Saturday, August 17, 2013

Halloween Count Down Tower for Papercrafting (Tutorial)

Halloween Count Down Tower design that will make this year's haunted holiday
even more fun for the kids and grownups in your household.
Now available from Jodi G. Warner of SnapDragon Snippets 
through the Silhouette America online store.
Finished design shown here (approx. 12" x 47") 
requires Upper Section and Lower Section (sold separately). 

Each day, the magnet-containing bat 
moves up the tower until he finally can fly to the moon for Halloween!

Each of the "delta wing" flight triangles on rectangle bases numbering the days in October
conceals a metal washer disc beneath. 
Bat (10 layers thick) has a neodymium super magnet disc hidden inside
that helps him "stick" in place.

Base squares approx. 11.5" each include positioning markings for washers and rectangles. Four separate sections are mounted on chipboard (black for the sample project) with marked holes drilled or punched through, then turret assemblies, brackets and tooth-cut wall sections are aligned and brads connect all the layers. Put sections together for October,
then disassemble and store for next Halloween. 

1. Select papers and cut the panels. In the image at right above, the four panels are shown and identified, since three look very similar. Study the left/right circle patterns to match your cutout sheets to the images to avoid confusion.
As each is identified and cut from a 12x12 sheet, mark the backside top edge for identification during construction. Use sticky note to transfer ID to front before mounting.

2. Apply glue to the panel backside, especially around holes and at edges. This is a good instance for using the broad application tip. Center cut panels from side to side on the 12x12 chipboard panels. Also align the Bottom panel upper edge and the Top panel lower edge exactly and upper or lower edges of the chipboard panel respectively. Extra margins of chipboard will then be at the bottom and top of the project. Position remaining 2 panel bottom edges even with bottom edges of chipboard. (Trim excess off a bit later in this process.)

Use a roller of some kind to help get the sheet to be smooth and flat and adhered evenly. A smooth flat board like a Masonite framing backer, cutting board, or foam core sheet can also be used as a press. Place board over large pieces being glued up (panels to chipboard, turrets, bat assembly, etc.), then place one or more free hand weights 5 to 15 lbs. on top of the board and allow weight to keep pieces very flat while glue cures.

3. Use trimming tools (Plexiglas thick ruler, mat and utility blade) to trim excess from TOP and/or BOTTOM of Lower and Middle panels to be even with cut panels.

 4. If you wish - to add to the spooky feeling - distress the edges of each panel. I am using Jim Holtz Distress Ink "vintage photo" color and blender tool with pad, and a polylon non-stick craft pressing sheet as the "palette" and protector in one.

5. Organize the shapes from the file(s), select papers, then cut the groups that are required to complete the design. For instance, all the "delta" triangles for both files (the complete project) can be arranged on the cutting screen and cut from one cutting process session, as can the base rectangles and numbers.

Glue the singles in place aligning lower edges and corners. Multiple units include dash guide marks part way up to help with positioning.

 6. Obtain (31) 3/4" diameter flat washers and one neodymium 18mm super magnet disc. These were purchased from Home Depot, but will be available many other suppliers, including some crafting stores.

7. Place and glue washers into cut out circles. I used Fabri-tack clear adhesive to make sure the washers would stay put.

For more recessed washers and a smoother panel surface, consider marking positions and boring 3/4" dia. channels nearly through, (or clear through) the chipboard, then back with a second piece of chipboard, or cardstock. Glue layers in place, then washers into the recess.

8. Position arrow units in place to conceal washers. Dash guide marks will help position the rectangles. NOTE that arrow and number cutouts for #30, is positioned onto the tooth-cut wall section below the larger (right hand) tower. 

9. Position the numbers next to the triangles. Refer to the online store file thumbnail, or the first image to see how the numbers are positioned in relation to the panel spacing, etc. Shown here is the Upper panel, with the 3-position rectangle at the top. The #30 unit and number digits are placed onto the large tower wall unit bracket later in the process (see Step 14).

10. Use a matching diameter drill bit and power drill to create holes through the chipboard where the bracket attachment holes are at top and/or bottom panel edges. Use a 3/8" bore to punch holes through where the hanging holes are at top panel upper edge.

