Part 4: Completing Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Sally posed to hold a skull, large flower head, or potion.

Sally posed to hold a skull, large flower head, or potion.

This is the last part to making Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Part 1 covered making the body and frame, Part 2 covered the head and hair, and Part 3 dealt with making the dress. Now we’ll cover the skin, hands, shoes and how to preserve your prop.

As mentioned before in Part 1, Sally’s skin color in the movie had various tints of grey to blue. I went with a grey-blue hue. Either way, you’ll be able to make the skin by finding a pair of tights to match your chosen color.

The Skin

You’ll need:

2 pairs of adult tights (matching the color of your Sally face)
Black outdoor acrylic paint
Paint brush with a thin tip
Boxing/package tape (clear)

1) Cut a small moon-shaped slit at the bottom of each of the feet of the tights(see image below). Take the tights and stretch them over the PVC pipes and feet and pull it up to the waist of Sally. If the tights are not snug on her hips, use the tape to secure them to her waist.

Half moon cuts are done at the toe line section of tights.

Image 1: Half moon cuts are done at the toe line section of tights.

2) Do the same cut on the next pair of tights(near the toe line). Make a cut at the crotch line up to the waist to have 2 separate equal pieces. Pull each piece(with waist side toward top), on Sally’s arms. Tape the top of the tights to where the collar bone would be (if she had one). Move on to make the hands before you complete the skin.

The Hands

The same hand-making technique is used for most of my props since I first used it during the making of The Ring Girl (about 8 years ago) and her hands are still in great shape after 7 seasons outside in the rain.

The same technique was used for Jack Skellington, except his hands were much longer and skeletal. Make sure you make Sally’s hands less than proportionate to her body. She appeared to have more stubby hands compared to her slender body, versus Jack’s long skeletal ones.

You’ll need:

4 pipe cleaners per finger (totaling 40) OR 2-3 metal coat hangers
White duct tape
Plastic grocery bags(optional)
Wire cutters (if using coat hangers)

The basic technique of using wire(floral, coat hangers, pipe cleaners),garbage bags and duct tape works well in the elements. It's easy and quite flexible. Hand image is from making Jack Skellington.

Image 2: The basic technique of using wire (floral, coat hangers or pipe cleaners), garbage bags and duct tape works well in the elements. It’s easy and quite flexible. Hand image is from making Jack Skellington.

1) Arrange the pipe cleaners or pieces of hangers together as fingers of a hand (see image 2). Wrap duct tape around each finger and wrap a few pieces around base of fingers to make the palms. If any of the fingers look smaller than you’d like, rip a piece of plastic garbage bag and wrap it around the finger or palm to give it bulk. Then re-wrap more duct tape around the area to cover the bag.
2) Add a piece of garbage bag to wrist area. Wrap with tape.

Completing Skin

1) Pull up the tights high enough to place the duct tape hands into the PVC pipe ends of Sally’s arms. Use tape to secure.
2) Pull down the tights on the arms to the wrist area and make a small slit near the thumb area and at least one other finger (pinky is good). Be careful not to cut too close to the edge which will cause the tight to run. Pull the tight end slits over the thumb, and other finger to secure the tight to the hand.
3) Paint on scars with the black paint.

The Shoes

You’ll need:

Cardboard shoe forms (often found in shoes at the shoe store)
Black duct tape
A hole punch
Black shoe strings
A few pieces of thin cardboard (for ankle area of boot)

Shoe cardboard Inserts prop making

Image 3: Cardboard shoe inserts make a good base for building shoes for props.

If you find a shoe store that has the cardboard inserts with each pair, ask them if they have any extra. People often choose not to take the inserts when they purchase their shoes so the stores usually don’t have a problem giving you a couple (see image 3).

1) Cut 4 pieces of thin cardboard to mimic the ankle area of a boot (see image 4). Punch out 3 or 4 holes in each to represent shoe string holes. Attach the pieces to the top of the cardboard shoe inserts with duct tape.

2) Place the boot over each of Sally’s feet. Duct tape the entire shoe to cover the cardboard(except for shoestring holes). Double over a piece of duct tape to mimic a tongue of a shoe and duct tape it in the boot. Add the strings.

The cardboard base complete with shoestring holes before adding the duct tape.

Image 4:The cardboard base complete with shoestring holes before adding the duct tape.

To Preserve Sally:

If you plan on putting Sally outside for many years to come, you’ll want to help her stay in good shape. DO NOT USE CLEAR RUBBER SEALANT on a foam head.

I made the mistake of covering her head with clear rubber sealant – bad move because even though the head was covered with paint, there were still a few pores of foam uncovered which melted the foam a tad.

Instead of clear rubber sealant, use a clear enamel spray for the head and body. I used black rubber sealant for the shoes – which worked well.

If you have any questions on any part of making Sally, please feel free to contact me via email or the comment section. Thanks!

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3 thoughts on “Part 4: Completing Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas

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