Sunday, July 23, 2017

Boulder Costume

One of the big pieces I'm making is a boulder costume for one of my lovely Halloween actors.  The dinosaur and lab tech was such a hit last year, I decided to try again.  And what makes sense for Indiana Jones?  No, the Kali Ma priest was too scary.  Instead?  The boulder that chases Indiana Jones!  Arguably the first "oh !@#$" moments from the first movie.

So where to begin?  I got a lot of inspiration from Adam Savage's Totoro costume for ideas about framing--just less oval and more spherical.  After a little trial and error (aka, getting materials online, then realizing they definitely would not work) I found some light irrigation tubing down at my local home depot.  I got 100 feet for about $11, so the price was perfect.  I had a leftover construction hat from making gargoyles a few years back (I think they're under $10 at home depot again) and started.  To make the hoops, I did a little math to figure out the circumference with the largest hoop being 5' in diameter (so about 15' around).  To put them together at first I tried just duct tape, but there was always a bend because the tubing is (perfectly for my purposes) meant to be fairly rigid.  So I cut a small piece (under 5 inches) and slit it on the curved edge.  This piece could be curled in on itself a bit to fit back into either side of the tubes, but rigid enough that it reinforced curve of the tubing.  Then lots of duct tape was applied to keep it in place (though it didn't need it that much).

The next part was/is/continues to be the hardest.  I don't have a mechanism like Adam Savage to hold everything in place as I tape the rings to each other.  I tried the spacers, but they somewhat fell apart.  So I've been using one to partially mark the distance between rings with some success.  I may have to make more rings--but I have plenty tubing left, even after making seven hoops of various sizes.  I made a small hoop that would just barely fit over the construction hat that then got taped to it.  I've only got three rings on so far, but it's already taking shape--I might just have to have a second person at some point to holdup the rings while I tape them in the right place.

On the fabric/slipcover end of things, I'm planning on dyeing some white muslin gray and using cheesecloth as a window for the wearer to see out of.  Still pricing cheesecloth, and watching Joann's coupons for a good time to get muslin.

Apparently my mom had a coat rack!  Which I sto...erm...borrowed for boulder costume making purposes.  The hat fits perfectly atop it and makes putting on the lower rings much easier.  I may need to space out the next couple of hoops further--there needs to be a fairly large viewing window for the wearer to see out of and currently it's more like a very slim slit that allows you to kind of not stumble.  *sigh* Stupid practical things like walking and physics are so inconvenient! 

Grail Tablet

This year's Halloween is a pretty simple one--and I've been trying to bolster it up a bit with props to bring out more of the Indiana Jones, and less 'random Egyptian theme'. To that end, I pulled out a piece of Styrofoam and made one of the props from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"--the grail tablet that's on the knight's tomb.  Relatively easy to do--I marked with a pen all of the writing as well as the cross outline.  I picked out the smallest attachment I could find on my wood burner kit, and traced the letters.  Next I pulled out the heat gun to sear/seal the edges, as well as widen the cross lines a bit and just overall provide a little texture.  The letters got some black in their crevices--which turned out to be a somewhat tedious (if vaguely hypnotic) endeavor. So at the moment I'm waiting for the black to dry before going back with some gray and finish it off.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Skulls, glorious skulls!

So in sketching out my Indiana Jones themed Halloween, I started counting up how many skulls I would need...yeah, it's quite a few.  So I started to look around for bulk skulls and such online.  Bit of a difficulty in the midst of May.  The dollar store usually has them, and it may be a matter of just buying them up as many as possible.  But in the meantime, to combat the anxiety of that, I found this lovely tutorial about making your own skulls from already owned skulls.  Basically you're covering said skull with aluminum foil, then paper macheing several layers, breaking it open in pieces, and reassembling it before adding a few more layers.  So I decided to try this method out on two of my nicer skulls just to see what kind of a time and work commitment it would be compared to the result.  If I can find my overly larger skull, it might be worth it.  Ooh, and if I modify it a bit, I cooould make the alien skulls by elongating the back of the skulls a bit.  Hmmm....

