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Aging/grossing stuff

1666 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  VinceB
Ok, a bit of a tangent here. I thought I would post a thread about the best "aging" and "grossing" techniques (they are different for different purposes).

I am talking about that fine art of making stuff look old and creepy. The line queue basement at MGMs Tower of Terror comes to mind as the best example of that. I also liked the theming at the "Mummy" ride at Universal. Thses techniques are subtle. I am not picking at anyone's props nor level of effort, but you know how you can spend hours putting something together with all kinds of products, paints, glues adhesives in your basement and when you are done you have.... something that looks like you spent hours putting something together with all kinds of products, paints, glues adhesives in your basement. Not some Disney or movie class set prop.

I have been marginally successful with this. And I will point out that lighting is ultra important as well, some stuff looks awesome dimly lit, but like it just came out of a Spirit Store box in the bright light.

I just ordered a couple bolts of cheesecloth from eBay. I have TONs of old drapes and stained cloths already. For my Haunted Hotel party this year, I want to go further (of course) in making the whole house look creepy, old, dungy (although not necessarily gross). I plan on light dying the stuff grey/brown and shredding it a bit.

Perfect example: slit up a piece of cloth as artistically as you can with scissors, and does it look creepy/old? No, it looks like a piece of cloth tat someone slit up with scissors. But the old cloths in the Indian Jones Halls aren't old but look it. What is the difference? How to age cloths well? I was thinking of dragging it behind my car for a week or so..!

Couple year ago I saw a tree/corpse made out of monster mud. Yes, the maker had some scupting/aristic skills to be sure, but it was just thrown together with mesh, paint, glue, plaster.... and it looked awesome.

So (</rant>) what are your best techniques to age or gross (slime, expanding foam, vaseline, etc) things? What are the subtle techniques you use to create "that look" of something old, dingy, creepy, gross??

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· Keeper of Spider Hill
1,787 Posts
I'm currently working on the shirt for my grave grabber.. I got it at the thrift store and it was a nice bright white. so far i've...

1) soaked it in a bucket of hot water with tea bags

2) painted it up with some fake blood (which consequently looks like Koolaid now that it dried) so I am going to have to mix up some paint and go over it.

3) and most dangerously, I lightly burned all of the edges and seams with a propane torch. added a lot of nice color and texture. Really distresses the fabric too. Not something I'd recommend for indoors.

I'd love to hear some more ideas for giving it that look of death. :D

· Ubzest
467 Posts
Last week I made a new mummy. I bought and tore up a set of white cotton curtians for him. After I was finished with him, I wondered to myself" why in the world did I go with white material, when I should have at least staRTed with a brownish or greeny color!"
Another lesson learned the hard way! lol

· AKA - S.M. Barrett
1,098 Posts
Sandpaper and steel wool are great ways to fray and distress cloth, especially the edges and seams. Coffee/tea staining is good, as is rubbing in a few wet coffee grounds for mud stains.

I remember Terror Syndicate had a great technique for making stuff look horrendous. They'd plunge handfuls of stretchy spider webbing into latex, let the excess drip off, squeeze it and pull it into globs and tatters and hang it from lanterns, chandeliers, chains, picture frame corners, skeletons, whatever. The effect was either ancient cobwebbing or worse, a scene pulled from the bottom of the ocean. I would think monster mud could be used as well as latex for this.

There's also the trick of coating a prop in a thin coat of glue, like a spray adhesive, and rolling it around in fine dirt, coffee grounds, cinnamon, mulch, sand, baby powder for dust, etc.

· AKA - S.M. Barrett
1,098 Posts
If you want bulk latex for props (not makeup) a lot of folks go to carpet outlets and buy carpet latex by the gallon.

I also think vendor Minionsweb.com has a deal on latex right now.

· Join my Doomsday cult!
955 Posts
A friend of mine used a cement mixer to distress some clothes a few years ago. Just like you said, he added some gravel and a few larger rocks.

I've used a hammer to "rot" out an area of cloth. Just place the cloth on cement, pound the outline of the rotted away area with the hammer. Tear away the cloth, leaving a thin random edge.

I've also used clear silicone sealer to create a wet look. Work the silicone into the cloth with a short bristled (cheap throw-away type) brush. You can do this over stains and paints, it keeps that blood stain looking fresh!

I've airbrushed stains, molds and rot onto clothes. This is particularly effective if you first add texture. You can glue sand, sawdust, moss, leaves, twigs, and such, to material.

Wood stain, elmer's glue, and sawdust makes a passable fake dirt.

Polyurethane (gorilla glue) type glue can be drizzled to create a runny looking slime. Add dry powder pigments to it for different colors, water based pigments may cause it to foam and set too rapidly.

Mildew stains are easy to create. Thin some black water based paint, dab it onto your project, then spray it with water from a spray bottle. let it run and drip. You can then do another layer with moss green or gray.

There are a lot of ways to distress, rot, age or grossify things. Try to add dimension as well as color. Look at old trees, rocks, buildings and things for coloration and patterns.

This is a good topic, I like seeing new ways to decrepify!

P.S.: A good price for latex is around $25 to $35 a gallon plus shipping, although I've seen people pay $80/gal on eBay.

Here are a few places to get latex and other supplies.

http://www.cementex.com/ Their expired latex is often a thick and paste-like consistency.
FX Warehouse Inc. 386-322-5272 One of my favorite supply houses!
Smooth-On - Mold Making and Casting Materials for a World of Applications! Somewhat pricey, but always high quality, and an excellent variety of products.

· Registered
89 Posts
One way of making clothes look ratty is to soak them in pond water and bury them for a couple of months. I read that on one of the many Halloween sights.
This works really well actually. I must have read the same thing a few years back. Soak, bury, then water every other day or so. The longer they stay under ground the better. I let them sit out in the elements for a few days after I unearth them too. They come out zombie-like.
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