I have always wanted to decorate a Mannequin but I was never lucky enough to find one. I always knew it would be a Steampunk mannequin because I am steampunk mad at the moment. So when I spotted this half mannequin in a thrift shop I could not control my excitement.
I paid the man the $30 that he asked and popped my mannequin under my arm and left the store. As a was walking out to my car this elderly gentleman commented, “Is that a gift for your husband” I commented No, it is for me to play with. I am not sure who was more embarrassed. lol
I wanted the mannequin to look like patchwork metal in the front. And for the back, I wanted it to look like she had been unzipped to expose her inner mechanics.
How to decorate a Mannequin Steampunk style
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I must warn you from the start that this is not a quick project, it took me a week to complete. But with two new puppies, I am confined to my kitchen all day so I had the time. This was the mannequin that I used. It was a lightweight plastic one, that was hollow inside. If your mannequin can open at the bottom it is a great idea to put a bag of sand inside to stop it fall over while you decorate it.
Cutting your leather
If you have scraps of faux leather laying around it will be great for this project. This was the most time-consuming part of this project. I literally sat for about 8 hours measuring and cutting my leather. The thought did cross my mind to just cut random shapes but my OCD said NO! It had to be straight patchwork style.
After hours of cutting, I came across a scrap piece of leather the shape of Australia and then the penny dropped. I had recently made a cushion and added a map of Australia to the surface which I cut using my Cricut vinyl cutter.
So here are your options, a cutting mat and cutting wheel = 8 hours. Or a Cricut or silhouette cameo vinyl cutter which I am guessing would be about 30 minutes to cut the lot. I am still kicking myself.
To take the effect one step further. I wanted to add so holes to the leather to give the effect that they had been stitched together. To do this you can use a tracing wheel. It does not show up very well in the photos but it does look great. Once all the faux leather was cut I used the tracing wheel and a ruler and ran it through the leather. This was also very time consuming but worth the extra work.
What glue to use
I tried a few different types of glue to do this project. A hot glue gun worked for the edges but nothing else. It left lumps under the leather that will show through later which will spoil the look. Mod podge took forever to dry and had to be washed off. Tacky glue did work but there was some waiting time. I also tried E6000 and similar but it ate into the faux leather.
In the end, I used Crafter’s pick “The ultimate”. This glue is more expensive than all the others but it holds well enough to continue working all the time. I did have to go back at times and push the leather down on the curves.
Making the tie-up sides
You need to 2 pieces of leather the length of the mannequin from under the arm down to the bottom. Cut them thick enough to cover the sides, then cut one in half. I used a cheap shoe eyelet punch to add the grommets for the leather cord.
You can now glue the two smaller pieces to the bigger one and thread the leather cord through.
The belt was made in the same way, using a recycled belt buckle.
Glue the faux leather to the mannequin
Start by adding the section in the middle. I had to cut mine to shape because of the curves on the mannequin. If you don’t cut it to shape it will cause a bulge under the next layer. Which will spoil the look. When glueing the leather you have to cover the whole surface with glue to make sure it sticks down flat.
Next, I started to layering and overlapping the patches.
The boobies were a bit tricky, I did try a few different ways but this was one that worked best. I cut a circle of leather big enough to cover the boobs first. You can then cut them into a Pizza shape and glue them in place, I did have to cut some even smaller.
I was left with a gap but I knew I had some beads to cover them up.
Next, glue the lace-ups to the mannequin, then add more patches to cover up the seams. If your mannequin is curvy like mine you will have to add slits in the leather so they glue flat to the plastic.
Do this to both sides. Don’t worry too much about the glue residue the gesso will cover that later.
To make the outfit look like a uniform, I tried to add some patches to look like lapels. You can keep adding overlapping patches until the surface is all covered.
This is how mine looked after adding all the patches. Some patches look like they are lifting but once the glue gets really tacky they just push back down.
The large zipper down the back was recycled from an old mattress cover. I used hot glue to stick that down and added more patches to cover it up.
Adding the studs
Steampunk is all about gear, cogs and rivets to name a few. To give the appearance of rivets I used half beads which I added one by one. This process was super tedious but it does look great after.
