Monday, April 27, 2009

Designing Haunted Tiki island (part 3)

Gateway to Haunted Tiki Island
Just a quick post today. This is a sketch of our haunt sign from 2007. When I drew it out, I tried to make it to scale, and I'm not a technical drawer, but if I actually built this, then I would just need to scale up the drawing to get a very close copy in real life.

So this what it looked like in 2007 when it was finished:

I made this from DOW blue insulation foam, and carved wood texture into it with a wooden sculpting knife. I painted it and washed it in gray and black to look like really old wood. This is one of the projects I finished at 1 am the morning of Halloween. I embellished the skull to look more like an ancestral skull.(follow that link to some really cool stuff).

Haunted Tiki Island Entrance 2008
This year (2008) I decided to make a new look for the sign, because it is one of the mood setting pieces of the haunt. I thought last years sign was too much Haunted, and not enough Tiki Island. I added some tropical flowers I bought at Michael's and made a new skull based on a Palawan ancestor skull. I repainted the white lettering of the sign with Glow in the Dark paint to make it pop under the black lights. The skull is misted with black light hairspray.

Palawan inspired skull

The Palawan Skull orginal:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Designing Haunted Tiki island (part 2)

Sometimes its good when props don't come out like they looked in your head. Whereas the last post featured a giant tiki mask that is almost a verbatim replica of the original drawing, sometimes it's good to just keep working till it looks good. This is one such case.

The final prop:
JungleRot - scarecrow tree

Let's jump forward a year to 2008. This is a prop or a scene setter that Patty and I came up with. Patty thought it would be cool to put some skulls up on the branches of a tree in the yard that had died of blight, and was mostly stripped bare of limbs, just waiting to be felled and diced up into fire wood. She said we could do anything we wanted since it was getting cut down right after Halloween.

This is how it looked in the first sketch. Some good ideas, some ho-hum:
Tree props

Then a couple weeks later I drew this. It's getting closer:
bamboo scarecrow

and here's what I ended up with. Here is a daytime shot:
scarecrow 006

In the end we had to skip on the palm frond tiki masks because we couldn't find the right one, but instead used palm fans from Calleana's ranch and spattered them with red paint. The effect was better because it might have been too busy with tiki faces all over the tree, as the tree itself was surrounded with props already.

So if that prop doesn't look like you planned, just work on it till it looks cool. Don't get frustrated, don't give up. Just keep working!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Designing Haunted Tiki Island (part 1)

I started making some sketches for props for Haunted Tiki Island in early 2007. While HTI was still a pipe dream for all of us, and probably forgotten by most of us, I was trying to figure out how to make a cool looking tiki theme that would be scary but not offensive to Polynesian neighbors. The look of Haunted Tiki Island is a conglomeration of all kinds of tribal design aesthetics and influences. It's Polynesian, Mayan, Aztec, Dayak, Palawan, Asmat, Ifugao, Naga, and even little bits of various African tribes. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I tried to diffuse the influence so it wouldn't seem I was picking on anyone group.

Here is an example:

This is our giant Tiki mask, whose main features are African and Polynesian, but if you look, you'll see Samoan and Aztec influences (the tongue sticking out on the glyph on his chin).

I made this tiki face from Dow blue insulation foam starting from a 2" by 8" piece. I had the drawing I made blowup at Kinkos, then I transfered the design to the foam. I used a dremel with a routing bit to draw out the features, then I used a small wire clay tool to chip out some areas to give a rougher chiseled stone look. I painted him with dark grey latex house paint, then washed him with black paint to fill in the cracks, and followed with a drybrushing of light gray.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Natives are Restless

The crew sans the 40oz  Cannibal
(Halloween night 2008, and someones costume has improved)

It's Halloween night 2007, the first Year of Haunted Tiki Island and I am running around like crazy trying to put everything up. I took half a day off from work and sped over there. Everyone has been helping as they arrive from work through out the afternoon, but its coming down the wire. Just as the sun is setting we finally get it all up. I run into the house to shower and then get my costume on. While I have spent the last two weeks staying up till 1 am to finish props, something else has been going on under my nose. Costumes are coming together. Maybe I was too single minded to even hear what people were saying about their costumes during that time. I donned the costume that I had bought all online, and had not yet even tried on till now.

The NotToo Scary Adventurer

So Sad. I look stupid. Unscary.

Oh well the show must go on! I walk outside and I see this:
The Tribe

and this:

and this:
Zac n Cort

I am jump up and down happy again! I had the worst costume there, how awesome! I have feeling this Tiki Island thing is going to go well.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It Starts with a Dead Monkey (this is how it starts pt.2)

(papertowel mache over wire armature with celluclay)

....unless your nuts.

I have a long history of obsessions. Whatever that thing is that people have to try and be cool and be carefree about life, well I don't have it. How could you only half love those things that are important to you? You must be passionate about something! What if your passionate about lots of things! There are some who say "You must only be passionate about one thing, lest you become a dilettante." (Yes, they say "lest" in my internal dialogue.) I am good at lots of things. That's what I like to do, learn new things and do them the best I can.

In 2006 I decided to make Halloween one of them.

I have always done something for Halloween. Made a painting to decorate the door for Trick or Treaters, thrown a party, or gone to some special Halloween event. It wasn't until I met my HunBun that I started going to Haunted mazes. I don't get scared at those things, but man I loved the sets and scare-actors and the fun of screaming people. I wanted a peice of that to call my own, and so it began in 2007.

But not without some pushback. I was told that "some people are gonna think your bullying them into Halloween, your gonna be too good at the prop making and make eveyone else feel like thier props suck, that your gonna be a control freak and a perfectionist, and your gonna make a mess of the house and intrude on people's space and property."

But that didn't happen. After working every night for a few weeks in September I showed what I had made at a family BBQ, and then everyone wanted to play. I showed them how to make a shrunken head out of paper mache and a cheap toy skull. Even though it was last minute it was fun, and everyone had a good time, and everyone wanted to do it next year.

All I needed was a dead monkey to get everyone on board.