My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Día de los Muertos Marigold Garlands

I recently held a BOOOk Fair at our school library with a Day of the Dead theme.  (Aside – I am so fortunate to have an administration that loves a spooky fall Book – “BOOOk” – Fair).

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Día de los Muertos is primarily a Mexican holiday. It is a multi-day celebration that starts on October 31st – Halloween – and goes through November 2nd – All Souls’ Day.  Over these days, families take time to remember and celebrate family members who have passed on.  They visit cemeteries where they clean the graves of their loved ones and decorate them with altars – ofrendas – using foods & drinks their loved ones enjoyed, toys, and marigolds.  The marigold, known as the Flor de Muerto, is supposed to attract the souls of the dead to the offerings.  We have a large Hispanic population at the school and they loved this Fair.

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One decoration I made was marigold garlands.  These are absolutely stunning and super-simple to make.  Fortunately, in our backyard, marigolds are essentially perennials and come up on their own every spring.  I have an abundance to work with.

Take a sunny fall afternoon and string these beautiful garlands.  They have an amazing weight to them when they are fresh, and a lovely, almost spicy scent.  As they dry, they shrink up, but remain so pretty.  You can cut the garland and spread the dried seeds in your fall garden to come up again next year.  Use them as necklaces or add to a fall tablescape. Use your decorating imagination!

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You need:

Marigold flowers – lots: The string I made for the blog today was three feet long and used 55 flowers.

Embroidery floss

Embroidery needle

Pony beads

How to make them:

Gather your marigold flowers.  You can cut them off the plants with scissors or just pick them by hand.  Make sure to get the seed pod with the flower – this is the part you will be passing the needle through.

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Thread your needle with your embroidery and string your first pony bead, making a knot.  I am using the embroidery floss without separating it into strands so it will be a little stronger. I’m using an orange color to blend in with the flowers.  There is a huge variety of pony beads available!  I am working with some translucent pony beads in all colors.  They add a subtle sparkle in the garland.

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Now, string your first marigold flower.  Push the needle through the seedpod and pull the flower down the floss so it rests on the anchor pony bead.  Next, string another bead.  Then, add another flower. Continue alternating beads and flowers, scooting them down so they are tight together on the string.

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Turn the marigold flowers at different angles to make the garland look full from all sides.

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When you have your garland as long as you want it, knot the end.  Leave enough thread extending so that you can tie the two ends together if you like, to make a circle, or necklace.2017-09-25 16.10.44

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This garland was just under three feet, and used 55 marigold flowers.  It only took about twenty minutes!  Have fun!

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Aliens or Infants: Supremely Effective & Creepy Props

On a crisp fall bike ride through a nearby neighborhood just before Halloween, I stopped in my tracks, staring the most unique decorations I had ever seen.  Floating eerily in front of a house were life-sized, translucent, faceless human figures with full tattered skirts. I was mesmerized.

I biked home as fast as I could and did a little research: tape sculptures. I had no idea there was such a thing.  I found the Storker Project online and was instantly inspired to make tape babies.

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The results were as creepy as I’d hoped. My husband was a little nervous about hanging disturbing, full-sized, featureless infants over our rosebushes, especially after I added a slowly pulsating green and orange strobe light. Amazing!

So when it was time for this year’s spring book fair, what could be better than recreating the Roswell crash with life-sized tape aliens? Answer: nothing!

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The process is time-consuming, but remarkably easy. Try it, you’ll be astounded by the results.

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You need:

  • Good-quality clear packing tape – I used Duck Tape
  • Kitchen plastic wrap
  • Craft knife
  • For babies:
    • Use a doll. Try Walmart or your local thrift store. Or if you have children, appropriate a doll. With their permission.
  • For aliens:
    • Pick a person.  Ideally someone who doesn’t have long hair.  Hair and Duck Tape are a bad combination.
    • A Styrofoam head. Check a beauty supply shop. I found them at Sally Beauty Supply for $5.00.
    • Bubble wrap to pad out the head and make it more alien-looking
    • Lights for inside its body. I used LED String lights 33ft, 100 lights bright green

How to make them:

The process is the same for aliens and babies.

First, wrap your subject in plastic wrap.  Of course, if you are wrapping a person, stop at their neck.  Good heavens.  Do not wrap their head.  They will die.  You will be wrapping the Styrofoam head separately and will attach it to the body later.  I’ll show those head pictures after the body shots.  When you are wrapping with plastic wrap, make sure not to leave any holes, or the tape will stick to the subject.

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One of our brave first-grade volunteers, wrapped in plastic.

 

Next, wrap the packing tape all around the subject, covering the plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and cover completely. The more layers, the more solid it will be.

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My friend, Mr. Reming tapes while I take the picture.

 

When the person or object is completely covered with a solid layer of tape, make a cut carefully down its back. If your subject is a person, use small scissors and start at the neck. Push your finger ahead of the scissors so you aren’t cutting any clothing or pinching any skin! Cut down to the lower back. Cut along the backs of the arms and legs. Gently extract the person. Same for tape babies: start at the crown of the head with a craft knife or scissors and cut down the back and backs of arms and legs. Extract the doll.

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Like a snake skin. 

 

Now, gently pull out any excess plastic wrap from inside your sculpture. You may need scissors to cut out some bits.

Finish your sculptures by closing them back up with more tape. Align the seams as closely as possible and tape them shut.  This step is probably the most time-consuming part.

If you are making a baby, you are done at this point!

If you are making a person, you have completed the body. Now, make the head.

I folded up some pieces of bubble wrap and taped them to the temples and top of the head to give the bulbous alien head look.  I also added some to the chin to make it slightly elongated.

When your head is shaped the way you want it, follow the same process: wrap in plastic wrap.  Cover it in packing tape.  Cut and release the head.  Pull out extra plastic wrap.  Tape up the seam.

Tape your head to the body. You may have to free-form a little bit of upper shoulders with tape. No problem.

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You did it!

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If you want to go full-out alien, reopen the seam in the upper back, giving enough space to put your hand in. Get your LED fairy lights and insert them into the body. Feed the lights down into the arms and legs as far as you can reach. Also place some inside the head: You may need to secure the head lights with a little piece of tape. Leave enough space for the cord to come out of the back, and re-tape the back.

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You can modify these sculptures any way you like.  Consider adding flashing eyeballs: Try making a tape sculpture of a plastic Easter egg or small curved object.  Cut it in half and add flashing LED balloon lights (wrapped in a light layer of plastic wrap to disguise the metallic part).  Tape to the faces.

Tape sculptures make highly dramatic and eerie props.  They have an unsettling quality because they are humanoid, yet lack defined facial features.  You will receive many compliments (accompanied by many strange looks).  And, everyone will want to know how to make these.  Now you do!  Have fun!
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