Monday, September 21, 2009

The Decaying Wreath

Outside the doors of the mausoleum in Spooky Acres you will find a wreath on a wrought iron stand. It seems to have been left there from a funeral long past. The leaves of the wreath are dried and brown. Some leaves have even started to fall to the ground...

The wreath is made from Mesquite branches clipped from our tree in the front yard. It grows really fast and I find myself with a large number of these branches. From the tree they are very pliable and as such they are very easy to weave into a wreath form. I imagine any tree or bush cuttings that are pretty green would be usable. The leaves of mesquite dry out to a really sad brown color which I think is perfect for a yard haunt. After I made the wreath and let it dry out in the sun for a while I made the stand.

The stand is actually made from some old curtain rods. When we moved in there were curtains in our living room. My wife and I put up with these curtains for a long time. Finally, we decided to get rid of the curtains and put in blinds. We had some made and the room looks wonderful, but I had two sets of rods with the strange fire-like finial. When I was painting the coffin (seen in the picture above) I took one of the rods and gave it a coat of black paint. The Lincoln Cottage Black that I use dries to the right look of wrought iron.

I cut two legs in addition to the one that I had already painted. Then I drilled some holes and bolted everything together. I didn't quite line up the holes on the leg with the finial, but I don't think it is very noticeable. A cup hook finishes up the structure and it is ready for displaying.

I am going to add some black ribbon and bows to give it an extra creepy feel, but overall I like it. I guess this year's additions to the haunt are mostly small subtle things that bring it all together.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Coffin is Done!

It's Friday at 8:30p and I have finally finished building and painting the coffin. It hasn't been remarkably hard. I based my coffin off the immeasurably helpful Spooky Blue tutorial. My wood graining is all faux (rather than carved in) and I used extruded polystyrene rather than the blue insulation. I can't seem to find it at Lowes. I guess that it doesn't get cold enough here in phoenix to warrant it. To do the paint treatment I checked out My Ghoul Friday's tutorial.

Now I get to start working on the animatronic component. It's going to be horrific!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ghosts of Haunts Past

This is one of the first tombstones that I ever created. It turned out pretty well and I still use it today. I love the skull at the top. I use a similar skull on several other pieces in the haunt.

The inscription, like all the inscriptions that I have used, comes from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. It is my little homage to the greatest haunt. To carve the inscription I printed out the words and then taped the sheet to the white styrofoam board. Using an Exacto knife I painstakingly carved out each letter. It is all hand done. I do not use a hot wire cutter or anything else. After the carving a coat of black plaint (Lincoln Cottage Black from Valspar) and then a coat of grey spray paint (latex).

I have never really done any weathering to the stones, because I am afraid to do it. If you have any suggestions on how to make the stones "pop" I would love to hear.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New To The Yard

This year, because of the baby, I am not going to be adding too much to the Halloween extravaganza. I have one idea presented here in a detailed and very professional sketch.

As you can see it is a spooky coffin with some spooky hands. The base of the coffin is already done and painted. I need to find a lantern (I hear Walmart has these particular kinds) and make a shovel.

"Why not use a real shovel?" you ask. Well, the wife and I are concerned that someone might steal a shovel and do mischief to himself or others. I have the same concern about any tools left in the yard. I don't want the liability of a crazed zombie manic using the aforementioned shovel to hack apart unsuspecting Halloween revelers. Think of the mess! Think of my premiums!

Instead I will be crafting something that is almost, but not quite entirely, unlike a shovel out of foam. I will take some pictures of the coffin tonight before it gets dark...or maybe after it gets dark! Bhuaaaaaa!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Spooky Acres Philosophy

When I was designing the first phase of my haunt I had a pretty clear idea of what kind of norms I wanted for the display. I have never been a fan of gore. I don’t like bloody movies. I also do not like being scared.  I think the representations of people in humiliating situations or in pain go beyond entertainment and become desensitizing. With all these peccadilloes I created the six rules of Spooky Acres. I might go back and revise them from time-to-time, but I think that they are pretty good.

1. No blood or gore.
2. Never represent a human being:
a. in a humiliating position.
b. in the throws of agony or pain.
3. Any depiction of the human form should be as unrealistic as possible (i.e. cartoonish).
4. No active frights. (By this I mean there will be nothing jumping out at the audience. No compressed air cannons. No haunt actors grabbing at people, etc.)
5. Never put the audience in harm’s way. (An extension of #4)
6. When given the choice between macabre and humor, choose humor.

Even with all these rules in place you can still have a yard haunt that has quite a bit of atmosphere. Halloween can be fun and just a little spooky.

Great Link...

If you haven't pointed your intertubes device to yet, you should. Haunt Project (maintained by Professor Evil) gives ghastly how-tos on almost every aspect of the yard haunt. Many of my ideas have either been inspired or stolen wholesale from this page. Take a look.