Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Last Day of September- It's On!

A haunter's garage is a beautiful thing.  Cars never get to see the interior, especially if the haunter lives with a tool fanatic, yay me.  I just thought I'd share some photos of my late summer/fall refuge.  I usually announce "Hey sweetie, I'm headed to the garage of evil" when I head out unless it is the witching hour when I get home at midnight after he's asleep for a little creative time with my three ladies:

Whoo hoo! Party time!  Wow, they seemed so stoked even with out heads.
These are static props, so my goal is a sense of motion.  We'll see if I fall flat on my face with these in about 30 days.  

Silliness aside, I am learning patience with my work for the first time ever.  Years and lifetimes ago I was an art major at the Art Institute in Chicago- and left out after one semester.  Who could blame me, we never got to do stuff like haunts.  Anyway, for years I used to work on one piece from beginning to end, I'd call in sick to work just to finish.  That was like 300 years ago though.  Last year's stink fest was the result of a few weeks work.  This year's props are going to be about three months of very intensive work.  

As you can see in the above pic, I'm on my third skin for the witch on the left.  She's my guinea pig.  The other two are going slower, but will be better built the first time or two around.  I realize that they are way off ribcage wise, but I unfortunately will dress them and don't see the point of making a "perfect" body for each.  

Here's more of my progress in both prop making and completely taking over a one car garage with a back room.  TaDa!
Kyle found most of the foam I'll use this year.  
I was told the coolers are off limits for a fog chiller.
I finally understand why Rot takes his work down if there is rain.  I plan to seal these up as tight as can be and use plastic for their undergarments, so to speak.  I've got a lot of hours in on my work at this time.  It's just that our neighborhood doesn't get many ToTs because the more affluent streets with their store bought, or even worse yet-inflatable decorations get the most attention.  So setting up a week early lets folks know they can at least stop by on their way home for a local haunt.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Sad flower, hanging head in shame:)

I've become a terrible garden blogger.  With is being September and all, I am really busy with my other blog about the Halloween yard display or rather haunt.  Things in the gardens are doing fine.  The sunflowers have produced some massive seed heads, although I will probably not grow the Burpee Super Snacks because they had a big problem with toppling over (that may be my fault).  The mammoth variety seemed to be stronger although the heads drooped.

We harvested a bazillion tomatoes this weekend, one massive zucchini, some peppers, crooknecks, and a couple a cukes.  The zucchini ended up getting gutted of seeds and made as a sort of meatloaf holder.  We had a bunch of game meat from K's folks that he is trying to power through.  I must say it was quite tasty.  Sadie had a taste test for herself the last time he made massive zucchini loaf boats, actually she devoured most of one that he's left on the counter to cool.  It completely disappeared!  She sure did burp a lot that night...I digress.  We haven't gotten that many cukes this year, and to think of it it looks like the chantarais-type melon plant will have only one.  It had better be worth it!

I've been making batches of tomato sauce and we should be getting more ripe peppers so we can make some salsa.  There will definitely be posts on those projects.  We will also do some fall planting posts as well.  We might give the "cold frame" a run for the money.  

Things will definitely slow down on the blog as October is looming and I have a ton of haunt stuff to finish.  Keep checking back once in a while and expect the next batch of spring seedlings to be started in January.  Yep, we'll start some early in hopes for an earlier harvest of tomatoes.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A spooky mess

A spooky mess, originally uploaded by sparth.

Maybe I can find a way to make my garden remains part of my haunt after all.

About Face

I’ve wanted to write this post for quite a while.  One of the things that makes a great prop is an animated face, not with animatronics, but with engaging design.  Although we make otherworldly creatures, they all have faces like us mere humans and I often see beautiful, articulate work, with a blank face.  We all know who is a master at twisting corpse faces in to seemingly limitless expressions of terror, anger, pain, and sometimes I have detected a hint of a smile or humorous confusion.  I was aware of this need in design, but my early attempts on my prop heads were falling way short of expectation.  I looked at Rot’s stuff  which made me want to throw in the glue and paper towel, but I persevered.  He had to start somewhere too, right? 

