22 November 2017

[Crafts] Halloween Door Decorating Contest 2017

Look out. The beasts are breaking out. This is an idea pushed forward thanks to the event hosted at my current workplace. Each year, departments are invited to partake in a friendly competition for the best decorated office doors. As expected, most ideas people go for involve skeletons, clowns, pumpkins, zombies and ghosts. I wanted to go beyond that. Granted how washed out the tradition is by marketing, I at the very least wanted to keep up the motive of creating something scary. Not something we typically know are scary, though. Skulls and ravens aren't scary when you're expecting it. My goal was to trigger people's xenophobia; fear of the unknown, inducing WTF reactions.

At the same time though, I can't just go ahead and plaster up real body parts of livestock and have actual rotting
flesh laying about. There's no telling how much trouble this can cause in a corporate environment when a weak-willed
individual passes out resulting in HR having to make actual rules to a casual contest. In any case, being in the technology
department, my team agreed it would be thoughtful to incorporate a theme that relates to our type of work.

With both thoughts in mind, I thought of personifying malicious computer things such as viruses or worms....
bursting out our windows. But what kind of worms? Machine-like mechanical worms? Should they all look the same?
Should they be different? This project started loosely off less than a handful of sketches, an initial guess of needed
supplies, and less than 5 days to be completed. A lot of the final results arrived on many improvised ideas on the fly.
You will also have to forgive me with the lack of progress photos for my camera's sensor overheated halfway through all
this, and the lack of time available. Let's get into it.

Initial supplies include thick wires and aluminum duct at the hardware store. Chose the duct for its ability to bend, but also maintain a rigid structure to bear the weight of additional items that will soon be attached. The ribbed exterior and shiny surface will easily lend itself to the mechanical look. The wires are to be used to make whip-like tongues to be sticking out some of the worms' mouths. The primary material to sculpt the head of these worms will be foam blocks. The marbles and wires will be final touches for 2 worm ideas already in my head.


Main inspiration came from a google search "worm mouth teeth". Not knowing any scientific names or specific worm names (including fictional designs) with frightening features, this image above is a good starting point. It lacks eyes, bizarre spiky elements, has teeth. Overall looks much more unusual than things we normally encounter each day.

Started off with two rectangular blocks which were later cut into "C" shapes. Here I was still trying to wrap my head
how I would fit a head of a worm into this duct pipe. Decided it would be easier to just cut slots into the
pipe where I can then clamp the foam pieces down by pinching the duct inward.

With the fitment figured out, it was time to get the frightening element in there. Triangular shapes have always been the way to trigger caution and alertness, be it in our health/safety signage or with animals displaying warning messages to enemies or prey. Bearing your teeth is also one! What better way to make it look even more unwelcoming with teeth of varying length and angles.

The teeth were done with these square-shaped bamboo skewers. 2-4cm cuts from the tip.

A step was not photographed, but this floral foam is designed to crumble when in contact with literally anything. Applying paint on this is not fun as the foam clogs up the paintbrush. I coated the surface with epoxy to give it a hardened shell that I could later paint.

That black/white contrast is great. Brings all the attention to the teeth.
Later I dry-brushed the teeth with dark brown paint to give it a decaying look.

Onto recreating those weird spikey things seen in the inspiration source image.
Luckily with all that foam sculpting, there was already leftover pieces I could use.

Divide this triangular block like cutting out sushi rolls.

Make that piece look less rectangular and more round and organic. Slicing off corners at a time will eventually get us to this point.

Being the frail foam it is, pressing on it with my fingers can compress those edges into organic curves.

With a whole set of varying shapes ready, these were off to be coated in epoxy and later painted.

One of the first ideas I had for decorating one of the worm's body was to use what is seen above; shiny orbs and thorns.
This screenshot was captured from video game Mega Man X4.

No progress was captured, but to create the fleshy folds, I've used a cut-out piece from a black garbage bag to wrap around the worm's neck. The spikes were then glued around the mouth. Holes in the body were then made to jab in marbles and thorns (also made from the same bamboo skewers as the teeth), to give it both plant and alien features.


