Thursday, October 17, 2019

DIY: Making A Life-Sized Stay Puft For Halloween

Have you ever gone Full Fangirl on something? To the point where people look at you funny and your family suggests you get out more? 

I mean, we're all fans of stuff, of course. That's probably why you're here. There's just a special kind of joy in going ALL IN on one particular fandom sometimes, really letting that geek flag fly to extreme.

I remember once after a 7-day Disney cruise my whole family got off the ship... and went straight to Walt Disney World. We were basically drunk on Disney. We couldn't get enough. We were sharing trivia and visiting the characters and laughing like little kids in a way that I never had before from a day trip to the park. It's like our joy in the fandom got turned up to 11, fueling off each other and all our time spent immersed in this thing we loved.

The past few weeks have been like that for me with Ghostbusters. I really only have John with me on this journey, but the more I lean in and let my inner geek run amuck, the more fun I've been having - even while fighting a 3-week head cold, ha. I don't usually live and breath Ghostbusters, but for right now I'm really focusing on celebrating this one fandom... and it's been rather glorious.

Which is all a long-winded intro to the Halloween decorations John and I've been making this year! You've already seen my Stay Puft-kin, but we have much BIGGER builds in the works, too, and I think it's finally time to give you a peek at what our Trick-or-Treaters will see on the 31st.

First and foremost is the thing we've been working on for at least 6 weeks now: a nearly life-sized Stay Puft head to go on our roof, so it looks like he's climbing over our house.

Our first prototype (done in miniature) had a hilarious muffin-top hat:

... But our second test modal was just about right:

So then we just had to make one 5 times bigger. These are made of dollar store plastic tablecloths sewn together, so at least the material cost is cheap.

Fast forward a week when we learned our ceilings are much too low:

 Although inflating this in our front room was HILARIOUS.

A tip of the giant hat to John for all his hard work sewing this monster marshmallow together. After lots of experimenting he learned a zigzag stitch is the strongest way to go, though these seams are still very delicate and prone to ripping. (White duct tape is our friend, lemme tell ya.)

We had to trek Stay Puft to a different location with higher ceilings, but even that was perilous:

 Stay Puft really lets his fans go to his head.
 (Eh? EH??)

Also that's our friend Bianca painting in his face, because she was so excited we couldn't stop her. :D

Next we had to attach tie-downs, fill dollar store bags with rocks, and do several more tests outside, making small adjustments or repairs each time. He's kept inflated with a small household fan we already owned; we just turn the fan on low once he's full - which takes less than five minutes.

Stay Puft in the Swamps of Sadness. FIGHT AGAINST THE SADNESS, STAY PUFT! 

(Also you better believe our neighbors slowed waaaay down as they drove past our yard during these tests. Just keeping up our reps as the Weirdos. ;P)

Then after all THAT John had to construct a lightweight foam ramp to keep Stay Puft level on our roof. We've had one successful roof test so far, but now we need to paint all the tie-down ropes and bags black, because we didn't realize they'd still be really visible at night. Whoops.

Cross your fingers with us that Stay Puft's seams all survive 'til the big night! We're hoping to do a full test run with ALL the house decorations in the next few days, so I can get pictures for the big reveal here on the blog in time for Halloween. (This will be a One Night Showing: all our decorations are too fragile and/or expensive to leave outside!)

The next time you see this guy, he *should* be peering over our roof - and with a finished hat. 'Til then, here's a gorgeous sunset shot from our front yard:

Oh! Dimensions: The head is 12 feet tall and 9 feet wide, and we used 12 dollar-store table cloths. The face is painted with acrylics, then top-coated with spray lacquer to make it water-resistant. With the tie-downs & rocks, the material cost on this was right around $30. Hit me up with any other questions in the comments!


Next up, I wanted a Terror Dog, but we also don't want to scare little kids. So we took the silly approach and made a Snoopy-style doghouse.

This is all pink insulation foam held together with hot glue. We used a soldering iron to melt in the lines for the wood planks.

John and I were both pleasantly shocked by how well my wood grain paint job turned out:

The trick is to apply two shades of paint at the same time with the same chip brush, blending until the brush is dry, and then dragging a bit to get those speckled sections. It also helps to go really fast; this whole roof took me about five minutes to paint.
I sketched the outline of a Terror Dog head on more pink foam, which John cut out with a utility blade. Then I sanded the edges to round them:

 We covered the eyes with a clear piece of plastic we sanded (to diffuse the light), then glued dollar-store red lights behind them.

 I painted the whole head black, then used a lighter gray to add highlights for dimension:

The final touches were some plastic dollar store chain, and a curtain of black velvet in the back.

(This is a video still, so it's blurry. I forgot to take an actual photo!)
John also added some scary growling sound effects, but I don't think we'll use those... or if we do, not until later after the little kids have gone home.

