Photos of this year’s Home Haunt display, as well as a few of our Halloween party set-up have been posted. See them here ~~> Home Haunt 2011
I am currently working on editing the video showcasing my first animated prop (and this years only completed prop), the Cauldron Creep. Once that’s finished, I’ll be working on the 2011 home haunt video.
When it comes to making new Halloween props, one of my favorite projects is the addition of new tombstones for our Graveyard. Carving myown tombstone has become a matter of pride, and when it comes to detail, I hold nothing back. It’s no surprize that I also respect, and admire others who do the same. Hector Turner, the artist behind A Haunted Halloween at Blackstone Cemetery, an Ontario based home haunt, is one deserving of that respect. His 2010 submission to HauntForum’s $20 prop challenge, an H.P. Lovecraft tombstone, is a prime example of the thought and detail that show in his work. Here are a few photos of the Turner family’s home haunt for the 2010 Halloween season.
It also warrants mention that their Witch Potions Shelf proved to be a considerable inspiration on the construction of our own.
Still one of my favorites, the artistry of John Wolfe’s Season of Shadows never fails to impress me. This year, John chose to shift the direction of his haunt to a more organic look. Replacing the familliar foam tombstones with more crude, twine bound crosses of decaying wood was only one of the steps he took towards attaining that goal. Ultimately, I would have to say that his challenge was well met.
Johns biggest new project for the year was his Angel of Death. A formidable entity to oversee his display, this massive demon sports a wingspan of about 12 feet. I can only imagine the effect this beast had on the passing Trick-or-Treaters.
I’m a little behind with my posting this past week as I’ve been letting myself become overwhelmed by all that needs to be done to break down the Halloween display. This Halloween was, especially in comparison to last year, a great success. While the weather was far from perfect, it was much more tolerable than last years torrential rains and heavy winds.
Halloween morning was bleak. The weatherman’s promise of fair weather was overshadowed by periodic light rains and that familliar, chilly breeze of Autumn in the northeast. As late morning approached, the sun began taking occasional peeks through the thick blanket of clouds as though it were checking in on the ado of the day. As the day progressed, the temperatures dropped and those occasional spots of rain were quickly replaced by insignificant and short lived patches of sleet.
As the hours of Trick-or-Treating arrived, the last few pockets of precipitation move thru, but it was no more than a minor nuisance on the night, and seemed to do little if anything to deter the kids from their quest for goodies. The many labors of the past year had all led up to this four hour fragment in time, and we would be ready for them when they came. We were ready for them.
They came in groups of twos and threes and sometimes more, their parents in tow and treat bags in hand. Some would stop, pointing and shouting with enthusiasm as they passed by the Graveyard. Others would scurry by, trying not to look in past the gravestones in hopes to go unnoticed by that which might lie in wait from within.
The Blaircrows did little to deter them from their goal; an unheeded warning of what might lie ahead, and twenty two Jacks lit the path to the old witch’s house. The excitement spilled over as they would exit the Witch House, eager to tell their parents of the eerie things they spied while inside and urging them to go take a peek for themselves.
Yes, this year’s haunt was a great success. A few of the parents took the time to come up and thank us for the time and effort we put into our display. For many others, the simple nod and a smile was enough to say the same. But it was the children who were the real thanks. The smiles, the laughter and even the apprehensive stares, many local children will remember this Halloween for years to come.
Scotia native exhibits his Halloween spirit in big way
BY MICHAEL GOOT Gazette Reporter
Reach Gazette reporter Michael Goot at 395-3105 or email@example.com.
Stephen Austin wishes every day could be Halloween.
The Scotia native tricks out his house on James Street with a fullscale display including skeletons and tombstones, pumpkins and witches.
“Halloween is our Christmas,” said his wife, Lauri.
Because Halloween falls close to Austin’s Oct. 28 birthday, it has always been a big event for him.
“It’s like a giant celebration of my birthday,” said Austin, who is turning 40 this year.
Austin has been decorating for Halloween since he was a child when he used to help his mother. “I just kind of took it over. It got bigger and bigger,” he said.
Austin says he has always had artistic talent but pursued a career in public safety. He works as a Scotia-Glenville dispatcher. “I’d rather do it for fun instead of a job. It’s not fun if you have to do it.”
To work on his project, Austin takes off the week before Halloween.
Most of the display is handcrafted. The dozen or so “tombstones” in the front yard are carved from foam insulation boards. He uses an utility knife to etch in epitaphs on the graves.
“Every one of the older stones is named after a character in a book I read,” he said.
For the more recent headstones, he just makes up a name that seems to fit the time period listed on the stone.
The skeletons are made out of papier-mâché — newspaper, paper towels and “a whole lot of Elmer’s glue.” The one holding a shovel in the center of the front yard is made from latex and cotton.
