Sunday, October 31, 2010

Post-Halloween Wrap-Up

We had around 180 TOTs. Every year we buy candy in response to how much we went through last year. I guess next year we'll have to buy just a little more.

One thing I was a little sad to see was the paucity of home-made costumes. Very few of the TOTs were wearing a costume that had that home-made look. I have to admit that our son wore a store-bought puppy costume, but he is a year old. For our sanity a pre-made costume was best. When he gets older and starts making decisions about what he wants to be then we'll make his costume. As I was looking at the Iron Men and Spider Men I started thinking about all the costumes I had as a child. My favorite would have to be Sherlock Holmes. I even had an authentic scottish deerstalker.

Overall, it was a fun night! Even with the adult TOTs, I still love this holiday!

Almost Halloween

My decorating energy has been devoted to creating games and other bits for my son's first birthday. We decided on a pirate theme and that led me to creating a pirate bean-bag toss game, and sign along with a sign for a treasure hunt game. I also created some crates that would be at home in the hold of ship that sails the bounding mane.

I crafted these with the old stand-by; white polystyrene. I would love to have an opportunity to use the blue or pink form, but you can't find it here. So, the white foam pellets are everywhere. However, the signs look really good. With the paint treatment I choose they have a comic quality that isn't too scary and completely appropriate for a child's birthday.

Depending on next year's birthday theme I might repurpose the signs into Spooky Gulch which, regrettably, did not make an appearance in this year's haunt.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Spirit of Elias Cauphen

The whole family went out to the store and when we returned we found, what I could only assume to be, the spectral manifestation of Elias Cauphen. He was lying on the stone stoop of the Cauphen Famlily mausoleum quietly contemplating the hereafter. We went over to say hello and when we approached he vanished. Perhaps this is the very spirit that was scratching at the headstones?

Monday, October 18, 2010


I don't know if they are daemon cats or regular naughty cats, but some clawed creature has been attacking the tombstones. Being made of styrofoam, the tombstones are easily victimized by sharp claws. So I decided to go out and try to reapir the damage. The first step is to paint the white exposed styrofoam and prep it for the top-coat. After that I can go back and touch up the grey with the spray paint. It'll look good as new.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spooky Acres is Up and Scary!

Well, it's up. As for scary; that depends. I am a little disappointed with the look this year. The good thing is that by spreading out the tombstones and monuments, the haunt looks bigger. I also like the way the headstones are arranged.

What I don't like is how distracting the lights are. They are out in the open more than they have ever been and they are a little too visible. I would like to hid them more, but I am committed to spending nothing. I was thinking about using a couple of cardboard boxes painted black. That part will take some heavy pondering. In the meantime, please enjoy the pictures. One caveat. These photos were taken with out new camera and I haven't become an expert in it yet. With that in mind, please be kind to my photography skills.

You can see the lights clearly.

Brother Claude and the Monument

The Cauphen Family Mausoleum

North end of the yard.

The skull is back with a bow!

The purple light shining on the foot of the coffin will be exchanged for a regular light.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Wind

Monday evening the baby, the wife, and I went outside to put up the halloween cemetery. It was a nice evening in phoenix. The wind was gentle and the air was cool. In other words, it was perfect decorating weather. We put everything up and I was very happy with the new lay-out. We went to bed and tuesday came.

Tuesday was a different story. The morning started out cool and cloudy. At about noon, the wind started to pick up. Normally, I am very confident that Sppoky Acres will not blow away. I have everything staked pretty well in the ground but with this particular wind my confidence was shaken. The wind proved to be a real problem. I was concerned that all my work would blow away. The headstones wiggled nervously in the wind. The rain smacked into the side of the faux mausoleum. Then there was the hail.

Yes, hail. Phoenix is not know for its hail. But we were given the gift of chickpea sized hail that pummled the haunt. I was outside when it started and I was pummeled in the head. To protect myself I had to take the mausoleum from its foundation and use it as an improvised shield. My wife and I both took turns grabbing things to prevent them from flying away.

