DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer

Article Posted By: Johnny Love

DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer

Hand it to a Hollywood production designer to know exactly how to turn his front yard into a creepy– seriously creepy– Halloween display. We’re talking about Johnny Love, who has a growing following of fans for his annual Love Manor Halloween house, his amazingly elaborate tribute to the macabre.

He’s shown us how he turned his fireplace into a faux stone hearth suitable for a horror movie. He also shared his expert techniques in creating a eerie ghost paintings and haunted house lighting.

And now, his newest contribution to our Halloween Style Challenge series. We send mystery boxes of Home Depot Halloween decorations to some of the most talented designers and DIY bloggers on the internet, and step back to let them come up with their special takes on Halloween.

Johnny Love shows us how he created a very spooky Halloween decorations–a flying Grim Reaper figure, along with hanging jack-o-lanterns and faux tomb stones– all made from materials found at The Home Depot.

When asked this year to venture outside and create a visual Halloween focal point, I was pretty excited. I’ve always found with outdoor spaces you can utilize such a natural environment to create something frightening. That being said, I wanted to create something extra frightening… a flying monster. However, rather than approach it from a shock value, I wanted to create something both artistic and macabre.

I remember when my school had dress up days for Halloween, my go-to was always the Grim Reaper. I’d spend countless hours shredding away any black fabric I could get my hands on and then stitching it together. The way the different shades of darkness caught the wind’s hands was always very beautiful… and eerie. I think when wandering the aisles of Home Depot and stumbling upon some black weed block fabric all those memories came back to me. I knew I wanted to create the silhouette of a dark spirit flying over a graveyard.


The Flying Monster

I knew I needed to create something that was light in the wind and would “fly” easily over the yard. So I created a simple frame out of chicken wire held together with black zip ties.Materials for Johnny Love's Flying Monster Project

Chicken Wire Used to Create Flying Monster

Chicken Wire and PVC Pipe Used to Create Flying Monster

Chicken Wire Used to Create Flying Monster

Once the general shape of the figure was created, with the most important element being the hood, I placed an armature of PVC pipe and two elbows inside to create what would become ghoulish lengthy arms.

Armature for Flying Monster's Hands

Armature for Flying Monster's Hands

The most visual thing I wanted to create was lengthy hands. Using some pink foam core and a thin gauge wire did the trick! I used wire to attach it to a drilled hole within the PVC pipe and secured it with tape. Again, using all light-weight elements to help this spirit take flight.

Chicken Wire and Drop Cloth Used to Create Flying Monster

Johnny Love's Flying Monster Taking Shape

Landscaping Fabric and Drop Cloth Used to Create Fly Monster's Robes

Now the fun part. I used drop cloth material to conceal the chicken wire form and help shape the figure. I simply used the thin gauge wire to “stitch” it onto the chicken wire below.

Spray Painting the Flying Monster

Once done with that, I applied several coats of black spray paint.

Flying Monster's Spooky Robes

Since the drop cloth was more to create the general shape, I needed another fabric that would catch the wind. This is where the weed blocker fabric came in great use! Both light-weight and easy to apply, it did the trick tremendously. I simply shredded it into pieces and used wire to attach it to the drop cloth. Don’t be a perfectionist! The more raggedy, the scarier.

Creating Flying Monster's Hands

For the arms we simply used black duck tape to conceal the PVC pipe. The texture and shine gave them a unique look.

DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer


The Graveyard

Foam Insulation Board Used to Create Tomb Stones

Foam Insulation Board Used to Create Tomb Stones

With the spirited figure drying, I moved onto what would be his setting. Foam insulation sheets from Home Depot are the perfect material to make tombstones. I found some terrific 2-ft. pieces of pink foam core that were perfect for what I needed. I simply measured out the shape of the stone and cut it out using a utility knife. Again, perfection is not needed when it comes to this. You want the stones to appear a little worn, as if they’ve been there for ages.

Foam Insulation Board Used to Create Tomb Stones

With that being said, I cutout some cracks and indents.

Three Colors of Paint for Faux Tomb Stones

Now, time to paint. Using a mixture of three colors from Behr Paint did the trick– Mined Coal to create aging, and two grey colors– Broadway and  Wet Cement— for the overall color.

Painting the Faux Tomb Stones

Painting the Faux Tomb Stones

Once the base coat of grey was applied, I used a separate brush to blend in the black paint, running it down from the top to the base of the stone to create a mossy water effect.

Adding Spanish Moss to Faux Tomb Stone

Once ready to place, secure a heavy gage wire through the base and simply press down into the perfect area of your front yard. Use Spanish Moss, and possibly a pumpkin, to add character.

DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer

DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer

Once the three of these elements were brought together, it created one eerie and beautiful setting.

I incorporated a duo of bats I was pleased to find in my mystery boxes to accompany the flying spirit on his evening flight.

DIY Spooky Halloween Decorations: Secrets from a Hollywood Designer

Johnny Love is the creative mastermind behind Love Manor, an annual haunted house in the Los Angeles area. See more Johnny’s spooky Halloween decorations on Love Manor.

For more DIY spooky Halloween decorations, see other articles in our Halloween Style Challenge series here on The Home Depot Blog, and follow our Halloween Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest.

Visit The Home Depot’s online Holiday Decorations Department for everything you need to decorate your home for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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