Jeffrey explains it all!

Nope, I didn’t get a Nickelodeon reboot series. Today’s post is about Halloween. What? You thought I was done with these? Nah, just tied up in, well, Halloween. But now, I’m taking a day or so off before the last bit (graveyard). So, get ready, as Jeffrey explains it all!

Origin Story

As most of you know, Halloween is a big deal for me. And, as long-time readers know, I spend a good deal of time thinking up new ways to be creative. More so, with my limited space.

The best laid plans…

So, I began thinking up what to do for this year shortly after last Halloween. About midway through the year, I cemented my ideas and began planning. The full story is linked to the right.

The short version is, last year Animal Control and Pied Piper had their day. This year, it was time to pay the piper for their actions. Revenge of the Dead Things has begun!

Driveway of Doom

Okay, ambitious planning set. Big drawback ahead: I need to use my entire driveway. During rainy season.

Well, they say creators must suffer for their art. Hopefully, I can dodge most of Mom Nature’s more energetic efforts between now and the beginning of November.

However, the entire driveway is about the only real design space I have at the house, outside of two thin grass strips on either side of the driveway. Such is the price of a villa connected on both sides.

Leaving No Stone Unpainted

Ugh. Edging stones.

I was concerned I might need more edging stones than even I had from last year. Little did I think I would need almost double! The path itself used all but one of my stones. And, I still had my display “boxes” to build.

Stones, stones, stones…

So, off to Home Depot for my special stones. Whups. My local HD didn’t have them. I had to drive all the way out to the store that, coincidentally, was across from where I worked my last job.

I left early, to beat traffic, as HD opens at 7 am. What I got was a toad strangler storm that froze traffic on I-95 and flooded the HD parking lot. Oh, yeah, and it prevented me from getting in the store for about 20 minutes.

So, sure, after loading everything in the trunk, I was right smack in rush hour. Thanks, Mom.

On the plus side, it was mostly dry by the time I got back home, so I could begin the painting.

Key frame of reference for you: I ended up using 67 edging stones at 15 pounds each. I’ll do the math for you…that’s half a ton of concrete.

All That Painting Left Me a Vegetable

Time to spray all those stones. Using flat black spray paint, I placed two at a time on spread-out newspaper on the front driveway.

In South Florida. In October. That’s, in South Florida. Which means it’s like July everywhere else.

My fingers got beat up from all that pressing. They also got awful black from the paint spray. So, how to clean them up, anyway?

Good ol’ internet. Apparently, the technique is rub in vegetable oil and then wash in dish soap. Don’t ask me, I just read the stuff.

Darn if it doesn’t work, though! Except under the fingernails, but, hey, that’s a timing thing. Eventually, even they get clean.

Working On a Skeleton Budget

After placing down all my foam blocks (spray painted black, of course), it was time for my skeleton scenes. First to be tackled – the Animal Control guy.

No escape for you, bud

All those skeleton dogs and cats he was capturing last year? Yeah, they escaped and they were not happy. The scene you can see to the right. How it happens is thusly:

First, I bought some plant posts from Home Depot. Using a wire cutter, I snapped the length down by half (the cutters weren’t heavy-duty enough to snip through by themselves, but I got enough “eaten” in that I could bend and snap it).

The post props up the skeleton head. Then, I position all the Dead Things to be trying to tear apart the AC guy. If you look closely, you can see he is trying to pull himself out of the box. Not a chance.

For each Dead Thing, I used floral wire, spray painted black, that I snipped into small sections and bent in a “U” shape. These then became the anchors for the feet of each Dead Thing.

Next comes lights and voila! One day’s work done.

Escaping Is a Pipe Dream

Next day, it’s the Pied Piper’s turn. What happens if, say, a rat is able to grab his pipe?

Last tune for you, pal

Well, I think something like what you see to the right. I mean, rats are tough in real life. Dead Thing rats? Brrr.

Again, plant post used to prop the head. A little more ingenuity with the rats here, as they are smaller. Some are merely placed on his body. Some are perched on the edging stones (long tails help balance them).

The rest get the floral wire treatment. Fun fact: their jaws are just resistant enough that I could stick pieces of clothing and cape in there and they stayed, without tape or wire.

Again, lay the lights and move on to the next day’s activities.

These Scenes Are For The Birds

I had an idea. I have all these skeleton birds, but they don’t directly fit in the “revenge” theme. So, what do birds usually do? They perch somewhere and watch stuff.

Get some glasses, ya bum!

My thought was, let’s build a bleachers section for the smaller birds to gather, like in a stadium.

Except, no one sells “mini bleachers”. I thought – shoe rack! Obviously, I’m not someone who has a lot of shoes. Shoe racks just aren’t like that. Funny, because it made sense to me, but I guess it’s a space thing.

So, where to find some offset seating? Well, this is gonna take some McGyvering, I think.

Yup. I bought an expandable wire spice rack from Amazon. Spray paint it black, of course. And, well, what do you think? Looks like bleacher bums to me.

Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

All done. Lit up and awesome. I go out to take my evening photograph of the whole schmear and…

…almost die.

Okay, not really, but I do discover that those amazing edging stones, so carefully painted, are invisible at night. Nightmarish visions of little children tripping and crying as their knees bleed drains the color from my face.

Solution is simple, really. Just lay some more LED lights across the tops of the stones. Easy peasy.

Eh. Not so fast. Because, there are no more of my beloved purple LED lights (the ones that act like black lights). Still, ingenuity and creativity, right?

I go for red. Color of blood. Oooeeeooo.

Sure, they’re actually Christmas rope lights, but I won’t tell the trick or treaters if you don’t.

But, how to secure them? This proves much more problematical than I imagined. I’m using duct tape but (1) the rope lights have a lot of curl in them and really don’t sit nice and (2) duct tape doesn’t work well on concrete.

Jeffrey Explains It All

Suffice to say, I get it done. And the end result, as you can see, is pretty spectacular.

I’m not kidding, here. False modesty aside, when I stand out there and look at this, especially at night, it’s freaking awesome.

So, now that you’ve had your “Jeffrey explains it all” novel, I need you to explain one thing to me

…how the heck do I top this next year?

 

 

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