Papercrafting Holidays: Halloween – A Haunted House
Papercrafting skills come in handy when Halloween rolls around, especially when spooky decor is needed!
Happy Halloween Week Papercrafters!
How many of you are stocked up on candy for the trick-or-treaters who’ll be knocking on your door this weekend?
Hand raised. Although, I sure bought a lot less candy than in past years.
We’ve had fewer and fewer kids coming around each year and I do NOT want to be stuck with pounds of candy, something I cannot resist!
How about decorations – is your yard decked out with faux spider webs, foam tombstones and fake skeletons hanging from the trees like ours is?
Hey, maybe you’re super ambitious and you go all out and construct a haunted house for the neighborhood kids?
I’d love to do that some year!
Please share pix of your decorations if you can.
Well, if you’d love to create a haunted mansion, but a life-size version isn’t in the cards, perhaps today’s haunted house project share will suffice.
I had an absolute blast creating this spooky, but fun decor item and I sincerely hope you enjoy seeing it come together!
A bit of background…
This all started when I spotted paper maché houses while perusing the Hobby Lobby papercrafting department aisles.
I rounded the corner, took one look at them and immediately thought, “Hey, I should make a haunted mansion…and a Christmas village…and a…”
Well, you know how that goes, right?
Please tell me I’m not alone here.
In the cart the houses (yes, plural!) went and I was then on a mission – the past 45 days or so have been filled with numerous trips to my local craft stores, and several nature walks, in search of just the right supplies. (Of course I had to wait for some items to be on sale!)
And of course you know how it is, while in the stores looking for the items on my Halloween project list, I’d spot other items that triggered more ideas and before I knew it, I was hunting for items for those projects too!
Now I wish I could say that I’ll have time to bring all of my project ideas to fruition for this holiday, but there’s no way I can get to all of them before this weekend!
So, we’ll start with this one and I’ll share the others as I complete them.
Not into Halloween?
No worries, many of the ideas (and tips) I’ll be sharing can be applied to projects for other holidays, or to your everyday papercrafting projects.
The tips I’m sharing for creating this haunted house are valuable for creating Christmas villages too!
O.K., let’s get started…
I first had to decide what kind of a look and feel I was going for – totally terrifying, a little spooky, super funky or cute?
I opted for somewhat scary, but not so scary that little ones wouldn’t want to check out my house.
After all, Halloween is really for the little kids, right?
I think my finished mansion qualifies as “mildly spooky” and not too scary – what do you think?
Once I knew the look and feel I was going for, I made a list of supplies I would need to create my mansion.
I’ve provided the complete list (including links to sources for each item) at the end of this post, in case you want to try your hand at making a house all your own!
I then thought through the steps, what would need to be done and in what order.
Before I started, I opened the raw paper maché house and made a decision about which part to paint first – I chose to paint the inside first so that once it was dry I could hold the house from the inside in order to paint the outside.
I also expected to have to paint the inside with two coats of white gesso, since that gesso is thinner and more transparent than the black, and this would enable me to alternate painting inside, then outside, then inside again.
Step One: Painting the Raw House
I painted the inside of the raw paper maché house with white gesso – I chose white for the inside so that gaps in the edges of my wallpaper would look less obvious and so the inside lights would reflect brighter off the ceiling.
Then, once the white gesso on the inside was dry, I started painting the outside with the black gesso.
Note (below) how I placed splotches of black gesso down the center of the side of the house – this enabled me to pull the black gesso to the left and right, and in between the windows, and not get too much paint around the window frames (my fear was that the black paint would seep around an edge and mess up the inside paint job).
I repeated this on all four sides of the house and painted the base of the house with black gesso as well.
I then started on the roof of the house, “cutting in” the paint just as I would if I was painting a wall in my home.
Now normally gesso would be a basecoat (like a primer) for other paint, but here it was the only coating since I wanted the outside to have a matte finish and look weathered, worn, and the inside was going to be covered with “wallpaper.”
Why did I bother coating the inside with white gesso if it was going to be covered up with paper?
