Halloween playlists can be found on just about any music service you choose.  However, they tend to be short and chock-full of kiddie type selections like Monster Mash.  I needed a longer playlist I could set to shuffle and not bother with again.  Also, one that had appeal for three generations of attendees.

Below you will find the songs/artists on my Spotify playlist called “Frau Mason Halloween Bash” (username kimmason65).  The 385 song list boasts 24 hours and 51 minutes of playtime – plenty of time to last an entire party as well as the preparations.  It encompasses genres from punk to bluegrass.

Comment with suggestions for additional songs.

  1. (Don’t Feed) the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  2. (It’s A) Monster’s Holiday – Buck Owens
  3. 19th Nervous Breakdown – The Rolling Stones
  4. 9 Crimes – Damien Rice
  5. 99 Problems – Hugo
  6. A Nightmare on my Street – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  7. A Spindle, A Darkness, A Fever and a neck – Bright Eyes
  8. Abercrombie Had A zombie – Fats Waller
  9. Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
  10. Adam’s Song – Blink-182
  11. After Midnight – Dorothy
  12. Ain’t No Grave – Crooked Still
  13. Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Cage The Elephant
  14. Aliens Exist – Blink-182
  15. Am I A Psycho – Tech N9ne
  16. American Psycho – D12
  17. Angel is the Devil – Steve Earle
  18. Animals – Maroon 5
  19. Arsonist’s Lullabye – Hozier
  20. Back in Black – AC/DC
  21. Bad Company – Bad Company
  22. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Rivival
  23. Bad Things – Jace Everett
  24. Bad Things – Rayland Baxter
  25. Bad Things – Jace Everette
  26. Ballad of Dwight Fry – Alice Cooper
  27. Bang Bang – Nancy Sinatra
  28. Bang Bang Bang – Dorothy
  29. Banks of the Ohio – Joan Baez
  30. Barton Hallow – The Civil Wars
  31. Basket Cast – Green Day
  32. Beat on the Brat – Ramones
  33. Because – The Love Me Do’s
  34. Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus
  35. Best of Burden – The Rolling Stones
  36. Billion Dollar Babies – Alice Cooper
  37. Black Magic Woman – Santana
  38. Black Peter – Grateful Dead
  39. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
  40. Black Saint – Witch
  41. Black Skinhead – Kanye West
  42. Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
  43. Bloodletting (The Vampire Song) – Concrete Blonde
  44. Bloodsucker – Southern Culture on the Skids
  45. Bloody Mary – The Horrors Remix – Lady Gaga
  46. Blue Devil – Hank Williams III
  47. Blue Moon – Frank Sinatra
  48. Body Snatcher – Billy Idol
  49. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  50. Bones – Little May
  51. Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf
  52. Bottom of the River – Delta Rae
  53. Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
  54. Brain – Banks
  55. Braineaters – Misfits
  56. Break on Through (To the Other Side) – The Doors
  57. Burn She-Devil, Burn – The Cramps
  58. Candyman – Grateful Dead
  59. Candyman – Grateful Dead
  60. Caroline Says II – Lou Reed
  61. Castin’ My Spell – Johnny Otis
  62. Change (In the House of Flies) – Deftones
  63. Climbing up the Walls – Radiohead
  64. Close to Me – The Cure
  65. Cold Ethyl – Alice Cooper
  66. Country Death Song – Violent Femmes
  67. Creep – Radiohead
  68. Criminal – Eminem
  69. Cursse of the Mummy’s Hand – Misfits
  70. D.O.A. – Bloodrock
  71. Dammit Janet – Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon
  72. Dance with the Devil – Breaking Benjamin
  73. Daughter of Darkness – Tom Jones
  74. Dead Flowers – The Rolling Stones
  75. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
  76. Dead! – My Chemical Romance
  77. Deal with the Devil – Pop Evil
  78. Death Death (Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil, Song) – Voltaire
  79. Dentist – cast
  80. Desperado – Alice Cooper
  81. Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron
  82. Devil – Papa Roach
  83. Devil – Soley
  84. Devil – Southern Gothic Revival
  85. Devil Boy – Tech N9ne
  86. Devil don’t You Fool Me – Josh Farrow
  87. Devil Gate Drive – Suzi Quatro
  88. Devil in a Sleepin’ Bag – Willie Nelson
  89. Devil In Disguise – Elvis Presley
  90. Devil in my Car – The B-52’s
  91. Devil Inside – INXS
  92. Devil Inside – London Grammar
  93. Devil May Dance – AJ Roach
  94. Devil Pray – Madonna
  95. Devil Rides – Mogwai
  96. Devil Town  – Bright Eyes
  97. Devil Town  – Daniel Johnson
  98. Devil Woman – Marty Robbins
  99. Devil Woman – Cliff Richard
  100. Devil’s Backbone – The Civil Wars
  101. Devil’s Dance Floor – Flogging Moly
  102. Devil’s Daughter – Vaudeville Etiquette
  103. Devil’s Daughter – Hank Williams III
  104. Devil’s Food – Alice Cooper
  105. Devil’s Got a Hold – Travis Barker, Slaughterhouse
  106. Devil’s Got a New Disguise – Aerosmith
  107. Devil’s Night  – D12
  108. Devil’s Plaything – Danzig
  109. Devil’s Right Hand – Johnny Cash
  110. Devil’s Swing – Godsmack
  111. Devil’s Whisper – Raury
  112. Devils – Amelai Curran
  113. Devils & Dust – Bruce Springsteen
  114. Devils with a Blue Dress – Mitch Ryder
  115. Did You Ever See a Dream Walking – Al Bowlly
  116. Dig It Up – Hoodoo Gurus
  117. Digital Sea – Thrice
  118. Dinner with Drac Part 1 – John Zacherle
  119. Dire Wolf – Grateful Dead
  120. Disturbia – Rihanna
  121. Down by the River – The Dirty River Boys
  122. Dracula’s Duece – The Ghouls
  123. Drag Me Down – One Direction
  124. Drag The River – Southern Gothic Revival
  125. Dragula – Rob Zombie
  126. Dust Bowl Dance – Mumford & Sons