I decided to take action and searched the net for images with facial expressions that I wanted to recreate on my three witches.  I settled on Dick Cheney sneering, “Johnny” from the shining in that famous face through the door shot, and I would come up with the third in due time.  I tried and tried, but the faces kept turning out wrong.  I have a pretty good knowledge of anatomy from both school and work; let me tell you, disassembling a body sure teaches one a lot about anatomy.  But I needed more oomph.  I scrapped the idea of making  Dick Cheney and Johnny faces and decided I would work on general expressions.

I got on the internet and looked for artist guide type books and I found a few, but without being able to look at the content for more than a few pages, I headed out to the bookstore.  I ultimately picked up Gary Faigin’s The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression.  There are others out there as well, but Faigin’s style suited me best.  There are nice descriptions about what is going on with musculature, how much pupil to show, etc… that really help you build a solid foundation to work with. 

Not that my three witch faces turned out spectacular, but by the third one I think something began to click and I expect improvement with each new sculpt.  I also spotted several comic book style how-to’s that directly addressed monsters and villains that could have massive potential as well.  

Gruesome Science


Monday, September 27, 2010

Witch Hair

I've got three lovely ladies to coiffure in the next week or two.  I had a vision of partially dreaded, funky hair as witches don't wash their hair right?  That would wash away their awesome powers.  I went to Fuzz, the local yarn, knitting, weaving, amazing little store where really nice women have a knitting circle/weaving meeting in the afternoons who have happily welcomed me in and show interest in my strange inquiries into how to use their medium of choice in different ways.  The store sits atop a fancy fabric place and is chock full of all sorts of natural fibers in natural and dyed fibers.  Its a little like going to a living history museum- full of soft, glorious fibers.

Things went like this:
I walked in and all the ladies were all sitting in their knitting circle, happy to answer my questions. 
 I asked " I want to make some hair".  
The clerk/ random customer got up and asked "what color".  
At which point I accidentally kicked a ball of yarn across the room that some lady was using for her project.  Whoops!

Conversation didn't miss a beat- She-"Oh, like old lady hair?"
"Yup, witch hair, as a matter of fact"
That's when she got a little gleam in her eye and told me that she's always wanted to make a witch and then showed me a bunch of grey and green wool roving.  She showed me several others because she was very into the project.  

This is what I brought home with a few examples of the dreaded stuff I did tonight.  It won't all be that way. I don't want too much of a R. Zombie vibe.  
I loved being accepted in that way.  She asked me to bring in some pictures so she could put them up in her shop.  Then she asked me how I was building them.  I don't think she expected an explanation about PVC armature, but she ended up asking me if I could bring back ideas to build her own!  

If you haven't read my previous post, I guess I'd have to say I've had a triple good day.  I sure hope that doesn't mean some corpse has been rotting for over two weeks for me to go on duty at noon.  Oh well, I don't care.  That's just work anyway.  


I love the Haunt Community; a bunch  of folks that I idolize have been checking out my meager little blog.  I got caught with no makeup on and the curlers still in my hair when Mr. Halloween A.K.A. Pumpkinrot blogged about my new tombstones.  My post was just a filler post as they aren't even finished.  Oh shwells, I got up this morning (1:00 PM for the D.I.), made a nice brekkie, hopped on the net to check the forums and the blogs.  My day started out very nicely.  Then I checked Rot's blog because he isn't on my Google instant update blogroll thing (just 'cause he's elusive that way, and I save the best ones for last) and there was my Mr. Kreeg tombstone!  I hope if Mike Dougherty saw it he didn't cringe.

The coolest part is that when I called Kyle to tell him about it, his reaction was of total excitement.  He's so sweet in that he really enjoys watching me make these crazy things.  I'll come home after midnight from work and he'll be full of compliments on whatever I'd finished for the day.  He asked today "Isn't Rot kind of a mentor of yours?  I sure am proud of you sweetie".

Thanks for the post Rot!

It is so cool to know that 14 people read this thing.  I just got an extra hop in my step knowing that there are folks out there that love the haunt as much as I do.

