Thursday, May 26, 2011

Witchlette: Dressing begins

Ok, not really much to look at here other than I have added plastic bottle over top of the mech to keep everything nice and secure inside. I then covered the body in burlap that has been soaked in Sculpt or Coat. The resulting body is lightweight and fairly stiff. I have also mounted the cauldron to the top of the books and the motor inside the cauldron. At this point I gave the the dual motors a 24 hour test run...they worked flawlessly with absolutely no heat build up.
I decided to go with a dual voltage desktop power supply with 5vDC going to the head motor and 12vDC going to the cauldron motor. This keeps the two movements out of sync with each other adding to a lifelike illusion.

I have a feeling the outfit on this nasty little gal is going to be a whole bunch of fun. I will be staying away from traditional black cloak and hat and stay in earthy fabrics with alot of texture. I am not looking forward to making a pair of small hands though, and might wuss out and use a pair of plastic skeleton hands.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Witchlette progress: Arms

Witchlette's arms have been installed and tested. I added a bracket to the main front rod to support the shoulders, providing a secure foundation for the jointed arms. Trial and error with the arm lengths resulted in a smooth natural movement. As stated before, I am designing this mech to be as maintenance free as possible so that the eventual owner can enjoy her for years to come.
A loose fitting at the wrists will give just enough play at the natural maple stirring stick to give the entire arm assembly a smooth, natural stirring motion.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Witchlette continued: The mech

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to add some head movement to the Witchlette. I have made head turning mechs before, but always on a larger scale where the overall size wasn't an issue. This project has several design demands that I have not encountered before.
  • The mech must be small enough to fit inside the body.
  • The mech must be reliable. In the past, I have made props for myself, and troubleshooting always seems to be par for the course. This mech must work flawlessly and provide trouble free operation.
This is my first successful configuration that will meet the necessary requirements. After the pictures were taken, I have tweaked a few dimensions to make the mechanism even more compact than pictured. The design will allow me to easily adjust the overall height and neck-to-torso dimensions, but for now proof of concept has been achieved.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Here's the start of my next animated, motorized figure. This one is already taking on a life of her own and developing a creepy personality. Like Luther, she will be a motorized prop stirring a small cauldron. I may try to coax a little more movement into her, but haven't quite figured out how to hide the mechanism I have been thinking about in such a small space. I also need to make sure to leave access to any inner workings for potential troubleshooting and maintenance. It is also possible that the stirring motion will be enough. Decisions, decisions....

Little brown bat

Pix of a bat we found in my son's school. After some observation, it was turned loose in our backyard to help thin out the mosquito population.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rusty Lanterns

What haunt couldn't use a rusted out, flickering lantern to add to the creepy atmosphere? These lanterns are painted and textured to appear very old and rusty. The original 'pristine' lantern shown on the box below comes with a very shiny black finish and a stark white LED light. I have removed the stock LEDs and replaced them with a good quality flickering tealight candle. A great feature of the lantern is that it has a nice dimmer switch and operates off 2 AA batteries. By wiring the tealight directly to the switch, I can take advantage of variable electrical inputs which exaggerate the flickering effect from full flicker to a dim sputtering that looks like the lantern is about to go out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cauldron Stirring Guy completed

It has been a productive day here at the Farm. My first Cauldron Stirring prop of the year is now complete. At the suggestion of a good friend, I added a stiff collar which led to the addition of a shirt and tie. Very dapper, don't you think? According to Mrs. Dave the Dead, his name is Luther. ( I'm not sold on the name, but Luther hasn't suggested any other options) Video of Luther in action can be seen here.

Another project ticked off my list can be seen in the background...a set of small shelves that I will use to display my wares at upcoming shows. The shelves are made from reclaimed cedar fence planks, and make a perfect backdrop for the creepy little characters that inhabit The Shadow Farm.

Next on the agenda are more small ghouls, some lanterns that I am converting to use LED tealight candles, and at least two more Cauldron Stirring props.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stirring Cauldon Sculpt In progress

This guy is the start of a series of Cauldron Stirring figures I have planned for this year. I have some finish work yet to do, but have proven that he is mechanically sound by running him off and on for hours at a time over the last week or so. The sculpt is mostly paper mache with paperclay as a topcoat to give the final texture. The figure has a small electric motor mounted inside the cauldron that revolves slowly, his jointed arms following the stirring stick. Overall size is approx 21 inches. Finishing touches will include some crazy hair, a large stiff collar, and some paint and texturing on the cauldron. When completed, this figure will be available to purchase on Etsy or in person at Great Lakes Fright Fest.