Project: Gonna Need Therapy

If nothing else, you have to agree this blog hasn’t been home to cobwebs as of late.  I can now officially say this is the last of the Halloween Haunt 2017 tutorial posts.  It has been fun going back through the build process that has pretty much spanned and entire year starting soon after last year’s Haunted Trail was picked up and put away.  Today happens to be the day all the Halloween decorations are officially packed and stored away for this year.  If things go as planned I’ll start on a new set of props starting … wait for it … next week.  That cheer you just heard was from me, that equally loud groan came from Linda.

Before I get to the new ideas, better close out my signature piece from this year.  I first must give credit to Graves of the Groves for giving me the inspiration for this project.  I watched a video of his for a $20 Haunt project – a yearly competition where you submit your best decoration for under $20 dollars.  The link to his video for Hacked in the Box is here.  Now, I will say the $20 contest is a bit of exaggeration.  Things you already have or ability to re-purpose often do not get included in the cost.  If you do not have those same pieces laying around or do not have the skills to complete a specific element in the prop build you quickly find you are beyond the $20.  Now in this particular instance, I was so far beyond $20 bucks it isn’t funny – some of that due to design choices, some due to not having the patience/skill he has and well, quite frankly, a whole bunch of screw ups.  Let’s start with my concept.
Project Clown in Box - 2017 Haunted Trail Signature Addition

That is my drawing on my whiteboard after an idea session with my friend in haunt Brad (over lunch of course).  Pretty simple, box with a pole sticking out of it, some coil to look like a spring, a clown head on the top and a base that would allow a wiper motor to rotate the shaft in a circular manner.  Brad had the idea to put teeth on the lid.  You might also note the handle on the side – just kind of sitting there not doing a whole lot.  By the way, that wiper motor alone cost more than $20 on Monster Guts.  Now a shot of the final product out on the trail – yes, I have already enlisted the aid of a therapist.

Project Clown in Box - 2017 Haunted Trail Signature Addition

Hit the jump and I will take you through the build process.  Unless you are normal and hate clowns, in which case, you should probably cut and run about now.

Continue reading Project: Gonna Need Therapy

Project Give Myself a Hand

And then there were two.  That’s right, only two more Haunt tutorials left from our Trail of Tears Haunted Trail.

Project Hand Molding Halloween 2017

Today’s featured tutorial is how the above prop consumed my life for almost an entire year.  It was a well known joke last year that many of my Posey frames were sans hands.  Some of that was just running out of time before the big event and needing to get the Halloween props out on the trail as quick as possible.  To my credit, I did put empty gloves on a few but they admittedly looked pretty hokey.  Where I wanted to be this year was full on hands that not only looked like proper appendages, but were poseable.  As you can tell from the above picture, I was able to accomplish this of sorts.  Problem was it took me about a year to get through the process and ended up costing a lot more than I ever expected it to.  When all was done, I probably could have bought hands off the Internet and been money ahead (ummm no probably there).  The fun is in the journey and I can definitely say I learned a hell of a lot about the molding process.  It all started with this large box of Alja-Safe.  Definitely expensive (this 20lb box cost me ~$140), yet a lot of fun.

Project Hand Molding Halloween 2017

Hit the jump to see how this product comes into play and the rest of the process to make Posey hands.

Continue reading Project Give Myself a Hand

Project Witch Replicate

I am beginning to realize where all my time went this year.  I had forgotten just how many new projects went towards this year’s Haunted Trail until I put all the images together in order to make these tutorial posts.  Another thing is perfectly clear, I need to take more pictures during the build phase.  I tend to get wrapped up in the project and forget to snap pictures at key progress points.  This is one of those times.  I’ll have to talk you through some of the interesting design choices – will make it a point to do better for next year’s efforts.  Living in the now, welcome to another Halloween 2017 project.  This one was more of a challenge than a new concept.  I saw a decoration for sale in one of the high end boutique Halloween catalogs.  You know, the ones that have a few unique items if you are willing to mortgage your house.  In this year’s catalog, there was a ring of 6 witches, with light up globe heads.  The cost for that decoration – ~$190.  Of course this was deviously disguised since they showed the ring of 6, but sold them in a set of 3 so it looked half the price. Oddly enough, Oriental Trading Company came out with a similar idea in the $160 range (now on sale for ~$120) again, implying more but sold in 3s.