  127. El Paso – Marty Robbins
  128. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  129. Enter the Circus – Christina Aguilera
  130. Every Breath You Take – the Police
  131. Evil Eye – Billy Idol
  132. Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper
  133. Fiction – Avenged Sevenfold
  134. Fire – Jimi Hendrix
  135. Fire on the Mountain – Grateful Dead
  136. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  137. Friend of the Devil – Grateful Dead
  138. Funeralopolis – Electric Wizard
  139. Gallows Pole – Led Zeppelin
  140. Gang Bang – Madonna
  141. Ghost – Ella Henderson
  142. Ghost on the Dance Floor – Blink-182
  143. Ghost Riders in the Sky – Johnny Cash
  144. Ghost Town – Adam Lambert
  145. Ghost Train – Southern Gothic Revival
  146. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker jr
  147. Ghosts that We Know – Mumford & Songs
  148. Ghosttown – Madonna
  149. Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson
  150. Go – Grimes, Blood Diamonds
  151. God’s Gonna Cut You Down – Johnny Cash
  152. Godzilla – Blue Oyster Cult
  153. Gollum’s Song – Emliana Torrini
  154. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
  155. Graves – Whiskey Shivers
  156. Graveyard Boogie – Buster Doss & Arkansas Playboys
  157. Greenwood Sidey – Anna & Elizabeth
  158. Halloween – John Carpenter
  159. Halloween – Misfits
  160. Halloween Parade – Lou Reed
  161. Handsome Devil – The Smiths
  162. Haunt you Every Day – Weezer
  163. Haunted – Evanescence
  164. Haunted – Charlie Simpson
  165. Haunted – Poe
  166. Haunted Blues – Memphis Minnie
  167. Haunting – Halsey
  168. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
  169. Hearse with a Curse – The Weirdos &
  170. Helena (So Long & Goodnight) – My Chemical Romance
  171. Hell Hole – Spinal Tap
  172. Hell in a Bucket – Grateful Dead
  173. Hell’s Bells – Cary Ann Hearst
  174. Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
  175. High For This – The Weeknd
  176. Highway to Hell – AC/DC
  177. Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
  178. Hotel California – Eagles
  179. House of Horrors – Insane Clown Posse
  180. House of Leaves – Poe
  181. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  182. Hungry like the Wolf – Duran Duran
  183. Hurt – Johnny Cash
  184. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails
  185. Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte – Patti Page
  186. I Appear Missing – Queens fo the Stone Age
  187. I Can Make You A Man – Tim Curry
  188. I Love the Dead – Alice Cooper
  189. I Miss You – Blink-182
  190. I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  191. I walked with a Zombie – Rocky Erickson, The Aliens
  192. I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
  193. I Wanna Be Well – Ramones
  194. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
  195. I’ll Fly Away – Rising Appalachia
  196. I’ll Fly Away – Ralph Stanley
  197. I’m a Ghost – Scrappy Cartoon
  198. I’m Your Witch Doctor – Them
  199. In The Pines – Lead Belly
  200. Inmates (We’re All Crazy) – Alice Cooper
  201. Iron Man – Black Sabbath
  202. It’s a Mystery  – Toyah
  203. It’s a Mystery – Stratovarius
  204. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue – Bob Dylan
  205. Jack the Ripper – Screaming Lord Sutch
  206. Jack the Ripper – Misfits
  207. Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark – Dolly Parton
  208. Jeepers Creepers – Al Donohue & Paula Kelly
  209. Jerome – Lykke Li
  210. Jim in the Line – Harry Belafonte
  211. Keepin’ Halloween Alive – Alice Cooper
  212. Killer Queen – Queen
  213. Kim – Eminem
  214. Kiss Kiss Kill Kill – Horrorpops
  215. Kiss Me Deadly – Lita Ford
  216. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
  217. Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb – Spike Jones
  218. Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones
  219. Let Me Hear you Scream – Ozzy Osbourne
  220. Lil’ Devil – The Cult
  221. Little Devil – Neil Sadaka
  222. Little Ghost – The White Stripes
  223. Lonesome Road – Joan Baez
  224. Long Black Veil – Lefty Frizzell
  225. Lotion – Greenskeepers
  226. Love Is a Murder – The Constellations
  227. Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers
  228. Lullaby – The Cure
  229. Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin
  230. Mad House – Rihanna
  231. Maneater – Daryl Hall & John Oates
  232. Me & the Devil Blues – Widespread Panic
  233. Me and the Devil Blues – Eric Clapton
  234. Midnight Rambler – The Rolling Stones
  235. Millie and Billie – Alice Cooper
  236. Misguided Ghosts – Paramore
  237. Miss America – That Hadsome devil
  238. Monster Mash – Bobby Boris Pickett
  239. Mr. Ghost is Going To Town – The Five Jones Boys
  240. Nightcall – Kavinsky
  241. Nightlight – Little Dragon
  242. Nightmare – Jack Turner
  243. Nightmares – Violent Femmes
  244. No More Mr. Nice Guy – Alice Cooper
  245. No Quarter – Led Zepplin
  246. O Death – Ralph Stanley
  247. Oh Coely – Neutral Milk Hotel
  248. Once Upon a Dream – Lana Del Rey
  249. One Way or Another – Blondie
  250. One Way Road To Hell – The Guess Who
  251. Paint it Black – The Rolling Stones
  252. Party Time (as heard in  – 45 Grave
  253. Perfect Day – The Constellations
  254. Play Crack the Sky – Brand New
  255. Play With Fire – The Rolling Stones
  256. Posin Ivy – The Coasters
  257. Possession – Sarah McLachlan
  258. Pretty Polly – Vandaveer
  259. Psycho – Muse
  260. Psycho – System of a Down
  261. Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
