Tag Archives: alligator

After Awhile, Crocodile…

Yes, it’s been awhile since my last post. The last month has been just a wee bit crazy (and we all even managed to squeeze in a long weekend enjoying excellent music, lots of laughs, a few beers (and margaritas, and pina coladas) and an overall great time at Country Thunder), but that hasn’t slowed Catherine down at all. She’s in full court press creating steamy gargoyles, three-dimensional signs, and, yes, finishing the alligator (crocodile?) masterpiece. Needless to say, I have a lot of material to catch up on!

As I’m sure you gathered from the title of this post, the debate about alligators versus crocodiles still rages on within the family. Although Catherine declared it an alligator due to its shape, and teeth and jaw structure, most people still refer to the creature as a crocodile. And sometimes you’ve just gotta go with the flow. So, apparently, it is now a crocodile.

It’s not often that I find myself incapable of finding the right words to paint the perfect, descriptive picture of something. This is one of those times. The creation of the crocodile has been nothing short of amazing. And words don’t do it justice. I only wish I could translate to words how much heart, soul, talent, frustration (and more than a few swear words…), perfectionism, and hours Catherine has put into the production of her most amazing, life-like creation yet. Where I fail with words, I hope to make up with these fantastic “in-progress” shots Catherine gave me.

Picking up from where I left off in my last post….. Catherine used a table saw to cut out this perfectly sized body, head, and feet:croc frame

Next came the chicken wire and padding to give it shape:croc chicken wire

In between shaping the body and adding the toes, Catherine painstakingly hand molded each and every tooth:teeth

By far the most frustrating step was getting the “skin” on and secured, and still make the thing look real. She didn’t like it the first time she put it on, so she took it apart completely and started over. And then did that one more time until it was just right:croc progresscrock back

She had to put in all those teeth, then paint each one by hand to give them the realistic I’m about to eat you for lunch look. My father, the dentist, would be proud:croc teeth

And when the whole thing was put together, everyone could tell there was something missing. Except no one could tell what it was. No one, except Catherine, that is…. after evaluating it head to toe, and back again for a couple of days, she figured it out. The croc looked dead. She knew exactly how to fix it. He needed pupils (really?? who knew?):croc eye

There you have it…..

croc front


This creature will be lurking somewhere near the swampy, foggy grotto, just waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by. The head is hinged, so the jaw can swing back and forth. The feet are on casters so he can be lurched toward, creating fear in even the bravest passerby.

This project is the perfect example of what sets Catherine apart from every one else. Even though it took four times longer than she ever anticipated, and it set her back several weeks, and it was far more difficult than she predicted, she never gave up. That’s what makes Catherine, Catherine. And that’s what makes The Macabre Inn the must-see event of 2013!

See Ya’ Later, Alligator…

Nearly every day is like Christmas at my sister’s house. It’s the same routine day in and day out. Late at night, Catherine spends hours on her computer researching various ways to make the incredible creations for the Macabre Inn. She places orders for anything from specialized tools, fabric swatches, and even 10 foot wooden circles. She gets the order confirmation the following morning (often she has no recollection of what  she even ordered the night before, but that’s a completely different issue…) And the following day the good-looking UPS guy rings her doorbell and delivers boxes. And boxes… and more boxes.

Whoever’s first to get home gets to rip open the box to see what surprise is wrapped inside. I’ve seen everything from clown tent poles, to gelatin-like bloodshot eyeballs, to Dracula’s Blood (okay… that’s actually a kind of wine, and I’m pretty sure she ordered that for me!), to two foot spiders that jump out of the box. Recently, though, I’ve been seeing dozens and dozens of textured fabric swatches, 10 different colors of camo paint, more chicken wire, some type of clay, and plywood from Home Depot.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before something creative began to take shape. And the next time I went to Catherine’s house, here’s what I almost tripped on:Alligator

Alligator 2

Alligator 3As is often the case, it is nearly impossible to see the scale of this project or the incredible attention to detail required to create a larger than life 12 foot alligator. She looked at dozens of pictures to get a feel for the shape and movement of the alligator (yes, that prompted a whole family discussion on the difference between alligators and crocodiles, resulting in Catherine strongly declaring that hers is definitely an alligator).

This is obviously in the first stages of construction, but it is already a remarkable feat. As she cut it out with a handsaw (after drawing no fewer than ten drafts and outlines), she realized she could only get the effect she’s after if the head moves. And that was a problem not easily solved.

Enter Catherine’s problem-solving husband…. he evaluated the situation and came up with the perfect solution! “Just cut off the head and attach a horizontal child-sized bicycle tire to the bottom of the head, then attach it to the neck.” Duh…. why didn’t I think of that?? To be honest, I couldn’t even exactly follow what he was suggesting, but there’s clearly some sort of unspoken mental connection and understanding that Catherine and her husband share, because she looked at him adoringly (almost with tears in her eyes) and exclaimed, “that’s perfect!” And he solved the problem. The alligator’s head moves effortlessly from side to side (gliding on the bicycle tire that you can’t even see) so as the Macabre Inn guests unsuspectingly saunter past his swampy spot next to the grotto, his head will swivel around with a start, mouth agape, exposing rows of angry teeth, and elicit screams out of even the bravest of the guests. Perfect….

Next up? The shape-making chicken wire, the mossy-green, warty looking fabric that Catherine chose out of the dozens of samples. And finally, the spikes, scales, and teeth that Catherine is making by hand and painstakingly painting. See ya later alligator…

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