Witch decoration from Oriental Trading Company

It was a pretty cool decoration, but paying that much for cheaply made props just seems like a complete waste.  The other aspect of this was being fairly tame on the scare side so it could go on the early part of the Haunted Trail.  That side hasn’t been getting much love the last couple of years and wanted to give the younger guests something new.

First task, design a pattern that would limit the amount of wood I needed to buy.  Assuming a 4×8 sheet of underlayment (same wood used for the Zombie Silhouette project link here).  With those dimensions, I could get three patterns out of each side as long as I kept the bases in the 2 foot range with a foot for the head width (2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 on other side).  With those constraints, came up with this pattern.

Project Witch Ring Halloween 2017

Hit the jump to see how this witch project turned out!

Continue reading Project Witch Replicate

Project Posey Plunging Neck Line: Rise of Demons

I think I might be getting some tendinitis in my elbows from all of this typing as of late.  I will be relieved once all these Halloween tutorials are out the way and I can get back to my wildlife posts.  Suspect some of you are getting a bit upset with all the build projects.  Bear with me, just a few more and we’ll be set to close it out with the actual trail itself.  Let’s not get out in front of our headlights.  Today I would like to introduce the latest Posey line – the Plunging Neck Line.  Pretty clever there eh, I’ll explain the pun in a bit (and I meant it to be two words).

Went with two versions on the trail this year.   High Priest Demon.

Project Posey Be Bulking 2017

And Druid Demon.

Project Posey Be Bulking 2017

Last year I brought you the Westworld Line (link here).  This line doesn’t have the animation element (well, at least not yet), but it did fix an ongoing issue I’ve struggled with since the early Posey lines.  What to do about the neck.  It always seem like they stuck out too far and it just didn’t look the way I wanted it to (link here).  Finally got a solution to that problem in my updated line.  Might as well take you through the whole process for my two new Demons.  It all started with two masks I fond on Amazon.  Full over the head masks and fairly decent price point.  All I needed to add was a pipe to use as a neck bone and some tubing.

Project Posey Be Bulking 2017

Hit the jump to see how these two Demons progressed on their trek to make it onto the Haunted Trail!

Continue reading Project Posey Plunging Neck Line: Rise of Demons

Project Zombie Dancing

I am beginning to think it takes the same amount of time to prep and complete these Halloween tutorial posts as it does to actually make the prop.  Feels like I have been typing for days and still have a number of props to get through from this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears event. If I can’t take the time to give thanks to those who gave me inspiration and give back to the haunt community, then I should just pack up my motors and find something else to spend all my free time on.  So, today’s featured decoration that made its debut on our Halloween trail this year is my dancing zombie.

Zombie Animatronics for Halloween 2017

Typical for first year props, there were some difficulties with this on the trail.  Due to an unforeseen design error, we had to turn this prop off about midway through the night.  I’ll explain more on that towards the end where I’ll give some recommendations on improving it for next year.  First off, I need to give a shout out to two haunters that helped inspire this project.  The first is SoulsOfTheForsaken.  He put up a tutorial on YouTube showing how they put their animated zombie together (link here).  This was the base for my idea.  Then thanks to another tutorial also put on YouTube, I was able to leverage a slightly different linkage system and still get the motion I wanted.  Again, thanks to Hawthorne Manor Haunted House for their rotating skeleton video (link here).

First task was to get the Hawthorn linkage working.  Rather than go through the huge amount of design and build hours it took to get to this point, here is the starting structure.  Note the use of the cross connectors  at the top.  I leveraged the bushings approach used in my other PVC animations to get a nice smooth circular motion on the cross bar.  The 3D printed bushings allow the smaller 3/4″ pipe to stay centered and move fluidly through the 1″ cross connectors.  Now just needed to connect a 1/2″ pipe at the center of the crossbar.  This provides a pivot point to move about while the vertical bar is rotated from the bottom in a circular direction thanks to the wiper motor at the base.  I did put a connector on the down pipe so I could easily get it on and off the wiper motor arm – you do not want a lot of play in that or it will slip off – a straight coupler would have been fine, but had the T connector laying around, so just used that.  Lastly, I put a 1″ pipe U structure above it with the intent of that keeping the cloths out the mechanism and kind of mimic shoulder structure.

Zombie Animatronics for Halloween 2017

Hit the jump to read about how this new Haunted Trail prop came to be!