  262. Psychopath – St. Vincent
  263. Railroad Boy – Joan Baez
  264. Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy
  265. Renegade – Styx
  266. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
  267. Road to Hell – Bruce Dickinson
  268. Runnin’ with the Devil – Van Halen
  269. Scary Monsters – David Bowie
  270. Screaming Bloody Murder – Sum 41
  271. Screaming Skull – The Fleshtones
  272. Season of the Witch – Donovan
  273. Seven Devils – Florence & the Machine
  274. Severed Crossed Fingers – St. Vincent
  275. Shadows fo the Night – Pat Benetar
  276. She Put a Hex on You – Them
  277. She Wasn’t Nothing But a Devil – John Lee Hooker, Jr
  278. She’s My Witch – Southern Culture on the Skids
  279. She’s So Cold – The Rolling Stones
  280. Shout at the Devil – Motley Crue
  281. Shovel and Bone – Terrance Zdunich
  282. Silver Dagger – Bob Dylan, Joan Baez
  283. Skid Row (Downtown) – Soundtrack
  284. Sleepy Silver Door – Dead Meadow
  285. Some Folks – Alice Cooper
  286. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  287. Somewhere That’s Green – Alan Menken, Ellen Green
  288. Somewhere That’s Green – cast
  289. Song of Joy – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  290. Sorcerer – Stevie Nicks
  291. Speak of the Devil – Misfits
  292. Spooky – Dusty Springfield
  293. Spooky – Classics IV
  294. Spooky Movies – Gary Paxton
  295. Stagger Lee – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  296. State of the Art – Gotye
  297. Steven – Alice Cooper
  298. Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday
  299. Suddenly Seymour –
  300. Sugar Cane – Southern Gothic Revival
  301. Sugar, We’re Goin Down – Fall Out Boy
  302. Suicide is Painless – Johnny Mandel
  303. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
  304. Suspiria – Goblin
  305. Sweet Dreams (Are Made fo This) – Eurythmics
  306. Swingin’ at the Seance – The Deep River Boys
  307. Sympathy For the Devil – The Rolling Stones
  308. T’aint No Sin (To Take Your Skin Off) – Fred Hall
  309. Tear you Apart – She Wants Revenge
  310. Teen Angel – Mark Dinning
  311. Teenage Lobotomy – Ramones
  312. Tell Laura I Love Her – Ray Peterson
  313. That Little Old Graverobber Me – Don Hinson & The Rigamorticians
  314. That Old Black Magic – Sammy Davis Jr
  315. That Ole Devil Called Love – Billie Holiday
  316. That Smell – Lynryrd Skynrd
  317. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Tony Bennett, Sting
  318. The Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon – The Cramps
  319. The Devil Beneath My Feet – Marilyn Manson
  320. The Devil is Me – KISS
  321. The Devil Made Me Do it the First Time – Billy Joe Shaver
  322. The Devil Takes Care of his Own – Band of Skulls
  323. The Devil Went Down To Georgia – Charlie Daniels
  324. The Devil’s Rejects – Rob Zombie
  325. The Devil’s Rising – Southern Gothic Revival
  326. The Devil’s Son – The Creepshow
  327. The Devil’s Workday – Modest Mouse
  328. The Devils Movin In – Hank Williams III
  329. The Ghost of Eli Renfro – The Nashville Bluegrass Band
  330. The Graveyard Shift – The Ghouls
  331. The Green Manalishi (with the two pronged – Fleetwood Mac
  332. The Hanging Tree – Angus & Julia Stone
  333. The Haunting – Anberlin
  334. The Killing Moon – Echo & the Bunnymen
  335. The KKK Took My Baby Away – Ramones
  336. The Lurch – Ted Cassidy
  337. The Mercy Seat – Johnny Cash
  338. The Monster – Eminem, Rihanna
  339. The Phantom of the Opera – Andrew Lloyd Webber
  340. The Quiet Room – Alice Cooper
  341. The Skeleton Rag – The American Quartet
  342. The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkle
  343. The Third Death – Isolbel Anderson
  344. The Time Warp – Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien, Little Nell
  345. The Witch Queen of New Orleans – Redbone
  346. The Wolf – Ben Rice
  347. The Woman is a Devil – The Doors
  348. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitgerald – Gordon Lightfoot
  349. They’re Hanging Me Tonight – Marty Robbins
  350. This House is Haunted – Alice Cooper
  351. This is Halloween – Citizens of Halloween
  352. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  353. Time Warp – Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien, Little Nell
  354. Toxic – Britney Spears
  355. Twighlight of the Dead – Misfits
  356. Undertaker – Southern Culture on the Skids
  357. Undertaker Blues – Buddy Moss
  358. Vampire – John & John
  359. Vampires Will Never Hurt You – My Chemical Romance
  360. Vicious – Lou Reed
  361. Voicething – Goldtrapp
  362. Voodoo Cadillac – Southern Culture on the Skids
  363. Wafaring Stranger – Jack White
  364. Wake Me up Wehn September Ends – Green Day
  365. Walk on the Wold Side – Lou Reed
  366. Wayfaring Stranger – Jack White
  367. Welcome to my Nightmare – Alice Cooper
  368. Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance
  369. Werewolf – CocoRosie
  370. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  371. Whiskey Lullaby – Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss
  372. White Room – Cream
  373. Wicked – Southern Gothic Revival
  374. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  375. Wild Thing – The Troggs
  376. Witch Doctor – David Seville
  377. Witchcraft – The Spiders
  378. Witchy Woman – Eagles
  379. Wolf Like Me – TV On the Radio
  380. Yellow Floicker Beat – Lorde
  381. You Look Like the Devil – Willie Nelson
  382. Yung Papunxel – Azealia Banks
  383. Zombie – Natalia Kills
  384. Zombie Dance – The Cramps
  385. Zombified – Southern Culture on the Skids

