Haunted Tree

Haunted Tree

"Elmer" the Haunted Tree

Elmer here was a really big prop. He was so tall that I could not get him out of the house once I had him built. He’s the prop that taught me to have a little forethought and planning involved when making my Halloween creations, lest I be stuck with them forever in my living room! lol (We actually put a Santa beard and hat on him for Christmas, so he could be our “Christmas Tree” instead of a regular one. LOL Thank God we were going out of town that Christmas anyway! :) )

Here’s how I started:

I found an old coat rack at the 2nd hand store for around $3. I took chicken wire and formed the bottom to look like roots, and then continued with the basic cylindrical shape all the way to the top, securing the different sections of chicken wire together with wire and then also using wire to attach the top chicken wire part to the spokes from the coat rack. Then, I made the arms out of chicken wire as well and attached them. I also added another stump looking arm thing in the back, but you can’t see that in this picture.

Haunted Tree innards

After this, I realized I should create some support for the arms, so I took some old curtain rods, bent them to the correct position and screwed them into the wood of the coat rack. I also used a few bits of wire that you can’t see in this picture to add strength to it, so it would support the hands.

I wrapped the top parts of the coat rack in tin foil, making the shape of branching root looking things that were to come out of his head, then started covering the whole thing in tin foil.

Haunted Tree Innards

At the bottom, I defined the root look a bit more, and then stuffed some of them with foam pieces to add more firm structure to them before tin foiling over them.

Haunted Tree Foiled

Realizing that I would eventually need a way to move the tree around, I cut two holes in the trunk to allow me access to the inside pole. This turned out to be a very good thing, not only for moving him, but for installing the glowing eye electronics later. (More-Messa wanted to be part of that picture apprently. Lol!)

Haunted Tree Face

Once he was all covered with tin foil, I started making the face. Now, this was the first time I’d ever done this kind of thing, so if the methods seem juvenile, that’s probably why! lol

I used old cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls and tape to get the basic form of the face I wanted him to have.

Haunted Tree Face 02

Then, I used cotton (of all things! :P ) and some more tin foil to create the eye brow and under eye bits as well as give the rest of his face some depth. In retrospect I would never use cotton for this sort of thing again. It was far too flexible and squishy to really be good for what I was trying to do with it. Ah well, ya live and learn, right?

Tree Hands 1Tree Hands 2

To make the hands, I took this really thick wire that I found in the garden section of the Home Depot type store that we have here in Sweden, and I cut it in really long lengths for the finger branches. I made them really long so that I could twist them together at one end and yet still have decent branch-like fingers lengths.

After twisting about 10 inches of the five finger wires together on one side, I placed bits of styrofoam in between the wires to separate the fingers, then used duct tape to keep it all in place. I had about 7 inches left over after the area of the hand. I left this length there so I’d have something to attach to the support structure in the arms.

Then I took big jars and filled them with heavy rocks, and placed that extra length inside the jars so they could hold the hands while I worked on them without tipping over.

I covered the wires and most of the outside of the jars with tin foil, and then added about 5 layers of paper mache to them.

Haunted Tree - papered

When the hands were dried, I attached them to the supports inside the arms of the tree by twisting them around the curtain rod and using really tight duct tape. Then, paper mached it all together.

Also, I found a old lamp shade at the 2nd hand store, and I tore off the fabric and sawed off the bottom ring, leaving me with a ring of metal spines. I attached this with wire to the top of the coat rack and put a clump of florist’s foam in the center. Then, I built up the out side of the top with more tin foil and paper mache to hide this stuff.

Haunted Tree painted

I didn’t take pictures of this while I was doing it, but I thought I’d post a full length pic of the tree to show you what I did at the bottom. I took two of our plastic skulls and made paper mache molds of their faces. Then, I stuck them on to the bottom of the trunk of the tree and paper mached them on. I also made vine-root like things out of tinfoil and paper mached those up the bottom of the tree.

So after I had the whole thing painted, we used the holes in the back of the tree to run the wires so we could put red LEDs in the eyes, attaching a little battery back to the inside pole with tape. We just had to put the second battery in when we’d want them to light up.

My husband is a sound designer, so he also put a speaker down inside the tree and created creaking, groaning, growling sounds for it. :)

So, after the whole tree is painted, I took some fake leaves and vines, dusted them with brown and black spray paint, and put them around the top of the head. I also used the florists foam that I put in the top of his head to poke reeds into. The reeds came in a decorative bundle at the dollar store. They weren’t expensive at all, and they made a pretty decent hair piece for this guy.

Haunted Tree - Finished

And there he is again complete. Thanks for reading! :)