Sunday, November 7, 2010

It’s over

Well it’s gone. I took down everything this weekend expect for the fence and columns. Bring on the doldrums. Yay. LOL!

I keep flirting with idea of decorating for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is why the fence and columns are still up in the yard. Yeah right! I really like them and don’t want to take them down yet.

Let’s see how long I can push this one.

Anyway, since this was the last time I would see everything together, I couldn’t resist snapping a few more pictures during the day. Got a little creative with the photos this time. I’ll give a virtual cookie to the first person that tells me how I took the photos. smile_wink

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Night 2010

As Dixie mentioned before, we were both too wiped to put up the haunt on Monday. So, we left everything up so I could take a few more pictures that night. It’s a good thing I dragged myself out there to get a few token shots, because early Tuesday morning a torrential downpour started that did not stop until this afternoon. Hopefully our paper mache items will recover. They are a little soft, but still intact. I currently have a triage area setup in the garage so I can operate on the worst cases.

Ahhh…the splendid night of the 31st! Much less TOTs this year versus other years, but a really quality group of people this year. Everyone was very well behaved, and not one teenager looking for trouble. I really hammed it up this year to get them to stop by the haunt. Our house sits two doors down from a very busy street that runs to an affluent neighborhood just to the North of our neighborhood. I situated myself on the street corner in full costume motioning for cars to divert to our street. I got quite a few! Those that didn’t stop, honked at me as they passed. I’m sure people will be talking about the freak on the side of the road for a good bit!

We now have regulars attending our haunt every year, and they go out of their way to let us know that we are now a tradition on their Halloween nights! Wow! We also had a rather large tourist group from Spain stop by our haunt. These people were going on and on about the haunt. We must have spent 20 minutes just posing with each of them for photographs. They probably hung out at our haunt for close to an hour just taking pictures of everything we had. Really nice people.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I really enjoy the people more than anything else about this holiday. The kids are the best! There was a family of 5 that showed up with a small 4 year old boy that was not afraid of anything. I had a very scary costume and had been scaring the socks off of people right and left all night, but this little guy just walked right up to me and gave me a big hug! I ended up playing Simon Says, Peek-a-Boo, and Hide-n-Seek with him! I haven’t laughed or had so much fun in a very long time! I hope he comes back next year.

Anyway, I could go on and on about the fun that was had, and the plans for next year, but you people have all heard this before. So, lets get with the pictures already!


Plus, here is a cheesy YouTube video slideshow:

Monday, November 1, 2010

364 More Days, eh?

Happy New Year, right?  Planning for 2011 starts today.

For me, planning began last night around 1am.  Sitting across the street, smack dab on the sidewalk - in our costumes, because our feet hurt so bad, staring at the panoramic view of our haunt. 


Just staring at it…. Saying things such as:  I like this…. I like that…. need more of this…. need more of that… take that mess out completely, and wouldn’t it look cool if we had a big huge one of those right about there.

You know the drill, right?

We got the kids off to school this morning, just a few hours after we finally got to bed ourselves, and today is resting, and planning the 2010 take down.  We took today off to put everything away, but still need more pictures, so it will stay up a few more days.  Which is good, I don’t think either of us could move if we wanted to!

What is up with that?  I know I just turned 39 last week, but that’s not old!  I think we pushed ourselves way too hard since Thursday night, trying to get more and more and more done.  We didnt eat a bite yesterday, rushing around, it felt chaotic, like our wedding day. 

The only thing I don’t understand.  We plan all year.  We have sketches of the “finalized haunt” for positions, etc.  We scheme, we makes lists and discuss every little detail…. yet…

Every year, we spend the last 4 days like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to ADD this and add that.  Never satisfied, always looking for just this or that extra little detail.

I guess I need to buy less food that needs to be cooked for the last 4 days of next year, and more Power Bars, lol.

Pictures coming soon in a Jaybo post, I’m sure.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Haunter Fatigue?

If you guys are like me, then you have been getting very little sleep and stressing about every little detail of your haunt. Details that no one would probably notice except yourself. Family and friends have all been asking about your haunt and wanting to see it all right now, oh and by the way they just happened to mention it to 400 other people that you would give personal tours and they could drop by at anytime because you are such a nice guy.

The stress gets to the point that you want to throw your hands up in the air and shut it all down. We don't need this. We do this for the love and joy, and we are not feeling that anymore.

Stop. Breathe. Relax.

Better? are supposed to breathing a little slower. That's actually bordering on hyperventilating.

Ok, put down the rifle and ammo. That's not the answer!

Ok, time to break out the silly. Watch the video below.