Oh! And just tonight we added fog piped through the doorway, which looks suuuuuuper cool. I'll post video with the final reveal, so you'll have to wait for that.
Our house is never boring.


From the beginning John and I've been hoping to make some kind of interactive photo op as part of our outside decorations, which is daunting, to say the least.

What I really wanted was a way for kids (and adults!) to take a picture of themselves catching a ghost while wearing a proton pack - but without us having to stand outside and put the pack on each person.

I don't ask for much, right?

Towards that end John and I spent far too much money at Spirit Halloween on a pack AND Slimer (though happily with 20% off coupons!), and then John went and BLEW MY MIND by making this:
 This is straight off the camera, no editing!

The proton pack itself (not pictured off to the right) is attached to an adjustable stand, and the wand is held in place with a steel bar. So to take a picture you just have to stand with your back to the pack and act like you're holding the wand. In the low light it will look like you're actually wearing the pack!

 We're still working out some safety details (tripping hazards, etc), but I *think* this is going to work, and I am SO DARN EXCITED.

The real magic is that proton stream, which John made by wrapping a red plastic tablecloth around white LED rope lighting. Then he taped blue EL wire haphazardly down the whole length for the crackly lightning effect.

Here's a movie screen shot for comparison:

He nailed it, right? EEEEEE so good.
 So that's nearly everything we've got in the works so far! I also have a glowing No Ghost symbol for the front door, some "slime" trim for the window boxes, and I think we'll be bringing out the Thestral and calling it a "ghost horse" for the night, heh. (Hey, if you've got it - and by "it" I mean a life-sized horse skeleton - flaunt it!)

 I'm terrible at visualizing things before they're done, so I'm both excited and terribly nervous about putting it all together outside. I hope it comes together, and that Stay Puft doesn't pop, and that I can take some decent photos & video to show you guys! (I forgot to mention we have a flame light for Stay Puft, so we can make him look like he's on fire!)

I hope my descent into Fangirl Madness here has given you a smile, since it's really brought me a lot of joy this month. I think John's caught the bug, too, because he went thrifting on his own this week to find the perfect aluminum bowl, which he then spent 20 minutes drilling to turn into a vintage style colander.

Yep, by all accounts I'm going to be sporting some tres chic headgear this Halloween:
Let's hope it's not too taxing.

Can't wait!


 And now...


Have you seen this animated eyeball doorbell?

When you ring the bell, the top opens to show a moving eye!
I saw a video of one last year, and immediately fell in love. I think this is a cheaper version, but for only $15 I may have to get it. Oof. How did I end up getting roped into decorating this much for Halloween?! I can see this being a slippery slope. :D


  1. I saw this on Syfy Wire today, and of course thought of you. I doubt you'll want to get it at that price, but I figure you'd appreciate it being out there.

  2. Amazing! All of it! I can't sew a stitch, so just trying to think of how you visualize and sew something that big is pretty much incomprehensible to me. And you're right, the proton stream is perfection. I hope your neighborhood and trick-or-treaters realize how lucky they are!

  3. Somehow I really love the "our ceilings are much too low" photo. ;)

    You two are awe-inspiring, as always.

  4. Neighbors driving by: "A giant marshmallow head? Just the Epbots as usual..."

  5. OMG!!! I love all of this! As a fellow Halloweenie and GB fan, I lOVE how much work and detail you're putting into your decorations. You've already won the internet and the holiday.

  6. It must be so much fun to be your neighbor. :D

  7. Oh my gosh, I can't believe what y'all can put together!! The proton pack photo op is to DIE for!

  8. Coming down to FL just to visit your house! I wish! Amazing!

  9. They have a doorbell like that at Target too, and it's a litle cheaper, link here

  10. So awesome! Watch out for the tropical winds this weekend though!

    1. Yeah, sadly we've been rained out for the next few days! Hoping for clear skies next week.

  11. You could reinforce the stitching in at least 2 ways. 1, fold over the table cloth abd sew through 2 thicknesses for each side of the seam, so a total of 4 tablecloth thickness for the seam. Or, use the duct tape on each seam before sewing it together, but that might nake it too heavy for the fan, and it might gum up your needke, so you would beed to use alcohol to clean it often. The same idea, but theres a special kind if double sided tape made for holding seams down, that wont gum up your needle. It might be more expensive though.
    It looks so amazing though!

    1. Double stick basting tape is my power tool. This stuff doesn't gum up needles, and makes assembly easy.

  12. PS, no I didnt have a stroke. Stupid Galaxy phone puts its own letters instead of the obes I want. LOO

  13. Need some toasted marshmallow candles, or you know real marshmallows toasted, for the authentic smell.

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  15. There was one house when I was a kid that had the full size candy bars and gave out rolls of nickels (yes, a whole $2 roll - it was the neighborhood to go to!) for the younger kids.