Well, first, I wanted a smooth finish to attach the paper to, and second, I figured there would be some gaps where my wallpaper joined in the wall corners and edges of the floors.
Having the inside painted white meant the gaps would be less obvious, especially once I applied my distressing and “corner trick!” (See below for that tip!)
Step Two: Creating the Wallpapering & Flooring
I looked for paper to use as the wallpaper and flooring for my house.
Since I wanted to distress the wallpaper and have the texture really show, I looked for a paper that was embossed or flocked with a pattern that looked a bit like wallpaper.
I had hoped to find a smaller scale pattern than what you see here, but this worked just fine.
I also needed a paper to use as the flooring and this “parquet floor” pattern which I found in a My Mind’s Eye Wood Designer paper pad I had in my stash was rather perfect!
I did have to piece together two pieces since the width of the house is 7 1/2″, and there’s a small gap between the walls and the flooring along the front and back edges, but it worked out well.
The floor of this house measures 7 1/2″ wide x 6 3/8″ deep.
Once the distressing of this pieced paper was completed, the seam is really not that noticeable.
If the seam would bother you and your papers are too small, I’d recommend copying two pieces of your chosen paper (side by side on a color copier or all-in-one printer that can make color copies) and cutting out the size piece you need from the resulting copy. Keep in mind you’d need to use something other than copier paper as the copier paper will likely warp and buckle once the liquid adhesive is applied underneath.
Now I needed to measure the walls and cut the wallpaper to size.
And, since I know these paper mache houses are made by hand and it’s not likely that each side has the same measurements, I did measure each wall (rather than relying on the assumption that the front and back walls measured the same and that the side walls measured the same – they didn’t!).
Should you wish to use this particular paper mache house from Hobby Lobby, here are the inner measurements of mine for you to use as a reference (please keep in mind that every house is made by hand so the measurements could vary a bit):
Front and Back Walls: 7 1/2″ wide x 6 3/4″ tall
Side Walls: 6 3/8″ wide x 6 3/4″ tall
After cutting out each piece of wallpaper and checking it for a proper fit by sliding it into the house and holding it up to its wall (see first image below), I held a pad of paper inside the house, behind the wallpaper (this held the paper in place and gave me a firm backing for drawing) and traced the window openings (and door opening on the front panel) – see second image below.
I then cut out the window panes and door opening using an X-Acto knife and a self-healing mat (note: be sure to mark your right and left side wallpaper panels with an R and an L on the backside of the paper so you know which goes on which side!).
Once the openings were cut out, I tested each sheet of wallpaper against its wall to ensure that the openings of the wallpaper lined up well with the openings of the walls.
As you can see, the one in the front (the left side in the image above) was a bit too wide, so I simply cut off a narrow strip of the side closest to the bottom of this image and it then fit perfectly.
Since this is a haunted house, I was not concerned with the window and door opening cuts being exact – in fact, a little roughness only adds to the desired affect of the house being old and worn.
If you prefer super neat edges and corners (which I probably will for the houses I want to make for Christmas), I recommend using a ruler to guide your cuts.
Step Three: Distressing the Wallpaper
Because I wanted the inside of the house to look old and somewhat dilapidated, I chose to do some distressing to the wallpaper panels.
I used Frayed Burlap for this and I’m very pleased with the “dirty and worn” effect I achieved.
Once all the distressing was done, I again slid the sheets of wallpaper in place to test them and see how it looked – looking good, right?
Step Four: Create and Install Windows
Now it was time to create the window “glass” and install it before the wallpaper was hung.
I decided to go with vellum and liquid Ranger Distress Ink in Mustard Seed to create my glass panes (I wanted a deep yellow glow once the lights were on inside the house and that ink color is perfect!).
You could use acetate, transparency material and even left-over clear product packaging for your panes – check your stash! – and leave them clear if you prefer.
To color my glass, I simply laid out an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of vellum, dropped a few drops of ink down the middle and swiped the ink from side to side, using a foam brush, until the sheet was covered (you could also use cotton or gauze for this purpose).
