Sunday, July 28, 2013

Playing with the lights

Although I still have to either find (or replace) the outlet socket, I still wanted to test the combination of lights.  I set it up in my (super messy) office, which isn't ideal as they area of light that it has to cover is off, but it still gave a pretty good idea of the light dynamic.  So conclusions: I still am not giving up yet on the blacklights--I think if the props are painted neon, they'll still look awesome.  The strand of blue LED lights do dim the effect of the ocean lights, but again, I think the ocean lights are still worth using.  The height is all wrong on them, so I'm wondering if it would be better with the LED lights up high on the porch, and the ocean lights angled at a lower position, just to gain some distance.  

Also, a cute look at Lou as she tries to determine what I'm up to.

Sea Witch fabric

I'm really hoping that setbacks only come in threes.  So I took a stab at dyeing the lacy fabric that I had gotten at the thrift store--turns out, it's likely totally polyester.  At first I thought that it took the stain/dye really well, but when I went to rinse it in cold water (as per the directions), the lace instantly turned to white.  Fail.  So then I thought maybe if I didn't rinse it, but just hung it up to dry outside, it might retain some of the dye.  Just went to check on it.  Fail.  It looks like all the dye has dripped away, and the only thing that can be said for the whole endeavor is that the lace is no longer a light pink color, but rather a dingy white.

So now I'm thinking about going for a more raggedy/quilt like costume.  Use the same concept in design (two pieces of cloth that drape over my arms and joined in the back, with a clasp in front, with the sleeves rutched up a bit)  but maybe collect a bunch of different remnant fabrics.  Or I suppose I can just use a coupon at Joann's one day and get a couple yards of fabric.  It would have to be at least 4 though.  Maybe I could find a green lining that wouldn't be too expensive.

The other (minor) setback is that I was looking through my light boxes and trying to find the socket outlet that turns the porch into an outlet.  It's the single most important element in my Halloween setup, as I have no outside plug.  But (I assume) that this is relatively easy to replace via a Home Depot run.

Zombie Pumpkin shirt!!

Yay!  Zombie pumpkin shirt came in the mail today!!  Fits comfortably, and possibly now a carving uniform :)

Sea Witch hair accessories 2

Remembered that the glue gun was handy, so while I was watching a movie, I warmed it up and glued on a bunch of the shells to the barrettes I had bought.  They turned out fairly well, if a bit heavy.  It'll be nice having a wig that I can work on instead of worrying about fixing up my own hair.  I only made about nine of the clips--I also have a crown I'm intending to use, so I didn't want too many.

Made a large one that I can put on the back or middle of the head.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ocean lights setback...sort of.

Did a test on the ocean lights today and discovered a slight fault.  I hooked them up to a timer and checked to make sure that they went on and off when the timer clicked on and off.  They didn't.  This is a bit of a setback, as even if I ended up using the adapter with them, they wouldn't automatically turn on with the rest of the lights.  I kind of knew this was a possibility, but I'm glad that I've at least confirmed it now, rather than say, in October when I've run out of time to figure out any alternatives.  On the upside, they will turn off, so even if I had to push the button on them to start it, as long as they're connected via adapter, they would turn off.  And that's actually a lot of the reason for the timers.  So it's not a total setback, I can work around it.

In other news, my portable blacklight arrived today.  The light it emits goes farther than I thought, which is good.  I figure at the very least, I can use it to put behind some spooky drinks/liquids either on the buffet, or witch kitchen (assuming I do something similar again this year).

I think what I'd like to do tomorrow is hook up all the lights and see what the conflicts are between the blacklights and other blue lights are.  The string of blue lights arrived a while back and I'll put those on the porch ceiling, and start with putting a blacklight in the porch light.  Then position the ocean lights at various points, depending on how much light I need.  Debating about borrowing a scene setter, or putting up a light tarp on the inside of the porch to make sure I get a comprehensive view of what the lights will look like.

Also up tomorrow is an attempt to dye the lace for the sea witch material.  I obtained a fabric dye, and am just hoping that the lace isn't pure polyester *crosses fingers*.  I went with "olive green"  but I may have to get another of them, as this little packet says it only dyes enough for a large tshirt.  Of course, if I was going for a lighter shade, I could just use more water and put in the whole lot.  I guess I'll just see how it goes.  I'm really hoping that it'll take ANY of the dye.  If not, will have to look for other alternatives.