DIY: Homemade meat hooks

Posted: October 13, 2016 in DIY
Tags: , , ,

hook-finishedNo torture chamber, butcher shoppe or mad scientist’s lab is complete without some rusty meat hooks to display body parts. Plastic and foam chains with hooks are readily available from just about anywhere during post-Halloween sales. But, they aren’t very realistic.

Luckily, Allen Hopps of Stiltbeast Studio (watch his video tutorial) has an easy tutorial for meat hooks which I followed to create them.  The one pictured here has a simple skinned face hanging from it that I created from a melted garbage bag.  I’ll post that project after I’ve experimented with it a bit more.

Start out with some cheap plastic coat hangers.  Simply cut them at angles to form two hooks out of each hanger.


After you have the basic shape of a hook, use a heat gun to soften the top end.  Once it is soft, simply use a pair of pliers to bend it into a circle.  Next, I used my soldering iron.  Actually, it’s the first time I’ve used that tool to solder!  In this case, instead of solder I took a piece of the leftover plastic from the hanger and laid it across the gap between the end of the hook and the end of my newly created loop.


A little practice would lead to a less rough looking hoop, but I did like that they looked homemade.  I purposely made them in various sizes.  Note, because I used a very cheap coat hanger, these will not hold much weight.

The final step is to paint them.  These were sprayed with Rust-Oleum Orange Ultra Cover Paint & Primer which adheres well to plastic.  Then, using Rust-Oleum Brown Rust Resistant Enamel, I lightly dusted them, taking care to leave some of the orange showing through. After drying an even lighter coat of Rust-Oleum Black Hammered Rust Resistant Enamel was used.

These photographs do not do them justice as they really look like rusted metal.   One thing that helped them look more realistic was that the brown paint was apparently old and came out in chunks.  If this would not have been the case, I probably would have sprinkled a bit of sawdust on them to give some texture.  Others use oatmeal or grits to give texture to witches’ cauldrons or other items that are suppose to look like weathered, rusted metal.  But, I avoid any food products as my props are stored in an attic where mice have access.


demon-specimenNo mad scientist’s lab is complete without a demon specimen.  This project is very similar to several faerie skeletons I’ve seen online and plan to make.  In most cases the faerie wings are made of either leaves or feathers, whereas my demon has bat-like wings and is based on the design found on the Witch Craft blog by doll artist Arley Berryhill.  You can also find a very nice large scale demon over at Davis Graveyard.

Start with the miniature skeletons found in just about every home improvement, craft or dollar store around Halloween.  They usually come in six packs, often on a piece of rope to hang as a garland. They come with various shading and in black.

The wings are made from coffee filters. Arley used tissue paper for his, but I always opt for the most durable version I can think of as they are subject to some wear and tear and possibly even being put outdoors. You can start with brown coffee filters, but they seemed a bit too dark. So, I started with large white filters.  First soak them in water with a tea bag or coffee grounds to darken them.  This also eliminates the folds and flattens them nicely.

Cut each filter in half.  Next fold the halves and cut an arc from corner to corner of the outside edge.  Or you can try a more complex cut for scalloped wings.


Take a thin piece of wire and attach it to the skeleton.  I wrapped the wire around the spine and formed the top arc of the wings by just sliding my thumb across it pushing up.


Place the folded edge around the wire.  Next, I watered down Elmer’s School Glue using a 1:1 ratio of water and glue.  I painted this on generously on both the inside and outside of the wings.  This fused them together; made them harden when they dried; and also resulted in a slightly translucent look.  I then hung the skeletons on a cup to dry.


While the wings dried I added several details to the skeletons.  Create horns by adding a small drop of hot glue on their foreheads and quickly shape them into points before it hardens.  I used a small piece of fairly stiff twine for a tail.  I chose a stiff twine so that I could shape it to curl up instead of hanging.  One end of the twine is glued to the tailbone area of the spine and the other is sandwiched between two little triangle pieces which are glued to it.  The triangles were cut from a coffee filter and treated with the same process used on the wings.

Once the wings dried I watered down some acrylic paint and did a quick wash over them with green and brown.  Be sure to do this over newspaper or plastic as they drip considerably.

I placed one inside a cloche which I found at Goodwill and removed the clock.  I found an example of an old specimen label online and customized it with the Frau Mason brand.  As I like to incorporate my love of horror films into all my displays, this specimen was captured in Amityville New York on November 13, 1974, the day that Ronald DeFeo murdered his family.  My laboratory is located in Smiths Grove Sanitarium, where Michael Meyers was held.  Smiths Grove happens to be in the county I live in as this is where John Carpenter grew up.  So, not surprisingly references to his work appear often in my displays.

I also created several more mini demons and hung them from microfilament.  They may be trying to free the specimen.


DIY: Moss for tombstones & props

Posted: September 9, 2016 in DIY
Tags: , , ,

img_2417I plan on updating my cemetery this year with some nicer tombstones than  I created in my first project. I saw a haunter on Pinterest who made their own moss and thought this would be a perfect detail for them.  But, when I checked out his recipe it was made from grits.  This would not work for me as I store my props in an attic where mice have access, necessitating the avoidance of any food particles.  So, I thought I’d experiment with some other options.

The photo below shows the materials I tried.  From the top, left to right, they include: dryer lint, store bought grass powder for model train displays, foam board shavings, paper insulation, real moss from the hobby store and sawdust.

The foam board shavings were not fine enough for moss, but it was clear they would be perfect if I wanted to add crumbled stone to a broken tombstone.  The model train grass powder was too fine so it was too flat.  The lint, insulation and real moss all seemed too bulky and overpowered the prop.


My preference was undoubtedly the sawdust for moss.


Next I divided my sawdust into several cups.  To each I added a bit of water and some acrylic paint.  I used various greens, yellows and browns to create several different colors.  I found that a very small amount in a cup would color all the sawdust.  I simply stirred it until it was coated in the color.  I was also able to add quitet a bit more sawdust and it would continue to absorb the color from what was already colored in the cup.


