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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been decorating my yard for Halloween for several years now, and stumbled across HauntForum earlier this year. I love seeing all the cool props that everyone builds, and I'd love to expand my haunt to have a bit more depth, realism, and creepiness. The problem is, I'm very tight on money and time. I was hoping you all could direct me to some basic, inexpensive, yet cool props. Here's a list of things I have or could get access to easily:

Cardboard
Scrap wood - including some planks and plywood
Newspaper
Garbage bags
Paint

I really don't have any money right now, but that could change shortly - I'm not quite sure yet. Either way, the cheaper the better for me. I can't do anything highly electronical, but some very basic wiring - a lightbulb to a battery - could be possible. I also can't really do anything specialized, like sculpting, but I would be willing to try some paper mache. Well, I'm starting to sound really needy. Anyway, any suggestion or link to a how-to would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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There's tons of ways to do paper mache and tons of creative stuff that you can do with it. Be sure to visit http://www.stolloween.com/, a regular here that does some amazing stuff. Check out his pics, blog, and how-to's for guidance.

Though not to the level of work of Stolloween and many of the other posters, here's one of mine. I used newspaper, masking tape, my kid's broken pool basketball hoop, a pingpong ball, a garbage bag, spray paint, leftover wood stain, and a heat gun. The only money I specifically spent for this project was a $3 bottle of liquid starch to make my paste.

 

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Cardboard and scrap wood could be used to make coffins, tombstones, and creepy signs. BTW, if your local Home Depot or Lowes has an "oops" paint section, check it out regularly. You can pick up oops paint at dirt cheap prices (like a quart for $1 or a gallon for $5). We've gotten a lot of grey, perfect-for-tombstones paint that way.

Definitely check out Stolloween's web site for tons of inexpensive or almost free papier mache projects.
 

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scrap wood; cemetery fence, coffins (even a half buried one). If you can get a length of pvc pipe, you can make some frames for static monsters. I think most of us started our displays on the cheap and just built up from there.
 

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With some imagination anything can be made from anything. Duct tape is magical too.
 

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Paper mache all the way. It's dirt cheap and only limited by your imagination. Stolloween is a great place to start. I recommend trying to make one of his pumpkins.

If you have existing Halloween props such as a foam skull, then check out SpookyBlue's website for a quick and dirty way to clone a skull with paper mache. It is very easy to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the responses everyone!

@tot13: I've seen some of Stolloween's work, and I agree that he's amazing. I like your ground popper and the garbage bag corpsing, but I don't have a heat gun. Do you know if there's another easy way to get the same effect?

@RoxyBlue: Thanks for the tip on the "oops" paint!

@jdubbya: I've been wanting to build a half-coffin! Do you know where I could find a how-to? I've been finding mostly full-length or nearly full-length ones.

@GothicCandle: Yes, and "Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple." :D

@Jaybo: Thanks for the links! Stolloween's pumpkins have inspired me...


Thanks again for the responses everyone! I've gotten a couple ideas now. I like Stolloween's pumpkins, and I'm thinking about making a creature with one for a head, and a body made of vines and sticks. I'm also thinking about making a static monster; I forgot to mention that I have a lot of old clothes that would be perfect for such a prop.
 

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The more you learn, you'll see that the 'mechanical' props we all make are based on simple physics and basic movement , and at times very inexpensive parts. Even alot of the rewiring I do, my kids could do. I made a FCG and stirring witch for $40 out of pocket. lighting and sound is also inexpesive and,used right adds alot to a scene.
 

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You certainly came to the right place for inspiration and tons of project ideas made with little money. Don't forget to also check out the past threads involving the $20 prop challenges - you'll get plenty more ideas for inexpensive props.
 

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I've made all sorts of things out of cardboard. Once you painted it with latex paint, it'll stand up to most weather excluding downpours.
My columns that cost me about $4 each and I've had for going on 3 years: http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutorials-step-step/69731-cheap-graveyard-columns-cardboard.html

My favorite go-to list for projects is Haunt Project:
http://www.hauntproject.com/

They have a section on paper maché, but they also have tons of projects in every category that use cheap or almost free materials.

And of course, there are the tons of projects on this forum too. :)

(and my wiring/mechanical expertise is zero - but I work around it, or beg for help here! ;) )
 

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Thanks for the responses everyone!

@tot13: I've seen some of Stolloween's work, and I agree that he's amazing. I like your ground popper and the garbage bag corpsing, but I don't have a heat gun. Do you know if there's another easy way to get the same effect?
No heat gun required. You can get the same effect with paper mache paste, newspaper, paper towels, unrolled cotton balls, and simple wood stain and a little acrylic craft paint. I have attached a picture of a corpse project I am working on that uses these materials. The skull for this corpse is also a paper mache clone using Spooky Blue's technique. I've chronicled some of the progress of this prop here if you are interested in checking it out.

Glad to see you are getting inspired! That's why we come here for the most part. Keeps us going!
 

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Michael's has quite good cheap foam skulls for about $6 (and they honor their one or almost anyone else's 40% off coupon.

Then get some vines or tree branches and tie/wire them into a vaguely skeleton shape. Put the skull on it and wrap some vines around the entire thing. This can look crazy creepy.

