Saturday, October 5, 2013

DIY: Fireflies!


  • 12 volt transformer for up to eight fireflies
  • Tiny hobby lamps (Radio Shack part: 12-v microlamps 272-1092), commonly called grain of rice light bulbs, the kind used in miniature work that have two wires extending from them.
  • Insulated single core wire, the tinier the better (Radio Shack part: blue wrapping wire 278-503). Allow eight feet per firefly displayed
  • Thin cardboard, 3" X 1.5" per firefly
  • Black felt tip pen
  • Black electrical tape
  • Speaker wire of necessary length to reach
  • 6' or taller ladder
  • Electric fans, as many as needed to propel the fireflies

Always keep bare wires apart from each other so the will not short and always unplug the transformer when connecting wires so you will not short the transformer. 
  1. Take the transformer and make sure that it is unplugged at both ends
  2. If necessary, cut off plug end that would normally go to calculator, etc.
  3. Remove 1/2" insulation from the two low voltage ends.
  4. Repeat these instructions for each firefly you wish to display:
    • Take eight feet of the single core, tiny insulated wire and loop it in half tying a knot six inches from the two ends.
    • Tie knots every foot or so to keep the wires together until you reach the loop. Alternatively, you may tape the two wires together.
    • Cut the loop, making two wires four feet long and tied together.
    • Remove insulation 1/2" from the four wire ends.
    • Blacken the cardboard card on both sides with felt tip pen
    • Punch a hole in the center of card.
    • Place one bulb wire through hole in card so that there is a wire on each side.
    • Tape down the wire on each side with a small piece of electrical tape.
    • Connect the tiny insulated wire, that you tied together, to the bulb wire, one end per side, by twisting and cover all exposed wire with electrical tape. You can solder these for a stronger connection.
  5. Repeat as you imagineer the right amount of fireflies for the scene you are creating:

    • Make sure the transformer is unplugged.
    • Determine the length from where the transformer will be plugged in to the firefly you are installing and cut the speaker wire accordingly.
    • Remove 1/2" insulation from each end.
    • Connect the transformer wires and the one end of the speaker wire together by twisting and covering with electrical tape.
    • Affix the speaker wire above the scene you are creating, using tape or thumbtack, taking care not to short the wires. You can attach to the ceiling, hang the wire from lamps, or tree branches.
    • Cut speaker wire where you decide to hang the firefly. Remove 1/2" insulation from both ends of the speaker wire.
    • Connect speaker wire and firefly wires together.
    • Use the electric tape around the first wire connection, and next around the other wire connection, ending with one black tape wrap and a descending firefly.
    • Turn on or plug in the transformer to see your lit firefly. If the firefly does not light, recheck the wire connections.
  6. Sometimes, if an object is too near, they can "flashlight" onto the firefly, spoiling the effect. To adjust the intensity of the fireflies lower the voltage, if there is a switch, or to create a smaller light aperture with electrical tape being applied over a portion of the bulb or pain the bulb or a portion of the bulb.
  7. Plug in small electric fan(s) and place them in as hidden an area as possible, point the fan(s) at the fireflies in order to get the right amount of movement.
  8. If the air current of the fan is limited, a lighter material can also be used in place of the cardboard.
  9. Wait until dark, or make it dark, and you have fireflies!
The photographs are ours, but a nod to the original source of these instructions,  We are so thrilled to have this addition to our Haunt this year!  Can't wait to see the kids' faces!

Friday, October 4, 2013

How To Secure Your Tombstones

We have had a lot of questions about how our tombstones are secured.  We have the answer!

All Tombstone Factory products, tombstones, signs and bases, come with two 3/8" pre-drilled holes in the bottom.

The holes reach 5" deep into the tombstone.  We do not supply the stakes because ground conditions determine what kind of fastener will work best for you.
 Insert 3/8" rebar or wood dowels into the ground with a hammer making sure the distance between the dowels is the same as the holes in the tombstone.  

When choosing between rebar and wood dowels, consider the type of soil you have.  At our house, we have thick clay and use rebar because the wood dowels simply split apart if we try to hammer them into our dirt.  
Then, simply slide your base (if you have one) and tombstone over the dowels!  

For those folks in extremely windy conditions we recommend purchasing 1/2" wood dowels and using those instead of 3/8".  When you place the tombstone on the dowels the fit is really tight and wind shouldn't affect it.  That being said, we must of course recommend that in strong winds, you bring your tombstones in, but replacing them is easy because you can leave the dowels in the ground.  If you choose to use 1/2" dowels, make sure you apply steady pressure when placing the tombstone because you don't want to puncture the exterior with a errant shove!  (We speak from experience!)

With our placement mechanism, you can get creative and fancy with the positioning of your tombstones.  You can make them uneven and cause the stone to lean to one side as though it has been uprooted over time by the shifting earth.  Lean them forward, lean them back - anything you can think of.  

Questions?  Don't hesitate to ask!

Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY: Bottomless Pit

If we had known we would be Halloween blogging, we would have taken better pictures and more notes while we were building our props.  So, if you have questions, please let us know!  :)


Depending on the desired dimensions of your pit, you'll need up to four sheets of plywood and at least two 8' runs of 2x4's.  We cut the plywood to the desired size, making sure that the bottom length was the same as the inset length of the notch in our 2x4's.  The idea is to create a friction fit so that the plywood slides into the notched rail in the 2x4 for easy disassembly and storage during the off season (if you have one at your house).  