Second Sea Witch Cuff

Finished up a second sea witch cuff--made it exactly the same (except a little more neat) so that they (more or less) match.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sea Witch Bracelet

Finished up a project that I was hoping would turn out cool.  Found it on pinterest, and immediately thought it would be perfect for the sea witch costume.  Stopped at Joann's and got a 1/2 yard of lace--I ended up going with the cheaper one; the one that looked super awesome was $18 a yard--yikes!  Anyways, found one with a decent pattern.  Also picked up a few more pearl beads of various different shades and sizes.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fullview Yard Sketch

Just a quick sketch, but a bit more complete. Figured out a way to turn a picture of the house into looking like a sketch, making it a bit easier to draw on.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chipping Away

I think I've figured out a couple solutions. I was browsing around for some lanterns with which to make some jellyfish at the paper lantern store and found that they also sell strings of blue LED lights for a reasonable price given the number of bulbs, and that they're LED. The nice advantage about these is that they take up much less electricity, and thus less likely to overload circuits. Also, they're super bright. So I think they'll do very well if I string them up on the roof of the porch, add a lot of brightness, which has been a concern.

Foam Day!!

Foam, foam, everywhere! This was the first push to get some of the foam items done. Sarah came over in the morning, and we set to work just playing with the foam, and in the meantime trying to get our squiggles to be mostly sea critter shaped. We were semi-successful.

We cut up several garbage bags to use as mini-tarps, sprayed down with pam to make it easier to come off the plastic.

Portable Blacklight Possibilities

Been mulling over the blacklight dilemma, and may have found a solution. Or perhaps, part of a solution. I found some portable blacklights on amazon for ~$7. They're ones used to investigate stains in hotels and such. (Though why on earth you'd want to have that knowledge is beyond me. In such cases, I tend to side on the 'ignorance is bliss' category) I'm thinking they would be useful to place at strategic points both on the porch, and the frontyard. Their main draw is that they're battery operated. I love the idea of timers and such, but maybe this year I'll have to branch out a bit. I can still put the pumpkins on a timer, but the ocean lights are batteries, mostly due to the way they have to be positioned. Anyway, I ordered one of the blacklights, and am going to see if it's worth getting several more.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sack O Shells

Gratefully received a sack of leftover shells from Mom today and after channeling Gollum momentarily, went about pawing through them to pick out some of the nicer ones. So far, there are lots of lovely large clam shell ones, but I think I'll try and pull in some of the funkier shaped ones as well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sea Witch Crown

After the disastrous earring/necklace/ropes of pearls project, I was a bit trepedatious about starting another project, but was fiddling around with some wire, and before I knew it, I had the whole thing half formed. Not sure if I'm done with it yet, but I at least reached a stopping point. I had a bunch of colored wire lying around, so I attempted to put together a basic crown. Also recycled the pearl necklaces, and attached them to the sides/ends of the crown to be strung in the back. This helped anchor the more top heavy crown, plus it adds some pearls to the hair.

And me with it on--the styrafoam head doesn't quite show the pearls how they really hang.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sew Witch Hair Accessories

Had trouble sleeping last night, and instead of just trying to do soothing things to help sleep, I sat up and sketched a bit. Had been thinking about the wig for the sea witch, the hair, etc. Plus, had a bunch of pearl beads leftover from some project or other. So here's the sketch I came up with--not sure of the logistics of some of it--depends on the wig I eventually get, which will depend on how well the lace that I got dyes.

Foam Plants

So for Saturday, Sarah and I are planning on creating a bunch of foam 2d props to stick about the background of the mermaid graveyard, and the porch. Decided it would be a good idea to do a bit of research before hand, just so that there's inspiration available to us. Here's a couple I think are awesome/potentially doable.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

First Summit Meeting

So Sarah came down to rescue me and my car (much good karma sent out to her), and stayed a bit to go over some plans. And the notes from that meeting:

The structure of the anglerfish; the bones were discussed, and the best way to anchor the (probably) top-heavy mouth/head. Two possibilites: The first was of building two pvc cubes that would attach to the sides of the trellis to provide stability. (my idea)

Lighting Videos

Once it got dark I was really able to see a bit better the lighting with the blue and blacklights. Here'sa short one of the ocean wave lighting.

And here's another of the black light in conjunction with the ocean waves. The black light actually picked up a lot more than I thought it would--I'm seriously considering using it. It will greatly impact what I end up painting the coral and seaweed backdrops, just because blacklight picks up neon colors better.

