Friday, October 20, 2017

First carving of the season

I found this last minute addition to my decorations--a stencil of "Eat, Drink & Be Scary" that I usually put some form of near the food.  But I had a half pumpkin that I had bought a few years ago and wasn't sure what I wanted to put on it.  So this worked out well.  I screwed up on the "B" (doh) but it's still readable, so I'm good with the result.  And the first official carving of the season:)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pumpkin Nights

Had a fun outing the other night with a few friends.  Pumpkin Nights is a kind of traveling collection of (foam) carved pumpkins.  They created elaborate displays that were just AMAZING to see.  Most of the carvings (with a few exceptions) weren't super elaborate--but the sheer amount of them was stunning, as well as the immense planning that went into putting them together.  Lovely night.  Sam and I onesied up and were nice and warm as we walked the roughly 1/2 mile display.  AND I got to see an extreme pumpkin carver in action, which was great. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Creepsy Vines

I had this little side project I wasn't sure I'd get to finish before I got too involved with cleaning and such.  But it was such a small project, I managed to sneak it in.  I found this tutorial that talked about making waterproof, bendable vines using great stuff.  I was intrigued.  Great Stuff insulation is one of my main materials I end up using and I'm always interested in different uses for it.  So the basic idea is to take natural fiber rope, tie smaller rope to it to give it a vine/root looking feel along with pulling it apart a little.  And then you take a dollop of great stuff (or many) and smear it up and down the length of the rope.  After it dries, you paint it.  Pretty simple, but it ended up looking amazing!  I ended up painting mine more of a brown so it ended up looking more like roots, but that works because a lot of the 'vines' that Indy uses in the movie are more like roots anyway.  I was highly impressed by how quickly the project went.  I started in the evening, took breaks between waiting for the foam to set, and the paint to dry (I went spray paint) and by the time it got dark, I was able to attach metal to the ends so I could insert them into my display.  They made a great way to add a little something to the ceiling towards the end of the porch. 


So I had to finally address the elephant in the room.  Why are there practically no snakes in this Indiana Jones themed display?  And the one snake you have is...questionable at best?  *sigh*  Because, like Indy, we share a fear and loathing of snakes, though I don't really have his excuse of falling into a vat of them.  That would be the worst. Ugh.  BUT.  Snakes are also a significant section of the Indiana Jones franchise, mostly poking fun of Indy's fear of them, but still.  So I came up with the idea of adding a small scene like in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy and Marion get trapped in the tomb with the masses of snakes surrounding them.  *shudder*

But given the amount of snakes needed to make the scene even close to the movie, it would be a little financially prohibitive to buy fake ones, and then I'm stuck with hundreds of snakes that I then have to throw away so I don't have nightmares, and then what kind of a fucked up surprise is that to leave for the garbage men whom I'm sure have seen some pretty messed up stuff, but an entire garbage can of fake snakes? One of my bucket list goals is not to be the cause of major therapy for anyone and I feel like that would prevent me from checking that one off.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Getting buggy

I put up a bunch of bugs tonight.  I painted them with some spots and stripes with black light paint from a few years ago.  My stronger black light will arrive in a few days so hopefully the bugs will light up a bit more.  The black light also has to compete with the orange and green lights I've got on the porch, so I'm not expecting a full black light experience.  But a little bit of light to make them especially creepy.  I also changed out the green led bulb in the mummy.  It was just a tad too bright.  I replaced it with a compact florescent light bulb, which draws more power, but is much easier on the eyes.  Might change my mind on that and go back--the dimmer light is nice on the eyes, but it also obscures a lot of the details of the mummy.  Bit of a balancing act that I may not win.  I put up two sections of spider web the other day, stretching it over about half the porch.  I'm a bit hesitant to continue it closer to the treat display--I don't want it too cluttered.  For the moment though the cockroaches look pretty sweet silhouetted against the backdrop and the red and blue light providing a cool light behind them.

I changed out the blacklight that now includes both an LED and a CFL.  So now the bugs are looking a little..shinier..

Friday, October 6, 2017

Knight costume

My costume for this year is of the grail knight that guards the holy grail and murmurs "choose wisely".  So to that end I've obtained some head chainmail.  It was $20 on Amazon, which is quite the deal for chainmail.  And it's pretty hefty chainmail--I feel fairly certain I could go into battle with it...if there were fake swords.  Larping.  I could larp in this.  I've also been working on some chain mail gloves.  Well, not exactly chain mail.