Continue reading Project Zombie Dancing

Project Free Hugs

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind lives a Halloween idea generator that quite frankly scares the crap out of me.  Not exactly sure how that haunted niche in the brain came to be, but it’s there.  For most the year I keep it suppressed, held in check by the willpower of goodness and strength of ever embracing decency.  I say “most of the year” because there is a time when shadows stand guard as unearthly creatures join in allegiance to break the chains of civility and let evil thoughts deliver punishing waves to my sanity.  This sinister rip in the fabric of time has a name and it is called October for it is here when the mind fills with devil spawn ideas such as this.

Project Free Hugs Clown Halloween 2017

It is something about October training runs that bring up the most god awful concepts.  It may be the exhaustion brought on by the long race season or the long nights fretting about not having enough time to prepare for that year’s Haunted Trail of Tears.  I’ll be lost in my run, entranced by the sound of my shoes pounding the pavement and then it hits like a twitch right before you fall back on your chair.  An image will appear, clear, detailed and mortifying.  My reaction equally immediate, decisive and well, a bit disturbing.  “I have to reproduce that for next year’s haunted trail!!!”  And that sets forth a year’s worth of planning, material gathering and building.  You happen to be looking at the product from last year’s evil concept – and yes, it did make its debut last month on the Haunted Trail of Tears.  The following is a quick summary of how this all came to be.

Hit the jump to see how it all come together if you dare!

Continue reading Project Free Hugs

Project A Better Grabber

Currently laid up a bit due to some outpatient surgery yesterday.  Good news is the only physical requirement to blog is to simply be able to bang out words on a keyboard.  Fortunately, the knife didn’t impact my ability to type so I can spend my downtime being more attentive to my loyal readers!  Yesterday (also in recovery mode) I featured a new project for this year’s Haunted Trail.  Actually, this year brought a large number of new features each of which will likely make their way here in the not too distant future.  In fact, let’s go ahead a feature another new element – this time an animated decoration.

Scenes from The Haunted Trail of Tears 2017

Yes, folks, another ground grabber.  If you recall, last year I took my first attempt at one of these (link here).  This year I wanted to improve upon that design and deliver a better product.  I had been seeing a number of designs on the web (thank you Pinterest) and opted to work off a template from Yard Haunt (link here).  I liked the fairly basic design and really liked the effect.  Of course, I have to extend and improve upon it – it’s my nature.

I knew I needed a frame to rest the arm on.  The Haunt plan used a block and what looked like nails to contain the arm itself.  My preferred medium is PVC so clearly we needed to start there ha.  There is always a struggle trying to find flat endcaps.  Places like Lowes have gone to rounded tops which are useless when you want to fix them to a board or piece of plexiglass.  Menards tends to have the flat ones when they actually have them in stock.  Knowing how much of a pain that option was, it was time to spend some time in the PVC aisle and figure out an alternative.  The results of that noodle time …

Project Grave Grabber Halloween 2017

Hit the jump to read about how this all went together!

Continue reading Project A Better Grabber

Project Alford B Bach

Moving through November at a rapid pace.  The good news is the delay in posting is due to spending some serious time in the digital darkroom to work up a number of posts from this year’s Halloween projects and the culmination into the Annual Haunted Trail of Tears.  Now I just need to bang out some accompanying words and fire up the blog posting engine. I have already posted one of the new decorations for this year – the zombie silhouettes (link here).  Next up, my first tombstone.

Project Alford B Bach Tombstone Halloween 2017

I am going to admit right up front that I didn’t get to finish all the planned steps on this project before the day of the Haunted Trail.  This particular project was slotted further down the to-do list behind other haunted trail tasks that ended up taking way longer than expected.  Most of the work was done after midnight when the other to-do list items were wrapped up for the night.  Live on the edge, use power tools when you are exhausted and half awake.

As I hope you assumed, this tombstone is not actually made out of stone.  The haunting forums are full of projects leveraging the thick 4×8 sheets of insulation panels.  They are very easy to work with and best of all, weigh very little.  I picked up a 2″ thick sheet.  Two things to know about the insulation panels – well, at least the one I picked up.  First, mine had tiny scores in it I didn’t see when I was looking at them.  Guessing this allows them to cut to standard lengths easily, but for our use, results in a stress point.  The second one is they are surprisingly expensive.  The 4x8x2 one I opted for was $26.  Putting that in perspective, a 4×8 sheet of 3/4 wood treated underlayment was only $14.  Trading ease of working with for cost.

Project Alford B Bach Tombstone Halloween 2017

Hit the jump to read about all the steps in building this year’s addition to the Haunted Trail.

Continue reading Project Alford B Bach