Monday, March 30, 2009

Big Lots Damaged Statue Score!

Well, I  missed the big sale on Garden Statuary at Big Lots – it ended on Saturday, and I just wasn’t able to get over there.  This morning, Jayson and I were out running errands on his day off, and decided to stop in, there was an angel from there that I have seen in several forum threads, and I just wanted to SEE her.  She is originally priced at $35 bucks, but with the sale, people were getting her for $23….  I did not intend to pay full price for her, but heck, what can you loose just walking around Big Lots?

I did find the angel – there was only one of her left, and much to my happy surprise, she was damaged… pretty good, actually.

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This was the only area of damage, the rest of her was perfect.

So after walking around the store, and finding some pretty good landscape fabric at $5 for a 50’ roll (good for the boarded window effect, and just about anything you want to “black out”) I asked the manager if there could be a discount for the angel, since she was damaged.  He let us have her for $17 bucks, and I was happy as a clam!

Now, what to do with her?  My thought was to put some monster mud around the area to strengthen it, and stop the cracking, or loosing any more pieces, but leaving the existing cracks and 2 holes… then paint to age it, and let it appear as an old broken statue.  I think Jayson might be thinking on how to fill in the holes….

What do you think we should do with her?

Hope you are all having a great Monday!  Talk to you soon :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Paper Mache Assembly Line

I am quickly finding out that I am not going to be one of those amazing people that can post daily, or even every other day.  I get too busy working on props, and the other time is spent in the forums, so I get overwhelmed with the blog.  I promise to work out a time management system… (and that, I will!)

Ok, I can’t speak for Jaybo, he has his own section of the garage, and I have mine… but here are some of the things I have been working on… I have just been strip mache-ing anything and everything… getting it all built up and dry enough to get to the FUN part! 



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These candles were inspired by the PVC Flicker candles found on all the forums….  I always have Jaybo cut the PVC for me, and one day I didn’t want to wait (patience has never been a trait of mine) so I decided to paper mache them… that would also allow me to have varying widths, as well as heights.  I used some Plastic Rain Gutter Guard that I had lying around - (thought it would be handy with monster building, but was apparently wrong) and rolled it into various true to life candle sizes… then wrapped in foil, mached, and am now adding clay to give it less of a straight edge feel, and more like well used wax.  I am still going to do the hot glue drips, but after looking at some of my old real candles, none of them had a perfect straight column shape anymore, and got a little warped as they burned down…  I know it sounds like a lot of work for a detail that probably no one will notice, but somehow I do a lot of that.  Plus, it gives my hands something to do while watching The Amazing Race or Survivor.  (Don’t judge, I like reality shows, and will proudly admit it.  Here.  Only.)


paper mache 004The cauldron.  I know, it looks funny so far.  Well, other than the fact that in that picuture it is sitting in a green lawn chair.  But this is one of those projects that will likely take months because I get so sick of it, and come back to it.  I actually have finished the mache on it (contrary to the pic above) and have removed the 450 thousand tons of wadded up newspaper… but am having trouble with the bottom now… it was not as stable as the rest of it, and I didn’t know that until *after* I removed the stuffing and made more pumpkins with all that newspaper.  It is now sitting upside down, trying to figure out how to mache the bottom up to strength without it buckling in.  I will get it right, oh yes, I will.  Then I will work on shaping the top, and adding all the awesome detail that is in my head, but will likely look nothing like it on the actual cauldron.

*Note.  I have had to stop Jaybo from running down to the garden center and buying a huge bucket like 10 times, just to put me out of my misery.  I keep telling him that I want to do this from scratch, and he doesn’t believe the “I WANT to” part.  But if this works out, I am really going to love it much more than a hot pink bucket with mache on it.  :D


100_7876317 004 Playing with my new homemade clay, and having a ball… another thing to do while watching TV, making various tombstone embellishments.317 006

And last but not least…. while speaking of this homemade clay that I am in love with – here are one of the pumpkins, (Judy) and my two gargoyles (Brian and Jenny) that are past the mache process, and I am trying the clay on them.  The Pumpkin doesnt really need it – can definitely use pulp mache clay next time, but I was just testing it out. 

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324But it is on the gargoyles that I am loving this stuff…. it is smooth, and working with it is a dream.  Easily made with household ingredients, I am super digging it.

(Pardon the gargoyles…. I swear, they will look like gargoyles in the end.  Ok, I don’t swear…. I *hope*.  hehe)

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So, that’s the status of the garage as of March 24th.  Will update as more items turn up!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Waiting for Water to Boil… or Rather, for Papier Mache to dry.

I am working on nothing but Papier Mache items right now, and here in Texas it is currently about 200% humidity.  It has been raining on and off for 3 or 4 days and it takes a long time to dry anything.  So I am only getting one coat of mache on each object per day… and I like anywhere from 5 – 7 coats per object depending on size.  So, I’m obviously getting frustrated, and wanting to make something.

To keep me going, I made a quick batch of bread dough clay today, and made a little primitive skull for tombstones later.

