What better time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disney’s Haunted Mansion than October, when spooky thoughts abound?
Over the next month, I’ll share two or three DIYs inspired by this favorite home for Happy Haunts. Will start with one that didn’t get to be part of the final mansion design, but is a popular sketch among fans from concept artist Marc Davis: the “Vampire” or “Man-Eating” Bat.
The pet bat with a carnivorous appetite may have inspired the red eyes in the Mansion’s ravens, as well as some bats seen in the mansion’s attic. Some Haunted Mansion trivia sites say Davis was likely inspired by the drawings of Charles Addams for this critter. If so, this would be appropriate as the Addams Family just got another reboot (this time in animated form) in theaters this month.
This bat may not have gotten to be part of the menagerie of the mansion, but many enthusiasts have made their own versions of this artwork for their own homes or Halloween displays.
A very easy and lazy way to make this is by simply anchoring a rubber bat on a birdcage perch, and adding some rubber bones at the bottom…. and it’s done! It is completely fine to make it this way.
However, since I love the style in which Davis drew it, I’m going to make mine out of felt to better resemble the shape.
• Small decorative birdcage (found near floral areas in craft stores)
• One or two sheets black felt
• One or two sheets ecru or white felt
• Cotton, rice, or polyfiber stuffing
• Two red jewel embellishments
First, print out the hanging bat and bone templates (the size depends on the sizes cage you found) and cut two bat outlines on black, and four of each bone outline on the ecru. The number of felt sheets you need depends on the size of the cage. I was able to use one sheet color for a 4″ long bat.
For the Bat: Stitch the two halves together, leaving a small hole for stuffing. Fill it with stuffing, then close up the hole. Since this bat has pointy parts. You don’t have to turn it inside out before stuffing it. Add the two jewels for the eyes, and make two small fangs using extra white or ecru felt.
For the Bones. Cut out four bone halves for each bone. Sew the two halves of each side of the bone together to make two bones. Sew them and stuff them like the bat. To add a little more gruesome “meat” as in the original painting, use some red cloth paint and dab around one half of each bone.
To finish it off, glue the bat’s feet to the underside of the perch. You can shape some floral wire or pipe cleaner into a perch if the cage doesn’t have one. Place the two bones sticking out on either side of the cage.
Some optional additions include adding a feeding cup by painting the inside of a half of a clear plastic ornament and gluing it to the side, or giving it a little fake moss bedding to look a little like the swampy area from which the original Haunted Mansion design is based.
Davis’s cage is on a stand, but the one I am making is for hanging. To make it look more like Davis’s cage in the image, I created a design template for the piece embellishment below the base of the cage. This can be cut from felt of craft foam. Glue the design to bottom of the cage to complete the look. You can skip this part if you are planning on letting the cage sit on shelf or table.
I think of my bat as a female bat, because I named her “Bella” in my head, but it really doesn’t matter. He could be “Bela” after another famous “vampire” or whatever you want to name it… as long as you keep it fed and let it out to fly after dark.
Just don’t let it too near other small pets.