Saturday, October 31, 2009

Post Trick or Treating Update

This year we had far fewer ToTs coming to the door. Last year we had hundreds of them, but this year there were far less. We did see a Michael Jackson (Pepsi commercial vintage) and what may have been two Lady Gagas, or at least what we thought might be Lady Gaga.

One of the more interesting costumes was an old-fashioned mummy. It was definitely an economy costume, but it was really well done. The best part was when the young girl turned around to leave I could see that the whole thing was held together with the silver brads that are on sports bandages. I can imagine the scene...Ok, you spin and I'll hold onto the bandage...... Mom, I'm getting sick"

Apart from what I mentioned, Halloween was much slower that it has been in years past. I will probably have to start thinking about taking all of the decorations down.


Now that the Trick-or-treaters have trickled down to none, the gates of Spooky Acres creak as they slowly close. The ghosts, goblins, ghoulies, and other ghastly creatures want to start their own Halloween party.

Happy Halloween

Well, the day is here and the ghoulies and goblins are gearing up for some Halloween fun. I hope your festivities are joyous and safe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Valerie and I came home from a doctor's appointment and something terrible happened.

I made a cool skull decoration for the front door. I didn't spend too much time on it, but it still looked really neat. It was an extra large version of my skull icon that I have used on other pieces of Spooky Acres. I hung it on the door and it vanished on the wind that blew up this afternoon. If you are driving in central Phoenix and see a large skull made out of styrofoam flitting on the wind, it's mine.

A Door Without a Skull is Unthinkable!

It was a bright Saturday morning in Phoenix. The air was cool (for a change) and the birds were singing and there was the sound of a crazy man carving pieces of styrofoam.

I had a fair ammount of scrap left over from the coffin, so I thought I would craft something for the door. What came to mind is a skull. I felt that the cow skull came out so well that I could replicate it with my "signature" skull graphic. After a flurry of styrofoam snow I had the rough shape. I gave it a coat of paint similar in steps to the cow skull. After several coats and painting the eyes, it was ready to hang.

We have a nice door. I remember paying a lot to have it hung and painted and my wife would never forgive me if I damaged it. The tacky paint on the back edge of the skull would certainly leave a mark on the door. So, I packed myself up and headed over to Michael's. I found a really nice piece of stiff felt (black of course) bought it and brought it home. I cut the felt to the exact shape of the skull and glued it to the back with some Tacky Glue. I added a piece of wire and there you go; a decorative skull to hang on your front door. Martha's jealous I know it!

Bloody Labels

One of the coolest Halloween projects you can do is make faux labels for empty bottles. Fot this project I took several glass bottles. I had been saving them over the course of the year. Whenever we would finish a jar of peanut butter or splurged on a bottle of Italian Soda from Target (yum!) I rinsed out the bottle and cap with very hot water and stored it in the laundry room. Over the course of a year you would be suprised how many bottles you end up using. Some bottles are embossed with company logos. For this project I couldn't use them, so into the recycle bin they went.

I decided to use one of the Italian Soda bottles. They look nice and are quite large. Thh next step was to come up with a design for a label. If you are not feeling creative, then you can go to the intertubes and find some really nice pre-made labels (I believe Love Manor has a Flickr set with some really great ones) otherwise you can use a computer and a laser printer.

I say use a laser printer for a good reason. After I print my label I age it in a tea bath. The inks on an inkjet printer are not indelible and will run if placed in water. You can always print out your label and then copy it on a standard photocopier. Usually those are toner based and will make text that is generally resistant to water.

Regardless, I decided to make my own lables. Once again, inspiration can be found on the intertubes. I am not sure what channel, but you can always check the guide. I wanted to make a bottle of Vampire Blood. Now, you might say that vampires don't really have blood and that they "borrow" blood from others. I would tend to agree. In the pantheon of vampire lore it dosen't make much sense, but I am the one making the stupid bottle. You can make a bottle of Victim's Blood if you want.

I printed out the labels and separated them from the page. I wasn't sure what look I wanted, so I printed a few to see what would happen. I cut several, ripped several with a strait edge, and then ripped several with abandon. I like the ones ripped with abandon, but at this point, I was keeping an open mind. You may have noticed the large dots on the label above. I wanted to simulate paper with some mold spots. I had a brown Crayola Magic Marker and I used it to make some random dots. I let the pen really soak the paper because I knew that I was going to keep the labels in the tea bath for a while and I didn't want the dots to disappear.

