Monday, February 25, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin - Part Six, The Final Touch

The first thing to do to finish this off was the lighting.  For this project I used Micro LED Christmas lights, similar to these.  There are 15 LED’s on the strand, it only uses 2 AA’s so the battery pack is nice and small and there is a twinkle setting. I used a low temp glue gun to secure them inside the top of the pumpkin and run the cord down the side where they would be hidden behind the tree.  I notched a trench into the side of the Styrofoam base for the cord to run through and cut out a small hole in the bottom of the pumpkin to access the batteries. 

One of the limited pictures I managed to take.
Once the lighting was done I did as much assembly as I could with the base outside of the pumpkin. I laid out the headstones and glued most of them in place, the couple of taller pieces had to be added afterwards. I added a gravel path or the start of a gravel path since the rest of the cemetery has become overgrown. To make gravel I took a hammer to a piece of our stone mulch, it’s called Shimmering Smoke, so it has a little sparkle. Then I covered the Styrofoam using pieces of sheet moss that had some nice autumn colors.
Testing to make sure the fence will fit. 
The hardest part was finagling the tree and the base into the pumpkin at the same time. There wasn’t enough room to put one or the other in first and then add the second. I angled them in at the same time and once they were both in the pumpkin there was some room to adjust. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy, but once they were inside the base fit nice and snug, and the tree top curved with the top of the pumpkin creating a nice branching overhang and the tension from the copper wire keeps it firmly in place. 
I moved the moss around the roots of the tree and glued on the remaining headstones.  The zombies had nice pointy feet, so I just covered them in glue and poked them through the moss into the Styrofoam.  Once all the miscellaneous body parts were glued down, I slid the sides of the fence in. Like the tree and the base, the fence isn't glued in but again with all the wire tension it stays firmly in place.  I can turn the whole pumpkin upside down and nothing moves. 
The final touch was to add a bit of antique brass chain around the gate and the bride’s severed hand trying to crawl its way out. 
A picture doesn’t really do it justice, so here’s a little video.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin - Part Five, Wooden Fence

The fence was created with craft sticks, clothes pins and 22 gauge wire. I used the template to cut the sticks down to size and marked where the wire should go across. I also numbered them to keep them in order. I gradually decreased the size to try giving an illusion of distance in the back, I can’t really say it made a difference. I constructed the fence in halves, to make it easier to insert into the pumpkin, the split was hidden behind the tree after it was all assembled. 

To wire the pieces together you’ll need four lengths of wire three times the length of the section of fence. Fold each of the wires in half. Start with the longest craft stick at the center of the gate. Twist each of the wires around the stick at the marked intervals. Give each wire two or three twist depending on far you want to space your sticks. The wire needs to be snug enough that the craft sticks won’t slip out. It’s easier to keep things tight if you do your twists with a small pair of pliers.

For the large clothespin posts you still have to wire in a short craft stick and then the clothespin slips right over the top.  

After it’s all wired together, you can paint it. My M. O. for painting just about anything is to start with a base coat of flat black and then randomly slap on other colors until I make pretty. In this case I used copper and silver.

Coming up next will be Part Six, Finishing Touches.
Fence Template

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin - Part Four, Wire Tree

I hijacked this idea from Martha Stewart’s Glittered Halloween Tree. She has a nice video, and I just have a few crappy pictures, so you should watch the video. I just made the copper tree portion.  I used a little under three feet of the 7 stranded wire for a ten inch tree.  Since it was going in the back of the pumpkin I left the back flat.  I wanted it more tree like and less shiny so I wrapped it in brown floral tape. 

Coming up next will be Part Five, Wooden Fence.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin - Part Three, Clay Headstones

I made the headstones using air dry clay.  Until this past year I hadn’t used clay since I was in elementary school.  That was back in the day when we made our parents ashtrays for Christmas, whether they smoked or not.  I’m pretty sure you’re not even allowed to say ashtray or Christmas in school anymore.

What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t take a lot of skill to make simple headstones.  And less is more, it’s an old cemetery so they’re weathered and dilapidated, it’s only natural that a lot the detail has been lost.

I rolled and cut out the big pieces using Play-Doh toys.  I used a hat pin for the lettering.  For the taller headstone with the cross I got really fancy and used a Play-Doh press with different attachments for the base and trim details.

