Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

A recent post to the Mr. Chicken's Prop Shop Facebook page reminded me that we're all just building on what's been done before.

I've shared quite a bit about my paper towel and latex paint corpsing technique, but I don't believe I've shared the origins.  The paper towel idea came from a site called DeathLord.net. Here's an archive of the tutorial. The site is no more. www.deathlord.net ARCHIVE

The DeathLord.net Rotting Corpse

What's awesome is that when I go back and read it, he learned the trick from someone else in 1997!

 The earliest archive is from 2004, but I believe it's older than that, because I know I had studied this for some time before I finally got my own Blucky to work with.  That's another thing, by the way, you kids don't know how easy you have it with these fully detailed skeletons for $20-$30.  Back in my day, you could either get a "Blucky" from Big Lots for $7.77 (later $8.88, $9.99, and so on-- I kid you not), or a fully accurate Bucky from Anatomical Chart Company for a pretty penny.  But I digress.

This is the zombie guy I made in 2005, based on that tutorial, but with paper towels dipped in flour/water mix, and plaster bandages for the neck, as I recall.  If you want to see how this guy in the coffin evolved into my first Wacky Zombie, check out this post.


Now, how did I come across that site in the first place?  There was an awesome resource called The Monsterlist of Halloween Project Links, curated by Mark Butler.  He actually has a little info page on how the link list was born out of the Halloween-L mailing list in 1999 (was that the first online haunters' group?).  The Monsterlist is still there (here), but it looks like it hasn't been updated since about 2014.

For me, the Monsterlist was the big thing.  Before Facebook and Youtube, and even the forums, this was how you found out what people were building.


The page is organized alphabetically, with just a title of the project and a short description, so if you were looking for something in particular, command+F was your friend.  It was always exciting when you checked back on the page to find it had been updated with a slew of new tutorial links, which might be a couple times a year.

Incidentally, Mark Butler did some how to's of his own, and I used one as the inspiration for my first animatronic talking skeletons in 2005.


All this to say, let's remember to look back on where our favorite projects come from.  Any time you're making something, you're building on the ideas someone else was kind enough to share and explain about their tools, materials, and processes.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Feathered Fiend

I just realized I never posted last year's biggest Halloween project here!

A client wanted a custom built, fully functional copy of the animatronic raven seen in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.  Here's how she turned out:



Here's a taste of the build process.

I sculpted the head and body of the birdie first.

Then molded it.  This is just the first layer of silicone going on the sculpture, but it looks so cool like that, right?

Lots of servos and hardware arrived.  Thank you online shopping.

And I started to puzzle out the animatronic mechanisms within a vacuum formed copy of the body.  There was a lot of trial and error involved to get it working the way I wanted.

Remember the Haunted Mansion wooden skull trim details?  Here's the reason I made those in the first place.  The raven would sit on a shelf that used these as brackets.


I saved the head from the water clay sculpture, and let it dry out.  I thought it was kind of cool in its own way, so I mounted it to a plaque with the scientific name for a raven on it.

In her new home...


Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Wacky Zombies??

One of the first props I ever made for another haunt was a copy of one of my wacky zombie groundbreakers, about eight or nine years ago.

I've just completed three new weirdos, using the same techniques in my How To video, available for you!  Head over to Mr. Chicken's Prop Shop to grab one before they're gone!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spooks Arrive for the Midnight Spree

I recently acquired another weird Haunted Mansion casting.  This time of the face of one of the ghosts that rise out of the organ pipes in the ballroom.

Here's how they appear in the ride, materializing by Pepper's Ghost effect:

Thanks to behind the scenes photos like this, I knew what they were supposed to look like in person, so I set to work.

I originally wanted to do this in one go, without molding or casting.  I thought I would bulk out the back of the head with aluminum foil and sculpt the missing surface detail with Apoxie Sculpt, but as I considered it, I realized that would result in a heavy, less stable piece, so I went at it with traditional clay.



Head on a spike, with WED clay in back.  I have a writeup here on different types of clays that may be of interest.


The beginnings of a Smooth On Rebound 25 silicone mold.


Cast in resin and primed grey.


A little paint, a little cheesecloth.  Not too shabby, eh?

Shadows and Things (New Projection Effect!)

It's here, it's here!

I finally today put the finishing touches on the latest projection effect available at www.ChickenProps.com

This is a back to basics illusion, requiring almost no setup, and only the cheapest of projectors.  Check it out, and let me know what you think!