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The Prop Factory's Halloween Circus

by Carys - Stylist for The Prop Factory

Thursday 5th September 2019 10:33:50

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It's Halloween next month which means we are fast approaching autumn. 

Soon it will be time to fish out our boots and thick tights and reach for a coat in the morning. The supermarkets will be rolling out their Halloween goodies the minute the 'Back to school' stock disappears and you won't be able to stroll down an aisle without being spooked by a skeleton with a sensor! 

I remember this feeling all too well after searching The Range last year for a creepy clown to appear in our Halloween Circus photoshoot at Ashridge Court Farm. I had a vision for him to be propped up behind our vintage ticket booth greeting guests arriving into the circus of doom. BEWARE if you are scared of clowns - this freaky chap makes an appearance as you scroll further into this blog.

We decided to mix up our Halloween shoot of 2018 with our circus props as we have one of the best collections of circus decor in the UK. It's amazing how a few of our Halloween props combined with some spooky styling techniques can transform the setup into something quite unique.A good stylist should always be able to conjure up a few 'tricks of the trade'. My toolbox was full of the following things to help transform the space...

Old rags, scissors, ketchup and red food colouring, cobwebs, fake spiders, danger tape, staple gun, gourds sprayed in white, red and yellow circus tones, real pumpkins (lots of these - I hand picked them from a local garden trust to borrow just for the photoshoot day).Our Director Carmen made a gorgeously gruesome spread of Halloween-style party food which she blogged about to inspire ways of dressing our red and white confectionery stand and red and white circus stall bar with a Halloween twist.We have a great range of bars, stalls and stands perfect for party food so we find set dressing inspiration is always welcomed by our customers. Claire's sweet temptations created a unique dark circus themed cake for the occasion and a white skull made completely from white chocolate.

If you fancy a look at some slightly scary, but easy, quick and yummy Halloween party treats read her blog here.

We jumped at the opportunity to set up the props outside a derelict barn at Ashridge Court Farm. The abandoned and forlorn facade was an ideal blank canvas for us to go a little crazy with decor. I lined up our circus concertina entrance with the front door of the building to look as though you might be about to enter the type of haunted house attraction you would find at a fairground.To distort the view through the entrance, old rags were torn up, covered in red food colouring and stapled to the back of the arch. All that could be seen beyond it was darkness and some strange clown heads borrowed from one of our scary clown hoopla game.Our Pinocchio puppet found a place, peeping over the join between two of the concertina tents. He's a friendly little fellow generally, but can look a little sinister, given the right setting.

We used our Victorian lamp posts have working lights that are battery operated, to give off a gentle glow. Carla from Daze of Glory Photography captured a silent and eerie atmosphere that day which was challenging as we actually created this setup on a crisp Wednesday afternoon in the bright winter sunshine.I was fascinated to see how prop placement can create a sense of real eeriness. Having props messily placed or clustered together made this shoot feel all the more mysterious. Circus signs, vintage cages, puppets, skulls and pumpkins were almost piled up at the entrance with our red carpet and gold barriers (minus the red carpet) leading the way to the 'fun' house.Our three star circus podiums were placed in the centre of the setup like they would have been used and discarded by the performers.The mix of props practically shouting 'danger' made an enticing and creepy mix. Our pointy hand sleeve chalkboard and scary clown arrow sign (so freaky, it's actually censored on our website), both covered in cobwebs and pointing at the doorway, made sure you would not want to enter! Circus stools were dressed with vintage owl cages and what is normally a cute wooden circus elephant sat abandoned on the set.The floor was strewn with colourful ribbons and streamers - like the aftermath of a circus show. Shrivelled old gourds added to the sense of abandonment and decay.A skeleton from The Range also came in handy to place bones amongst our props - gosh, did we get spooky with the dressing!It wasn't until we dressed this shoot that I realised just quite how many circus inspired signs we have. In addition to the traditional bright and cheerful circus theme, a fair few of them are a tiny bit darker - ideal for this shoot. Our freak show sign slipped perfectly into the Halloween meets circus styling. The warning children circus sign is slightly chilling in this context and serves as a caution to misbehaving children!Around the bases of our confectionery stands we over-filled circus half barrels with pumpkins and circus-coloured gourds. A gourd is a little like a pumpkin - usually a bit smaller - with a skin that dries to such a hardness that it is often used for ornamental purposes. This also means it can be spray painted any colour. (Styling tip!)Alongside the barrels we also filled vintage coca cola drinks crates to match with the retro styling of the red and white circus stall bar.Our usherette trays and red cubes are also well suited the theme and are great for serving food. We filled these with popcorn covered in blood-red syrup, Halloween 'finger' rolls and candy floss bags complete with fake spiders.

Eeewww! The perfect sign to match such a disgusting yet delicious array of party food is our rotten candy lollipop sign.Hopefully this will get your party planning imagination going and you can create an awesomely freaky Halloween event with the help of our unique props and furniture. If you would like any ideas or advice give us a call or email styling@propfactory.co.uk

See all our spine-tingling Halloween circus props in one place here.

Happy Halloweening! 

Carys x

Credits -

Venue - Ashridge Court Farm

Photography - Daze of Glory

Props & Styling - The Prop Factory

Freaky Clown - The Range

Circus Cakes - Claire's Sweet Temptations


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