The first challenge was to create a "haunted walk" in between stages to give patrons a themed adventure as they made their way around the festival. I was given a tree lined path and a huge open field. What better reason to create MORE giant mushrooms? We busted out another 3 to add to the 5 from Big Dub Festival for a total of 8 giant mushrooms! They were a huge hit and created a wonderful walkway for everyone. I called it The Garden of Wonders - complete with straw bales, corn, custom carved pumpkins, L.E.D. lighting and an assortment of creepy characters.
At the entrance, an Wonderland inspired sign to direct patrons along their way.
The mushrooms were lit with ColorBlast LED fixtures.
The Bunny Butler.
Every carnival needs a ticket booth and after searching the web for some inspiration, we fell in love with this fabulous design from Keith Corcoran. http://makezine.com/projects/scary-ticket-booth-build/
The next piece was a wild and crazy Kissing Booth - complete with a bizarre assortment of props and oddities. My husband built the booth itself and let me handle the sign and the details.
I cut a piece of plywood, stained it to create an aged look, then painted stripes and letters.
Craig built a simple frame, cut holes in the top for posts and a half circle out of the counter in the back.
We added old boards from our farm and painted them red & white. We always dilute the paint with a little water to give the aged look. After a lot of gluing and painting, we gathered props that would fit the scene.
These fabulous, handmade heads were purchased from a retired circus haunt in California, better known as The Haunt at Hellizondo.
The poor mannequin had quite a night.
We couldn't stop at a Kissing Booth and tackled the next project - a life size Jack in the Box. This was a collaborative project between my husband, Addy Catbug and myself. We had a lot of fun with this one doing multiple layers of designs, lettering and reliefs.
We put a trampoline in the bottom and our wonderful actress, Sophia aka Jack, brought the box to life.
We filled in the areas with more straw, corn, pumpkins and swirls on a stick!
The swirls on a stick were made simply using 1 inch foam, paint and wooden stakes. These were hand painted by my good friend and new member of the team, Marsha Harvilla.
Of course every good carnival needs a spinning wheel of death. This one was completely built by my husband Craig. Made from 2" blue foam and a thin sheet of luan wood, it connects to a wood frame and motor that runs on a car battery. Eventually he put an over-sized head on this one since it was part of the Freak Show.
Shilo as The Marionette
The last and most important part of the circus, in my eyes, was the need for oversized vintage inspired circus posters. These are very expensive to purchase, so I decided that we would just have to make them ourselves. This was another collaborative project between myself, Addy Catbug, Sara Navi Hrkach and Robin Kovzelove. I purchased large canvas by the roll and a decent amount of acrylic paints. Sara created the masterpiece - Serpentina. Robin made the Sideshow Spectacular using both freehand paint techniques and photo transfers. Addy hand painted the awesome Kim-Ken He-She poster and helped me with the typography posters.
I created the typography posters first in Illustrator, choosing the right fonts and placement. I then printed each letter to scale using my home printer, cut, placed, traced and painted for days on end.
Serpentina - hand painted by Sara Navi Hrkach
Sideshow Spectacular - Hand painted by Robin S. Kovzelove
Kim-Ken The He-She - Hand painted by Addy Catbug Bramson
Soaring to 26' feet, we built him using flexible insulated duct, aluminum duct and foam. For the clothes, we used red, white and black felt - pinned, cut, sewn, taped and glued.
Rigging by Anthony Terranova - the master of soaring heights. This was tricky and he needed to be very secure and safe. We were expecting 50mph gusts that weekend.
Last but not least was the entry sign for The Night Circus.
I knew I wanted it to look like the opening of an actual circus tent, so I painted some red and gold drape details.
Our costumes were a collection of more great buys from The Haunt at Hellizondo and various weekend visits to the flea markets. Staying true to the theme, we collected an awesome assortment of top hats and actual vintage costumes and uniforms.
I always start my signs to scale, in Adobe Illustrator.
I, very carefully, freehanded the shape and cut with a jig saw.
I started with a base coat of white washed stain. Then I applied a watered down version of white to create a vintage look. Then, using a yard stick, created stripes.
Painted them in with diluted black paint so you can still see the wood grain.
The frame was made from 1" blue foam to keep the sign lightweight. Painted red and glued to the backboard.
