ZAX’S HALLOWEEN HOW-TO
1st November, 2013
Halloween Diorama “Studio”
Whether it’s in carving out the pumpkin or carbing out the candy bowls, Halloween’s biggest celebrants are kids and kids-at-heart. My aunt’s birthday is coming up and my little cousins are sleeping over for the weekend, so naturally my reputation as the ‘coolest cousin ever’ was dismally at stake. Being plunged into a flurry of quizzes and assignments meant that if I couldn’t set the mood, then I could at least set the stage, albeit a mini one. This is the hassle-free, fun-guaranteed guide to recreating your own Halloween diorama, using what you probably already have stocked away in nooks an crannies at home.
I originally intended a larger setup, utilising my roomier new homemade light-box but I found that my smaller, older model could suffice. I littered the entire floor of the lightbox with raisins and dates, perfect for creating a dim sheen. Blue filters and a white klieg light make for the perfect match, especially for photoshoots in dark rooms. When that’s set up, the fun begins. However elaborate you wish to make your diorama, there should be just three necessities in your toolkit: necklace wire, glow sticks and nylon string, and you’re all set.
Marshmallow zombie men: Shape the bendable wire into a stick figure. I found that mini-marshmallows work best for the limbs of your creation, while a large one works for the head. This Slender and Michelin-man-hybrid can be made of just about anything that will stick to the wire, from jujubes to mini Mars Bars, even pieces of fruit for your health-conscious ghouls and vampires. Twist your mallow men into the desired pose or string them up by the neck joint for the ‘hanging ghost effect’. The best part about this is you can eat them right off the wire like a skewer, but cooler.
Edible goo: Grab your Jell-o (especially the flavours that no one really likes), add half the amount of hot water, a tablespoon of cornstarch, and some green food colouring. Simply mix altogether until the powders are dissolved and cool it down on a countertop, but do not refrigerate. Slather the gloop all over your marshmallow men, or better yet, dunk them mercilessly asunder when the mixture reaches a lava-like consistency. Add a glowstick and watch the goo come to life.
Roasted capsicum heads: Capsicums can be substituted for any vegetable that can be carved and hollowed out, like mini pumpkins, eggplants and the like. Lightly roast the whole capsicums in an oven at 100*C for 5mins on each side. When cool, stencil your desired expression onto the smoothest part and use a razor to carve your designs. Cut out a small hole from the bottom of the capsicum but keep the seeds intact for a rustic touch. Insert bent glow sticks into the crevice and watch the faces illuminate from the inside. I decorated my whole house with these moaning chilies lit up with glow sticks and strung up just like Christmas lights, only hotter. Make sure you don’t rub your eyes or you might be needing that eyepatch for more than just a costume.
Macaron spiders: Make a batch of macarons according to your desired recipe (I recommend the Laduree French method if you’re looking for a fancy dessert fix. For the lazy types, Oreos, cheese and cracker packs and slim jims make for equally sinful snacks). Tie four small wires, or hairy pipe cleaners bunched at the underside your macaron using the nylon string (gently!) lengthwise. Spread the wires out to resemble jaunty ‘spider’s legs’. With a paintbrush and glucose syrup as a glueing agent, go wild with decorations on top of the macaron. Some ideas- sprinkles, M&M’s, candied bats, coloured pixie dust. Just like Christmas decorations, these spiders can be hooked onto any railing or strung against a wall like creepy crawlies, but tasty!
A few other tidbits that are handy to assemble last minute are some choco-block gravestones, which can be carved out of a single slab of your favourite chocolate bar. The gnarled tree makes for the perfect snack to share by wrapping all sorts of liquorice strips around wires, stretched akimbo. Also, scattering glow sticks under your raisin piles for an obscure yet diffused eerie glow to any Halloween setting, without the harsh glare of Christmas or fairy lights.
Et voila! It’s the diorama to die for. I hope you all scare yourselves silly, and stuff yourselves sweet. Link off your creations below and I’ll feature it in an Agora gallery for all of us to enjoy. Happy Halloween, everyone!