 The dragon scale gloves that I've made a bunch of look pretty similar--so I'm making longer gray ones that will be nice and warm and allow me to have my fingers free--important.  I've just finished modifying the actual chain mail.  It was a little narrow in the face--like enough to cause issues with putting on my glasses.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The wheel keeps turning

I pulled out the chain for the cage today.  A little work with some hot glue and I had some longer chain to put on the wheel I made today.  I say wheel.  It's a facimile of a wheel.  What it really is is a pool noodle with paint sticks glued on and painted.  I glued paint sticks on either side of a pool noodle (so the chains could lay over them and look like it was a functioning wheel.  Like the movie, I'm only doing half a wheel.  Which is convenient, cause a full wheel would have been a pain.  I have some shorter rebar I'll slide the two sides of the pool noodle over so that it will form a half circle and give it that wheel look.  I've now spray painted half of the pool noodle (and sticks) a brown 'wood' color and am just waiting for it to dry so I can do the other half.  It's actually 2 pool noodles taped together, so it's a bit long.  The only thing I'm a bit concerned about is that I added too many spokes.  Pfft, oh well.  Done now.  Oh, looking at this pic I realized I did buy a cheapo scimitar for Abby, I just haven't added it yet.  Doh.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

It's up!

So the yard went up rather suddenly.  I mean really there aren't that many pieces--they're big and awkward this year, but not many of them.  I also fiddled with the lights and while I'm still playing with them and will be adding a few details, the bulk of it is up and running.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

THIS IS HALLOWEEN!! (insert music)

October 1st is always a fun day.  I've been obsessing over Halloween props all summer and then the day arrives and I finally give myself permission to go full throttle in decorating.  Not entirely sure why I hold myself back--Sam has mentioned (with a suppressed amusement) that she wouldn't mind if I started earlier.  But part of waiting til October 1st is a kind of self imposed anticipation.  So the decorations in the living room came out.  The living room is always a very concentrated expression of Halloween and where the majority of decorations go (besides the front lawn...and the porch).  And lots of old favorites come out, ones that I'd forgotten about--it's just a lovely tradition.  Sam helped by being tape/bat girl with painter's tape while I put up my swarm of bats.  They're a pretty basic decoration but I do love the simple optical illusion.  My mantle has become a place to put some of my favorite pieces that people have given me over the years--this year made room for a lantern ceramic cat that Sarah's mother gifted me with--along with a bulb to give him a bit of a glow.
I also got some of the harder stuff up--like the poles on the porch for added infrastructure and the big one--the backdrop for the porch.  This is always a hassle and normally I have to pick the day very carefully.  No rain and no to minimal wind is best.  Anything more than a gentle breeze is havoc and misery.  But today behaved, so I cautiously continued.  I haven't used this type of background before--except in the dollar store format, but that was going vertically.  I had found a 100 ft roll of gold tablecloth plastic sheeting at Zurchers for $13, which worked out perfectly.  There was enough to cover the entire inside and outside of the porch, plus a bit extra.  I used to just do the interior porch, but it just looked a little weird from the outside, and also this way it's less transparent.  Tomorrow I'll do one more mow cut a little shorter and then start hauling out all my stuff.  Much work to do ahead of me, but it's exciting that it's started!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Kali Maaa!

The Kali maa cage is a pretty central piece and I've mostly been just collecting pieces for it, but I finally began construction on it the other day.  Lots of math and tweaking of pipe.  My hand was a bit sore from having to make so many cuts with the pipe cutter.  But the shape I'm pretty pleased with and it inadvertently will make a great photo op maybe next year?  For the Halloween party definitely I can sneak some people in there.  I painted it a coppery color, partly to add color and partly to make it shine a bit.  I also fixed a section that will go over 2 pieces of rebar so that it's more stable in the yard.  I ended up using yardsticks for the bars--which the only downside of is that the marks and 'home depot' is engraved in the sticks, so if you look close you can still see the writing, but whatever, I'm not going to worry about it too much.  **UPDATE**  Added some skulls to the sides which I know isn't cannon. know...artistic license!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bone Fence

I reconstructed the old Jurassic Park fence today.  It'll serve well as a Kali maa skull fence.  I'm going to steal Sam to help me get it spray painted black/rusty before attaching a bunch of the skulls and bones I've made.  I haven't made too many bones--or rather, I have supplies to make many more--just because I'm not entirely sure how far they'll stretch on the fence.  Some trial and error is required.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Eye can see you...

