Archive for October, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Frankenstein's monster monkey

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Skeleton Halloween Cookies

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

These turned out pretty spiff!  Originally based on Kat Arney’s idea for skeleton sugar cookies, I used the recipe from The Joy of Cooking (yes mum… I still refer to it…) for Chocolate Sugar Cookie Dough instead of TLC’s idea of mixing black food colouring into the dough.  I’m sure the black dough would give a creepier effect, but it didn’t seem as “edible”, so the chocolate cookie dough was a better solution.  The AuCourant Cookie Co offers an alternate solution using black icing which works if you just want to use regular sugar cookie dough.  Their skeleton designs are a bit more complex, so I gave them a miss, even though I thought they were pretty cool!

My design is a more kid-friendly one, although kids will pretty much eat anything sugary, especially at Halloween!


Building A Haunted House – Characters

Monday, October 25th, 2010


We’ve got about 35 volunteers helping to operate the Haunted House – ticket sellers, crowd entertainers, scenes & rooms cast and the all important Maze Runners, whose job is to ensure customers don’t camp out in the place all night (’cause nothing says “Get out! Get Out!!” better than a clown with a chainsaw!).


Cast members have their lines for the various rooms and scenes, but they will no doubt change them as the nights go on and they learn what does and doesn’t work with various crowds. They’ve already started personalising their areas, so I’ve no doubt that their scripts will evolve as they become more familiar with their parts.



Building A Haunted House – Interiors

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Finished a couple more rooms.

As you enter the maze, there are various dead ends (pun intended) and monsters that wander around to ensure people actually leave rather than spending all night in our Haunted House.  But if you follow the various “rooms” and scenes that are setup along the way, they’ll guide you towards the exit.

Children’s Playground / Cemetary
The first scene you come across as you wander through the maze is a cemetary. 

Big deal.
Except that there’s a playground in and amongst it, with three or four little girls, slowly playing and singing children’s limericks ala’ Nightmare on Elm Street, and bodies that rise up from shallow graves.  We’re using leaves to “bury” people as you don’t have the problems that covering someone in real dirt creates, plus they rustle and can be re-buried quickly.

 Haunted Bayou
Camoflague netting was donated.  On the night, we’ll have someone rocking slowly in the chair with a corn cob pipe or a shotgun or something, quietly watching people walk into the maze.  It’s meant to give a similar effect to the Bayou at the beginning of the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland – the quiet before things start to get loud.

A “nice” creepy feeling to have someone staring silently at you as you pass the cemetary and continue on your way, looking for an exit.

Still Room
This room has been fun to build and isn’t finished yet.  The moonshine still is built of a garbage can and a cardboard/burlap top, with pvc pipe and garden hose for tubing.  The condensor is cardboard tubing and a children’s beach bucket.

The Evil Rednecks will be in this room and join the monsters in following people through the maze once they pass through this room.



 Toxic Waste Room
This is supposed to be the room where the “bad” moonshine is discarded.  The wall effects are created using gap filler, sprayed onto the walls and highlighted with flouro paint.

Blacklights will be used in this room and the narrow hallways into and out of it.  Still need to put some half-decayed bodies in the room.


We’ve started working on the haunted classrooms and the zombie baby nursery…

Building A Haunted House – I Built A Tree

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Unlike the Easter Eggs, we didn’t need this to be lightweight, so we built a wooden frame, covered it in chicken wire, and then covered it in strips of linen soaked in a mixture of water, flour & Elmer’s Glue.  Jeff added his magical painting abilities once again, and VOILA!  Instant tree!


Building A Haunted House – Stone & Mold Effects

Friday, October 15th, 2010

150 4×8 sheets of 1/4″ ply
500 10′ lengths of 2×3
50lbs of nails
50lbs of 3″ screws
More sheet metal “C” braces than I care to remember


We quickly realised that costs on this were going to blow way out, but we also realised that had we planned and priced out everything, it would have been such a HUGE undertaking that we never would have started, never would have committed, and would have been left with only another idea that never saw the light of day because we over-thought it and didn’t just start!  We discussed scaling back the floorplan, but luckily, we were able to cut a VERY sweet deal with Home Depot (go out and buy something from them today to thank them!) and a contractor who belongs to the congregation of the church which is hosting our Haunted House!


As you can see, we used lots of black paint, and bits of whatever else we had lying around.  If you’re building and painting this many large panels, DO NOT USE ROLLERS OR BRUSHES TO APPLY PAINT!  Rent an air compressor and spray painter.
Not only does the paint go on quicker, but it goes on thinner and covers more area.

Mold effects were created from an article I found on Jim’s Home Repair Stuff describing wall texturing.  We walked around, splattering and brushing a diluted wall compound mixture randomly onto sections of the painted walls.


