In mid-September they stopped me in a restaurant, just as the waitress set down my dinner. In early October they braved the spray of my lawn mower to ask. By mid-October I’d heard the same question from more neighbors I’d never met, “What are you doing for Halloween?”

And my answer? A Giant Spider:

giant spider with fog


We weren’t going to do a new Halloween display this year, but puppy dog eyes and pleading from some of the neighborhood boys changed my mind. With only 6 weeks until the big day, we needed something quick, that didn’t rely on special orders. More importantly, we’d booked a trip out of for the days just before Halloween so it had to be something that could stay inside and be assembled relatively quickly. Shelob’s Lair was perfect.

Spider cocoons

The large web was mailed ordered. It turns out that it’s cheaper to buy the web than buy your own rope and make one. The two cocoons were made from a combination of old quilt batting, balled up papers, and packing plastic wrap. The process was pretty simple. Spread the plastic wrap out on the floor, making a section twice as wide as the cocoon will be. Place the cotton batting (or white sheet, white paper, red paper etc) on first. Cover with balled up paper, tree branches, or anything light that gives shape. Now’s the time to add any limbs or gore effects you’d like. With lots of younger neighbors, that wasn’t an option for me, but a severed foot or hand would’ve looked perfect. Finally, gently roll the plastic wrap, making a giant sausage, and encase with more plastic wrap.

The spider was more of an event to produce. The head and abdomen are chicken wire wrapped in packing plastic wrap or cloth and spray painted. The cephalothorax is a plastic storage bin with a ‘spine’ of PVC screwed in place. The legs are PVC wrapped in tattered fabric. PVC is my new favorite building material. It works like tinker toys for adults, and if you don’t glue it in place can be reused from year to year. Last year we spent far too much for it at the hardware store, this year we found it at the ReStore for 10 cents a foot. I got to support Habitat for Humanity and build cheap spider legs!



We added the fog machines, mostly because they’re fun, a red light so the spider could be seen, a glowing web on the house, and two pumpkin spiders with vine legs. All in all a good show. We had slightly fewer tricker’er’treaters this year, 10 instead of 15, but more adults. It seems all those grown ups want an excuse to walk around on a cool October night and see some stagecraft. I’m happy to give it to them.