The Creative Process of Making a UFO: A Halloween Post

My son is in the big leagues of elemetary school this year, which means I’m in the big leagues of PTA events. And nothing is bigger than the PTA Trunk or Treat. It’s the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer.

I want to clarify a misconception about Trunk or Treats. Some people think that it’s a replacement for Halloween — a safer, lamer version without the formaldahyde-laced candy, tripping on sidewalks, kidnappings, and casual arson. Real Halloween still exists. Trunk or Treat is more like a dress rehearsal that happens in your local school or church parking lot, and it comes with a bonus assload of candy.

I volunteered to decorate my trunk. I’m not a Trunkin’ vet, and I don’t think anyone calls it Trunkin’. This is my third year, My first two were at our daycare, where my audience was a bunch of nonplussed two and three year olds. But I’m not in the minor leagues anymore. This time, prizes and reputation are at stake — for Spookiest, Most Creative, and Most Unique trunks. I’ll have to fight and claw my way for a shot at the coveted PTA shirt and coffee mug prize pack.

I decided on an alien theme. Making a big ass UFO sounded fun. That night, I fell asleep, allowing the subsconscious creative process to start marinating. This is the dream-state phase of the process. How to build a UFO… what materials…allowing what visions may come to me. Around three in the morning, while rustling in the covers, groggy but mostly asleep, I had a vision. I would papier-mache a Sit ‘n Spin.

I woke up and realized that was the worst idea ever. I have no idea what is wrong with my brain. Trying to affix a mountain of gluey newspaper to a gigantic piece of plastic would never work. Still, something about papier-mache seduces me, sings to me. Maybe one day.

I ran to Google, typing in How To Make a UFO. I found better ideas. I was quickly drawn to ones with fancy craft domes and mylar wings. I looked up thermal space blankets, researched what aisle to find clear domes in at the craft store, and schemed ways to cut up all of our reuseable insulated grocery bags. I could get battery-operated LED lights and glow sticks. Fishing wire to suspend the craft. Inflatable aliens! Techno music!

This is the generating phase. I lived with the ideas all day, sorting through which seemed doable and which seemed emotionally exhausting. Entering a Michael’s store, finding craft domes, and researching what type of epoxy glue bonds with plastic best was already making me feel like dying. Cutting up reuseable grocery bags just sounded like an argument with my wife.

Finally I was left with the bare bones, which is all you’re ever gonna need in life: cardboard, duct tape, and tin foil. It’s the air, shelter, water of crafts. Of course. I would construct a UFO with cardboard and duct tape, as God intended.

The next phase is just do it. I don’t draw up plans or think too hard. I just start taping and constructing the abstract vision of a UFO in my head. I cut some wings from cardboard. I covered them in foil. I used a metal mixing bowl as the dome. I duct-taped the living shit out of everything. Pinterest, eat your heart out.

I bought some inflatable aliens and battery LEDs on Amazon. Might fuck around and make a cardboard boarding ramp. Gonna hit up Five Below and get some glow in the dark stars and a backdrop black sheet. Stay tuned for Part Two next week, The Fucking Catalina Wine Mixer, where I will reveal the full get up and review just what goes down at the PTA Trunk or Treat. The big leagues. My sorta-okay, kinda off-center, held-up overnight-and-ain’t-collapsed UFO is ready.


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