Entries Tagged as 'From The Undead Letter Office'

How a scarecrow gets an attitude

AttitudeFrom the undead letter office …

Our friend, Mr. Clamfigs, writes:

“I was hoping you could settle a debate,( and I hope I win).

We are looking at bruno’s head and the cauldron you used for it, and was wondering how big is it?

I purchased a 16″ black cauldron for our head but my wife said it (my head ) looks way too big. please settle this for us. ( and I hope I win).”

Dear Mr & Mrs Clamfigs,

Contrary to popular belief, good sense, and a very intimidating engineering manual I glanced over once at a college bookstore, you almost can’t have a too-big scarecrow head. Scarecrows are unanimous in this. Scarecrows are also notoriously cocky, owing to their big heads.

You may be surprised to learn that Bruno, of all the gourdish ghoulies propagated by our little horror factory, has the smallest head. Grumble’s is larger, but his little brother, Tater, holds the record for largest head among our scarecrow critters.

Bruno’s head does indeed measure approximately 16″ from ear to ear. However, I removed about three inches of “lip” around the cauldron opening to give it a more oblong, pumpkiny shape, so it’s perfectly understandable that your cauldron would appear, to certain discerning eyes, too large.

So, you are both correct, which is a good thing since a wife or husband that wins an argument rarely enjoys the eventual comeuppance concocted by the loser. Especially when there is packing tape and grape jelly involved.

Or a harmonica.

Note: I just realized that I might have altogether misinterpreted your note, so to cover my bases: If your wife thinks your head looks too big, then I wouldn’t argue with her. Get a haircut, or start wearing shoulder pads. It’s just easier that way.

Carpet Adhesive Brands

From the undead letter office…
Minion “falafel” writes in, “Can you suggest a brand of carpet latex- I seem to be having a hard time finding latex base adhesive out here on northern vancouver island.”

Howdy, farrel8,

Wow… Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Isn’t that area a kind of wildlife refuge? A refuge for … um … vancouvers, I guess. They’re sort of like voles or marmots, right? We just call ’em “critters” around here. And they’re excavating a subway system under my front yard. Stupid vancouvers.

As to your question regarding a brand of carpet adhesive that I recommend: I have always used Roberts. I suppose that is mostly due to the fact that it is the brand I see most often at Home Depot. You should be able to locate “carpet adhesive” at any hardware store, though. Other brands to look for are Dap, Henry, Liquid Nails, and TEC. If the clerk gives you a blank stare when you ask for latex carpet adhesive, leave out the word “latex”. If you ask for a tap and die, and some WD40, then you’re on your own.

Have fun, be careful, and don’t pet any critters when your hands are full of carpet glue.


By the way, this stuff is for sale online, too…
Roberts 3300 Carpet Adhesive
Henry Sheet Flooring And Carpet Adhesive
Liquid Nails (AWP40 Outdoor Carpet And Turf Adhesive)
DAP (186 Weldwood Carpet Adhesive)
Note: Always read the label, stick to latex-based products that list “water cleanup”, and wear gloves when you’re working with this stuff.  Mittens are practically useless.


From the dead letter office…

Minion ‘Kathy’ sent us this letter, which ended up making your old pal Spook later for dinner. She writes…

Do you have any ideas on how we could make a bruno for a scare actor? We do a “Spooky Woods Tour” in Tallahassee (south of there called Woodville) every year and we are doing some new stuff this year. I love the creativity you have. We’d like to add “Bruno” as an actor this year. I can hear the screams now…..thanks.

Thanks for the note! Ideas? I have lots.

Idea 1: A stick-around

Bruno’s terror-on-a-stick construction lends itself to the stalk-around model. Now, a real stalk-around includes a monster head that is attached to some type of helmet worn by the actor, and as much fun as that sounds to build, it would be quite a technical challenge.

The next best thing could be a terrible paper mache pumpkin on a stick with a type of shoulder pad arrangement beneath, and over which, you could drape his cloak/robes/coat to give the impression of a solid form underneath. The actor could then carry the stick around, hidden under the cloak.

A slightly more ambitious version of the stick-around may be to attach the stick to an apparatus not unlike a backpack that is strapped to the actor. He could peep through slits in the cloak. This would free his hands, which could then operate arm extensions (more sticks) fitted through the sleeves of the cloak. Attach horrible hands to the arm extensions and you’d have a very scary pumpkin monster with a loooong reach.

Idea 2: A wearable pumpkin head

Attach a hard-hat or batter’s helmet to the inside of your paper mache pumpkin head. Depending on the size of your pumpkin and the diameter of the hole in its bottom, you’ll have to use spacers (pvc pipe, scrap 1x2s) to place the helmet somewhere near the center of the gourd, or near mouth-level. Your actor would end up looking out of the mouth to see. The reason for this is so that the pumpkin itself doesn’t sit on the actor’s shoulders, but is able to turn and pivot freely. From that point, it’s a matter of padding out the creature’s cloak, which would also be worn by the actor.

A word of caution: It would be tempting to strap the helmet firmly to the actor’s head, but this could cause serious neck injury. A loose-fitting chin strap should keep the gourd from shifting around. Anything tighter that doesn’t break away easily is dangerous. You’ve seen what happens to a football player when someone grabs his face mask. Imagine the torque if someone grabbed the pumpkin’s stalk or if it got caught on something. Yeouch!

A flashlight taped to the inside of the gourd and pointing upward should provide plenty of light. Especially if the interior is painted bright orange.


Collateral ClutterFrom the dead letter office…

Minion Shellhawk recently polled a small pack of haunters (That group photo would’ve been one for the scrap book) on the issue of off-season storage.

What do you do with your undead hordes, pumpkins, brigands, and collateral clutter for the other 11 months of the year?


See, I’ve got this outhouse (still in the front yard) that sort of resembles a mausoleum. Instead of breaking it down, I’m thinking that it would make a fine shelter house for the backyard. A handy cave for a stack of tombstones. It’s a sturdy construction, but it was never intended to weather the elements for longer than a few weeks at a time. The walls are just 1x4s covered in 1″ foam, for Peep’s sake. But it would be criminal to cover it with a tarp.

I suppose we could build a larger, more weatherproof crypt in which to house the mausoleum that is sheltering the tombstones. Or perhaps a smallish Gothic cathedral. From an architectural standpoint, Romanesque may be a better choice for its thick walls, generally shorter stature, and absent flying buttresses. In any case, multiple levels of sarcophagi would be an ideal storage solution.

Or cram everything into the garage, which is the approach that we’ve taken. Indoor decorations are boxed (usually after the holidays…in January) and stored in the basement “stock room”. Everything else goes in the garage. In order to walk into the garage and still be able to breathe, you have to build up. Mark every wall stud you can find, then build shelves. And if you wouldn’t be perfectly happy sitting up there batting cobwebs off the ceiling with the zombies, then it’s not built right.

Those garages with tall ceilings contain a large area of potential storage space above the door. I built two very large heavy duty shelves above mine where the brood lives most of the year. I’ve even pondered hanging a metal basket affair suspended from cables above the door. There are kits available for this type of arrangement.

Caution must be exercised when rummaging through these high places. Especially if there’s the slightest chance that someone might arrive home, perhaps after meeting with the family insurance agent, open that door, and suddenly come into a small fortune. Better to place a sign outside (or not, for the opposite reason) to prevent spindling and mutilation.

Of course, you could just unplug the motor. I never thought of that until just now.