New toy obtained, though not for this year--doesn't quite fit into the Indiana Jones theme, so I'm thinking Mom will be borrowing it for this time around.  I got it at Walmart for $13, which has a quite respectable amount of cool Halloween stuff--I also picked up some cool paper plates.  The voice could be a little clearer--some phrases it kind of mumbles a bit, but it's all in a spooky voice, so you get the gist of the phrase.  Will have to figure out a year that I can use him properly.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cauldron light

I finally constructed the cauldron light!
  • 1 Plastic bowl
  • Black decor chain
  • Great stuff 
  • Paint
  • Wire, 18 gauge
First off was to make some flames with the great stuff.  Pretty much like making seaweed from a few years ago, but not connected in one solid piece.  I ended up trimming pieces off a few of them to make them a bit more flamey, but generally easy.  I painted them with a layer of gold, then yellow and red.   I painted the plastic bowl gold inside and then black on the outside (or rather, the design that was already on a black bowl)

Once everything was dried, I used a socket light to put the extender in and used the wire to make a loop that fit around the extender.  I played with the chain a bit until I got a length that would be short enough to hide the bulb among the 'flames'.  I drilled 3 holes in the bowl near the rim and attached the chain pieces, then attached the chain to the ring around the extender.  Once all the chain was on, I went around the bowl and glued down the 'flames' around the rim.  Then I hooked in my new light that can change colors and played with a few different looks.  But ultimately, the orange light will go in this one.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Let there be LIGHT! and MUSIC!

New Toy!!!  I came across this the other day and got very excited.  I had actually gotten a lightbulb bluetooth speaker for the back porch for music but this is a colored bulb that's a bluetooth speaker...and you can change colors with your phone.  Ooooh....Anyways, it arrived today and I've just been playing.  The great thing about it is that I can pair it with my phone and play Indiana Jones soundtrack via Spotify and it also doubles as an extra light out there.  I'm not sure that it will work real with a timer (may have to play a bit) but even if it's just for Halloween, that's a much cooler speaker.  It goes super loud (which has been a problem in the past) and I can get the music right out front where my trick-or-treaters can hear it.  And with the light, I can play around with different colors without plugging in different colors.  Verra excited.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Are you my mummy?

Twas time to begin construction on the mummy!  It was a nice cool night out and got the urge to really get a start on the mummy box.  I had a large 4'x8' piece of Styrofoam cut down a bit at home depot and did quite a bit of measuring (and well, remeasuring) and math to figure out how best to construct this thing.  That said, it's a pretty simple construction.  Basically a box with a half a lid.  The 'mummy' will only be a torso with arms and a head, the cover as if it was ripped out.  Still deciding if I want the arms to be outstretched or crossed.  Used gorilla glue on this one, and after a little patience, had a nice box that's about 5 feet tall by about 2 feet wide, with a depth of just under 10".  I'm going to let it set overnight before painting it or putting on the foam.  I'll probably paint it first before the foam.  The foam is just to give the basic form of a torso and something to stick the arms into (or rest on, depending on which way I go).  I've got gauze bandages that I'm planning on dipping in paper mache (or rather, watered down wallpaper paste) and building up some bandages.  But it's definitely on it's way!

Skull rings!

Skull rings have arrived!  They're a little less 'adjustable' in the sense that they don't have metal pieces that bend, but plastic that pinches a bit, but will give way to a larger finger.  Meh. Can't always have everything ideal.  They'll work just fine for little kid fingers, and some with larger fingers who want skull bling.  Although now I'm realizing that there may be arguments over colors.  There are 4 different ones on the skull rings, 3 on the spiders, and 4 on the snakes.  Hopefully the 'choose wisely' will deter any arguments.  *crossed fingers*  Although, most of my trick or treaters are in and out pretty quickly; if they linger, it's usually out of my sight on the front lawn.  Though maybe that'll change a bit this year--some pretty cool stuff on the porch this year.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Lovely bones

So I got a bunch of skulls at the dollar store, but I started to worry that I would a) run out of skulls pretty quick and b) might look a bit odd if I didn't have enough.  I mean ideally, I'd love to have hundreds of skulls and do a catacombs-esque wall *sigh*....but that's a whole lot of skulls.  So I looked around for filler.  Plastic bones, femurs and such, are wicked expensive if you get them reasonably sized.  And if they're going on a fence, the 3-4 inch ones aren't quite going to work.  So I started to look up making my own bones.  Obviously the first thing I ran into was paper mache bones.  I wasn't opposed per se, but that's still a lot of work for the number I'm looking at. Plus, I was hoping for a much quicker kind of a project.  So I started thinking about cheap, readily available products I had that would also be weather durable.  After some musing, I came up with what I consider a fairly brilliant idea.  *toots own horn*.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

"Why did it have to be snakes?!?"

