Monday, February 22, 2016

Building the Candle Holder Rack

The actual candle holder rack for the offering luminary table posed a problem for me because I wasn't unsure how I wanted to approach it. I knew I wanted it to be a stepped up rack with different levels, but what it would really look like escaped me.

My well thought out plan of attack

So as I often do, with the barest of ideas in my head, I plunged forward on building something. Had I successfully performed the brazing the other day I might have made it out of more of the aluminum square stock I have on hand. But again, because my skills in this area are sorely lack, and I plan on having live fire burning in the candle holders, I didn't want to have to worry about the joints failing, the candles falling, and the haunt going up in a blaze of fire.So instead, I made it out of wood.

I took some rough measurements of what I thought would be a good size for the candle holder rack and then started trimming some MDF plywood down to size. I wanted it to have a somewhat light and airy appearance, yet also be sturdy enough to hold dozens of candles, so I used 3/4" square pieces, which would ultimately be held together by shelf planks that I would cut holes into.

The next design consideration was how many candles to add to a shelf. My limitations were the spacing between the 3/4" cross members. and the length of the shelf. Because I chose to have three shelves for the most interest, and with the shelves being a bit under 4" wide, that meant the opening that was available to me was around 1-1/2" or so. While I initially thought that would be undersized, I think it will work well in the end.

I laid out the spacing of the holes so that it gave me 9 openings per shelf. I chose that number for a reason.

In religious theology, numbers carry significance. Three, for example, the number of shelves on the candle rack, of course represents the trinity: the father, son, and holy spirit. Nine, however, also has significance as it represents divine completeness: Christ died at the ninth hour; according to Leviticus, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) begins at sunset on the 9th day of the seventh Hebrew month; nine people in the Bible have leprosy; and nine people are stoned to death.

Of course, 3 shelves of 9 candles each gives use 27 candles: John the Baptist's 30th birthday was reputed to be on March 27, 27 A.D.; Mormon leader Brigham Young had 27 wives (what was he thinking?!?!?); Genesis 1:27 is God creating man in his own image; Matthew 27 is Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection; etc.

It's just one of those minor details that no one will ever pick up on but I want to add in. I recall reading once that there's a scene in Disney's Haunt Mansion where there's a book, maybe a dictionary, opened to the letter G, for ghost. The book is actually far away from where any tourist can actually see it, so it's a detail without purpose, other than Disney's penchant for completeness and depth.

I'm nowhere near willing to go to that level with everything, but where I can I think it adds a fun element to the haunt, even if no one else is in on the joke.

But back to building the candle rack: I measured out the spacing of the openings and used a Forstner bit to drill them out, then attached the shelves to framework and gave it two coats of black spray paint. But MDF plywood soaks up paint without a primer, so I'm going to need tout an additional coat on. I was using spray paint but I think I'll put the final coat on in regular acrylic because it will get the best coverage. I also want to add some wood trim to the face of the rack to hide the plywood edge. 

I'm going to hit up a dollar store to see if they have small tea light candle holders, preferably red, that will fit the holes, and I want to fashion a crucifix out of some flat steel stock I have to give it an added touch. But other than that, I think this candle offering luminary is complete. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Building the Candle Offering Table

Plan B is working! Putting together the candle offering luminary table was relatively quick and easy using the L brackets. While brazing the components would have made for a cleaner look, and I would have preferred having the brackets on the inside -- had I bought angle brackets instead of the flat ones I could have (note to self, buy angled next time) -- the black paint covers them up sufficiently and the low light of the haunt should hide any remaining obviousness of the brackets.

Speaking of the paint, I went with a hammered metal paint, primarily because it was what I had on hand that wasn't black gloss, but also, fortuitously, it gives the luminary table a, well, hammered metal appearance, which is totally appropriate.

Another fortuitous development from the table's construction was the support structure for a lower shelf area. While it was originally added for support so the table wouldn't be wobbly, it was immediately apparent it would be perfect for a shelf, too. And though I had considered thinner materials at first, a 3/4" MDF shelf and table top also give it plenty of strength and rigidity and I'll be able to use the lower shelf for displays, such as skulls, rats, etc.  It worked out well in the end.

The one problem with the 3/4" MDF is that for the top shelf it meant that it was above the the tops of the legs that I had raised above the level of the cross members by a 1/2". And I had some gothic finials laying around from a fence I had built (but never finished) and while they fit perfect over the ends (with some help from shims), the MDF made it impossible for them to fit. I considered using 1/4" material, but it just seemed too flimsy and if I was going to have lit candles sitting on top of it I wanted it to be strong.

I could've went with 1/2" material of course, but I didn't have any on hand and didn't want to run to the store to get any, though I may revisit that before the end.

As an interim measure at least, I used some 3/4" square dowel I had on had and trimmed down the lower segment to 1/2" so that the lower end drops into the table leg while the upper 3/4" segment fits into the finial. I'll attach them with a screw. It will work with the 1/2" table top too, so it's adaptable.

