I know, I know, Halloween belongs to Handan. She makes the props, and she writes the posts. My job is to stage them and make them look scary in the photographs that I take. Beyond that, I should just shut up and look pretty, right?
Well, sister, not today.
Why should I spend my days and months busting my hump in the
dungeon basement building crap that no one in their right mind would ever try while she has all the fun and claims all the glory?
Not today, sister.
Today, I turn off my noisy machines, hang up my toolbelt and head to the Dollar Store for a basketload of China’s Finest Plastic, because today we’re going to make a cheap and easy Halloween prop that you can customize to your little heart’s content. Today, we’re going to make some hanging cages. What…or who…you put in the cages, well, that’s up to you.
Let’s begin. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 laundry baskets for each cage (Dollar Store)
- 1-3 plastic chains per cage (Dollar Store)
- Zip ties (Dollar Store)
- Black spray paint
I started by spray painting the baskets. I know, I know, Handan usually paints stuff. But this is my project, so I painted them! Look, I even have proof!
That handsome devil with the spray paint is me, not Handan!
I painted four baskets so I could make two cages. After the baskets were painted and the paint had dried, I cut the rims off with the scissors. While doing this, I realized that I should have done this step before painting, as some of the paint chipped off. Not a big deal and easy to touch up, but I would suggest cutting the rims off first and then painting.
We forgot to take pictures of me cutting the rim off the first two baskets, but here is a dramatic re-enactment using a white basket.
I started the cut with the basket to the right of the scissors. This is counter-intuitive if you’re right-handed, but it worked better for these baskets.
I broke off the trimmed edge every once and a while. When the rim was removed, I went back around with the scissors to even things out.
For the second cage, I cut a little farther down the basket, so I could make it smaller.
If you don’t want to deal with cutting these plastic baskets, you can also use Dollar Store wire mesh waste baskets to make the cages.
At this point, I filled my cages with their occupants and secured them to the bottom with zip ties. Once my inmates were secured, I joined the to two halves together. While trying to fit the two halves together, I saw that it would be more stable of one rim fit over the other, so I cut through the bottom rim.
This allowed me to shorten the bottom rim a bit by overlapping it so the top rim would fit over it.
Once I had the top rim fitting over the bottom rim, I secured them together with zip ties all around the rim.
The baskets have 18 spokes, so I attached a chain rung every 6 spokes. Depending on how long a chain you need, you may be be able to get away with 1 or 2 chains if you don’t need your cage to hang very low. Every other chain link is gapped, so it’s easy to shorten or lengthen them to your needs.
And that was it! Done! Finished! Now I know why Handan loves these projects so much – they are totally inexpensive and dead simple to make (well, that’s not fair to her, because some of her Halloween projects are pretty intricate)! But she could finish enough projects to decorate a house while I’d still be rummaging around for supplies for one of my ridiculously complicated furniture projects.
Enough of my yapping, let’s see the finished product!
Meet Skully McRib and Ratface – two hapless schmucks who ran afoul of the law.
Their sentence ended years ago, but Skully enjoyed hanging around so much, that he decided to stay, and Ratface just couldn’t get enough of the delightful prison food.
Wait, you’re still here? Yeesh, I would have bolted after the first corny joke. But hey, since you stuck around, would you like to hear the story behind that rubber hand? If not, you can always bail by clicking here. For everyone else, read on!
When I was growing up here in Glastonbury, CT, my favorite store was a place called David Hobbies. They sold all sorts of models you could build, they sold model trains, they sold radio-controlled cars, boats and airplanes. It was a little boy’s heaven, though almost everything in the store was beyond my skill and means. But besides all the motorized goodies, they also had a small section of novelties, gags and joke props. Boy, did I love that little corner of the store! Not only were those items priced within my meager reach, but I fancied myself something of a comedian and a prankster. I remember many of the things I bought from the David Hobbies joke department, but three stand out in particular. The first memory, and this is also the earliest memory, had to be from about 1979, 1980 or 1981, putting me between 7 and 9 years old. While browsing the the spinning display rack of novelties, my young and mischievous eyes settled on a small, unassuming white tube with blue lettering.
“Invisible Ink” Read the tube.
Invisible ink! Holy smokes! No WAY!
I grabbed the package containing the tube and ran to the counter. I fished through the pockets of my Wrangler corduroys and plopped down my money. The clerk returned my change and put the package in a small brown paper bag. I grabbed the goods, found my mom and dad and hightailed it out of the store. I had serious business to attend to. I remember the car ride home. We were in a late-model, wood-paneled behemoth of a Buick station wagon. My mom and dad rode up front and I was hanging over the back of their bench seat, my mind and my mouth going 100 miles an hour. Plans zipped through my brain. I couldn’t believe my luck! I couldn’t believe they made such a product! I couldn’t believe it was so cheap! I couldn’t believe more people weren’t using it!
