Introduction: Skeletons Climbing Your House's Walls
Second Prize in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2015
So you want to be the cool (scary) house on the street this Halloween, but aren't just sure how to put your outdoor decorations over the top? Why not add some real flair and have a swarm of skeletons climbing the walls of your house looking for a way in!
I have seen this done before, but I had NO idea how the best way was to go about it. It was much easier to do than I thought!!!! I was expecting a really tough job to get these buggers to stick to my house. I tried to use brick having clips, but my mortar gaps were filled in too much. I thought about using cast iron pins, but they could damage the wall....crud.
So I thought about it for a bit and realized that of all things, hot glue was the way to make this work. Yep! I tested it and it worked great! Even better, these anchors can be taken down fairly easily and without damaging the wall. PERFECT!
Sooo, first stop was to get some skeletons...
Step 1: Finding the Right Spook
Well, apparently there weren't many shoppers at Target Sunday morning at 8am. I was all worried that they might have run out of skeletons, but there were a few left. After I explained to them (the skeletons) what I was up to, they hopped into the cart and we headed back home. These skeletons were $15 full price each (I know I couldn't wait) and are about 3 feet tall. I think you could use larger ones, but these seemed to be a good scale size for putting a group of them on my house. Any smaller, and you can't see them from the street. Gotta be able to see them from the street!
Step 2: Other Items You Will Need...
Extremely simple to mount to your house! This is what you will need:
1. Hot glue gun
2. 2 glue sticks for 6 skeletons
3. Picture wire. In this case I used #3, but something lighter would work. I like this stuff was braided and coarse.
4. Zip ties. I used white because I thought it would blend in better, but black would be fine too.
5. Wire cutters (Not pictured). You could also use a regular pair of scissors I guess, but I would not mention it to your spouse if you do...
Step 3: The Plan: Come Up With a Good Location
Take a look at your house and figure out where this would look best. It is always a good idea to have a plan on what you want to do BEFORE you start. I know you want to get that glue gun out, but decorations are ALWAYS best if there is some story behind them (just like a good costume!).
So in this case, I decided the best place visually would be the front of my house. Specifically, I decided they would be climbing the wall over the front door. But see the window the the right? Well that is my son's room. In this story, the skeletons are trying to find a way in...looks like they found one when one of them gets to my son's window.
Ok. so my plan is to have some skeletons intent on climbing, one skeleton will find a way in the house and the others close to him will be reacting to him calling out that he found an opening! Yes....creepy... but well, that is the point, isn't it?
Step 4: Make the Anchors
Pretty straightforward. You will want 4 anchors per skeleton:
1. Cut 2 inch lengths of wire
2. Fold them into a U shape and grab them by the bend
3. Twist the ends together while leaving a loop the size of a dime
4. Give the twisted wire a 90 degree bend to the loop as pictured
These don't have to be perfect. You also don't need to twist them all that tight. It is better if they are roughy twisted so that it will better grip the glue.
Step 5: Make a Test Fit Before You Glue!
It really helps to have a second person otherwise you will be up and down the ladder a lot.
I recommend setting your ladder and taking one skeleton up at a time and bend it into the position you want along the wall. If you need to, you can use a sharpie to mark the mounting points so you won't forget where they need to go.
You will want to mark where each wrist or hand is and where either the feet or knees are closest to the wall. I definitely recommend 4 contact points for each skeleton.
Oh, a side note! Once you have gotten the skeleton in the shape you want I found it very useful to keep it in the same position until you are ready to attach it to the anchors. One of my wife's mums worked EXTREMELY well to gently support it. I guess you could use a small shrubbery, but the mum was closer...
Step 6: Install the Anchors
With the skeleton safely back on the ground, grab your glue gun and 4 anchors and head back up the ladder. Please make sure you are being careful on the ladder. I feel like this should go without saying but still....be careful.
The steps to secure the anchor are as follows:
1. Place a dime sized dollop of hot glue at your mark
2. Press the twisted anchor into the glue and wiggle it around a bit
3. Wait about 10 seconds and then apply enough glue to fully encase the twisted part of the anchor
I found that if I did steps 1 and 2 for all of the four anchor points first, the glue had started to set enough that I could then go back to each point and complete step 3 for all.
Wait at least 1 minute before you try to use the anchors.
With all four anchors done, time to move to the next step...
Step 7: Attach the Skeletons
I would recommend using zip ties for all connections, but there were a couple of times that I could get away with slipping either a toe or finger into the loop and save on a zip tie. But for the most part, I would run a zip tie through the loop and secure a finger or toe to the loop using the zip tie.
Note that in some cases I made the attachment at the wrist or the knee. If you do this, make sure the zip tie loops around the smallest part of the joint. I don't think that you need to cinch the zip tie down too much, just get it snug so that the skeleton won't move, even in wind.
After the tie is snug, cut the excess for a cleaner look.
Once you have your first one installed, it is time to move to the next one!
Step 8: More Is Better!
Once you get one up and you understand the steps, it becomes pretty easy. I started low and worked my way higher.
Always try to keep them in a realistic pose. I tried hanging them upside down or looking too much over their shoulders, but it just didn't look right.
Admittedly, I did make some minor modifications to the last skeleton that had found the way in. "Follow Me" had to have some of his wrist cut away and I used a heat gun to soften the arm enough to rotate it the way I wanted. I also used the glue gun to freeze several joints into place.
But for the most part, it was simply a matter of flexing their joints until I got them into a position that looked like they were actively climbing.
I have 6 on the house now. Once the after Halloween sales hit, I hope to have even more for next year.
Step 9: Finished!!!
I think it turned out pretty good and definitely the look I was going for. The next step is to add the other decorations I have planed for the front of the house.
Some followup steps while you sit back and enjoy your creation:
TAKE A PICTURE, print it and mark the skeletons and their corresponding spot on the picture 1 through 6. When you take them down (um...I am assuming you will), mark each skeleton 1 through 6 to match their position in the picture. That way you can easily get them back up next year.
Oh ya....so what to do about the anchors you ask? Well, I think I am going to try to leave them up all year...they aren't too obvious and if they hold up, it would be easiest to reuse them. Besides, I might be able to find a Santa to attach to the house...
But if you do need to remove them, go to the next step!
Step 10: Removing the Anchors, AKA CLEANUP
First, I would like to give props to Siliconghost here on Instructables for the method. So how cool is it that when searching for removal ideas, the FIRST hit on Google was an Instructable???? This site ROCKS!
for reference: https://www.instructables.com/id/Easily-Remove-Dri...
Ok, so the method is:
1. Dip a toothbrush in Isopropyl Alcohol
2. Gently rub the glue as you pull on the anchor loop
3. Most, if not all of the dollop will come off of the brick. If mounting on wood or painted metal, you might lose a bit of paint, so test before you commit to these anchors on your house!
4. If you need too, a small flathead screwdriver can be used in conjunction with the brush to coax all of the glue out of the nooks and crannies without damage.
I hope this helps make Halloween more fun for someone. I was really happy to come up with how to do this and glad to share my results. Good luck out there!
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