Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Here are the styrofoam columns we made. I scratched them up a bit to simulate cracks and wear. And then I found these old basketballs for the finials. I also found these cheap plastic bowls that I cut the bottoms out of to hold the balls better.

So last night I painted the base coat on everything. I hope the paint dries properly on the bowls and balls. They look pretty good good except when you get closer...

you can see the basketball's pattern. Oh well, maybe I can camouflage it with the sponge painting. If not, I'll cover them with dead ivy and crows and maybe no one will notice. At least the price was right!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Styrofoam Ball Quest

So my next Halloween project is columns for beside the front walkway. We cut the pieces out of foam and glued them together. They are a little over 4' tall and 1' square, but I wanted something interesting on the top. Perhaps a ball finial. So I went to the craft store looking for an 8" or 10" styrofoam ball. Have you ANY idea how much those things cost? I was shocked to learn that the 8" costs $14.00 and the 10" would be $20.00 if they had them. Way too much, so next I searched for anything round and cheap.

I thought maybe a ball from the toy store would work, but they were too soft, and how would I get paint to stick to them? I also thought of bowls, globes, terreriums, fishbowls... but none of them were right. Then I thought about an urn, or maybe even a foam skull, but I couldn't find anything light enough and cheap enough, so I guess I'm going to have to make something. Stay tuned.

$14.00? Pffft!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Every haunted house needs some tombstones, right? So this weekend we worked on tombstones. I had several from years past, but the sprinklers had messed up the paint so I repainted all of those, but they were too impersonal and well... mass produced. So we made some personalized ones. There's the Lord of the Manor's above...and here you can see Teen2's and Teen1's and mine. Let me tell you, it's kind of creepy to paint your own tombstone! Here's how we made them:
First we bought this 1 1/2" thick Styrofoam insulation at Home Depot and peeled off the plastic coating...
then we put it up on the router table . . . What? You say you don't have a CNC router? Ok, well, then just cut out some tombstone shapes with a band saw or jigsaw...
and instead of routing the letters, just paint them on with black paint. I filled my routed letters with black paint too. Then using a sponge, start sponging on grays and whites to mimic granite.

After letting that dry, sponge on dabs of greens, golds (for lichen), and dark reds (for rust or blood). Then use a spray bottle to make the paint run....

and there you go - old, moldy, bloody, aged tombstones!

You can find books of epitaphs at the library or on the Internet, or make up your own. Have fun!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bat Cave

Today's project was the Bat Cave. I cut out lots of bat shapes from black paper and stuck them all along these doors. Then I made a drippy cave ceiling thing, painted it black and stuck it above this door.
Then I added one hanging bat, and "Voila" - a bat cave.

I also have this strange old iron lamp with blue flame lightbulbs that will be next to the bat cave.
The decorations are progressing nicely here Amongst The Oaks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Haunted House

I put up my little haunted house silhouette yesterday. Last year I had some dried twigs as trees, but they were falling apart, so I guess I'll have to make new trees this year. The moon is yellow tissue paper glued over a wire circle and it's attached to the downlight in the bookcase.
It's getting creepy here Amongst The Oaks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Danger and Poison Labels

Perhaps you remember my Jacob's Ladder from last Halloween? We've used it for years in the front window, safely away from little fingers, but this year we want to put it on the mantle in the living room for our party, so I made this label to keep folks away. Do you think the wording is strong enough? I don't think it would really kill anyone, but I don't want any experimenting.

I'll show you how I made it. First I snagged a skull and crossbones off the Internet, mocked up the label and printed it in red on white paper. Then I got out my pastels.

To make it look old and yellowed I shaded it lightly all over with a yellow ochre color...
and rubbed it all in with my fingers.

Then I did that again with a sepia color, but a little lighter.

Next I took a rusty red and made irregular swirls around the edge....

and blended just those areas using a circular motion.

The last touch was black all around the edge and a few tears up and down from the edges.

I smudged those in straight lines. The only thing left to do is trim the edges. I didn't trim it straight; I faked a worn crooked line, but I suppose you could use deckle edge scissors. Then I glued it to the transformer. Looks old and creepy, doesn't it?