Now if I could only write more concisely than Ayn Rand....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grave Markers

There are two movies referenced here, one should be super easy for haunters, the other should be pretty easy.  These aren't finished, but are coming along nicely.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Haunt Sounds

I've got a Midnight Syndicate CD, the original Halloween, Trick 'r Treat and Session 9 plus these guys I picked up from You Tube:
I'm not that really into Midnight S.  But I figure most will expect some.  Don't get me wrong, they are really good at what they do.

I hope the link works.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Shellhawk has announced the latest show from Hauntcast is up and playing.  Just in case someone comes along this blog that hasn't heard of Hauntcast, please read on, this is info you must have.  Those of you familiar with the show, go ahead an move on because you already know what I'm going to write.  I have never really listened to podcasts.  Kyle listens to tons of them and but most are a bunch of guys with inside jokes I usually don't get.  Hauntcast is my new fave, the show is really well done, it has a sense of humor that reminds me of the Son of Svengooly Show that I used to watch as a kid, but with more potty humor.  It is pure Halloween fun. It has turned the internet full circle to me as I prepare to sit in front of the speakers like the the kid in Christmas Story listening to the Little Orphan Annie Show on the radio.  Check it out right now!

I think this year might work

This is last year:

Stink Fest 2009. 

These are pics of my first new witch (one of three) for 2010.  I promise they won't look like old ladies in babushkas. 
Although I think she looks like she's making an obscene gesture, I am pretty happy.  I may need to saw off the left arm and raise it up a bit so she doesn't looks like she's propositioning someone like a crack ho.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My New Assistant

I finally got a Gorillapod to help me with prop shots.  I made the mistake and got a knockoff from Target.  That piece of junk went back to the store the next day.  Then I found this guy:
Even though I'm a green thumb as a gardener, I have a black thumb as a photographer, as in smelly old black rotten thumb (trust me with my line of work I know).  They even had my favorite color with one of my second favorites.  Don't tell the Frog Queen that I rock electric pink pretty well, she is my closest haunt neighbor that I know of and I'd still like to meet her and not have her hate me.  

Now back to this video link Rot posted on his blog earlier today.  If you ever loved the movie Trick 'R Treat, you're bound to want to see this.  I just finished and really enjoyed it.  

Graveyard Wanderers

I've just finished carving the lettering on my first tombstone, for one Mr. Greeg, and damn! making these things is tough.  No wonder there are so many crappy tombstones out on the 31st.  You'd have to be a nut like me to put up with all the work and have the patience of someone waiting around for somebody to die.  
Herman Webster Mudgett and Ed Gein, respectively (not respectfully)
After I got home from work tonight Kyle was helping me come up with names for the now many other tombstones thanks to his finding me a sheet and 1/2 of the pink stuff at his work (who's my baby?).  He asked me about Gacy and I told him I'd like to use very old serial killers that have an aura of boogyman about them and not a fresh in the memory creepy homicidal pedophile.  As a death investigator I think that the families of the more recent Gacy killings would not be happy with my little haunt as their siblings are most likely still with us.  Of course there will be one for Ed Gein and one for Dr. H. H. Holmes.  Next thing I knew I was telling a very sleepy Kyle about the amazingly perfectly creepy story about Dr. H. H. Holmes.  If you like reading that sort of stuff, as I do, then check out The Devil in the White City.  

Monday, September 20, 2010


We are trellising our melons and are using knee high pantyhose slings to keep them safe and sound and not get too heavy for the vines.  I added three pantyhose slings today.  
Here is the single Chantarais-type melon getting bigger every day.  We may get only one of these guys. 
It's almost the size of a store bought cantaloupe.  

Harvest Monday

We are still getting lots of tomatoes and the peppers are really starting to ripen up for us.  The two long ones are Carnival Salsa Mix from Burpee seed.  They are a perfect flavorful mild salsa pepper.  
We got our first two ripe Burpee Zavory mild Habaneros as well.  They are a beautiful orange/red and sure are a true mild Habanero.  The two peppers diced with seeds and spines added a nice flavor to our fresh salsa. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekend Update

No pretty pictures here, just the garage/shop progress.  I have the first witch's upper torso set up and ready for paint.  Then its on to the lower half.  

She looks like she's wearing a shrug at this point.  Not my ideal goal.  

