Dead Creek Mill

A lone skeleton fishes from Dead Creek Mill

Orange, purple and green lights flicker every year in Halloween town as windows from Haunted Mansions and crypts invite visitors to stop in and see what visual treats await each season. It’s been said by Department 56 village collectors that the buildings and accessories you collect become a monster themselves as they proceed to take over the house.

Building new village scenes is something I’ve yet to tire of, even if it does take about three weeks to prepare the scenes. One of the most rewarding aspects is making the setting around buildings come to life with added accessories, many of which can be found objects.

For example, last year I used asparagus sprigs for realistic grass, and river stones to resemble boulders around my train station. I think the best results for this town were the Rickety Railroad Station and platform. I placed a Lemax building called Dry Gulch Hotel near the station, and I expanded on this scene with other desert or western pieces like a trio of zombie ladies, a haunted stagecoach and a coffin-shaped outhouse.

Next is a more somber scene with several new, more gothic pieces from Department 56, like Walter & Larry’s Crypt, which was inspired by artist Travis Louie. I cut a rough path in the styrofoam and dabbed gray and black paint. Next, I added some black sand to resemble dirt at the crypt entrance. Wilhelmina & Lucille, an accessory that complements this crypt, was placed at the path’s end as she makes her way down the path. I added some lichen and new items from the Forgotten Garden collection, including a pumpkin sticking its tongue out amid wilted blossoms, a skull covered in vines and a skeleton hand digging out of the earth and holding a single rose.

Vomiting pumpkins seemed like Department 56’s theme this year. An outstanding new piece is the Retching Pumpkin Diner, billed as a “very seedy cafe.” The pumpkin on top of the diner vomits a stream of orange flesh and pumpkin seeds. This effect is illuminated when the lights are off and the vomit glows an otherworldly orange. Trash cans with glowering green eyes peek out from their silver cans in the parking lot.

A spirit chases a trick-or-treater dressed as a pirate on the outskirts of town near a lake that is overlooked by a trailer, Lot 13, Crystal Lake. Department 56 selected this name for the purple-lighted spooky mobile home from the movie Friday the 13th.

The scene that created the most buzz from fellow villagers at Building New Worlds was the Dead Creek Mill and Deep Woods Haunt. One house is the sort you might see in Hansel & Gretel. Gnarled black branches scrape the weathered black roof as a gristly older gent and his bony dog make their way over Creepy Creek Bridge.

At the end of this bridge is a toxic green swamp with Dead Creek Mill at its center. A skeleton hangs his fishing pole over the green slime as the mill wheel turns and splashes green light across the craggy rocks and warning signs to stay out. Although October is nearing its end, I will probably keep these up a little longer. But part of the satisfaction of putting them away for another year is the opportunity to create new worlds in the next.

Feel free to share ideas about your own village. I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you have learned.

Deep Woods Haunt

A witch flies over Creepy Creek Bridge

Halloween Train

Rickety Railroad train winds its way through a sharp turn

Pumpkin Diner

This pumpkin loses his lunch at Retching Pumpkin Diner

Grimsly Manor

A full moon guides trick-or-treaters visiting Grimsly Manor

crypt visit

Red lights show the crypt path