After a grueling day working on a construction site and going on very little sleep to begin with, it's no surprise Acid PopTart has circles under her eyes.

After a grueling day working on a construction site and going on very little sleep to begin with, it's no surprise Acid PopTart has circles under her eyes.

She heaves her hat boxes, dress bags and "travel size" makeup kit -- it's the size of a bowling ball bag, although not quite as heavy -- into the bed of her bright blue but beaten-up pickup truck after an evening interview with Alive.

It's getting dark out here, but is it just me, or does she look completely exhausted?

Oh, wait.

Those dark circles are a faint reminder of the black makeup she layered around her eyes to transform into Voodoo Baby, one PopTart's favorite freaky characters.

She got all made up to show Alive her dark side, calling herself the "Queen of Halloween." But for PopTart (nee Anastasia Heonis), who's been part of the goth scene since before it was called the goth scene, Halloween is every day.

She lives in black-and-white stripes and is the fashion editor for Gothic Beauty magazine. That, combined with her creativity and construction background, means she's constantly on the hunt for clothes and accessories at thrift stores and antique malls that she can modify to suit a theme.

"We didn't have a Hot Topic or anything like that. I grew up in a time when we had to go dye all of our clothes black, and we would rip it apart and safety-pin it back together," PopTart said. "It was all new, and they didn't have the word 'goth.'"

This weekend, she'll be wearing a friend's corset design at the Short North's HighBall Halloween. And she hopes the tricks and tips she's sharing here will bring out the best in Columbus' creativity -- not just store-bought, cookie-cutter costumes -- this weekend.

A costume shouldn't just be like stage makeup -- recognizable from a distance but lacking details close-up. To be convincing, keep things accurate, PopTart said.

Columbus' small goth scene drives PopTart to the internet to find props like special-effects contact lenses and custom-made clothing. Besides, she said, the Halloween stores that spring up around town don't offer anything of value. So consider buying a few items (or using things from around the house) to make a cheap costume you can customize.

With that in mind, she has the following suggestions for last-minute costumes and accessories. On a night that's all about being someone you're not, don't be afraid to experiment, she said.

"Go for something that's impactful," said PopTart as she traced the outline of a skull under her cheekbones and down to a long, rounded chin with a black eye pencil. "Too many people do the maid, the cat, the cheerleader, and, well, we see that stuff all the time, so it gets kind of repetitious.

"That is, if they're looking for something impactful. I get stared at a lot."

The Voodoo

Baby look

Dress: custom by Kambriel, click to

kambriel.com

Top hat: found at a vintage store and decorated with a voodoo-style skull on a rope

Wig: beauty supply store on Morse Road

Contacts: from an online vendor

Makeup: water-activated, applied in layers, with black eyeliner on lips

Cheap tricks

Put together a couple's costume with a thrift-store wedding dress and suit, then bring in the scare factor

Greasy "Halloween" makeup kits won't look good and won't last

Use black eyeliner or red lip liner to color in lips or draw shapes on skin

Paint brushes can easily function as well as makeup brushes

Use black eye shadow to make dark or shaded shapes on skin; use baby powder to set white makeup

Special-effects contact lenses, sold online, are guaranteed to freak people out (you'll need a prescription from your eye doctor)

Mix Karo syrup and red food dye to make realistic blood

Black and purple eye shadows, layered on with a deft hand, can produce great bruises

Dye almost any fabric with Rit permanent dye, or buy a bottle of paint to add stripes or designs

Liquid latex is best for attaching accoutrements to your face or body

Watch out for super-shiny Halloween-store wigs that won't look real

How to make a creepy cane

Dowel rod (sold at hardware stores)

Strong glue (PopTart recommends E600, found at craft stores)

Hot glue

Colorful spray paint and electrical tape

Any sort of fake skull

1. Cut a hole in the bottom of the skull, then cover the top of the dowel rod with E600 glue and push the two together. Seal the connection with a ring of hot glue.

2. Spray paint the dowel rod - go with a bright, glow-in-the-dark color - then wrap it with contrasting electrical tape.

How to make something new look old

To make weathered accessories like these, PopTart added details like the tubes on top of the ray gun. She was going for a "steampunk" design, which echoes 19th-century steam-powered objects with a science-fiction and fantasy feel.

She painted parts of the toy gun with a primer before using a spray paint with a "hammered metal" look; layers of craft paint with flecks of metal give it an aged and rusted appeal.

To make an item appear old and dirty, like something that's been stuck in a coffin for decades, try brushing on brown paint and rubbing it against sandpaper or rocks.