“The first thing I’m gonna do is go over and ring Gussy’s doorbell.” I proclaimed. Gussy was one of the neighborhood kids I played with. Like all the kids in my neighborhood, we were cool one-on-one, but as soon as he got with the other kids, I and my sister were the neighborhood whipping posts. Well, it was payback time. “It’s gonna be great!” I continued, “He won’t know it’s me! Oh I can’t wait to see his face!”
My dad parked the car, and I bolted inside to set my plans in motion. I opened the bag and snatched the package. I tore through the cardboard to extricate the tube and its precious fluid.
I uncapped the tube.
This was it!
This was the moment I’d been waiting for my entire 7(ish) years on this earth!
It was a pretty small tube, I noticed. Well, a little probably went a long way. The folks who made this stuff were professionals, and they wouldn’t mess around with something this important.
I tilted the tube towards my arm and squirted.
Bluish water shot out of the tube, landed on my arm and spilled down onto the carpet of my bedroom.
Why was my arm still there? Why was it not invisible? I looked closer at the tube, and a terrible feeling crept into my gut. I tried another squirt and came to the heart-wrenching realization that this tube of invisible ink would not, in fact, make me invisible. Rather it was for writing secret messages to friends. I was crushed – my great plans of vengeance dashed upon the jagged rocks of reality.
My second memory is of the time I bought a little can of fart spray. I was in 8th grade at Gideon Wells Junior High School here in Glastonbury. It is mathematically impossible for an 8th grader with a can of fart spray to get into anything but trouble, and I was no exception. After winning the praise and adulation of my friends for my smart and savvy purchase, I decided to bring the fart spray on the bus to school one morning. One of my friends from the extended neighborhood, Mark Hacker, was sitting nearby. He was a year younger than I, so by the Rules of Life (Volume 9: The Dumbass Years), that made him fair game. I don’t remember if I prefaced the attack with a witticism, or if I just blindsided him without a word. What I do remember is little doofus me spraying Mark in the face with fart spray and then braying like a donkey afterwards.
He was justifiably upset. He may have even cried. I felt bad and started to get worried that maybe I went too far. I sat back down and sweated out the rest of the ride. When we got to school, I hightailed it to my homeroom. I kept looking at the clock, waiting for first period to begin.
But first period never came. Not for me.
The loudspeaker in my homeroom squawked to life and demanded my immediate presence in the office.
The walk to the school office felt like a thousand year march. When I got there, I was greeted by looks of disapproval and scorn by all occupants. They directed me towards the principal’s office. I knocked and was told to enter. I pushed the door open, and there sat Mark Hacker, eyes red and swollen from the fart spray. Across from him sat the principal with a look on his face like I’d never seen before and hoped never to see again. I stepped into his office and closed the door behind me.
This brings us to the hand. I bought that hand from the Davis Hobbies novelty corner when I was about the same age as when I bought the disappearing ink, maybe a year or two older. My initial plan for the hand was to wear it like a glove. In fact, I thought that was its intended purpose. But when I tried to fit my little hand inside, all I accomplished was tearing some of the rubber around the wrist of the hand – a wound that persists to this day.
Okay, so if I couldn’t wear the hand, what the heck was I supposed to do with it? I mean, it was pretty cool and all, but really, it didn’t do much besides sit there. In fact, it didn’t do anything besides sit there.
Inspiration struck one night when my parents went out to dinner, leaving my sister and me at home.
I was a little genius.
I hatched a plan so diabolical that Handan gets faint when I tell her about it all these years later.
I’d be long in bed and asleep when my parents came home, so I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the payoff, but I could still enjoy the planning and setup of my gag.
I took my severed hand and crept into my parents bedroom. I turned left into the master bath. I lifted the toilet seat and placed the hand on the edge, palm down, fingers pointing out. I closed the lid of the toilet, securing the hand in place. I stepped back to admire my handiwork.
I crawled into bed, satisfied with a job well done and chuckling to myself imagining the good laugh my mom would have when my parents returned from dinner. I was sure she would see the same riotous humor that I did. Surely she’d crown me the King of Comedy the next morning. I drifted off to sleep while thinking about my coronation.
I woke the next morning and went downstairs to accept my birthright and ascend my throne.
Huh. She’s pissed. That’s weird.
It never occurred to me that she would come home, flip on the lights in the master bath and think her son was dead in the toilet with only his hand sticking out.
That was the night I nearly gave my mother a heart attack.
Somehow, I managed to hold on to that hand throughout my childhood, high school and college. When I moved out on my own, I left it in my mother’s care, and against all odds, she held on to the wretched thing for all of those years. Sometime after we moved into this house, my mom found it and offered it back to its original owner. I’m glad to have it back. Handan uses it every Halloween, but lately it’s been calling me. It’s been calling me and telling me to put it somewhere…