This idea definitely had to make it in the roster. A mouth that parts 5 ways is weird without a doubt. In Parasyte, the faces of humans split apart to form a giant flexible mouth, and that's something I wanted to capture here. The image above is a screenshot of the show Parasyte.

Thankfully the engineering work behind making this possible is one of the easiest among all the ideas seen here.
It's just a matter of splitting the duct.

The original concept was mechanical worm, but I felt that leaving it at clean materials seemed like finer
details being overlooked. I went and dirtied up the inner surface to almost resemble a sewer pipe, with grime,
rust, sludge, and possibly bloodstains. Now it looks like a beast that's been at work without maintenance.

The square ends of the lips (or flaps if that's easier to understand) needed to be tapered down to look more organic.

This one is getting the slender tongues. I've capped the wires with RJ45 ends, and interpreted this as a worm that plugs itself into whatever exposed node with an open port to infect the host computer. Golly. Now comes one of the bigger challenges: How do we suspend a tongue inside the mouth while keeping it centered and fixed in place? I don't want the wire making contact with any of its teeth. It shouldn't be permanently fixed because I need to transport this to work. I should be able to install this easily without risking knocking out its teeth (once they're installed).

One idea was to have a plane that runs down the diameter of the tube, and uses the material's structural properties to press itself against the inside wall creating enough friction to hold still. I shouldn't need any adhesive for this.

I've used a cardboard flap which I will bend and curl up.

That center part is what will provide a plane to hold the tongue in the midpoint of the duct.

Once curled up, this can be inserted into the duct...

...and once released, it will press against the inside wall trying to expand and unroll itself, while providing the place I need to fasten down the tongue.

The teeth will be made with painted toothpick ends. Obviously I'm using both sides. I don't waste!

Sticking in all the teeth took extremely long. My glue gun has a thing for clogging itself with
extra glue that requires extra force to push any out the nozzle. That multiplied by all the teeth you see.

The wide-open eyes gives this a maniac expression, like it's simply out for more prey without a second thought.



This was the very first of all ideas, a countless array of teeth in a jaw-less creature,
seen in many ideas, but I too also wanted to try making something like it.

How am I going to get all the teeth in there? I have tweezers, but that may take forever to get done right.
Why don't I instead perform surgery and cut this baby open?! Easy access!

Same treatment like Parasyte, fungus/moss growth will coat the insides.

For teeth, I will be using the pack of plastic forks instead of toothpicks.

This job alone took over an hour to complete. Good god. But yeah, great and all, but how am I going to close this up?

Aluminum tape. Easy. Standard practice in the HVAC industry. Now how comes a new problem
that wasn't considered in the planning phase, how can I cover up the presence of tape?

One of the cooler improvisations I've done here was to use leftover bits of foam from all
the sculpting and encrust the duct with random crusty chunky plates... kind of like Godzilla.

The more random it is; the more chaotic it will look.

But needing to consider whether the duct will be bent in a different direction,
I didn't take the crusted plating all the way to the end. It was enough to cover the tape anyway.

Like before, this foam needs surface protection. Went through many epoxy syringes to coat all of this.
As a result, the head of this worm is quite heavy! Lastly, because the side of the body lacks any oomph,
I've added extra antenna using the thin wire. I'd use more wire elsewhere, but again- time constraint. Oh well.

This idea of a thousand eyes staring into your soulllll leaves me feeling creeped out. I wanted to bring this into play somewhere along with the parasyte idea where eyes appear inside the mouth of the creature. Here's where I also tackled the challenge of securing a whole bunch of duct tubing against a glass window without damaging the dot matrix window tint graphic that is currently present. Let's take a brief detour.


All I can tell you is that the only things I considered at first when planning this out was that:

1) Whatever was getting glued to the window needed to be sturdy enough to withstand the
twisting forces of me removing it off once the party was over without ripping and leaving a mess.

2) It should be easy to grip... so it should have enough surface for my fingers to grip it.

3) The part that protrudes should be light-weight and be able to bear the weight of the worm without buckling.

Think after that I pulled together scrap cardboard laying about and wrapped it around the block of wood. The lack of cuts and extra folds I figured would provide rigidity and lessen the weight this block of wood will carry once it receives the glue.

