Oct
02

Last year we made these guys out of sticks, foam skulls, and some burlap.  I left the bodies outside all year and they just seem to look even better.  The most time consuming part was hit gluing the burlap to the foam skulls and cutting/extending one of the skulls to have a gaping maw.  The bodies were really easy and were throw together with some branches that came down after some high winds.  Just a little bit of floral wire holds them all together. 

We put them up this evening as one of the first decorations out for the year.

    
    
   

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Oct
01

  Putting our Halloween flag out every October 1st is becoming one of my favorite family traditions. We each carry part of the flag pole outside, we assemble the the pole segments, slide on the flag, drive the rebar and finaly hoist it up.  It only takes a few moments, but means the world to me that we do it together. 

    
    
   

Sep
23

This year one of the new items is a trio (hopefully) of Cauldron Creeps pioneered by the Devil’s Workshop.

Two will be stiring the pot while the third will be raising and lowering ingredients into the pot.

For the motors, I am using reindeer motors (you know those Xmas reindeer that move their heads up and down, you can buy those motors for cheap and they are built to run in the rain/snow/cold). They are very low torque and low speed which is perfect for this build.

I wasn’t able to find the foam bag of bones anywhere, only the hard plastic ones and I didn’t like the look of the hands, so I opted to create my own bones using a heat gun and plastic drop cloth.

Here is a short video of the progress so far.

UPDATE 9/29

Two creeps are ready for paint after a little garage time this evening.  I put some creepy cloth on one to se how it handles the weight and to see if the movement is still good.  I dig it!

UPDATE 10/1

Paint job! Painted them black at first, then hit with lime green spray paint that was quickly wiped off.

   
   

Aug
29

For my Halloween haunt I was lucky enough to score 5 projectors at an amazing price through a surplus site (http://www.publicsurplus.com/) I planned on suing these to display the digital effect created by AtmosFear Fx (http://www.atmosfx.com/).  The problem was, I didn’t want to have to use 5 DVD players or 5 Laptops/computer to provide the video feed for the projectors.  That’s where the Raspberry Pi comes in.  The Raspberry Pi is much like an Arduino, a physically small yet fairly powerful computer.  The beauty is that the pi is fairly cheap ($32 for the B+ 512MB version I used).  What follows is how I was able to get the Pi to loop through a set of videos continuously to allow my projector to run all night in my haunt.

What you need:

  • A projector (I used an Epson Power Lite 84)
  • If you projector doesn’t have speakers, get some speakers
  • A Raspberry Pi (I used a Model B+ 512MB)
  • If your projector doesn’t support HDMI, pick up a HDMI Male to VGA Female converter and a VAG cable.
  • A USB Stick
  • A 4GB micro SD card (class 10 If you can)
  • A cell phone charger
  • An audio cable/headphone jack size (to go to speakers or to projector)

This whole initiative was made possible by the tutorial created by Tony Dicola and may be found here:

https://learn.adafruit.com/raspberry-pi-video-looper/overview

Following those instructions will take you 99.999% of the way.  I ran into a few issues that I wanted to call out to help save some frustration, these may be unique to me, but I am including it incase it helps someone else.

  1. I purchased the AtmosFear/FX video’s via digital download as opposed to DVD version, I don’t know how you would go about ripping from a DVD, but I can say the digital downloads worked great.
  2. I had to run the git clone command in the above tutorial by prefacing it with sudo, otherwise I got a strange authentication error, even when entering the username and password. Entering sudo git clone…. Worked fine then.
  3. To flash the raspbian OS image (the tutorial above will point you to the download) to the SD card, I used Win32 Disk Imager found at http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/
  4. I had two USB sticks that didn’t work, what I had to do was reformat them as FAT
  5. Videos need to have H264 encoding, I used the tool found at: http://www.h264encoder.com/ it is very fast and worked like a charm

While most of what you need is in the adafruit tutorial, I wanted to give the 30,000 foot view that helped me to get through it.

  1. Flash the SD card
  2. Install adafruit PI Finder on your computer
  3. Install the Video Looper from adafruit on Pi via Pi Finder terminal
  4. Format the USB Stick to FAT
  5. Encode the videos to h264
  6. Hook up to projector

Here is a short video of it in action using AtmosFear/FX’s pumpkin trio.

Oct
28

A friend/co-worker shot and edited this highlight video of our yard haunt from the 2014 season.

