My brother has always been a great curator of books and films. Occasionally when he’s not distracted by some of his more peculiar hobbies, he finds a real gem of a book. A book that’s beyond brilliant and stays with you. A book that most people haven’t heard of but lights up the smiles and conversations of those who have. A book that my brother loves to share with me only to have me steal it and convince him later that my parents threw it away. Books like Dan Reeder’s The Simple Screamer.
Now The Simple Screamer isn’t a novel, it’s a step-by-step guide showing you how to make your own three foot tall scuplture of a monster. It’s insanely simple, and the brilliant part is that you can’t ever screw it up because it’s a monster so there are no preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to look like. Three arms and one leg? Yep, looks like a monster. Seven limbs and a tongue the size of its body? Monster! One arm really big and coming out of its skull and both legs kind of twisted around because you rushed that step and didn’t let things dry the way you were supposed to? monster monster monster…
I made my first screamer shortly after college, a green pterodactyl-like creature that perched on the top of our hallway bookcase like a gargoyle burnout too lazy to stand guard but menacing enough to scare away our equally lazy cat. Mr. Pterodactyl is no longer with us anymore, and I’ve been itching for a different creative outlet, so two weeks ago I pulled out Mr. Reeder’s book and worked my way through the first few chapters. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
To do this yourself, all you need is a few wire coat hangers, strips of newspaper and a lot of masking tape. You bend the wire coat hangers to the shape of the arms and legs, make a big ball of newspaper for the body, and hold everything together with insane amounts of masking tape. Next just mix flour and water into a paste and cover the sculpture with another layer of newspaper and flour paste. That’s it. In the coming weeks I’ll give it eyes, claws, a tougher exterior shell and a really nice paint job.
If you want to read more specifics for making your own screamer, you can read excerpts from Google Book Search. Or try and get the book from Amazon though it’s out of print and people are currently trying to sell it for $50.
Just don’t ask my brother if you can borrow his copy. I’m telling you, my parents threw it away.