Wish I didn't have to, but I needed to use my own window at home to test if it could hold. It'd be disastrous
if this entire project couldn't work because of one engineering flop. Taking that block off was more painful
than I hoped. Shoutouts to dad for helping out with cutting the wooden blocks.


With that out of the way, we can resume to how the many-eyes theme will be included with 100-Teeth here.

Since the worms will be perched on this cardboard stub, I could use the front-face as a place to fixed
the eyes into place, which could then be observed when looking into 100-Teeth's mouth.

Cut out a piece of card into a circle, glue it on, paint it a flat black so it is less noticeable once covered by the body. These silly 10-eyeball bouncy balls I grabbed off the dollar store can be ripped off into single balls. But for our purposes, I will be slicing them in half, just like I did with Parasyte. Cutting springy rubber is not fun! I'm sure people have figured out easier solutions, but I managed.

Perfectly-round eyeballs give the menacing look, but as seen in the Hellsing screenshot,
it would look more convincing of real eyes if we block off sections to give the impression of eyelids.

Initially I wanted to do a single eye, but then seven looked even more creepy when I gave that a try!

That's it. Just insert the worm on the mounting base and it's complete!

Without a light source going directly in, the eyes are barely visible; perfect for piquing curiousity and spooking the viewer once they realize there's 5 more eyes looking back at them.

About 4 worms were being worked on simultaneously. With such time constraints, I'm switching between worms
whenever there is any duration of time where I have to wait for epoxy or paint to dry to maximize the amount
of time remaining. Keeping the room clean was not a priority for the entire weekend!

Bobbit Worm

This one was very fun to explore. It was one of the first real worms I found when looking for inspiration.
These things are extremely long, do nothing but eat, and weirdest of all, they know to catch prey without needing eyes!

Can we agree that those four curved hooks on its face being its most wicked feat? I had bought a pack of curtain rod hooks in anticipating I'll be making some giant fangs. The wide and narrow ends are snipped.

Took the wide end snipped off, turned it around, and glued it back on in place.
Both ends are then filed down to a point. Now it's a combination of mandibles and claws!

Didn't show pictures earlier, but every head part of a worm that I've made received a coat of epoxy to provide structural strengthening and a suitable surface for painting. Cool trick I learned to deal with unsettled epoxy (due to a mix that wasn't thorough) is to cover it in powdered stuff. I used baking soda to speed up these epoxy jobs and to clean my hands from sticking.

The fangs on the left, also from the same curtain rod hooks, are going to another beast.
This was a painting step to cover up the gloss finish and the joint where I glued the two ends together.

Here's a better picture of what I've been doing with teeth. After the brushed flat white has dried, I now dry brush black mixed with brown to get a wooden texture, a likely look of teeth where all enamel has rotted away.

The spiny sides were put together with dowels I had sitting in storage for years. These are one of those A-HA moments when hoarding stuff pays off, and you're glad you didn't need to go buy deliberately to buy supplies.

Oh I also used the same dowels to make its 5 antennas, painted it brown with black rings, glued it in place along with its claws.

To make things easier, I just slotted in the thorns and kept it as one piece.
This completely avoids the chance of glued pieces falling off if I were to bend the duct.

Lay down the paint and we're done. Despite not having the clearest photos of its facial structure, it was still awfully fun making this one.


The original idea came from a source image I can no longer find, but it was basically a prehistoric sea creature with long claws on its face to catch prey. Everything else was pretty much original. The above image above should give some indication of what I was aiming for.

For this, I've used the stiffer green wire as I need this shape to hold. I've used more fork prongs to compose the line of teeth.

Covered the technical print on the wire by laying down paint. In the interest of spicing things up,
I kept it green to give it some distinctive colour traits out of the entire group.

Hello goofy! It's those two fangs from earlier. It's like a sabertooth tiger with no reliable way to open its mouth!

These are shower curtain liner hooks, also from the dollar store, that I originally bought to make
more pointy things. Due to time constraints, I've left on the curved ends. More improvised work here.