Because it's silly, has nothing to do with Halloween or haunting, and it's good for our soul.

Hang in there everybody! We're in the homestretch now!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gravestone Artwear

Evidently Dixie has been cooped up in the garage carving gravestones for much too long. She eats, breathes, and NOW wears gravestones!


Gravestone ArtwearGravestone Artwear


She wanted me to tell everyone about Gravestone Artwear. Looks like these guys take rubbings of actual New England gravestones and silkscreen them onto all kinds of things. Looks like a pretty cool site.

Now, excuse me while I try to explain to my wife why a 4ft long foam gravestone is not meant to be worn like a hat. The neighbors look at us funny as it is, we don't need to give them any more ammunition.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 DIY Haunts

Looks like Make: is running their Annual Halloween Animatronic contest. We need some tech heads from the community to step up and win this thing. We can't have a non-Haunter winning! DIY Haunts

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Counting the Days…

Ok, no end of Summer Blow Out Bash for us this Labor Day weekend. It’s time to bust out some props and try to make up for the lack of production the last few months. Yikes! Seriously behind schedule this year.

So, the project for this weekend are new columns with an integrated count down sign. I have the frames for the two 8ft tall columns built, but only have one a little over half way skinned with foam and carved. Dixie has carved out tons of numbers and hard coated them with

vinyl concrete patchvinyl_patch_bag_bucket mixed with wood glue.tite2together


The concrete patch is my new love this year!

Dixie will be working on the countdown sign, plus a Nickols Manor sign, to go on the columns. The plan is to velcro the numbers to the sign so we can change them out each day.


The numbers and letters of the sign will be base coated in white latex paint and then detailed with Wildfire Luminescent paint.




I couldn’t wait to see what this all looked like under a blacklight, so I grabbed a few numbers, my half finished column, and my camera. This is not what the final product will look like, but it shows you what we are going for…plus the Wildfire paint is cool as hell!


IMG_0706 IMG_0705

IMG_0707 IMG_0708


Ok, that’s it for now. Gotta get back in the garage and get to work. Wish us luck!


Oh, and happy Labor Day for those of you in the USA! Throw a burger on the grill for me and save a beer!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Costume Gathering

Well, its August, and I am so behind on gathering all the pieces for my costume.  It’s been 3 years that I have worn the same one, and I am so looking forward to something new.  Based on my last costume, there are a few things that I KNOW I want…

1.  Working with the light.  We use blue and red lights.  Which made for an invisible dress, being that it was black and emerald green.  This year I want lighter colors, which will absorb the light better, without making me look too cheery.  (In most of the pictures last year, you couldn’t make out anything except my clown white makeup, and my white wig, it was just a little TOO weird, lol)

2.  Proper hemming.  I was not born with the amazing ability to sew, hem, or even thread a needle.  I actually duct taped about 6 inches of my dress hem, so that I could walk in the yard without tripping.   Yes, duct tape.

3.  I like the full skirts of period dresses… Civil War, Early Victorian, Rococo without the added hips (which I seriously don’t need extra padding?!?!) so I am sticking with the old ghost of the Manor gig.

rococo Love the stripes, hate the extra hip, I don’t need extra hips ;)

il_430xN.81233108 Good combination of colors, lovely waist cincher, this is a heavy contender

black Love this one, the stern neckline and sleeves are good for warmth… just wish it weren’t so black…


4.  I am stuck on all thing Burton, and love the quirky-ness of black and white vertical stripes.  I want something kind of half serious, half quirky.

seuss Love this quirky fabric – from the (who’d a thunk it) Dr. Seuss line (haha!).  Wish I could work this in somehow…

So with a list like that, I have not found what I want looking at Etsy, Ebay, or any of the other sites I have found.  I believe that I’m going to contact a seamstress or two, and see if there is any way I can afford some help of someone that knows OH SO MUCH more than I do about this stuff.

I guess my idea of a quirky, old, crazy lady that died in a house and was buried in what appeared to be half circus costume is not such a common item!  (I make myself laugh on this one)

shoes Love these too!

Now, all I need to find is a wacky hat………..

Happy building everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Halloween Animatronic

The only thing I love as much as Halloween, are robots. After stumbling across the video above, I am now in Nerdvana! Oh man...the bank account is going to be very dry this year. to hide it from Dixie?

Hmmm...maybe NOT posting it on the blog would have been a good first start. There's that damn hindsight again. I swear I have 20/10 vision looking backwards!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sword of Blight ( or me just playing around with rust…again)

After my last post about creating a rust look, I got some really good tips. So, I needed to test them out again.