Next, I took a bit of each color and mixed them together.  Unfortunately, they absorbed color from each other and after being handled became a large pile of the same color.  To avoid this, I let them dry overnight.  Also, instead of mixing the colored sawdust first, I applied it in layers.  I started with the main color.  I generously spread Elmer’s wood glue on the prop where I wanted the moss. In this case, I applied it to a cheap Dollar General skull cut in half and painted gray and glued to a foam board tombstone.  I sprinkled the colored sawdust onto the glue and pressed it in.  Then I sprinkled bits of other colors on top and pressed them in.

A bit more perusing of real tombstone’s covered with moss I’m sure will help with the placement of the sawdust to achieve a more realistic look.




A skinned face for your torture chamber is one of the quickest and easiest projects to do.  I first saw an example from Hocus Pocus Customs on eBay and realized it looked very similar to a mask I had picked up for $1 after Halloween.  Choose a mask that has only the face.

You will need: a mask, various colors of paint, something to poke holes through the mask, either an old frame or wood to create a frame and string.


Using scissors or an Exacto knife, cut out the eyes, nostrils and mouth.  Also, cut around the face so it is not as curved and to give it an uneven edge. Be sure to cut off the holes that the strap went in.  Take a needle or awl and poke a hole at the top, bottom and sides of the mask as well as the diagonal points midway between. You could also use something to burn the holes in the mask.


I grow bamboo for use in my Halloween projects and my garden.  So, this was an obvious material for creating a frame.   I cut 4 pieces large enough to give a nice border around the mask.  Secured the corners with 2 cable ties on each corner.  Leave some of each end protruding past the square of the frame. Then wrap one cable tie through the inside corner and between the two ends sticking out. Crisscross it with another diagonally across the two protruding ends. Use pliers to pull these very tightly, then snip off the ends.  Repeat on each corner.

Next, wrap string around the corners in every direction until there is no sign of the cable ties. The cable ties are not necessary, but you will find that if you only use string the binding can loosen over time and eventually unravel. I added some Elmer’s glue on the string to prevent it from unraveling.


Using acrylic paint mix a pale skin color and cover the entire mask. The surface will remain a bit tacky but it did seem to adhere.  Then use various red and black mixes to add shadows and blood to the wrinkles in the mask and along all the edges.  Tie strings through the holes you created and tie the other end to the frame.


Above is my original creation.  However, after it was finished I happened upon Stiltbeast Studio’s video “Blood on the cheap” in which he compares 36 homemade blood formulas.  I immediately mixed up a batch using his Elmer’s clear glue, red food coloring and a touch of blue food coloring recipe.  The thickness and transparency, make it the best blood recipe I’ve used to date.  The first photo in this post was made after I splotched the new blood on it.  Elmer’s is washable, so the prop is no longer safe for outdoors unless it is also covered with acrylic, polyurethane or some other clear, weatherproof coating.


jess-dremelMy first Halloween DIY project was a family effort and I treasure the results.  These holiday keepsakes were very simple and allowed each family member to personalize their unique creation.

I started by searching online for epithet ideas. Unfortunately it was long enough ago that I no longer have the links.  But, I searched various terms to cull a list made up of both joke and real epithets.  Several we used were from the old west.  For example one was by a marble cutter who used his wife’s tombstone as a sales pitch for future work. Another of my favorites from a real cemetery was  “She lived with her husband fifty years And died in the confident hope of a better life.”  We each chose an epithet as well as a name from these lists to pair.  Most of the names were jokes, such as Stu Pitt or Claire Voyance.

Next I showed the kids the fonts I had on my computer and everyone picked their favorite.

After the choices were made, we looked a photos of cemeteries and everyone choose their preferred tombstone shape.  I limited the options to simple ones that I could easily draw, either freehand or by using objects of different geometric shapes to get what I needed.  For round tops I used a piece of string and a nail to draw arcs.

foam-with-epithetThe material we used was 1 inch thick foam board insulation. It is easy to cut with a serrated knife, hack saw or box cutter.  It is also very easy to smooth with sandpaper.

After drawing the shapes to get as many as I could fit on a sheet of foam board insulation, we cut them out, measured the space and in an actual size document laid out our names, dates, flourishes and epithets on the computer using the chosen fonts.  I then used tiling in the print options to print them and taped the resulting letter size sheets of paper with the print on them together to form an actual size pattern.

Once the pattern was taped in place we used exacto knives to trace the letters and designs.  These were cleaned up after the pattern was removed using either an exacto knife or Dremel tool to remove the foam.

Once the carving was finished, we highlighted it by painting them with black latex paint.  It is not necessary to stay inside the lines, but it is important to completely cover the foam inside the lines with black paint.

stones-enamelAfter the epithets were highlighted, we treated the foam with enamel spray paint.  The enamel paint reacts with the foam, slowly dissolving it.  The thicker the paint, the more foam was dissolved. This step resulted in giving the surface an aged, worn look similar to stone with water and wind damage. We also sanded the edges to soften them as a weathered tombstone would be.

The last step was simply to spray or use a brush to paint them gray.  The result was a fairly quick, easy family project with a big impact for our Halloween display.

While pleased with the tombstones, there was one ongoing issue – how to make them remain standing in the often windy fall weather. Initially I used some thin metal stakes that I pushed into the stones & the ground.  These were hard to work with and the tombstones would bend over. Next, I tried small rebar spikes in the front and back of the tombstones.  These worked well but were visible and hard to cover as they had to be left high enough the tombstones could fall over them. They also caused pressure points that made an indent in some of the tombstones.

I saw later that some people drilled holes through the bottom of their tombstones and placed them over the rebar.  standWhile this seemed like a good idea, especially if one used a piece of PVC in the drilled holes so that the rebar wouldn’t pop a hole through the front with too much pressure.  But, having used only 1 inch thick foam, I was afraid to do this.  Instead, I created some stands out of furring strips and scrap plywood.

I cut the furring strips just slightly longer than the tombstones and drilled a hole on each end so that I could drive a barn nail or small piece of rebar through them without hitting the tombstone.  I screwed a small piece of plywood on the front side and a larger one on the back to prevent the tombstone from falling.  The front of the stands were very easy to cover with leaves, but unfortunately this stand design does show from the back and therefore won’t be our choice for any future tombstones.  I plan to use slightly thicker foam board and try the drill method with a PVC insert.

