Posts Tagged ‘project’

IMG_2451

Burning candles can enhance any Halloween set whether it’s an apothecary case or a grave yard.  To avoid the expense and potential danger of real candles, it is easy to make your own reusable candles that work indoors as well as outdoors.

IMG_2442

For this project you will need: PVC pipe, something to cut the PVC pipe, a razor or knife, spray paint, a hot glue gun, glue sticks and a piece of thin foam insulation or cardboard.

Start with PVC pipe the circumference you prefer.  In this case I used 1 inch pipe with the thin walls as that was the size that my battery operated tea lights could fit into.

IMG_2437

Cut the pipe into various lengths.  Be careful to make straight cuts so that your candles will stand on their own.  If they do not, use sandpaper to create an even edge.  Next, using a razor or knife, cut scoops out of the top edge so it looks as if the edge has been melted in various locations.  Then sand around your cuts on both the inside and outside to smooth the surface and eliminate any bits of PVC handing on.

Now paint the PVC any color you choose.  Spray paint made for plastic adheres best.

IMG_2439

After the paint has dried, plug in your glue gun and choose your glue sticks.  You can use clear glue sticks and paint your “wax drips” or you can purchase colored glue sticks.  Your candles can be the same color as your “wax” or a contrasting color.  I’ve seen black and red used most commonly for the “wax drips” and white, black or red for the candles.

Carefully run a bead of the glue around the top edge of your candle.  This will hide the PVC. But, don’t let the glue run down the inside or your tea light won’t fit.  Once you’ve completed the top, squeeze out enough glue on the upper, outside edge to cause it to run down the candle.  Repeat around the entire candle, letting the glue run different amounts to create a random look.

IMG_2440

Once you are satisfied with the look of your candle, create a ledge for your tea light to rest on so that the top of it is even with the top of your candle.  Above, scraps of foam insulation were glued into the candle about an inch deep to hold the lights.

You could burn real tea lights, but I chose battery operated lights.  In the top picture you can see the difference in the look of a black tea light and a white tea light.  The black ones are much more expensive.  But, you can easily create your own by putting masking tape on the “flame” and spray painting the base of the tea light with spray paint for plastic.

I liked the contrast created using colored glue sticks.  But, with my first attempt at creating candles I used paint.  You can see the result of that on the supersize candles pictured below.

A29BD1EC-C260-49BB-96FF-7B6A55CE4478

Advertisements

witchburnWhether you plan to burn a witch, stage a demon rising from hell or BBQ a corpse, this simple, inexpensive bed of coals can be created with minimal time and effort to make the scene pop.  The resulting prop is also light weight and water resistant.

I began with a piece of corrugated plastic board from an old yard sign.  I also covered it with aluminum foil to hide any of the image on it that might show through. This forms the base of the coals and is sturdy enough to carry the prop.  For this example I cut a hole in the center and took care not to cover it so that I could drive a short piece of rebar into the ground to support a piece of bamboo with a doll tied to it.

Collect a variety of clear plastic bottles.  Cut off the top part of as many bottles as you need to cover your base.  Be sure to cut them into various heights.  Colored bottles could be used, but I chose to stick with clear bottles so the light would be as bright as possible.

coal bottles

Next, place a set of orange or red holiday string lights on the base.  Leave some extra cord on the end with the plug sticking out past the edge of the base.   Push some lights up into the bottle necks.  You can tape or glue them to the inside of the bottle necks if you wish, but it’s not necessary (I did not).

coal foam 2

Once the lights are evenly spread out and the bottles placed, randomly spray expanding foam over the entire thing.  Be sure to leave some holes in the foam for the light to show through.  After the foam has dried completely, spray a combination of red, gray and black paint on it so that it also looks like hot coals during the daylight.  Take care not to spray into the holes too much or you will block the lights from shinning through.

witchburnBelow is an attempt to show the finished product in the dark.  My doll needs some work to show the result of her torturous demise.  But, you get the idea.  And, as you can tell in the above photograph, she actually stands on her own indoors.  Outside she is even more stable as a short piece of rebar is driven into the center hole in the prop to support the bamboo stake to which she is tied.

coal lit dark

 

The recent cold spell, or rather return to traditional Kentucky winter weather forced me from the garage to instead work on some indoor projects last week.  And, the resulting bloody, severed fingers are now one of my favorite creations to date.  This project takes a bit of patience, so a good movie in the background is highly recommended.

handpaint

The first step is to mix a small amount of flesh toned paint into Elmer’s white school glue. Pour the glue about a 1/4 inch deep into a small paint container.  Next, squeeze about a 1/2 inch of Portrait Pink acrylic paint into the glue as well as a small dot of Yellow Ochre.  Mix the paint and glue well with a wooden popsicle type stick.  For subsequent batches substitute other colors such as Burnt Umber for the Yellow Ochre if you would like a variety of skin tones.

Once the glue and paint are mixed, simply brush them on your fingers making sure to cover the entire surface.  It will take about 30 minutes for each layer of paint to dry completely, even using a fan or hair dryer.  Take care not to let your fingers touch. When they inevitably do, carefully cut the connection formed and pat it back down against your fingers.