The stone effect on the doors was another one of Jeff’s brilliant ideas.  The door shapes were cut out of styrofoam and mounted onto the doors using Gorilla Glue (what other kind of glue would we use for a Monkey project??).  We then used a butter knife, heated over an open flame, to melt/carve the rocks and scratch marks into the front of the styrofoam.  If your knife doesn’t have a wood or porcelain handle, you’ll need an oven mitt to keep from getting burned (I’m sure there’s a tool for doing this, but we had to improvise with what we had).  Once the rocks and additional texture/markings were carved into the face, the entire surface was painted grey.  We painted black between the rocks, to emphasize depth, and a red crayon was used to create highlights on edges.  The final effects were created by using a flat wood file over the edges of the “rocks” to bring out the original styrofoam as additional highlights and texture.

The more I see this coming together, the more impatient I am to spend every waking hour working on it and building it and creating it and watching it grow and evolve!  We’re starting on the interior builds now, and every day, I still think to myself, “This is so awesome!”

I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.
 ~ T.S. Elliot

Building A Haunted House

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

[Monkey] has a wonderful imagination, however his ideas often distract the rest of the class and at times, are completely inappropriate to the subjects being discussed.  I would like to see him focus this semester on applying that creativity in a way that will benefit both him and the class.
~ Mrs. Smith, 6th Grade Teacher

October means Halloween, and second only to Christmas, this is easily my favourite holiday of the year!  And what better way to share the joy of this holiday than getting together with some of your mates, making creepy displays, building a twisted Haunted House to stuff them in, and scaring the bajeebees out of willing victims, possibly making some money in the process!  Can I get a “w00t! w00t!!”

Honestly, the “making some money in the process” is the least of our concerns, but we are hoping to make enough to at least clear the cost of building the Haunted House.  A church parking lot has been graciously donated for our project, and after some planning and layout designs, we got to work building the front entrance!


Most of the wall panels are being built from 4×8 1/4″ ply and reinforced with 2x3s as that’s proven to be the cheapest option for quickly building rooms and hallways while still being strong enough to stand up to some lateral “bumping” forces and wind shear.  We’re using nail guns to build the wall sections, and then screwing them all together with 3″ screws and metal connectors so it can be easily taken down and removed once we’re done.  This also allows us to modify the layout if fundage runs low and we need to “condense” the original layout, or if we want to change the routes through the house on a nightly basis.

Primer pink was the cheapest paint we could find, hence the colour.  The effects are due to Jeff’s incredible artistic abilities: a stencil was made and used to lay down the “cracks”, lightly using black spray paint, and then highlights using blue and purple spray paint.  We’re experimenting with styrofoam for the moldings, trim and other effects, but you can see a couple places on the front where it’s been knocked off – it’s cheap, lightweight and easy to cut into whatever shapes we need, but it’s not very durable.  We’ll see whether or not we continue with this idea.

Off to a good start and excitement is high!
I’ll try and remember to update the site as work progresses…

The Sheep Whisperer

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Last year, as McCrevis’ birthday approached, I tormented him with visions of filling his office with farm animals and raccoons in diapers wearing party hats.

He retaliated by lighting my car on fire.

As a result, the celebration of his birthday was lack lustre to say the least.

This year, I remained silent, leading him (I thought) to believe that I’d forgotten his birthday, and it would pass – quickly… quietly… and without notice; like flatulence from a worn out sphincter.  I laughed gleefully in anticipation as I built cardboard sheep to turn his office into a grazing yard.

He didn’t buy it for a second.

However, despite thinly veiled threats of bodily harm ala’ Dirty Harry, we successfully transformed his office into the warm, welcoming repository for docile-yet-psychotically-skittish farm animals that we’ve always known it to be.

There was much debate over whether or not to adorn his office floor with real grass clippings (to ensure the sheep were kept well fed throughout the night) or merely green painted cardboard.  The resulting decision was to cover green painted cardboard in real grass clippings while the paint was still wet which would be much easier to clean up later – always important to remember unless you really don’t give a flying stuff about the intended victim.  Since I’m still making payments on the car repairs from last year, I opted for “easy cleanup”.


To finish off the full effect, we burned sheep noises onto a CD and put it on repeat via his office stereo.

Happy Birthday Phil McCrevis, sheep whisperer!

…instead of being what I call a sheepwalker, somebody who’s half asleep, following instructions, keeping their head down, fitting in, every once in a while  someone stands up and says, “Not me!”
 ~ Seth Godin

Jumping Brain

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Isn’t this awesome??!

Jumping Brain by Spanish Illustrator turned Toy Maker/Modeller, Emilio Garcia.
The 3″ resin toys were released in July 2009, and unfortunately, they all sold out WITHIN HOURS!

But I was able to find one of the smaller 2″ versions on eBay, so I was happy to buy it there, since they’re not for sale at Emilio’s website.