Sunday, October 31, 2010


Had a terrific turnout this year, lots of kids & families having a good scare & taking lots of pictures with J. in his scarecrow costume. Only a couple of kids got truly scared, and most of them calmed down after getting an apology & loads of candy. :)

I tried something new this year and did a 'shaved' pumpkin:

The yard got some new decorations too, although since it rained right up till last night, we had to scurry and put everything out today.

The lawn is mid-redo so it's just dirt right now, which worked out great for looking more like a spooky graveyard.

The kid got pressed into service as a model for the chalk outline out on the sidewalk.

And this guy ditched the 'World's Most Difficult Puzzle' he normally is working on in favor of a Tarot reading...

And the kid did her 'Weeping Angel' thing with great success, fooled a lot of people into thinking she was yard art & scared them!

I wasn't happy with the wig at all and the dress needed to be darker--the makeup also, but I ran out of time. Also the cool fangs we got her wouldn't stay in. My favorite part of the costume are the claws, which looked freakin' great.

Awesome Halloween Light Show!

Done to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller':


Halloweencam Is Here!

Hey, come watch us scare the crap outta people tonight!

It's that wonderful time of year again, time to make our neighbors soil their underwear and leave a trail of abandoned candy as they run away!

Here's what's happening: We have a (security) webcam streaming live, with sound, aimed at our front porch. The cam will show people walking up our driveway towards the front door. We've got a fog machine hidden on the porch, and just as soon as they knock and call 'Trick or Treat!' I push the button and let 'em have it with the fog machine. Lots of screaming and leaping about, then they laugh. I open the door and hand out candy. They figure they've had their scare and turn to leave. Well...no.

Because this is what they passed on the trip up the driveway:

As they turn to leave, and juuust take a step or two off the porch, HERE'S what they now see:

ONLY IT'S ARMS ARE EXTENDED OUT AND IT'S STOMPING STRAIGHT TOWARDS THEM! That's my husband, up on plasterer's stilts so that he's about 9-10 feet tall. Last year we had great fun, people screamed bloody murder and ran around like cockroaches when the garage light is turned on. For extra fun my daughter will be dressed up as a 'Weeping Angel' from Dr. Who and posing in the front yard graveyard to scare people. She loves that adults are terrified and creeped out by little dead kids that run at them making chittering sounds.

Please join us in taking pleasure from other people's terror! We are in Los Angeles, California, so the cam will start when it gets dark here, around 6PM Pacific Standard Time. We get most of our people from about 7:00-9:30PM (PST). We are about three hours behind Eastern Time, so make allowances for the time difference--6PM here is 9PM in New York. We'll be testing the cam here and there before then, but things won't really start until it's dark here. Here's the link to the cam, we're using the same URL as we do for Chickam (again, it isn't up & running yet):


We've had great fun doing this in years past and have been doing it for about 4 years now.

If you want to see a great scare from last year, check out this YouTube video that a friend was kind enough to record for us last year. The best part is the first 3 1/2 minutes or so--BUT BE WARNED, watch the volume on your speakers, those girls scream LOUD. The zombie child running around is our daughter.


My husband has bad knees and is in a LOT of pain this year, so he may forgo the stilts, he'll decide later on which it'll be.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Something Rotting This Way Comes...

The kid was all spruced up and sent merrily off to school this morning in proper zombie fashion:

The lopsided eye thing she came up with on her own, it kills me. I only had about 15 minutes to get the makeup on so it was a bit rushed and I didn't have time to finesse it, and I didn't do her neck & arms because I didn't think her teachers would appreciate the mess. The pencil thrust through her cheek cracked everyone up. She says she made it to the finals of her school's costume contest and scared the crap out of a bunch of different people, which is always good.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weeping Angel DONE!

After just about a solid month of work, the Weeping Angel costume is finished!

The foam feathers for the wings took the longest, that's one thing I'll never do again, I swear...to help support the wings I used chicken wire & burlap (so the glue has something to grip)and ran it through the old backpack. This shows the foamcore opened up like the covers of a book with the wire/burlap in between. My craft table really took one for the team here, it was a mess by the time I was through!

I think I could have safely gone without the foamcore board, the thin craftfoam feathers could have glued to each other back-to-back and been fine, it would have saved a wee bit of weight. But what the heck, it's done.

But the painted tights that she'll wear on her arms & legs in place of makeup came out great.

Started with basic tights dyed gray. Sponged on black & white while she was wearing them...*cue delighted shrieks, 'Mom, it's cold & tickles!"*

After that dried, applied some of the thinned rust-brown paint and let it run down...

The result looks REALLY good and I'm indebted to the lady who made the Weeping Angel costume and posted tips online. This trick would also work for anyone doing any kind of arm/leg makeup, and SO much neater than smearing yourself in all that gloopy makeup! Although making these into gloves defeated me, I ended up cutting the fingers off and leaving them as fingerless gloves and will do makeup on her fingers.

The string-mop-head wig was done with the same steps, except I'd added fabric stiffener to it, a step I would skip if I had to do it over again, it came out too stiff.

Nasty pointy teeth & claws! The claws are really cool, and I think she's gonna have to keep those away from her daddy or he'll appropriate them.

And finally, the kid modeling the dress, wig & wings. The flash makes the photos look weird, the costume pieces all actually match each other pretty well. I'll be sure to take more pictures Halloween day of her in the entire costume & face make up. Here is the 'weeping' pose:

She's going to be standing in our front yard graveyard and when someone walks up to her, do an uncover to THIS (you'll have to imagine the fangs & claws for now):

With maybe some reaching tossed in...

