As you enter the gates of the Haunted Mansion you are greeted by the turquoise and bronzed patina of a foreboding sign that reads “The Haunted Mansion”. The sign is surrounded by sculpted leaves with a skull at the bottom and a horned monster head with two snakes at the top. I knew from the very beginning of our project that this was a piece I would surely be attempting. The parks sell replicas and there are any number of sellers on the secondary market selling smaller 3D printed versions or cast resin knockoffs. I decided to make my own for three reasons. Firstly, it is always more fun and fulfilling to make something than simply to buy it. Secondly, it would definitely be cheaper than the replicas that are usually around or above $100. Thirdly, it would be a chance to possibly personalized it with our name to greet our guests as they entered. Again, there are Etsy shops that personalize signs in a similar fashion, but they are costly and usually much smaller. There are different versions of the sign. Some have a more copper look while others have a more bright green look with the aging. I love the look of the soft mint green and teal patina. It strikes the right balance between age and an ethereal ghostly glow.
If you have missed our previous builds as we turn into home in the Haunted Mansion for our annual neighborhood Halloween party. Previous entries include the Hatbox Ghost, the Gargoyle Candelabra, the Madam Leota Seance projection, the Madam Leota Tombstone, the 13hr Monster Clock, the Haunted Organ, & miscellaneous touches.
I started with a round frame purchased at hobby store on one of the weeks where it was half off. It was roughly the right oval shape and size and was around $10.
Next, I knew I need leaves…lots of leaves. Rather than sculpting them all by hand I decided to buy a silicone mold, used for candies, on Amazon for $10. I used some smooth on resin and cast dozens of thin leaves.
I then attached the leaves to the frame using a contractor grade construction adhesive in a caulking gun. I finished the bottom with a plastic skull I bought at the dollar store for, you guessed it, a dollar.
The most complicated piece would be the horned monster head. I sculpted onto a template cut out of polystyrene. I sculpted the bulk of the face with Super Sculpey to get the details right. I then sculpted the hair and snakes out of Smooth On Free Form Air to keep the weight of the piece light. The darker pieces of Sculpey are from my heat gun being left in one place for few seconds too long.
I then attached the head to the frame and added an oval I cut out of Masonite on into the place where the frame or mirror would have gone.
I sealed the Sculpey that can sometimes react with spray paints with a few coats of acrylic and Testors dull coat in a small rattle can. I then gave the entire thing numerous coats of a Rustoleum spray paint called Oil Rubbed Bronze. When it dried I mixed up a few different shades of teal with some water to create a series of soupy water washes I would brush onto the entire piece. The watered-down paint runs to the cracks and crevices. I have blurred out the portion of the build that has our last name. The letters for name could have been stenciled on or painted, the Haunted Mansion font is called Ravenscroft. I opted to have a friend cut them out on a laser cutter our of masonite. I could have cut them into the masonite back for the recessed carved look which is more accurate. I opted for cutting out the letters to not be a hassle to my friend.
Check back next week for our next Halloween Haunted Mansion DIY project.
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Until next time…
The Imagine Ears features the DIY projects, adventures, and thoughts of a father and daughter who use a shared love of all things Disney to create memories together through encouraging her interests in architecture, design, Imagineering, while exploring history and science.