Get in the Halloween spirit with creative home decorations.
When it comes to decorations, options are limitless — but there are some things you can do to turn an ordinary, commercial prop into a unique, pro-level decor item.
Dave Larson — founder of long-running home haunt Pirate’s Cave in Orange — utilizes a technique he learned from a friend to improve the look of his props.
“My favorite thing to do with my kids over the years that is creative and is fun for all ages is ‘distressing’ Halloween decorations,” he said. “At the Pirate’s Cave in Orange, we have to build most of our own props. Sometimes we buy cheap props and ‘age’ them to improve the look.”
He said that when his kids were young, he embarked on their first Halloween project. He bought some glass bottles with flickering light inside and a wood crate to hold them in.
“The problem was the bottles and the crate looked too new, so something needed to be done,” he said. “We learned about the ‘dry brush technique’ from a friend and have implemented it ever since. You can take any prop and use this method with different variations. It was a fun project for the whole family, even the young ones.”
Recently, he applied the technique to some barrels he found at the thrift store.
“The size of them was perfect, but they didn’t look spooky or aged,” he said.
First they applied a base coat over the whole barrel.
“Think of the base coat as the overall color you want your prop to be — keep it on the lighter side though,” he said. “Once that is dry, you select some other colors like a darker black, some white, and some lighter brown.”
Pour small half-dollar size pools of the paint into different areas of a pie tin. Then take a brush and briefly dip it into some water, and then into your selected paint. First apply the paint to a piece of cardboard to figure out the right amount to apply to the surface, as well as for some practice.
“The idea with the barrel was to get a faded wood grain look,” he said. “The water kind of feathers the paint where [you] don’t have such hard lines and creates a spookier look. This is where the experimentation comes in. Try using different colors, mixing the colors. Using sea sponges instead of brushes. Just keep brushing away, but keep in mind that ‘less is more.’ The great thing about a water-based paint that is slightly watered down, is that if you make a mistake you can wipe that paint off and start again.”
He said to keep on the lookout for cheap props to try the technique on.
“Your family will enjoy perfecting your technique [and] will be proud of your final result,” he said.
By Jessica Peralta
(Photo courtesy of Clint Patterson/Unsplash)