I then measured around the windows and came up with a measurement of 2″ x 2″ for the glass panels (this allowed for a bit over overhang all around the cut window edges).
I cut my inked sheet of vellum into 2″ strips and then cut the strips into 2″ squares until I had the 12 panes I needed. This part of the project was super quick!
Next I installed my window panes by running quick-drying adhesive around the edges of the window openings and placing the cut squares so they were centered over the windows.
Be careful not to use too much adhesive so it doesn’t seep into the openings and ruin your glass panes!
Step Five: Hanging the Wallpaper
Now that the window panes were in place, I applied the same Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive to each wall (one at a time so the adhesive didn’t dry out before I got my paper stuck to it).
Note: Be careful you don’t apply too much adhesive as it will leak out into the window openings if you do!
I inserted each sheet of wallpaper by bending it a bit and applying the center first, then pressing it out toward the edges.
If you’ve measured and cut your papers correctly, they should align with the wall edges and corners perfectly (or well enough!).
Again, this house is supposed to look rough and worn so I didn’t fret about uneven edges.
That said, I didn’t want the bright, white gesso showing in the corners (and around the edges of the flooring) so I did touch up the exposed gesso on the wall and floor edges with a bit of the same Frayed Burlap Distress Ink as I used on the wallpaper panels – see below:
And before you know it, you’ve got the inside of the house completed! Well, almost.
Now it’s time to decorate!
Step Seven: Decorating the Haunted House – Inside
I loved picking out (and creating and altering!) items to decorate the inside of the house.
I felt like a little girl again, decorating my doll house – great flashback!
I really wanted it to be fun to peek inside this haunted house and see a few homey and spooky touches – here are a few peeks:
And here are some close-ups of the creations and altering:
I knew I wanted a rug to place in front of the fireplace, but the rugs I found in the dollhouse section of the craft stores were much too big or too fancy.
Well, being a handy papercrafter with a huge stash, I had a solution – make my own with what I had on hand!
I had a roll of canvas that was just the perfect size.
I simply cut off a strip, pulled a few threads to “wear” the edges, and dabbed the same Mustard Seed Distress Ink I used on the windows to the fabric – voila, a rug!
I do think it’s a bit too “new” looking and will go back and dirty it up a bit (with dirt!).
I then stained the small, wooden fireplace with a combination of Antique Paper Distress Ink and Frayed Burlap Distress Ink.
Note the gaps in the staining – this is where there was a small amount of glue left over from assembly of this small, wooden fireplace.
Again, these items are all handmade and not always in the neatest of manners.
A simply swipe with some sandpaper would have eliminated the glue and provided a smooth surface for the stain (ink) to grab onto.
Because I wanted this fireplace to appear old and in disrepair, I left it as is.
Step Eight: Distress a Fence & Attach It to the House Base
I wanted to place a fence around the base of my haunted house to give it a more realistic feel (the bare base was not working for me!).
I happened to have one of these small wooden fences (see below) in my stash, but it was much too new and white.
Distress Ink to the rescue again!
I grabbed my Black Soot Distress Ink Pad and got to work, rubbing the ink across one side and then the other, and then the tops of the fence posts, using a Mini Distress Ink Tool.
I am thrilled with the way it turned out!
I then added some Glue Dots around the base of the house and, after bending the fence to the shape of the base (see above), pressed the fence in place.
To create a “gate,” I simply folded back a section of the fence in the front of the house.
Step Nine: Roofing
The final step of completing the haunted house itself was covering the roof.
Now you can certainly call it done with just the paint, but from the very beginning, I had roofing shingles in mind…glittered roofing shingles!
I chose a few sheets of glittered black paper and a new tag punch from Fiskar’s to create my shingles.
This new type of punch easily cuts through thick paper – paper like the glittered paper I chose – that none of my other punches could punch through. Yay!
I started by measuring out how large the shingles would be (based on the size of the punched shapes) and testing out placement on the roof.
I then cut my glittered black paper into 2″ wide strips and started punching the required tags (which would become my shingles).
I punched the tags from both 12″ x 12″ sheets of glittered black paper until I thought I had enough shingles.