She got a neck as well.  All will be painted black and the neck and wrists will get some green.  
Last up is my first attempt at headstones.  The hot knife from Harbor Freight for 13 bucks was a steal in my opinion.  These are my smaller, simpler headstones to learn from before I make the other 6 or 7 more complex ones.  I need to bring my respirator from work home the next time I use heat on the pink foam.  Luckily I had a good strong breeze today.  I need to put epitaphs on them and do a little embellishing, but all in all, I am one happy haunter today.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I found this list on Amazon for Haunt music.  Very cool starting point.  

Thanks to This Guy

My search for the Macbeth witches in MP3 format was very short.


Kyle's Sister, Brother-in-law and cutest nieces EVAR went to England to visit with Her hubby's family.  These are the most thoughtful things ever that they could have brought back for us from across the pond:
I love them and they will be in the herbs this weekend.  So cool!

I've Been a Slacker

Here is Harvest Monday (really late):
J for New Mexico Big Jim.  He was really tasty in a breakfast burrito.

Eggplant, what we call squish, a zucchini, and two- count them two cukes!
The Squish and cukes already accounted for, let me add a ton of paste tomatoes, a few beefsteaks, a bucket (almost) of cherry tomatoes, and one sunflower head full of Burpee Super Snack seeds.  YUM!

I think I'm on to Something (Work in Progress)

Also known as my favorite prop picture to date

While one of my faves- the Frog Queen has been rubbing elbows with Rob Zombie, I've been plugging away at my three sisters witches a-la Macbeth/Pumpkinrot.  I finally have all three heads finished except two that got weather sealed need matting so they aren't shiny and one needs sealed,... the basic heads are done.  I want matte finish skin with shiny lacquered eyes, eyelids, teeth, gums, and lips, think Alien style.    These girls will be frothing at the lips in ecstasy while they try to raise the dead.  Note: I don't plan to have any risen dead this year due to time constraints, my haunt story will follow soon.  

After I got home from the morgue I tried a little "photo shoot" with the girls and an idea I am tossing around about hair.  Pumpkinrot's witches are hairless (and ear-less as are mine), but I am a big hair girl.  I like some of the photos I've found on the web with crazy ratty dreaded hairdos on the witches.  I know of an interesting homeless woman in town who has crazy dreadlocks that hang all the way to the ground.  She has all sorts of stuff in her hair, even duct tape.  She carries herself around with such a regal presence.  I think my witches need some "power hair"  I'm thinking ratty, full of fuzz, with haphazard hairdos, and let the weather do the rest.  
Anywhoo, I spent three hours unraveling a skein of yarn and tried out some shots to see where I'm going with the idea.  I already have one pointed witches hat, but do all three get them?  Should one have a hood?  I'm looking for feedback I suppose.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Green Hand...

...was a suburban Chicago legend of a ghoul that (in my neighborhood) hung out near the refreshment shed at the local baseball fields when I was a kid.  Most of the older kids passed on the story to us much younger kids to most likely keep us away from the shed.  The "green hand" was a manlike thing that was green and would pluck unsuspecting children away if they got too close to the shed at night.  I remember being deathly afraid of the shed once the sun went down.

I never knew how the story originated as there were no known child disappearances in my neighborhood at the time.  It wan't until years later that I found The Green Man on Wikipedia and figured that this Pennsylvania Urban legend must have made it's way to suburban Chicago and that so many kids had told the story that it evolved into The Green Hand.

I love the idea of how certain games and stories are passed by kids to younger kids without adults interfering.  Who taught you how to play "it", "light as a feather, stiff as a board" or "bloody Mary"?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


... which girl got a new fog machine today?  >>> This girl :)
Now I'm reading up on fog chillers:)

I also got a bulk box of unimbossed paper towels from Costco, a can of flat black latex paint, and a plastic rat from the (BOO!) Spirit store.

Next up, a ton of cheesecloth, and black dye!

Happy haunting!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

LED Flicker Lantern Take Four

I made two more flicker circuits, hot glued over the LED bulbs and Kyle helped me remove the bottoms of the other two lanterns to make a set of three.  They won't be this close together in the yard haunt and will have spots on them, thus the reason for the insane brightness.  I want them to cast flickers on my witches and tombstones this year and not be overpowered.  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Friday!

