DIY: Enter if you Dare

Enter If You Dare

DIY

Story and photography by Jennifer Almand

 

H

alloween is literally my favorite holiday of the year. It’s such a fun day when everyone dresses up and gets to be a character from their fantasies for the night. Even though Halloween is mostly centered around children, adults get to have fun too. Every year I throw a Halloween party for adults and the costumes are awesome. My favorite part is decorating for the party of course.

This year I’m planning some insanely spooky decorations for my front porch. Flying bats, jack-o-lanterns, hay bales, pumpkins, you name it. I think it’s important to set the stage for a fun evening, and the entrance décor is something you can leave up all month long. The prep work for this project is intense and time-consuming, but it’s easy enough for a beginner to handle.

Bats:

The first things I tackled were the bats, lots of black, flying bats. They are relatively simple to make, starting with a template. I chose to make three different sizes, so I made a template for each size. I searched images of bats on the internet, printed them out, and drew my templates on white poster board. I then traced my bats onto black poster board and cut out each one by hand. This process took a couple of hours, but I could do it while watching TV, so it went by quickly. I used 25-30 bats of varying sizes for decorating the door. I also cut out a large full moon from the white poster board and embellished it with some markers, drawing craters and shading. Finally, I used painter’s tape to attach them to the door itself, because painter’s tape is gentle on painted surfaces. I even used a marker to color the tape black. Make sure you fold some bats in half, so they appear to be flying. Little details are everything.

Jack-o-lantern topiary:

Next, I moved on to my Jack-o-lantern topiary. I went to the craft store and purchased plain, inexpensive, plastic Jack-o- lanterns. Of course, they were all orange, so I spray painted some of them black and white for a more elegant effect. I drilled holes in the top and bottom of all of them, making sure the holes would line up on the pole and the jack-o-lanterns would lean at angles opposite each other.

I also purchased an inexpensive black topiary pot on the after-summer clearance rack. I don’t want to ruin an expensive one by filling it with spray foam. I purchased a couple of cans of expanding foam insulation at the hardware store along with a wooden dowel rod that was long enough to go from the bottom of the pot all the way to the top jack-o-lantern. Put on some disposable gloves before attempting this next step because expandable foam will not come off of your hands! I filled the pot about ¾ full of foam, and then placed my wooden dowel in the center. You will have to hold it or brace it until the foam sets up. Let the foam dry overnight.

Next, disguise the foam with some decorative artificial fall leaves. String a strand of ‘warm-white’ LED mini-lights into your biggest Jack-o-lantern, pulling the end through the top hole, so you will be able to string it through each one. Make sure the plug end is dangling out the bottom, now place it on the pole and nestle it into the leaves. Now, continue stringing the light strand through each jack-o-lantern., and placing it on the pole. Divide the light strand equally between the jack- o-lanterns so they will each be lit when you plug it in. Some of the jack-o-lanterns wouldn’t stay in their spot facing forward, so I used a dab of hot glue between them to hold them steady.

Staging:

For staging the final look, you really need to keep balance in mind. After I attached all the bats to the door in an upward- sweeping flying movement, it was time to set the rest of the scene. I strung some artificial spider webbing into the corners of the porch, to give the feeling of height. Since the Topiary was so tall, I balanced the other side of the door with some hay bales and natural pumpkins. I even spray painted some of the natural pumpkins to match the jack-o-lanterns. Finally, I added a few black lanterns for more ambient lighting.

Step back a check your work every once in a while and look at the big picture. Layering is important. The scene needs to come forward, away from the door, and even down the steps. Make sure all the drop cords are hidden. This entire project took several days to complete, but on the bright side, it can be taken down and re-used next year.

I hope you have as much fun on this project as I did! It took a little time and effort, but the results are just amazing. The entrance to your home should always be welcoming to your guests because it is the first thing they see and sets the tone for their visit. With this fabulous Halloween display, your guests are sure to be ready for an exciting and spooky time at your next Halloween Party. Halloween seems to bring out the inner child in all of us, but isn’t that what makes life fun?

Jennifer Almand is the owner of Almand Specialty Painting & Design. She and her husband Rick live with four dogs in scenic Kingston, GA. Jennifer is a decorative painter specializes in kitchen cabinets, painted furniture, murals, custom art, and faux finishes. She also does decorative tile work, organization, and consults on colors, fabrics, finishes, and fixtures. Find her on Facebook or call (706)346-1590.

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