You can add the beads to every corner of each patch.
To make to boobies sparkle I used these self-adhesive crystals. As it turned out they did not stick and I had to glue them.
To hide the tatty leather around the boobs, I used upholstery studs from my workshop. I did have to drill the tips first and used hot glue to secure the stud.
Decorating the back
My mannequin had a curve in her back, so I knew when I added the charms they would not sit flat. This will cause an issue if bumped because they will break or fall off. To prevent this from happening I made some charms using epoxy resin and moulds. My steampunk ones are among these, I make them all in one go.
The benefit of using the resin charms is that they can be heated up and moulded into shape. You can use a hairdryer to heat them up. I used hot glue to add the resin charms.
The metal steampunk charms and bits and bobs I used were all attached using hot glue. Once you have covered the base you can start layering some of the charms. To fill the gaps I used beads from recycled jewellery. The wooden gears are all poppy craft products. The plastic pipe at the bottom was a section I cut off my greywater hosepipe.
Adding the charms to the front
I treated myself to some real quality steampunk charms for the front. They are called mitFORM charms which I bought from a company here in Australia called Random arts. The latches were ordered from Amazon.
Paint the mannequin
I used black gesso to paint the mannequin. Because it is also a primer you get a better finish than acrylic paint. I painted everything black first. Make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies so no other colours show through.
Add the bronze metallic wax paste
This bronze metallic wax paste is what makes the magic happen. I have searched for the brand that I use but I can not find it, so no link. There are other brands but I have not tried them.
The best way to apply the wax is with the tip of your finger. You only touch the wax with your finger, try not to scoop.
Start by rubbing your finger very lightly over all the raised edges, the idea is not to cover all the black. You want the raised edges to be darker than the rest. This may be awkward at first but once you get the hang of it, it will take no time at all. I did this in less than 10 minutes.
You do the same process for the leather just press down even lighter. The only way I can describe it is as if you are tickling someone.
When you go lightly it only skims the surface so you get this effect.
Do the same with the back, but in the smaller gaps, you can use a small paintbrush to add some wax.
Making the arm gears
These I made out of corrugated cardboard box. I printed the image onto paper and glued it to the cardboard. Using a craft knife you cut around the image.
I glued all sorts of random junk onto them as you can see from the image below. I did add some texture paste to the gear so it looked more rustic. They were then painted with the gesso and highlighted with the bronze wax paste. The great thing about this technique is you can be messy and it still looks great once painted.
Seal the finish
The gold wax paste will have to dry for 12 hours before you can seal it. This will make the colours pop even more. If you don’t seal the wax it will turn slightly dull over time. I added 2 thin coats of clear acrylic spray as a sealer.
Close up of finished mannequin
I hope I have covered everything if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment below.
Here are more Mannequins that I decorated. This first was decorated using recycled aluminium drink cans. I embossed the cans using a method the same as in this project.
Projects you may like
This cow skull was decorated in a similar technique, I just added lots more detail.
Recycled wine bottles decorated in a Halloween theme and given a mixed media makeover.
If you are looking for any of the items used in this project, please consider using our links. By clicking on the links we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Which helps us come up with new and exciting ideas to share with you.
Marie-Interior FrugalistaOctober 14, 2020 at 1:58 am
Good answer! I laughed out loud at your response to the guy at the thrift store. I would’ve had a sassy response too. Oh my word, Anita, what you did with the mannequin is absolutely amazing! Girl, you are the Queen of Steampunk! I could sit and stare at this for hours looking at all the bits and bobs. The opened zipper on the back – the lace up sides – the gear armholes – so creatively brilliant. I think Miss Mannequin is looking sexy and a little badass!
Anita HollandOctober 14, 2020 at 1:50 pm
Thank you so much Marie, she is by far my favourite steampunk creation I don’t think I will top her very easy.
Rebecca PayneOctober 14, 2020 at 5:12 am
OMG! what a great and very creative idea and job.
Anita HollandOctober 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm
Thank you so much Rebecca, she was a long time in the making and turned out better than I had hoped.