I dried the headstones flat separate from their bases, scoring both pieces a little where they would later be joined.  Then I glued them together with a little bit of slip applied with a paint brush.  Those are all the big words and techniques I remember from my ashtray making days. 

I painted everything flat black, pushing paint into all the little crevices and then sponged on some dark grey and then some light grey.

Coming up next will be Part Four, Wire Trees

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin - Part Two, Pint Sized Zombies

If you’re not familiar with Polly Pockets they are little dolls about three inches tall.  Sometimes they break.  Some might be inclined to just throw them away when that happens, but I know teeny tiny dismembered gold when I see it.  All they need is a little makeover. 

At my zombie spa salon they all received an acrylic paint skin treatment to give them that mottled green, grey unhealthy hue.  Wounds were decorated with bits of tissue, painted dark maroon with a bit of copper mixed in to add sparkle.  No, this is not the first time I’ve blinged blood, but I can think of worse ways to accessorize, like with sparkly vampires. 

Then onto wardrobe where they received custom fit garments, cut from scraps of fabric and glued on.  The clothes also received a few sparkly blood accents.   

Moving on, they had their hair done.  I used two types of dolls, the Polly Pockets that I’ve already mentioned and the Disney Princess version, both types are probably four or five years old, so this information is dated. The only real difference between the two is the hair.  Both have plastic molded hair but with the Disney dolls it’s a separate piece from the head, that you can just pop off.  The one got some scraggly hair I snagged from my daughter's doll brush and a gushing head wound. The other, the blushing bride has a special do. 

When I was little I decided to give myself a haircut.  Apparently I didn’t do a very good job, but it wasn’t a total loss. My mom made these little people with corncob bodies, googly eyes, and little felt clothes and of course they were all sporting chunks of my hair.  My daughter only cut off a lock a hair with her trusty pair of safety scissors, but it was enough to give my bride soft beautiful hair.  Now you know where my thrifty craftiness comes from and also that I may be genetically predisposed to create voodoo dolls. 

For the Polly Pockets I glued little snippets of doll hair to their heads to give it a little texture. 

The very last touch was to give them red glittery eyes. Yes, more glitter. I’m sure I can stop anytime, I just choose not to.

Coming up next will be Part Three, Clay Headstones.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin - Part One, The Pumpkin

Most of the pictures you are about to see are from my "Dinner Party" pumpkin.  I didn't have the foresight to take many pictures and it's easier to dismantle for instructional purposes.  The basic techniques are the same.

The first thing you need is a fake pumpkin.  I like the fake pumpkins from Michaels. Except for the thicker band that runs around the middle they are a fairly uniform quarter inch thickness throughout. I haven’t worked with a Funkin, but I did feel one up at the store and decided it wasn’t for me.

The next thing you need is a hole.  The hole will need to be large enough to accommodate the false floor.  I estimate the diameter of the pumpkin at its widest point and go from there.  If you take advantage of the length between the opposite corners of your opening, you can make it a reasonable size and gently angle the floor piece in. 

I design the shape of my opening on the computer, which usually spans more than one sheet when printed. From here I treat it like a real pumpkin. I tape my design on the pumpkin and use those one of those pokey tools to dot along the lines to mark the layout. Then I take off the paper and cut along the dotted line. Those cheesy little saws that come with the carving kits work fine, but I might break out the Xacto knife if I hit a tricky spot.

To make your false bottom, set the pumpkin on a sturdy piece of cardboard.  Hold your pencil against the widest point of the pumpkin to trace around it.  This will give you the general shape.  Since we’re tracing the outside of the pumpkin, but we want to fit this for the inside of the pumpkin you’ll have to guesstimate and cut your cardboard a little smaller than the shape you drew.  I find it’s usually about ½ inch decrease all the way around. It also depends on how low you want the floor to sit. 

Always error on the side of caution, cut a little, see how it fits.  It’ll take a few times and after your initial cut, just trim one small area at a time.  I like to mark two guide lines on the floor and the inside of the pumpkin with a Sharpie so that after each fitting I’m still lining it up the same way. You’ll rotate your floor piece maneuvering it in and out and it’s easy to lose your place. I also mark what I think needs to be trimmed, cut it off and try it again. Once it’s fitted properly it will fit nice and snug without any adhesive or additional support to hold it in place.  For the graveyard I added an inch of Styrofoam, so that meant my cardboard base had to sit an inch lower than the bottom of my opening.

