Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Zombie Xmas

We started a new tradition at our house this year.  On Christmas Eve, we gathered around the table and made gingerbread houses.  Of course, the general theme was North Pole or Winter Wonderland.  I decided to go in another direction.  Imagine a different kind of visitor on Christmas...

The main structural material was graham crackers, not gingerbread.  I also made the tombstones and coffin and boarded up the windows and doors with graham crackers.  The shingles on the house are made with mini Nilla Wafers.  Instead of frosting, I used peanut butter to cement everything together.  The zombies are made with a toothpick frame covered in gumdrop bits and green fruity licorice.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Early Christmas

Christmas came early for this haunter.  I paid for my annual subscription to Hauntcast and added a little extra for a T-shirt.  What a great Chrisatmas present.  Thanks, Chris!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Witch Jars, Halloween Lanterns, or Whatever.

Okay, like everybody else out there, I took one look at Pumpkinrot's witch jars and decided that I needed some for my display.  I love the creepy atmosphere that you get from a candle inside a dirty, ancient-looking glass holder with some questionable stains dripping down the sides.  The only problem I could see with Pumpkinrot's method was that my haunt is of the classic cemetery style, and the mason jar look was a little too "back-woods".  So I decided to find a glass container that looked as if it was made for the sole purpose of holding a candle.
I work next door to a company that recycles glass for use in its products.  They have bins out in front of their facility for the public to drop off glass items.  I am a shameless dumpster diver and frequently stroll by the bins looking for interesting items.  I found a bottle that was wider and taller than normal.  I thought that this would make a great candle holder if I could just remove the top.
I soaked the bottle in warm, soapy water to aid in removing the label.
I found a product online called Ephrem's Bottle Cutter Kit.  It has a variety of different uses for anyone looking to repurpose glass bottles or jars.
The bottle cutter has three rollers and one cutting wheel, making it useful for cutting only round bottles and jars.
The bottle is placed on the rollers so that the desired location of the score rests on the cutting wheel.  Constant, even pressure is placed on the bottle and it is rotated clockwise until the bottle is scored completely around its circumference and the cutting wheel begins to make a grinding sound.  Be careful not to over-rotate the bottle.  This can cause a bad or uneven score and can decrease the longevity of the cutting wheel.
Here is the bottle with a nice, even scoring line around its top.
Now, contrary to the name of the kit, Ephrem's Bottle Cutting Kit does not actually cut the bottle; but rather scores the glass of the bottle.  In order to remove the bottle's top, heat must be applied to the glass along the scoring line.  I lay the bottle on its side for this step.
Next, I place a candle beneath the bottle with the flame under the scoring line.  I tried to do this step with a butane torch; but it heated up the glass too quickly and caused it to fragment.  The bottle is slowly rotated, heating up the scoring line.  Try to do this as evenly as possible.
Here is the bottle with its top removed.  The cut edges of the glass are extremely sharp.  I use coarse sandpaper to rough up the edges.  I also remove the ring of soot left by the candle.
Here is another departure from Pumpkinrot's method.  He uses a coat of diluted white glue to cloud the surface of the glass.  I decided to try good, old-fashioned mud; mostly because I am cheap and mud is free but also because deep down I am always looking for an excuse to play in the mud.
After being dunked in the mud, the bottle rests on some newspaper and dries overnight.
Here is the nice, crusty bottle.
Using an old rag, I wipe the surface of the bottle down to leave it with a more irregular coating of dirt.
To give the bottle some color, I use black, red, and green paint.  I have some nice, fat brushes and I water the paint down a lot.  I start with the black and go over the entire surface of the bottle inside and out.  Next, I use the red and green on the inside surface of the bottle and drag the paintbrush along to rim, letting the colors randomly drip down the inside of the glass.
Here is the finished lantern with flash.
Here is the finished lantern without flash.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Please Consider Me as an Alternative to the Landfill.

I have received a reputation around my workplace as a Dumpster Diver.  Many of the conversations I have with my co-workers begin like this:  "Hey, Phil.  We were going to throw this away.  Do you want it?"  Well this reputation really paid off recently when I scored these babies.  Can you say, "Cha-ching!"
These are hollow plastic columns, finished to look like stone.  They look awesome.  These will be the posts for my cemetary fence this year.  I will space them about eight feet apart with some PVC pipe panels in between.    Because they are hollow, I can see myself wiring up lighting, speakers, and even fog machines inside them.
Here is a picture of one with my son added for scale.  They are almost six feet tall.  I scored about twelve of them.  More than enough to encircle my small front lawn.
Being hollow, they make an excellent storage spot for all of the PVC pipe that I also rescued from the dumpster at work.  You know, it's true what they say; it's not the pay but the perks that make a job worthwhile.

Dumpster Diving is the Life For Me

I manage a warehouse in an industrial complex in Smithfield, Utah.  Next door is a buisness that recycles glass, grids it up, and sells it for use in decorative concrete flooring and such.  They have bins out in front of their building where people can deposit their jars, bottles, and other glassware to be recycled.  I have reclaimed quite a few cool specimens in my dumpster-diving adventures.  This is some kind of giant beaker.  I can just see it on the shelf of a mad scientist somewhere.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

From the Yard of the Living Dead to the Garage of Doom.

Well, I haven't posted anything in a long time; despite promising a couple of how-to posts.  Below are some pictures that help to explain my absence from the prop-making scene.

You know how things go:  you spend months and months preparing for Halloween and only a few hours putting it away, returning reluctantly to the garage a couple of months later to be faced with a nightmare clean-up project.  I have decided to photograph my progress and chronicle this herculean task here on the blog.  I intend to make a little progress every day.  Hopefully I will be back in the prop-making swing of things within a week or so.  Here's hoping...