A Spooky Halloween Terrain made of Polystyrene

Unfinished Rigid Foam Spooky HillThree years ago, my youngest son and I set out to build a miniature “spooky” house on a hillside terrain for Halloween. We glued the base pieces together, but then we got involved in other things and the project sat, with no further work done to it.

spooky terrain displayIt wasn’t until after Halloween was over last year that we actually started working on it again. We ended up changing our minds on what we were going to build. Instead of some elaborate Victorian style haunted mansion with intricate details, we decided to just finish off the base to display some Halloween village pieces that we already had.

You may say we got lazy, and that is partially true, but It was also a matter of how much time we actually wanted to put into this.

Terrain bottomThe primary medium we used was polystyrene. This is the pink or blue rigid foam insulation that you can find at many home building stores. Although it can be a bit messy, working with polystyrene can also be a lot of fun.

Terrain details- unfinishedIt is not my intent with this post to go through a step by step process of how to build with rigid foam. If you would like to learn more about using foam in this way, I have a post in which I constructed a fake campfire that should be helpful. It goes into detail about gluing and painting your project and about the basic characteristics of polystyrene itself. Click here to see that post.

There are some very talented artists that create some amazing display pieces using rigid foam. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. But even with my limited abilities, I think my son and I constructed something that works pretty well. And if we could do it, you should be able to as well.

stylized hilltopsThis project used 1 sheet of  4′ x 8′, 2″ thick rigid foam which ran about $20. We tried to sculpt the background mountains to vaguely resemble flames, and even spray painted the tops red to heighten the effect.

skull-progressionThe skull outcropping was actually a Styrofoam Halloween skull that we glued in place, carved away pieces from, and added pieces using an expanding foam sealant. Then we carved away areas of the sealant to make it more rock-like. The desire was to camouflage the skull, so that most people didn’t see it right away. That didn’t work as well as I had hoped, but it still looks kind of creepy.

Cracks in the rock

I can’t believe we actually used glitter on this project, but it effectively simulated magma in the cracks.

Detail of moss covered rocks

Detail of moss covered rocks

If you are interested in sculpting with polystyrene, it is probably best to start out small, or do a less ambitious test piece first to get a feel for the medium. And I would also recommend checking out some of the sites of individuals who have been crafting rigid foam into spectacular terrains for many years.

Finished Spooky Hill TerrainGood luck!

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4 Responses to A Spooky Halloween Terrain made of Polystyrene

  1. Renee Jaspers-Johnson says:

    Wow Rick, that looks so cool and like a lot of work

    Like

  2. What a fun project! The skull is great!

    Like

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