I don’t like Styrofoam, its handy stuff, but purposely buying it makes me feel a little dirty.  So whenever we get something that’s packaged with it, I save it to use later.  I glued the cardboard base onto the Styrofoam and then cut the Styrofoam about ¾ of an inch away from the edge of the cardboard.  Then I cut the side of the Styrofoam at an angle from the edge of the cardboard to the edge of the Styrofoam to accommodate for the pumpkin widening as it went up.  Just like fitting the cardboard, I went through the same process with the additional layer. 

After it was fitted, I mixed up some dark green acrylic paint and coated the top and sides of the Styrofoam. Even though it would eventually be covered with moss, I didn’t want any glaring white showing through. 

On a side note, if you are curious about the tile floor I did for the dinner party pumpkin, it’s made out of counter top samples.  Before you begin you might want to don a pair of safety glasses. Then using large pliers, break pieces off.  You will want to sand the edges to make them look nice. 

It helps to arrange your pieces on the cardboard, starting on one side and working your way over.  Trace around them to help with placement later.  You might need to create few custom pieces for those last few hard to fit areas.  

To make colored grout add a little acrylic paint to glue.  I really like Aleene’s craft glue, it’s nice and thick.  Pick an edge of the cardboard and spread a generous, even layer of the colored glue on a small area.  You won’t be able to see your lines after you cover them, so just do as many at a time that you’ll remember where they go.  For my short term memory, that’s about five.  Gently press the tiles onto the glue and keep going until the whole thing is covered.  After it was completely dry I went over the grout lines with black glitter glue, because it’s sparkly and I can’t help myself. 

The final step in pumpkin preparation is to give it a good paint job.  I use acrylics on the outside and the cut edge, but the insides of the Michaels pumpkins are really slick and don’t hold paint well. You could use a primer, but I like to decoupage tissue paper to the inside for a little texture.  For the graveyard I used black tissue paper and highlighted it with midnight blue paint.

Coming up next will be Part Two, Pint Sized Zombies.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Zombie Pumpkin Graveyard Scene

The Zombie Pumpkin is one of my favorite projects.  Each component is a project in itself, so I'll be breaking it down over the next few posts:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unicorn Hair & Phoenix Tears

Bartleby Boggs cruelty free Unicorn Hair and Phoenix Tears. These were inspired by the Harry Potter series. Unicorn hair is used in wand making and phoenix tears have incredible healing powers. I wouldn't be surprised to find Mr. Boggs in the Who's Who of the wizarding world. After all he was something of pioneer in cruelty free magical products, not to mention an early proponent of animal rights and the founding father of the very first Strigiform Sanctuary for unwanted owls.
The vials are seed bead tubes. The unicorn hairs are threads pulled from a remnant of my mother's wedding dress. The phoenix tears are liquid laundry detergent. It's thick, clear and has the slightest lavender tint when the light catches it. To keep it from leaking out, I wrapped the threaded end of the tube with plumbers tape before screwing on the cap.
Vial Sized Labels

Bottle Sized Labels

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ogre Candy

I didn't have to do much with this one.  The candies are little plastic skulls.  The container housed rainbow putty, which will probably show up later in another bottle. The lettering on the label is Mudshake 83 and the skull is another font called Charnel House both of which I found on

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dancing Skeletons

It doesn’t get much easier than cut and paste.  The dancing skeleton can be found at Print it out and glue stuff to it.  I used some worn out princess costumes (my daughters, not mine) to decorate my skeletons.  If you like the frame, here’s a template.  The inside is cut out and flipped over.
Frame Template

Frame Assembly
Here are a few more awesome creations by some younger crafters.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Delicious Evil, Edible Brains - Part 2

These Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes have been my son’s favorite since my first failed attempt at making them (we’ll talk about that later). 

Picture for Brain Cupcakes from
He asked to me make them for last year’s craft party, so to make them fit the Halloween theme, I used the frosting to create brains.  I didn’t take pictures, but if I did and if I had any sort of mastery over a pastry bag, this is what they would’ve looked like. 
The frosting was a buttercream with brown sugar, so with a drop of blue and red food coloring, the frosting did have a grey appearance.  I won’t do that again, grey is not appetizing and the realism isn’t worth having to convince people that they are really ok to eat. 

