Window Witch

Window Witch

This project was a LOT of fun for me. It was inspired by a very fleeting memory I have from when I was very young. I was riding in a car with a babysitter through a winding forest road, and suddenly there was a castle and turret looking thing that had a jester character leaning out a window, with a scary grin on his face. I have often questioned people to try and find out what the place that I’d seen might have been, but nobody could tell me of anywhere that sounded like my description. So, the image in my mind has always kinda fascinated me. lol

So, I wanted to make a character leaning out the window as that jester was way back when!

One thing to keep in mind while reading my tutorials is that I live in Sweden and as bizarre as it sounds, I do not have the same materials available to me as I would have in the States. For instance, I needed plain straight steal brackets that I could use to put the frame together for the boarded window and I kid you not, I could not find them. I went to literally every hardware store within an hour’s drive of my house and I found several steel brackets, but none that were the right size for this project. On top of that the ones that I could have made work even though they were the wrong size were dauntingly expensive.

So, I decided to do the best I could and make some myself.
Bracket construction 1
This may seem crazy, but this is the way I started doing it. I got an old aluminum curtain rod, a wide one, and used my vice to flatten it section by section. Then, I’d measure out the right length for the bracket, mark where the wholes would need to go, and then drill the holes and cut off the “bracket” from the rest of the rod.
Bracket construction 2Bracket in use 1
As you can surely tell, this additional process was going to add a LOT of extra time to my project, but I didn’t have much of a choice.

Fortunately after having made only a few of these brackets, I took a trip to the local junk yard, and I found these:
Makeshift brackets 3Makeshift Bracket 4
I have no clue what these really are. I’m guessing they are some part of a motor or something. lol But, they were metal, they were cheap and they were just about the right size, so I went with it.

They are super thin, so I had to use 4 of them on each side of every joint I did, but that was much better than having to make every one of them myself, lemme tell ya!

Ok, so on to the actual tutorial:

My front window is rather large. It has one wide window in the center and two narrower windows on the sides. In order to be able to cover all three windows with this display, I needed to be able to get the whole thing out through the middle window (it would have been much more difficult to try to put it up from the outside), so I made two basic frames and connected them in the middle with hinges so it could be folded. Each frame was a square with cross supports going vertically and horizontally through the middle.

In retrospect, I probably should have put the cross section that the witch was going to be coming from down a bit toward the bottom, rather than directly across the center, but oh well.

Remember how I said I can’t find normal construction stuff here? Well, that includes the common pvc connectors you can find in the states. There are no cross pieces or T connectors here. In fact, there are only two sizes of pvc pipe available here, because the Swedish government has put a ban on most pvc due to some chemical it supposedly leaks.

So, this is how I have to do it when I want to connect pvc pipes:
Makeshift pvc connector
Since you can’t see the sizes, that is a 3/4 inch piece tied on top of a 1/2 pvc pipe. After securing it this way, I usually hot glue it in place as well.

So, using this technique, I created a very simple structure for the body and shoulders.
Witch supports 1
I drilled holes in the opposite ends of the pvc pipes as well, so I could run wire through them and secure them to the wood cross bar.
Witch support 1
Then, I took a strip of chicken wire and ran it down between the top bar and the middle one so that I could put another pipe in to hold the head portion of the witch. I thought this would be easier than fastening in another board.

I drilled a hole through the spine piece and through the middle of the shoulders pipe at the spot that gave the whole thing the correct lean. All I had to do was insert a nail through both pipes and that held it securely, so I didn’t need to do more than that. You can see this clearly in the picture before the last one.

Witch body
Then, I formed the arms and chest out of chicken wire and covered it with fabric. I didn’t paint that fabric, though I should have. I think I must somehow missed that detail. :( The shirt I put on her covered most of it, and the arms just ended up looking like long sleeves on the shirt, but it would have been a good idea to actually paint the arms, I think. Maybe add some detail to them. /shrug

For the head, I started with one of the paper mache skulls we had made. We made a cast of one of our anotomical plastic skulls, and using that mold, we can make paper mache skulls really fast.
Skull molds 1Skull mold - backSkull mold - Front
To attach a neck that will be able to support the head, we cut a hole at the base of the back skull piece and put something like this inside.
Skull support
Once it is dry, we stuff the whole head with newspaper and tape the front of the skull to the back, then paper mache three more layers over the whole thing to make one solid skull with a pipe neck.
Drying finished skull

I had no real idea of how I wanted the face of this character to turn out before I started sculpting, but somehow it turned out like this, which I was really happy about, especially after I added the black wig and paint.
Sculpt 1Witch head painted
It actually reminds me of the sea witch in the Little Mermaid, after the shell holding Ariel’s voice broke. Hehe

When I constructed this skull, I made the neck pipe out of the 3/4 inch pvc, because the pvc pipe I would be fitting it onto was 1/2, so the neck could slide right over the spine piece I showed earlier. I drilled a hole in the neck piece of the skull at an angle so that when I slid it over the spine piece and aligned the holes, then used that nail to keep it all in place again, the head would be tilted slightly. I forgot to take a close up of this, but hopefully I’ve explained it well enough. If not, feel free to message me and ask.

The hands were really easy to make. I basically just took thick wires, cut them in the correct lengths for fingers, bent them where the joints would be, and then used bubble wrap and duct tape to give them a little bulk so they wouldn’t look like wires. Then I painted right over the tape with black marker, which mixed with the grey of the tape and turned out about right for the coloring. I set the hands in place, bending the wires to the positions I needed and wrapping the other end of the wires up into the chicken wire of the arms to keep them together. (Sorry, can’t find a pic of that for some reason)

Boarded Window
The boards on the window look pretty simple, and in fact, they should be. But if you look at the background in this picture you will see a big piece of pink foam board, and it looks like there are two of them there. Nope. That’s just one piece of foam board, but it’s got an offset thing so that it can easily lock in with other foam boards. This is a great feature when you are using the foam board to insulate something, but for my purposes, this was a nightmare. lol

You see, I couldn’t find any sheets of this kind of foam board (the kind that isn’t white and cheap) that were any thinner than that board you see behind there. Which mean that I had to hand saw every foam plank I made for that window. On top of that, because of that nifty offset feature, I had to measure each side of the board differently, meaning I couldn’t just saw straight through. Not only did I have to divide the length into 4 or 5 equal sections, but then, I had to separate the width of the boards so that each of my boards would be the right thickness. Let me tell you, this was no picnic! LOL!

I was desperately wishing I had a hot wire saw to help me do it, but I couldn’t find one of those either, so I had to do it the old fashioned way. Not fun!

But, anyway, enough complaining. lol After I’d cut the boards to the right sizes I sanded them down and then used a paint scraper to draw lines in the foam to simulate wood grain. I screwed them to the frame and then painted everything.

To secure it to my window, I wrapped strips of fabric several times around the top and bottom frame pieces. Two strips on the top and two on the bottom for both sides of the frame. Once I’d fought the thing through the center window and got it out there, I pulled the other ends of those fabric ties in around the windows and tied them securely together around the window and then to the window handle. My windows open inward like doors, which is what made this possible. They also lock very firmly in place, adding extra hold to the ties.

And this was the result:
Window Witch

I hope this walk through has helped in some way! Please let me know if you have any questions.