Sunday, November 29, 2015


"Requiem"- our first use of a full skeleton to make a graveyard statue

Our only big prop this year was the "Requiem" statue.

It started out in my mind as a different concept for a reaper with a cloaked hood and a scythe leaning against him while he played the violin. I may still re-visit that concept next year with another character, but after getting the skeleton and violin in the right position I was pretty happy with the way it looked under the lights. To be honest, I didn't feel like the mess of using "Monster Mud" this year to make a solid cloak either.

Total investment for this guy was about $85, a pose-able skeleton from Home Depot for $40, a 3/4 size violin off Ebay for $40, and a piece of 1/2' aluminum conduit and a flange from Home Depot that was under $5. The remaining paint and materials I had from previous projects.


Tips for making a skeleton statue:

Skeleton spines are the part of pose-able skeletons that don't really pose. They're always straight and completely limit your options for making a skeleton position look natural. I bent a section of half inch aluminum conduit to the angle I wanted the skeleton's spine and attached the conduit to a wood base with a flange.

Attach aluminum electrical conduit to a wood base with a plumbing flange

If you like to design and build props, a good adjustable heat gun is one of the few tools that are essential, and this is one of those times. I gradually heated the spine until it was soft and mold-able but didn't actually start to melt the plastic. Then bent the spine to match the bend in the vertical conduit, and zip tied the spine to the conduit. (If this was something that would be viewed in daylight it appeared as though the conduit could actually be run up through the inside of the spine to completely conceal it, for my purpose it wasn't necessary.)

The only other heat gun use was to pose the fingers of the hands holding the violin and bow, and a bit on the neck to tilt the head.

Use a heat gun to pose parts that aren't "pose-able"

Each pose-able joint ( shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles) were positioned and hot glued in place temporarily. Then I used some left over Apoxie Sculpt to cement the joints solid and cover any gaps and screw holes. Apoxie Sculpt is a two part moldable putty that when combined dries very hard like an epoxy cement. There is probably a similar type construction material that could be used to harden the joint, but Apoxie Sculpt can be bought through Amazon for under $20 and can be frozen so the left over material keeps for a long time.
Each moving joint is secured using "Apoxy Sculpt" before it's painted
Store bought skeletons have a smooth shiny plastic surface. This was suppose to be more statue like so it was painted with grey tinted Drylok that we had left over from our tombstones. I like Drylok because it gives everything that stone-like sandy grit look and it's readily available at Home Depot.

Dry wall compound "weathered" skull after dry brushing

After the first coat of Drylok, I used drywall compound to texture certain areas I felt should look weathered. The best method I have found so for "weathering" with drywall compound is to slather on the wet drywall compound. Let the compound set until it starts to dry just a bit. Then firmly dab the areas with a damp kitchen sponge to give it the texture you want. Drylok those areas to seal the drywall compound.

DryLok-ed statue before "inking" and "dry brushing" details

The entire statue gets sponged with a watered down flat back paint using a sea sponge. Finally, the statue is finished off by dry brushing flat white to highlight the edges and textures and ultimately give it that "carved stone" look. Dry brushing with white or a very light color is critical for viewing your creations in the dark under spotlights or ambient lighting.

Hopefully these tips were useful! I think more skeleton statuary to come for our graveyard next year!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Another Visit at My Favorite Store

Picking up supplies at "Reynolds Advanced Materials" I got to see their latest concoction I thought I would share.

Body parts in a barrel of nuclear ooze!
Life-castings of arms, hands, a foot and a face made with their "Dragon Skin" product. I guess every employee had their hand in putting this together - literally! 

Don't remember the material they used for the glow-in-the-dark ooze. It is lit from underneath with a black light and a small fog machine completes the prop!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Shingle Creek Manor 2015

Still sorting through our photos and video segments for this year, hopefully there will be enough good ones to put together a decent video - I'm not feeling optimistic.  I really do enjoy the creativity doing these videos. As soon as Halloween is put away for the year, getting the video together is number one on my list!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Post Halloween Blog Reboot

Well, this makes perfect sense to restart your Halloween related blog AFTER Halloween is over...

Such a busy last few months, plenty to write about but no time to sit down and get my thoughts together. I have tried to catch up on the blogs I follow and make comment here and there. I have also tried to post and keep caught up on that evil time-killer "Facebook".

The latter part of the year has kept us busy coordinating and planning my son's wedding in Chimney Rock, North Carolina. Likewise it put a significant dent in any extra monies that would have otherwise gone to Halloween. Such is the story of important family events.

"The Crow Men" one of our fun static props and also a separate costume for this year's yard haunt
While we were in North Carolina, (the first week in October), signs of Fall and Halloween at every corner and store front reminded me of how much I needed to get done before Halloween and how truly far behind we were. We spent time at some markets in Bat Cave, North Carolina making it even worse. "Bat Cave", whose name just screams "Halloween", has mega road side pumpkin and apple stands, and I even saw a sign for a haunt where you could shoot zombies with paintball guns.

We stopped at a cider mill in Bat Cave to buy some fresh apple cider where we met a young woman with the most elaborate and beautiful Halloween tattoos on the sleeves of both arms. Belinda struck up a conversation with her so we could see her tattoos. We tried to tell her we were Halloween people but it seemed kind of useless. A person who has her arms and shoulders tattooed with Halloween scenes kind of takes the moniker "Halloween person" to a whole new level. We were just Halloween observers...

"Requiem" a violin playing skeleton statue on a stone column was our singular large prop for the year. 

So it will be my intention to gather our few photos and videos and try to compile our annual video as soon as I get Shingle Creek Manor put to rest. Cleaning and storing props easily takes a few days. Meantime I will post some of our few photos and document some of the season's highlights.

A very belated "Happy Halloween" to our blog friends and fellow bloggers. the remainder of November will be dedicated to catch up before the craziness of Christmas begins.