teeth were dry, I bent all of the wires so they were flush with the Luan.

The final step after placing all the teeth on the wood bases was to paint them. I used a combination of regular spray paint (deep green used on the gums) and tints of brown and ivory. You can buy tinting spray paints at craft stores. They are used to paint delicate items like silk flowers.

Below you can see how the teeth look once placed inside the beast’s mouth.

If you look closely you can see the 1/4″ Luan wood that the teeth are attached to with the wire. I simply screwed this into the beasts ‘frame.’

The wet teeth look here is from spray gloss varnish.

I placed red amaranthus flowers amongst the teeth to appear like bloody drool from a distance. The drool was made with the wonderfully gross “Steve Spangler’s Slime” – I have no idea what this stuff is made of, but it looks great and it can be dyed with food coloring. It eventually dries into a crystalized coating (seen above), but it stayed slimy and gooey for days. Yay, Science!

Please go to Step 4 : Skinning the Beast to read more about the creation of this monster.