Friday, October 30, 2009
We are having our pumpkin carving party tonight. This is definitely one of my favorite things about Halloween. I really enjoy coming up with new designs and I love seeing what everyone at the party ends up with- it's amazing how many different ways people can think of to carve pumpkins! I'll post some pictures of the results tomorrow.
Monday, October 26, 2009
For years now we've been decorating our yard for Halloween. Every year we get a few new things to add. Some of them have been well worth the money- they do really cool things that I can't do on my own (like anything with motors) but other items have seemed awfully expensive for what amounts to little more than foam sticks and plastic.
Lately I've really been wanting a life size witch for the yard. There are lots of cool ones that animate but they are a lot more than I want to spend and lets face it- after almost 10 years of decorating I don't have room to store a 5 or 6 foot animatronic witch. But even the ones that don't move are big and expensive, so I decided I was just going to try and make one. It was so easy and cheep I still can't believe it!
First you're probably gonna need to buy a few things.
Foremost on that list is a likely a mask, my husband and I found the one we used at a chain drugstore on sale for under $7. (And it came with the hair attached!) We also found a plain witch hat at the same place for $1.50. Then I picked up three plastic tablecloths (at $1.50 each). I got one standard rectangular in black for the cape, one round and one more rectangular in purple for the dress. Then I found a set of gloves for $5. The rest of the materials I had around the house. Total cost to me was $18, but if you had to buy everything I think you could still do it for under $30 dollars.
The rest of the materials used are- 2 stakes or dowels (one should be about as tall as you want your witch to stand). Some scrap pieces of styrofoam, roll of duct tape, hot glue, 2 bouncy ball eyeballs (or other novelty eyeball), newspaper, plastic bags (one gallon plastic zipper, a bunch of grocery store bags and one black trash bag), 2 wire coat hangers and a 5 gallon bucket filled with rocks and sand (unless you want to stick your witch into the ground).
Here's how you do it:
Step 1: Find a stake or dowel about as tall as you want your witch. This will be the spine of the entire thing. My husband had a few scrap pieces of wood hanging around that were perfect.
Next tape a bit of styrofoam to it. I literally pulled these pieces out of a box we were going to throw away, they don't have to be pretty or smooth or round, you just need a base to build a head on.
Step 2: On the second piece of wood I measured the width I wanted the shoulders. The witch is actually about a foot taller than I am so I just measured my shoulder width and added an inch or so. I cut the second scrap piece of wood into two shoulder length pieces and nailed them to the dowel (I added a little wood glue too but honestly I think it was overkill).
You can see I added the wood to the front and back- I thought this would make the entire thing seem less flat and it worked out really well.
Step 3: Using newspaper pad the shoulders to give them some shape. I also taped some folded newspaper in the middle of the two cross pieces. I found when I wrapped the first shoulder it pulled the wood tightly together and left a big gap on the other side. This quick paper spacer on either side did the trick. I covered the entire wad with duct tape to help keep any rain off the newspaper.
Step 4: Now bend a coat hanger around each shoulder to form the arms.
Step 5: Time to make the head. Start by wrapping newspaper around the foam taping it as you go. Once you get a good ball shape cover the entire thing with duct tape really well. The tape not only makes is more water resistant but it helps to make the head sturdy enough for the mask to sit on.
Then cover the entire thing with a gallon plastic zipper bag for more water protection.
Step 6: Cut a slit in the rectangular purple tablecloth so it fits over the head and drape it over the arms and body. I hot glued it onto the coat hangers then hot glued the edges of the cloth to each other to seal it up. ( I placed the head on really quick to see how it was coming along.)
Step 7: I stuffed the costume gloves with little bits of ripped up plastic grocery bags. Then taped them to the coat hangers. This is the one part of the witch I'd like to improve- I might try to find some green hands after Halloween.
Step 8: To add a final water barrier to the head cover with the corner of a black trash bag. I taped it around the neck over the purple cloth so if any water were to get under the mask it would run down this bag and over the purple table cloth.
Step 9: Now add the black tablecloth for a cape. I draped and glued it around the neck to cover the join of the head and purple cloth. I also glued it over the arms.
Step 10: Position the mask over the head and glue it into place on either side to hold it. She's really coming together now!
Step 11: The eyes- I used two bouncy balls leftover from last years trick-or-treat bags. They sell these all over this time of year usually with the other little toy items for treat bags. This really made the whole look come to life. I hot glued them onto the black trash bag inside the mask and once I had them the way I wanted I put a tiny dot of hot glue wherever the eyeball touched the mask.
Step 12: Last but not least- glue on her hat. She's ready to roll for Halloween now!
My husband and I set up our not so fair maiden in front of a fiery cauldron to cast her spells. We lashed 3 branches from the backyard together and hung a plastic cauldron from the center. All week she'll have a yellow light on her at night but on Halloween she'll have a flaming fire (fake fire bowl) and a steaming cauldron (water fogger).
