Spent the day out at the haunt property today working on building the burned down cottage. I didn’t have quite enough time to finish because I had to race to town to pick up Satch from the vet, so I’ll have to post pics when it’s done in a few days (when will depend on the weather), but for today, I wanted to post a pic of the cage we just had made for one of the sets. How badass is this?! It’s me-size!
First, wouldn’t Paper Mache Scarecrow Head be a great band name? I’m on a paper mache kick, which means the back room of the studio smells like flour but without all the delicious baking smells to go with it. Sorry about that, folks. I’ve been working on a scarecrow head for the haunt, which means people walk past it to go to the bathroom and come out scratching their heads about the weird head on a post. The puzzled looks are kind of priceless, I have to admit. I kind of wish we had surveillance cameras back there.
Anyway, here’s a quick how-to:
Step one, Turn off your phone because you won’t be able to answer it once you’re elbow deep in flour paste. Blow up a balloon and tape a toilet paper roll to the bottom of it. Cover all of it with a layer of newspaper strips dipped in a mixture of flour and water (another blogger suggested laundry starch instead, but I haven’t tried it yet since I have a boatload of flour to get through – but give it a shot!). I rested the whole thing on my clay sculpting tray (a piece of wood with a plastic pipe attached to it) so that I could work on all sides of it at once. Let it dry overnight.
Step two, start to add dimension for the face with rolled up newspaper and a crap-ton of tape. Cover that with another layer of newspaper and flour paste. It’ll kind of look like Darth Vader at this point. If you’re a Star Wars fan, consider discontinuing the Scarecrow head and go for Vader instead. Let it dry overnight.
Step three, continue adding dimension with rolled up newspaper. I used a skull model to compare the basic shape of the head. You can start to add smaller details with rolled paper towel, too. Cover it all with another layer of newspaper and flour paste. Let it dry overnight.
Step four, stretch strips of paper towel dipped in the flour paste over what you’ve constructed. Pinch the towels together to create the look of stretched fabric. Make sure the side of the paper towel that is the most quilted is face up so that it gives it texture like burlap. Let it dry overnight.
Step five, paint the whole thing with burnt umber, curse at the phone as it rings and you’re elbow deep in paint. Then stand back and bask in the glow of your accomplishment.
I’m starting to work on some little filler props for the haunt, and had a little fun with paper mache over the last week. Things like this will be up high or kind of in the distance between the major sets, so there’s no need to get super detailed with them. They’re just a little something to look at along the way. Here’s a step by step for you for making a gargoyle:
First, blow up a couple balloons and tape them together. Add paper towel or toilet paper rolls for the beginnings of the arms and legs. I used rolled pieces of newspaper for the lower part of the arms and legs, and folded pieces for the feet.
Then, mix up your flour and water and tear up strips on newspaper. Dip the newspaper in the mix and do your first layer.
Let the layer dry completely before you add more. This will cut down on the chances of mold creeping its way in. When it’s dry, keep adding layers, letting it dry overnight in between each layer. When I feel like it’s pretty sturdy (it should feel pretty tough when it’s dry), I’ll start using strips of paper towel to sculpt details like nostrils. I also used poster board as the foundation for the ears and layered paper towel strips on top of that. I used wire for the fingers and wrapped paper towel around those.
When you’ve built up as many layers as you want, it’s time to paint! I started with 2 coats of black acrylic.
Then I added some burnt sienna and some copper acrylics, and added color to the eyes.
Voila! You’ve got yourself a little gargoyle to hang from above!
Remember how I mentioned a few blog posts back that my husband and I are building a haunted attraction? First, let’s start with getting a show of hands for who likes things like scary movies?
Okay, now let’s get a show of hands for who is perfectly willing to scare the everlivin’ outta you?
This is a truly insane endeavor. First, we had to find and buy property dedicated specifically to the haunt. Done. Then we had to put up a couple buildings to store tools, take tickets, give the actors a place to change and put on makeup, etc. Done. Then we had to blaze a trail through the woods. Done. Then we had to spend about 8 months raising said trail about a foot because once we had cut the trail it became the lowest point on the property, so every time it rained, it turned into a creek. We also had to pump the water out because we had the 2nd highest rainfall on record since 1892. Done. Then we had to run electricity throughout the property and do all the trenching ourselves to be able to afford it. Done.
Please note, that when I say “we,” I really mean “S,” because, to be honest, I had to do very little of that work. Granted, I was running the studio which is what pays for this insanity, so it’s not like I didn’t help, but I was not the one out there raising the trail one shovelful at a time. I was also not the one battling giant swarms of mosquitos and gnats and ticks (okay, so ticks don’t really swarm, but we had so damn many one year that I was pretty sure we’d discovered a new breed and that this breed signaled the upcoming zombie apocalypse). Here is a pic of me in my anti-things-that-want-to-eat-me gear during the worst of the flooding we had.
But now, after 3 years, we are FINALLY at the phase where we get to start doing work that people will actually notice. Here are some of the sets we’re working on:
I know, madness, right?