Scott Stoll has done it again. The amazingly talented papier-mâché artist and lover of all things Halloween has created what might be his best outdoor Halloween display yet.
We sent Scott several boxes of primo Home Depot Halloween decorations just to see what Scott could do with it for our Halloween Style Challenge. What he came up with is practically a tour de force display of skeletons, animated figures, lights and fog, along with some of his own creations.
Check out the photos, and read about how it all came together and how one of Scott’s favorite film directors helped inspire his spooky vision.
“13 Pumpkins” Outdoor Halloween Display
The Halloween Decorations Arrive
On Saturday morning, August 10 I was in the shower around 10am getting ready to start my day when my wife knocked on the door and announced, “You just got your UPS delivery from The Home Depot.”
I replied, “OK, I will be out in a minute.”
A few seconds later she added, “And by the way you are going to need a bigger garage.”
Not exactly sure what she meant, but I dried off, got dressed and went to our side door where the boxes were delivered. Wow, eleven large packages, which I was sure contained a lot of Halloween goodness. Let me say I was not disappointed.
I had been anticipating this shipment for a few days having already received my welcome box from The Home Depot a week prior. My Saturday afternoon was about to change direction as I spent the next several hours opening each box, all which contained some of the best new Halloween decorations carried by The Home Depot for the 2016 season.
This is my fourth year participating in The Home Depot Halloween Style Challenge, and I know from previous experience that time is of the essence if I was going to make this work. [See Scott’s other Halloween Style Challenges here. -ed.]
The assortment of props I received this year was nothing short of amazing; five animal skeletons (including a six foot tall horse skeleton), six tombstones, three animated characters (a witch trio, reanimated corpse and zombie), fog machine and fluid, video projector FX unit, and some very cool and unique lighting elements.
A Halloween Display for a Small Outdoor Space
Sunday evening I set aside some time to develop a game plan.
After brewing a cup of very strong cinnamon spice tea I sat down with paper and pencil (note the cool Home Depot Style Challenge pencil) and designed my concept.
First I chose our side door as my space to design based on the fact that we never really decorate that area, and after all, it was where all the products were initially delivered.
After a few sketches I chose a design and decided it would be beneficial to build a miniature of the area to help me with scale, plus working with something three dimensional is always easier for my brain.
The “13 Pumpkins” Platform
My core concept for this outdoor Halloween display was to design a space that could show a large number of pumpkins in a small footprint. Pumpkins have always been my favorite Halloween icon as long as I can remember, but in order to display a large number of jack-o’-lanterns usually required a lot of square footage.
My idea was to construct a means to display pumpkins in a vertical fashion. After examining our doorway, I decided on thirteen pumpkins, a number which seemed quite appropriate for a Halloween challenge. The concept would be based on a spiral staircase design.
My favorite part about this concept was that it can be used for real pumpkins as well as artificial pumpkin props, and in the off season it could also be used to display potted plants or flowers.
One of my passions is making papier-mâché Halloween props, so for this project I chose to use thirteen of my creations.
The basic idea was to create platforms attached to a piece of 1½ in. PVC pipe. The steps or platforms were cut from ½ in. sanded plywood. I cut a 1⅞ in. hole into each platform and attached a 8 in. x 10 in. shelving bracket with ½-in. screws for stability.
Each platform was then slid onto the 1½ in. PVC pipe and held into place with a screw holding the shelving bracket. The concept worked very well and handled the weight of the pumpkins.
Next I created three 15 in. x 15 in. platforms from the ½-inch sanded plywood to be used on the angled roof that covers our doorway.
The final piece I created for the display was a “13 Pumpkins” sign made out of the same ½ in. sanded plywood used for the pumpkin platforms.
Halloween Sting Lights and Faux Wrought Iron
In order to add some interest to this outdoor Halloween display, I incorporated a couple pieces of faux wrought iron fence into the scene along with some recycled netting from an old trampoline. The netting helped to mask things like the cable box, phone box and gas meter.
Creating Visual Density
Now was the fun part: incorporating the cool Home Depot products into the outdoor Halloween display. Basically I only had eight feet to work with on either side of the door, so that meant that all the props needed to be tightly spaced, which was good thing in my brain.
One of my favorite film directors, Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Legend,” “Gladiator,” etc.) once talked about his films being “visually dense.” The term does not mean cluttered, but rather each frame or scene contains so much visual information that it demands an additional viewing.
This is a concept that I have practiced for years, although sometimes I was guilty of the “cluttered” aspect.
My concept for this “13 Pumpkins” display was to divide the Halloween figures into two categories.
To one side was the Pet Semetery, my nod to author Stephen King, where I put all the skeleton animals (horse, greyhounds, dachshund and wolf). On the other side, I placed all the classic Halloween characters (witches and the re-animated corpse).
Each scene would get three of the six tombstones, and the two 12-Piece Bag of Bones would be scattered on the ground to help add some visual density.
Before I set up the display, I made a trip to The Home Depot and picked up a 5 ft. LED skeleton, because a skeleton horse needs a skeleton rider.
Also on the list were two Green/Orange Fire & Ice LED Spotlights, which would add some interest to the side of the house.
It was tremendously fun arranging all the props around the thirteen pumpkins.
Spooky Lighting and Fog
The Enchanting Witch Trio animation feature a large cauldron which I equipped with a 400w Fog Machine, it came with a remote control, which made it easy to add a blast of fog to the scene.
The final kicker to this display would be the use of a Window FX Animated Window Projector Kit, a fun and economical way to add projected video to doors and windows.
The unit arrived with six different Halloween animations on an SD card. It was very simple to set up and operate.
Once darkness fell it was time to let the fun begin. The scene was lit with two Green/Orange Fire & Ice LED Spotlights, two green flood lights, one Blacklight LED Spotlight and two 60w yellow incandescent bulbs making for a very colorful space.
All the elements worked well together and I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.
This was another very fun Halloween Style Challenge, and I encourage you to check out all the great Halloween products at your local Home Depot store.
The journey to transform a space that once only contained eleven large boxes into a colorful and animated classic Halloween scene was fun and challenging.
Thank you to everyone at The Home Depot for including me in this year’s Challenge.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!
Scott A. Stoll is an award-winning papier-mâché artist specializing in Halloween-related subject matter. He lives with his wife and two sons in Midland, Michigan, where he has his Stolloween Studio. See more of Scott’s amazing papier-mâché creations and tutorials, and sign up for his classes on his blog STOLLOWEEN.
Visit The Home Depot’s online Halloween Decorations Department for everything you need to decorate your home for Halloween and fall.