I didn’t have anything handy that I wanted to look rusted, so I needed to make something. Hmm….we have a graveyard, and everything is old, undead, moldy, and decaying but not dangerous. I need to punch up the danger factor in the yard, so it’s time to arm the yard!

Months ago I took a scrap piece of wood and sanded it down to look like a sword blade. I was just playing around to see what I could do with the piece. I never planned it out or did anything else with the blade. It’s actually a little too short to look like a real sword. I also never threw it away. It’s been floating around the garage since last summer.

Well, I had some new rust techniques I needed to test out, and I didn’t want to use another boring piece of PVC pipe. So, I had a purpose for the wee little hobbit blade now.


I needed a hilt and crosspiece for the blade, so I took a piece of 1” PVC pipe and cut a slit down the middle of the pipe using a hacksaw. Be CAREFULL and go slow if you decide to do this like I did. (NOT advised). What I should have done is place the pipe in a bench vise and cut the piece. What I ACTUALLY did was hold the piece with one hand while cutting with the other. Not smart or safe. Outside I was all cool and businesslike (cause you know, that’s what’s really important, looking cool), inside I was saying, “NOT SMART! NOT SMART!” over and over. (See?!? That’s not cool on the outside.) (Yes…men are stupid, but you love us anyway!)

I think I just demonstrated the classic instance of a dumbass. I knew what I did was wrong, but I did it anyway.


Next I pried the two slit pieces of PVC apart and slid the wooden blade into the slit. Then I took the miraculous wonderment of all haunters, crafters, DIYers, and NASCAR called Gorilla Tape, and locked the blade to the pipe.

Now I needed a crosspiece. I took a small piece of blue foam insulation and cut it down to size. Cut a whole in the center of the foam, slid the foam down the wooden blade, and promptly broke it in half trying to force it over the tape.

SOoooo, I take ANOTHER piece of foam (Pink this time) and make a bigger piece with a bigger hole. This was hot glued to the PVC pipe and blade. I also used the hot glue to fill in the gap between the blade and the crosspiece’s hole. Things are looking better. Except, the crosspiece is shaped wrong and pink. I took a wood rasp to the foam to rough it up and shape it a little. Shape is decent now. Color is still pink.

So, now I put down a basecoat of brown latex paint on the crosspiece, and spray painted the wooden blade silver.

The hilt is still stark white PVC. So, I wrap the entire pipe with the black Gorilla Tape. It gives it a wrapped leather look from a distance. It looks like tape up close. Don’t get up close. smile_wink  I’ll go over the tape later with some brown and black washes to make it look more like leather. It will do for now.

Finally, it’s time to start rusting this thing up. I now have Pre-Mixed Concrete Patch and Oatmeal, as suggested by Dave the Dead and others.

The concrete patch is very nice! I spread it on the prop like peanut butter on bread. Then, I took a cotton swab and started dabbing at the patch to give it a rough texture. Next, I threw the obligatory sand into the mix and added a little oatmeal here and there. I used the cotton swab to press the oatmeal in a little deeper. I only waited a little over an hour for the concrete patch to dry, before I started painting on the rust colors. In hindsight, not a good idea. I learn a lot from hindsight. Not so much by foresight. That’s Dixie’s department.

The finish turned out ok in the long run, but it took longer to dry and every little bump would cause the concrete patch to smear and show from under the paint. I also put some of the patch on a PVC pipe and let it dry for 24hrs. I had no problems with that piece at all. There’s that damn hindsight again.

I still have to try out the Great Stuff technique that Chris Davis mentioned in my earlier post. That’s a two person job, but Dixie is leaving me for a week for Vegas. Looks like I will have to postpone this for a bit. Unless someone wants to come over and help this weekend?

By the way, I posted a How-To on this same topic over on hauntforum_logo_2 after I was asked how it was done. If anyone has some input, chime in on the forum. Here is the link to the post:


Seriously, I could use some help this weekend. The grass doesn’t mow itself you know!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Corrosion Explosion

I got to experimenting with a few techniques for the old rusty nail, guaranteed tetanus shot look in the garage this weekend. I wanted the props to look more realistic during the daylight, and the black PVC fence was just looking too “tidy” for my taste.

I have this:

And I want this:






So, I dug out some left over plastic finials and started my quest for metal decay!



I’m not going to drag you step by step through the errors I made trying to get this to work. Dixie put up with enough abuse to cover everyone. I’ll spare you guys from the ordeal and skip to the end.


After 3 hours I finally ended up with the fine piece of tetanus on the right:


It doesn’t really take 3hrs to accomplish the look, it just takes me 3hrs of playing around and repainting to figure out what works.

