Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The mausoleum. This was our first major grave yard upgrade. Built mainly out of plywood, Alex had initially intended to reuse the materials to make bookshelves after Halloween was over, but it turned out so cool that he couldn't bear to. This set piece has played a part in each subsequent Halloween since.
I think one of the best touches was the sonotubes that we cut in half (creating two half cylinders) to make the columns on either side. A close second place would have to go to the batshape we created out of plywood scraps to go over the doorway complete with two red rhinestone eyes that glinted in the torchlight.
Speaking of torches... I'm always amazed at how well a little black spray paint works to make things look creepier. Tiki torches in a graveyard look chintzy; black tiki torches look creepy.
The first year Alex crafted plywood sides and 2x4 support struts to the front facade to complete the look. By the next year that plywood at least had been re-purposed and we discovered that the facade itself fit nicely in front of the garden shed. This also allowed our mummified friend to set back from the entrance a little more where we could cast a nice red clip lamp on him from above.
The stone effect was created by using a large "car wash" sponge using different colors in different layers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


If you want to set the mood right when people arrive for your Halloween party or just to Trick-or-Treat why not try a graveyard! Over the years our set-up went through numerous configurations, but one of the first needs of a good graveyard would be grave stones. Yes, I'm sure you guessed that one.
There are numerous material options to make your gravestones (we have used everything from think cardboard to some HDU foam stolen from the dumpster of a local sign shop), but our favorite ended up being good old plywood. The nice thing about building stuff like this is that you don't need huge or perfect pieces and you can probably find some less expensive scraps at a material salvage company or even from leftovers from your own projects.
We cut all our graves will a skill saw, so it we wanted to keep the shapes simple. A cemetery is obviously the best place to find some good examples of creepy stones to draw inspiration from, but keep in mind that half a dozen scary stones will be more impressive than on Gothic masterpiece.
Decorative molding from either a hardware or craft store can add a nice 3-dimensional aspect and give your creations a little more realism. Even foofy floral elements can look sinister if you paint them with enough black!
Speaking of paint... There are numerous choices here as well. We light our sets with clip lamps and colored bulbs, but if you are depending on moonlight or some other distant light source remember that high color contrast is important for any witty inscriptions you want people to see. Glow-in-the-dark paint might work as well. Use as many faux painting techniques as you feel comfortable with; we relied heavily on wiping, dripping and sponging.