Sometimes the blood and guts decor of the autumn season gets to be more than ridiculous. We found these spooky ideas on This Old House's website. Fun, classy and a little spooky, we've included photos and their directions on what steps to take to get the final effect. Have fun!
Adams Family Style Frame
Time: 3-4 hours
Cost: About $12 for supplies, plus the cost of the mirror
Difficulty: Easy. But removing just the right amount of paint and reflective coating from the mirror back does require a light touch.
Old photograph or a printout of a creepy face
Fine-grade steel wool (1 or 0)
Acetone (if needed)
Paper towels (if needed)
This haunting "reflection" will spook your guests and turn any entryway into a spot the Addams Family would approve of. We made ours by removing some (but not all) of the mirror's paint and reflective coating and securing a scary image behind the glass. Read on for the how-to.
Start with an ornate mirror, preferably one with a screw-off back so that it's easy to remove the glass. Cover a work surface with a drop cloth. Remove the back of the mirror and place the glass mirror-side down on the work surface.
Make sure your creepy photo is about the same size as yours would be in a close reflection. We printed out a vintage photo from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
Wearing latex gloves, lightly rub the back of the mirror with fine-grade steel wool. The goal is to remove some, but not all, of the paint and reflective coating to give the mirror an aged look. Use very light pressure at first so that you won't remove too much of the paint and coating (remember, you can't get it back). Check your progress periodically by placing the photo behind the glass.
If the paint doesn't come off easily with steel wool, pour a small amount of acetone in an inconspicuous spot on the mirror to see if it loosens the paint without stripping the glass clear. If it does, pour a small amount of acetone onto the steel wool or directly onto the glass as you work. Use paper towels if necessary to wipe away dissolving paint. Check your progress periodically, as in Step 3.
Once you're happy with how the image looks, use translucent tape to affix it to the back side of the mirror. Replace the back of the mirror, and hang it using hardware appropriate for your walls.
Skeleton Foot Door Mat
Time: 2 hours, including drying time
Cost: About $35-$40
• Stencil film
• Indoor/outdoor matte black spray paint
• Plain coir mat
• Painter's or masking tape
• Fine-tip permanent marker
• Utility knife or electric stencil-cutting pen
Step up your stoop supernaturally with this inventive doormat. All you need is a can of indoor/outdoor matte-black spray paint, a plain coir mat (about $23 for an 18-by-30-inch mat; Kempf), and ourdownloadable stencil template.
Print the stencil template, using a photocopier to enlarge it as needed.
Trace the design onto stencil film with a fine-tip permanent marker, then go over the cutlines you just drew with a utility knife or electric stencil-cutting pen.
Lay the stencil over your mat, securing the edges with painter's or masking tape to prevent shifting. Apply three or four coats of spray paint until opaque.
Remove the stencil, and place by your front door to get trick-or-treaters off on the right foot.
Time: 10 hours
Cost: About $20
Difficulty: Moderate. You'll need patience when working with chicken wire, which tends to curl up in the direction it was rolled.
• 1 25-foot roll of 36-inch-wide chicken wire
• Wire snips
• Needle-nose pliers
• A wig form or head-size vase or bowl
• Tape measure
• Work gloves
All pieces are cut from a 36-inch wide, 25-foot-long roll of chicken wire.
• Head and shoulders: one at 36 inches by 36 inches
• Torso and thighs: one at 36 inches by cut to fit (circumference of the shoulders, plus 3 inches)
• Left arm: one at 12 inches by 36 inches
• Right arm and calves: four at 12 inches by 18 inches
• Ax and feet: three at 12 inches by 12 inches
Barely-there chicken wire gives just the right ethereal look to a ghostly apparition. There's a lot of trial and error in the process of pinching and cinching the wire hexes to form a life-like shape, but luckily this malleable medium can be easily reshaped as you go. For this project, you'll work from the top down, starting with the head.
Form the head: Center the wire piece over your wig form, bowl, or vase. Using your hands, press and pinch the wire into a convex shape for the top of the head. As you work your way down, cinch the hexes more tightly and permanently together where needed, using needle-nose pliers to crimp the wire. Keep going until you've got a bell-shaped form that extends to just below the nose.
Form the chin, neck, and face: Start by pinching the hexes to form the pointy part of the chin. Use the wire snips as needed to clip the wire in a curve roughly following the jawline, so that you can fold and overlap the wire underneath to define the chin and neck. For the back of the head and the nape of the neck, clip the wire vertically and overlap the pieces slightly to form a seam to contour and narrow this area. Continue shaping the wire with your fingers to form the nose, lips, chin, and neck. You'll now have a head and neck "emerging" from a somewhat flat base of chicken wire.