There is a house near mine that I have to drive behind to get to the gas station. At the rear of the property are a few dilapidated sheds. One spring afternoon I drove by and saw someone sleeping on a mattress in the corner shed. Over the winter the Tyvec sheeting had been ripped exposing the inside of the shed. A few days later I saw the same person sleeping on a tattered mattress. There are a lot of homeless people and drifters in Boise due to the generally mild winters. I figured some homeless person had been sleeping one off under cover of the roof to keep out of the rain.

The next week, on the way to work, I saw the same person again in the shadowy shed, in the same position. In my line of work it isn't uncommon to find homeless people of folks that partied too much end up freezing to death outdoors. I got to work and told my boss about what I saw and decided to go back and check things out.

One of the new deputies rode with me in the van while I told her the story. We arrived at the gas station and I drove right up next to the shed and she saw the person immediately. So I wan't crazy after all. We were both a bit creeped out, but got out of the van to get a closer look. That is when we spotted the other body. We got in the van and I drove to the front of the property where the house sat.

We got out, badges and all, and went to the door when a woman in a tank top and cutoffs came around the side of the house asking "can I help you?'' I used my best Joe Friday voice told her who we were and asked her about the shed. She replied "Oh, you're here for the dead bodies!". I had to ask what she was talking about. She got the hugest smile and said "The Coroner's office is actually here for my dead bodies!"

"What?" I asked.

"Those are my witches" she exclaimed. "I hang them for the telephone pole for Halloween". "I had a few people make complaints over the winter that there were homeless people frozen to death in my shed".

Why she never moved them is obvious. She loved the attention. I was duped by a Halloween decoration.  They weren't wearing pointy hats and there were no brooms in sight, BTW.

LED Flicker Lantern Take 3

Here I've pinched the parchment over the LED's to create a full diffuser. I am really happy with this one for this year.  Yup, that is the sound of a washer and dryer going at 3 AM.  That's what happens when you work the swing shift.  

LED Flicker Lantern Take 2

I wrapped the 10 LED's in electrical tape to hold them in a bundle and then wrapped the exposed LED's in parchment as a diffuser.  I like the look of the originating "flame" at the bottom of the glass.  I am going to tinker with more parchment to diffuse more, but I think I will hot glue a flame shape over the exposed bulbs to make a sturdier, more weather resistant diffuser. Oh and DANG! the HD setting made a huge difference in the video.  Still not the best, but compare this to the last clip.  

Garden Fail Friday

This is blossom end rot.  I've only noticed it on one plant, the Super San Marzano hybrid paste tomato.  Of the gardens I am familiar with ours was the most amended, we had new composed manure with gypsum as our base, the topsoil of the raised beds worked in with some substrate sand, Canadian peat moss, and vermiculite.  I also have given all our veggies a hit of Zamzows Thrive.  Our plants are massive, even compared to the ones we gave away as seedlings to other gardens.  For some reason though, the Super San Marzanos weren't happy with all that.  I then dressed around the plant with a top fertilizer with 4% calcium in hopes to correct the problem.  So far so good, so it isn't necessarily a big fail, but we are definitely in the dark as to why this guy got so fussy.  After I took this shot I pulled all the end rot tomatoes and disposed of them.  There were about ten in all.  So far we've harvested about 20 and there are at least 50 still ready to ripen.  

Let's see what Emily is up to...

Something a Little Different

Maybe the whole world knows this story, but I didn't until well after it broke.  I think of this story often.  It started with a very well written human interest piece in the Tampa St. Petersburg Times I came across while surfing the web.  I was instantly riveted.  The story has all the elements of a journalistic piece of gold.  It is compelling, it shows the worst and best in people, and both worst and best of all- it really happened.  I check up on the story of Danni and her new life, and I reread the original horrifying beginning once about once a year.  She is an inspiration (at least her new family is) and she is a warning of what human beings are capable of doing to each other, even their own flesh and blood.

This is Dani's Story, her website.  It is so good to see she found such wonderful people to live with.  I'm not sure why she stumbled into my memory today, but it was great to be able to see what she's up to.  I had my internet moniker for years before I even used the internet, but maybe there is something in Danni's story that keeps me using it.

