It's all about the "ewwww factor" in Tanya Ruffin's "Nosferatu" art class, so the grosser the better.

Ruffin calls her class "Nosferatu" in honor of the legendary vampire Count Orlok from the 1922 silent film "Nosferatu." He has the power to turn into a bat. But there's a catch.

Count Orlok lives for centuries, but death seems to agree with Ruffin's bats. The more rotting, leathery skin that hangs from their fragile, dollar store skeletons, the bigger their smiles because, hey, it's Halloween.

Ruffin teaches the class at her Mid City creative arts and teaching space, Create Studios, 546 Bienville St. The session is one in a lineup of weekly classes that change with the seasons, all with a common thread: to make art affordable for everyone. The Nosferatu class was $30; prices vary on other classes. 

"These bats are something you can do as late as Halloween day with just $4 worth of supplies," Ruffin said, holding a finished bat between her thumbs and index fingers. "My husband usually isn't interested in my classes, but when he saw this, he said, 'I want to make one of those.' This one is his. It's something that appeals to a lot of people, and it's so easy to do."

Meredith Beck-Wiggins, of Baton Rouge, and mother-daughter team Brina and Brianna St. Romain, of Port Allen, took a recent class. Ruffin supplied each with a plastic bat skeleton purchased at a dollar store along with a plastic grocery bag.

She also passed out embossing heat tools.

"You don't have to go out and buy an embossing heat tool," Ruffin said. "You can use a hairdryer, but a hairdryer doesn't get as hot and would take longer."

Embossing heat tools are available at stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael's, she said.

Ruffin wrapped the shopping bag around the bat, then used the heat tool to melt and shape the bag onto the skeleton. She used scissors to snip away some pieces in indentations beneath the wings and legs.

Ruffin appropriately called this technique "corpsing." Though the end result looks more like a bat mummy than a rotting corpse, it's in the next three steps where the transformation occurred.

She poured some black acrylic paint on a piece of cardboard, then used a thick brush to slather it on the bat. The paint must go on thick to cover all of the crevasses and indentations; no part of the bat should be left unpainted.

Though acrylic paint dries quickly, thicker layers slow the process, so Ruffin took out the embossing heat tool again to speed things up.

The next step was a layer of light brown paint called burnt sienna. This somewhat ocher shade was lightly applied as to not completely cover the black while still highlighting the details of both the skeleton and melted crinkles.

This added an extra dimension of ickiness as the corpse evolved.

Finally, Ruffin added a little bit of gold paint, saying the blingy color would highlight even more details. What might have been unnoticeable before now stood out.

Her bat cast a sharp-toothed smile through its raggedy exterior, and its feet were hooked at the bottom so it could hang upside-down to greet trick-or-treaters. Or watch costumed Halloween revelers party.

"No two bats will be alike," Ruffin said. "And you can make as many as you like in a short amount of time. It's affordable and fun, and anyone can do it."

And, they have just enough grossness to generate a few giggly "ewwws" along the way. 

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