Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Ass-Grabbin' Grave Grabber

Yesterday I went to the NJ/PA Make & Take group in Neptune with NoahFentz where the project du jour was a grave grabber. The mechanism designed by niblique71 (Greg) is apparently slightly different than other similar builds on the Internet and forums as it allows for a more straight hand movement. In many of the props built, the hand moves in more of an arc.

Of course, there's a reason for that because we're trying to turn a circular motion into a linear movement. Adding more "linkages," apparently helps that out.

I wasn't initially keen on building the prop, but figured my doghouse where my failed reindeer/cat/dog creation was previously housed would be better served by a grave grabber like this. But I think there's still too much arc movement in the design, so I'm scouting around now for designs (I know I've seen them!) that translates the circular movement of a gear motor to a straight linear motion.

Greg's tutorial shows the movement towards the end, but if you want to build one yourself, it's a great video to watch nonetheless.

I did find a thread on HauntForum which led me to this design of a Grave Peeper by stokstad that uses the gear motor to create a straight up-and-down motion. Laying that down flat would seem to give me the straight reaching motion I'm looking for (it's also very cool the head turning mechanism stokstad designed into his Peeper).

Does anyone know of any other links that would discuss converting a round motion into a linear one?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Bad Day Haunting...

...or just talking and thinking about haunting, is better than a good day at work. And today wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was a very good day, spent talking and thinking about haunts and Halloween.

Got to hang out with my buddy Noah Fentz who operates the award-winning home haunt The Creepy House Next Door and have our own mini make-and-take. We actually worked in The Creepy House, well upstairs from the haunt, anyway.

While I was corpsing my groundbreaker, Noah worked on a wig head he's putting together for a step-by-step tutorial. I don't think I'm telling stories out of school by mentioning it since he does have on his site a section devoted to it, only that it says the tutorial is coming soon. And it is. I was there. He's working on it!

I also got to pour my first plaster of Paris skull casting. Actually, Noah showed me how to do it using one of his latex molds. He did the first half of the pour, I did the second, and then he showed me how to separate the mold from the cast. Very cool. That is now my next goal, to make my own latex mold so I can cast skulls regularly. The result is the picture above. Once it firmly sets in a few days, I'll sand it and paint it for use this Halloween.

A fun lunch, excellent discussion about haunting and the haunters we know, and an all around good day hanging out with good people. Here's to more days like this.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Stiff Arm Block

I've been working on my latest groundbreaker, mache-ing the arms into their proper position. It took a little longer than I anticipated because while the left arm is twisted back behind it helping to lift the corpse out of the ground, the right arm is stretched out in front of it, reaching forward to grasp at any passersby.

Because the arm does reach forward I wanted to make sure it was sturdy enough that it wouldn't droop over time or worse break off. Also, because I am thinking about storage afterwards, I thought to make the arm removable and figured a PVC joint (the arm itself is mache-covered PVC) would be best.

I quickly discovered that since I didn't plan for this ahead of time soon enough, the shoulder where it would join would eventually weaken. So this arm will be "welded" into the rest of the body to make it secure. Next time, however, since I'm building more of the infrastructure of my groundbreakers with PVC I'll incorporate the appropriate joints into the framework from the beginning rather than trying to stick it on as an afterthought.

But the underlying mache is now complete and following a coat of spar varnish to protect the mache from the elements, the corpsification will begin. Feels good getting back into the groove.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Cobwebs Have Cleared

From my brain anyway. It was a long slog through winter without any motivation to do any Halloween work, but going to the local Make & Take and meeting with my haunting peeps got me going again. I started in earnest again on Thursday, though, making a hand for a groundbreaker I had started last November. Then I began with the second layer of mache on the torso yesterday and today.

But I couldn't let the nice weather today pass by without going outside so I used the time to clean out my garage. A few woodworking projects I had done over the winter -- with the garage door closed -- covered everything in a fine layer of sawdust (it was only fine because I'm sure I inhaled all the rest...I really got to get me a dust collection system in there).

I found my shiatsu massager I had gotten at one of the M&T's last summer so I've got to look around for a project for that. But with a clean workbench again, plenty of space to move around in (other than the big, honkin' industrial size radial arm saw I picked up the other week), and I'm ready to be a prop-building fool again.

Now I just have to straighten out my basement workshop...again.
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