Cheryl r AtkinsonOctober 18, 2020 at 11:04 pm
I saw this on Facebook and I must say I was in awe. What a magnificent creation. You have a great imagination. Great job!!!
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:13 pm
Thank you so much Cheryl, I do seem to have a taste to the different, but that is what every project so much fun.
Lydia C. LeeOctober 14, 2020 at 6:46 am
You really are clever. That’s quite amazing!
Anita HollandOctober 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm
Thank you Lydia, she is pretty badass as Marie said.
LucreciaOctober 15, 2022 at 6:17 pm
Mis más sinceras felicitaciones, desde Buenos Aires, Argentina, magnífica obra. Este año comencé con el stempunk, me fascina!!!!!
Anita HollandOctober 16, 2022 at 7:07 pm
Thank you so much. I have lots of steampunk projects on my Facebook page that I don’t post on my website if you want more inspiration. You can find the link on the social media tabs on my website.
SaraOctober 14, 2020 at 9:04 am
Hubs is pulling apart sewing machines right now and saving me all the bits and bobs so i can try steampunk too one day! Can’t wait to find the perfect victim to try it on!
Anita HollandOctober 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm
Thank you Sara. I just discovered we have a salvage yard down the road with junk galore. I want to learn to weld so I can try more steampunk ideas.
SaraOctober 26, 2020 at 9:49 pm
I’ve always wanted to learn how to weld too!
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:32 pm
I just missed the welding coarse at college so I have to wait until next year. I have always taught myself using youtube, but people have said welding is not that easy. I love the idea of trying to create garden decor using junk.
Karen OliverOctober 14, 2020 at 12:23 pm
ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC !!!
Anita HollandOctober 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm
Thank you Karen that is very kind of you to say.
Michelle LeslieOctober 14, 2020 at 7:33 pm
No flippin ways Anita. She is gorgeous!!!! Every single detail is just so well thought out and WOW. I’m kinda at a loss for words right now. I love Steampunk stuff and this mannequin must be one of the most beautiful examples I’ve seen. She can come live in my house anytime
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:02 pm
Thank you so much, Michelle, I am so addicted to steampunk I just can’t stop. She was so popular and got snapped up straight away.
Ida P. KrauseOctober 15, 2020 at 6:28 am
Oh my gosh this is totally amazing! You did a fantastic job with this mannequin. You are certainly a very talented person.
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:02 pm
Thank you so Ida that is very kind of you to say.
CeciliaOctober 16, 2020 at 7:29 am
Anita, you’ve perfected steampunk to an art–the details are amazing! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. Pinned & tweeted!
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:04 pm
Thank you so much Cecilia, this one been by far my most popular.
TaniaOctober 16, 2020 at 11:46 pm
Wow… wow… this is amazing!!
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:04 pm
Thank you so much
AnnOctober 17, 2020 at 6:38 am
You knocked it out of the park with this one, Anita. I sent you a message via your form – hope you got it!
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:05 pm
Thank you so much Ann, this was the only message that I received from you.
AnnOctober 22, 2020 at 10:19 am
How strange. I used your contact form. Email me when you get a chance.
JasmineOctober 18, 2020 at 12:25 am
Hello Anita, you have an amazing talent. This is yet another masterpiece!
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:09 pm
Thank you so much, Jasmine, that is such an amazing comment.
JoyceOctober 18, 2020 at 2:05 am
All I can say is “WOW”. You have inspired me to try soemthing new.
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:10 pm
Thank you so much Joyce for the great comment. I am so glad I can inspire you to have a go.
Tamar A Strauss-BenjaminOctober 19, 2020 at 8:46 pm
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:13 pm
Lisa | Handmade in IsraelOctober 19, 2020 at 10:31 pm
Wow, you did a great job! Love seeing the process and love the comment you made to the guy in the shop 🙂 #MMBC
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:15 pm
Thank you so much Lisa. With this technique, I have no idea how it will turn out until the end. One advantage of mixed media is that if you are unhappy with the result you can paint over it and start again.
Anne SweetOctober 19, 2020 at 10:47 pm
Fantastic result, I loved reading all the little details about how you made it. Totally fascinating and superb work.
