It's Alive!

Happy Halloween to all and to all a scare filled night!

There's going to be a few posts today. In the morning I'll feature the entrants to the prop challenge contest followed up in the afternoon announcing the winner once niece Devin picks it.

Later this evening, I'll also post photos of the finished yard and maybe, just maybe, the day will end with the tale of Patrick O'Treaty.

1 Day 'til Halloween: Of Impaled Skulls and Evil Tikis

Finished the skull and tiki project yesterday afternoon. The best part, the client sent a nice big cube truck to pick it all up in. It's the simple pleasures in life.

The props turned out okay for a one man, 4 day making frenzy (including all the material shopping). Now back to my own decorating getting ready for tomorrow... after lots of foam dust vacuuming that is.

4 Days 'til Halloween: Aliens VS Giant Cannibal Tikis

 As the final days to the big night approach, I'm afraid my long hoped dream of actually making the UFO for the roof has once again been quashed.

I had a choice this week, spent it getting paid to make five 8' tall evil tikis for a client's big Halloween event this weekend or pass on and make my UFO. Making money is important, no matter how much I love my display, so the tikis won. I also have to make numerous bamboo spikes with impaled skulls. So I can't say this is not a fun way to spend the week.

Should be done soon leaving me just enough time to catch up on the neglected Para Abnormal comic and finish some lawn decorating.

Niece Devin's having a Halloween party at my place Sunday. I hope one game can be a race to see which kid can fill the most trash bags with foam carving debris.

6 Days 'Til Halloween: The Return of Peter Pumpkin

Last year I made a quick prop for the lawn from stuff in my stash based on a cartoon from Para Abnormal. He became Peter Pumpkin the Tricker Treater Eater.

Peter turned out to be a favorite by many in the neighborhood. Knowing he had to return, I hoped to find the time and money this year to remake him from scratch closer to the cartoon. Well, not finding the time or the money I just pushed the gag further using the old prop.

I carved a more menacing mouth, glued on a jewelry display hand from my horde, added ping pong ball eyes inside and sculpted an enhanced stem with Model Magic.

Creative Halloween Inspiration: Bernie Wrightson

9 Days 'til Halloween: Welcome Patrick O'Treaty

Our new resident grave keeper, Patrick O'Treaty, started his first late shift tonight. He got busy right away digging up old friends to join the fun this Halloween.

Rains over the past few days (plus usual real world work) have held up the decorating. Thankfully it cleared up this afternoon and I was finally able to introduce Mr. O'Treaty to the neighborhood. The yard is nowhere near done, but it's going to be a fun week adding to and detailing. The tale of Patrick O'Treaty and his fiendish friends is still rolling around in my head. I hope to share this week along with some better pictures.

Although Patrick's journey from idea to completion was month's long, he probably would of only taken 2 or 3 good, focused and un-distracted days. To see his stages of prop making, click on these links: Day One, The Head 'O Pat, His Hands, Pat's Hat, Bone by Glued Bone, Lantern One, Lantern Two, Lantern Three, Pat's Pumpkin and Almost Done.

11 Days 'til Halloween: The Unseen Backyard Grave

I'm on some crazy decorating kick this year using lots of real dirt. I've been gluing on props for aging and heaping mounds of it around tombstone bases and other props. My earthy source is a vacant corner in our backyard garden. I've had intentional fun digging a cemetery plot shaped space while filling buckets as needed. I especially enjoyed the Igor feeling last night while gathering dirt during a thunderstorm we had here.

Much more soil is needed... there might be an actual 6 foot deep grave available to rent by
the 31st.

13 Days 'til Halloween: Headless O'Treaty

Patrick O'Treaty our Gravekeeper is almost done. He just needs small details like moss, fall leaves, paint touch up's and his head...which is currently getting hair and some distinguished looking mutton chops glued on. He should be finished tonight and take his place on the lawn tomorrow.

14 Days 'til Halloween: Fed-Ex Box Gravestone "How To"

I thought I'd expand on my John Rozum gravestone homage (created as a thank you for his fun one with my name last year). Here's a quick "How-To" of my Fed-Ex box grave making using basic craft supplies. It's a pretty easy and fast way to add a few last minute tombstones to your display (or you could just go buy some, but where's the fun in that).

Step 1: Go get yourself a FREE large overnight shipping box, any companies will work.

Step 2: Create a name plaque to go on it. First measure the space for it and then type up a template on the computer. Print out on sticker paper (large sheet label paper works great too).

Step 3: Stick the sheet on a piece of foamcore. Using an X-Acto knife create the engraved look by tracing the edges of each letter, cutting inward at an angle. Once the opposite beveled cuts meet in the center, the unwanted foam should just lift out cleanly. Trim the whole board into a plaque shape.

Step 4: Cut off the pre-glued closing tabs on the box because if used, they would create a bulky unwanted edge. Save them though, going to use later. Close only one end of the box using tape, covering all the seams.

Step 5: Spread the flaps on the other open end out, they'll become a base so the grave will stand. Here use the cut off pre-glued tabs and trim to size, attaching at the corners bridging the open flaps. This helps keep them in place and make a sturdier base. Then just hot glue the plaque on

Step 6: Give it 2 or 3 thick basecoats of exterior house paint using some random color you can waste. Dab the paint on to create a textured look.

Step 7: After drying, paint it grey or tomb color of choice. Once that dries, give it a wash of watered down black for a weathered effect.