Back to the recipe, I made one change to the ingredients.  The cookie dough is a little bland, so I increased the salt from ¼ teaspoon to ½ a teaspoon.  I’ve never added salt to a recipe before, but in this case I think it’s warranted.

The first time I made these I overfilled the muffin cups and still had a lot of leftover cookie dough, and batter.  Of course they collapsed from being too full and looked awful, but everyone liked them enough for me to keep trying. So here’s what I learned:

1.5 tablespoon is the perfect size for the cookie dough balls. This recipe yields about 48.

The recipe works much better if you make 36 cupcakes instead of 24 and buying a third muffin tin makes life so much easier.

Drop a heaping spoonful (3 tablespoons if you're measuring with a scoop) of batter in the wells of all three tins.
Place 24 of the frozen dough balls in the center of the batter, to fill two of the tins. 
The batter is very thick, press the dough balls down just a little, so they don't roll off to the side while baking.
Bake the two muffin tins for 20 minutes.  My oven cooks a little hot and 20 minutes is perfect.
After those are done, place 12 more frozen dough balls in the third tin and bake that one for 18 minutes.

The original frosting recipe makes enough to generously frost all 3 dozen cupcakes. 

Now if after all of this, you’re still not getting your RDA of refined sugars, have I got a fix for you.  I recently made these cupcakes again for my son’s birthday and I had an evil genius idea.  I discovered while making truffles this Creepmas that 1.5 tablespoons is the optimal filling size for my brain molds. How big are those leftover cookie dough balls?  Exactly!

I let the dough balls thaw slightly.  Then I divided one ounce of  white chocolate between the three brain molds and let it chill.  Once the chocolate was set, I pressed a dough ball into the mold and used another ounce of white chocolate to coat the top of the mold. 

My husband called them evil, that’s just how good they are.  Then next day was like living in a zombie movie, with the whole family walking around, “Brains, brains…are there any more brains?”

I used all white chocolate because that’s what the majority around here like, but I thought it made them way too sweet. If I were making these for me, I would’ve used just a half ounce of white chocolate  to coat the molds and give the brains a light color, but then I would’ve used dark chocolate for everything else. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mummy Fingers

You can start by following the mummy hand instructions. Wrap the fingertips, down and around the fingers and a little past because you'll be distressing the ends.
This is also a nice back up plan if you have a mummy hand failure.  In this case I did a quick demonstration to show the basics.  I didn’t cover the entire hand or use many layers, so I ended up with half a hand that had falling off fingers.  Rather than toss the whole thing, I ripped off the fingers and stuffed them.
Tearing the fingers off lent to the appearance that the bandages had frayed over time. So if you are just making fingers I would pull off some bits of the plaster cloth from the bottom edges. Also refer back to the mummy hands to give  them some nice tea wash coloring.   

Cut drinking straws close to the length of each finger.  Tear wide strips of white paper coil it really tight and insert it in the straw with a little bit sticking out.  Then I wrapped the straws in some brown napkins we had on hand, but tissue paper would work too.  Then insert the whole thing into a finger, it should fit snug.

Mix a small amount of equal parts glue and water. Dab the mixture onto the finger ends with a paint brush until it’s saturated.  Use something pointy like tooth pick to rough up the paper and push it around to fill any gaps.
I mixed a little copper paint with water and dabbed that around the brown paper, and added a few touches of red.  Authentic? No.  Pretty? Well I think so.

And here is what they look like in a jar.
It’s a plastic children's vitamin bottle.  I like the color.  Because it had a safety cap with raised lettering I had to get creative.  I covered the top with air dry clay and scratched the Eye of Ra symbol into it, again for no other reason than I thought it looked pretty. Then I covered the sides and the top edge with paper clay to give it a little texture.  I painted it with black acrylic and let it dry.  I sponged metallic green on a few spots, then sponged copper over most of it and finally used a dry sponge to pick some of color back off before it dried. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mummy Hands

To make mummy hands you will need:

plaster cloth, such as Rigid Wrap
petroleum jelly
a hand

This does get messy so prepare a work area. 

Start by cutting the plaster cloth into strips.  I find 1 inch wide strips about 6 inches long are easiest to work with, but also cut a few smaller strips to fit in tight spaces. Cut more than you think you will need.  I also cut five 1-1.5 inch squares slitting the corners. These will be used for the finger tips. 