Austin said the most difficult part about his project is taking breaks. When he gets going, he does not want to stop.
“The hardest thing to do is my housework.”
He starts working Nov. 1 on the next year’s Halloween display, although he really gears up in the beginning of October. Austin gets some help from his three children, Savannah, 8, Bryce, 13, and Cody, 16.
“My daughter spent the entire day [Sunday] helping me with the pumpkins,” he said.
He is carving 50 pumpkins, about a dozen of which the family grew themselves. “We’re hoping for more next year,” Lauri said.
Cody made the bookshelf that sits in the enclosed front porch. The bookshelf contains jars with handwritten labels of various “potions.”
Bryce also helped with some of the papier-mâché.
“Halloween is a family event,” Lauri Austin said.
She added that it is a shame that more people don’t do their own decorations. She said Halloween has gotten too commercialized.
“There’s too much kitschy stuff you can buy,” she said.
Austin has a website at www. thehauntingrounds.com, where he puts videos about how to make some of these creations for people who want to do it.
The couple did buy an animatronic witch that will sit in the window and “stir” her cauldron. There will also be scary music playing from an Ohio-based band called Nox Arcana.
Because he is worried about the display being vandalized, Austin brings in a lot of the decorations at night until Halloween when it will all be illuminated.
“We have a lot of kids in the village who get a little crazy,” he said.
When the couple lived in an apartment on Fifth Street, some thieves stole a bunch of items from his display in the mid-1990s. That prompted him to suspend his display for a few years. When his parents bought a house in Glenville, Austin moved to the house where we was raised. He has been doing his most recent display for about three years.
The family enjoys watching the reaction from the kids that come up to the house. It’s usually “wow,” Lauri Austin said.
The two will be dressed in costumes — Lauri as a witch and Steve in a scary mask. He said he usually hangs out in the front yard while his wife gives out the candy. He does not want to scare anyone too much.
Austin said he tries to add more to the display and make it better every year. The display defi nitely attracts attention, Austin said.
“A lot of people do the rubbernecking as they’re going by,” he said.
After a few days on my ass with an Achilles Tendon injury, I was finally able to get myself up and moving again today. I decided to scrap the plans for a few more corpses and go for a simpler “eerie” look. Something that would fit the Witch House theme for this years haunt. This was the outcome; A sort of “Blair Witch” type scarecrow trio.
Again this summer, HauntForum held their annual $20 Prop Challenge; a contest in which members are tasked with creating an original prop at a total cost of less than… you guessed it… $20. Each year, several members show off their imagination and ingenuity, and bring fantastic new ideas to the DIY Home Haunters of the world. One of my personal favorites from this years contest was member Operatingnurse’s “Skelesconce”. An idea I knew I would have to duplicate.
Since my Skelesconce would adorn a stone wall background and was intended for a Witch’s house, I chose to make the back look of old wood rather than the stone finish of the original. This made the project easier, and I was able to make use of smaller, less usable scraps of foamboard. I also used a larger skeleton than was used by the prop’s original creator.
The build was simple and took very little. Here’s a look at the materials list for my SkeleSconce:
several 3″ strips of scrap 1″ thick foamboard
a 36″ mini plastic skeleton (Wal-mart)
an 8″ x 35″ strip of scrap 1/8″ plywood
Black, Brown and White acrylic hobby paints
1 PVC candle (1.5″ pvc, Hot glue, LED tealight)
The build was very quick, and I never thought to document the process, but here’s how it went:
The strips if foamboard were cut to lengths so that 2 pieces, matched end to end, would equal a length of 36″. We cut 3 of these 36″ sets and with a woodburning tool, gave each of the foam pieces a wood grain pattern. The foam “planks” were then glued to the plywood, painted with a liberal coat of black paint and left to dry overnight.
Once dry, the piece was given a heavier drybrushed coat of brown paint, then a light drybrush of a lighter brown made by mixing the brown and white paints.
After the foam back piece was complete and dry, the Skeleton was positioned and glued to it with Gorilla Glue. The Gorilla Glue was also applied to each of the joints to further support the pose. Due to the nature of this skeleton’s joints, the left arm had to be unscrewed at the elbow and glued into position. Each of the fingers had to be cut halfway through at each joint, bent into position, and glued into place.
Finally, the hands were glued to the PVC Candle which had been made earlier this summer.
Well, the Tombstone is all carved up and painted. I’ve decided to try adding some stray vines to the stone before calling it finished. This should be the last update before I can post the completed prop along with some video footage of the Chiller test.
The names and dates were fabricated at random, and any similarity to any persons either real or fictional are strictly coincidental. For anyone who cannot read the epitaph, it reads as follows:
March 13th, 1803
July 17th, 1866
My bones they lie beneath
these earthen mounds.
Yet cursed, my soul
still walks these