ANYways.  Here's the tutorial video by Unhinged Productions I found that was the most useful.  I should also note I have serious workshop envy of this guy.  *drool*

Friday, May 26, 2017

Indiana Jones Sketch

Sketching!  It's one of the best moments of a new Halloween design.  Everything seems possible and factors like time, energy and cost are mere details.  So here is the 2017 sketch, mapping out some of the big pieces and basic layout.

And a few side sketches--still in progress.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Attempting a grim/foreboding countenance.  I...I'll practice. 
Much excitement!  Chain mail was found at a decent price in my wanderings of the internet, along with a cap to wear underneath so my hair doesn't get stuck in the rings (important).  With this, I'm one step closer to the holy grail guardian knight I aspire to as a costume this year.  I'm thinking I'll just make the tunic and applique a giant red crusader's cross on the front.  Might have to find some gloves of some kind.  Maybe a coat or shoulder pads?  The plan is to be fully outside, though the porch will (hopefully) be walled off a bit from the elements.  But from past experience, it does get awfully cold.  So I'll be grateful for the extra padding.  The only minor issue so far with the chain mail (and accompanying cap) is that it does muffle quite a bit of sound.  I'm not sure if there's a fix for this--I may just have to make do.  I'm also on the lookout for a respectable beard and eyebrow wear.  I'm planning on sitting probably behind the table, so I don't need to worry too much about boots or anything.  And I'll have a whole display that should hopefully sell the atmosphere.  Oooh...just had a thought. I could grab a bunch of large goblets from the d.i./thrift store and spray paint them gold, adorn with jewels to do a grail display, fill the porch up a bit.  Maybe glue them down to some planks though, or the wind/kids would just be constantly knocking them over.  Hmmm...will meditate on this...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Halloween 2017 theme....

In deciding on this year's theme, I went through a couple of different stages.  I had been leaning towards an Egyptian theme initially, kind of a generalized cursed mummy-esque kind of feel.  But frankly, it felt a little...uninspired.  I was looking around for other possibilities when I came across the idea of doing....wait for it....

Monday, December 19, 2016

Non-Halloween crafts

So I'm currently trying to separate (but still link) another blog that involves putting up my non-Halloween stuff.  It just gets a little jumbled when I try and re-find stuff.  And blogspot has changed their layout enough that switching between blogs is MUCH easier--hence the long wanted change. But I'm linking the two blogs to each other (see above link on nav bar)

But here's the new site: Crafter Saga

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

And it all comes tumbling down...

My sad sad lawn.
I had left the dino display up for an extra night in case anyone wanted to come back one last time.  But it's just going to get colder and I figured it was better to take everything before I got too deep into NaNoWriMo.  The vaguely depressing part is that it always takes far less time than one would expect.  Several weeks spent modifying, adding touches, getting everything just so.  And then maybe 2-3 hours to tear it all down.  Well.  Not quite everything.  I still have the JP gate up.  I'd prefer to have a second person with me, as I'd like to save the column base, and they're a little awkward.  I also need a spot of help putting away Suzie back up into the rafters.  I'm not quite ready to let her go give how cool she turned out.  That'll be a decision for next year maybe.  And I have a pile of fake rocks, but I need to slowly feed those into the recycle week by week so we have room for the usual recycle.  But I'm feeling good in general about how everything came down, and it wasn't as much of a pang to take it down, which is always helpful.  It was such a blast on Halloween that I didn't even mind.  Plus, a lot of stuff is weather worn and clearly starting to fall apart--that also makes it much easier to pull up and throw out.  The only bummer spot was when I pulled everything up from the lawn and saw how much my grass had suffered in the wake of having been covered up for a solid month.  There are pretty large brown patches kind of everywhere.  Not sure if they'll be time for it to heal a bit before the snows fall, but I think it'll bounce back okay.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween Night 2016