Ok, this is what you’ll need:

  • Orange latex paint
  • Small sea sponge
  • Wood glue
  • 50/50 mixture of dark brown latex paint and water in spray bottle
  • Mahogany wood stain
  • Sand

And this is what you do:

  1. Coat the item liberally with wood glue.
  2. Throw sand onto the item ensuring it sticks to the glue. This will give you the grungy texture we are looking for on the prop.
  3. Let this dry.
  4. Take the sea sponge and randomly dab the orange latex paint over the item.
  5. Spray or drip the 50/50 brown paint mix over the item while the orange paint is still wet.
  6. Allow the two paints to run and mix.
  7. Oh, this gets kind of messy so I hope you read ahead and haven’t just ruined your kitchen table!
  8. Now, drip some of the Mahogany wood stain onto the prop to dirty up the look.
  9. Set aside and let dry.
  10. That’s it!

I’m not sure how well this will hold up outside in the elements, so you might want to seal this with a urethane to be safe.

I’ve read of other people using concrete patch to create their texture, so I ran out last night and bought a small tub of ready mix concrete patch for about $8 at Home Depot. I’ve applied it to a PVC pipe and rolled the pipe in sand but it takes 24 hours to cure, so I’ll update this post later with the progress.

I would love to hear how everyone else dirties up their props. The more techniques I can pick up the better, so chime in and let me know what you do with your haunt.

Now, back to the garage! I have to get columns and a Facade/Mausoleum designed and started.

Friday, April 16, 2010


So things have been pretty busy around the Manor lately, but not in the Halloween sort of way. I’ve been feeling very anxious as of late because the blog has been neglected, no new props have been built, I’ve missed like a million Make and Take meetings (ok, maybe two or three actually), and all of our blog and forum friends think we’ve died or fallen off the face of the earth!

So, I’m a little stressed out about a hobby I love and enjoy so much. Feel like I’m letting people down. Then I get this in my email at work from my beautiful, loving, and understanding wife:



This is like seeing the first flower of spring or the first snowfall of the winter. When Dixie starts thinking this way and put’s pen to paper, that’s the first sign of the Prop Season! My favorite season of the year!

Can’t wait for this weekend to get started!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Best of the Best: Skull Shoppe

It is with great honor that we are finally able to blog about a dear friend of ours with amazing talent and a new online store.

Skull Shoppe

If you ever hang out at, then the works at this shoppe will be very familiar to you. These are the amazing works of sculptor extraordinaire Scourge scourge art from the forums. The man has a true passion for sculpting accurate and realistic skulls. He has been wowing us in the forums with his talent for quite sometime. He also happens to be an extremely nice guy!

So please support a fellow haunter and show the man some love this haunting season!

Congratulations on your new web store Scourge!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trick or Treat or Die!

Surfing the net for new prop inspiration and ran across this video:

BackyardFX shows you how he made the Pumpkin King costume below:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Amazing Giveaway from The Shadow Farm

Do you know Dave the Dead from The Shadow Farm?  If not, you really, really should.  So much talent rolled up into one person that sometimes he scares me.

Okay, MOST of the time he scares me.  But then again, he’s trying to… so that’s ok.

If I had found these Easter Eggs when I was five, I would still be having nightmares.

That’s just how Dave does it.  ;)

Visit him at The Shadow Farm and enter to win HERE.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

To Foam Putty or Not To Foam Putty….


That is the question.

woost1447a  Woodland Sciences Foam Putty


Anyone ever used it before?   Got any opinions?



Did anyone go see it last night?

Was it awesome?  Everything you hoped for?

Am I going to survive 10 more hours til I can drag Jayson to take me to see it?

Oh and I just love Helena Bonham Carter, that’s why I chose a shot of her and not Depp above (although I adore him too!).  She is amazing!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


You might have noticed that I (being Dawn) have been a little scarce lately.  Well, just humor me and ACT like you noticed that.  ;)

I started a new girlie blog of my very own, because believe it or not, I really like decorating my home in bright vibrant colors, and I rarely (ok never) get to talk about that on this blog.  Jayson would kill me and use me as a prop in the haunt if I did that.

So, I have been putting some time into getting my new blog up and running, the web design of it all has taken longer than the posts themselves!

wacky3 789x303 border descript

Not that any of you would be remotely interested, but the page is called Wacky Whimsy and can be found here.  (Well, except for Frog Queen, who, bless her heart, was my first non-family member follower, LOL  Thank you for that!)

Jayson told me this morning (in a voice that screamed “traitor!”) that since I have all but quit posting on NickolsManor lately, that I should just combine the two and call it Wacky Manor.  I died laughing.

