Sunday, August 30, 2009

Q&A: How Do You . . . ?

Questions regarding my projects and papier mache regularly fill my mailbox. In an effort to answer these questions and share information some of these questions will be regularly featured on this blog.

Eric wrote:

“How do you do your paper mache? What is the mix you use? What is paper mache clay? I did not see it in your web site.”

Mindie wrote:

“I love your pumpkins! I was wanting to know which paper mache recipes you use. “

Juan also wrote:

“For the clay recipe you ask for paste, is that the paste from the mache recipe or a different type of paste. Your stuff is great thanks for the help.”

The answers are found in a post on my website called The Basics.
The article covers paste and clay recipes, templates and weatherproofing.

Hope this helps.

Q&A: Clay Issues

Questions regarding my projects and papier mache regularly fill my mailbox. In an effort to answer these questions and share information some of these questions will be regularly featured on this blog.

Erik wrote:

“I have followed your instuctions on your website. However, the clay recipe is a bit tricky. It is now 6 days later and my clay is still not dry. Can you help me any? Maybe restate the recipe?”

Clay recipe:

My clay is made by putting approximately six cups of paste into a large bowl, next add approximately one cup of drywall joint compound to the paste. Mix the paste and joint compound together thoroughly with a hand mixer. Now start mixing cellulose fiber insulation into the paste/compound solution, keep adding insulation until the mixture is a firm and workable consistency.

There are several issues that determine the drying time of paper clays..

Th The first consideration is the thickness of the clay that is drying. When I use the above papier mache clay recipe I typically never apply the clay thicker than a ½ inches. Once dry I will add more clay and allow to dry and so on. Work with small amounts.

The second factor is airflow. Placing props in an area where there is no air movement is not a good idea. When drying papier mache clay I always use multiple fans, the moving air removes the moisture allowing a ½ inch thickness of clay to completely dry in about 48 hours.

The third consideration is humidity. Props left to dry in highly humid environments will not dry, in fact if you have used a flour based paste they could even potentially start to mold. Dry props in a non-humid environment with ample air flow. Dehumidifiers are a good bet when working in humid environments.

The combination of these three tips should prevent any drying issues; small thicknesses, airflow and low humidity. If you have further questions send me an email.

Hope this helps.

Q&A: Demon Templates

Questions regarding my projects and papier mache regularly fill my mailbox. In an effort to answer these questions and share information some of these questions will be regularly featured on this blog.

Heather wrote:

“I was wondering what you used for the stencil in the demon skulls? and if you have any pointers. I was having a bit of trouble with them. “

The demon designs are a variation on the skull templates I regularly use when creating props requiring human like faces.

My advice would be to create a basic skull template using the directions found here. Replace the human eye sockets and such with your own version of what you believe a demon would look like; think sharp angled eye sockets and noses. Play around with your design and remember that your two dimensional concept will ultimately be rendered in three dimensions.

I’ve been asked repeatedly if I will send or supply templates or patterns for projects and I always answer no, it’s not because I’m being stingy or selfish but rather the template design should be your own creation, the result of your imagination, not mine.

Have fun with the process, you will surprise (and impress) yourself with the result.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scary Vinyl

I’ve blogged before about the joys of visiting thrift stores in search of haunted treasures.

I have a routine, a definite order of attack; first I check out the t-shirts hoping to score some vintage 80’s rock or something else that catches my eye.

Next I quickly walk through the book section, then the arts and craft section and finally spend most of my time thumbing through hundreds of musty old record albums in search of the elusive Halloween themed vinyl.

Halloween record albums are tough to find, my guess is that there are a thousand Christmas records to every Halloween record out there. Here are a few of my finds, most acquired for less than 50 cents.

Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, 1964 Walt Disney Productions

I have two versions of this album, one contains an added bonus of Spooky Party Hints but unfortunately the Spooky Party Hints were missing.

Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, 1979 Walt Disney Productions

This is a newer version of the previous Disney entry but with different tracks. Warning: This album will scare your socks off. Parental guidance suggested..

