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Monster plant lab (Poison Ivy/Riddler Lair) 2016

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I'm not even gonna get the post-Halloween Blues, because now I can finally officially start my plans! This coming year's theme is a lab again, this time with monster plants as the main attraction. Because I'm planning on dressing as a version of Poison Ivy, and my husband is probably dressing as the Riddler, I decided to give it a slight Batman theme as well.

I want to try making one structure, and then really using the house and yard layout to my advantage. So far I've only decorated two main rooms & done a little with our porch/yard. Gotta change that for next year. So here are my plans for now.

Colors: Green, Black, Orange (Maybe purple.)


- A covered walkway leading up to the front porch, with a plywood ramp
- Signs designating different areas as various research spots (for instance, the chicken coop will be a dinosaur enclosure.) Some signs will point off the property, implying that the facility is bigger than it appears.
- A front door sign with the name of the facility, which I haven't chosen yet.
- Vines, giant pumpkin leaves, and other monster plant bits
- Lights! Still attempting to work something out with lighting. I'm leaning towards battery operated, since solar doesn't work well here. Aiming for $50. Probably I'll go with battery operated lanterns that are put in or near things.
- A roadside sign holder that looks like creepy tree branches & vines are holding it together.


- plant monsters
- specimen displays
- A variety of carved & painted pumpkins
- Interactive science activities
- Fake notes from various imaginary experiments & evil plots
- clues & riddles


- A research center that looks like someone just abandoned it in a hurry. This will be on a downstairs desk. Should have:
--- a fake lab set, with beakers full of colored water & horrifying edibles
--- interactive experiments, like matching 'antidotes' with '.poisons.'
--- A microscope, with viewable slides decorated with monstrous specimens.
- a 'Periodic Talking Book Of The Elements' people can use to figure out which chemicals they should mix together for the perfect potion.
- A suggestion box for ways to capture the Batman
- An illustrated research book of poisonous plants. This should take all year to put together, and should be a classic sturdy book.

Parting gift:
- A test tube with seeds & garden-themed experiment

i'll be refining this list over time. I want to decide what exactly the clues will be for - leaning towards prizes. I'm trying to aim low as far as cost goes, so if I can splurge, it'll be to make my plans over the top. If I keep at it, this should all be doable.
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· Registered
493 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Me too! :D I've been learning a lot about sculpture lately, so I have some ideas. My thought is that as I research different kinds of killer plants, I'll get a better idea what I want to do.

The first ones I'm thinking of are:
buttercups (which are apparently super dangerous to ingest),
wolfsbane (because it is one of the most toxic things to just about every animal, and it's very
Deadly nightshade (It grows wild all around the property.)

Wht I've learned thus far are about different toxic plants has been very interesting. I should be dangerously educated by the time I'm done.

· Registered
493 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Parting gifts: My husband had a great idea for the parting gifts. Test tubes with seed experiments. Guests will receive a test tube with seeds, and a scroll of instructions. Should be something that can be grown in the winter, or I can suggest that people use it to start their plants.

I'm considering having the seeds unlabeled, so people have a surprise when it grows.
I think it would also be cool to suggest people use the tube to grow the seeds, maybe having the seeds tucked in with a paper towel.

I'm feeling indecisive about what food to serve this coming year. If I plan it all in character, there's going to be nothing but vegetables. That could be fun, because the usual offerings are not diet friendly, and I think folks would appreciate a break from sugar. (Plus, this will be mid October, so there is plenty of time to enjoy all the sugary goodness!). An added bonus is that if we have way too much to finish off in the coming week, veggies can be fed to our chickens.

I have joked about having a table full of kale, and requiring guests to answer riddles in order to access more delicious treats. I'm probably not that mean, though.

· Somewhat Eccentric
2,590 Posts
Sounds interesting. I will enjoy watching your progress. :) Ironically one thing I put on my "to make" list a few months ago was a poison ivy monster. I'm extremely allergic to it and plan to make the ivy monster hideous with fangs, blisters and dripping yellow ooze. :D

· Registered
493 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oooooh, that sounds fun!! I was thinking of putting fake poison ivy everywhere, but I didn't think about making a monster for it. After learning about wolfsbane, I'm thinking that'll be what I want my biggest monster project to be.

I think my thread will be more fun when I get to the stage of posting pictures. However, I've already set myself up to do tons of art projects, so I'm not sure when I can squeeze time in!