Dino food ala papa murphy's
My view from the porch
The big night.  It was finally here.  So I had two people I had convinced (with not too much arm twisting--and mostly gleeful acceptance) to be dinosaurs for my inflatable dino costume Sam had gotten me.  And while my original vision had been to have the dino pose and be kind of alone out there, it worked out SO much better with both Natalie and Hannah out there as when one wasn't a dino, the other had a labcoat on and dressed/acted like a lab tech/jp staff.  It was really great.  They worked out a few skits together--they would spot a trick or treater(s) coming close to the house, then the lab tech would start running down the sidewalk/driveway screaming that the t-rex had gotten loose.  A few beats later, the dino would come up running behind her.  They'd end the chase on the lawn once the lab tech had been knocked to the ground and the t-rex made a kill blow.  All the while kids screamed/squealed.  For the little kids there were high fives and a dancing dino.  For the slightly more brave there was chasing to the end of the driveway.  Some kids even got a little scared away from the house because they were that terrified--which I think is a first. They were super amazing.  And they kept it up til our last trick-or-treater around 9:30 when we finally shut everything down.

So total count was about 160 trick-or-treaters.  It never quite feels like that in the moment--my actors had estimated more like 50.  But we were down to our last 30/40 kits.  And the trick or treaters usually come in waves of small groups that have like 8-10 kids all at once.  It's much more rare to get the lone trick or treater.

A few reactions from the kids that I overheard--though I think my actors heard a lot more.

  • (kid on the porch, gawking) "I want to stay in here daddy!"
  • (after I had explained that they were getting a dino digging kit) "So it's not candy?  Thanks...anyway" (he was the only real twit about the non-candy)
  • "Best. House. EVER!!!!"
  • (screamed) "Mommy!  Daddy! LOOOOOK!"
  • (overheard, not sure if at another house) "Give me 1000 pieces of candy.  I'll haunt you if you don't!"
  • (another skit where the dino laid down on the ground pretending to be asleep, then jumped up) "Called it!  Somebody is IN the suit!  Called it!"
  • (then slightly later from the same group)  "Can you get up for photos?"
  • (after gasps) "It's a DINOSAUR!"
  • "TOLD you it was worth it!" (they came from a distant neighborhood)
  • Had a couple of Harry Potter boys pull out their wands from 2 years ago when I handed them out--still had them, and were in full HP gear.  I may have teared up a bit. 
  • Mother laughing as she's chased down.  Apparently a lot of adults like to be chased and/or laughed as their children were chased.
  • "Amazing guys!"
  • I had a few adults that actually took the time to mention how much they appreciate the work and effort that went into creating a cool Halloween each year and how they look forward to it as everything starts to go up.  Which was *sniff* very sweet to hear.

By the end of the night we were all a little frozen as we had been outside (or lingering in the doorway) pretty much the whole night, which was a bit of a new one.  But definitely worth it I think.  I unfortunately didn't get tooo many videos/pictures when it was still light enough to see everyone.  But I'm hoping maybe a few people will add the #kenwoodhalloween hashtag to their photos so maybe we can see some of the ones they caught.  Here's hoping anyway.

All in all, a super lovely Halloween and filled with lots of screams and squeals and good times.  Happy Halloween to all!

Sunday, October 30, 2016


I made my annual pilgrimage to my Halloween inspiration house, the one that I get excited and giggly over.  It's not so much the theme (there never really is one) but just the sheer volume of Halloween items.  It's much the same each year in terms of general layout, but it's the details that get added to that you notice if you keep going back.  SOOOOO many pumpkins carved.  Most are funkins (obviously) but a large number have started to be real ones.  I think maybe there's a party or something she hosts?  I'm just guessing.  But they look gorgeous, especially at night when all lit up.  Easily over 100 pumpkins all laid out behind a strong fence (what I'm actually very envious of).  And new decorations pop up each year--the various skeletons and more inflatables were some of this year's additions.  Sam came with me this year--her first actually, an oversight that is kind of terrible.  Much giddy ogling was had, and it put me a bit more into the Halloween spirit:)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dino dancing

Natalie came over tonight to be my dinosaur just in case I got some Saturday night trick-or-treaters. We didn't get any kids, but it was a good time to practice some dino moves and kind of do a dry run for what it was going to be like for Monday.  And we learned quite a few things.

