Introduction: Turn Your House Into a Huge Jack-O-Lantern

Okay, this won't work with every house, but If your house has two windows upstairs and a large window downstairs it will. A co-worker of mine used his garage windows for the mouth and it looked pretty good.

I apologize for the condition of the photo. It is the only one I had with this configuration and it got torn. I have no excuse for the images being crooked. Maybe my right leg is shorter than my left.

For this instructable, I used:

- A house or other building with the proper window configuration. If this item must be purchased, it will add considerably to the cost of the project.
- 10-12 pieces of black posterboard
- Six sets of orange mini-lights
- Tape measure
- Yardstick
- Single-edge razor blade
- Pencil
- Scotch tape (LOTS of Scotch tape)
- Scrap paper (about fifty 8 1/2 x 11)
- Two of those little plastic shelves that close in the bottom of your window so you can put those electric candles in the window at Christmastime
- Two rubber bands
- One 3' extension cord
- Nine cup hooks
- String

Your window treatments are a big part of this effect and should show a white surface to the outside.

Step 1: Start With the Upstairs Window, Upper Sash

This step is done on the inside of the house, but It's easier to explain with this pic of the outside.

First, put the window shelf in the lower sash (pic #2). You'll read why soon.

Measure from A to B and A to C. Cut a rectangle of posterboard that will cover the entire area (ABCD) with overlap onto the frame of the sash. Leave room to tape it to the sash frame. The posterboard was too small to cover my window so I had to piece two together for full coverage as shown in blurry pic #3.

Cut posterboard to fit around the sash lock. I did not cut the section out completely. I left a tab to smush around the lock to avoid 'light leakage'.

Repeat this step for the other window.

Note: When the top sash is covered, you cannot open the window for ventilation. This is not usually a problem during October in NJ. You can try to cover just the glass, but it is difficult to do while avoiding light leakage.

I have to use a lot of tape to keep things attached. My windows are wood and I sometimes have to re-tape sections several times during the month.

***** Remember that all the tape you put on has to eventually come off. Cheap bargain tape will leave residue that is VERY difficult to remove. Real Scotch Tape has worked well for me and I have no connection to 3M.

Step 2: Cutting Posterboard

I found this to be an easy way to cut posterboard to get a clean straight cut. It also works when you print banners and have to trim edges before you tape the pieces together.

I'm demonstrating this on a piece of scrap paper because black posterboard just wouldn't show up. The marks on the paper were made with a marker instead of a pencil for the same reason.

My kitchen table opens up to accept leafs (leaves?). I yours doesn't, I can't help you.

Measure and mark the two edges where the cut will start and end.

Align the two marks on your posterboard with the seam in the table.

Tape the "scrap' side top & bottom as shown.

Insert the top edge of a sharp razor blade into the seam of the table above the posterboard and make a short sawing motion as you work through it.

Don't pull the blade up too far. As long as the blade stays in the seam you will not scratch the tabletop. Support the 'good' side close to the blade as you go and don't cut your finger.

I've done this with many banners, etc. and never scratched the table. When you're finished, you may have to run the blade across the entire seam because you'll see how much crap you cleaned out of the section you worked on.

Step 3: Upstairs Window, Lower Sash

Measure to the halfway point of C to D (G).

Using the finished corner of posterboard as point C, transfer the measurements of C to G and C to E onto the posterboard and cut from E to G.

You should have one triangle, C-E-G.

Ignore the other letters. I don't know why I got so carried away.

If you do this step 3 more times, you will have four triangles that will fit the two windows as shown. With any luck, you may get two triangles out of one piece of posterboard.

Tape them in place as shown.

Step 4: Upstairs Lights

Remember those shelves you installed a few minutes ago? Now that you can't get the windows open, be glad you did.

Take a set of orange mini-lights and undo just enough of the string (male plug end) to reach a nearby outlet.

Rest the plastic packaging on the shelf with the lights facing up and stretch a rubber band around the packaging and the shelf as shown in pic #2.

Pull the window shade down so it rests on the plastic packaging as shown in pic #2.

Repeat for the other window and your eyes finished.

Step 5: Downstairs Window

I'm blessed with this huge bow window which probably isn't the same as yours. The procedure should be easy to convert to your particular application.

To make templates for the posterboard, tape scrap paper over the glass areas only. Don't overlap the frames and don't tape every piece to the glass. You want to be able to remove the template in one piece and make it managable. Be generous with the tape when attaching paper to paper and stingy when attaching paper to glass.

You want the templates as snug as possible to avoid "light leakage" around the posterboard.

I used computer paper that was already printed on one side. Use whatever you have on hand, but using post-it notes for this step will take forever.

After the glass is covered, tape the end of a piece of string to point A. Stretch it over to point B letting it droop to point C in the middle. Tape the string at point B and trace the string line onto the scrap paper.

Next, undo the tape at point B and let the string droop to point D. Tape the string at point B again and trace the string line onto the scrap paper. This is a good time to draw the lines for "teeth".

Everything between the lines is trash. The top and bottom are the templates you will use to trace and cut the posterboard.

Step 6: Marking the Templates

This may be confusing, so bear with me.

Since you will be installing the posterboard on the inside, and your templates are on the outside, they must be marked opposite their current position. What is on the left as you face the window on the outside will be on the right as you face the window from the inside.

I've identified mine as shown on the picture.

Carefully remove the templates from the windows and cut them out. Put a template face down (your writing is on the face) and trace onto a piece of posterboard. Carefully cut it out. You can cut it a bit larger for a snug fit. If it's too big you can always trim it smaller. If you cut it too small, it's trash.

On the template, you wrote the location code on the side that faces 'out'. When you finish cutting out the posterboard, write the same code on the side that will face in.

Repeat this for all the other templates you have.

Test for a good fit and tape them in the window.

Step 7: Lighting the Downstairs Window

You'll have to figure out what's best for your application, but this worked great for me.

I installed 9 cup hooks (5 between the windows at the top and 1 in each corner. String 2 sets of orange mini-lights around the perimeter of the window keeping in mind where you will plug them in. Connect the second set into the end of the first set. The lights can rest on the sill but keep them tucked up close to the window so the bulbs can't be seen from outside.

My vertical blinds are 20 inches from the center of the window and a lot of light was lost so I added two more packages of lights on the window sill and the effect was much better.

These extra lights are plugged one into the other. A short extension cord connects them to the back of the perimeter light plug. When I plug in the perimeter lights, all four sets light up.

Step 8: Plug Everything In...

and impress your neighbors.

You may have noticed that the posterboard in some pictures doesn't match that in others. This is because I've changed the patterns and will elaborate on them in a future instructable.

The outdoor shots were taken circa 1998, the indoor for this instructable. The old face was used for about 4 years and I noticed the kids (and their parents) were getting bored with it. I now have an angry face that you may get a glimpse of in the newer pics but I tried to crop a lot out to avoid confusing you any more than I already have.

I posted the older version because it's easier to do than my current version (eyeballs that move from side to side!) and should be doable for this Halloween.

I anxiously await your feedback and promise the new version (with video) in plenty of time for 2008.