Cabaret de L’Enfer Halloween party — devil mouth doorway
Published by Manning on June 26th, 2015
The theme for my Halloween party in 2012 was the Cabaret de L’Enfer — a Hell-themed café in the red light district of Paris in the 19th century. You can read all about it and see some amazing pics of it on my Paris website, Cool Stuff in Paris, and I have a whole post about the party decor here. Of course, the main decorating project I wanted to tackle was the iconic devil mouth doorway of the cabaret.
I originally considered making the devil mouth doorway as a 3d sculpture with paper mache, but I was pressed for time so I ultimately decided to do a simpler 2d version. One interesting challenge was where to put the doorway! The entrance to my apartment is a narrow hallway with a regular-sized door and not much wall around it; not a lot of room to make something big and impressive! I ultimately decided to make the doorway huge and put it inside the apartment as the entrance to the front balcony. The advantage here is that the balcony has two big sliding doors, so this gave me way more room to work with and make the devil head really gigantic!
I started the devil head with a base of a few pieces of foam board. In order to make this huge shape perfectly symmetric, I first laid out the foam board and drew the left half of the whole shape, cut it out, then flipped it over and used it as a stencil to draw the other half. I cut out the second half, and attached the two halves with packing tape.
I then traced this big shape onto a long piece of brown packing paper, aka craft paper. I cut out the craft paper shape and attached it to the foam board with masking tape.
I drew the black lines of the devil face with a giant chisel-tip Sharpie marker. I then used a paint brush and white acrylic paint to paint highlights all over the thing. I wanted to keep the black and white artwork simple and high-contrast so it would really stand out in the dim red lighting of the party; for the party I replaced all the light bulbs in the apartment with fluorescent red party bulbs.
When the artwork was done it was time to hang the devil head. I used an awl to punch some holes through the foam board and paper; I put some packing tape on the back first to reinforce the area and prevent tearing. I then hung the devil head with fishing line and thumbtacks.
I scored the back of the horns with an X-acto knife and bent them outward; this allowed me to hang the whole doorway even higher up on the wall, with the tips of the horns protuding outward and touching the ceiling.
I added some pieces of craft paper on the sides of the mouth to serve as the sides of the doorway, and painted them to match the style of the head.
I added thin red curtains behind the devil mouth and attached them at the sides to prop them open.
And that’s it! The finished thing was about seven feet by seven feet. I love easy projects like this that take up so much space and create such a big effect.