After Betsy's aproval I prepared the tea bath. I used loose leaf tea from a really great tea shop in Portland, OR. You can use any tea, but good old English Breakfast is the best. English Breakfast is black and tannin-filled, plus it smells delicious. I've used Twinings and it works very well. I brewed the tea in a pot and let it sit 10 minutes (with a cozy of course! What am I...a farmer?) I poured it into the pan with the labels. After letting the pan of tea and lables sit for a good 30 minutes, I fished out the labels and this is what I found...

Goody! Wet paper! Maren would be so excited. Let them dry and this is what is made...

Don't they look old and spooky! They darken considerably after air drying. I took my favorite and adheared it to a bottle filled with a suspicious red liquid. Could it be blood? I brushed some glue mixed with water on the face of the label to make sure it wrinkled nicely.

In general I am quite happy with it. I am going to do some more distressing to make the whole thing appear ancient, but that is for another time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Spooky Acres Photos

You can find more photos on my Flickr Stream at:

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Rootin'est Tootin'est Gulch Sign in Phoenix

I had  a chance to finish the Spooky Gulch sign. What I like most about the sign is the cow skull at the top. It is simultaneously funny and slightly creepy. The sign is a bit of an afterthought. I wasn't really trying to create a western themed haunt, I just thought a little something in the rocky desert island would be nice. I intend to take some better pictures in the nights ahead. I got out there with my camera and tripod (which is really a cat litter box) a little too far into dusk.

The stand/tripod for the sign is made of leftover 2x2s from another project. I attached them in a slightly sloppy way to make it look like some cowboy put it together while out ridding the range. I might add some rope around the jount to hide the screws. The only thing that would make it better would be a bottomless pit in the form of a haunted mine. You could decorate the space behind the two-way mirror with miniature wood supports.

Other than that I just added a ghost made out of a tomato cage, lights, and a fabric shower curtain. I was inspired by a Lowe's fall design circular. It's a little cheesy, but I think that the orange lights look really fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yard Haunt Photo of the Day

This is a good shot of the coffin with the flickering lamp. I particularly like the windows of the house behind. The glow is nice.

We have been so busy getting ready for the baby that I haven't had as much time to work on Halloween as I would like.

Something I have recently become interested in is the works of H. P. Lovecraft. I had heard his name mentioned several times, but it wasn't until recently that I started to read his short stories. If you haven't heard of him, you can read about him. Or, even better, read a few of his stories. The settings are evocative and the plots are interesting. Lovecraft was writing at a time when the horror/science fiction genre was called "weird tales." They are good stories and there is a very active community of fans.

Apart from that Spooky Acres is still plugging along. I entered in an HGTV photo contest. You can find the photos on their web page. I still need to get Spooky Gulch launched, but I am having trouble coming up with a good mounting method for the sign. I don't want to put holes through my hard work. I'm going to brainstorm for a while and see what I come up with.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Giddy-Up 'ter Spooky Gulch

Don, one of the previous owners of our house, was a fan of desert landscape. He also loved circular drives. This love spawned the island in our circular drive. It is home to a very large saguaro cactus. This is where Spooky Gulch is going to be. I am in the process of adding some bits and pieces, but you can see the completed sign and a cow's skull that is still in the painting process

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween Cupcake Wrappers

When I imagine a magical world filled with personified sweet foods, I imagine cupcakes dressed up for Halloween. It's just who I am. Anyway, surfing the intertubes with my intertube device I stumbled upon these cupcake wrappers. For the budding Betty Crockers among us (ask me about my ganache) would be intrigued by the possibilities these little paper wrappers could provide.

Howdy Pardner

This is just a preview of something I started working on this morning.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cool Yard Photo of the Day

I went onto the intertubes to find some information on night photography. Taking what I learned from the web and the one photo class that I took at Carl Hayden Community High School I took this picture. I am proud of how the yard looks this year.


Monday, October 5, 2009

2009 Spooky Acres is Up and Haunting!

After a few hours of hard work I have finished putting up all the major monuments for the yard haunt. It's looking pretty good. Initially I thought that the yard was looking a little crowded, but after being persuaded by my better half I think that it looks pretty good. I like how everything looks at night best. The lighting is great!

To see the rest of the photos click on this link:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spooky Acres 2009 will be up soon!

Stay tuned for some pictures of our yard. I will post some tonight (10/4) as it is the night I have decided to put up the haunt.

Some of the new features may include:
A spooky flickering lantern
A lifelike coffin (see my earlier post)
A creepy wreath stand
A new lighting scheme