Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Halloween Yard Witch and Cats

It's September and in my book, that means it's time for Halloween!

Or at least time for Halloween decoration making!

My mother and I have always been huge Halloween fans. Of course, it helps when your Mom can pretty much make anything you dream up for your costume. Per her sewing abilities, I have been a skunk, dragon, chicken (real feathers) and various cats, not to mention a gazillion others.

Since Martha Stewart became the Queen of Craft, Halloween has become an even bigger holiday for us. We are always trying to find inexpensive, yet impressive, decorations to create the spookiest Halloween!

Lucky for me, my best friend (Farrah) co-hosts her Halloween party with me every year I am nearby. Along with her ingenuity and belief that anything is possible when we attempt it, we have come up with quite a showing when it comes to Halloween decor. However, it did not happen over one year - it's been many years in the making!

Our first major Halloween project is still one of our favorites. Not only is it impressive, but it involves tools! The kind you have to plug in to use!

The idea comes from the aforementioned Queen of Craft: Martha Stewart. It wasn't actually up on her website last year to make, only to buy (more on that later). However, it is up there this year and I'm going to tell you how to do it!

Witch and Cat Lawn Ornaments


- Jigsaw
- 2 - Sawhorses (or other steady things to put your boards up on)
- Screwdriver
- Hammer


- 1 - 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" (or more) OSB sheathing
- 1 - 4'x4' sheet of 1/4" - 1/2" OSB sheathing
- Black paint (spray paint, latex paint, or whatever you have handy)
- Conduit straps (3 - 4 for the witch, 2 for each cat - use metal not plastic as it will break)
- Wood screws (length short enough to NOT pierce through the wood)
- Witch template
- Cat template
- 6' length of metal conduit for witch
- 3 - 3' length of metal conduit for cats


The first step of this project is the hardest: printing the templates at full size. When we first made the witch, I thought to myself "I have access to a big printer! Why don't I print it on that?" To answer my own question..."because Martha Stewart's templates are easy to print in single 8.5x11 sheets and just tape together." But then, after taping them together, you need to cut out the templates. Why not wait until you use the jigsaw to cut them out? Because, how else are you going to trace around the shape if the shape isn't cut out yet? Ha!

So - first step - print templates, tape them together and cut them out (with scissors).

Next, tape the template to the OSB board and trace the shapes. Trust me, this is much easier than trying to tape the template onto the board and cutting around it. Not awesome. The jigsaw has a tendency to shred and tear.

Why OSB and not plywood, like Martha says? Well, because it's cheaper. You can use anything that you might have laying around if you want except MDF. MDF will just turn to mush in the rain. Also, be sure to use a thicker material (1/2" or more) for the witch since she's tall. She gets caught in the wind easily and can get knocked over or have her top half cracked if she's too thin.

Now a little info about using a jigsaw: it's very easy. Just remember to watch your fingers! Be sure the shoe (the plate on the bottom of the jigsaw that you set on the board) is always on the board otherwise there will be too much movement and you might cut off a digit. Or two.

Also, you can do curves with a jigsaw. However, you cannot do tight curves in one try. Only because the thickness of the blade will prevent you from turning The last thing you want to do is force the jigsaw and cause the blade to snap. Remember to always use sharp blades.

The beauty of the jigsaw is that it's fairly light and easy for us weak (ha, ha) little girlies to use. You can start and stop wherever you need to be with ease.

Wear goggles, girls (and boys). Mostly because of the sawdust in your eyes, but also because you might get a splinter in your eye and that would be bad.

Don't wear flip flops in case you cut something off and forget to catch it and it lands on your foot.

Both of these last two points were ignored by my mother and I, however, we were lucky.

Don't test your own luck.

Please note that in the pictures below, Mom and I used the witch and cats that we had a few years ago for our templates instead of printing them out.

After cutting out the lovely witch and cats, your next step will be to screw in the conduit straps to the back of the shapes. You should only need a screwdriver and some wood screws. Unless you like power tools, then you may want to use your cordless drill.

Next, paint those cuties! Black, black, black!

We used spray paint, but Martha's instructions say to use black latex paint. Whatever you want. Every year, we do have to touch them up a little here and there but the spray paint never peels. It takes more spray paint to cover the shapes than latex though. Be sure to paint both sides. You can see both sides during the day and no one wants to see the unpainted back side of a witch!

Don't forget the finishing details! Attach a cup hook for the lantern. We used a conduit strap for her broom so we can slip it in and out if we need to. The broom came from Walmart and we just spray painted it black.

Finally, use something to pound the metal conduit into the ground and slip your decorations in...then let the fun begin!

Oh. The back lighting....hmmm...we use some simple spotlights. Don't set the witch and cats up the same day as your party (or Halloween) because you will need to do a little adjusting with the lighting before getting the perfect spooky appearance at night.

Also, if you feel like you have no craft skills at all, you may order these silhouettes at Grandin Road. They are crazy expensive though! $149 for the witch and $59 for the three cats. Especially when one piece of OSB is only about $10!

The witch and cats look perfect in a cemetery yard setting. More on Halloween decorations coming soon!