(I did end up short two shingles, but no worries, I’ll share how I solved that dilemma shortly.)
Once all of my shingles had been cut out, I started adhering them to the roof, starting with the side at the rear of the house since that was relatively flat and easy to cover (the front roof line is shown below).
I then moved to the front of the house, where it was a bit more labor intensive to position the shingles, many of which I had to cut to fit into the angles.
When I make another one of these, I will definitely use the smaller version of this new Fiskar’s tag punch – yes, it would require more punching and more time to adhere the smaller tags/shingles, but the process would likely still be quicker when compared to what I went through to get these cut and placed.
Note the “glittered” strip that goes horizontally across the top of the roof line – it’s there to seal the edges of the shingles and make it look nice and clean.
That strip is actually rough, adhesive-backed tape from a roll I bought at IKEA for only $1.99 – it’s for adding strips to step stools to provide grip!
O.K., remember I told you that I ran short two shingles, but that it was no problem?
I simply cut two more shingles from that roll of IKEA step tape and they blend right in, almost as if I planned it!
Another tip I’ll share is to use a strong tape adhesive (like one of the red line tapes) for adhering the shingles.
Why is this necessary?
A few of the shingles toward the top of the roof started popping up a bit as I placed the “sealing strip” after all of the shingles had been adhered.
I did go back and re-adhere those and that stronger adhesive has held them in place nicely.
Step Ten: The Outside Decorations
Now that my haunted house was finished, it was time to add the finishing touches, items that provide both a setting and a touch of spooky!
I added lanterns and a gargoyle to the house itself and pumpkins and a skeleton to the house base; and resin coffins, a large pumpkin, a bench and moss (all holiday display products picked up at my local craft store), as well as a tree branch, a vine, lichen-covered branches and small air ferns (items I found on my morning walks) to the base and/or area surround the finished haunted house.
And here it is,
my finished Haunted House!
And one more peek inside:
What do you think?
We hope you enjoyed seeing how this project was created
and that you’ll try making one of your own.
It really was quick and easy
(and it will be even quicker and easier for YOU to create
now that all the steps are laid out!).
And the total cost?
Less than $25*!
Give it a try –
it’s really fun!
*The cost will, of course, be dependent on whether or not you have supplies on hand or need to buy them.
Thanks for joining in today and don’t forget, we have a Configurations Book challenge going on – you can read all about it in Brandy’s Apothecary Cabinet Book post – click here: Brandy’s Apothecary Cabinet Book Post.
You have until November 13, 2015 to enter and YOU could win a $25 gift card to Amazon.com just for playing along!
We can’t wait to see what everyone creates and enters!
Looking for a list of supplies used to create my haunted house?
They are listed below, just after my signature.
Questions about the process for making a haunted house
and/or any of my steps?
Have a great Halloween weekend and don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour (Fall back!) on Sunday,
Steph & The PCC Team
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And now, for the list of supplies used in the project above, including links* to where they can be purchased:
- Paper Maché House (found at Hobby Lobby)
- Black Gesso
- White Gesso
- Foam Brushes
- Flocked or Embossed Paper (to serve as wall paper)
- My Mind’s Eye Woodgrain Paper (for the floor)
- Glittered, Black Paper (for the roof)
- Scotch Quick Drying Adhesive
- Ranger Distress Ink Pads
- Ranger Distress Ink Reinkers (Dropper Bottles)
- Ranger Mini Distress Inking Tool
- Long-Handled Cotton Swabs
- Fiskar’s Punch (NEW! For thicker materials)
- Battery-Operated Tea Lights
- Decor Items (purchased at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s):
Bench, Pumpkins, Skeleton, Gargoyle, Coffins, Black Cat, Broom, Fireplace
- Rug (created with rolled canvas by Paper Studio from Hobby Lobby)
- Tree Branches, Lichen & Air Ferns (found out in nature!)
*Some of these links are affiliate links – you don’t pay more for items purchased by clicking these links and shopping at the resulting destination, and your purchasing through these links supports all of the FREE resources we offer. We appreciate your support!