The "stone" is created using sheets of foam.  We created the grout lines using a soldering iron - just heat it up and melt away.  Again, do this OUTSIDE because even Haunters shouldn't breathe too much melting plastic.  Glue your stone walls to the plywood.  

Don't forget to cut a hole for your lightbulb and its housing in the plywood and foam.  This will be attached at the end.
As for your top and bottom pieces - you want to create a notch that runs the length of the plywood sheets that is wide enough to shove (and I mean SHOVE) the plywood into.  The inside of the 2x4 is also routered out to create a place for the mirror or Plexiglas to sit.  
We like to use Plexiglas rather than a mirror so there is no danger of it breaking if some errant Halloweener decides to get a really close look at the bottom of your bottomless pit.  For the top piece, you do have to epoxy the mirror to the 2x4 frame which has the same notches as the bottom piece.  We tried to have it sit in a frame somehow, but the lip always showed when the Pit was lit up and ruined the whole effect.
Plexiglas is readily available and to make it "one-way" glass you'll need to go down to Osh or some other home retailer store.  We found our one-way material in the window coverings section - it is really considered privacy material used on storefront windows.  (Took us a while to figure that out in the store!)  We didn't bother purchasing the specialty fluid to make application easier - we just used windex and it worked just fine.  Application of the privacy screen to the Plexiglas is a two man job, so have help on hand.  

 Assemble the bottom piece with its one-way mirror sitting in its slot, shove the four sides into their respective notches and jam the top piece on to create a friction fit bottomless pit.  Ours has survived the heat of the attic just fine - the glue gave way between the foam and plywood, but that it an easy fix every year.  The mirror bubbled a little bit, but it is hardly noticeable once it is switched on. 

We hope you like our project!  The kids get a big kick out of it at our house.  

Happy Haunting!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Go to our Facebook page - Like and Share our Diliges post by September 1st and be entered to win our Diliges (Latin for Love) Tombstone!  

We'll announce the winner on Facebook and September 2nd!  Good Luck!

When Did Your Halloween Obsession Start?

Clearly, mine started much earlier than I even knew.  

My Mom dug this gem out of my grandmother's possessions while cleaning out her house.  

That's me, right there! 

Calisse, the second place winner in the 7 to 9 year old category at the Buellton store.  I remember winning this and being surprised.  I don't remember where I put that watch, though! Too bad, I sure would like to have it now.  :)

Tell us, when did you know you had a Halloween problem?  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DIY: Witch

One of our static props is our witch in her lair.  She has all manner of thing surrounding her from specimen jars, books on anatomy, mortar and pistol , crows, candelabras with skulls and lots of candles!  This year, we're going to add an autonomous rocking cradle - no baby, but lots of lace (hee, hee).  When we built her, we never thought we'd be blogging about our projects so we don't have many in-progress pics!  But, if anyone has questions about how we made her, let us know and we're happy to answer them all. 

Stage one - buy another skeleton, 3/4 size again to save weight.  These come with a hook in their skull which makes for easy hanging.  Our witch is suspended using wire that threads through her hair and hat.

Stage two - insert eyes.  We used white marbles (the big ones) with colored flecks in them.  The white glowed beautifully when only slightly illuminated by a black light.  

Stage three - paper mache!  The first layers built the shape and gave foundation.  The top layer was a mushy mess, but gave great texture. 

Stage four - paint!  We used an airbrush and concocted this putrid green.  The airbrush allowed us to paint her without compromising the delicate nature of the paper mache.  

Stage five - dress and display!  We found this nasty old wig at a thrift store for $1.  Her clothes and hat were purchased specifically for her.  We wanted the hat to be positionable and it took awhile to find that hat!  Her shirt and skirt are classic witch attire from any costume retailer.

Friday, July 19, 2013


This glorious piece of terror came from the wellspring of my mind in conjunction with the internet musings of some other Halloween lovers.  He is lovingly called BBQ Bob and as our daughter tells us over and again, "that's disgusting!"  Well, thank you my dear.  Mission accomplished.  Now the how to:

1.  Start with a pre-fabricated skeleton.  We bought from which buys 4th quality anatomical scale models and sells them to Halloween nuts.  We used a 3/4 size to save on weight as these guys are HEAVY.  

2.  You should be familiar with foam-o-fill, aka Great Stuff or expanding spray foam.  We used this to replicate the general appearance of intestines and guts.  Works wonderfully.  

Apply the foam to Bob while he is lying face up on a protected surface. The foam sticks to everything, including your skin, permanently.  

3.  We used red paint as a base coat and then dry brushed black over it give Bob that raw meat on the inside, toasted on the outside look.

4.  You'll need some plastic sheeting (available at any home improvement store) and make sure you do this OUTSIDE because it is toxic.  This is wrapped around Bob and melted with a heat gun to give the appearance of burnt skin.  You can even twist and layer so it looks like tendons and muscle.  

5.  The final stage involves using a really dark stain like walnut and staining the plastic.  It will dry, just give it time.  Dry brushing with black paint also works well.  

6.  We attached Bob to a spit and with a rotisserie motor got him to rotate.  His hands flop back and forth as he rotates!  Awesome!

7.  Finally, we put a light box under Bob so it looks like smoldering fire under him in the dark. Instructions on how to make a fire box in a later blog post.  

We hope you like him!  If you have any questions, just let us know.

Happy Haunting!