Regardless, the entire family had fun with this project and it is one that can be tailored to fit a scary horror scene or a kid friendly, funny Halloween display. Care should be used in storing your tombstones.  Though they are weatherproof and fairly sturdy, it’s very easy to chip off pieces of the foam if they are rubbed together.  You can see the specks of blue showing through in my finished photo as it was taken a couple of years after they were made. It is easy to touch them up if this happens.


One final note – if one of your tombstone breaks, be very careful what you use to attempt to fix it. Many adhesives will eat through the foam.  Be sure to choose one the specifically mentions foam board on it. Liquid Nails and Gorilla Glue both make versions of construction adhesive that is safe for foam board.

DIY: Easy eviscerated torso

Posted: May 14, 2016 in DIY, Projects

Eviscerated TorsoIt was Friday the 13th today and we’re halfway to Halloween so it seems an appropriate time to kick off the prop building season! This skinned, split open torso is one of my favorite projects so far. It was extremely easy, fairly quick to complete and I loved the result. Plus, it’s lightweight and weather-resistent so there are many staging possibilities.

I recently picked up several hanging manikin torsos for $1 each at the local Habitat ReStore. So, when I saw the garbage bag torso in a blog post on Haunt Nation it, I decided to try it.

Tools: screwdriver, heat gun, scissors, hot glue gun, spray bottle filled with water, paint brush.

Supplies: heat resistant form, black garbage bags, cardboard, glue sticks, acrylic paints.

torso bagged torso moldFirst, put the form into a garbage bag.  I used a thick name brand bag to make a more durable finished product.  Different brands or types of bags will melt differently, but any will work – you just may have to use more of the bags are thinner.

Simply aim the heat gun a few inches from the bag until it shrinks and fits tightly to the form.  Do this over the entire form, a small area at a time.

After just a couple of bags, the plastic is surprisingly rigid, but doesn’t completely cover the edges of the form.

Next, cut two pieces of cardboard the length you would like the cut in the torso to be.  Notch the top by cutting V shapes fairly close together.  These allow the cardboard to curve with the shape of the waist and also allow for bending the “cut flesh” outward and creating a torn, jagged appearance.

I used hot glue to fasten the cardboard to the shrunken garbage bags.  I was quite generous in applying glue and used both hands to hold in in place until it cooled so that it would curve tightly against the form. You could use tape or another type of glue.

torso cardboard

To finish applying the garbage bags cut the bags across into four or five strips. Then, unfold the strips and cut them in half.  Cover any exposed spots on the front of the form by placing and melting the garbage bag strips, overlapping them as you go.  Continue until the entire thing is covered with four or five layers.

Be sure the plastic goes all the way to the bottom edge all around.  In areas that need extra patching, such as where the cardboard meets the plastic on the inside or around the outside seams of the cardboard, twist or fold the strips before applying them for thicker coverage.

Spray the plastic with cold water if it starts shrinking too fast or appears to be getting too hot.  This cools it instantly and freezes it in place.

Once the top and sides of the figure are covered, spray it with water and flip it over.  Cut up the middle of the back side and gently pull the melted plastic off the form so that you can reuse the form again.  If you aren’t concerned with reuse, there is no need for as many layers of garbage bags.

Laying the hollow plastic form you’ve created upside down, push on it anywhere that appears to be misshapen until you are satisfied with the shape.  Then, apply garbage bag strips to the back until you have completely enclosed the figure.  Use extra plastic on the neck if you intend to hang it.

torso gutsOnce you are satisfied with the coverage and thickness of the plastic it’s time to have fun with the details.  Create ligaments and torn skin by using a screwdriver to pull on the plastic as it melts. Alternate melting and spraying with cool water to form various size threads, chunks or ridges.

Add chucks of garbage bags along the bottom of the arms and legs to give them a torn appearance.  Roll up one of the strips and melt it in place near the left breast area to form a heart. Use the screwdriver to push it in place or tweak the shape of it.  Create other organs in the same way. For intestines, simply twist a strip and push it into place with the screwdriver as you melt it onto the form.

torso - sprayedWhen you are satisfied with the thickness, shape and texture of your creation, finish it off by painting it and adding blood.

Just a light coat of a dark read spray paint actually looks very good.  Or you can continue to detail it by making the internal organs different colors, adding skin tones in some areas and highlighting the texture with a light color.

This is an incredibly forgiving project all around.  I used very watered down acrylic paint and several shades of reds, tans and browns. I splotched them around randomly and let them run together.  After it dried I went back over it with a dry brush a light tan lightly on the highest textures.

In addition to paint I used some blood made with a version of Stiltbeast Studio’s blood recipe. Mix about a quarter cup of Elmer’s Clear Schoolhouse Glue, about an inch long string of red gel food coloring and a little drop of blue food coloring.  It is shiny and translucent, much more realistic than any paint mixture I’ve seen and cheaper than nail polish.  With the figure propped upright, I scooped up glops of the blood mixture with a large round brush and generously dribbled it over the darker red areas, particularly inside the cut and let it drip anywhere it wanted to go.

If you plan to put your eviscerated torso outside, spray or brush it with acrylic, polyurethane or some other weather resistant coating.  Marine grade polyurethane is the most durable and non yellowing option according to what I’ve read.  But, it’s also the most expensive and their are a variety of options that will work, particularly if it will be protected from the elements or outdoors for only a short time.

torso - painted

There are a lot of cool ghosts I’ve seen made by haunters and artists. While I love some of the ones created by chicken wire and cheesecloth, the packaging tape method appeared to be the easiest to create with my limited artistic abilities.  And indeed, I was very pleased with the result.


I first started experimenting with smaller versions.  My son was so impressed with the creepy baby that resulted, he even pitched in a made one.

The first step is to find a doll and pose it in whatever position you would like your ghost baby to be in. For my life-sized figure I used a dress maker’s form, a hairdresser’s head and a friend’s arms for the forms.