The wings & the old backpack harness I cobbeled together worked out OK. I am going to reposition the wings a bit to stand out more, they aren't visible enough from the front. But in all it should be a pretty damned good costume and at least it is comfortable to wear and she'll have fun, which is the entire point of Halloween!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weeping Angel Nearing The 3/4 Done Mark...Plus Bonus Randomness!

I've got two of the wing sides put together, more loose feathers painted & ready to get glued down, the wig is painted and the dress is halfway painted. Waiting for things to dry takes quite a bit of time.

I still have to work up the backpack/wing harness rig, but really that will have to wait until the wings are done. Tomorrow I'll paint the tights while they are on the kid & let them dry while she's wearing them. Cutting down the fingers and creating the 'gloves' out of the tights is giving me the most trouble so far, the tights are surprisingly hard to sew. I know my sewing machine can hack it, the trouble is at my end in the learning curve.

It's been a strange day today. My neighbor knocked on my door at 1:30 asking for a ride to Kaiser and holding her arm, which was hurting & hanging useless at her side. Her husband & son weren't home, and the little English she speaks is very difficult to understand--and my Spanish is even worse. I took her, but partway over I figured that she was having a heart attack (pain & numbness down the arm is a symptom) and I was gonna have to put my CPR training to work...turns out she'd had surgery recently to repair some torn shoulder tendons and was checking in with her doctor. Whew!

After that, Phoenix, my big rooster, managed to tear off one of his claw tips & bled all over himself. I was in the house & had a sudden urge to check on the chickens, and he was standing near the back porch. I got the feeling I needed to check him, and found the bloody foot. He was OK at that point, nothing I could do for him. But he did hang around for pets & cuddles, all males like attention when they are sick/hurt, I guess. :)

A few hours later I had my OWN ride to the urgent care center when I stepped on a Hellaciously HUGE old, nasty, rusty, FILTHY upholstery foot with about a 6 penny nail in it. The people that used to live here used the back yard for a garbage dump and stuff still surfaces every so often, I managed to drive the damned thing into my foot admirably solidly. So off for a Tetanus shot & antibiotics.

Really am hoping that tomorrow is less...ah...'interesting'. For everyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One Side DONE!

...three more to go...I'm getting tired of painting now.

But the finished side looks pretty damned awesome!

The straight edge on the right will go against my daughter's back. The top of the wing starts at about ear level, the tip of the feathers end at her knees.

This is the other side, here you can see the foamcore base the 'feathers' are hotglued to. Since the foamcore I used was originally white, I spongepainted it both for practice to get the technique & look down, AND just in case any part of it showed. This side gets covered with feathers next:

Pics of the detail, top:


And bottom wingtips:

The last thing I did was to tack the tip of each feather down using a hot glue gun so that the wing would look more like a single carved piece of stone. When I hold it up as it will be when worn, the feathers drape really nicely (wow, having little feathered friends running around the yard for models REALLY helps!). It has around 50 or so feathers, and was harder than Hell to get a decent picture of. Now that I kinda know what I'm doing and how to go about it, the others should go faster. I'd say each wing will weigh about 3-5 pounds when finished.

One change I'd make would be to do the final 'Iron Oxide' paint drips AFTER the entire wing is made rather than one at a time, to look more like realistic weathering. But since I've already started doing it this way, I'll do the others the same way so they match.

I want to get this project DONE, so I busted out my BIG craft table and now have a feather painting assemply line going in the living room.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wings Progressing...

Last night I found THE trick to faux painting the Weeping Angel wing feathers: one of those hand-held little net shower scrubby things on a handle.

The net works perfectly to blend the black & white paint blobs without overblending them into an amorphous, boring gray. It leaves little flecks of color, much more like natural stone. Here are a few of the completed feathers--they look a lot darker & better in natural light without the camera flash, though:

And yeah, I have paint & Modge Podge EVERYWHERE but I'm not going to bother cleaning off my work surface until I'm done.

Once I caught on to the trick, I had to repaint a few of the feathers so that they would all have the same look, but so far it's the only thing false step in the process. Not bad considering I have no idea what I'm doing and am learning as I go. The only other faux painting like this I've done was years ago to marbelize a big, old steel desk I had, which actually came out kinda cool and really looked like it was carved from green marble...but I credit the faux painting kit and excellent instructions for that more than me.

So the finished feathers start off with a basic gray undercoat, let dry. Then I applied the black/white sponged-on paint, let dry. Then for texture came the matte Modge Podge, also applied with the net shower scrubby thing in big, thick, globs; let dry. Finally I thinned a bit of 'Iron Oxide' color paint with water and applied it in long runny drips, allowing it to run down the feathers, let dry. The final runny brownish color is to help simulate age. I also sponged the black/white onto the foamcore wing bases in case they showed through the foam feathers.

A close-up of the feathers:

I may add a hint of sponged-on sage green color here and there to simulate old moss. I thought of adding a bit of real sphagnum moss here and there, but we'll see how it goes.

I still have more feathers to make, I'm pretty sure I don't have enough yet. I also have to paint the dress & tights...but I want to wait on that until I get the wings done--I'm glad I hadn't done it yet since the new painting technique I did last night dramatically changed the feather design. I'll also have to go over the wig.

Tomorrow I'll get the straps & buckles for the harness...I plan on hitting the thrift stores for old backpacks to cannibalize for backpack strapping, I also need thin gray fabric to glue to the chicken wire supports inside the wings. I can get that at the thrift store too, and since it won't show I can have more leeway as to what it looks like, any old shirt'll do.

Now to design the harness!