Friday, October 30, 2009

Manufacturing the Chateau Papillon Graveyard, Part Two: Resurrecting Graveyard Man

Graveyard Man ... by daylightSeveral years ago, Beth and I came up with this creepy figure as part of the decorations at our rental home in Vienna. We'd been out at Fair Oaks Mall and stopped by the Spenser's Gifts store to look at their Halloween selection, and I came across the mask pictured above. It was pricey ($40 if I recall correctly!) but fantastically creepy.

I built an armature out of some heavy-duty wire, added some upholstery foam for structure, and voila--a head to place the mask atop! I also wired in two flicker-flame candle bulbs as eyes (the orange pinpricks seen in the photo above), which really makes the ghoulish gent.

His arms are more sturdy wire, surrounded by a pair of flannel "sleeves" I sewed from some scrap fabric; they're stuffed with plastic grocery bags for volume. As for the title of this piece--Graveyard Man's resurrection--that is a story in and of itself. During our last year in the Vienna rental house, some rats got into the storage shed and ate away Graveyard Man's hands (a pair of monster gloves that fit over the wires). Fortunately, I had the mask safely inside with our costume supplies, but his hands were ruined, and we didn't get him set up at all that year, or last year (since we were in an apartment, waiting out the last two weeks of our short sale purchase of Chateau Papillon).

The hands I found at Spirit this year as replacements aren't perfect, but they work. I still want to add animatronics; the plan is to use a through-shaft motor (e.g. the axle goes all the way through and is on both ends of the motor, not just one end) and two cams to cause his arms to jiggle. I even had the perfect motor at one point, bought as a kid to try to add power to the big plastic van Babykins and his pals drove around in--but who knows what has become of it. Perhaps next year I'll have time.

(p.s.: that's one of the concrete tombstones we cast this year behind Graveyard Man.)

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