[Note, this article is on how to make a giant spider, NOT a discourse on the arts-and-crafts skills of giant spiders, although I’m sure their birdhouses are perfectly lovely.]
So you want a giant spider for Halloween, do you? But you don’t want to spend $40 on one from the Halloween Store. Well, you’ve come to the right place. I make a new one every Halloween and it only costs me about sixty cents. Here’s what you’ll need:
* Two (2) black trash bags (I buy the cheapo roll from the local grocery store)
* Two (2) twisty ties. The trash bags should come with those.
* One (1) newspaper (local or international — either is fine)
* One (1) roll of duct (or ‘duck’ or ‘electrical’) tape; or a half dozen (6) thumb tacks — or all of the above
Construction: Wad up a couple of pages of newspaper and shove it down into the bottom of one of the trash bags. This will be the spider’s ‘head.’ Tie this section off with one of the twisty ties. With more (or less) newspaper, you can make this section as large or small as you want. I recommend that it be about 1/3 or 1/4 of the trash bag.
Proceed to filling the remaining section (the ‘abdomen’ of the spider) with wadded up pages of paper. DON’T PACK THE PAPER TOO TIGHTLY — you want the paper to provide shape, but the more pages you use, the heavier the spider will be and the harder it’ll be to hang on the wall. Go for light.
When the abdomen is fluffed out, tie it off with your remaining twisty tie. Set the ‘body’ aside; it’s time to work on the legs.
Taking the second trash bag, cut or tear it (I often can’t find my scissors) down either side until you reach the bottom seam. This will give you a long, roughly rectangular sheet of plastic. Tear or cut 8, 1-inch-wide strips off of the sheet, making the strips as long as you can.The width and length don’t need to be laser accurate, but you want the strips wide enough they won’t tear in the wind if you mount the spider outside. The longer the better, since these legs will be what really makes the spider look spider-y.
Assembly: Figure out where you want to put your spider. I mount mine on the porch of my house, but of course any wall surface will do (feel free to mount it on the floor or the ceiling or a convenient tree if you want to and can figure out how — it’s your spider, after all).
Keeping your spider on the surface you’ve prepared for it is the hardest part of this whole business. I use duct tape augmented with thumbtacks for the body. I usually put the tape on the abdomen section in about the middle, then plaster it on the wall. I use the thumbtack to keep the tape from peeling up from the weight of the spider’s body. If the head isn’t angled right (i.e.: it looks like a spider with a broken neck), you can put some more tape there to provide shape (the head is usually light enough that a piece of rolled tape stuck to the back of the head is enough to hold it in place).
Now for the legs. As I said above, the legs are what makes the spider look spider-like. Depending on where you’re placing the spider, you can either attach the legs directly to the body, or to the surface under the body. I prefer the latter; that way, if the body falls down because of weight or weather, the legs aren’t pulled down with it. It’s a lot easier to stick the body back up than it is to re-engineer the legs.
Anyway, the legs go onto the base surface outward from the body and then bend at the ‘joint’ — about a third or halfway down the length. I like to do 90-degree joints for the middle four legs and 45-degree joints for the front and back sets of legs. You can adjust these to your preference and for the surface you’re attaching them too. I use tape to secure the legs to the base surface.
Optionally, you can add webbing, eyes (cut out of white paper and taped to the head), and/or anything else your imagination desires.
Voila! A giant spider that didn’t cost a lot. You can use that extra money to buy grasshoppers to feed your tarantula.
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