How to Vamp Up Your Crypt

I’m a huge fan of Halloween, as any of my friends know and I also love to bring in the spookiness for a night or two. If you’re expecting a few ghouls as guests this season, I’d recommend a few tips to maintain the air of mystery and prevent the creepiness from going over the top.

For that classic drama and suspense, I’ve outlined 3 ways to vamp up your crypt:

  • Captured Spirits
  • Framing Your Past
  • Black Noir Alchemy
  • +Bonus: Black Humour of Horror Wine Label to print & affix

Captured Spirits
No, not the alcohol kind -at least not yet anyway. Haunting that tablescape and other quiet areas of your home will be easy with spirits caught in clear vases. You’ll need:

  • Clear or even transparent vases
  • Cheese Cloth or other light-weight, light-toned fabric
  • Clear Tape

Directions:

  1. Cut a Ghost: Trace around your hand on the fabric like a mitten and add a thumb to opposite side: Voila! A ghost! Add a couple of holes for the eyes if desired.
  2. Trap the Spirit: Snag a piece of clear tape and affix to the bottom of the ghost (perpendicular) because then you’re going to use the tail of that tape to affix to the inside bottom of the clear vase.
  3. After you have affixed the ghost inside the vase, turn the vase upside down. Voila! You have a captured spirit!

Ideas

  • Make a few of these guys in various vase sizes (at least 3) for intrigue.
  • If you only have 1 vase, make him a centerpiece by adorning the surrounding edge w/leaves, rocks, and other natural elements.
  • Name them and create a backstory for them to scare your friends.

Framing Your Past
Idolize your ancestors -or someone else’s- is very cheap and easy. By taking a quick tour through an old cemetery, you should find carved ornamental tombstones to take a few charcoal rubbings. You’ll need:

  • Newsprint (pads available at local art store)
  • Charcoal
  • Cheap Hairspray (aerosol or pump) or fixative
  • Clear Double-Face Tape or Temporary Spray Mount

Directions:

  1. Take a Tour: Find your local ghastly cemetery and scout for the most ornate chiseled headstones you can find -it’ll be in within the families that had the most money to spend so look for tall angels and obelisks.
  2. Transfer the Past: Once you’ve found the ideal artwork, pull a sheet of newsprint from your pad and do your best to capture the entire image. Rubbing with the long side of the charcoal will create a quicker transfer than the end. If you’re alone, get close to the work by leaning your forearm against the top of the paper and rubbing with the opposite hand downward.
  3. Spray to Fix: Once done, spray the charcoal rubbing with cheap hairspray or even a fixative from the art store. If you’re using the cheap hairspray, don’t freak when drips appear on the paper –they will disappear. Spraying in the open while on location will allow you to stack your rubbings for the ride home (no transfer the backside of your new ancestral artwork)!
  4. Spray to Affix: As the Swedes replace daily decor for the Christmas season, I give you permission to do the same for this ghastly season. If it’s a nice day, spread your new rubbings face down on the ground (getting them dirty will add to the effect) and lightly spray them with repositioning spray (found at the art store) -allow to dry for about 5-10 minutes. Important: You want repositioning or temporary spray, not permanent spray mount. Ask if you don’t know. Please keep this task away from children & pets as it’s never good to inhale anything.
  5. Affix & Adorn: Take them into the featured room and apply them to your walls. (As always, please test a discrete area on your wall before going whole hog on your wall. I don’t want angry emails.)
  6. Create a backstory for them to creep-out your friends.

Ideas:

  • Affix one as a showcase piece above a sideboard with lighting and treats, or
  • Affix them together by overlapping them a bit (3 different sizes, 3 different heights) to create intrigue.

Black Noir Alchemy
To bring out the inner alchemist in you, using tonic water straight up as a drink or a feature item under black light promotes a glowing effect. You’ll need:

  • Black light(s) bulbs (switch out your incandescents throughout the house)
  • Tonic Water
  • Various glassware (test tubes, rock glasses, tall glasses, clear bottles)

Ideas:

  • Glow in the Glass: Drink straight up.
  • Bottled Alchemy: Fill clear bottles and place within your tablescapes near blacklight.
  • Potpourri: Fill clear bowl, sprinkle the deadheads from your mum plants that are dying on the porch.

Black Humour of Horror
A few years ago, I decided to make fun of the current ghouls in office by making a ghastly wine label based on the 4 Humors. Headed to a party, we needed to bring a bottle of wine and with an $8 shiraz, we concocted a storyline based on the 4 humors and applied it to, well, the 4 political humors in office.

The backstory of the 4 Humors of Horror

If you like it, please download and use for your enjoyment. The design is just a bit different because I couldn’t find the original file! Oy! Must have been lost in computer transition.

Click Image to enlarge & Download
4Humors of Political Horror Wine Label

You’ll need:

  • 4 Humors File (above)
  • Parchment paper (sold at art store in calligraphy area)
  • Print
  • Frying pan (yes, you read correctly)
  • Spray mount or double-faced tape

Directions:

  1. Printed Humor: Print the piece on parchment paper
  2. Aged by Tear: Use a ruler as a straight edge to rip against making an deckled aged effect
  3. Aged by Heat: On low-heat, place your printed wine label on parchment into the pan. Watch closely as the paper begins to reveal brown spots for further aging. Please, please, please, keep a close eye on this because this process goes very fast. I recommend printing out a few test pieces to understand the aged heating process to your liking.
  4. Affix to bottle with spray mount or double-faced tape.

***
There are so many more ideas, but I thought I could give you 4 great starts to help fill your crypt with dark ambiance.

What are your favorite, no-cheese ways of getting in the spirit?

Happy Halloween!
Ghastly Yours, Elizadeath (Lizzie) Ste.Wart

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