A little later in the evening there was part 2 of the storm. The hail increased in size to walnuts and the wind was even stronger. By that time, however, most of the decorations had been moved to the back patio. We didn't loose anything, but I will have to re-install the decorations tomorrow.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Buffet Decorations

The buffet decorations are done and it looks wonderful. The haunted house centerpiece was a gift from my wife for my birthday. The remainder of the decorations (with the exception of the eyeballs) were either recycled or remade. I could go on and on about the process, but Ill let the pictures speak for me.

The book above was made according to Dave Lowe's easy process. It's a little difficult to see in the photo, but there is a spooky Adney-style skull on the cover.

And this is the buffet in all it's spooky glory. We're happy with the outcome and it adds something extra to a part of the house that always looked a little drab. Since there isn't going to be anything major added to the front yard, I think that focusing on the inside of the house is a good way to feel like I'm adding something to the house.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


One of the projects that I am completing this year is a "witchy" buffet. It's an interior decoration that's 1/2 halloween and 1/2 Harry Potter. I have completed some spooky books following Dave Lowe's tutorial. They look amazing!

In addition to the books and some other "occult" baubles I wanted to have bottles filled with magical potions and other creepy liquids. I have created some of the bottles, but I want to add a little extra; I want to "plus" them. So, I began to think. What is an atmospheric add that would make bottles appear old and mysterious. The answer was dust. I want to make the bottles dusty.

I could leave them out and wait for the dust to accumulate, but my wife would have a problem with that. Also, I have allergies and I would have a problem with that. I set about looking for something that would look dusty. I tried this first.

I have a can of grey latex spray paint. I took a bottle and the paint and lightly dusted the surface. This is what I came up with.

It looks dusty, but I am not sure that it looks real. Here is the original bottle.

As you can tell the dusty bottle looks more convincing than the un-dusty bottle. I am hesitant to start spraying all the bottles that I have already made. I am going to have to think about this one for a little while.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Work Begins

I just started working on some decorations for Halloween 2010. I've told my wife that this year is going to be "smaller and more focused" I am sure that that plan is going to fly out the window.

While I was at a very boring work meeting I was doodling some ideas for the fence around the yard. I think that the wall with ironwork idea that I initially had would be too difficult and time consuming. I am leaning toward a creepy wood fence. There are some interesting interpretations at Haunt Project that I am mulling over.

Apart from that I am just working on the narrative that pulls the entire yard together. Like I have mentioned earlier, I am shaking up the layout of the haunt. I am excited about the prospect.

On another note, I was inspired by Dave Lowe's creepy book tutorial to create a series of books for the inside decorations. I picked up several old discard books from the library that will serve as donors for the project. I'll definitely include some pictures when I have finished.

UPDATE: The fence idea has been put on hold pending me finding a really good source of used pallets. Otherwise, nothing major is going to be added outside.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Planning

Now that I am on summer vacation, I have started working on some new ideas for the yard.

First, the haunt is going to span both sides of the yard. Last year the graveyard was on the left side of the house, but I thought that the rest of the yard looked incomplete. I have plenty of headstones for both sides if I place them farther apart. Placing them farther apart will give the yard a more authentic look.

Second, the small fence that I put up around the headstones looks cute, but is not substantial enough for the whole yard. I need to make a cemetery fence or wall. Right now I am leaning toward a wall. A wall will keep people out of the yard and add a significant amount of atmosphere. I could also hide any lighting behind the wall. As always, styrofoam will be the medium. I have been researching some different painting techniques that would make it look more like stone. Two feet sections with a fence topper would be a good scale for children.

Third, the new wall would need me to change the path by which the TOTs will be coming to the door and then leaving. The set-up of our front path makes it easy for one or two people to turn around, but with the volume of visitors, we will need to make some modifications. Once the TOTs get their treat they will leave through the graveyard. The exit will be clearly marked and lit and will offer some vignettes. I think that it will be very neat.

The first step, though is making the walls.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Raven

I have started work on a new animatronic raven. The raven that I have is a little unimpressive. In looking around on the internet I found a great raven. The build is exceptional and I want to use it as a starting point for my own raven.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

Happy New Year! The haunting plans continue!