Next, wrap your form or model with plastic cling wrap from the kitchen. The purpose of this step is to keep the tape from sticking to your model, so you only need one layer.  Once you have completely covered your model with cling wrap, begin wrapping over it with packaging tape.  If you want to get more detail on the face or other places, use small strips of regular cellophane tape for features like eyes and lips.  I didn’t worry too much about fine details as my ghosts will be seen from a distance.

I found that a couple of layers of heavy duty Scotch tape sufficed for a fairly sturdy form.  But, the thicker tape popped up in a few places, so I went over the entire form a couple of more times with a cheap, thin dollar store brand of packaging tape to smooth all the edges.  On my first attempt I tried to continually wrap with the tape, but I found it was much easier to control the shape if I tore off strips of about six inches and placed them. I assume constantly overlapping these also added to the strength of the finished figure. In all, it took one roll of regular sized Scotch tape for each small doll and about six rolls for the adult figure.

Next, simply cut the tape off of your model along whatever route is easiest to maneuver.


You can be quite rough taking the tape off of the model as it is easy to reshape it.  Then simply tape the seams, being careful not to overlap the two sides as this makes them more noticeable.  In general it’s very easy to cover seams with just a few pieces of tape.  I even reopened mine several times as I tweaked my lights without any noticeable effect on the finished product.

One of the main reasons I opted for the packaging tape method was I liked the idea of my ghosts glowing an eerie color.  So the next step was to put lights inside of them.  After testing several methods I found the easiest for larger figures was to mount the lights with packaging tape right onto the stand.  I left about a foot and a half hanging to stuff into the left arm and taped the wire to the top of my piece of PVC.  Then I made a loop about the same size for the right arm.  The rest of the lights I looped in several circles, taping the top of each circle to the PVC.  This spread them out a bit for a more dimensional effect.  While they all look about equal at night, you can see from some of the photos that during the day the green wired lights are visible through the figure.  So I prefer using lights with white coated wire and plan to replace the green ones for next year.  Because white shows more on the ground, I wrapped the wire from the figure to the plug in black electrical tape.


For the small figures I opted to string multiple figures together with the lights.  As you can see by the picture, almost as much wire was outside of the ghost babies as was inside, so I had quite a bit of electrical tape wrapping to do.  Once I hung them on the tree I tried to hide as much of the wiring as possible behind the tree branches.

The small ghosts were hung using monofilament (fishing line) tied around their necks and the larger figures are just sitting on top of a piece of PVC.  For my life-size ghost I used a second shorter piece of PVC and an angled joint so she would be leaning forward a bit.  The white PVC doesn’t show at all even by daylight.  For my full sized child ghost I joined a white PVC piece that went inside the ghost to a black one to lift her off the ground.  At night the black doesn’t show.


On the small one pictured above I didn’t wrap the legs.  On the adult life-sized ghost I had no legs.  Instead I gave them skirts that could blow in the wind.  These were created by cutting up the seams of clear trash bags and taping them a strip at a time around the waist. I did two layers and overlapped each strip a bit.  The second layer I started by taping the first strip between two on the first layer.


I used strips half the size to create a veil for the smaller figure.  But, I wasn’t totally satisfied with how it came out.  Though I think it could be improved by making the strips half the width, I opted to use cheesecloth for the larger figure’s scarf.  I taped it down everywhere the cheesecloth touched tape.  It doesn’t show and after a week her shaw is still in place.


Mine are very simple versions of packaging tape ghosts.  If you have more artistic ability, check out examples by actual artists such as Khalil Chishtee here. Other types of tape sculpture by various artists can be found here.

All of the ghosts I looked at for inspiration can be found on my Pinterest profile in the ghost board, including the chicken wire and cheesecloth ghosts previously mentioned.

And, of course ghosts aren’t the only project for which tape sculpting can be used.  Online I saw some seamstresses using a form like mine and layering it with duct tape to create additional dress forms.  You could use these to bulk out your armatures for other types of figures in your yard haunt.  Sean Bradley has a great example of a life sized articulated mannequin he created with packaging tape on a Halo costuming site here.  It is at the bottom of the page below his tutorial on using a tape sculpture of his head and shoulders as a mold for a solid form.  He simply created the replica of his head and shoulders and then filled it with expanding foam (i.e. Great Stuff).

As I become more adept at creating these figures I would like to try something for my cemetery inspired by the cast glass sculpture by Christina Bothwell you can find here.  I may start by using one of the larger doll tape sculptures without a dress as a ground breaker ghost.  But, it would be cool if I could get it to look like it’s rising out of the dolls body as Bothwell did.






bookshelf-finalI’m working on adding a mad scientist’s lab to my Halloween displays and figured some good reading material would be a necessity in any lab.  This small project was created to hang on my fireplace mantel, but it could also be made as a facade in front of regular books on a shelf or is light weight enough to hang a much larger version on a wall.

To begin the project I cut my pieces of cardboard into different sizes for my books.  In this case I cut them into various widths, but left them all close to the same height so the fireplace wouldn’t show behind them.

Using a metal ruler as a guide, I scored the cardboard at even intervals about a quarter of the way through the cardboard so that the book spines could be rounded.  It’s important that the last score lines on each side are equal distances from the outer edges of the cardboard so the book sticks out evenly on both sides from the shelf.  I actually made these two cuts on all of the books first so that I could plan for various books protruding from the shelves in different amounts.


I then gathered my spine covers that I had printed and glued them to the cardboard using a brush and glue watered down 50/50.  That proportion is for Elmer’s school glue.  If you use a cheap brand, don’t water it down as it already is watered down about that much.


My printed spines came from various location.  There are many sites with free printable book cover textures available to create them from scratch.  I wound up finding actual pictures of old libraries and choosing the book spines I liked the best.  Then I used Photoshop to erase the actual titles on the books (if they had them).  Using the clone stamp I filled texture back in where I had erased and then I wrote in my own titles and credit.