I made my stencils from the original Illustrator graphic, traced, cut and placed along with some decorative pieces.
I painted the letters with gold acrylic paint and sprinkled a very small amount of glitter tor shimmer. Then drilled 1" holes for the lighting using a hole saw attachment to the drill.www.NoveltyLights.com. After arranging wire after wire every 4 parts, we accomplished a chasing marquee sign!
We strung some circus lights to the barn and the entrance was set.
Up next was creating something really special for the stage. My husband decided to own this project and came up with a giant clown with spinning eyes.
Inside the mouth would be the djs. Amazing.
After measuring the stage on site, Craig cut the pieces out of 1/4" plywood. Then mostly freehand, drew and painted on the details.
Added some uv paint layers for lighting effect.
The next order of business was creating a ghostly and traditional haunted path to serve as a walkway between the campgrounds and the main stage / vendor row. I made this witch last year but never really finished her. This year we were able to carve her face some more, build her body, hands and hood. She still isn't finished. I may even turn her into a completely different creature next year.
Craig took on the job of making giant hands using 2" blue foam, cheesecloth and Great Stuff. This was a tedious, sticky process.
With some careful rigging and serious strength, she made her way up. The rest of the path was a collection of my favorite store bought props from years past, spiderweb, hand made ghosts and a combination of uv and amber lighting.
We continued our theme decor all the way down the venue to the pavilion stage, where we put our Giant 17' Spider on the roof, complete with new uv paint job by one of my favorite artists - Danielle De Francesco.
This is the only picture of Danny Davidson's beautiful handywork at Voodoo Lake, which was adorned with handmade scarecrows and voodoo symbolism. It was breathtaking and if you were there to see it, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
And of course a rave isn't a rave without the main stage insanity of over-sized deco, lasers, lights and video. This amazing spectacle was a collaborative effort of the decorators from Bad Ass Raves, SuperCal, Prime Laser Systems and Nephilnine Deco. All veterans of production.
Overall. this was a huge collaborative effort between myself, my husband and 20 other people. From the build to the install, costumes and makeup, acting and performing, painting and pumpkin carving, it was a massive undertaking created by truly dedicated and passionate Halloween lovers. To those involved, thank you from the bottom of my heart. This could not have been done without you.
A very special thank you to:
|Addy Bramson - Crew/ Artist / Painter|
|Danny O'Doyle Davidson - Co-director /Set Designer / Makeup Artist|
|Michael Faulkner - makeup artist/sound & lighting guru|
|Craig Peet - Master Builder / Actor / Scariest Clown EVER|
|Sara Navi - Makeup Artist / Illustrator / Painter/ Costume Designer / Actor|
|Kenzie Frenzy - Actor / Circus Performer|
|Dan Gambyt Ardnt - Actor / Set Crew/ Lighting|
|Amanda Mandalay - Electrocute|
|Josh Almond - Actor / Crew|
|Steve Calamia - Ring Leader|
|Danica Jade - Actor / Circus Performer|
|Anthony Terranova - Master Rigger|
|Nichole Skye Jonker and Lexi Worsham - Gypsies of The Circus|
|Shilo SortTingHat - Marionette / Decorator main stage|
|Travis Vilyn - Actor / Pumpkin Artist|
|Shechi DarkMatter - Actor / Circus Performer|
|Kasey Lloyd - Pumpkin Artist / Mistress of Ebola|
|Raul Render Colon - Pumpkin Artist / The Man|
|Marsha Harvilla - Crew / Actor|
|Danielle De Francesco - Scenic Artist / Painter / Woman of Action|
|Jessica Babb and Bryce Newell - Slow Kidz|
|Rebecca Souther - Pumpkin Artist|
|Chad Bozzarelli - Festival Owner / Bad Ass Mother Fucker|
Bobby Fingles - Production Manager of The Year
|Kevin - Head Above Heart Photography|
|Cj Winn and Ashley Pasqualichio - Crew|
|Sophia Doc Satann - Actor / Jack in The Box|
Also a very special shout out to:Anjelica and Nicole Light It Up
Danny Elemental Reamer
Robin KovzeloveJessi Love
Steve and Amy Paradis
The entire Electrocute Collective
Bad Ass Raves
Thank you from all of us at The Haunted Garden!
Till Next Time & Happy Haunting!
For more info on The Haunted Garden visit :