Broken Gothic Arches With Electric Candelabras

About: I've volunteered and worked in the Haunted House industry for several years, and have been a home haunter as well. I love Halloween and making props and special effects as well as costumes.

Welcome to my first instructable! This is a project I was paid to do for a Halloween Party for a bar in Nashville in 2005. I created these broken gothic arches with candelabras out of styrofoam and pvc. This is the only project that I have actually documented, so I thought it would make for a decent first go at creating an 'able. I hope you enjoy it, and can actually have some fun making these neat props. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

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Step 1:

I was able to get quite a bit of these styrofoam sheets from a friend who worked for a local contractor. They were happy to get rid of these old concrete forms. However, if I were to do this again, I would probably use the pink insulation sheets available from one of the bog box home stores. Cutting styrofoam is a huge mess that leaves lots of polystyrene beads EVERYWHERE!

Step 2:

The polystyrene sheets were long enough, and of the right width to get a couple of the shapes I would need to glue together to make the appropriate thickness for the broken arches. I attempted to use one of those heated wire foam cutters, but that took a long time, and stunk up my apartment, so I switched to a hacksaw blade. I traced the shape out with a sharpie marker, cut one, and used it for the template for the others.

Step 3:

This was the original cut shape.  I measured them out to be a bit too short initially, since I wanted to have enough room to carve the broken edge, so I changed it to be a little longer

Step 4:

This is the "new" shape that appears in this photo to be glued together, but it is not. I was testing to see how much styrofoam I would lose by making the shapes longer.  If you plan out your templates to make the best use out of your styro, you can make a lot more pieces.

Step 5:

These are the styrofoam pieces, glued together.  I used four foam pieces, adhered with Gorilla glue. (Note: Gorrila glue seems to expand as it cures, and I had these foam blocks sitting on my carpet.  I ended up gluing a few of them to my dining room floor... yeah.)  I made 16 of these broken arches.  The bar had a sixteen columns throughout it's floorplan, eight of them were in a double row of four on either side of the bar. This made for a really cool look! (see first pic)

Step 6:

Next, I carved the "broken" edges and the stone joints with a hacksaw, and coated the styrofoam with a layer of plain tile grout. This is available in 5 gallon buckets at the home store. If I had been able, I would have colored the tile beforehand by adding the latex paint to the grout.

Step 7:

I painted the broken arches with a grey latex paint.

Step 8:

Then with some black paint, I dry-brushed the details of the joints between the stone and cracks and the like.

Step 9:

This step was kind of a huge pain, because I didn't really think of how much cutting of pvc I would be doing.  I used a hacksaw blade and since I didn't have a real workshop, and a way to hold them steady. It was a hassle.  When I was down to my last few pieces, a friend of mine came over and said, "Why didn't you use a pvc pipe cutter?"  That would have saved me a great deal of time and trouble.

I started by using various lengths of pvc for the candles, with two 90 degree bend joints and one 4 way piece.  I used hot glue to simulate the melting wax and painted them with a pale yellow latex paint.

The lighting was pretty simple. I am not an electrician, but it seemed pretty basic. I used flickering candle bulbs, and light bulb sockets and standard lamp wiring, with a little switch that had a fuse inside it.

Step 10:

I had to make 16 of these, and as I mentioned it was a pain.  Please save yourself the time and trouble and use a pvc pipe cutter.  I used schedule 40 pvc, but you can use the lighter stuff if you like.

Step 11:

The finished candelabra, with a piece of mounting "stone"  Note the lamp on the floor behind it that I used so I could wire the candles properly, and not burn my place, or the bar to the ground.

Step 12:

And... again... the finished product. Decorated with those cheapy cobwebs that you stretch over stuff. I used bailing wire to attach the arches to the columns. Thanks for taking a look!

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    3 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    wow amazing i think i might make some for a room in my home


    7 years ago on Introduction

    awesome, a shame the pics are so small = ( I've found that the best way to cut styrofoam is with a serrated knife and use straight up and down cuts, this means cutting on an edge of a table and can be tricky with thinner pieces of material, it's not totally beadless but its a lot less than any other method except a hotwire. Thank you for sharing and welcome to the world of ible posters !

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Thanks!! Yeah, Sorry about the small pic size... I had to take the pics off of another site I had uploaded them too, after the originals were lost in a hard drive crash, and they had to be reduced in size for that site.