Sunday, October 4, 2015

Halloween Wars New Season - Food Channel!

A new season of the awesome Halloween Wars is starting tonight on Food Channel. Teams made up of a cake maker, candy maker, and pumpkin carver compete for big bucks. Here's the 4 episode this month's Sundays -

Five teams made up of an expert pumpkin carver, cake decorator, and sugar artist go to battle to create mind-blowing Halloween-themed displays that capture a terrifying infestation. At the end of the battle, one team will be eliminated with help from a special guest judge, actor Robin Atkin Downes from The Strain. (Episode: HW0501H)

Hybrid Horror
The four remaining teams compete to create mind-blowing Halloween-themed displays that show a mutated and terrifying hybrid horror. Special guest judge, actor Benjamin Papac from The Walking Dead, will help determine which team will be eliminated. (Episode: HW0502H)

Grave Robber
Three remaining teams go to battle to create mind-blowing Halloween-themed displays that capture the horror that results from robbing a grave. Actress Bex Taylor-Klaus from MTV's Scream will help determine which two teams will move on to the final battle. (Episode: HW0503H)

Undead Dinner Party
For the final battle, two teams made up of an expert pumpkin carver, cake decorator, and sugar artist go head-to-head to create terrifying and scream-worthy displays of an undead dinner party. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, serves as the special guest judge and helps determine which team wins the $50,000 grand prize. (Episode: HW0504H)

This is going to be a blast!

How-To For Scarecrow Lovers!

(Scarecrow by Pumpkinrot one of the greatest Halloween artisans I know. I get my Halloween cards from him every year and he makes a new scarecrow to commemorate each All Hallow's Eve)

When I was a child, I was obsessed with scarecrows.  I wasn't sure they were effective.  It seemed the crows like to use them to rest upon. But, those silent sentinels of country gardens were things of nightmares; a human-like figure crucified against the setting sun between rows of bright green corn stalks....

- Movies With Scarecrows -

The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
Night of the Scarecrow (my favorite)
Wizard of Oz
Scarecrows (1988)
Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers 2
Kakashi (2001, Japanese)
Messengers 2: The Scarecrow
Dark Harvest
The Maize
Psycho Scarecrow

A REAL scarecrow is scary. Not a happy autumnal symbol sold at craft stores in happy clothes with rosy cheeks.

I might be a bit scarecrow obsessed. I have a Pinterest page of them. 

Scarecrows cookies - 5 dozen of them!

Had enough scarecrows?  Never! There's a terrifying scarecrow short story in my huge horror short anthology book.

"Don't Go There! A Flash Horror Anthology" 

Here's a sample of it:

The squeaking scarecrow stands whined around him like pleading children. He couldn’t resist the grim desire to view the spectacle. The amber hazy last bits of sunlight cast on the pumpkin heads making them glow. The wind created a sail effect on the clothing, making each scarecrow seem to inhale and exhale painfully as they pivoted on their poles, arms swinging stiffly to and fro. 

If I look at them long enough, they really appear alive!

Here's a video of how I made this cheap and easy scarecrow head - ready for a body or just an art piece.

Making scarecrows is not a real science, although some folks make them better than others. The basics are the same - T-shaped frame to hang it from, cloth/clothing, and stuffing material. One of the best ones I ever made, I used styrofoam insets from packing boxes for computer stuff. I carved the lightweight styrofoam to make arm, leg and boy shapes. I used a pumpkin carved and a hat for the head and broke tree limbs for feet and hands inside of jeans and a flannel shirt. I used safety pins to hook the clothes together.

You can stuff with balled up newspaper, straw, corn stalks, bent chicken wire, or pillows/pillow stuffing.

Happy scarecrowing!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Halloween Wars Begins! Food Channel

It's that fantastic time again when teams are made up of cake makers and pumpkin carvers to make a Halloween freak's dreams.

Tonight Food Channel is running a marathon of past ones and then tomorrow - NEW SEASON! 