This project wasn't quite as bad as I was anticipating.  I mean, I expected it to be filled with horror and constant anything short of that was going to be amazing.  Like Indy, I loathe snakes.  Something about them sends major signals to my primitive lizard brain that scream "DANGER! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!"  So doing a snake hat was something I knew was going to be challenging.  I considered getting a fake one, but everything I looked at was super expensive for the size I needed--and then I'm left with an expensive snake that I feel like I shouldn't throw out.  Plus they weren't stiff enough to be posed.  Except for the plushie ones and they couldn't be out in the elements.  So I circled back around to making one of my own.  After a little pinterest mining for ideas, I decided to go with the stiff wire with a pool noodle around it.  Which worked out really well.  I also covered him in foam just because the pool noodle isn't great at taking paint, and it made him a little more weather proof and able to blend in with the carved head.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

First Halloween Scouting trip

Halloween has hit the stores with a boom and suddenly it's the most wonderful time of the year!  So it was time for a little scouting.  Nowadays it's rare that I'll buy props--I'm much more likely to buy parts to make props, but you never know.  MAYBE I'l find the perfect prop that will complete the yard.  So scouting must take place.  Plus, I wanted to see if the dollar tree had their skulls out yet.  So first up was Zurchers, where I picked up a roll of gold tablecloth (aka, my backdrop for the porch).  While there I found a gorgeous zombie/corpse guy that I'm seriously debating about getting.  He's $158, which is pretty steep, but actually pretty average for that type of thing.  Anyway, he would be a perfect "Crap, I just chose the wrong grail goblet" guy or a white walker for (potentially) next year.  Plus, he doesn't have a long thing where he says stuff--I hate that.  He just moans and lurches around.  But I still want to price him and consider options before committing.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Choose Wisely

So part of my plan for the porch section is to dress up as the holy grail knight and dispense treats.  But how you ask?  Ah.  So Indy has to make a choice between potential grail cups.  My thought was to bring over that choice with a selection of treats, which I've recently obtained.  But how to have them choose?  This is where the treat dispensary comes in.  I basically just glued together a half of a box with styrofoam and 3 sections that are big enough to cover a treat bowl.  I'm planning on cutting out hand-size holes over each one and then adding some cloth or around the hole to make it hard to see which hole has what treat.  I've also carved "Choose Wisely" into the front.  And I have plans to murmur "he chose...poorly" while looking sadly at a skeleton I'll have all broken in a corner.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tricky treats

Gluing together the treat dispensary
I FINALLY found treats for my trick-or-treaters today.  And like, cool treats.  Even the 'tricks' are pretty sweet.  So I've been trolling around the internet for some proper skull rings.  Most of what I was finding was of the pirate, skull and crossbones variety.  Which isn't terrible, but not quite what I wanted.  But today I found (on Amazon) a bunch of skull rings that were a) adjustable--very key for different age groups, b) didn't have crossbones attached and c) came in different glowing colored eyes.  They were a bit more expensive, but only by about $8 than the skull and crossbones set, so I'm happy with them.  Then I went on oriental trading to try and find the corresponding 'trick' prizes.  The original plan was to go with bugs and snakes in keeping with the Indiana Jones theme.  BUT I found these little jumping spider toys for waaaaay cheap ($5/gross)  and then the really cool one--wriggle snakes!  Not a fan of snakes myself, but if I was going to get a toy snake--these are pretty cool.  So I'm all set on prizes, which is convenient because I've been working on the trick or treat dispensary.  May need to cut it down a little bit, but the bulk of it is all glued together.  Next up is to burn/carve into it the "Choose Wisely" then lots of painting.  Also need to cut out hand sized holes and rig up some kind of cloth covering so they can't just peek down and see what's in the bowls.  We'll see how that goes.  But I'm verra excited about the treats being locked in; especially the skull rings!  Oye, now I can relax a bit.


