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,

It's Alchemy!

I'm happy I asked for suggestions on how others create wood out of foam, because it gave me the chance to see how talented so many of you are. There are just so many ways of turning a humble piece of rigid foam insulation into a wooden beam, plank, sign, and ship hull. Here are some of the results I was shown:
Brandi Bush
Melissa Broberg

Hector Turner

Jim Schuppe

Thanks, everyone, for some awesome inspiration!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Creating a Faux Wood Grain Effect

There are many ways to get a faux wood look from rigid foam insulation, and I apparently suck at them all. However, I try out three different methods and think I've come up with one I like best that will work for "carving" my crucifix prop.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Halloween of Christmas?


For Roman Catholics, today, January 6, is Three Kings Day, the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas, which commemorates the arrival of the three magi, or kings, to Jesus's manger in Bethlehem. It signifies the day god was revealed to him, which is why it's also known as The Epiphany.

Photo: Cryo Mariena via Flickr

While Three Kings Day is an important holiday in many Spanish cultures, bigger than even Christmas itself -- children place grass and water under their beds in a box for the magi and their camels and in return receive gifts -- it's also celebrated in many other countries around the world. Notably in Slovenia, which was once part of Yugoslavia, children go house-to-house like trick-or-treaters where villagers hand out almonds, dried figs, nuts, cookies, and other goodies.

While retailers have pushed Christmas sales far into the calendar so that every day seems like Christmas (and not in a good way), maybe those of us who enjoy Samhain can steal some of Saint Nick's thunder and make at least another day Halloween.

Give 'Em a Hand!

I like the look of the individual joints in a skeletal figure's hand, so when I make hands out of paper clay, I like to roll the individual finger segments and then join them together with wire and hot glue. Sometimes I then corpse the hand, other times I just leave it bony.
In the latest episode of the Bleached Bones vlog, I show how I assemble the hand.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Running Ragged

Whew! Today was one of those days. It started with iMovie beginning to wig out on me the other day. Not quite sure why, but I'm suddenly having problems with adding background music to the vlogs and that's making editing them take so much longer. Last night I didn't get finished till 1 a.m.
Yet this morning I woke up at my usual 5:30 a.m., which meant that by 4 p.m. i was wiped out and I crashed on the living room couch. I woke up 1-1/2 hours later and felt like my day was shot. I hadn't got anything accomplished.
I figured then would be a good time to start, but about a half hour into gathering my supplies up, I realized I lost my wedding band. Egads! That would not go over well.

I'm branded! 

Since  I've gone on the paleo diet over 2 years ago, I've dropped around 50-60 lbs. (it fluctuates) and my wedding ring is no longer tight on my finger. I've almost had it come off a couple of times but I've never lost it before. And I had no idea where it could be.
Fortunately I found it in the garage on the floor (!) but that had caused an hour or more delay in searching and didn't occur until after I went through the kitchen garbage can piece by piece to see if it had fallen in there. Yuck!
So now it's about 8 p.m., I haven't eaten and I haven't accomplished anything. Long story short (or is that short story long) I didn't get started working on any haunt stuff until 9 p.m. tonight and it looks like it's going to be another late night putting the vlog together so it's posted by 7 a.m.
But here's today's vlog, where I start trimming up the crucifix prop and putting it together.

Monday, January 4, 2016

At a Cross-Roads

With the mannequin form and paper clay hands drying, it's time to work on a different prop for the haunted walk-thru: the large, inverted crucifix that will hang from one of the walls in the church scene. A real wood cross would be too heavy to hang, so I'll make it out of glued up planks of rigid foam insulation.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Some Things Are Better Off Dead

Or at least staying dead. While I agree some people need a brain transplant, I'm not sure doing so to resurrect the dead is the best option.

The dead should stay dead

This company says it will have the capabilities to bring back the dead by 2045 by performing brain transplants into bionic bodies. I'm not sure I understand the fascination with living forever. While I'm not ready to go just yet (I got a lot more vlogs to do and my first walk-thru haunt this year), I definitely don't want to stretch out my existence. I think living to 100 is bad enough let alone forever.

A New Old Trend?

