Sunday, September 29, 2013

Candles, Rain, More Candles and More Rain

Not much to report today- the storm continued to dump on us all day long, with little pause. Still, I was able to work on the porch, cutting some more candles out of the PVC. I've got one 5 foot section to go, but with 15 feet cut I've got just under 30 candles between 6 and 8 inches high (for some reason, I ended up with 3 7-inch candles).

I tried to use the hot glue gun SpiderWitch bought me, but it didn't work- never got hot enough to create the drips I need to look like melted wax. So, that's on hold until we get a better gun. Meanwhile, though, I'll glue some of the candles together to create groups.

I've also been browsing a bunch of web tutorials on hard-wiring the tea lights. This would be a LOT easier than manually turning them on and off every night, not to mention cheaper as we wouldn't have to replace batteries. It seems fairly straightforward, but I've got more research to do.

Here's a quick pic of just the candles:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rain, Rain- Go Away!

This week was a literal washout- rain off and on all week, so only limited work outside. The forecast for Saturday looked good, so I planned out my projects intending to accomplish them in one marathon session.


Huge storm moving through the region- heavy rains all day today, accompanied by strong wind gusts. Forecast for Sunday doesn't look any better. So much for getting everything done. There were a couple of projects we had on the back burner, so I moved them up to the front. First thing was to soak a bunch of fabric in Rit Fabric Whitener, to give them a nice fluorescent capability. They'll be turned into some ghosts rising from behind the tombstones on the other side of the yard. We'll hit them with a blacklight for a nice glowing effect. The idea is to do something similar to the ghoulish figures in Fantasia:
The best part is when they first come up from the grave...

Next up was a continuation of the lighting for the front porch. The candelabras look great, but don't give us enough light for the trick or treaters. We either have to use an overhead light source, or add more candles.

More candles it is.

Through the use of LED tea candles, PVC pipe, and hot glue, we can create a large number of pillar candles quickly and cheaply. I was able to knock out about a dozen this afternoon in under 2 hours. We still need to add the hot glue and then paint them, but we can do that anytime, anyplace. Ideally, this will give us the necessary light level.

The next step is to drip hot glue down the sides to create a melted wax effect.
Then spray paint the entire thing a nice candle color and you're done!
We'll have to find some way of displaying all the candles
without it turning into another major building project.

The downside is turning on/off 50+ LEDs twice each night
But they look pretty cool...I guess it's worth it!
Next week we start setting everything up. I was hoping to have it all done, and not still building it during October, but as SpiderWitch pointed out, people like walking by and watching us set up the various parts of the haunt. So I guess if we still have to build a few things, it's not so bad. The hardest parts are finished at least.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Non-Rolling Stones Gather Moss

Took advantage of the calm before the storm (tomorrow) to work on our last few projects. First up was the Scene Setter- got that taped to the weed fabric, so the next step will be to hang it and mark the grommets, finish taping the seams, and then cut it to fit the wall. The hard part is done though.

After that was finished, I weathered the tombstones with a bit more black paint, then drybrushed with a sponge to get a lighter gray highlight. Added some orange-gray spots of lichen, then glued moss to make it look like it's been in the ground for years and years. Turned out pretty snazzy I think:
That's a lot of tombstones. 
Some close ups:
Final project was the sign for our cemetery. It was originally green with gray writing, but I figured  a metallic look would be better.
Might add glow-in-the-dark paint to the silver lettering.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Candelabra Light Test

Put the candelabras together with some heavy duty glue, hopefully this will hold everything more securely once it dries. SpiderWitch picked up some LED flicker candles (made from real candles!), so once we do a little touch-up paint, maybe some cobwebs, we'll be done with this project.

 Close up of the candles. They fit perfectly in the cups which held the bulbs when it was a chandelier, and they're vanilla scented!

The lights flicker like a real candle, and the wax body lets the light shine through. Very realistic effect.

Full length picture, the structure stands about 5 feet tall. It turned out pretty good, I'd say.

 This was taken about 7:45, the sky was a bit darker than it appears in the pics. Nice glow from the candles, not too much light being thrown off.

After it was completely dark, I checked it again. A very nice glow, and a fair amount of light- not enough for the trick-or-treaters, but a decent amount. 

Full-length shot of both candelabras. They stand about 5 and 6 feet tall, giving a nice spread of light as well as an interesting layout visually. Should we do one more? Still debating that...not much time!

 Drac Jr. wanted to get in on the action. First up is my smilin' vampire. This is a really good pic, because he hates the flash and normally blinks.
 Vampires don't smile, he assured me before the next picture.

This is his favorite pose, the cape wrapped across his face. Turned out pretty well, no flash and no overhead light- only the candles and the timer function to allow a steadier shot with the extended shutter.

Finally, a test of the lights using the porch light and ambient background light:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

T-minus 15 and counting...

