82 Days 'til Halloween: Building a Better Cauldron - Part One

I was going to begin making my Zombie a Month characters for the yard with Capt. Umpkin, but I changed my mind. I'm starting with the first one sketched, November's Cauldron Zombie, who by the way, I've now named Grool.

Grool is going to be a simpler but better quality looking re-imaging of an old cauldron character from a few years ago. Back then he was a jungle explorer boiling in a cannibal's stew. He's since fallen into serious disrepair.

First, I stripped down the old prop to just the cauldron. It's the ordinary plastic type found at most stores around Halloween. I want to make it a better looking one.

I honestly really love these classic blow-molded cauldrons, they have a great shape. Unfortunately they also always look cheap and fake. Obviously a good paint job will help, but there are two things that the best faux finish could never fix that I want to change - the loosely implied handles and thin edge to the lip.

Since the lip's edge is curled inwards a bit, I realized I just had to fill it in to give it a good thick and heavy cast iron look. I used a bead of expanding foam applied underneath all the way around. Once fully dry, I carved it down with a paring knife and sanded into shape.

Next I made a thin mix of DAP Presto Patch and coated it over the foam and entire edge filling in gaps. As it dried I added a few more layers building it up to look solid.

I moved on to making handles. I used my old friend Crayola Model Magic to create the rings. I simply rolled out a long band, like making a snake, then wrapped around a roll of tape for a decent shaped circle and trimmed.

For the handle bases, I used two Styrofoam balls coated in Presto Patch and drilled holes through the center to loop the rings through.

One dry enough, I glued on top of the cauldron's original molded handles (now they look like part of the new handle's base).

That's it for now. In Part Two, the cauldron is painted, weathered and finished.


  1. That is bloody brilliant. The work you put into it is impressive enough to make it brilliant, but honestly it is the humorous touches I like the most. The detail work on the veg is lovely and the colors are outstanding. I love this piece.

  2. That is going to look great! Much more solid & impressive. Can't wait to see it painted.

  3. So cool! Your blog is such an inspiration. I am in the mood to start getting ready for Halloween!

  4. That is really awesome!
    How did you make it glow green?
    Fluorescent green paint?
    thanks for the detailed blogs!
    I know it is a pain, but I always learn so much!

  5. Thanks Joy,
    No real trick or paint, the green glow is just a 25 watt green party light placed inside through a large hole I cut in the bottom of cauldron.

  6. Don't you find that Crayola Model Magic doesn't get hard enough? I tried it recently and it just stays squishy.

  7. Liisa, be patient with it. It takes a while to fully dry, especially if thick. Don't rush it either, like put in hot sun or try to heat, it will crack. But you'll be rewarded. It gets pretty strong and solid over time, plus feather light.

  8. Ummm this is amazing. I found this tutorial via Pinterest, and so glad I did. You have so many amazing Halloween inspirations. I'm your newest follower and can't wait to start revamping my cauldrons!

  9. We are trying to build up the lip of the cauldron but it doesn't look like it is building up like yours. How did you get your lip so high?

    1. Scott, the lip of my cauldron came that high. All I did was thicken it to give it more realism and weight. Guess I got lucky with the old plastic cauldron I had.

  10. The insulating spray foam didn't stick to the cauldron at all. Even after giving it a roughening up with sandpaper. I went around the inside rim, and after a few seconds it all went toppling down to the bottom. This is NOT going to be easy, nor neat.