My husband put her into a 5 gallon bucket filled with sand and rock to hold her steady. I covered the bucket with a round purple tablecloth. I taped it under the other purple cloth and tucked it under the edges to hold it in place.
I bought the materials Saturday night- made her Sunday morning- She was up and the cauldron created by Sunday afternoon. Quick, easy and cheap! Best of all she looks great in the yard!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
On Saturday morning my husband declared he had a surprise. A Halloween surprise!
After driving North for little more than an hour we wound up in Keene New Hampshire- which turns out is home of the pumpkin festival. We'd never been before and I've seriously never seen anything like it in my life. Every year in October the small downtown is overrun by jack-o-lanterns in hopes of breaking a world record. Everywhere you look there are pumpkins people have carved, they are on the sidewalk, in the trees, on the fountains, in front of stores, set up on rows of wooden shelving lining the street and on not one but two giant scaffolding sets.
I don't think I can accurately describe the pure joy I felt at seeing this many pumpkins and this much love for the carved pumpkin in one place. It was quite simply surreal.
And once the sun faded away it was jaw dropping.
For a while Keene held the world record until it was beat by Boston (that fact that it took Boston to beat them is pretty impressive if you check out the population numbers 22,600 in Keene and somewhere around 600,000 in Boston). This year's festival clocked in 29,068 pumpkins a little shy of the world record held by Boston (which 30,128) but a personal best for the festival.
Over 29,000 pumpkins... I'm still grinning about it.
Someone pinch me so I can make sure it was real. What an awesome Saturday surprise! We'll absolutely be back with a lighter and jack-o-lantern in hand!
Monday, October 12, 2009
I put the graveyard back up yesterday. Replaced some missing skulls and repaired a few other things that got broken.
Then worked on adding more.
I'm still wondering what every bang I hear outside is and hoping everything stays in tact for the rest of the time it's out there.
Is it wrong to wish I could put a tiny electric current into the skull fence, just enough to give any more would-be vandals a little surprise? hehehe.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Last night we had some vandals visit the front yard.
It's the first time in 8 years of decorating the house that we've had anything like this happen.
I saw it when I was leaving for the grocery store this morning. A few things were broken, a few things were stolen and we found a few things a couple of houses down the street, clearly thrown away as they were leaving.
It really makes me mad, especially because it happened late enough that it wasn't done by some little kids. It also makes me mad because I was up late last night and thought I heard something but didn't go downstairs to check because we live on a busy enough street that there are noises all the time (and honestly it didn't enter my mind that something like this would happen).
The plan for today was to bring more decorations out but I spent the first few hours putting the graveyard back together before bringing more stuff out. I have to say it wasn't as fun as it usually is- with every new decoration I placed in the yard I thought- will this be broken or stolen?
I hope not. I hope it was just a one time thing. But I've already noticed myself wondering what each thud outside is.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
For the last few years I've had this vision of throwing a big, sort of elaborate Halloween party. But when September and October roll around again it never seems like the right time to throw a big party. Still I keep thinking about what I'd do if I were having a party and have been working out a list of songs a list of songs I'd like to play.
I decided a while ago that they can't just be good songs but that they would all have to have something about them, a lyric, theme or attitude that ties them to Halloween. Here is my partial list. I like all sorts of music so it's pretty random (and in no particular order here).
She wolf by Shakira (whenever I hear this it makes me wish I was having a party this year)
Psycho Killer by Talking Heads
Wherewolves of London by Warren Zevon
Evil Ways by Santana
Feed my Frankenstein by Alice Cooper
Monster Mash by Bobby (Boris) Pickett
Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf
Thriller by Michael Jackson
Shout at the Devil by Motley Crue
The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band
Witch Doctor by Alvin and the Chipmunks (yup that's right the Chipmunks)
Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clear Water
This is Halloween by Marilyn Manson (it's a remake of The Nightmare Before Christmas song)
Halloween by Siouxie and the Banshees
Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley (I know the chipmunks did this one also)
Ghostbusters by Ray Parker JR
Time Warp- from Rocky Horror (incidentally the Chimpmunks have a version of this too)
I'm Your Boogie Man by KC & the Sunshine Band
Nightmare On My Street by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
I put a spell on you- the Sonique version (which isn't a very good version but it's fast enough for a party).
Dragula by Rob Zombie
Love Potion No. 9 by The Searchers
Superstition by Stevie Wonder (love this song!)
Somebody's Watching Me- by Rockwell (I think it's by Rockwell anyway)
Walk Like An Egyptian- by The Bangles (I have love this song since I was a kid)
Welcome To My Nightmare- Alice Cooper
One Way Or Another- by Blondie (It's very Halloween in spirit I think... kinda creepy)
Back in Black by AC/DC
Black Cat by Janet Jackson