Make the shoulders: With the head facing you, snip the wire on each side, where the shoulders will go, to about 6 inches from the head. Make the snips close to the corners of the hexes, which will create longer prongs on the cut sides that can be used for attaching pieces later. Overlap the flaps to form the shoulders and the top of the torso, and secure them using the prongs of the cut wire.
Make the torso and thighs: Form the wire piece into a cylinder, overlapping the ends by about 3 inches. Attach this to the base of the shoulders; snip the wire on the edges if needed to fasten the two pieces together. Eyeball your ghost to decide where the waist should be, and shape the wire by hand to form it. Create the thighs by snipping the wire vertically in the center front and back, along the "inseam"; bend and fasten each side into thighs.
Form the arms: To create the straight left arm, form the wire piece into a cylinder, as you did with the torso, but slightly overlap the piece at an angle, so you'll form a thicker upper arm and thinner lower arm. For the right bent arm, form a bigger cylinder with one piece and a smaller one with the other; fasten them together at a roughly 120-degree angle to form the elbow. Attach each arm to the torso; you may need to clip off a bit of wire near the armpits to do this. With your fingers, contour the wire to look more like arms, with elbows, wrists, and hands. (Bonus points if you create fingers!)
Make the lower legs: Form cylinders from the wire pieces; attach to the thighs at angles to form the knees. Angle the legs so it appears that your ghost is out for a stroll.
Make the feet: Form cylinders from the wire pieces. Flatten the cylinders slightly to make soles on the bottoms, and cinch closed one end of each to form toes. Fasten the feet to the calves.
Make the ax: Fold the wire piece in half so that it measures 12 inches by 6 inches. On the open side of the rectangle, cut out a portion of wire measuring roughly 4 inches by 8 inches, leaving the remainder as an ax-like shape. Overlap the wires along the seams to secure them and to firm up the ax's handle and blade. Attach the handle to the right hand of your ghost, bending and contouring the hand as needed.
Put the ghost on display. To help it stand upright, you may need to attach it with rope or wire to a nearby tree, shrub, or part of your house. Or hang the ghost from a tree limb, using several loops of heavy-duty fishing line just taut enough so that its feet rest on the ground.
Step 1: Fill cans with water and freeze them. Why? You'll be making holes with a hammer and an awl or a chisel, and if you just start pounding away, you'll have a mangled mess. The plug of ice firms the cans for punching.
Step 2: Build a jig to hold the cans steady while you work. Screw scrap 1x1s to the long sides of a board (we used a 1x6).
Step 3: Draw templates, thinking of them as reverse stencils; the lines are the negative space through which the light will shine.
Or, download one of these templates:
• Leaf 1
• Leaf 2
• Leaf 3
Step 4: Clamp a frozen can to the jig, and use a marker to trace on the image. With a hammer and an awl (for dotted lines) or a chisel (for wider slits), puncture the metal. When you're done, run the can under hot water, dump out the ice, and clean off any remaining ink.
Step 5: Snip a length of 18- to 21-gauge wire and attach it to the can through two holes punched on opposite sides near the rim. Use pliers to crimp the ends closed.
Step 6: Place a tea light at the bottom of each can. Arrange your collection on a tabletop or outdoors.
Step 1: Use a knife to carve a large circular opening into the bottom of your pumpkin. Clean out the inside thoroughly, scooping away the pulp and seeds with a spoon.
Step 2:Rough out a design on paper first, then mark the dots on the pumpkin with a permanent marker. Try a swirling or geometric design, or randomly space dots on the pumpkin shell.
Step 3: Gripping the gourd securely near the stem and using a drill/driver, bore holes where you made markings. Be sure to hollow out all the dots you drew for your pattern.
Step 4: Insert a string of small lights through the pumpkin's bottom and push a bulb halfway through each hole. Run the lights' cord from the bottom of the gourd to an outdoor receptacle.
Bone Door Knocker
Step 1: For the knocker, you'll need two replica vertebrae and a tibia (about $5 each and $20, respectively; The Bone Room). Place the smaller end of the tibia between the two vertebrae, as shown. Holding the arrangement securely, carefully drill a pilot hole (it should go through each vertebra and into the tibia) in each side.
Step 2: Drive a stainless-steel trim-head screw through the pilot holes you just made. You may need to tighten or loosen the screws slightly to accommodate inconsistencies in the angle, shape, or curve of the bones.
Step 3: Use a 1x4, trimmed to fit discreetly under the top of the knocker, but you can size and shape the block any way you like. Paint it the color of your front door so that it disappears from view.
Brace the block on a piece of scrap wood, and drill pilot holes sized to match ¼-inch deck screws.
Step 4: Then, working from the underside of the block, drive a 1¼-inch deck screw through the wood and into the back of each vertebra. Affix the knocker to your door with removable mounting tape that you can easily peel off at the end of the season.