Stereo Dynamics! To Scare Hell Out Of Your Neighbors, manufactured by Miller International Co.

Scary classical music mastered to reproduce the entire sound spectrum. I personally liked the cool caged skeletons on the front of the album.

Monster Mash, Peter Pan Industries.

The cool artwork caught my eye but it was the sticker on the front that read, “Property of Scott” that made this a must buy.

The back features a game called “Monster Maze” where you have to help Pam and Jeff escape Dracula’s Castle.

Sadly the previous owner, presumably Scott had already helped Pam and Jeff escape with the help of some colorful crayons.

Spooky Halloween, 1974 Michael Publications, Inc.

Interesting artwork by Charles Fox Phillips featured on the album cover.

The Official Album of Disneyland/Walt Disney World, 1980 Buena Vista Distribution, Co., Inc.

A very cool album featuring music from Disney’s Haunted Mansion, a must have.

Here are a few other albums that are sort of scary in a non-Halloween sort of way.

Meco’s Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk, 1977 Millennium Record Company, Inc.

Disco Fever Featuring Irwin The Disco Duck, Peter Pan Records

German Beer Drinking Music, Tifton International

The Smurfs, Best Of Friends, 1982 Dutchy Publishing, Holland

Scottville Clown Band, 1903 To Eternity, 1981 Hal Leonard, Inc.

The Scottville Clown Band is a staple of western Michigan and I have had the privilege of seeing them several times growing up. The band is still around and while the band is not scary I’m thinking the artwork on the album is a tad scary.

Q&A: Removing Newspaper

Questions regarding my projects and papier mache regularly fill my mailbox. In an effort to answer these questions and share information some of these questions will be regularly featured on this blog.

Stacey wrote:

“When I was little and did paper mache, we used inflated balloons as the base. We would then pop the balloon leaving our shape. You talk about using plastic bags, newspaper, etc., so my question is: How do you then remove the paper mache from the shape without destroying it? For example, if I used a big balled up piece of newspaper as a mold for a skull, how would I get it out of the skull?”

When using a plastic bag to armature for a skull or pumpkin the newspaper is removed from the form after several layers of strip mache have been applied and thoroughly dried. The crumpled newspaper is removed by cutting a small circle on the bottom and taking the newspaper out through the opening.

The plastic bag/newspaper armature is also used when I create spider bodies or gargoyle heads, but in this case I do not remove the newspaper because neither of these pieces need to be hollow. Pumpkins need to be hollow if you want to light the jack o’lantern from within and skulls need to be hollow in order to create deep eye sockets.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

Last one I promise, must work on something more productive . . .

The Wheels On The Bus

Sorry, I can't help it.

Here's another prop and presented as an animated GIF.

I Blame . . .

. . .Fangoria magazine for all the woes in my life.

I blame Fangoria for some of my poor grades in college because I was too busy reading about Jamie Lee Curtis to study.

I blame Fangoria for the thousands of dollars I have spent on horror merchandise, books, music and movies.

I blame Fangoria for the lack of storage space in my workshop because I refuse to get rid of any issues.

I blame Fangoria magazine for my ongoing love of all things horror.

Ok, maybe the word “blame” is not appropriate. A better word would be “thank.”

I thank Fangoria for years of news, photos and inspiration.

Recently I pulled my 130 or so issues of Fangoria from storage and spent some time reading through 20 plus years of horror goodness.

At first I was dismayed, i.e. pissed that several of the earlier copies were missing the covers then I remembered that some of the early issues featured posters. The posters used to hang on the walls during my college days; yes, I was a chick magnet back in the day.

Reading past articles was pure joy and brought back a flood of memories. One of my favorite sections was the Starlog Trading Post or classified ads, oh how I would spend hours looking at the various books, t-shirts and other assorted goodies offered for sale; I had to have the latest book by Tom Savini or Dick Smith.

Thanks Fangoria for fueling a long running passion for horror!


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