Making a Life-Sized Shock, from The Nightmare Before Christmas

lock shock barrel

First, let me apologize to the several frustrated creators looking for directions for the Shock and Barrel tutorials. The posts were written, and I thought were linked/published. But after a creator clued me in on the missing posts, I went back and couldn’t find them. A few years ago, I was having issues with my site, and went back/forth with the administrators for a few weeks, until they fixed it. I’m thinking this is how the posts were deleted.

Luckily, they are easy builds that I remember well. *Please read all directions, before starting.

For Shock, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 ” PVC pipe (10 foot piece is more economical, especially if you’ll make another character)
  • 1/2 ” Couplers/PVC Fittings: 4 cross, 4- 90 degree angles, 2 – 40 degree angle
  • PVC cutter, Dremel, or saw to cut the PVC
  • A Styrofoam head
  • About 30-40 purple pipe cleaners
  • A toothpick
  • The Shock mask supplies and tutorial from Lock, Shock, Barrel Join… post
  • 2 – 8″ paper plates or enough cardboard for shoes
  • Black duct tape
  • Green Outdoor Acrylic Paint (OPTIONAL)
  • A Witch hat ( any color/design, Dollar Tree one is fine)
  • 4-5 pool noodles or 4 noodles and a block of foam for chest cavity
  • Approx. 3 yards of purple fabric
  • Approx. 2 yards of light purple ruffle trim
  • Heavy gauge wire – at least 25 pound – enough for hoop of skirt
  • A Hi Heat hot glue gun/sticks
  • Scissors and blade
  • Ball end Push Pins, preferable purple or clear
  • Large pieces of paper for cutting patterns out (Brown crafting paper works well)
  • Pencil, scissors
  • A pair of black, small, slim, child’s pants, or PJ bottoms (approx. size 6 or 7)
  • Clear packing tape (if want the ability to change arm positions) or Oatey One-Step for Permanent placement of PVC connections, along with sandpaper for prep on each fitting/pipe to be glued.


Make the Shock mask from the tutorial given in an earlier post. While that is drying, start building the PVC frame. Cut the following measurement of PVC pieces:

  • 2 – 4″ pieces for front of hips
  • 2 – 3.5″ pieces for clavicle areas
  • 2 – 10″ pieces for arms (that will later be cut into 4 pieces to add bends at elbow)
  • 1 – 16″ spine center piece
  • 2 – 9.5″ pieces for legs
  • Neck is approx. 4″
  • 2 – approx. 4″ for feet

Before getting confused, take a look at the pictures of the frames below. Put a clavicle piece into each side of the cross. Add a 90 degree angle to each PVC end, making a shoulder. Insert the spine center piece into the bottom of the cross with the clavicle pieces horizontal. Add a cross, to bottom of spine piece. Add the 2 front hip pieces to both sides of the cross just attached. Now you have the legs/arms to add.

For the arms, you can decide where you want the bends(elbows) to be depending upon what you want Shock to do. If she will be holding her bag as in picture above, you cut one arm approx. in half, and other with one piece slightly longer than other. Add 40 degree fittings to each arm piece, making elbows. 90 degree ones could be used, too.

The last crosses go at the bottom of the legs, with the 4″ pieces sticking forward as frames for the feet. In case you are wondering why you are using a cross instead of a tee, the cross allows for a stake to be put into the ground to keep the prop nice and secure. At this point, you can either glue for a permanent frame, or tape around each fitting. Taping will allow for a little movement, or later changing positions. But once glued, it’s almost impossible to get apart. You’ll also have to rough up the outside of each pipe going into fittings, and the inside of each fitting, in order to prep for glue. *If gluing, do outdoors in well-ventilated area, because of fumes.

Cutting the Pool Noodles

You’ll cut 1-2 pool noodles the length of the legs. The arms I left just with only PVC, because she is so slender. If you do not have a rectangle piece of Styrofoam to fill out the chest, down to hips, you can cut pool noodles and tape across that area.

The Shoes

You can follow the directions to make the shoes, but do not attach! The shoes were done exactly like Lock’s tutorial, except the shape will be like a witch’s shoe(see below). Make sure you don’t cut at the fold. Use black duct tape to cover paper plate shoe, and follow attachment directions in Lock’s tutorial. *Do not add shoes, until you add the pants to the PVC frame. witch shoe cut out

The Hat

See the below diagram, for better understanding. Take your witches hat, and lay it flat on a piece of paper. You’ll trace the circle bottom, adding about an inch to the circumference, to allow for seam gluing. Before moving the hat off the paper, measure/trace where the inner circle (head opening) is, adding an inch for seam. This will be your pattern for covering the bottom of your hat with purple fabric.