~Gone Feral

Thursday, September 9, 2010

LED Flicker Lantern Take One

This is my prototype LED flicker lantern.  I still have a lot to do, but I think I found a cheap and simple circuit that just about anyone could make, trust me, I am no electrician.  Sorry for the poor quality, but I am simply trying to get the atmosphere across.  I blocked out the base of the lantern because it is sitting on the wiring and a ton of light leaks through the bottom until I get everything the way I like it.  Please, give me some feedback.  I plan to have three lanterns, one for each witch in the yard haunt this year.  The base plan is Spooky Blue's "Spookyfire" LED blob, but with resistors and slave non-blinking ultrabright LED's that blink in a circuit with a cheaper blinking LED after referring to an LED circuit wizard.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Three Strikes

I have three strikes against me with haunting our yard.  We have a chain link fence.  We live on a well light corner lot.  We live in a little, yellow, vinyl sided house with white trim and a cheesy half round window with bad 80's style brass "stained glass" over the front door.  Don't get me wrong, I like the house and all, It's just not ideal for a yard haunt.  There is no fighting with the street lamp.  I am a "sworn" County Deputy and could never tamper with it.  So I have to look to Skull and Bone for lighting tips, although I only have a four flood string and a bunch of little LED floods that Pumpkinrot turned me on to.  I am wiring up some LED flicker circuits for three aged lanterns as well.  Anyway, the house is very light and kinda cute and homey looking in a low budget sort of way.  It is in no way a haunted mansion, or old Boise North End sort of place.  Sill, if they could make Mary Brown's trailer look creepy in Blair Witch, I can make this prefab look ghoulish as well, at least decrepit.  I see that at work often enough.

As for the chain link, I guess we could let the weeds go a bit.  Any ideas.  I'm about out of budget for the year.  

I think this old tutorial might help add a sense of abandonment.  Fake boarded up windows.  Our entire place is new vinyl siding and vinyl windows so we need something lightweight that can be attached without hurting any of the facade.  Let's face it, empty houses are on the rise recently and are spooky even if they are brand new.

I will post my follow up later.  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Harvest Monday

This week's haul included cherry, Roma, Super San Marzano, and Super Steak hybrid tomatoes, a bunch of jalapeños, and a Flavorburst Hybrid sweet pepper.  It looks like we will be getting a ton of salsa peppers soon as well as a bunch more eggplants.  Of course there are gazillions of green tomatoes still on the vines.  The low tonight is 38 degrees Fahrenheit, I hope it warms up a bit.  

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekend Update

I'm not sure what to think about Brussels sprouts.  This is our second year trying them and we aren't getting the little cabbage sprouts, just open leaves.  It seems to be a lot of effort for little to no yield.  
The generic cantaloupe plant we picked up from Zamzows on sale is doing really well on the fence trellis.  I am very happy with this picture BTW.
This Burpee Sugar Girl Hybrid Chantarais-type melon is doing nicely in it's knee-high stocking sling.  All the melons will get these so they don't get too heavy for the vines.  The Burpee plant is smaller and has less melons though.  
The Burpee Zavory mild habeñero is doing really well.  The two in the raised tomato beds got crowded out and are only producing a few pepper, but the one in the neighboring raised cold frame bed is going nuts!  The plant is huge and is covered in peppers.  I can't wait 'till they ripen and turn orange.  They look just like regular habeñeros.  These guys took forever to sprout (two weeks I think), and were so tiny when transplanted.  They spent most of the summer looking tiny and runty and then all of the sudden they were huge, not as big as the jalapeños, but huge compared to what we started with.  
These Burpee Carnival Mix Salsa Peppers are really producing, we have three plants with the gorgeous bumpy, curly peppers that can be left to turn green, yellow, and red for picking.  We are going to have tons of salsa at some point.
While I'm typing this update the windowsill Romas and Super San Marzanos (and one runty Black Krim) are being made into this:
Making tomato sauce is one of my new favorite things to do.  I added the second half of the over oven roasted sauce I made a few weeks ago to mellow it out a bit.  We used this recipe (that I came up with on my own and am very proud of) for our eggplant Parmesan last weekend.  Oh, and we're about to have a bumper crop of eggplants very soon.