Friday, October 28, 2011

Countdown to Halloween: Two Dummies & a Grave Yard.

Round two of our countdown to Halloween involves building life-sized dummies, spooky dummies. Last year the kiddo and I had one not-so imposing seated spook on our front porch. We had intentionally toned the dummy down so that it wasn't too creepy (no blood, no uber fancy rigged recordings or motions and a fairly human looking mask).

Slouchy cat-squashed spook 2010
 However, apparently we did too good of a job toning it down and had one poor kid absolutely convinced that it was a real dude chilling on the porch pretending to be fake, waiting for unsuspecting kids to walk up to the door and yell "BOO!" (paranoid much, kid?). He was so scared he refused to come to the door even after his dad had forged ahead, knocked on the door & clarified that no, the dude in the mask wasn't going to shout "boo!" and scare the crud out of his kid. I call that winning at Halloween ;)

It was a given that we would be making another seated spook this year and the kiddo was dead-set on it being Frankenstein. Using old newspapers saved from the blue bin and one big pillow to make up the torso to help 'Frank' have a little form we started the assembly.

We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves, nodding our heads at nothing in particular giving ourselves high-fives and all that when the thought dawned on me.. what about that other part of the yard?

What could we possibly do to ultra creepify that glaringly empty, completely un-creepy spot of lawn? Believe it or not, it included wrapping myself in duct tape. I actually had one of these forms pre-made and hanging around for sewing purposes about three months ago. In an impulsive mass house purge it got dismantled and thrown away/recycled. Hindsight is always 20/20, so not being one to 'cry over spilt milk' I made another, slightly less perfect version.

Can you see where I am going with this? It might look eyebrow-raisingly ridiculous but I promise when its finished it comes together like whoa. I used a half assembled coat tree to support the [minimal] weight of the torso as well as provide a wide base so it could be free standing. Stuffing the form with tissue paper, old shopping bags, newspaper and what-have-yous so it would have an actual shape rather than just looking deflated, it was time to work on some limbs.

Using old wrapping paper tubes as the structure I attached them to a coat hanger inside the form with nothing more extravagant that twist ties. Again using tissue paper (and tape) to bulk out the limbs what I was left with looked like some teenaged concoction of goth-punk couture.

Doesn't look too spooky, yet. Covering the brightly coloured arms with strips of black garbage bags things were starting to look more witchy.

With the body 90% complete it was time to get to work on the hands and head. Building the head was by far the most difficult part, it had to be solid enough that it wouldn't blow away, yet light enough that it didn't flop over, as well as maintaining some semblance of realism. The hands I managed to figure out by painting some latex gloves that had been hanging around and filling them with scrunched paper to mimic digits.The head is densely scrunched tissues taped to the coat hanger surrounded by less densely scrunched tissue paper to form a semi-round shape; then painted and adorned with creepy eyes (the nose is also squished tissues that are actually affixed by a screw to avoid flopping).
Wrap the torso in strip after strip of garbage bags until all the duct tape is covered, tie the excess around the neck like a cape and voila, witch on a coat stand. It was time for the final stages.

 Taking the whole thing outside and positioning it in the yard it looked just a little ridiculous, what with the coat stand looking like it was shoved up her...  Thank goodness it wasn't left like that long!

The one thing we don't actually have in our masses of Halloween supplies are wigs. Wigs get ruined fairly quickly it seems when kids are involved. So for the time being we left her bald and earless. But we did give her an evil kitty and  we're still looking for a wooden broom to complete the visual. 

Pretty spook-tastic if I do say so myself. If I could wave a magic wand and add anything there would definitely be a bubbling cauldron. With the dummies out of the way  It was time to step up our game. Next up was the finishing touches, the gore-factor, the creep-tastic goodness. It was time to create our own unholy zombie-fied bone yard. That's right, our very own grave yard (or zombie playground).

I literally just threw the bones out of the box and across the yard.

oh noes! zombies!
The tombstones are just painted frozen juice cardboard flats weighed down with rocks that we 'inherited' from my mother when the kiddo had his first 'real' Halloween a few years ago (and by real, I mean he can actually recall it). Pretty awesome right? But we weren't quite finished, how could we be without hanging some cobwebs, or jimmy rigging some ghosts up in the trees?

But the fun didn't stop there, oh no. Raiding our scrap wood stash I quickly whipped up this spooky sign and jammed it into the ground near the street. 

Honestly, I love how excited kids get over the holidays -- it is sheer wide-eyed enjoyment. I love being able to help create great memories for my son and his friends, even if it only is for one day. Although some of the paper stuff will probably get ruined being out in the weather, I would rather it be out in the yard where all the trick-or-treaters can enjoy it rather than cluttering up my already demo-cluttered interior.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Count Down to Halloween: Jack-o-lanterns.

While some of you out there have been busy getting yourselves festive & decorated for fall we here at #16 have been a bit preoccupied (what with the roof and all that), but now that the larger projects are out of the way (more on that later) we're ready to get into the holiday spirit with a little spookery!
Frankenstein pumpkin Halloween 2010

Last year we waited to the last second to buy pumpkins to carve and ended up having slim pickings. This year, we planned ahead and bought our pumpkins just after Thanksgiving (Canadian's have already had their turkey feast). Though the kiddo has been positively begging to carve jack-o-lanterns ever since the round, orange squash were brought home I've been delaying because below freezing temps overnight + snow = melty/mushy pumpkins and I certainly didn't want to have to go on a mad pumpkin hunt the weekend before Halloween to try and snag some replacements. 

A year makes a big difference in the fine motor skills of tiny people, so this year instead of just letting me do the carving while he scooped out the guts, the munchkin  actually drew faces on a few pumpkins and tried out his carving skills. Survey says: carving pumpkins is hard, yo. Even with tiny serrated saws intended for the purpose of carving that supposedly make the job unimaginably easier, it's still hard for tiny 5yr.old arms to muscle up and carve through the 3" thick rinds. Which means I still got to do the lions share of the physical carving, but with much "supervision" and many "suggestions."

 Once we were done mutilating  carving, we took the jack-o-lanterns outside and set them up along the walk and deck to see how they looked. Sure they aren't Martha Stewart perfect, but they'll be ending up in the compost at the end of the month anyway.

Having a handful of decorative gourds hanging around the house from Thanksgiving that were starting to look sad I decided why not deck them out and add a little variety with some pint-sized jacks. 

this one's my fav!

This is only the beginning of spookifying our house.We (and by we I obviously mean I) have goals about levels of creepiness around here, and pumpkins alone don't cut the mustard. I mean, who ever heard of a kid being scared by a pumpkin?