The foam skulls are pretty good as is. They look even better if you carefully cut off the lower jaw (a coping saw is good for this) and reposition it in an open position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the responses everyone! I think I've got a good idea of what I'd like to make this year:

-A pumpkin-headed creature (A papier mache pumpkin, similar to one of Stolloween's, for a head and a body of sticks and vines)

- A groundbreaker or full-height zombie

- Some new gravestones (Mine are cardboard and very cheesy)


I also want to name my haunt and come up with a story. I've been throwing around a few ideas for that, and one name I came up with is "Blackwood Cemetery." Let me know what you think!
 

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@tot13: I've seen some of Stolloween's work, and I agree that he's amazing. I like your ground popper and the garbage bag corpsing, but I don't have a heat gun. Do you know if there's another easy way to get the same effect?

The heat gun is pretty much a glorified hair dryer. I don't know if a blow dryer would work or work as good, but you may try. I bought the low-end model by Wagner for $25 at Lowe's.

Pay attention to curbies, shop at your nearest Goodwill, join Freecycle.org in your community, and think outside of the box - you can use anything to make a prop.
 

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No heat gun required. You can get the same effect with paper mache paste, newspaper, paper towels, unrolled cotton balls, and simple wood stain and a little acrylic craft paint. I have attached a picture of a corpse project I am working on that uses these materials. The skull for this corpse is also a paper mache clone using Spooky Blue's technique. I've chronicled some of the progress of this prop here if you are interested in checking it out.

Glad to see you are getting inspired! That's why we come here for the most part. Keeps us going!
That is so cool! I'll be trying this out in the next week, lol. Thanks for the pic.
 

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You may be able to get foam for tombstones at construction sites. Talk to the foreman and tell him what is is for and you might be surprised at what is offered to you. Pallets make great cemetery fence you can also used sticks tied together. See my web page for picture and video. I also drag home large long dead branches and tie them to my fence to look like dead trees. You can hang all kinds of things in them too (like bugs). Place a bumble ball of weasel ball under some fabric covered with leaves in front of a tombstone for a creepy effect. Ask friends and family for any old appliances that they may have and no longer want (anything with a motor in it fans, can opener, massager, etc.) Always walk around the neighborhood on garbage night you never know what you will find (always grab old computers for the power supplies). Go to flea markets at the last half hour the prices drop a lot the last half hour and sometimes they may offer something for free or they may throw it out because they do not want to take it home. Ask for an allowance and save it up. same for gifts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hello everyone! Thanks for all your responses. I think my haunt is due for a name and story, and now's the perfect time since I'm trying to update it. Here's something I came up with in half an hour, let me know what you think.

The Horror of
Blackwood Cemetery


In 1754, a small group of settlers from England arrived in upstate New York. They began building their village on the banks of the Hudson River, and settled into life in the colonies. Of course, settlers began dying in the village, whether it be due to old age, illness, or anything else; and they were soon in need of a cemetery.

A group of men scouted the outskirts of the village for a suitable location, and soon found one. A larger group went to the site to further explore and begin clearing the land. However, their work was halted when one young man found an old hag living in a shack in the middle of the area. The village leader demanded her to leave, but she refused, and wouldn't budge from her rickety old hut. Work ceased, and a new site was found.

Work on this new site was just underway when livestock began disappearing from the village. The villagers were quick to blame it on wolves or coyotes, but when the village leader's young son was found too scared to speak, they began to suspect something more sinister. He finally managed to mutter, "Witch… hut… forest…" The village leader immediately suspected the old hag whose hut stood in the middle of the land which would have made a perfect cemetery. He gathered a mob, intent on discovering what the witch had done to his boy. They stormed into the forest on a dark October night, armed with torches, muskets, and all other sorts of weapons.

Once at the dilapidated shack, the men barged through the door and dragged the old woman out. Several others ransacked the hut for signs of witchcraft, and came back with jars of strange ingredients and a cauldron full of a mysterious green liquid. The men dragged her back to the village, where she was immediately tried and accused of witchcraft. Her sentence was death.

The next day, she was brought to the gallows, where all the villagers had gathered. The old hag was brought up onto the platform, and an uproar of angry shouts and curses came forth from the crowd. The witch snapped her bony fingers, and a bang as loud as cannon fire rendered the crowd silent. She began to speak in a cold, gravely voice:

You've brought me here to die, I see
But this curse will bring your misery.
For things alive that once were dead
Will fill your smallish hearts with dread.
Bodies buried in this land
Will not turn, as should, to sand.
Instead, they'll rise, on nights like this
And come forth, 'spite Death's own kiss,
To destroy and haunt your foolish town
'Til I return to this hallowed ground.


The villagers were frozen by fear, and the hag had perfect opportunity to escape. However, she simply stood on the platform cackling until the executioner regained his wits and slipped the noose 'round her neck. The villagers lived in fear for the next month, but they began to calm as things appeared normal. That all began to change the next year.

On an eerie fall night, several pigs and cats went missing from the village. The next day, a grave was found empty in the new cemetery. The villagers immediately recalled the old hag and her curse upon them all, and lived in the same fear that followed her execution. They were sure to lock their doors, and had trouble sleeping at night. Animals continued to disappear, and finally, on a particularly dark and foggy night, several small children disappeared.

Now the villagers realized that the curse must be coming true. They fled their small village, running until they reached a British fort. They spent the rest of their lives living there in fear, horrified of the witch's curse and what had become of their deceased loved ones.

It is said that the site of the settler's cemetery remains haunted to this day, and on cold fall nights, the curse brings life to all which were dead…
 
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