Since I like to incorporate horror movies into my displays whenever possible I paid tribute to some of my favorite scientists with the titles including: Robotics by Miles Dyson (Terminator), Tissue Regeneration by Herbert Best (Re-Animator), Teleportation by Seth Brundle (The Fly), Pharmakeia by Henry Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde), How I Did it by Victor Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein), Herbal Remedies by Hershel Greene (The Walking Dead), Genetics by Dr. Moreau (The Island of Dr. Moreau), Concerning Black Holes by Jack Torrence (The Shining), Ancient Egyptian Artifacts by Ardath Bey (The Mummy), Parasites by Warren Chapin (The Tingler), Optical Density by Jack Griffin (The Invisible Man), Comparative Alien Physiology by Leonard McCoy (Star Trek) and Homunculi by Septimus Pretorius (The Bride of Frankenstein). I actually wound up with a bit of space at the end and plan to add Body Modification by Mary Mason (American Mary) to represent the ladies.

Using the printed spines as guides I glued strips of craft foam onto my books to give them more depth.


I then brushed large brown coffee filters with glue and put several overlapping layers over the foam strips to blend them into the spine.  I brushed more glue over the top of the filters to fully attach them to the spines and also to wet them enough to be able to brush out any wrinkles I didn’t want. I put a few layers of filters so that the strips of foam would appear to have rounded edges.


When finished I glued a second copy of the spines over them, carefully lining it up with the first copy so that all the foam pieces would protrude in the correct places. I then squeezed by books into shape and put loose fitting rubber bands on them so that they would dry in the shape of the ends of books.


Once they dried I lined them up in the order I wanted them and measured them to create my shelf.

bookshelf-6-glueFor the backing I cut a piece of cardboard the width of my books and slightly shorter than the height of the shortest one so that it wouldn’t show.  I glued two small strips of wood to the top of it and used them to screw in eye hooks for my hanging wire.  I also added wood strips to the sides and bottom so it would lay evenly flat against the mantel.


Once my backing was done I measured it and cut four pieces of 1/2 inch foam insulation to create my wooden shelf.  To make the foam look like wood I used an awl to scratch some grain marks and knots into the foam. I then painted all the indentations with black paint without much worry about getting too much on.  Then I used a greyish brown paint to cover the entire pieces.  For this I used a sponge brush and painted lightly over the surface so that the black that was inside the indentations I made was not covered. I did the wood grain and paint on both sides of the foam as well as the sides and ends of each piece as some of them would be visible around the books.


Finally, I put full strength Elmer’s glue on the sides of each book and on the bottom half of the back edges and glued them to the front of my backboard.  Around them I glued my foam pieces. The top piece is just glued to the top ends of the side foam pieces.




DIY: Tools for the torture chamber

Posted: September 3, 2014 in DIY, Projects

tool3My favorite part of my Halloween display has always been my torture chamber.  But, I grow progressively discontent with the weaponry and tools of destruction that I find in shops, so this year I decided to make a few of my own.

The inspiration for my first round of tools came from the HalloweenForum.com user TwistedUK, who credited Alan Hopps Stiltbeast Studios when he posted his tools.  I actually hadn’t watched the Stiltbeast video until I looked up the credit for this post, but I will certainly be doing some larger weapons using some of his advice!

Both Hopps and TwistedUK used a sheet of Sintra plastic to create their tool.  I instead opted to use real metal as I’m never very impressed with metallic paints.  I was able to procure some large food service size cans from an employee of a local pizzeria.  I used metal cutters to cut the basic shapes which were modeled after several of TwistedUK’s.


Next, I pounded out the indented lines around the can using a ball pein hammer and an anvil.  The metal cutters were serrated and left little indentations around the edge of my pieces.  I was able to hammer these out, however I discovered that my fiskar gardening scissors could also cut through the metal everywhere except on the rim and seam.  So, I went around the edges with them and was able to get better, smoother curves and detail with the scissors.

I also noticed, which you can see from the picture, that the inside had a bronze colored coating on it.  I was able to get this off scrubbing it with steel wool.  After the cuts, pounding and scrubbing were complete I rewashed them all in dawn to take any oil from my hands off and leave a clean surface for the paint to better adhere to.

Once content with the results, I took twine and wrapped it around the metal to create a place to hold the instruments.  To secure it I started by smearing the metal on both sides with clear, fast dry Gorilla Glue gel.  I also laid the starting end along the metal & wrapped over it to anchor it.  On the other end I either tied it off or tucked it under & then coated it with the glue.  I actually poured some glue over the top of the twine as it seemed to make it look older.  I also added holes using a hammer and an awl in case I wanted to hang them for the display.tool2

Finally the paint job, the part I worried about being capable of doing the most.  Turned out it was easy!  I used 3 colors of acrylic tube paints: black, burnt sienna and red.  I first took a round brush that was cut flat on the top and used the brush like a stamp as you would for stenciling.  I dampened my brush and stamped on the thick burnt sienna and then the red sporadically, everywhere but concentrating along the edges that would be used for slicing into flesh.

Next, I used a large regular brush and dabbed quite a bit of water onto my pallet (a disposable paint roller tray liner) and thoroughly wet the brush.  I pulled some of the red, black and burnt sienna into my water puddle and mixed it but not thoroughly so that different places had different amounts of each color.  I brushed this solution generously all over the metal as well as blotched it on the twine handles.  As I went I added more water and held them with the cutting edges down so that the liquid mix ran over the surface and gathered on the bottom edges.  I propped them up so that they would dry like this, leaving the color thicker on the bottom and around the joints between the “handles” and the blades.

Since I wasn’t sure how well the acrylic would stick to metal, especially if they were displayed outdoors, I used spray acrylic to coat the whole thing once the paint was dry.


I was able to complete all the tools shown in one evening and was pleased with the results.  So, I’m eager to try some larger weapons using some of the ideas from Stiltbeast Sudio’s “Making Prop Weaponry” tutorial on YouTube – http://youtu.be/AZqWq5yBIBM