2012 Props

Simple Spider Web Maker

‘Twas the night before Halloween and all through the house…  Haunters were frantically trying to get everything set up at the last minute!  Perhaps it’s because Halloween is on Wednesday this year, and we know that most of our Trick or Treaters will be at church events, but it has been difficult to really get into the haunting mood.  So, now we are scrambling around trying to finish, to be ready for those ghosts and goblins who will brave the cold to visit us.

An unexpected addition to this year’s items is a new Spider Web Maker.  A few years ago we purchased the official “Web Caster” gun only to be disappointed by the quality of the webs it created, and then disappointed again when it came to trying to get those webs (glue) off of the walls of our house.  This year we stumbled upon an ingenious solution to the spider web problem.  All credit goes to lbwoods on YouTube.

I can’t possibly improve on his “how to” video, so I won’t even try.  Just click on the links above to take a look.  What I can do is show you some of our results.  Once we got the hang of “slinging” the webs, things really started to get good.  Even our six-year-old got a chance to decorate.  We were battling high winds, so  I’m certain we will have to do some touch-ups on Halloween, but the effect is stunning, so it will certainly be worth it.  I just hope we have enough rubber cement!

 

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Carry’s Makeover Continues…

Well, we placed Carry, the Coffin Skeleton in the garage window, stood back, admired what we had created, and then immediately started planning revisions.  You see, the garage has two large windows, and Bob, the Cauldron Creep, was quietly stirring his spooky brew in the other window, nodding his head up and down, leering at passers-by.  With all of that activity going on just a few feet away, poor Carry couldn’t compete.  That’s where the motor came in…

I call this the “everything but the kitchen sink” build.  We started off by removing Carry’s arm from his body, drilling a hole through the coffin, and running a dowel into the arm.  Then, we mounted a motor on the back of the coffin, and connected the dowel to the motor using an odd assortment of items, including a couple of my daughter’s hair ties.

If I could give you the exact measurements of what we did, I would, but I’m still not exactly sure how everything came together.  It was a cut here, an extra washer there, and a whole lot of experimentation.  In fact, since I shot this video, we’ve already tinkered and made a few more adjustments to make things run a bit more smoothly.  Below you can see how Carry looks standing in his window.  On Halloween night our plan is to roll both Bob and Carry out into the garage, to greet our Trick or Treaters a bit more personally.  We can’t wait!

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How To: Building a Better Tea Light

Flickering candle tea lights are a staple of every home haunter’s inventory.  They’re perfect for dressing up any prop or scene because they’re realistic (if you squint) and because they won’t burn the house down.  Still, they can be a pain to operate.  Replacement batteries aren’t cheap, and it can take quite a bit of effort to turn the lights on and off every night.  Thankfully, we’ve found a solution to both problems!

In the Mr. Jingles garage we’ve started hard-wiring our tea lights.  This process takes a tea light, speaker wire, a resistor, a soldering gun, solder, and a spare transformer (aka “wall wart).  It also takes some electronics knowledge/skill.  If you’re not comfortable with a soldering gun, unfortunately this may be a project you want to avoid.

First, pop the top of the light off just like you would if you were changing the battery.  Then, remove the battery out and set it aside.  Take a length of speaker wire and solder it to the piece of metal the positive side of the battery was touching.  Then, take a second length of wire and prepare to solder it to the piece of metal the negative side of the battery was touching.

To reduce the voltage  from the transformer (aka “wall wart”) to a level that can be used by the LED, you’ll need to add in a resistor.  In our case we used a 560 ohms resistor to reduce power from 12 volts to three volts.  To figure out your exact numbers, use the LED Wizard Array calculator.

Then, drill a small hole in the side of the tea light, run the speaker wires through, and snap the top back on.  You’re half way there!  The final step is to solder the speaker wires to the transformer.  In our case we cut down a transformer from an old cell phone.  Be sure to solder the negative to the negative and the positive to the positive.

As you can see in the picture above, we also included some male/female connectors in our circuit so we could fit the wires to the light through a small hole in our coffin.  Now, we can flip one switch to turn the entire scene on and off.  It makes setting things up so easy!

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Ghoulish Green Punch & Ogre Ear Wax

The little gremlins were in the mood for some fun Halloween-themed snacks this past weekend, so we whipped up some treats to make them happy.  The menu included some Ghoulish Green Punch and Ogre Ear Wax.

The Ghoulish Green Punch (recipe lifted from Betty Crocker) was made using 2 cups of sugar, 2 quarts of water, 2 packages of lime drink mix, 46 oz pineapple juice, 1 bottle ginger ale, and a package of gummy worms.  This time around, things ended up more yellow than green, so a few drops of blue food coloring were added to balance things out.  This would look really cool served in a cauldron with some smoking dry ice.