I also snagged some poison labels off the Internet, printed them out, aged them and glued them to old bottles. I added some bloody fingerprints too by wetting my fingers, patting them in red and brown watercolors and touching the bottles all over. Of course, the bottles only have colored water in them, but they look pretty scary, don't they?

These bottles and the Jacob's Ladder will be in the Living Room which will be set up like a mad scientist's laboratory. You know, strange potions, gruesome tools, skulls, bones, body parts in jars. Hmmmm, does anyone know where I can borrow a gurney?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Haunting Thoughts

There's a feeling of autumn in the air here Amongst The Oaks. Leaves are beginning to fall, mornings are cool and dark, and strange thoughts are scratching at the back of my mind. It happens every year, but it seems a little early this year: we're thinking about Halloween.

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday because it's all about fun. No cleaning, no dusting, no gift wrapping, no silver polishing, no endless cooking. Instead we let the dust pile up, let the cobwebs collect, let the silver tarnish, and let the leaves stay on the lawn. Then we gradually set out our macabre decorations until our house really does look haunted. And I love, love, love it.
I also love Halloween parties. We've had some doozies over the years, but that was before we had children. Think tombstones on the lawn, sheets on the furniture, spiderwebs, rats, bats, cockroaches, black lights, skulls, creepy music, mandatory costumes, etc.... I think the kids are finally old enough to survive one of our parties without permanent scars, so we've decided to have a party this year. It will be a multigenerational thing. We each get to invite 15 people, and if they all come, it will be totally wild.
I'm working on the invitations now and I'll share our preparations as we go along, but for now, is anyone else out there planning a party?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sky Diving

You'll never guess what Teen1 did to celebrate her 18th birthday. Well, maybe you will after reading the title of this post, but anyway, YES, she went sky diving! And she got her Dad, Uncle and Grandpa to go with her. Above is the brave group. And below is her team: photographer on the left, jump master on the right. If you aren't certified, you must make a tandem jump harnessed to the jump master.

Here they are preparing to go to the plane. She had a few friends there to watch.

Taking the funny little cart to the plane....

Here she is coming down. We knew she had the purple chute and that she would land last because she and her partner were quite light and would float the longest.
(These next shots were captured from video, so I apologize for their quality.)
Just before you land, the jump master tells you to stick your legs out in front...

so he can touch down first.

There she is, safely down.


saying, "I'm ALIVE!"...

standing up.....

thanking the jump master.....

breathing again.

What an adventurous kid she is. She amazes me in so many ways!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

♥ Cath Kidston

Dear Sweet Teen1 went to a Cath Kidston shop whilst in the UK and this is what she bought. These
A D O R A B L E dish towels....

and this flowery messenger bag for her school books. So I get the tea towels and she gets the messenger bag, but I also get another gift.
The shopping bag! And I will reuse it when I shop at places like Target and Home Depot. How cool is that? Can't you just see me beeboppin' down those orange aisles with my chic Cath Kidston bag over my arm? So out of place, but I won't care, because I ♥ Cath Kidston.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Adventures with Drop Cloths

I finally got my drop cloth curtains done over the weekend. Which is really saying something considering that we had a surprise Welcome Home Party for Teen1 Saturday night. Lots of friends, lots of laughing, lots of fun. See, there were a few issues with the drop cloths....

I had painted the vintage rod, brackets, and rings last week and LOM had already installed them so that wasn't the problem...

I had plenty of free fringe from Travel Bug so that wasn't the problem....

The problem was there was a huge seam down the middle of one of the drop cloths, so I had to go back and get another one. I'm sure I looked like a dork feeling all the drop cloths there at Home Depot, but I didn't want to get another one with a seam!

Obviously other decorators have had my problem and resorted to inspecting before purchasing so they have this message written on the shelf. And after getting burned on one, I was tempted to start ripping them open, but I resisted and got a good one. Oh, and then there was the wildly different sizes! After I'd attached the fringe, folded the top over 8", and sewn all the rings on I discovered one was 3" longer than the other so I had to rehem it.

So all in all, I'm pleased with the project, but I have a few words of advice. First, make sure you select drop cloths that are the same color and weave. Then feel for seams but be prepared for surprises. Launder them before you use them. Not only does it preshrink them, but it makes them softer. And check the length and be prepared to rehem to make them all the same size.

In spite of all that, I like the fabric so much I'm thinking of making a table cloth out of one too.