Also, in one of those pictures I posted yesterday, there is a cross attached to the back. I like that look and if I have some flat stock on hand will try to make one. Just another detail add to the layering.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Church Candle Offering Luminary Prop

This candle offering table looks appropriately dark
With the stained glass panel installed in the one gothic arch window, I began working on the candle offering luminary table. The table will be positioned just inside the entrance top the haunt and will have a number of (real) votive candles lit, just as you'd find in an actual church foyer. It will serve no other function than to lend a bit of authenticity to the scene, creating another layer of depth and detail.

Despite it's lack of "doing something," I still wanted the table to be sturdy, so I am building it out of 1/2" aluminum stock I have on hand. The best way to construct it would be to weld the pieces together, but my welder tends to melt the aluminum even when on its lowest setting, so I will try a different method that should create a sufficiently solid, sturdy joint: brazing.

Brazing is the technique of heating up the aluminum pieces you want to join to a sufficient temperature that when you touch the brazing rod to it -- a narrow aluminum stick that looks like an incense stick -- the rod melts into the joint. Think of it as soldering copper pipes: you want to heat the metal so the solder flows into the seams.

But it does take some practice to get it right. Aluminum melts at around 1200 degrees or more while the brazing rods melt at around 700 degrees. So you have to have patience in heating the metals, otherwise you won't have a solid joint.

To do the heating, you use a regular propane canister, like the blue ones the big box stores sell from Bernzomatic. They go for about $3 a piece, but if you look at the shelves there's also a yellow canister there. That's the one you should get because it heats up the metal much more quickly. It costs about $10. I didn't get that one. I should have, simply because I don't have the patience apparently to wait long enough.

As quickly became clear while I was brazing the pieces, my joints weren't strong enough. Well one of them wasn't. While one seemed solid enough, the other at the end of the leg came failing.

Even if I ended up getting it, I'd be worried it would fail during the haunt if someone touched it, and since it will have actual lit candles on it, I didn't want to have to worry about it.

Always have a Plan B!
So I opted for Plan B: L brackets! Using a drill and self-tapping screws, I attached the cross members to the legs and it was instantly sturdy. No fear about this build failing.

Due to the amount of time it took to make three attempts at brazing and then attaching the L brackets, I only got one side completed, but I should be able to finish up the rest of it tomorrow and move onto the actual offering table top, which will be a series of stepped up shelves so that one row of candles sits higher than the next.

But that's tomorrow's project!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

2 Fails for Every Success

My efforts to force a patina on the holy water font by using ammonia and salt met with abject failure. Likely because the bowl and crucifix are not actually copper and brass, the technique did absolutely nothing to either item.

So I reverted to Plan B: heating the metal to create a patina-like surface. However, this also has the same flaw in that because they're not actually those metals, they don't react and "tarnish" the same way real copper or brass would. As a result that was a failure too!

The end result was that I turn to the old standby of just using paints and washes to achieve the desired patina. I think washes of greens, blues, and black created an effect that this is an aged holy water font.

After completing that task, which took a surprisingly long time to achieve, I turned my attention to the stained glass window. I completed outlining the design in the grouping of three circles then began painting the images in the lower windows.

Okay! This was actually a lot of fun to do. Admittedly it was a bit tedious, but painstakingly plodding along helped move the project much closer to completion. I think when the window is painted and installed, and the lighting is put in behind it, it will look like a real stained glass gothic arch window. Check out this artist's stained glass window, and you'll see the effect I'm talking about with the window lit from behind with rope lights:

So far I'm very happy with the project's progress,  but of course, there's more to do on this window as well as on the second one. So this project is not yet one for the books.

However, I plan to begin working on the candle offering luminary table, doing both projects simultaneously (for my sanity as well as that of those tagging along and following my progress int hat they don't have to just watch me paint small areas on the stained glass window).

I think I have a workable solution to what could have turned into a major project, but unnecessarily so.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Forced Copper Patinas and Faux Stained Glass Leading

Because the holy water font really should be aged, and not be so shiny, I try my hand at giving the copper bowl an appropriate patina as if it was an old piece.

I should be so lucky if my holy water font comes out looking half this good
A search of the Internet found quite a number of methods, from using a propane torch to heat the metal to using some seemingly caustic chemicals that create a reaction. I opted for a simpler method, one that requires just two household ingredients: ammonia and table salt.

This method of creating a patina appears to be heavily favored in the vaping community. An outgrowth of the electronic cigarette industry, vaping is "smoking" a heated flavored liquid nicotine. Since it's not burning, but rather heating, it creates a vapor (hence the term) rather than smoke. It's purported to be healthier than actual smoking. And it's insane the amount of "smoke" these units, called mods, produce. It looks like an old Cheech & Chong movie.

But the devices, or mods, can often be boring designs. Though they're made of copper or brass, they're not very visually exciting, so owners create a more interesting design on their devices by forcing a patina. To do so, they suspend the devices above ammonia-soaked paper towels in a box for several hours, liberally sprinkling both the towels and the pieces with regular table salt. The patterns created are pretty interesting and I think it will provide a cool effect on my holy water font.

That is if they're really copper and brass. I suspect they're not and are only plated with a thin veneer of the reactive metals. I'm assuming some other metal underlies both coatings, so it may have an impact on how it turns out.