The Ogre Ear Wax was made using small marshmallows, lollipop sticks, and a combination of caramel syrup and peanut butter.  The caramel syrup is actually a bit more convincing when first applied, but it drips off quickly and can be messy.  For food that won’t be eaten right away, the peanut butter works better.  Also, to get the dimensions correct, it may be necessary to cut the lollipop sticks down a bit.

Now that we’ve had a quick snack, it’s time to get back to haunting!

Categories: 2012 Props, Food | 1 Comment

Carry the Skeleton and His New Wheels

This year we have decided to move Carry from his position on the front porch to a featured spot inside one of our large garage windows.  To do this, we mounted his coffin on a rolling platform identical to the one we created for Bob last year (instructions to come as soon as I can find the pictures).

As you can see from the pictures below (click to enlarge), we had to zip-tie Carry into place to make him stand in the coffin.  Then, we used a series of large L-brackets to secure the coffin to the platform.  Brackets were also used to secure the coffin lid to the platform and to the coffin itself.  Only one of the angles was a perfect 90 degrees, so the rest had to be bent/muscled into position.

The final bracket, the one fastening the lid to the coffin, proved to be tricky.  The drill wouldn’t fit into the space, so instead of using screws, we came at the holes from the opposite side using a pair of bolts and nuts.  The exposed bolt heads, as well as any exposed brackets, will eventually be covered up as the prop is dressed for Halloween with pumpkins, candles, and more.

The next step is to dig up Carry’s LED accent lighting from last year and mount the spots somewhere in the coffin.  Then, we’ll hit the entire prop with a layer of spider webs, either from our Web-Caster, or from a home-built design we have been eyeing.  Either way, those are posts for another day.

Happy Haunting everyone!

   

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Mr. Jingles, Back From the Dead!

Hello everyone!  It has been a long and wonderful Summer, and somehow this year’s Halloween Season snuck up on us!  With less than two weeks to go before “Haunt Day” (October 1), the Jingles Crew has shifted into overdrive.  We have to complete some of the unfinished props from last year’s haunt, and bring some new props to life.

Most importantly, we need to finish the “How To” for our Cauldron Creep.  You may have seen that we updated his body.  Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  We promise to complete the instructions so those of you who are creating your own Creeps at home can see what we did, hopefully get inspired by our ideas, and certainly learn from our mistakes.

Until next time, Happy Haunting everyone!

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Bob’s Bone Transplant

 

Poor Wally had a very bad day today.  We popped off his head and pulled his bones apart.  Don’t worry about him though, his sacrifice was not in vain.  His dismemberment was necessary for a bone transplant to Bob.

Thanks to Wally, Bob is now sporting a new pair of hips, a spine, and a half a rib cage.  Once we drape him with a “new” set of rags these mismatched bones should look more like a complete skeleton.

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Westinghouse Lanterns Come in Two Colors!

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a Haunter happy.  Today I got a big smile while walking through the garden section at Walmart.  I had returned to purchase another one of the Westinghouse Lanterns I posted about a few weeks ago and was delighted to find that now a second color is available!

This amazing lantern (see video) not only comes in a brushed metal color, now it comes in solid black too!  You can see a comparison of the two lanterns above.  The item number for the one on the left is W704001-17W and the item number for the one on the right is W704001-08W.  I couldn’t decide between the two and ended up purchasing one of each!

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Nearly Summer… Time for Prop Shopping!

It’s nearly summer, which means it’s time for the Jingles Crew to get to work planning the new props we will use in the next Haunt.  Over the years we’ve discovered that shopping in the off-season (not around Halloween) can be the best time for finding unique items.  Anyone can buy dancing witch and stick it on their front porch.  It’s the true haunter who can take regular items and make them spooky.

Just yesterday while passing through the garden section at Walmart we spotted a fantastic lantern that had to come home with us.  The lantern we found is manufactured by Westinghouse and costs $11.99.  It’s about a foot tall and has a flickering LED pillar candle inside.  It can either stand on a table or be hung from a hook.  We were so impressed with it once we got it out of the box that we  went back to the store and picked up another one.

The lantern looks great in the back yard, but we think it is going to look even better in the front yard, being held by a corpsed grave-digger.  That’s right, it’s time to hit this baby with some fake spider-webs, rub it with some dirt, and perhaps splash it with some fake blood.  After-all, things can get pretty messy in our grave yard…

One of the most exciting features of this lantern, aside from the fact that it comes with batteries, is the that it has a very simple timer.  Set the candle to “timer” and it will stay lit for five hours.  Then, 24 hours from the time you turned it on, it will automatically turn itself back on and run for another four hours.  You can hang it up, turn it on, and forget about it!

UPDATE:  We had a question over on Halloween Forum asking for the item number of the lantern, so here it is:  Item: W704001-08W  UPC: 5623391400.  And, here’s a picture of what it looks like still boxed up.

Categories: 2012 Props, LED | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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