Every year, craft stores, card shops and department stores display their elaborate haunted house displays and spooky towns, as a kind of Halloween sneak peek to the Christmas Village displays that are soon to follow.
Some of these are very tempting for the Halloween-lover, except for the fact they tend to be pretty expensive and often extremely breakable. Not a good mix for the family on a budget and on the go, like mine.
Fortunately, there are plenty of sites offering free downloadable paper model haunted house patterns. Here are four of the sites I’ve personally “haunted” in the past to create my own villages.
Haunted Dimensions: This is the definitive haunted mansion builder’s site. Ray Keim is not only master paper modeler and gingerbread mansion builder, his talents have also been put to use working with Universal Studios Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. In addition to Haunted Mansion models from the Disney parks in California, Florida and Paris, he has created some of the creepier facades from Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, the Norman Bates home, and Amityville Horror House, among other models. I’m not ashamed to say I have made every single model on his site.
Keim is also in the process of creating an interactive progressive original model, The Knoll. Builders can follow along with the mystery “A Trespasser at Reeves Hall,” and discover new downloadable pieces of the model along the way. The first two pieces of the model, including a entrance column are already available.
Ravensblight: This is probably the darkest, most Gothic site listed, but their models are original designs by artist Ray O’Bannon. O’Bannon, has set the site up as an odd little town with free paper toys, music downloads, PC games and more. His structures include Ravensblight Manor as well as a cliff house, two mansions, a Gothic chapel, and several other haunted structures, vehicles, and landscapes. He also offers paper replicas of battle axes, vampire stakes, swords, and a ray gun. I’m adding his floating candelabra and flutterbats to my décor this year.
Disney Experience: Webmaster ‘Trader Sam,” serves as this site’s resident artist and modeler, although he includes many links to other Disney modelers. Many of his original works have gotten a thumbs-up from the Disney Company itself, including a playable 3-D Escape From the Haunted Mansion Board Game, and the Disney’s California Adventure Tower of Terror attraction.
Each October, his site gets a Haunted Experience makeover, and is the home base for an annual online Doorless Chambers free Trick-or-Treat Event. During the last week of October, fantasy, horror, sci-fi or similar fan sites can join the online “neighborhood” by handing out free downloadable crafts, or digital goodies. These sites are linked so visitors can go from virtual “door” to “door” collecting treats along the way. Treats are family-friendly, so it’s a fun online activity for parents and kids to do together.
The Toymaker: I would be remiss if I didn’t include artist, author, and geeky mom Marilyn Scott-Waters’ wonderful site. Waters has been featured in several parenting and art publications, and is the author of two Paper Toys books. She is also illustrator for the young readers’ books The Search for Vile Things and Haunted Histories. Her goal is for parents for spend more time creating with their kids, and her free downloadable paper crafts encourage this parent-kid partnership. Her Halloween crafts include several easy crafts and her Madame Fortunata’s Cottage is an ideal haunted house build for beginners and kids.
Not included with her Halloween items, but certainly with an eerie edge, is her Anxiety Dream Theater, an accordian-like window box complete with a quote by Edgar Allan Poe.
Remember some of these models can get pretty big and can look just as nice built half size. They take less ink and paper that way, but may be harder to build. These also are full-time sites, so don’t feel you have to make everything at once. That will get expensive and time-consuming. Make a house or two a year and watch it grow overtime.
Many of these sites give you building and materials tips, as well as display ideas and models by fellow crafters. A few well-placed flameless tea-lights and small Halloween figures will add to the village and you’ll eventually have a display as cool as anything found in stores. As free models, these modelers ask that builders don’t re-distribute or sell any of their patterns, but that’s just common decency.
Some other sites with fun Halloween printables:
Canon Creative Park: Their Halloween crafts and scrapbook item have a nostalgic “old school ” vibe to it, and the paper crafts range from beginner to advanced levels. My favorite is the interactive Jack and the Halloween Dancers with a pumpkin that opens and closes at the turn of a gear. The effect is great, but I would recommend getting a little model building experience under your belt first.
Martha Stewart: I understand to some people she’s the go-to crafter, to others she’s an over-exposed hack. To me, she’s the name on the site with some great entomology, biology, and botany-centered Halloween printables. If nothing else, check out the Snake and Frog Vellum Lanterns. You’ll want to find a place to hang these year round.
Family Disney. This official Disney site used be called Spoonful, but still has many of the same printables. This is the best place to find some Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, Maleficent, and Disney Villians printables. I recommend their Haunted Mansion hitchhiking ghosts and Chamber Portrait (aka stretching room) bookmark.
There should be enough here to keep everyone in the family busy through the season. Load up on printer ink and card stock, then get ready to go cross-eyed making everything.