The second project I'm undertaking is creating the stained glass windows. I have two sheets of 1/8" clear plastic and I'll be creating a scene on it after which I'll use acrylic paints to color it in. However, I debated how best to do the lead outline. My initial thought was to use a permanent marker and call it a day -- but where's the fun in that?

I saw online someone used black glue sticks to create the lead, but my search locally for a source turned up only glitter sticks, not black so I guess they're only available online. Well, how many people really have a need for black glue sticks?

I did find an alternative though that I think may just work even better. Fabric paint. Dimensional fabric paint. After application and drying, it leaves a raised line which will give me the look that I'm going for. And because the applicator tip provides a very find line, I think this is just the thing I need. I think it's a convincing result, though perhaps I should have applied it after I painted the window, rather than before. I've got two windows to do, so I'll do one one way, and the other the other way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Frozen Pipes and Stained Glass Windows

I had wanted to start working on the candle offering table yesterday, but my plans were derailed by a case of frozen water pipes in the kitchen. When the plumbing was installed several years ago, the hot and cold supply lines were placed on an exterior wall and left uninsulated. Since man-made global warming has failed to materialize like we were promised, we continue to have this effect known as frigid temperatures in the winter, which causes the pipes to freeze.

I'm usually attuned to the weather and when I know we're in for one of these arctic blasts I leave the faucets on a trickle. It's a suboptimal solution but it's allowed me to punt having to deal with it for a good long while. My pipes tricked me this time, however, by not freezing overnight as they usually do, but rather at around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., which has never happened -- and it didn't seem all that cold anyway!

When it wouldn't thaw, though, it forced me to take action, so I ended up getting a pair of heating cables that you tape to the pipes and when it senses the temperature is around freezing they supposedly turn on.

After several hours of waiting, the cables never got warm. Most likely it's because the part that gets frozen is actually somewhere between the floor joists and the kitchen, a section that's only a foot or so in size, but completely inaccessible. I've even tried getting at them from outside the house, removing the siding and cutting a hole in the sheathing, but to no avail. The concrete foundation wall is a good 3-feet high and prevents accessing them.

So what I did, since the cables didn't seem to be working, and since I had exposed the pipes to where I could reach them a little, I just took out my heat gun and blasted them. In about 20 seconds the ice dam thawed sufficiently to allow the water pressure to push it through and we had running water again.

I gotta admit, demo-ing the storage room ceiling and attempting to install the cable consumed far more of my time and energy than I planned, not to mention wreaking havoc on my knees, so I didn't have much time left in the day to do any of the projects I had wanted:

* Make the offering candle luminary
* Do the stained glass window
* Age the holy water font

I've got a fun way to tackle the luminary (fun for me, anyway...insert Tim Allen grunts here), which I'll share in the future when I actually start on the project, and my original idea for the stained glass wasn't really going to work.

I'd thought of simply using painted sheets of transparencies to cover the opening, but it really wasn't going to look good because the openings were larger than the sheets and I'd have to use 2 sheets for each window, meaning there would be a line in the middle. So instead I'll use a sheet of plastic, like Plexiglas and Lexan, just not as expensive and then paint it up.

As for aging the font, I want to see if there's a quick way to achieve an aged copper patina, otherwise I'll just have to use paint, because as many of you noted, it's too new and shiny.

But all those projects had to take a backseat to the frozen pipes today. I still need to come up with a long term solution for them because I'm not sure the heating cables will get cold enough to work, but at least there's access to them now so that if they do freeze again, I'll be able to quickly hit them with a heat gun.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Quick DIY Build - The Holy Water Font

When entering a church, there is always a small font where holy water is kept so parishioners can bless themselves as they enter. I knew my church was going to need one too, after visiting a church several months ago to get some design ideas. Having completed the gothic arch windows, I needed to back up a moment to the church vestibule -- or the narthex, as it's called, and make small prop that would help deliver layers of depth to the haunt and give it a more convincing.

Although I had no clear plan going in, I knew I wanted to use the copper bowl I had picked up at a thrift store the other day to serve as the font itself, but it wasn't until I looked at examples of real holy water fonts online, that the the idea of using a crucifix to complete it dawned on me.

I had picked up one recently from Freecycle and realized would be a great addition it. Originally I had been disappointed with the crucifix, because at the time I had been working on my own crucifix for the haunt, and when I saw it listed as "large" I had in my mind that it would be of a similar size. So when I picked it up, it was a bit of a let down.

As it turns out, it worked out perfectly. Combining the brass crucifix with the copper pie tin would give me the necessary look and feel I was going for.

All that was left to do was to mount them, and that was simple enough using a piece of scrap wood. But rather than just screw it to the plank and call it a day, I traced around the crucifix and bowl, cut out the pattern with my jigsaw, stained it with a dark start (to help the brass crucifix stand out), then mounted them with a couple of copper-headed screws I found laying around.

For what was originally going to be a complicated project -- I was thinking of sculpting something out of paper clay -- it turned into a very quick and simple project, one that I think it looks great and will be a perfect addition to the haunt's prop collection.

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,

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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