Treats arrived!  Well, 2/3 of them.  The skull rings will take another week or so.  The spiders take a bit of a trick to get them to jump properly, but still cute.  Nice and big too.  And the snakes (though shudder inducing) seem pretty cool.  So at the very least, I'll have something to give out at Halloween, even if some of the props don't make it to all the way finished. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mummy arms

I started to corpsify some arms for the mummy today.  The arms are actually from the dollar store from a few years ago.  They're meant to be novelty salad tongs but Mom and I grabbed up a bunch thinking they could be useful in props.  They're smaller than normal adult hands...but for a $1 they're actually really good quality.  They're originally a grayish color so I first spray painted them white just to make sure they popped under a green light.  Pretty easy first application of the latex and cotton.  Just stretching it out over the fingers very lightly.  I'm not sure at this point how much of the hands will actually be visible and not covered in gauze/wrapping, so I ended up only leaving a small patch at the bottom untouched.

Got the mummy arms painted.  May have to go over them with a bit more black....oooor I might leave them.  They'll be covered in a lot of gauze anyways, so they'll probably be fine.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Skull rock

The Goal--ish
Building up the structure
There aren't a whole lot of projects on this year.  So I've been watching the Indiana Jones movies over and over looking for little details I can make.  One of the things I had almost forgotten about is the skull rock from Temple of Doom--the Kali Ma scene.  This is the holder for the diamonds that Indy is
looking to steal back from the Thugees.  It's basically just a large skull with little ledges in the eyes and nose for the glowy diamonds.  Fairly straight forward.  The only caveat is that it needs to be pretty large.  So.  I considered several bases.  But I ended up going with a garbage can I found at Home Depot ($15).  I blocked out some basic shapes with cardboard and duct tape.  This was pretty easy, just carving up a box and bending out some shapes.  It turned out looking a bit like a monkey with a fez....

Today was when I put on a first layer of foam to make it look more rock like.  It looks...better than it did.  And I know it'll be a multiple step process.  Part of the problem is that (like hot glue and the Harry Potter wands) you have to wait to build up layers.  But whereas the wands take maybe a minute under a cool fan to solidify, the foam takes closer to an hour.  Which is a bit of a drag.  But I think it'll get there--it'll just take a while.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lights of fire and ice

I got a new light for Halloween!  Much excitement.  This one will probably be used to simulate the lava/fire for the kali ma scene on the front lawn. It fits in a standard socket so I can use my own light stakes which was important.  Can't wait to test it out once it gets properly dark!

Corpsifying skulls

The goal
Freshly applied latex and cotton
After it's dried for a good 4 hours
So in the midst of trawling Pinterest for Indiana Jones prop ideas, I came across a really cool sarcophagus/mummy project that is basically a large box constructed of Styrofoam and with a half of a mummy inside, then a green light below lighting him up. Very cool. So I realized I needed to build up some skeleton parts.  I don't want to use my existing skeletons unless I have to, mostly because it makes note sense to permanently attach the parts to the box. And I've been wanting to try out a technique i came across to corpsify a skull with latex and cotton. 

I had my paper mache skull all dry and ready. I hinged the jaw at a slightly askew, looks-like-hes-screaming angle, then got to work with stretching cotton over the skull and applying latex over it and using it as an adhesive.  I really loved the texture results. After it dried for at least four hours i got out some paint and started to go for a slightly burned, fleshy look. I'm really pleased with this for a first attempt, and especially on a paper mache skull.  The teeth are the only thing that would have been nicer to have more definition from on a plastic or resin skull. But it works just fine for what will probably be a throw away prop. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sketch vs. Reality

So I'm going through a lot of my old blog posts, mostly because I used to use Photobucket, and they've decided to give an ultimatum of pay us money or we ditch your photos/links.  Thus there are several older posts that have an error image from when I used to use the link from them.  Which is a little frustrating, because there's no indication which photo it is; I have to try and figure it out based just on any notes I added (which tended to be sparse back in the day) and/or timeline from my own files.  ANYways.  I ended up looking at a lot of the old files and started comparing my initial sketches with how the display eventually turned out.  Normally the sketches are just a preliminary way to vomit up any possible ideas, and lots of things change, get thrown out entirely or get modified based on available materials and/or time.  And I don't go back to them or use them as a hard guideline; they're more for my brain to just process ideas.  But occasionally they've been spot on in terms of what actually ends up on the porch/lawn.  So I grouped together a couple of the ones that kind of nailed them:

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.

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.