Lay out your strips, get a small dish of water and then lube up the hand you will be using. Lube it well. No, I’m serious, you want a nice thick coat of petroleum jelly all over and don’t forget the wrist. 

Also choose your hand wisely. When I first saw this project I had visions of a cute little family of hands, the big daddy hand, the medium sized mommy hand, the wee little…you get the idea. Then I tried it. As the plaster cures it gets cold, uncomfortably so. You also have to keep your hand completely still as soon as it starts to harden. Needless to say I have yet to talk anyone else into giving it a try. I had one young victim volunteer at the craft party, who was very eager to have a cast of her hand. I put a small piece of plaster cloth on her hand as a test and once it started to cure, she couldn’t get it off fast enough. Now you know why I have all right hands.

So we have strips, water, and we’re all lubed up. Now we start to apply the plaster cloth. Start with the squares. Dip them briefly. A little water goes a long way, they don’t need to be completely saturated. Center the squares on your fingertips, then wrap the edges down the sides and smooth out any corners.

This is your last chance to get your fingers in the position you want, just keep in mind you want to be able to wrap around them and slide them out after the plaster dries. Slightly curled and spread, like clawed jazz hands works well.

When applying the strips, you don’t have to smooth everything out perfectly. In fact the rougher areas tend to look more like bandages and less like plaster.

Now start applying strips down the back and front of the fingers onto the hand area. This gives you some nice strong anchor points for the fingers and then you can start wrapping around the individual fingers.

Make sure you have the space between the base of the fingers covered and use wet fingers to really get in the creases. Then start wrapping the hand and wrist like you would if you were bandaging it for real. Once you have everything covered, wet your fingertips again and blend in any edges that you don’t like the look of.

Now we wait. That’s friggin’ cold isn’t it?
Once it’s dry, you will have to slit the wrist up to the point where your palm begins to widen and then you can slip your hand out. I hope you remembered to lube well.

Patch up the slit inside and out. Add to any areas that you would like to strengthen. You can stop at this point and you’d have a nice mummy hand.

I like to display some of mine standing up. So I wrap a few strips around the base of the wrist. Then so it doesn’t look like I wrapped a few strips around the base, I add a few more angled strips.

And you could stop right here and then you’d have a nice free standing mummy hand.

But wait there’s more…

You can give your mummy hand an eye.

I made the eye out of air dry clay, painted with acrylics and used a plastic cat’s eye for the iris. Next time I won’t make it protrude so much and I’ll use threads for veins like I did with my binder.

One last finishing touch. I like steep a tea bag in a couple of tablespoons of boiling water. For this I prefer to use Yogi's Classic Indian Spice.  It has a nice color and spicy smell. Once it's cool, I blot the hand with the tea bag letting the liquid run into the creases.

But wait there’s still more…

Last Halloween I stuck a flashing red safety light in one of the hands and stuck it a pot with a dead plant on the porch. It looked pretty cool with the varying degrees of illumination created by the different thicknesses of plaster. 

I can’t take credit for the light idea. The year before while taking the kids trick-or-treating, we saw the most awesome pumpkin glowing fire red and had to ask what they used. It’s one of those things that once you see it in action you wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Witch's Grave Dirt

Premium Witch’s Grave Dirt, distributed by Midnight Diggers.

Because our Premium Grave Dirt is collected at the height of potency during a full moon at midnight, you only need to use half the amount called for in most potions.
For best quality store in a dank dark cellar.
There is an unbelievable amount of information on the Internet about graveyard dirt.  You can find everything from the best times to collect and which graves to collect from, to suggestions of payment to the grave’s inhabitant and spells in which to use it.  I just mixed and matched stuff that sounded good and made a few things up.  You can use my labels or use the blank one to have fun making up your own. 
The oval shape of the salad dressing bottle dictated the shape of the label and I found this cool frame at the Graphics Fairy.  I morphed it using PowerPoint and Photoshop.  I used fonts that came with MS Office, Chiller for the front, and Colonna Mt for the back. 
I filled it with potting soil, which is a little lame, I really need to replace it. I am pretty sure most graveyard dirt doesn’t have little white bits in it. Rather than have to appease any spirits though, I’ll just get some duty free dirt from the backyard.