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Monday, October 24, 2011

8' Haunted House with Gallery Glass Windows

Sometimes you do something --just because you CAN! That's what happened when my family asked me to build a Haunted House for the Trunk or Treat at church. Now the event only lasts 1 hour, so you would think that any elaborate display would be out of the question. WRONG! I guarantee that we will not have either the most elaborate, or the most creative display. Couples plan all year for this brief, but brilliant event. Approximately 1000 children will race through the rows and rows of gaily decorated trunks getting one or more pieces of candy at each one. Our Monster Mash theme will be easy to spot because the Haunted House with the Gallery Glass windows will have the setting sun lighting up the glowing glass and Monster music will waft eerily through the air. A tub of water with dry ice will provide suitable "fog" effect and the handmade tombstones will be scattered under the hill with black gossamer filling in the spaces.
My granddaughters made the tombstones, and we came up with some good names for our pseudo relatives-- "Ima Goner", "Emma Ghost", "Reid N. Weep", "Westin Peas" and "Otto B. Alive".  We cut them out of the scraps of insulation and painted them with Wet Cement Martha Stewart Satin. We painted the edges with Gray Wolf and used alphabet punches to make the names out of black construction paper. After gluing the letters in place, I stenciled an icon above each name, then we sponged a combination of Beetle Black and the Satin Spray Medium over the edges first, then the central portion of each tombstone with a diluted potion of the Beetle Black--to make them look like granite that had been weathered away.
To begin constructing the house, I projected the design up onto 2 sheets of rigid insulation (only $11 per 4'x8' sheet) with my opaque projector and traced the outline of the windows and outside shape. It should have been perfect, except that the original drawing was so small that the projected image was extremely pixelated. So my tracing was wiggly and not symmetrical, which I cannot tolerate. So I spent two nights re-drawing the windows and doors and porticoes with a T-square. Once they were placed to my satisfaction, I put a new blade in an Olfa knife and proceeded to trim away the excess pinkness. It was really pretty easy. Cutting lengthwise is much easier than cutting across the grain. The curves are a little rough, but it really turned out rather well, considering the relatively small price that we paid for the huge display.
Once it was cut out, I was ready to paint. I chose to use the Martha Stewart Spray Gun Kit. It was easy to paint the face and the "facings" of each of the windows with the spray gun. I put plastic table cloths against a row of boxes in my garage and was pleased that there is minimal overspray. Simultaneously, I had been working on the windows. I traced an outline of each one and then selected a design from a dollhouse windows Dover book. I leaded them on Gallery Glass Cuttable plastic and also some larger pieces of plastic of the same material. I painted them to extend beyond the edges of the openings so that the irregularity of the openings would not be a problem. That worked pretty well, except where I mis-measured. Those had to be done over. But I was determined to get it right. The windows overnight and I was ready to attach them to the insulation. I bought a roll of black Duck tape and it was perfect to tape the trimmed plastic panels to the back of the house parts. The aggressive adhesive allowed the window panels to flex slightly as I lifted and toted the halves from the table to their vertical position. Once all the windows were in place, I taped the two sides of the house together in the center, so that the house could stand alone. We planned to put it on the tailgate of my son-in-law's truck to give it even more height and to make room for the "graveyard" underneath and "candy giver-outers" in front. My daughter got worried that the truck would be too visible, so we bought another piece of 2" rigid insulation and had it cut into two 4'x4' sections. This we painted black, as well and bought some inexpensive fencing to go on top. We thought it would give the impression of "gates" to the property-as well as hiding the sides of the truck, more effectively. The ladder-looking structures behind it were necessary to keep it from blowing across the partking lot, but they were so high up, that nobody mentioned them in the semi-darkness.

Our costumes could be only a little scary since our church asks that there be no frightening costumes. My only "cheat" was the goblin in the upstairs window that I added to the back of the window with Liquid Leading. So our whole display had to be on the MILD side, instead of the WILD side. I'm going to be a Wizard, Samantha was a cute Mummy, Sydney was a fetching Bat Girl and their parents were Frankenstein and his Bride. Pretty interesting costumes, but a lot of fun. The display was a huge success and we won the "Most Creative" prize. Hummmm, we're already thinking about what to do NEXT year, to top this!


  1. Miss Carol HOW do you get those leading lines soooo tiny and detailed in those haunted house windows? I use the scotch tape nozzle when I lead but I cant get my lead lines that tiny and detailed....Just watched your Plaid video classroom gallery glass vhs tape last night....I never got to use the thinner version that you were painting with on the tape..looked like it flowed alot better than the GG of today.

  2. The lead lines aren't any smaller than usual. The house is just very large. In fact only the smallest ones could be done on the 8"x10" cuttable plastic. I had to source some larger mylar in order to do the bay windows, the terraces and the 2 palladiums.
    But, you can get a tape tape smaller by angleing the tape more towards 12 o'clock when you start the wind. It also depends on how short you cut the tip. The closer to the ridge (that holds on the small cap)that you cut it, the wider your opening will be. The ridge will hold the tape more open, if you cut down almost to it. So the tip off as close to the tip, as you can but remove the thick plastic at the end. Then wind tight at the tip, using your thumb and index to adhere it tightly at the tip. You can get a hole so small, that leading will hardly come out. But you can cut it off so that it dispenses. And as always, practice makes perfect. Sometimes I will re-wind a piece of tape 3 times to get it just the diameter that I need. Thanks for the comment. It was a fun project, and I had to share!

  3. Sorry, I forgot to answer your comment about the thinner version that we once had. Yes, it flowed BEAUTIFULLY and I miss that. Not everyone can comb thoroughly enough. It also made your application look AMAZING with very little effort. But a little birdie told me that we might have something similar in the works. What goes around--comes around, if we stay in the game long enough. (I made those videos sometime after my Senior Prom.) What a hoot to look at them, now!

  4. I really enjoy the tapes from back then...I have alot of the Plaid classroom tapes and a few of Aleene's craft videos and they are really enjoyable to seems that crafts today arent as popular as they once were...most of the craft magazines I use to subscribe to are out of business and shows such as Aleene's Creative Living and Carol Duval arent on television any longer..I'm just glad I got the vhs tapes and dvds that I have...