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:17 pm
Thanks Anne, I just make it up as I go along. I really enjoy watching it all come together.
MichelleOctober 20, 2020 at 9:05 am
I am so glad you shared this with Creative Compulsions. I love it! And it will be featured in this week’s Creative Compulsions.
Anita HollandOctober 20, 2020 at 11:29 pm
Thank you so much for the feature, it really does mean a lot.
MarilynOctober 20, 2020 at 12:13 pm
Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
JulieOctober 25, 2020 at 11:26 pm
Blimey, she’s one super cool sexy lady isn’t she? I have to say, about 1/4 of the way through with just the glued on leather she was looking everso slightly less sexy but as you added all the finishing touches it really came together.
I love your sassy response to the guy in the shop – cheeky!
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Thank you so much Julie, my style of mixed media is always very messy during the process. I think this is the reason other people give up because they cant see past the mess. I was pretty proud of my comment. lol
Kippi OhernOctober 27, 2020 at 12:35 am
You are so talented. I had no idea how much work something like this took.
It turned out perfect!!!
Have a great day,
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:34 pm
Thank you so much Kippi. It does take a long time but so much fun to see the progress and the final results.
KimOctober 27, 2020 at 2:44 am
You really do the most amazing work! Absolute gorgeous and better than any mannequin art I’ve ever seen.
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:35 pm
Thank you so much Kim, that is a brilliant complement which has made my day.
Michelle @ The Painted HingeOctober 27, 2020 at 7:03 am
This is gorgeous Anita! I love steampunk style!
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:36 pm
Thank Michelle, It has been a steampunk year for me, totally addicted to the look.
Kim PurvisOctober 27, 2020 at 9:57 am
This is a work of art girl! It belongs in an art gallery! You are amazing. You should sell this stuff!
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:38 pm
That is so kind od you to say kim. I see myself as a crafter but this piece has been called art a lot, so I am thrilled. I did put her up for sale and she sold in minutes, with others asking for the next one I make.
Naush SamamaOctober 27, 2020 at 11:19 am
Absolutely AWESOME !!!! I would’nt even know where to start from ?? Where did you buy your resin moulds from ? These are really WICKED !!
Thank you very much for sharing with us at Meraki Link Party.
Anita HollandOctober 27, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Thank you Naush, when I started I had no idea where I was going with it either. If I did not like something I just covered it up with the next piece. The mould I got some from Amazon and some from China. There are some links on my site to some of them.
Libbie@alifeunfolding.comOctober 27, 2020 at 11:56 am
This is so very creative! I hope you have it displayed front and center! Gorgeous work.
JenniferOctober 27, 2020 at 1:04 pm
This is so amazing!!! The whole mannequin is awesome but there are so many interesting things on the back. You are so talented!!!
MeeganOctober 27, 2020 at 1:26 pm
Wow wow and wow! This is absolutely incredible. Not only as an art piece but your creativity just exudes from this mannequin. Just amazing!
Kristi @ Chatfield CourtOctober 27, 2020 at 6:23 pm
Truly creative and a real work of art! Amazing work!
Anita HollandOctober 31, 2020 at 12:55 pm
Thank you so much.
Dee | Grammy's GridNovember 1, 2020 at 8:18 pm
WOW, what a mannequin! Very creative. Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 18, open until November 26.
Anita HollandNovember 2, 2020 at 7:49 pm
Thank you so much for the shout out.
Carolina GonzalezDecember 22, 2020 at 4:00 am
Anita, that mannequin piece is a total work of art. It should be displayed in a Gallery somewhere. Wow. I absolutely love it.
Anita HollandDecember 25, 2020 at 12:12 pm
Thank you so much for the awesome compliment. I have always seen it as crafting but from the comments, other people think otherwise.
RachelleFebruary 27, 2021 at 11:32 am
Anita, you have the most unique creations. Truly amazing. I incorporated the steampunk into scrapbooking for years, so it’s a favorite of mine.
Would love it if you came over and added one of your creations to my Friday with Friends link party.
Happy crafting to you!
RachelleMarch 5, 2021 at 6:54 am
Anita, I so in awe of your talent, and am happy to feature you and you steampunk mannequin at the Friday with Friends link party!
