Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nightmare on Squirrel Street

All Hallows’ Eve is upon us, so in honor of one of our favorite holidays here’s a spooktacular tutorial on how to create some super hair-raising floating ghosts on the cheap.  Seriously, they’re so spooky we had to relocate them to avoid causing traffic accidents/offending our neighbors…yeah, they’re that good.

 The materials are very simple and easy to locate, and you probably already have some of them lying around your house.  Here’s what you’ll need to make your own spine-chilling ghost decoration:
·         (1) plastic candy pail – we got ours from the dollar store and opted for the clear, glow-in-
                the-dark option (instead of the traditional orange) so it wouldn’t show through our sheet
·         (1) wire hanger – FINALLY they’re good for something…
·         (2) Styrofoam balls
·         (1) old white sheet, or about 2-3 yards of bleached muslin (we used muslin)
·         2-3 yards of white cheesecloth
·         Durable rope or twine – we found black to blend-in with the trees/night the best
·         (2) safety pins/staples
·         (1) carabiner (optional) – we used one to effortlessly hang each ghost
·         You also need: metal snips, pliers, duct tape, and a drill
*Try to use store coupons (Michael’s, Joann’s, etc.) to save on purchased materials, like muslin, cheese cloth, and foam balls – you can easily save 40-50% just by downloading an app or clipping a few coupons!

The plastic candy pail will be the head of your ghost.  In order to keep the painted-on face from showing through my fabric, I quickly shot my pail with some white spray paint.  You could also stick some duct tape over the face if you don’t have any spray paint (I did this on one of our ghosts and it worked just as good as the spray paint).  Remove the plastic handle from the candy pail and turn it upside down. 

 Using the handle holes as a guide, drill a hole through each side of the pail; you’ll be threading your wire hanger (the ghost arms) through these holes.  You may not need to do this on pails that don’t have a lip/rim, but the ones that I purchased need the extra holes. 

 Then, use a slighter larger drill bit to carefully drill a hole in the bottom center of the bucket.  I emphasize carefully here as I cracked one of our buckets by pressing too hard with the drill – take your time to avoid cracking the plastic.  This will be where you’ll thread your twine through to hang the ghost.

Ignore the water...a random rain cloud found my bucket while the spray paint was drying outside.
Now, cut a section of rope/twine (at whatever length you’d like for your ghost to hang at) and thread it through the hole on the top (originally the bottom) of the bucket.  Tie a knot at one end to keep it from coming all the way through the bucket, and a loop on the other end for hanging the ghost.

  Using snips and pliers cut a section from your wire hanger and thread it through your handle holes.  These will be your ghost’s arms, so feel free to bend them in any which way you’d like.  Next, stick a Styrofoam ball on each end of your hanger arms; this will give the arms a nice rounded finish.  You may not need to, but I used some duct tape to secure the balls to the hanger so they wouldn’t fall off in the event of a blustery fall day.

Weird looking, I know.
 Now it’s time to make your prop look like a real ghost! Find the center of your muslin or sheet, and cut a small hole in the fabric.  Take the looped end of your rope and thread it through the hole, draping the sheet over your bucket-with-arms.  Then, find the center of your cheesecloth and part the weave to create a hole (you don’t need to cut it).  Thread your rope through the hole and drape the cheesecloth over the muslin/sheet.  The cheesecloth will add some much needed texture and dimension to your otherwise bland ghost.  I found that if the cheesecloth was longer than the sheet, the ghost looked exceptionally wispy and phantom-like.

Hole cut in the center of a sheet of muslin.

You can part the weave of the cheese cloth instead of cutting it.

Getting there...
Now your creation should really look like a scary specter.  To make it just a little bit more perfect, take a small bunch of muslin and cheesecloth under each arm and safety pin/staple it together.  Not only does this define the arms more, but it also secures your fabric from blowing around/off the ghost.

Pick out the best spot for your ghosts to haunt – we decided to hang our ghosts from a tree in our front yard, but you might also hang them in your house, from your porch, etc.  Remember when you tied a loop at the end of the rope?  Clip a carabiner onto the loop, and then wrap the rope around a tree branch (or what have you), clipping the carabiner back onto the rope.  If you don’t have any carabiners lying around, you can simply tie the rope to a tree branch or hook.  We found that it was really easy to hang/un-hang the ghosts with a carabiner, but use whatever method you like to hang your eerie spirit. 
To go the extra mile and really showcase your new Halloween decoration, you can put a spotlight on or under your ghosts.  We had a red floodlight in our Christmas decoration box that we used to illuminate our tree ghosts…they went from frightening to chilling with the flick of a switch.  In fact, our ghosts ended up looking so eerily realistic, we decided to take them down from our tree.  It’s not so much that they looked too ghostlike, but more so that they looked like small people/children draped in sheets hanging from our tree…they were honestly a little unsettling (even we were creeped out by them) and we didn’t want it to come across as tasteless to our neighbors.  We also live on a corner that sees a handful of traffic accidents each year and didn’t want to encourage more accidents with our disturbing distraction.  Perhaps if we lived somewhere tucked back from the public eye instead of on a busy corner with lots of passersby?  For some reason the ghosts seem less offensive when hanging in our garden or on the front porch, so we decided to let them haunt-away in those places instead. 

There you have it – a cheap ‘n easy DIY Halloween prop, unnerving enough to distract even the toughest of tough guys.  Happy Haunting...

1 comment:

  1. wow! this is an absolutely fabulous idea to scare the even bravest of the men. These ghosts look so real. I would use this technique for the halloween.