For the cone and extension part of the hat, you will need another piece of paper you can make a pattern. Wrap a large piece of brown craft paper around the hat cone, adding the desired height, including the bent tip. You can temporarily tape cone together to get the right size. Do not unwrap cone pattern piece, until AFTER the pool noodle measurement is done, in next step.

Assembling Hat/Tip

Cut the witch hat tip off diagonally (where green arrow indicates in diagram). Sit the witch hat on top of your Styrofoam head. Place a pool noodle, inside the newly cut part of the hat, letting the noodle sit directly on top of the Styrofoam head. With your cone pattern still taped, place it over the noodle/cone, and cut off any extra noodle that goes beyond the pattern.

Unwrap the cone pattern, to lay flat. Trace it onto fabric and cut. Wrap the cone fabric piece around the noodle/hat cone. Hot glue seams, EXCEPT for the bent tip top. If you haven’t already, cut the rim fabric circles from the patterns. Cut the inside circles out of each larger circle, too.

Rim Top/Bottom

Remove the hat from the Styrofoam head, before gluing any further. Place one rim fabric piece on top of witch hat. Glue around rim/cone area. Glue the bottom piece, to the inside of the rim bottom.

The Hat Tip

Place approx. 2 feet of sturdy wire into the hole of the pool noodle tip. Tape well into place, because hot glue will melt the foam. Bend your pool noodle to the tip angle you’ve added to the fabric. Seal the top seam tip with hot glue.

The Dress

Using your PVC frame as a guide, take your paper, and pin/cut a pattern (don’t forget seam allowances) around each arm. Remember the dress has bell arms, and a wide, circular bottom hem. Make another piece of pattern from the front neck/shoulder areas, to the bottom of dress. Do the same for the back. This should give you 4 paper pattern pieces: 2 arms, and the front, and back of dress. Tape all the paper patterns onto the frame, to ensure it looks right, and the circular bottom is as wide as you want.

Cut the fabric pieces out, glue arms first, dress section next. DO NOT GLUE BOTTOM SEAM OF DRESS. 

The HOOP Dress Bottom

To achieve the effect of the hoop bottom hem of the dress, cut a piece of wire the size of your hoop. Place the wire UNDER the bottom hoop fabric edge. Fold over the seam, encasing the wire, and hot glue seam.

Cut a piece of ruffled trim the same size as your hoop hem. Hot glue in place. I also added ribbon around neck area, but as you can see from the pic, it’s not visible.

The Head/Hair

*It is optional to paint the Styrofoam head green, before adding the hat, mask, and hair. I left mine unpainted and unless you’re really behind it, you won’t see much of the white foam.

Attach the Styrofoam head to the PVC pipe on frame. If the hole at bottom of the head is too big, squirt hot glue inside/around hole to secure. Place the hat on the head, then BEFORE adding the mask, add black duct tape to the inside of the mask eye sockets. Attach the mask, tying it tightly around head. Add a ball end pin to the knot, and push it into the head.

Take your toothpick, and start a hole in every place you want a hair strand to come out. Push a pipe cleaner into that hole, at least an inch. Repeat, around entire hair area exposed. Once all the pipe cleaners are in place, bend in zig-zag random ways, to fill out her hair.

Securing Hat/Mask

To keep everything secure on Shock’s head, I added ball end pins, to hat/ribbon areas of mask, pushing them tightly into foam. If you don’t have clear or purple pin balls, don’t sweat it. I used multiple colors. They didn’t really show up in pics, or weren’t seen easily.

Her Hands

Shock’s hands were made by using black duct tape around pipe cleaners. It’s very similar to Sally’s hand tutorial.

The Rest of Shock’s Clothing and Accessories

If you haven’t added her pants to the frame, do that now. Then you can add the shoes(directions are above). The bag she is holding was from a dollar store.

If you have any questions, please feel free to message me. If you recreate your own version of Shock, please send pics, I’d love to see it. * Barrel’s tutorial will hopefully be posted sooner than later, but I’m Hurricane Ian’s path, and will cross my fingers we don’t lose power. Everyone stay safe and well!

2 thoughts on “Making a Life-Sized Shock, from The Nightmare Before Christmas

  1. You are the best! Thank you so much for putting in the extra work to repost this for us. I trust this finds you well and safe following Ian.

  2. Pingback: Lock, Shock, and Barrel Life-size Characters – DIY | Frugal Frights and Delights

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