My only concern now is whether or not the ocean lights will drown out the blacklight. I think as long as they're not directly hitting too much of what the black light is intended to pick up, it'll be fine. So I need to make sure the ocean lights are aimed mostly away from anything painted neon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Home Depot Run

Did a run to Home Depot to pick up some foam--Sarah has graciously (foolishly?) agreed to once again be my partner in crime, and next week we get into making foam backdrops for various sea scenes. Yay!! Got 6 cans, cause really, once you're into the foam, it's hard to stop in the middle and get more. Plus, there's much with foam to be done.

Sea Witch Hair

So If found this image of a woman doing something rather clever--gluing on fake rats to barrettes and just clipping them in her hair. Also...very creepy costume to perhaps use in the future....

Which actually is rather brilliant. If I take various shells/starfish/etc. and just glued them onto barrettes/clips/etc. It would be much easier to arrange either my own hair, or a wig (I'm leaning towards wig) rather than tying them on, or gluing them to the wig. Plus, I can make them far in advance.

On the wig front, I've found a couple on Amazon that look pretty cool--just not sure which direction I want to go.  Here are a couple that I'm looking at: 

I could honestly go either way on this--creepy dark, or just leave it a little more non-threatening. The anglerfish is going to (hopefully) be pretty intimidating.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Poodle Noodles

Took a trip to Thrift Town and found some gauzy material for making corpsy mermaids and binding their feet into tails. Also got a deal on several yards of lacy material that I'm planning on dyeing--maybe black, or maybe different shades of green--for my sea witch costume. Figured I'd try and keep it simple, just wear an old dress I already have and add in the lacy material slightly draped, and as a shawl.

**UPDATE** I'm now considering including some cloth tentacles pinnned to the bottom of the skirt/dress I wear--fabric maybe, but with wire in the middle to be bendable. Just to hint at the sea witch nature. Also, would like to include some gold beads hanging about in the hair/dress--harking back to the little mermaid sea witch version I grew up with--the dark one with lots of death. Now that I think about it, I think I've got some sea charms in my bead collection I could make into earrings.

Also found some more pool noodles (try saying that five times fast), this time in blue. The count is (I think) around...27 (?) Should start playing around with those soon to see how many a giant anemone will need. They're still in supply at the dollar store, but I suspect that will quickly be a memory.

Also found some really cute plush clownfish I can hang from the rafters, do a little school of fish. Perhaps running away from the shark plushie I'm planning on borrowing from Sam.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Underwater Mermaid Graveyard

Have been thinking about what to do with the frontyard. It was suggested that an underwater mermaid graveyard might be awesome. I'm beginning to agree. It would mean a lot of work now with creating flat props to dig into the yard. I'm also thinking some large rock features. Maybe pvc structures with balloons taped to them, covered in paper mache. Just a first thought...need to figure out if there's an easier way.

I'm also thinking of creating several mermaid corpses. Oriental trading has blucky skeletons for ~$27, which I thinking I can modify for mermaid use, as well as make them a little more...corpsy.

Also, clearly, a five year old could trump my drawing skills.

All chained up

Tried a project I found on pinterest. The idea was that using the pipe insulation, you could create a cheap version of prop chain. I'm thinking if this makes it into the Halloween props, foam glue will have to be added. It's not bad, but it falls apart pretty easily because they're not glued together. I'd also like to see about getting a larger size of foam. It has been pointed out to me that, except for the anchor, chain is not abundant on a pirate ship....I'm not entirely convinced, but maybe I could just put a bunch of them in doorways.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Zombie Parrot

So a thought has invaded. Should I do a zombie parrot? Now, obviously, I would LIKE a zombie parrot. Really what's holding me back is the question of how to obtain or make one. Paper mache? Find a parrot already put together and zombify it? Where does one get parrot bones. I could make them I suppose...

**UPDATE** Ooookay. Well, apparently there are awesome people out there. Cause zombie parrots are in fact available to buy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Porch Plans

Another sketch for the porch. More like doodling. No real plan was being sketched. Or at least nothing new. But I've found that it's one of the better ways to go about getting ideas. So I emerged with the thought that I could do a lot with some rock structures--maybe something relatively large, perhaps with a pvc structure. I'm thinking the bloody fish entrails will work well. And I'm warming to the idea of dressing up like the sea witch. The hanging kelp I'm hoping I can get away with using the ivy that has been so useful in the past. Also bought some pool noodles at the dollar store. Should go back soon and stock up though. Only got ten on this trip--I was getting other stuff, so I couldn't carry as much. As to the kelp, also had a thought about attempting freestanding kelp--pvc pipe with fabric and leaves. (Possibly too complicated/elaborate...)