With 15 days left until we begin setup, figured I'd recap what's done and what still needs to be done:

1) Weeping Angels.
Built, sealed, painted. Still need to determine wing attachment, then weather them.

2) Cauldron and logs
Done. But we bought a BIGGER cauldron, so I'm working on it.

3) Candelabras
Two built and painted, need to determine if we're doing a third, and then make candles for them.

4) Tombstones
Tinted some Drylok grey and painted the small tombstones with it, before giving them a light weathering. One more pass of weathering to hit the details and they'll be done.

5) Scenesetters
Looks like the adhesive will work on the vinyl, so next step will be to start working on whole panels. We're going to start from scratch and open the unused packs, as this will likely be the last year we use this material.

6) Spooky Wreaths
Wreaths have been painted, bones and tulle need to be applied.

7) Fog machines/chillers
Have trash cans, need dryer vent hose and then a test run of the foggers to make sure they work.

Rain forecast for most of this week. Looks like a race to the finish line.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Crazy Busy Day

Knocked off a bit early from work, so we hit the thrift stores for parts- got a good score with 3 chandeliers! Added bonus: found a NEW Halloween store- mostly costumes, but some props. Picked up a huge cauldron, immediately gave it the oatmeal and glue treatment.

We have our neighborhood garage sale tomorrow, so SpiderWitch spent the afternoon prepping for that while I worked on projects. Got two candelabras done, but what a pain that turned out to be!
 The two finished candelabras. The left one has been primed, the right one is ready for priming. You can see the original chandelier on the right; the one on the left has had the lamps removed for further assembly. (Which means, the damn things hang from the bottom via a hook, and I've no clue how to make them stand upright to hold a candle!)

 This one stands about 6 feet tall. It's not as sturdy as I'd like, but it's the best I could do with the materials at hand. Apparently, 1/4" threaded rod isn't a universal standard...

This one is a bit shorter, coming in at around 5 feet. Much sturdier. Same issue as the first one though- one set of nuts and lockwashers for 1/4" threaded rod doesn't work on another 1/4" threaded rod. Who the hell designs this stuff? I should be able to swap any 1/4" rod with any other 1/4" rod and have the hardware fit.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Updates- Weeping Angels and Cauldron

Hottest day of the year, and we're outside working on Halloween projects...

Got the Angels coated in Drylok and started priming them for painting. Also attached the collars to cover up the neck attachment points. Almost there...

Redid the cauldron- I wasn't happy with the shiny sealer, and the oatmeal kept flaking off. So I coated the whole thing in Drylok and repainted it. Much happier now.

I'll keep playing with the arrangement of the lights under the logs, but the concept works. Calling this one done.

Weeping Angels will be done by the end of the weekend!

Camera mounts are out, and I'm still on the fence about the Scene Setter for the side of the house. Still need to attach the existing panels to the weed barrier to give us a stronger decoration. Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weeping Angels Update

Got the arms attached and covered with Monster Mud- took us all day, but we got it done. After it dries, we'll give it a coat or two of Drylok masonry sealer, to waterproof everything. Once that's done, we can paint- hopefully later this week, the weekend at the latest.

Not much else to add. Hopefully they'll dry and hold their shapes, and it'll be a quick finish for this project...hopefully.

Monday, September 2, 2013


We have Angels!
Started about 10 this morning, and finished up about noon. Monster Mud is awesome stuff- a bit hard to get it into the fabric, but once embedded, it went on like a dream and held its shape perfectly:
These were taken after the initial coating of Monster Mud. We didn't really have to add the pleats, as the weight of the mud formed them on its own. Not sure about the arms yet, we may go a different route- but for now, they help to hold everything up, so they're ok.

After a pause for lunch, we started working on the heads. The original plan was to use yarn and braid it, then arrange it on the heads.

Yeah. Not the best idea. The glue didn't hold well, the braiding took forever, and the yarn was still too narrow to really make a realistic hair pattern. So SpiderWitch hurried off to Spirit Halloween for some wigs.

It took a while to get the mud into the wigs, and arranged on the foam heads, but she did a great job creating unique hairstyles for each Angel. The results speak for themselves:

Here's Drac Jr. posing next to one of the Angels:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Angels are GO!

Another painful, painful day with the chicken wire, but our Angels are complete and we're ready to begin applying the Monster Mud tomorrow! We found some "Zombie" arms designed to be staked into the ground; the hands are close to SpiderWitch's in size, so they'll work fine. They slip into the end of a plastic water bottle perfectly. It was hot, so we had plenty of empties to use as handholds.

I finished making the armatures and test-fit the dresses while SpiderWitch painted the wings with a sealer to everything waterproof. The paint also imparts a nice, stone-like finish to the materials.

The finished products: Three Angels ready to be covered in mud and paint. Oh, and about the, ah, comment.

Poor SpiderWitch! The Angels are taller than her!