Thea Higgins has a series of YouTube videos showing the process. She suggests at least three coats of glue. I found four to be the minimum. Even with five coats, my first attempt resulted in torn joints which you can see in the insert in the photograph below.

freshfingers

To avoid this, be sure the glue is completely dry in the areas that tend to take the longest such as the inside of the joints, at the base of the fingers and around or under the fingernails.  I found that when each layer is added it re-moistens the previous layer.  So, you can cheat a bit by adding a layer before the previous one is completely dry and spending the longest drying time at the end.  It is fairly easy to tell where the glue is still wet because it becomes translucent as it dries. In the final coats it also begins to stiffen and pull away from your skin on its own.  Anywhere you fail to completely dry the glue there will be tears or disruptions in the imprint.

Once you are satisfied the glue is completely dry, dust each finger completely with baby powder using a soft brush to eliminate the tackiness of the surface.  Gently begin peeling the glue back from the base of each finger and rolling it over itself.  Dust the inside with baby powder as it becomes exposed.  Once you have it started it will easily just pull off of your finger.  But, go slowly with frequent pauses to avoid tearing it or stretching it out of shape.  Once off brush the excess powder away.

bones

Stuffing the fingers and adding a bone to the end of them is the next step.  If you let the fingers dry overnight they will stiffen substantially, making this part easier to do without damaging them.  For the bones I had a necklace and a skeleton hand garland I picked up during post Halloween sales.  My new dogs had not learned which toys were mine and which were theirs at that time and chewed the skeleton hands a bit before I discovered their transgression.  But, I was glad I kept them as they were perfect for this project.  So, I spent an evening breaking the knuckles apart and trimming them with an X-Acto knife.

gorillatop

Ms. Higgins stuffed her fingers with plastic. But, I was concerned about the durability of that.  Having recently watched Allen Hopps’ Stiltbeast Studio video on Gorilla Glue foam, I opted to try that.  You simply pour some Gorilla Glue into a small amount of hot water and stir it with a wooden stick as fast as you can until it starts to expand.  You must work very quickly as the more it expands, the more porous and hard to work with the material becomes.  The foam in the cup pictured above is from about a teaspoon of Gorilla Glue.  Once it expands to the volume pictured it is very hard to work with.

The result of this method was actually very nice as those fingers have a more realistic feel to them.  However, it’s a sticky, messy process and it is very easy to accidentally collapse your finger or leave a gap inside of it. There is no correction once this happens, but they did look a bit like mummified or rotting fingers, so I kept them.

Regardless, on future batches I used hot glue to stuff the fingers. These came out very durable.  You still must be careful though because when you add the hot glue the finger becomes very soft.  To avoid having one rupture, I only filled the tip at first. Then I gently cradled it between two of my fingers, holding it upright and used a fan to help cool it down faster.  Once this hardened I could do the rest by holding the tip of the finger.  I stopped the glue just before the place the bone needed to be embedded.

Finally, I glued in the bone and filled the hot glue almost to the top.  Then I mixed some Gorilla Glue the same way as I had before and put very small dabs on top of the hot glue because the foam did look more like mutilated flesh than the smooth hot glue.  Even with tiny dabs I still had to poke it with a small corner of paper several times as it dried to knock the puffiness out of it.

nailclose

After the fingers are completely dry you can adorn them with a fingernail. This step can be skipped as your life cast finger will already have an impression of your nail on it.  To add a nail use inexpensive press on type nails or cut the shape out of clear protector sheets used for notebook dividers.  I used fake nails from a drugstore. Trim the nails to fit the fingers. Next, take sharp scissors or a knife or razor blade and put scratches lengthwise down the nail.  On the ends make many scratches, pressing all the way through the nail in some cases.  You can then take the scissors and snip out chips or cut deeply into the nail for a broken fingernail look.  Finally I scratched up the entire nail surface with the coarse side of a emery board and glued it on with Tacky Glue.

As you can see from the above photograph, some fingers were painted before adding the fingernail and others were not.  A bit of blood or blue paint under the nail looks like real bruising.  However, it turned out that this could be achieve just as easily before or after the nail was glued down.

To finish the look, I stained my pieces, finger and nail, with Minwax Red Mahoganey wood stain.  I stain all of my skeletons with this for a cohesive look across displays. Simply apply the stain with a cotton ball or sponge brush and immediately wipe it off with paper towels. This antiquing process leaves a bit of color in the creases to make them stand out and also gives the fingers a bruised and aged look.  The final step is to add blood.  My preferred mix is Allen Hopp’s recipe using clear Elmer’s School Glue with a few drops of red food coloring and one small drop of blue food coloring.  You can mix this straight in the glue bottle to always have some on hand.  The result is a translucent, shiny blood that looks great!  Just dot the fingers with the blood and blotch it around with a brush.

Since these fingers will be indoors, I won’t need to do anything else to them.  However, if any would be used outside it would be necessary to coat them well with some kind of acrylic or polyurethane finish to make them waterproof.

finished

 

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.

hook-supply

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.

hook-sauder-4

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.

hook-hanger-suater

face-frame---new
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.

face-frame-supplles

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.

face-mask-green

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.

face-mask-frame2

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.

face-mask---complete-old

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.