Countdown to Halloween '14 Day One - The Master Plan!

Halloween is here and the countdown has begun!

Okay, I thought I'd start by following up on something I posted about a week or so ago and a shameless plug for the the daily TV show I work on, Home and Family on the Hallmark Channel.

We're officially going full blown yard haunt crazy. Nicknamed "Haunt and Family" it will feature a few DIY segments every week throughout the month until the lawn looks pretty close to what I doodled up here.

I'd like to say any similarities in this design to any my old haunt projects are coincidental, but I'll be honest, I'm too overworked right now and lazy to think up all fresh new project ideas.

Being able to design and supervise these projects, I hope inspires a passion for yard haunting and decorating to untapped Halloween creatives.

Hope you tune in. Here's a sneak peek of this week's featured projects...

Today, an 8 foot spooky tree DIY


Thursday, a creepy cemetery fence DIY

Creative Inspiration: Hunka Junk

So I'm sure you've heard Star Wars Episode VII is filming, but what you may not have is it's director JJ Abrams has been having a friendly social media war with Zack Snyder, the director of another highly anticipated big franchise film, Superman Vs Batman. Both their camps have been going back and forth posting images "mashing up" the two franchises.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, Abrams wins with this video.

As much fun and brief as the clip is, what really thrills and inspires me is the overall attention to detail and love that the set craftsman have obviously poured into recreating the Millenium Falcon. I've watched this a hundred times. Every bolt, rivet, pipe, gizmo, greeble, and chipped section of paint was obviously made with care. Especially when, odds are, most of it will never be seen up close.

Halloween Window Silhouettes 2014

Last year I drew up Halloween window silhouette templates for all to swipe and use in your decor. There were Witches, Maniacs, and Zombies. This year is no different, I'm working on a few new series to share. Look for Spiders, Aliens, and Mythical Monsters posted here soon.

In the meantime, here's the first spider to grab and use if you so desire. Happy Halloween!


Halloween 2014 - Universal Set Haunt

Pretty excited.

With a little pushing, nagging, and general creative ranting from their humble propmaster, Home and Family producers are now inspired to go all out decorating the set's front yard in true Halloween haunter fashion based on a rough design sketch of mine. The entire month of October will feature weekly DIY segments creating it!

Some projects will be Halloween yard 101 to inspire possible new haunter's. Some will be advanced. Some will be a few old personal haunt projects once posted here redone with a fresh spin and a better tutorial, that I hope bridge 101 and advanced. I guess that means, those would be medium skill then.

Here's the best part for me. We're on the Universal backlot, the trams drive by everyday, the big Universal Halloween Horror Night mazes are close by. So the Home and Family yard display will be connected in a third cousin twice removed kind of way, sort of. Don't crush my delusions of grandeur.

The whole plan will be revealed on the show airing Oct 1st, but here's a sneak peek of the current design sketch. Oh yes, that's a crashed UFO, the one personal Halloween project I never did finish will happen. Producer approved, so it has to now.


Christmas in July

A couple of months back the show I'm working on in cahoots with Hallmark (promoting their new line of ornaments for the year) decided to celebrate Christmas in July for a week.

Here's a video featuring my crew and I transforming our set for the occasion in only a couple of days including a blanket of REAL snow, on top of the fake blanket we put down.


Getting Into The Halloween Spirit

I'm doodling.


Halloween 2014 - First New Prop Part 4

Here's how the gravestone began.

First I used 2 sheets of large foamcore board (30" x 40"). Standard stuff, available at most office supply. If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know foamcore is my "go-to" prop making material. Not that it's the best, it's just what I've grown comfortable using. The same way a chef might have a favorite knife, or a writer has a favorite pencil.

I drew and cut out the shape of the gravestone and basically made a box. The gravestone sides are strips of foamcore scored so they can be bent into a curve. I hot glued it together and used painter's tape as I went along to keep things in place as the glue set up.


Second, I sketched on the eyes and mouth I wanted and cut those out with an X-Acto.


Third, I filled the inside with Great Stuff expanding foam and let dry. Here's a tip, spray bottle misting the foam with water helps speed up it's expansion and drying time.


