Tag Archives: halloween prop

Make a Creepy “Skinned” Face

 

When you said you wanted to get tanned, we’ll bet this wasn’t what you meant! We saw this eerie image floating all over Pinterest but were unable to locate the original artist. So we decided to try it out for ourselves – and it’s surprisingly easy.

Here’s how to craft a super-creepy “skinned” (cut away from the skull)-face Halloween prop just like the one shown. Happy haunting – and don’t go into the woods alone.

You Will Need:

  • A creepy latex face mask. Searching for masks under “old man,” “zombie” or “baby” (an example is shown at right) on Amazon or ebay will give you great ideas.*
  • An Exacto knife.
  • Acrylic paints. We suggest deep red, black, and white.
  • Twine.
  • A weathered photo frame large enough to stretch your mask across.
  • Sandpaper, if you want to distress/weather a standard wooden frame.
  • A kitchen or sea sponge and a small paintbrush.
  • A heavy-duty hole punch.
  • Short nails (to go into the sides of the frame).
  • A hammer.

*If you are allergic to latex, look for a realistic non-latex mask. It may not be as stretchy, but you can get a similar effect by distressing the mask as described in the steps below.

Step One: Start Cutting

Credit: juneauempire.com
  1. Cut the face of your mask so it’s easy to stretch somewhat flat. Don’t worry about getting too exact with this. You want it to look cut somewhat haphazardly.
  2. If the eye holes aren’t very large, cut them a bit wider. The idea is that the skin has been cut away from the skull. (We know – eew!)
  3. If the mouth is not open, cut a slit between the lips and make sure it gapes when stretched.
  4. Punch holes near the edges of the face (as shown) using the hole punch. If your hole punch isn’t quite sturdy enough to do the trick, cut holes or slits with your Exacto knife.

Step Two: Add Paint

  1. For depth, dip your dry sponge into some black acrylic paint. Dab lightly on the insides of the eye and mouth holes. Again, don’t be too exact. (TIP: If you already have plenty of depth in the mask, you can skip this and the next step.)
  2. Using a different area of your sponge, add a few dabs of gray inside the eye and mouth holes for more depth. Now extend dabs of sickly gray-black across the face if you wish. Allow to dry.

Step Three: Stretch the Face

  1. If you want to distress your frame, rough it up with your sandpaper and smear streaks using your sponge and the gray paint; allow to dry.
  2. Hammer nails into the outsides of the frame where you want the twine to extend outward. These can be slightly off-kilter; again, messier and more haphazard is better.
  3. Cut pieces of twine for each of the holes you have punched into the mask. Tie one twine piece through each hole.
  4. Pull each piece of twine taut to stretch the mask and make it look extra-creepy. (Be careful not to pull TOO hard or you may tear the mask. Just have it look stretched out, with the eyes and mouth gaping.)
  5. Secure each piece of twine around its corresponding nail and tie tightly.

Step Four: Finishing Touches

Credit: craftsy.com

To give your stretched face gory realism, dab/smear dribbles of red paint onto the mask, the twine, and the photo frame. Remember: messier is better!

You can also mix red with a bit of black to get deeper, “older”/dried-blood colors. Dab with your sponge or toss onto the face with a paintbrush for extra splatter.

Allow your creepy creation to dry completely before hanging. Enjoy!

Making Body Parts and Monsters Out of Fiberglass

 

Guest contributor, props expert and comedy king David Lay is back! Thanks for contributing this fantastic tutorial, David.

Ever wonder how they made the costumes for Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers in Star Wars? Believe it or not, portions of these famous outfits were crafted the same way car bodies are made: in a mold with fiberglass or a similar resin.

In fact, so many things are made with plastics and resins today that it’s not likely you have any device that doesn’t have a molded part on it. (No, really!)

In my years as a haunter I’ve seen some extremely complicated – and convincing – costumes made entirely from molded fiberglass, including whole suits of Medieval armor.

With the basic knowledge of how to do this yourself, you can make almost anything your imagination can conjure up. Below we talk about how to make a simple body part as your starter example. However, please note that these concepts can be extended to almost any level to make extravagant costumes, monsters or even full Halloween haunt sets.

The Project: Let’s Get Crafty!

For this project I have decided to make a single body part -specifically, a hand. Actually, not just any hand, but a mummy hand. (This is a Halloween site, after all!)

I also chose materials that you can buy locally (think hardware or craft stores), or can get a hold of very inexpensively on sites like Amazon and ebay. These include::

  • Plaster of Paris, available at hardware or craft stores
  • Cheesecloth, which you can get anywhere cloth or canning supplies are sold
  • Fiberglass resin and fiberglass cloth or spun fiberglass, which you can get at an auto supply store
  • Plastic cups and spoons
  • Cheap disposable “chip” brushes

The Mold

I wanted my body part to look like a mummy’s hand, so I needed to make a mold that would give it mottled skin. I could have taken modeling clay and sculpted the part that I wanted, but I decided to use my own hand and arm. If you’re confident of your freehand sculpting skills than I am with mine, you may prefer making a clay model first.

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I mixed up some plaster of Paris as per the box’s instructions and dipped strips of cheese cloth into it. I then coated my arm with Vaseline petroleum jelly so the plaster wouldn’t stick, and then layered the plaster infused cheese cloth onto my arm.

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I pushed the cheesecloth into the spaces between my fingers, but made sure I had no convolutions (where the mold folds under itself – when you try to take the finished product out, you will have to break the mold in order to get it out – bad if you want to make another, identical part). I let the cheese cloth hang over the end of my fingers to make sure I covered the tips of my fingers. And yes, before you ask, it felt a bit…eew. (Halloween props are worth it, though!)

I used a canned vegetable can to rest my hand on so it would have the right bend to it. I made sure I had a tall cup of coffee, good music on, and then I waited the requisite time of about 45 minutes for the plaster to harden, trying not to move my hand or arm during that time.

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After hardening, I carefully pulled the “cast” off (Ouch! Not enough Vaseline, too many arm hairs), pushing and pulling at my skin to get it to break away from the mold.

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Casting the Fiberglass hand

I coated the inside of the mold with Vaseline to keep the resin from sticking to the mold. Unfortunately, one of the problems with plaster is that it is porous, and it takes a lot of Vaseline. I did have some trouble getting the resin hand out of the mold, ultimately breaking the mold. There are commercial anti-stick materials that work really well, which I’ll tell you more about later.

I wanted the skin to have a mottled look to it, so I made up a small amount (about two ounces – see below on how to do this) of resin and coated the inside of the mold, not getting rid of any air bubbles (that helps create the mottled look) and let that harden before making the main cast.

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Next I cut a piece of fiberglass mat material to fit inside the mold. I also pulled some individual fibers out to fit into where the fingers are.

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I then mixed up about 8 ounces of the resin with the hardener as instructed on the can of resin, and stirred it. Then I poured the resin into the mold…

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…and spread it out with a chip brush.

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I let this harden for about 2 hours, and then began pulling the mold from the “hand”:

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This, it turns out, was not so easy. The Vaseline had been absorbed into the plaster, and the resin was stuck in many places on the mold. I ultimately destroyed the mold getting the hand out. That’s ok; I can always make another one. Great way to sit and pity the folks with broken arms set in casts…

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Painting Your Body Part

I trimmed this with a jig saw and with “nippers” to cut away the excess, and then painted the hand using acrylic paints (modeling paints would have been better, but this is what I had on hand). I painted it with yellow ochre:

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After drying, the molting looks like a mummy’s hand:

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I added some red and black paint to make a “wound”:

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…and did the same for the fingers:

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…and, viola, a mummy’s hand!

fiberglass-hand

Going Further With Your Newly Acquired Casting Skills

This ain’t nothin’, folks. The sky’s the limit, literally. There are airplane kits you can buy to build a whole airplane out of fiberglass! But that’s a different article. Let’s stick to costumes, sets, body parts, weapons… and the list goes on.

I said above that there are better materials out there. You betcha… there is a company that specializes in moldings and castings called Smooth-on, and you can visit their web site at http://www.smooth-on.com/

There are also hundreds of “How To” videos on YouTube that will lead you step by step in molding and casting. When you become the resident expert, make your own video and post it on YouTube. Pay the freaky forward, I  always say.

Got all that? Great – now, get started on that seven-foot monster, and Happy Haunting!

Scary “Blair Witch” Icons Made from Sticks

 

The following contribution is from the spooky Screaming Scarecrow Studios. Thanks as always, fellas – stay scary!

When building your Halloween setup, we recommend keeping the traditional, but bring in a bite of the new – “new” if you lived in the 1700s, that is!

A movie that I suspect most of the scare fans here have seen is the The Blair Witch Project. It’s based on a legend that reportedly occurred in the 18th century.

A major factor in the movie that generates fear and suspense is the inclusion of “stick figures,” which hang from trees around the hikers’ tent. They are, presumably, the icons of murdered children, some even dressed in scraps made from the children’s clothing. (Did somebody say “nightmares”?)

To capture the terror the hikers felt when first viewingg the stick figures, try this: as trick-or-treaters approach your front door, make the kiddies walk through a maze of these icons. Hang them from tree limbs or from the tunnel or walk-through.

Ready? Let’s get scary! Here’s the project.

Your Own Blair Witch Project

  • To start, you’ll need are a 6-8 inch square cloth (we like to use cut and “distressed” burlap material for the effect, but any cloth with a little “blood” will do; distress the edges by pulling at them).
  • You’ll need a material to make lashings (such as dried vines or some twine), or use hot gun glue if you are “knot” challenged (see what we did there?).
  • Finally, you’ll need two sticks. One can be forked, but you can also lash two straight sticks together for this effect. “Straight” is a relative term here; a little crooked makes it scarier, we think. Collect branches from your own yard or buy craft natural sticks.

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First, you are going to lash or tack the sticks parallel to each other, the straight stick about one to two inches down from the top of the forked stick. To learn about tying a lashing, visit http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/skills/b-p/wb/lashings.

Start the lashing with a clove hitch and then cross the “arms” stick perpendicular to the “body” and tie the lashing.

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Size the burlap: Set one corner at the fork, and measure the diagonal along the arm.

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Once that is done, take the cloth and fold it diagonally from corner to corner. Repeat so the cloth is folded into quarters.

Using scissors, snip the apex of the triangle you’ve formed to make a small hole in the cloth, big enough to slip the “head” of the stick figure through, and unfold the cloth.

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Cut a slit toward one of the corners for the front of the “dress”.

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Now you’re ready to slip the cloth over the head of the stick. You’ll want to adjust the cloth so that the apex of the triangular cloth touches the split in the forked stick. Tack this down by tying it with the root material or string, or simply tack it with hot gun glue.

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Now all you have to do is make a noose to hang the figure, and find an appropriate tree to hang it from!

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You can make all kinds of versions of the stick figure. If you want to make the exact copy of the Blair Witch icon, you’ll need four straight sticks:

Two to make and “X”, one to tie to two tips of the “X”, and one to make the “head”.

Tie the “X” a little above center to give the “legs” a longer length.

Tie the “head” to the cross piece and to the intercept of the “X”. These don’t have any cloth, and you have to do a lot more tying.

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Be creative and Happy Haunting!

The Ten Minute Tombstone

 

Image credit: DIY Network

Editor’s Note: From first tracing to spray-painting, this project should take about 10 minutes. Beginners may want to go more slowly. For fast, party-ready results, do just the basics. If you’d like to add creative touches, allow more time. Enjoy and stay spooky, friends!

Ready to scare up some inexpensive, fast and totally terrifying fun? This is the BEST tombstone tutorial we’ve come across and our most popular DIY here at Halloween Alliance. It’s so easy, it’s scary! Read on for the scoop.

1. Gather Your Building Materials

  • Styrofoam sheeting. Because we’re going with a simple, classic design in this tutorial, we are going to use a high-density Styrofoam sheet for the body and join it to a lumber wood base.
  • Small ground stakes.
  • Small push-pins, any type.
  • A pencil.
  • A craft knife or if you prefer, a saw suitable for cutting styrofoam.
  • Lettering stencils, if desired.
  • Latex spray paint: one black can, one white can and one gray can.
  • Materials and tools for an optional base if desired. (This step is NOT required. If you’d like to try it, the tutorial is at the end of this article.)

Let’s get started!

Step 2: Drawing the Stone’s Outline

Not everyone is blessed with DaVinci-esque art talent. This is why I always like to use geometric shapes. (Don’t worry, starting with the basics, you’ll wind up with something super-scary and ultra realistic!)

  • Google “tombstones” or “tombstone shapes” and be as simple or complex as you’d like – it’s up to you.
  • Draw your shape on a piece of large paper, such as butcher block. You can use straight edges, rulers, or curved items to draw around if you’d like to make sure you’re being perfectly geometric. Use any pencil.
  • Using a push-pin, poke holes periodically around the shape of your stone. This will show you where to cut in Step 4.

Step 3: Etching Your “Epitaph”

This part is easy and very creative – have fun with it! Start off simple until you get the hang of working with styrofoam. (For quick “ten minute” results, etch the name and/or a brief epitaph only. Once you get started, you’ll want to be more creative; additional touches will take more time. Enjoy!)

  • Use your imagination and come up with a great saying for your stone.
  • Use stencils or a steady hand to write/draw the words and images on your butcher block paper.
  • Add any decorations you’d like, using stencils or grabbing household items to circle around with your pencil.
  • Now use your push-pin to poke tiny holes to form the shapes and letters.
  • Remove the paper and cut your shapes and letters deeper and wider with your cutting tool. Go slowly! Take your time with this step.
  • TIP: Don’t create decorations too close to the edges of your tombstone. You may loose parts of them when cutting the styrofoam.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Tombstone Shape

IMPORTANT! This article assumes you have the skills, knowledge and previous experience needed to be able to safely operate and use any of the tools which may be required to complete this project. If you don’t – just buy a tombstone! We’re serious about this.

  • Lay the paper back onto your styrofoam sheet. Tack it down if you’d like with pins.
  • CAREFULLY cut around the shape of your tombstone. Keep your steadying (non-cutting) hand well away from the cutting tool and don’t cut toward that hand.
  • Alternately, you can use any sharp knife or a small keyhole wood saw.
  • “Touch-up trim” as necessary. An old carpenter’s rule is “measure once, cut twice.” Go slowly and you’ll be much happier with the results!

NOTE: Want to attach a wooden base to your tombstone? We’ve included one at the end of the article. However, for the quick-and-dirty for a basic, read-to-scare tombstone, read on. (The images include an attached wooden base.)

Step 5: Painting the Tombstone

The choices for decorating your tombstone are only limited by your imagination and your budget. For the sake of the Ten Minute Tombstone, we’ll keep the finish simple – something appropriate for mid- to back-row placement.

For this project we’ll paint the entire tombstone with flat gray latex paint. (Note: It needs to be latex because oil based paints will dissolve or eat into the Styrofoam.) If you have a latex allergy, DO NOT use this method. Use an alternative method instead.

  • Once the gray coat of paint is dry (or once your choice of finish is ready), use black and then white spray paint to add some highlighting.
  • Spray in spurts so it isn’t too “perfect.”
  • Use a LIGHT touch so you don’t get one flat color; the effect is meant to be mottled.

Tip: Practice first on the back side of the tombstone or on scrap styrofoam.

It’s really hard to go wrong with this, as the tombstone is meant to look weathered and imperfect.

Step 6: Attaching Your Stakes

Push two or three stakes into the bottom of your tombstone so you can secure it into the ground later.

Go slowly so you don’t poke through the bottom of the stone. Grip the stakes by the side if you’re using a staple style, so you don’t cut your hands during this step.

You’re Done!

Add touches such as graveyard moss or a faux crow for an additional scare factor. Or simply place your gorgeous and grim new creation in the ground as is. Happy Halloween!

BONUS: Attaching a Wood Base (Optional)

This is an ADVANCED technique. If you’re not familiar working with the tools described below, ask a friend to help.

Depending on how thick the Styrofoam body is, you can use a combination of 2X6 and 2 X4 lumber or 2X8 and 2X6 lumber.

In this example we’re using two inch hi-density Styrofoam, so we will need to cut two pieces of 2X6 the same as the measurement across the front of the tombstone’s body. In our case, it’s about 17.5 inches.

Then measure the depth of the two pieces of 2X6 plus the body – this will be the measurement of the next two 2X6 cuts. In this case, about 5.25 inches.

Once they are cut, place all the cut pieces of 2X6 around the Styrofoam and screw them together by using 2 ½ inch screws – I like to use three per joint.

Once this is complete, measure across the width of the 2X6’s. This measurement will be the amount we need to cut the 2X4. In this case, it’s approximately 20.5 inches.

Cut two pieces at this length and line them up in the same manner as we did for the 2X6.

Next measure the depth of the two pieces of 2X4 plus the body – this will be the measurement of the next two 2X4 cuts. In this case approx 8.5 inches.


Image of nail compared to the depth of the 2×6 plus the body

The next step is important because it helps ensure the tombstone body and base will ultimately stay together.

Hammer three 6-inch nails through the 2X6, the Styrofoam body and the other 2X6. (Always use safety-goggles when hammering.) Do this from the front as some of the 6-inch nails will stick out the back. To handle this we’ll place one of the longer cut 2X4’s under the bottom 2X6 so the excess nail can go into the 2X4. Be sure that 2X4 is lined up correctly with the 2X6.

Once the nailing is done, place the remaining three cut pieces of 2X4’s around the Tombstone body with its attached 2X6 base. Screw these pieces together using 2 1/2 inch screws – three per joint.

Now for a little added reinforcement. We’ll go ahead and add a few extra screws which will further hold the 2X4’s to the 2X6’s for a nice solid base.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!