They will function as curly fins that will be lodged into Pincer's sides.

As much as I like the big green claw idea, this turned out to be one of the lamest.

Spyware / Surveillance Cam

It was at this point where it was Sunday night, finished a majority of the idea I had, but still had a couple more that I have not started working on at all. It was getting late, just make something! I told myself. How about a spying worm that spies on your computer activity? A hybrid between spyware and a literal worm. It'd be awesome to use a lens of some kind, and thankfully I had a broken digital camera from well over a decade ago to gut.

But I can't just do a lens and call it done. Considering how everything else has a noticeable unique feature, this lacks any "wow" factor as it is. Then I thought of giving it "metal" plating. Why diamond shaped? Tesellation perhaps? Didn't spend much time on developing this. I just wanted to go to sleep.

They would be fixed into place in a 4-piece formation.

Wrapped the foamcore in aluminum tape, for easy metal appearance.

You'll have to excuse the colourful pins. I have no made-up story to back up why I didn't paint these to be a different colour.

As much I am unhappy about this one, the redeeming factor is that I placed this one in the higher spots
on the office door to look like a surveillance camera. Lots of visitors seemed to have noticed this.

Cordycep Fungus Infection

Despite how cool Parasyte turned out, this idea is my favourite of the pack. Arthropod creatures are primary targets for cordyceps to infect.
They slowly take over motor control of its host to perch itself on specific places (ants for instance cling onto the underside of leaves),
develop these strange branches that protrude out of the host's body where it can release more of its spores into the air to continue its cycle of terror.
The host is dead by this point. There's a cool range of these fungi you can find through an image search, but I'm basing mine off the image above; slender white-tipped branches pointing in one overall direction.

Worms aren't known to be infected to my knowledge, but caterpillars are! Here's I've merged several leftover blocks together to later shave away.

I'd love to develop this head further if I had time, but it was probably 2am when I was
working on this, so many things that could've happened unfortunately were left out. SIGH!

The red ball is a trackball from one of those dated mice that were a thing back in the '90s. It resembled a fly eye to me, so I stuck one on and left a eye socket on the other side to give a loose impression of looking at a skull.

More epoxy went down, and a ton of baking soda laid on top.

I stuck some extra pieces of foam in the mouth area to create mandibles.
This thing is basically dead, and it looks like it's sticking out a tongue going "blehhhh".

The fungus branches were done with the brown wire. I've dry brushed on the white tips
after jabbing them into the body and eye socket. Yes, eye socket. Hee.

Only shortcoming is the lack of details in the head. Otherwise, the fungus turned out amazing.

Final Product

I requested no help from the team for the worm building, but this wasn't right. It's a contest of departments, not individuals. To top off our door with 3 windows, I've interpreted it as a triple-monitor setup. To make things easy before judgment day, we've used a black screen as our "desktop wallpaper". One of the things that make design fail is when you have to explain your work so that people get it. We figured that a plain black screen may not pave way for people to get that these are computer monitors they're looking at. We've accommodated by placing familiar software windows, desktop icons, and taskbar on the windows. We've even went in to paste in a screenshot of a ransomware message to help make it even more obvious we're displaying a metaphor of computer infection. Though hard to see, I've drawn in glass cracks where the worms are to create that impression they've broke through the 2D world. I very much underestimated the size of our windows. If we only had one window, I would have clustered them all together, but because of how small the duct turned out to be, I had compensated by placing the worms further apart, losing the effect of its size.

Final touch here is the popup notification everyone at work should no doubt be familiar with.
However this one has a custom-tailored message that alerts the user to contact our department for help!

This was quite the project. Started Thursday & Friday evening for purchasing supplies, Thursday
night to draft up some of the worms on paper, Friday to begin actual construction, and the
entire weekend to complete it all. Finished building everything and photographing at home by
4am Monday, cleaned up the entire mess by 5. Got no sleep on the Sunday. Judges couldn't decide
between several departments. We were recognized for having the most creative design. Word.

I've got other ideas that may involve less work but may bring a bigger bang for our audience next year.
Let's see if I'll remember what they are next year. Thanks for reading!