Now, the combination of the expanding foam and misting created a happy accident that I anticipated and welcomed, The foamcore warped a bit giving the gravestone a more odd and organic shape.

Next, once the foam set up, I sculpted it to make look more natural as if was stone that had broken away.


Then I began to have real fun, cutting out the details and adding cracks with the X-Acto. I also pulled off a lot of the surface paper on the foamcore adding texture.


The Gravestone was then thinly coated with Fix-It-All patching plaster compound tinted with some black india ink making it more grey colored.


Once dry, I went back and added finer cracks (just running a nail through the patching plaster) and sanded edges. Then I started dry brushing with various shades of grey and black washes to bring out details.


Now, with all the added moisture because of the painting, once dry, the gravestone warped more especially at the glue seams and thinner areas I had carved details into. Sometimes it actually split and created gaps. I filled these with ordinary tile grout tinted with some of the paint I was using. The sand in the grout also added some great texture.


Look for Part 5 soon  when I'll be adding the melted candle eyes.

Halloween 2014 - First New Prop Part 3

It hit me that it's not my style to be so secretive and teasing with my prop builds. I was at first because it was a gravestone making contest, but since I'm out of the competition (missed deadline), who cares right?

Mine is based on this really old idea I sketched and posted about years ago ( old post here ).


 This is where the build is at right now.


How I created it this far will be in future posts. Right now I'm working on the tendril arm branches. Which I'm having fun creating, inspired by the work of Pumpkinrot and the late John Wolfe of Seasons of Shadows.


Nowhere near done yet, I'm only finding time to work on for an hour or so every 3 or 4 days. In the meantime, I'll retro-post the "making of" so far over the next week or so.

Halloween 2014 - First New Prop Part 2

I missed the tombstone contest deadline, so I'm out, but I'm still working on. Here's a sneak peek of it so far. Should have done by week's end.

Season Two of Home and Family is Done!


Happy to say season two has wrapped, and I'll be back working on season three in early September. In the meantime, gives me time to rest, work on some personal projects (Halloween stuff perhaps) and blog more.

Halloween 2014 - First New Prop

I'm working on my first new Halloween prop for 2014, and Great Stuff expanding foam is involved. At least one prop every year needs to use it, otherwise it's like a Christmas tree without lights.


It will be a gravestone and my entry in the So Cal Valley Haunters' tombstone making contest.

Today's the deadline, more later, much left to do.

Creative Inspiration: Life Sized GODZILLA Statue

This is seriously a daydream I had as a kid become reality.

I've always loved statues or monuments in public places. I was in 5th or 6th grade and recall playing my small NY suburban neighborhood park wishing it had a statue like the ones in Central Park (in the big city). I remember imagining that statue should be a life sized King Kong or Godzilla.

And to my fellow Halloween enthusiasts, tell me this picture doesn't make you want drop everything your working on and start creating a giant monster for the front lawn this year.


More details and photos about this amazing Godzilla project at Dread Central.

"Home and Family" Concept Sketch Portfolio

Over the past two years on Hallmark Channel's Home and Family show, I've had my paint encrusted hands in small DIY segments and larger set dressing/design projects. Many needed concept sketches to sell the idea.

Here's a portfolio of some of those sketches (some used, some not, some that may be).


I'll be updating this portfolio, as I find more old sketches, and with new art when we come back for season three in October.

"HULK" Sized Action Figure Playset DIY

Imagine this...

You're a kid, and the HULK is your favorite comic book. Then your favorite comic becomes a hit TV series you watch religiously. Then you grow up, and you're told at work you have to come up with a DIY project that not only has to be superhero themed, but something the HULK himself will be apart of.

Yes, that happened to me last week on Home and Family when Lou Ferrigno and Wizard World CEO John Macaluso were guests on the show.

L to R - Lou Ferrigno, The Abomination, John Macaluso.

The project idea sketch.


The finished project.



The DIY itself is pretty well explained in this clip below from the show, and in more detail on the Home and Family website HERE.


In case you're wondering, Lou may be the nicest person I've met. Ever. And one of the few I've ever felt really short standing next to.