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Swaying Arm Ghost

Build a ghostly Halloween decoration that moves. A non-mechanical, non-motorized version of a "Flying Crank Ghost." Perfect for a porch or hanging from a tree.

Swaying Arm Ghost

This is my version of a "Flying Crank Ghost." I’m calling it a "Swaying Arm Ghost." Many years ago, I knew I didn’t have the parts, patience or skills to build a true FCG with a motor, gears and wires, let alone a location to install it. Having made a puppet costume that looked like one, I started to experiment with using the parts from the costume and hanging them, but wanted some movement. This is what I came up with. I’ve not seen a similar version anywhere else, but I hope next year, I’ll see MANY more out there!

Steps

Step #1:

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Swaying Arm Ghost

The forearms and hands: The arms are the wooden dowels from old roll up blinds, but PVC or whatever you have will work. The hands are constructed from plastic packing foam blocks (from some random copier equipment). I twisted and forced a metal pipe (old tent peg) into the block to make the fingers and just cut a palm shape out of the block. Then used wire to build the hand and attach them to the dowels. (There are lots of ways to make hands, but whatever method you use, lightweight is what you're after.)

Step #2:

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Swaying Arm Ghost

The shoulders and upper arms: I used a large jacket hanger as the shoulders. I straightened the hook and forced it up through the skull, a rubbery foam filled but fairly large one. (Any lightweight "head" will do really.) The upper arms are PVC pipes. All connected with wire.

Step #3:

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Now for the "secret" or "trick" that gives it that random ghostly movement. The forearms are hung from one pivot point but with 2 lines (one on each end). Then the upper arms are connected in the middle of the forearms. This allows the arms to move back and forth in front of the body. "Restraining" lines on the ends, behind the ghost, allow for about 50 degrees of range and keep the "balancing" end of the dowel from swinging all the way around to the front.

Step #4:

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  • The body: Pretty basic here. Just cheesecloth ripped and stretched to give it that ghostly appearance. Simply draped over the arms/shoulders and held on with twist ties. I used about 15 yards, which I feel really isn't enough. I'd be happier with 20 yards. I did soak the cheesecloth in about a half gallon of water mixed with a cup of liquid laundry detergent. This will give it a nice bright glow with a black light.
  • Hope you dig it. If you build one, PLEASE let me know! I'd love to see it.

Conclusion

Construction time can be greatly extended depending on your method of fabricating the ghost's hands. 4-5 hours is based upon very basic foam hands/fingers to be seen from a distance.


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