Step 8: This is optional, but for added texture, dust the whole grave with a light coat of faux stone effect spray paint ( I happened to have some so I used).

Step 9: As it dries, dress the base gluing on dirt and fall leaves (real or fake). Also a good time to sprinkle some dirt on the wet paint for extra aging if wanted.

Done. Let dry really well and place in yard using large nails pushed through the base to secure on ground.

16 Days 'til Halloween: The Grave of JOHN ROTZUM

A new resident to the graveyard this year is John Rotzum. Even though many historians confirm he was a founding member in the infamous Countdown to Halloween way back when, very little is known about him today.

Some think he wrote comic books for fun. Some think he was a monster hunter traveling as far away as Portland, Maine. The most absurd story though was that he once went Howard Hughes hermit crazy and made tombstones out of Fed Ex boxes all day just for the fun of it.

Below is an obviously fake image found on the web back in 2009 supposedly of those cardboard graves made by Rotzum. You know the picture is fake because it's a bit blurry, just like any Sasquatch photo said to be real.

17 Days 'til Halloween: The Great Pumpkin

One old friend arrived today, our yard's Great Pumpkin. He often gets forgotten about and is always set up last every season, sometimes just a day or so before Halloween. I was happy to give him a prime spot in the yard this year. A few hours this afternoon was spent on needed fixing, clean up, painting and making a stylish stem with Model Magic. He'll get even more details added tomorrow. I always think about creating a custom made pumpkin head but his giant plastic noggin I bought at Target years ago has really grown on me.

18 Days 'Til Halloween: Mad Prop Lab Rush

Behold what a mad prop making garage laboratory looks like when one finally gets a few days to complete some delayed projects and works to have most of the lawn display done by Saturday. The scariest part... I'm actually much more organized this year.

Creative Halloween Inspiration: Muppet Ghost Hunt

When are the Muppets not creative inspiration? Especially this time of year as Dr. Bunson Honeydew and Beaker go ghost hunting. I'm sure a billion and one other Halloween folk have shared this in the past, but just in case you've never seen...

21 Days 'til Halloween: Maniacal Moving

The lawn decorating finally began today with a maniac put into place by a smaller, but no less evil maniac... niece Devin. When we went to move the Michael Myers mannequin from the grim garage, I handed Devin a small bucket of tools to bring out front out as I started to take Michael. She stopped me asking if she could carry him instead. Well, after a successful test lift, Devin stated...

"He's light as a mouse."

So, the two maniacs proceeded down the driveway to the front lawn together providing one of the best laughs I've had in a long time...

25 Days 'til Halloween: Stress Relieving Creative Inspiration

Because an overload of real world work has been keeping me from the really important Halloween decorating during these early weeks of autumn, I'm feeling a bit stressed seeing the still empty front yard and unfinished projects in the great, grim garage.

I thought it good to remind myself this is the time of year I love most and decorating is just part of the fun. Most if it should just be enjoying the season. Here's an extended clip from one of my favorite Halloween films, Arsenic and Old Lace, full of silliness and wonderful gallows humor.

My stress is nothing compared to Cary Grant's...

Halloween Prop Challenge Contest

A few weeks back, niece Devin handed me a used soda bottle with a scrolled note stuck in it...

The note read...
click to enlarge

The little 8 year old gave me a prop challenge! While I figure out what I'm going to do, I thought this might be fun to include all the Halloween prop making folk who read this blog.

Prizes: Grand prize winner gets their name and cartooned image of prop featured in the Oct 31st Para Abnormal cartoon. 1st through 3rd place winners and all honorable mentions get bragging rights!

The Rules: Take an ordinary 12oz. soda bottle and as niece Devin wrote...

"Make something that will be creative like a poshin or drink.
Just something spooky and fun!" 

No restrictions past that, except... please keep it in the PG-rated ballpark. Anything I deem crude or vulgar, just to be crude and vulgar without Halloween fun will be disqualified. Once done, e-mail me a photo of your entry ( or comment on this post linking your entry if posted on your blog, flicker page etc.


All entrants must be okay that their images will be posted here through the month as they come in for the fun of it and creative inspiration to all.

Judging: Niece Devin will be the sole judge (my entry will be excluded). The winner will be announced on Halloween Day!

27 Days 'til Halloween: The Monster Demands a Mate

The Bride is returning this year with a new look complimenting the front porch Frankenstein lab theme. Not hard to guess what her makeover will look like once done.

Interstitial-inator Prop Part 2

Here's the finished prop I posted about a couple of weeks ago (click here). I had too much fun creating this. It went through two different paint schemes although both were based on the color palette of several crazy inventions in the Phineas and Ferb series. The first version was a little too soft in lavender and gray.

The repaint went blue and purple for a bit more cartoony mad scientist feel.

Here's a video of the simple bells and whistles in action, sorry it's so dark but you get the idea.

I made the dish turn using a store bought "spin pop" found in the candy aisle. I just flipped it over and glued it into the support ball. Because it has a press 'n hold type button to make it spin, I placed a hidden screw to twist which acts as an on /off switch putting pressure on it inside. The blinking bulbs are just Xmas light strands plugged into an extension cord spliced with an F-5 fluorescent starter.

Between this project, a few others still in the works and last week's NYC trip, I'm very behind on Halloween... time to get busy.