· Dawn of the Dead
1,862 Posts
We're planning a Gotham/Arkham asylum themed party for 2016 so I look forward to seeing your progress. If you're not familiar, in the Batman universe, Arkham asylum is where all the villains end up. Think it would tie in nicely with your research center/lab scene. There are some pre-made Arkham signage and forms on this link: https://www.pinterest.com/zim2/halloween-dc-villains/

· Registered
493 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm intending to 3D print the monster plants, so I could send you the files for them if you think they'd work for you.

Right now I'm in the research stage for poisonous plants, and...there are so many! They are all fascinating! I am still amazed that buttercups are so deadly to humans.

· Registered
493 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've been so busy I've barely had time to think about Halloween, but I have done a bit!

I'm hoping to get a picture of the coat I'm working on for my costume soon. It's a dark green military style jacket which I'm adding bright green knotwork designs to. I love making knotwork, and it should make the coat suitable for a number of other costumes (plus cool just for walking around town in.) It's too small, so I also have to see about getting a good sized piece of cloth from elsewhere to expand it - which I might get by trimming some off from the interior.

Poisonous plants book:
I haven't been able to start drawing it yet, but I have done a little research. Buttercups are amazingly dangerous for humans, apparently!
I'm debating what kind of paper to use. I have a gorgeous green & white marbled card stock that I'm leaning towards. If I just use calligraphy pens & ink, I think it'll work.

Plant monsters:
I am still trying to find the time to learn the basics of 3D modeling, so no progress on this yet!

Food: I'm aiming for a variety of vegetarian & vegan foods, since that suits the variety of dietary needs of our guests (And fits the theme!) I have been half joking about

- Fail chips: I accidentally picked up some bags of "kale sprouts" thinking they were going to be small tender leaves that might make better kale chips. The results looked worse than kale chips usually do, because the teeny tiny leave burnt quick once they actually started cooking. The result tasted similarly to pepperoni, though. I had made them for a party and brought out the disappointing result as a joke, but people actually ate and enjoyed them. I'm thinking I may try recreating these, but with larger leaves chopped finely. I got to start planning out the garden today. I'm going to try to maximize the leafy greens we can pick fresh right before the party.

- A hearty vegan stew: I'm also trying out ways to make hearty vegan soups. My next attempt will involve mushroom bullion, toasted sesame oil, and shortening. I'm thinking the shortening will make the sauce/broth taste more satisfying, like classic winter soups.

- Pectin jello brain mold: I just haven't gotten around to trying to make jello with pectin yet. I have some grape juice, so maybe I can try it with that. Lemon juice is possibly the better option, though.

- Bomb shaped cake balls: This idea just popped into my head this morning. Little black cake balls with either a fake 'wick' in the top, or a toothpick in the top with a cartoon explosion shape stuck on top. I may see if this can be done with Kentucky bourbon balls, because those are amazingly delicious, and I have a recipe already.

-Drinks: I haven't decided what drinks there should be. I'm thinking hot mulled cider, since that's a classic. Sparkling grape juice, of course - especially if that bizarre pumpkin spice sparkling grape juice comes around again. That was amazing!
I'm considering getting a few bottles of Bolthouse' Farms' "Green Goodness" drink. Tastes delicious, looks awful. I used to peel the wrapper off before sticking it in the fridge at work to ward off lunch thieves.

- Fruitcake: Yeah, it's a winter kind of thing, but I don't care. I'm going to try making some classic fruitcakes this year - the good kind, drenched in brandy. Since I learned that it takes very little alcohol to do them right, I'm very keen on trying.

· Registered
493 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've decided not to pressure myself to learn enough about 3D modeling to make all the monstrous plant experimentsI want to have. So instead I'll be crafting those with other methods - like painting cut-outs, and using some of the puppet making skills we've already got. This way I can take my time learning to do good models, rather than freaking out.

Microscope - I'm keeping an eye out for a cheap one, because I want an actual one as a prop. But I have found some interesting inexpensive DIY options, including this one that attaches to a smart phone - http://availabletechnologies.pnnl.gov/technology.asp?id=393
That might make a nifty parting gift, and could potentially be used for solving the story.

Lighting: Per my husband's suggestion, we're gonna mainly use glow sticks in water for lighting. I want to invest in some battery operated LEDs & 'tap lights.' Since the walkway will be covered, there will be minimal lights exposed to the elements.
okay, now to make a finalized list of the basics, then figure out my time/money budget. It's getting late! :D
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