We would be the only blog in the (short) history of blogging to lose every one of their followers in one day.  So don’t worry, he was just joking.  Just know that I’m still here, just a bit scarce for a bit.

Happy Sunday, hope it is fairly warm where you are!

Oh, and….. GO SAINTS!  (sorry, had to say it!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fun from

The next time you are shopping for your favorite haunter or zombie lover, consider some of these awesome items from

No office desk would be complete without its own Glow In The Dark Zombie Play Set.  The best part would be secretly naming each zombie after your most hated beloved co-workers, then considering the ways to kill them and bury them in your October haunt…


Then there’s the Zombie Pet Shop.  I think it would be hilarious to put these in with the family hamster and watch your spouse/child/hamster freak out.


And last but not least a classic for family game night…. what I like to call Skull Jenga…. Stack the Bones.  Call the parents and have them come over to play a family friendly game of bone balancing with the grandkids.


Wouldn’t any of these items be great for secret haunters gifts?!  Love them!

A Bad Theme Idea.

Sitting around, surfing the internet mindlessly, I somehow start thinking… ok, so here goes – another mental mind train you have to follow:

1.  How much the hubby likes The Davis' Calvin & Hobbes Christmas display

2.  How even though we try to do Christmas yard displays here, they NEVER come to fruition

3.  Wouldn’t it be fun to do something like that for Halloween one year then?

4.  Can’t do cute.  Can’t do grave bloody injustices to Calvin or Hobbes either.  Just aint fittin’.

5.  What other comical characters could I slaughter without warping the mind of a 4 year old?

6.  4 year olds aren’t allowed to watch The Simpsons because Bart is a Bad Influence.

7.  The Haunting of Springfield… Yes, Thats IT!  We can do foam or plywood cut outs of all the Springfield folks – they are easily recognizable, we can still use our graves since some will be Simpson zombies…. (notice, this is all coming out in the same number 7, because my mind was working so fast now) and… and…  Bart can be stabbing Lisa, and Maggie can be killing Krusty the Clown – bludgeoning him with a baby bottle, and… and… I could do all the painting and it will be big eye balls and a lot of yellow skin with blood all over it, and wow, that would be funny AND scary.


I guess someone on the internet already thought of it.  Oh well.

Repeat 1-7 to Hubby without taking a breath, and just WATCH him stare at you like you forgot to take your meds this morning.  (“Not in MY yard, you don’t” I could just HEAR him say, although he didnt say a word, LOL)

Back to the drawing board.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Anyone Else in the Planning Stages??


When it’s too cold outside to even BE in the garage,

And paint wouldn’t dry even if you begged it to…

Then it’s time best spent Planning…. Scheming…. Devising.

So I found the COOLEST website called Incompetech that allows you to print graph paper.

What’s so fabulous about that?

This particular site lets you customize your graph paper, and allows you to save as .pdf form to print now or later, as your heart desires.

Square graph papers, Triangles and Hexagons, Circular and Polar, Asymmetrical and Specialty Graph Papers, and as you are about to read, my favorite: Writing pages.

Choose how many squares to an inch, the color of the lines, etc.  But that’s not all.  (I sound like the ShamWow guy, eh?)

As shown in the links above, they have many different shapes for graph paper, which I’m not smart enough to know why you would need those, but it was this little baby that got me all excited:


Yes, that’s a tiny picture, but I still can’t figure out how to embed a picture of a .pdf file, and I refuse to look like an idiot taking a picture of my laptop screen. 

It’s found in the Writing category, under Cornell Graph.

The page lets you customize the layout of your page – how much graph paper, how much blank space for notes, where the blocks are located on the page, etc. 

I think this is just awesome for sketching out your prop on one side, and putting notes about how to build it, or what colors, epitaphs or motors, or whatEVER!   

I can already see printing out a stack of these and putting them in a 3 ring binder for my prop planner. 

I hope this is of use to SOMEONE… and if so, then have fun making your very own prop planner!

Friday, January 1, 2010


That title looks like binary, doesn’t it?  This 2010 stuff is just freaking me out.  Where’s our rocket ship cars, and our robot maid’s? 

On this first day of the year, I wanted to make a short post, no tutorials, or pictures…. no Prop do’s and don’ts….

I wanted to thank every single person that has become a follower of our little space on the web… I know how precious time is, and I am truly honored that you take even a moment from your day to read what Jayson and I have written.

I have said it many times, and I really believe this – the haunt community has some of the most kind and creative, talented and MacGuyver-Like people I have ever had the opportunity to be around.  Thank you for everything you have taught me in 2009, and know that I am looking so forward to spending 2010 with you.

Happy New Year!


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