31 Days 'til Halloween: Our Little Wednesday

With the countdown to Halloween officially beginning at midnight, I thought sharing recent holiday inspired sidewalk chalk art from niece Devin the perfect way to kick the season off right.

She really is our family's Wednesday Addams...

A Slimy Detour

I know the blog and Para Abnormal seemed to have screeched to a sudden halt this past week. The reason is I was detoured by a working trip to NYC, if you can call this working...

This week though, the blog is springing back to life with lots of spooky display updates. Para Abnormal though will remain on a brief hiatus and be back Oct 1st for the annual...

O'Treaty's Pumpkin

Making a new Halloween prop like Patrick O'Treaty is fun, but sometimes just re purposing and making a fix to an old prop can be the most creatively satisfying. Such as the old faux pumpkin I'm using to sit on the post next to O'Treaty.

This guy's been around forever. He was a carve-able foam one I picked up a Micheal's back in 2003 or 2004 to use as a scarecrow head for a Halloween party decoration at my Fiancee's condo. I had painted his innards black to try and hide the post supporting it.

He bounced around unchanged and made it into more than a few Halloween yard displays. I always hated the stubby stem, and last year, in haste, I attempted to improve it by gluing on twisted, green painted paper. Cute, but eh.

While fixing him up this year... fresh paint (even making his innards yellow again), repairing cracks and adding some teeth with Model Magic, I finally sculpted a bit better stem. It's just a small detail, but felt good to make.

Creative Inspiration: Jack's Halloween Town

I think I've actually posted these before but still great fuel for the creative engine worth watching numerous times.

An Interstitial-inator Prop

Halloween projects are being pushed back a few days for a good reason. I'm designing and making a prop this week inspired by the animated inventions of Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the series Phineas and Ferb for a Disney Channel interstitial.

50 Days 'til Halloween: Old Ideas Combine

A little while back I posted the evolution of an old eye monster prop. I mentioned how I thought that it might be fun to combine that prop with my giant window eye that follows you illusion.

Since then, while that idea had been placed in a corner of my brain to simmer, I started to plan the build of my long hoped for crashed UFO in the roof.

Looking back at old sketches for this idea, I rediscovered one of an alien I wanted to make that would go with it and had a "EUREKA!" moment. It's the perfect prop for combining both giant eye concepts.

 I can imagine this guy standing next to the crashed saucer following folks walk by with his one eye. He and his ship are next in the creation queue after Patrick O'Treaty is finished.

I designed a larger, total alien invasion themed yard as a possibility one year, that included the old monster eye prop then. Still think it would be a cool one to do someday.

O'Treaty's Foamcore Lantern: Part Three

And so the foamcore lantern trilogy of posts comes to an end. I'm really happy, even all painted and finished, it still weighs next to nothing so O'Treaty's bony zombie fingers can hold it. I changed the cage design since Part One thinning the support bars and went from 4 panels per side to 6. The decorative top is just an overturned plastic champagne glass with the stem cut off and a hollow paper mache craft ornament from Michael's glued on it. Since it's just a foamcore prop, I wanted to make sure it holds up to the elements (at least for this year) so I gave it three thick base coats of black Decoart Patio Paint acrylic. It's made for crafting up outdoor items like terra cotta pots and concrete. I had some so I thought I'd try it, not that any other acrylic or exterior house paint wouldn't work.

 The glass is old clear plastic portfolio sleeves cut to size. One cage side is removable to turn the fake candle inside on/off and change batteries if needed. I filled in some unwanted seams with Spackle and faux rust painted. While doing so, I threw old coffee grounds on it for some gritty texture. The glass was grimed up by splattering dirty brush wash water. Then I cleaned each panel a little leaving muddy around the edges. Once dry it got a light coating of spray glue and dusted with dirt using a flour sifter. The handle is just a piece of bent wire hanger.

Most of the aforementioned wire hanger was used to create the hook to hang the lantern from, disguised as Patrick O'Treaty's finger. The wire was glued into his forearm. The Model Magic made hand, without the middle finger, was skewered through so that wire becomes the missing finger.

I positioned the hand where I wanted it and glued it to the wrist.

The finger bones were then threaded onto the wire, except for the tip and bent into a pose that would create the illusion the middle finger and thumb were holding the lantern.

The wire end was cut down to length, curved a bit more to hook the lantern handle and sculpted the finger's bony last digit over it with model magic.

O'Treaty's Foamcore Lantern: Part Two

I jumped ahead of finishing the lantern and made the faux candle that will go inside it. I basically used the same flameless candle method I posted a "how-to" for last year. I know there are more realistic ways to create a prop like this, but I think the silly look of the fake flame in this case fits the overall cartoony feel that the finished Patrick O'Treaty piece will have.

Before: Cheap-o battery tea light and a toilet paper tube trimmed for an uneven, melted edge look.

After: Lots of hot glue and craft acrylic.

I decided to paint the candle as opposed to keeping the more wax-like translucence of the hot glue because it had more contrast as a solid color inside the lantern, you'll see what I mean in Part Three.

O'Treaty's Foamcore Lantern: Part One

I've discovered that the real lantern I wanted Patrick O'Treaty to hold was too heavy, so I'm making a scratch built one out of light weight foamcore. We're very old friends having made many a prop and set dressing out of it in the past.

As with the top hat, I want the lantern look old, so I'm not worried about perfection in it's basic construction. Askew angles, uneven cutting, dents and hot glue mishaps are okay and will help give it character once finished. It's a nice large size, about 10" high and 7" square, but still really light.

Next is finishing it with more details, painting and a faux candle, but that's in Part Two once I get it done.

Creative Inspiration: Pirates 4 - On Stranger Styrofoam

I've always had an affinity for Pirate culture. From historical fact to Howard Pyle's illustrations to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. The Jack Sparrow movies are favorites and needless to say I'm looking forward to the new chapter, On Stranger Tides, especially adding Blackbeard into the saga as played by Ian McShane. Perfect casting in my opinion.

So when this photo hit the web today revealing what McShane's Blackbeard will look like, I was Bucca-nerdy thrilled. Then the set designer geek in me noticed the styrofoam made rocks in the lower foreground. That thrilled me even more. Classic low tech movie magic. Go make something today.