It's not super clear, but the seaweed and coral are supposed to be flat and made out of the expandable foam. Lighting wise I'd like to see what a black light in the porch and some neon painted foam will look like. Plus with the ocean waves. Also have to start looking for a thin plastic to enclose the porch. I don't like to entirely cut it off, because a month is awhile to go without seeing out the front window, but maybe a cheap table cloth thickness. The water lights just need something to cast on, otherwise they don't look so hot. Also, it's cooler if the porch looks menacing from the sidewalk.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Jess and the Whale (err...anglerfish)

I've been wrestling with the idea of which way to go in designing the anglerfish. Not the basic entrance, or the body. My problem has been in where to end the fish. Should it be (to the trick-or-treaters) like you're inside the fish--with bones and skeleton/ribcage? Or should I let go of the authenticity of the physics and just not worry about it? These are both valid ways to go, with drawbacks to each. The first option limits what I can put on the bulk of the porch, but could present other possibilities in keeping with the theme--making the porch the digestive track of a fish, and being swallowed. The latter option means I can add in elements that don't necessarily fit with what should be in a fish's belly.

A possible solution was raised as I asked such questions to a group of enablers, who took the question in stride. "Why not have both?" they queried. "Have the angler fish body end in bloody entrails--like they're stepping out of its guts." THIS IS WHY I PESTER PEOPLE WITH MY HALLOWEEN PLANS!! Because genius solutions often come from unexpected places. So I'm going to explore this option. I like the idea of making them push through a curtain of fish intestines. It definitely pushes my gross boundaries, but I'm less concerned about those this year than I usually am.

Another option (again from a different source) offered up the possibility of simplifiying the angler fish mouth, but lengthening it and covering the trellis with a tarp.  I definitely like the tunnel idea--much more terrifying to go through a dark place, though I'd still like to spend some time on the mouth to make it as terrifying as possible--cause that's really what scares the bejesus out of me about the whole anglerfish.

I've also been starting to do some research on anglerfish looking for ideas. (Didja know?) There are ~150 different species, and all with weird little deviations. Some are really small (18"), but super vicious looking, while some of the larger ones (5') are a bit dopey. The teeth vary too, which is one of the things I really want to get right--I want them to look terrifying and sharp. Found a good shot of one in a book--I like the varying sizes of teeth, and that the dye that was injected into the fish makes them stand out from the other muscles. The teeth are translucent, but I'm thinking I'll go with just white, perhaps tinged with blood...

Friday, July 5, 2013


A small side project for 4th of July, which reminded me of the importance of the saral paper. It was packed away and didn't have the motivation to go hunt for it. "It'll be fine" I said. "I did this the old school way for YEARS before saral paper" I said. WRONG! Oh. Migod. Most f**ked up connect the dots ever. Yeah, not again. Saral paper is a glorious invention that will make an appearance in my daily prayers...if those existed.

Eventually made this guy--a ridiculously patriotic eagle with a flag background. Little rusty, but felt good to get a knife back in my hands.

Ocean Lights

So a new toy was waiting for me on my doorstep when I came home today. It was the light projector that mimics the ocean! This was a key problem that I've been trying to figure out how to semi-cheaply solve. There are of course elaborate (read: expensive) machines/gobos that will throw any texture that you want up on the ceiling/wall/etc. But I had been searching for a cheap alternative. After some searching, I found at amazon this little device that's designed for a soothing bath, or bedroom under the sea theme. The features I loved about it--it proclaimed to be moving lights, it was mobile/had batteries--very important as I prefer to not overload the light sockets if I don't have to--but it does have an adaptor, so I can also set it on a timer if I want to.

So I went back and ordered two more. I tried them out on the porch--with something to cast them on, it'll look cool--maybe just a little fabric, or even a semi-opaque plastic sheet would work. Either way, relief. Many faults can be covered over with cool lighting.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

First Sketch of the Season

Ah, the first thrill of planning out a new Halloween theme. This year is a bit more conventional--a haunted, underwater pirate ship. But I'm hoping to add some elements that are a little more out of the box. With that in mind, the first few sketches of the new Halloween season: