Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gothic Horror

Last week marked the start of my building two gothic arched windows for my planned walk-thru haunt this year. More prop than functional, the windows will be featured in the church room of the haunt just to add an additional layer of depth to the scene. I'm hoping to make each area of the haunt more than just black walls as I'd like the experience to be an immersive one.

Tall order for a first-year haunt in a driveway, but some of my favorite home haunters like Brad Godspeed and Chris Ainsworth have achieved some levels of detail that's unequaled in most haunts. It's going to be a relatively small haunt -- I've only got 8 feet of width to work with, though it's going to run some 30 feet or so long -- so I think there needs to be lots of eye candy to hold the attention of those going through.

Part of that is the gothic windows I'm building. Based on a design by Jason Becker from Graves of the Groves, the windows are built out of an MDF wood frame overlaid with rigid foam insulation for the detail.

Making the windows was a much more involved process than I imagined. Simply watching a video, even one that's not time-lapsed, fails to give the full scope of effort that's needed. Yet if you do watch Jason's video for his mini-gothic window, which is time-lapsed, you can see he goes through several "costume changes" during the build. Even on a small scale these windows are a challenge.

As a half-assed woodworker, I'm all too familiar with people not understanding the design and build process. I build toy boxes as baby shower gifts and though they are essentially little more than 4 sides, a bottom, and a top there's a lot of effort that goes into just making each component before you can even begin to put them together: measuring, cutting, routing, and sanding before you even get to the gluing, clamping, drying, sanding again, and finishing.

It's the same with these windows, and I should know better. I saw the videos and though, oh cool! I'll cut out some shapes, slap some foam on, and paint. I can call it a day by 5 p.m.! Well here we are 5 days later and I'm only just getting close to finishing the build now.

I should be winding down the build today with the latest layers of foam added to it, leaving just the painting of it to do. I'm still undecided whether it will have a stone-carved look to it, which is the way I'm leaning, or a wood look.

If you have a preference on whether the windows should be wood or stone, let me know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Plastic Skeleton Corpsing -- with Plastic

It's become a tried and true method of getting a quick corpsed look on a Walgreens skeleton: wrap the bones in plastic shopping bags or sheeting and melt with a heat gun. The results are a convincing rotting corpse once its stained or painted.

Although Allen Hopps probably popularized the technique the most with one of his old YouTube Wednesday shows, I recall someone several years before on HauntForum or Halloween Forum using plastic shopping bags. I had never tried it using that method, though I did use Allen's method once. But for the half-skeleton I'm using to hang on the crucifix in the church, I wanted a quick and dirty  method of corpsing, and that's what I turned to to complete it: plastic skeleton corpsing using plastic shopping bags.

Instructables Pro?

I've found a lot of cool projects over the years on Instructables, the place where people post various DIY projects. Some projects only require rudimentary skills and cost very little to nothing to replicate. Others seemingly require advanced engineering degrees or very deep pockets to build. But whatever end of the spectrum the projects are on, they represent the best spirit of the maker community, individuals solving a problem and sharing freely with the world.

And I say freely and mean it. All of the projects are free to view, and you don't even have to register for the site. While I apparently have, since I get  regular emails from them about the latest projects, I was also just offered a free "Pro" account from them.

Apparently Instructables is mining YouTube accounts looking for people who do DIY projects since they referenced my GhoulishCop channel and said they thought the types of things I'm doing on YouTube would also work well on Instructables. I agree they probably would, and I know a few haunters who've posted Halloween and haunt related projects on there (and some outside of Halloween too), but I'm not clear on what the value of a Pro account is.

Okay, I decided to check while writing this, and the primary thing, other than no (or fewer) ads, is the ability to download ebooks and pdf files, as well as partner discounts: "going pro gives you awesome discounts at adafruit, lion brand yarns, monkeylectric, and lumi." You do get "private Instructables,"  too, which sounds intriguing, but why wouldn't you want them all to be public?

The cost of a Pro subscription is $2.95 per month (billed annually) or $4.95 per month, billed quarterly. Or there's a 2-year option for $49.95. So the choices are $35.40, $59.40, or $49.95, which is about $25 a year. Why would anyone choose option 2?

With pdf export functions of most operating system printing options giving you a functional pdf file, I don't know that I'd pay for a membership (the partner discounts aren't exactly enticing), for a free trial -- it doesn't say how long it runs -- I might be willing to give it a go. Has anyone else gotten a similar offer?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Simple Corpsing Method of the Paper Mache Prop Hands

Having finished the crucifix, I'm turning my attention back to the second parishioner prop in the church scene. He's a bit of a disjointed mess right now: his head is in one place, his body's in another, and his two hands are elsewhere. It's time to get him together.

Before I can do that, though, I need to detail the parts just a little bit more. I'm starting with the hands which need just a little more to them than just bony appendages, so I use my "pancake batter" corpsing method: mix all-purpose flour and water to a consistency that's slightly thinner than pancake batter and then coat cotton balls onto the fingers to give a corpsed look.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Finish Detailing on the Church Cross Prop

I used a variety of techniques to ultimately turn a couple of strips of rigid foam insulation into what I think is a pretty convincing crucifix made out of old wood. Of course, I'll need to create a backstory as to why a church would have a crucifix made out of driftwood...but that's a different matter!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Painting the Church Cross Prop

When I tested out which faux wood method I was going to use, I had given the foam board a coat of flat black paint. However, Hector Turner and a couple of other people recommended I actually use a dark gray color instead.

It's always amazing the palette of colors that I have available and stored away, but I had a gallon of dark gray paint -- North Sea it was called -- and used that to give the crucifix prop a base coat of paint. It really does draw out the detail of the "wood."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Carving the Church Cross

Putting into practice some of those wood "carving" techniques I was given -- and going off somewhat on my own -- I begin carving the crucifix that will hang in my church scene,

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