I’m creating our company Halloween party (again) and I’m hoping this year will be better then last years. The year prior to last we had ‘use’ to some Halloween decor/props from a colleague (who unfortunately is no longer with us) – thus I had to create ‘something’ for last year. Well, I also had to mindful (being ‘politically correct’ as they say) to not be ‘morbid’ (?) so we just did ‘Old TV show themes’… it didn’t go as good as I planned. SO… this year I chose to create a “Tribute to Tim Burton” movies. I’ve already got two 1/2 (lol) mannequins – one will be the cocktail waitress from Beetle Juice and the other is the martian woman from Mars Attacks.
My first (work in process) is an Old Tree (semi/haunted) – which could be from Sleepy Hollow. I found the ‘somewhat easy’ idea from Dave Lowe Designs, the blog: (who is an amazing prop artist). Also look at his regular Dave Lowe Design website. Glad I got this one, (Tap-able Tree for Tanya) because he gave me all the steps as well (didn’t need the ‘tap’ part).
Step 1: Items needed: 1. Concrete Tubes (but word of warning, as Dave mentioned as well) – make sure you MEASURE the diameter of each – although they will say 8, 10 & 12 diameter, you will see that not all are uniform. This will help when you are stacking them on one another. I had measured the inside depth of our company VAN to know how tall I planned to make it, keep in mind the wood base as well. I will drill holes at the top later to actually put branches in (also allows me to get the whole thing in the van). Using a 10 diameter, we cut several feet from one tube, to make ours about 6′ tall once stacked on to each other. 2. Fir Wood Strips (that’s what we did) they are lighter but still allow for stability. We bought 4 and cut the length as well. 3. Wood BASE – we purchased a small table top size round for the base, this was nicer because the wood was ‘semi-finished’ (not needing to be sanded or primed). 4. 4 metal L-brackets. Make sure you have shorter wood screws for the bottom L-brackets (depending on the depth of your wood base) – I know that sounds silly, but I forgot about that when I had to ‘find’ shorter wood screws in my plethora of supplies. LOL 5. several cans of Great Stuff Expanding Foam (great stuff) – we bought 8 cans but only ended up using 6. Note, that one of the cans nozzle was broken (which is a necessary item) so lucky to be able to return it. Also make sure you DO wear gloves, this stuff IS sticky and messy. 6. Paint – I actually went to the OLD sale rack (returned/unused paints) and found a greenish grey (1 gallon) that I thought I could use as the base and depending on how it looked, will add something else.
Time to begin. I gave you some ‘basic’ steps above and Dave Lowe has all of the step-by-step for you.
Attach the cut fir strips to the bottom (larger) concrete tube (inside) with wood screws. We made sure to stand it up on the garage floor for stability and to make sure that its flush/flat. You then stack the smaller (we had the cut one on top), attaching to the fir strips with more wood screws. There may be a small gap between the two, but not to worry, you can fill some spots with the expanding foam.
I painted the wood base, just to have some ‘color’ other than the plain wood.
Now the fun begins – expanding foam added. Even as Dave warns you too, some times the foam won’t stick to the paper on the concrete, but you have to just keep trying. I had to be more careful because remember, the tubes are now 6 1/2′ tall and I’m only 4′ 11 1/2″ (LOL), so making sure the excess foam doesn’t land on my head was difficult. Remember, I said this stuff is very sticky! You continue to run strips all the way down and I tried to also pile more on the bottom, to make it look like the tree trunk/base with some roots. You definitely should mist with water, it helps to make expand the foam faster.
I didn’t ‘shave’ the excess (like Dave did), because I didn’t mind the more ‘bubbled’ look. Again, I should have used more (more gaps then I wanted). I then used my ‘returned’ grey/green paint. Definitely do NOT use a ‘good’ paint brush, you will end up doing a stippling technique and you will also need a smaller one for the gaps.
Here’s where “I” tell you (one error I made) – because I didn’t use as much foam as Dave did, the gaps showed the yellow paper underneath, so I realized I definitely needed a small (craft) brush to get into each gap. (You might want to either paint the tube before you put on the foam, but I don’t know if it will adhere as easily?) I saw on another website that someone had added several layers of paint to give a realistic look. So here’s where I went back to hardware store and bought a small “sample size’ ($3.50) of black and used this to fill with the craft brush.
I also ‘flung’ (this is extremely messy) splatters across after I ‘diligently’ filled the gaps, with black paint. Note, the final paint will be dry brushed. I also bought a mossy green (sample size) can to use after all of this dries. Oddly enough we got our first rain (summer rain) and so I’m not sure how much longer all the paint will take to dry.
One ‘last’ item to note, the house paint is a little runny on the foam, so it ‘puddled’ on my wood base. I’ll have to make sure to ‘clean’ it up, but I also plan on adding some dry moss (glued) to the base.
I’ll share the final photos once the prop is done! Hope you like it so far? 🙂