Are the Bloodshed Brothers the ones who started it all?
I think the Bloodshed Brothers are probably the granddaddies of haunt vloggers, and I know Troy at Halloween Hellmouth is a dedicated vlogger too, both of which produce daily content for their viewers. They were in part the inspiration for my own Bleached Bones daily vlog on YouTube.
While there seemed to have been a lot of people just a few years ago producing a lot of content to video -- not necessarily vlogs, of course, but Halloween and haunt related stuff -- it seemed most of it, if not died out (it didn't), got diminished as Facebook took over as the place to see what haunters were up to.

Steve Blumke was just lamenting about that yesterday...on Facebook! He missed the good ol' days when haunters were producing video content for haunters on YouTube, and it seemed like a really tight-knit community. (Hey Steve, where's The Boneyard Creep's videos?! C'mob, man, get back at it!)

I still think haunters are pretty close, but the explosion of people coming to the community has made it seem like we're really a large extended family. Many may not have the same hardcore, diehard love of the holiday that we do, and they're coming at it tangentially or just on the periphery. Is it that we liked being big fish in a small pond or are we already just accelerating nostalgia for a time that is only a few years past?

Obviously I've become more attuned to haunt vlogs more recently, and I noticed that MadCity Haunt has begun logging now too. Could it be a return to the good old days? Will more vloggers start vlogging their exploits too?

I know my personal life is just not interesting enough to support a daily vlog that covers my daily travails. Who wants to see me sitting at my dining room table in my underwear writing all day? Yet I also know that Jeromy and Zachary Ball and Troy Frantz developed a huge following for their vlogs by detailing their everyday exploits. As I said I'm just not that interesting. What my Bleached Bones vlog tries to do is give you just a snippet of something that is happening in my day but it's then mostly about what haunt prop I'm working on that particular day...all in about 5 minutes.

It's my belief that's all the attention span someone has to watch a vlog-type video. Hopefully people find what I'm doing entertaining enough to come back each day and see what it is I'm actually up to. I post my videos at 7 a.m. every morning, figuring it gives someone getting ready for work a reason to tune in.

So who are the other haunt vloggers out there? Is there anyone else producing daily content that I should be aware of? Is there anyone producing consistent vlog-style content, even if it's not daily? Let me know in the comments section below who you think I should be watching!

Getting' Busy With a Mannequin

Maybe it's the ravages of time eating away at my brain, but though I've been saying I need to get under my porch into my prop storage to dig out there mannequin forms I'll be using for the next prop body, the porch isn't the only place I store props. I have a shed loft too, and I really need to better organize how and where I stow things away.
But in the latest Bleached Bones vlog, I locate the forms and get to work using one as the base for making a prop body for the second parishioner prop in the church scene for my haunted house walk-thru.

Check it out and let me know if you've got any ideas for down and dirty prop bodies.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Whoa! Where the Hell Have You Been?

Have I been gone too long? Uh, yeah, when it's more than two years between posts it might be considered a long time.
Problem was, I had lost the enthusiasm for Halloween. While I set up my yard display every year, I built nothing new. Well, that's not quite true. I built a thrasher prop from plans from Pandemic Haunt Production in 2014, but I never completed it. So it's been sitting in storage.
Yet even setting up the yard became a challenge, and in 2015 I almost didn't put anything out. It was really only the constant prodding of the Dead with Dave show crew -- Dave Dankanyin, Sharon Lacaskey, Bob Connors, and Logan Roush -- with whom I chat on a daily basis, that convinced me to put something out. And just like that, I caught the fire again. I found that same old desire I previously had to build and create props rekindled.
I caught the, um, Spirit of Halloween again

I went dumpster diving at Spirit. I experimented with a new paper clay recipe. I even put put a new video up on my GhoulishCop YouTube channel showing it.
And then the video-making bug hit me again just as I decided that I was finally going to make good on my plans to have a walk-thru haunt this year. Because I was going to have to fill up my haunt with new props, meaning I was going to have to make most of them, I figured why not bring everyone along for the ride and chronicle my journey. So I started a daily vlog, Bleached Bones, that shows what I'm working on every day. They're not how-to videos...they're vlogs. A slice of my daily haunter's life. Mistakes and all.
At the suggestion of Jonni Good at Ultimate Paper Mache, I'm restarting this blog too. I'm not sure what my frequency of posts will be, whether they'll be daily, weekly, or when the mood strikes, but there definitely won't be 2+ years in between posts.
It's good to be back and I'm looking forward to what 2016 will bring.
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