Oct
18

My kids are dressing up as vikings for Halloween this year.  Since they are still just wee viking warriors (2 and 9 months) they will need to ride in the wagon on Halloween night. It just didn’t seem right to put fierce viking warriors in a radio flyer wagon.  So… I decked out their wagon to look like a viking ship with scrap supplies.

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First I cut up a cardboard box in the shape of the boat for the sides and back.  I drew on the wood grain with a sharpie.  The shields are just paper plates colored with marker and taped on.

The dragon head and tail were made out of scrap 2″ foam from other projects.  I sketched out the design and the scroll saw made quick work of it.  I rounded the edged with a rasp.  A little

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To attach everything to the wagon I used so wire, think coat hangers.  I made simple “J”s out of the wire so it just hooks right onto the side of the wagon.  Longer straight wire was used for the bow and stern pieces.

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Oct
08

What can you do with a bag of foam bones and some twine?  Well, you can make a bone mobile of course!

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This was pretty easy to make.  First start by laying out your bones to get an idea of how your mobile will look.

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I used a small crochet hook (don’t tell my wife!) To pull the twine through the foam.

I found it easy to start at the bottom and work my way up.  This made finding the balance point pretty easy at each level.

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Oct
06

My sister-in-law challenged me to make a mummified fairy after she saw so amazing works on Pinterest.  While mine are not fine art, they work in s pinch and only take $2.25 each to make.  Here is sample of the finished version with directions after that.

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First things first, get your supplies.  I picked up a few skeletons from the Dollar Tree, a little bit of floral wire, and some assorted fake butterfly wings. Grab some small beads if you want eyes.

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Now you’re ready go get started.  Use the wire to hold your skeleton in the position you would like.

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Now the tedious part, using the natural colored coffee filters and papier mache paste cover your fairy.  Using a small paint brush to apply the paste helps and allows you to get a nice wrinkled texture.

While that dries, take a look at your butterfly wings.  If they are a tad small like mine were, just glue two together.

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As soon as the fairies are dry you can hot glue on the wings and your mummified fairy is ready for display.  Using the brown coffee filters results in a great color with no paint needed.  A second/third coat of papier mache would add some more texture and may allow for the support wires yo be cut.  I don’t have the patience yo text that theory out though :).

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May
17

I am officially finished with Evan’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea themed bedroom and he moves in tomorrow night. You may have noticed I haven’t posted much to my blog recently. The birth of our daughter in January and this undertaking have replaced late nights making zombies.

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A quick overview, I started by ripping up the carpet and putting in a fireside oak laminate flooring.

Then moved to the riveted chair rail and padded fabric panels.

Teal paint finished off the top half of three walls.

The large wall was turned into a sea monster mural inspired by some of the concept art sketches from the movie. See the time lapse video below of the mural painting.


Then came the faux beams in the corners and fake steam and water pipes.

My wife made the comforter for the bed out of the same fabric that was used on the padded panels.

What submarine room would be complete without a submarine door?

The closet was turned into a reading nook, or a plop pit (Evan loves falling onto pillows yelling “Plop!”)

Some cheap wire shelving and some oil rubbed bronze spray paint made for a good look over the desk. Every piece on the shelves has a story behind it and most items have either been in the family for some time or have a special memory tied to it.

For wall decor, a ship painting my sister gave me years ago has moved from above the fireplace to Evan’s room. It just looks right there. The porthole started as a half sphere fish tank, I added the rivets and frame, added an aquarium background cling, fake plant, and octopus beanie baby.

The dresser, desk, night stand and chair were created by Mels Creative Corner. We saw the dresser online and instantly fell in love and then commissioned the rest of the pieces. Mel and Mel do fantastic work, have great prices and are just good people.

A few odds and ends help to round off the room like the green loop rug, fluffy or weird pillows, and of course a room darkening shade shoe can take his naps without being bothered by the light.

There are a few small things left to finish but they are really minor we are working on a curtain and sash for the closet, some simple curtains, but he is moving in and I am calling it done.

Enough of me babbling, on to the photos!

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Oct
02

I have always wanted a haunted village, last weekend we made it happen. I saw this technique on the36thavenue.com and decided to give it a go.  First we hit up our local dollar tree and picked up a set of their mini christmas village called Cobblestone Corners.

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Second step was to paint them all flat black.  I used the cheapest black spray paint I could find.

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Third step was to hit them with some white dry brushing and presto, haunted village.  It was amazing to see how creepy some of the figures turned out.  A happy fireman, once painted, looks like a axe wielding maniac.  A precious father son shoveling snow turns into two people burying a body. Some children bringing home a Christmas tree became a group of young vandals.

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