    The owner was an awesome older man who really loved to decorate for... Christmas. Stay with me here, I have a point that is relevant: He would get a tree that was 10 foot tall or more, cut the top off, and install it on the roof. So you could see the tree through the living room window and then extending "through" the ceiling and out the roof. All lit up and everything. It was my favorite house for both holidays. :D

    All that to say, I hope decades from now some former local kid is telling the story of that one house that had a Stay Puft man climbing over the roof and how kids just don't get to experience trick or treating as awesome as they did.

    1. I love this! And now I want to put a tree on the roof. :D I don't know that we'll be that memorable, but it's definitely GOALS.

  16. I cannot wait to see this finished! My littlest is all about Ghostbuster - it's on the tv right now actually - lol He would just flip.

  17. Spores, molds, and fungus, Batman, this is so cool!

  18. This is insane but in the best way! I quite often feel self-conscious going down a rabbit hole of fandom- I love that you two used it as a together activity and had so much fun!

  19. This is the most incredible thing I have ever seen. I cannot friggin wait for the big reveal. I wonder if I can get my husband on board to do our house next year, even though we live in Scotland where nobody decorates for Halloween at all?

  20. You guys always impress the hell out of me. I dont even know how you do it. Table clothes? Brilliant! If you wanted to sure up your seems and you had a few dollars to spend, liquid stitch running along the actual seam may help you. It dries kinda rubbery and might air seal the seams for you. (Its what I used on my Sarah dress to sure up all of my seams on my bodice since organza likes to tear if you look at it wrong. Though I am sure it would require some testing to be sure it's what you need. Why do I always go for the expensive way of doing things? Lol!

  21. Man, oh man! This rocks! I do especially live the photo op! It really does look just like the original!

  22. It looks fabulous! Your house will look so great!

    I'm curious, how long do your outside decorations stay up outside? I just did my first outdoor Halloween display and, after being out in the yard for the past week, two of my skeletons were stolen over the weekend. I brought everything back inside after consulting with online friends who said they mostly don't do decorations until the day of or the day before Halloween and take them down immediately the same night. Does your house do the same?

    1. Yes, we only decorate the day of! Although this is really only our second year doing ANY Halloween decorations. We have a neighbor who leaves her stuff out for weeks: hanging mannequins, grave stones, etc. - but I do worry about more expensive items being stolen.

  23. As for being the Weirdos of the neighborhood - my step-dad rented theatrical lighting equipment. He moved to a new shop. He was testing the chemical AND dry ice fog machines, opend the door and had all the neighbors call in a "fire". TO their surprise, the fire truck rolled up within 2 minutes. Why? THEY were renting the foggers to train newbies. So the neighbors would only call if we ran out of the building screaming.

  24. Once this is done you should send a photo to Adam Savage. I'm sure he would love it

  25. I would be so proud to be your neighbor!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3

  26. I would go to see this if I was local. That's a high honor since I don't go looking anymore.
    Great job on the proton stream. That's my favorite so far.

  27. Amazing, as usual! I finally did something crafty because of you - I got black craft paint and aged a dragon skull decoration and, though it doesn't look as good as your work, I'm pretty pleased! So thank you, for showing how to do stuff, showing that you make mistakes too, showing how to fix them, all of it. You two are really inspiring.

  28. What are you using to inflate it? I need this in my life ASAP.

    1. Just a small desk-fan! It only takes about 5 minutes to fully inflate.

  29. What is the blue light string in the photo spot?
    The red just looks like normal rope lights... But I can't tell what the blue is.
    We're doing Ghostbusters this year.
    Here's 7 years of walk through videos from other themes to show that we must be related. :-)

    1. The blue is EL wire, which you can find on Amazon in any color.

      And OMIGOSH, I've only watched your latest NBC video so far, but you are CLEARLY our kind of people. Eeee! Can't wait to go watch the rest. And pleeeeeease send me a link or tag me when you finish Ghostbusters this year!

  30. Any chance you still have any of this and are willing to sell it? It’ll give me a great head start for this year.

    1. Hi Andrew! We have everything packed away - not sure how well Stay Puft survived yet - because we're planning to bring it all back in 2022. So not planning to sell anything, sorry. Good luck with your decorations, though, I'd love to see when you're done!

    2. Thank you! We’re the hat and head combined into one piece? And how many tablecloths around the head? I think from there I can figure the rest out. I was going to iron the pieces together, or was sewing much better? TIA.

    3. The hat & head are combined, yes, so we had to cut a hole in the finished head and stitch around to attach the hat brim. I don't remember how many tablecloths that is around his head, but from my seams in the finished pics it looks like at least 5 or 6. And definitely sew versus iron: we tested melting them together and it makes the seams all wrinkly, hard to keep them smooth, and weakens the plastic.


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