  • Wear slip on shoes, as trying to get into dino costume in shoes is terrible and filled with anguish. And trying to put on non-slip on shoes once IN a dinosaur costume is also terrible...if hilarious. 
  • Have a light sweater as it can get cold once the dino suit is taken off--mostly warm inside it, but we want options. 
  • Exaggerated movements look really good. Big head bobs, waving of arms, throwing out the feet. Hunching over like a hunchback, or gollum, works as it lowers the head and makes you look predatory. 
  • For posing/pictures, make sure to show your profile, as otherwise all the camera sees is a large open mouth or a mesh piece. 
  • Running IS possible (if not recommended) if you use short steps, like a wee toddler.  
So it was definitely worth the dry run.  And I got some hilarious video of a dino dancing as well as some shots with everything set up.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Carving Night (part 4)

What's going to happen to the goat?!?
The final two carvings went down tonight.  One was from a leftover pumpkin that a friend had left on the last (group) carving night as it was way too stringy for the pattern she was attempting.  So Heifer International (my christmas charity) came out with some Halloween pumpkin stencils, one of which was a goat (that you can gift).  And it was a pretty simplistic pattern in that it had pretty small lines, not a whole lot of large pieces cut out.  Which was perfect for this super stringy pumpkin.  I was going to do the t-rex pattern anyways, but I figured I might as well have a bit of fun and recreate the goat scene from Jurassic Park.  And my teal funkin for the Teal pumpkin project I had carved a bit ago finished out the set.  I'm pleased with the result, and happy to be done carving.  Now I just need to watch them all for wilting and bathing.  I've got my large bucket of water.  Sunday will probably be giving them all 45 minute baths to rehydrate them so they're all looking their best for Monday night:)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Carving night (part 3)

More like carving day, but it was a lone one.  Having the pumpkins already gutted makes everything so much easier, and then the sticker paper makes it possible to get straight to the carving.  So I was able to breeze through 2 carvings pretty easily.  I went with the late great Gene Wilder, and Bowie.  This year lost a lot of really good people, including my cousin Tom.  I've been thinking about him a lot lately--he was a huge Halloween freak and would really get into the season.

I might try to do one more tonight...or it might turn into tomorrow's task.  The rest of the day has been spent productively putting together my treats for my trick-or-treaters.  200 of them (just in case).  My highest ever count was 180, but that was also Harry Potter.  I have no idea what kind of draw the Jurassic Park theme is going to bring in, but I usually plan for 200 just in case there's a weird flukey surge.  So today was mostly spent filling brown paper sacks with a dino kit, a toothbrush, a magnifying glass, a wee card with instructions, then taping it up with a dino sticker.  Surprisingly time consuming.  Like, around seven hours, give or take. But they're all done!  Woot!  I was hoping to have them all set juuuust in case I get a few random ones on Saturday.

I did an Alan Rickman because it's kind of turned into memorial pumpkin row.  *sniff*

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Last minute details

A few things to wrap up.  Went to Home Depot (probably...likely...possibly...the last trip) and picked up some pvc to shore up the photo op from the back, make it less likely to tip over.  And also found a treasure (yes, in gollum voice is appropriate).  An LED floodlight with filters--so you can pick one of 5 colors.  It's only a 40 watt power, but it was just what I needed to light up the gate and the photo op.  I considered doing twinkle lights or something, but ultimately the spotlight is going to be just a lot more effective.  And as a bonus, it slightly lights up Suzie/t-rex a bit.  Downside is when the kids go back down, it does hit them a bit in the eyes.  But, pfft, whatever.  Next up--getting the kits/treats ready.  I dug out one of them to show as a demo so they can see kind of what to do (rather than just breaking it open on the ground).

Oh, and probably the final walk through.  Maybe:)