Haunted Farm
Five teams made up of an expert pumpkin carver, cake decorator and sugar artist go to battle to create mind-blowing Halloween themed displays that capture a terrifying Haunted Farm. At the end of the battle, one team will be eliminated. Special Guest Judge: Naomi Grossman, who appeared in American Horror Story: Asylum. (Episode: HW0401H)

Don't Go Into The Forest
The four remaining teams go to battle creating mind-blowing Halloween themed displays that evoke the dire warning: whatever you do, don't go into the forest! Special guest judge, film producer Adi Shankar, will help determine which team will be eliminated. (Episode: HW0402H)

Mummies Versus Werewolves
Three remaining teams go to battle to create a Halloween display capturing an epic battle between mummies and werewolves. Special guest judge Francia Raisa will help decide which two teams will move on to the $50,000 final battle. (Episode: HW0403H)

Haunted Carnival
Haunted Carnival
In the final battle in Halloween Wars, two teams made up of a pumpkin.

Tomorrow, I will have a post about the new season! 

How To Faux Age Items: Halloween Set Design

It's Halloween time. Sure, nice new displays are bright and shiny, but really what makes people nervous is moth-eaten, tattered, oxidized, tarnished, dirty, stained with some anonymous substances, rusted, mildewed, moldy, peeling, faded, and crackled.

Here's some inspiring photographs to show you how things age - 

(above -this abandoned site shows lots of things including mildew, torn wallpaper and aging.)

(above-from an abandoned hotel. Paint a surface black. Spread a good coating on the dry paint of Elmer's glue. Let dry. Paint a pale icy mint in some areas and cream in a few small patches. Now, use dryer to heat and dry and crack it)

(above - rusted hinge in a burned out home. Consider mixing paper maiche pulp with elmer's and black paint to cover the surfaces for a burned out building. Do not paint atop of the pulp/glue mix, instead add the paint to it so it becomes part of the texture. See rusting instructions below)


First, let's talk about rusting. You can take metal and paint it to look rusted, or you can actually rust it. I have found the best and quickest method is done with household items - I use a mix of hydrogen peroxide with a few tablespoons of salt. Here's a good video on how to do it - 


You can do simple crackling with Elmer's glue - super cheap - (Elmer's also works great for fake skin you can peel when it dries for Halloween makeup)


How about aging things? The most simple way is with a good antiquing lacquer in a brownish color.

The mannequin head (above) that I prepared was a plain new mannequin head originally (for sale in my Etsy shop HERE - she comes with an urban legend). 

I aged her with painting her patchwork baby blue and pink randomly, then crackling her and adding a skin tone. I took a black aging glaze on her and immediately wiping off with a cloth so the black soaked into some paint here and there and into all the cracks. I painted on her makeup and then sanded it. I also took rust paint in water and dripped it around to make some water stain streaks.


Faux patina like the greening you find on copper is another interesting process with may ways to do it. If the item isn't copper, I utilize sponging with paints. Here's some tips - 

Some items you might want to have on hand if you plan to do some set building for Halloween (or even shabby chic'ing your home items). 

Elmer's glue
crafting acrylic paints
black aging glaze
antiquing glaze in a brown tone
hydrogen peroxide
natural sponges
matte or semigloss varnish

Don't underestimate Elmer's glue - it's freaking amazing. I made this Scarecrow head utilizing it mixed with water (2 parts glue/1 part water). It works as a natural fabric stiffener. Works great-firm and great!

("Crow Eater" for sale in my Madam Curio Etsy shop HERE

The process of making sets can be just stunning. Look at some good movies that show amazing sets that have been aged - "The Changeling," and "Dead Silence" come to mind. Peeling wallpaper is a must! It's not a hard task to make wallpaper peel, but be sure to first wallpaper the item, let fully dry. Then, start sponging it with water and rust paint mixed, mildewing it with black paint on a natural sponge, dabbed off before lightly speckling the surface by pressing it. Heat it with a hair dryer. Begin to peel it back. It's even better if you put down a wallpaper and then another atop of it - to peel and expose - 

Happy set design!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Halloween Whopper Review

In a brilliant marketing concept, Burger King found a way to bring us in for the holidays - our para geek holiday - Halloween!

Whoppers are okay (I'm not a mayo on burger kinda gal), but when you put it in a black bun with A1 Sauce - magic occurs! If they nixed the black bun the rest of the year and kept the A1, I'd become addicted to these instead of quarter pounders....

It's a good one - worth the try!


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