11. Cut the shapes for the various design units as shown in the next few images.

These are the door and stair parts. Note that the cross beam piece has punch holes for the "nail heads" and a contrast under shape (orange here) that shows through. The same is true for the latch handle.

12. Turrets: NOTE that the two are NOT interchangeable. The "Lower" turret has "L" cut in the base piece that will be hidden when assembled. (Lower is pictured assembled on the right, here.) Not pictured but recommended is a second full shape base piece, which is how the cut file is presented, to be cut from the turret main color (greenish circle pattern, here).

13. Bracket pieces: top (orange), under layer (violet) and reinforcing base piece (black). These ARE interchangeable.

14. Upper large (right) tower: NOTE that the #30 rectangle and number digits are shown here to position over the hole cut out at the lower edge of the tooth-cut wall section.  

The base piece of the large tower must be turned on the diagonal to be cut from a single 12x12 piece of cardstock.

Moon layers are shown here attached to finished project. Back layer is slight contrast for "show through". Front layer has "stitching" mist outlines detail. Triangle frame shape can be cut from card, paper, or double-sided adhesive with added glitter as was done here. Guide marks show triangle corner positions. Place the #31 digit cutouts in the space between mist detail. (Washer is positioned in the foundation panel in a circle cutout as with other panels.)

15. Smaller (left) tower. NOTE that the simplest way to plan colors is to cut the base piece from the window's "show-thru" color of choice (gray here).

16. Bat layers: top wing piece has "stitching" detail cutouts that will show through the second contrast layer color (orange here), and a solid (no hole) back piece. Eight hole-cut bat body pieces will be layered and glued up to create a circular channel where the 18mm magnet disc can be inserted. Bat body is two layers, with face details on the top layer (white fangs under the darker mouth shape).

17.  Glued together layers create the channel for the magnet disc. Apply strong clear adhesive such as Fabri-Tack to the bottom and sides of the channel, then insert the magnet disc.

When dry, securely glue the body in place to conceal the magnet.

(Take extra care to keep neodymium magnets out of the reach of children and follow all other cautions on the packaging.)

18. To attach sections insert medium size decorative brads through connecting shape holes along top edge, then through corresponding holes in base panels and chipboard mounts, and bend tongs to secure.

Connector shapes are:
Top to Upper panels: left and right towers.
Upper to Lower panels: turret left and bracket
Lower to Bottom panels: bracket and turret right

19. Overlap connector shapes over upper edge of next panel, then align holes and insert, secure brads. Here the right tower wall has brads being attached.

20. Glue in place the reinforcing rings. Consider cutting a pair for front and a pair for back. (See next screen for an alternative.)

Here, plastic "washer" rings take the place of the paper reinforcement rings on the front of the project. Thread ribbon or twill tape, etc. through the hang holes, knot or tie. Your project is prepared to be used!

NOTE the brad that holds the right tower cone secure to panel.

1. Mount your paper panel pairs to the fronts of two Decorative Metal Sheets (12x24 approx.) available from Hobby Lobby (and other suppliers) to replace the concealed magnets. Magnetized bat will stick anywhere on the panels!

2. Use temporary mounting system such as double stick tape or other decorated magnets to place the tower panels on the front or side of a magnetic metal french door refrigerator.

3. Create panels from fabric with shapes as appliques. Over-edge raw edges of fused shapes with stitching, concealing magnets under the shapes as with the paper. To see the fabric version of this design idea from Hearthsewn, click here: link

Here is the wool felt and wood half-egg bat that is part of the "Haunty Jaunt" quilt pattern. The paper bat could be modified to be like this version, if desired, and wood shapes are available. Magnet is concealed within double wings layers.

Hope your youngsters (and everyone)
has a fun time with your
Halloween Count Down Tower Project!

Happy Haunting!


  1. awesome project. working on it now. a video would be great.

  2. Thanks so much for the tutorial! Working on getting everything separated and organized. Would not be able to do it without this!

  3. Finished mine last week and love it. I have had your tutorial up for the last month as I put it together. Thanks again!