If you haven’t made bread dough clay, it is easy, free, and fast.  My kind of material.  Take a piece of white bread (the older the better) and remove the crust.  Feed a bird.  Shred the crustless bread in small pieces into a paper cup, butter dish, or any kind of container.  Per one slice of bread, use one Tablespoon of white or Tacky glue…  (Note:  I personally don’t like mixing this in a baggie because it is sticky at first, and almost impossible to get it all off the plastic once mixed).  Mix the bread and glue together with a craft stick, plastic spoon, or whatever you have.  Mix til it makes a ball and holds together, remove from dish and roll/knead in your hands.  You will get a non sticky, firm, workable clay.

Shape as desired.  If you notice it starting to dry out, you can wet your fingers and it will become pliable again.

315 004Once you get the shape you want, you can carve out any details you want.  In the picture above, you can see a toothpick at the top right… I get these at Cracker Barrel restaurant, and they are my favorite craft tool.  One end is sharp like a normal toothpick, and the other end is a little barrel shape with a flat end.  So I use one end to dig out the clay, then use the flat end to make a smooth surface.  Sometimes you might notice after digging the clay out, it might get brittle or start to ball up, thats why I have the thin paint brush in the photo – I will wet the brush and run it along the rough areas to smooth them out.

Let it air dry, there is no need to put it in the oven.

Note on color – The skull is bread dough as it is, without color.  You can also easily tint the clay by adding a drop of acrylic paint during the mixing phase.  Just note that your hands will get paint all over them during the kneading process.  I make a lot of bread dough roses for various girlie things, and I always tint that dough, because who wants to try to paint all those swirled up petals later?  But for this skull, it will just be glued to a styrofoam tombstone later, and can be easily painted with the rest.

This method is definitely not for items with small details that need to be carved out.  (Although it rolls well, and I love using it to make tiny little roses to embellish boxes, etc… they are small enough to fit on a dime).  There are numerous homemade clays out there, some recipes use flour, water, and oil… some use salt, some use powdered corn starch…. and of course the recipes that use paper mache paste mixed with fiber insulation (which I love too)… this is just my easy go-to recipe for a fast clay when i want a good strong piece, quick and cheap.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Look Out! Zombies!

The Brandywine Cemetery haunt in Ann Arbor, Michigan photoshopped a zombie sign years ago for their haunt. I've always loved the sign. They had the original file in the gallery on their site that I've been hanging on to for sometime now. Well, I work for a municipality and helped the guys in the Sign Shop with their new cutter and software. In return for my help, they made me a sign!!! I can not tell you how excited I am right now!! It's a thing of beauty!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Marriage Counseling…

Ok, if you and your spouse are stubborn and pigheaded. Plus, you both have an overly developed addiction with all things Halloween. Then there is no better way to test that marriage than to decide together on a theme for your haunt. We are still working on it!


 This might take awhile………………………………………………………… ;-)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Theme…. argh.

So, last year was our first year to REALLY get into our yard haunt hard core.  It was simple… kicked out a bunch of tombstones, a couple of ground breakers, pumpkins, assorted spooky dudes, etc… and threw them all out in the yard.  Scared some kiddies.  Looked forward to the next year.

We called it Nickols Manor.  We boarded up the windows of our house, and tried to make it look old and run down.  I wore a historic period dress, as if I were the ghost of the Manor.  Jayson was a haunted pumpkin, straight from the pumpkin patch.

Looking back on it, I wondered – who would expect an entire front yard of an old house to be taken up with a cemetery?  And why is there crate in the front yard with a monster (MIB) trying to jump out at people?  Oh, yes, a Grim Reaper pumpkin man ALWAYS stands at the front door of abandoned houses, waiting to scare people that happen to walk upon it.

So this year, I’m already over complicating it.  I want realism.  I want to try and recreate the feeling of walking up to an abandoned house, the anticipation of what will jump out at you… rather than having it all *out there*… in your face, so to speak.

Darkness frightens me when I don’t know what’s coming, so we are considering keeping part of the yard without lights, and then using LED spots to light up a motion detected prop as it “jumps out”…  try to make the HOUSE an actual character in the haunt, and make better use of the windows, roof, etc.  Just trying to be real, and see if we can get the same scare.  I don’t know if it can be done, because we can’t even make it work out on paper – but thats what we are working on tonight.

Til then, here’s the props we are working on….

1st Of March 036Well, here’s my cauldron so far…. which will most likely be cut from the plan this year… haha, figures.  I will still finish it for next year, maybe.  Depends on how it looks, it might just end up in the trash!

1st Of March 037I’m making paper mache forms for the candles that most people make with PVC… will see how this works too – total experiment, and an effort to not have to buy anything from Lowe’s (pvc) right now

And of course more pumpkins… always need pumpkins. 

Hope everyone is having a good weekend, will talk to you soon! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Time to ‘Get to Work!’

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Jaybo is working on LED spotlights, and some other things I can’t pronounce…

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And I am getting ready to paper mache… 

Flour… check

Liquid Starch… check

Glue… check

Bleach water… check

Huge trashbag filled with a bit less than a ton of newspaper wads… hoping to become a cauldron…. sorta check.  ;)

I have seen cauldrons done with other types of forms, and have NOT seen it done like this… so that should have been my first red flag… but, like the idiot I am, I’m gonna give it a shot.

I will probably be telling you why this did NOT work later.

Back to the glue!  Hope all is going well for you!


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