Anita HollandMarch 7, 2021 at 12:14 pm
Thank you so much, That is so kind of you to say.
Friday with Friends Party #12 March Winds Blowing |March 5, 2021 at 10:32 am
[…] Anita from Unique Creations has created a truly amazing piece of art work with her Steampunk Mannequin. […]
Valetta R ModyMay 28, 2021 at 9:28 am
I absolutely adore the Steampunk Mannequin. Thank you so much for sharing.
Anita HollandJune 1, 2021 at 1:44 pm
Thank you so much for the lovely comment, she was a labour of love.
Kim J PattersonNovember 8, 2021 at 1:06 am
Just a query regarding the clear finishing spray. The krylon brand which the link leads to is nearly $100 and others are around $30. Is there a difference between them which affects the finished product?
Anita HollandNovember 8, 2021 at 11:32 am
Hi Kim, You can use any clear polyurethane. The product I used here in America is not available outside the country. I have used the really cheap brand in the past and they worked fine as long as you do light coats and let them dry before you reapply. The biggest issue when you add it to the leather is that it can take up to a week to stop being sticky depending on the weather.
Kaz MusaApril 27, 2022 at 2:24 pm
Omg i found u again lol. I lost u there for awhile!
Anita your amazing hon. I saw this along time ago and was really inspired to make one too.
Over the years I’ve made quite a few with paper mache and material.
I’ve then cut it off the mannequin and turned them in to lamps..but not a full on steampunk one.
I’ve made many steampunk hats and wall art but the ol mannequin just evaded me. Your tutorial is so thorough and totally understandable..😃😁 thanku so very much for taking the time and effort to not only do this project but to explain and share it with us.
I’ve got boxes of gears and clock parts..motorcycle parts and bric-a-brac around here so I best dig it all out. Sadly I’m sitting amongst packed boxes waiting for a home to move into and rent but no luck yet..basically everything is packed and I’m going stir crazy lol. Been like this for about 3months but have to be ready to go at a moments notice!
But guess what is sitting on top of all the boxes in my craft room? My mannequins..lol!
We will see! Anyway just wanted to thanku for the inspiration and brilliant tutorial.
Cheers Kaz from Oz xx
Anita HollandApril 27, 2022 at 6:16 pm
Hi Kaz, Thank you so much for your awesome comments I really do appreciate them. I also live in Australia so glad to hear there are more people over here that enjoy steampunk. I have lots of other projects from bottles to mannequins that you can find in my Etsy store if you are looking for more ideas. https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/Uniquecreationsanita and I post most of my projects on my facebook page, I have a really big mannequin on there he was OTT. Cheers Anita
Joshua FarrJuly 28, 2022 at 10:46 am
One of these just sold at a store in Indiana for $100.. I couldn’t get them to ship it to me and am so disappointed. These are amazing!
Anita HollandJuly 29, 2022 at 2:49 pm
Wow, that was a bargain, pity you lost out. I sell mine for $600 without postage. They take an average of about 50 to 72 hours to make.
KathiAugust 19, 2022 at 9:01 am
Wow! That’s amazing! Thank you so much for the detailed instructions, notes, and step-out photos. I pinned it!
Anita HollandAugust 23, 2022 at 8:11 am
Thank you so much Kathi, I really appreciate it.
KrysAugust 21, 2022 at 6:30 pm
Omg…..u have more amazing mannequin’s. ALL of ur work is extremely AMAZING!! I could just sit & look at ur pieces for hours. I can’t even imagine all the creativity that goes on in ur mind. Oh, to see a glimpse! I have a paper mâché mannequin about 10” tall that I may try my hand at. I recently bought Anna‘s new molds. I’ve been making a lot of gears w/air dry clay. My pieces will be flexible to bend around the body. Ur work is definitely an inspiration!! Thank u SO MUCH for sharing ur tutorial!! I can’t wait to see more of ur work. Ur a brilliant artist!!🥰🥰
Anita HollandAugust 23, 2022 at 8:15 am
Thank you for the wonderful compliment, I look forward to seeing your finished mannequin.