Friday, August 29, 2014

The Wicker Man

My assignment to myself this weekend is to re-watch the original version of "The Wicker Man." After thinking about making a twig effigy for our Halloween bonfire, I can't this movie out of my head. It is so unsettling and disturbing that some have called it the "Citizen Kane" of horror movies. If you haven't seen it, don't watch the remake with Nicholas Cage, you have to watch the 1973 version. The images are fantastic.

Check out this cool Wicker Man hand candle I found on Etsy. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All Saints Day in Poland

A few years ago I saw a photo of a cemetery covered in lit lanterns. This was my introduction to the celebration of All Saints Day in Poland. Much like the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico, All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd when it is believed the souls of the dead come back to visit. In Poland, lanterns are lit to guide the dead back and graves are covered in flowers and evergreen branches. In more rural areas, a special bread is baked and vodka is left for the dead to drink.

Although celebrated as a Catholic tradition these days, I've read that All Saints Day or All Souls Day has pagan roots in a tradition called Dziady. Dziady was a feast celebrating the dead held in the spring and fall.

The photos I've seen are incredibly beautiful. Check out Google images, you'll be in awe.

Visit Domitp to purchase some of these beautiful cemetery lanterns called Znicze.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Personal Poppets

Legend has it that witches and Voodoo priestesses where known to make poppets, dolls representing people, to use for casting spells. I thought it would be fun to make poppets that represent my husband and me. Strangely enough, they were a Valentine's Day gift. Did he understand I could use them to constrain his thoughts and movements? Probably not.

I drew a pattern and then, after printing photos on iron-on transfer paper, I positioned our faces on the fabric. I sewed the hair from yarn and the clothes from felt. Every time I look at them I laugh. I keep them under a glass dome so that our cats don't shred us to pieces. A little magic can be dangerous.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Green Man

"The Green Man" by Kingsley Amis is funny. It's also a ghost story with a mystery to solve.  Originally published in 1969, the novel still feels current to me. The main character is likable in that crazy distant relative sort of way where he is fun to watch, but you don't want to get too close. Maurice Allington, the owner of an old inn, appears to be going through a mid-life crisis where his main goal is to have sex with as many of the local women as possible. Unfortunately, his plans get tangled up when the ghost of a seventeenth-century practitioner of the black arts makes his appearance. In the end, Allington's life gets turned upside down. Read it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bonfire Beauty

Several years ago, a friend and artist, Cindy Jerrell, and her husband made this beautiful branch angel for another friend's wedding.  Guests attached messages of good wishes for the couple and then in the evening the angel was lit and the messages were sent out to the heavens. It was beautiful.

I've been wanting to do something similar for our Halloween party. We always have a bonfire but I think this would add a little excitement. The one I'll attempt (I'm sure it won't come out nearly as well as this one) will need to be a bit scarier. Perhaps it will have a pumpkin for the head that will smash to the ground when the body burns. Guests can attach messages to those who have passed on from this life.

I'll post some pictures once I get started. I think I should start soon so that the wood has plenty of time to dry out.  While you're waiting, check on Jerrell's work. She has some pretty haunting images in her graphic prints and delightfully dark puppet boxes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sedlec Ossuary

On my bucket list of trips I need to take is the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic. Anyone as fascinated by death as I am should also have this on a list. Of course, I also want to see the catacombs in Paris and Rome as well, so this should be a bone-tour.
What I like most about the Sedlec Ossuary is that it is above ground so that you can see the skulls and bones in natural light and that they are so beautifully arranged. I really must see the bone chandelier in person. If you want to see more amazing homes of the dead check out the Web Urbanist. My link goes to a page listing 13 unique cemeteries, but you'll find all kinds of interesting things on the site.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Drop Dead Travel Accessories

Part of the fun of planning a trip is buying stuff to take along. You really can't plan the ultimate Halloween tour without spooky luggage. Take a look at these delightful accessories that will turn heads. I have a feeling you won't have any trouble spotting you suitcase on the revolving luggage belt.

This coffin rolling bag is $89.99 from the VampireFreaks store

Too much? Keep it simple then with the wallet from ArtbyAliHorn for $22.15 or this adorable bat purse from TitinaStore for $40.00- both on Etsy. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grimpendium Travel Guides

When I'm planning a trip around New England or New York, I grab my Grimpendium books to see if there is something creepy good to stop and look at along the way.

Author J. W. Ocker describes the books as "a guide to macabre and ghastly sites." I love Ocker's writing style which has the perfect mix of wonder, cynicism and humor.

Ocker covers everything from murders to movies. I first learned about the Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn here that is now an awesome museum. Divided into sections, it's easy to pick up and read at any point in the book. I keep my copies on the guest bedroom night stand. They're the perfect thing to read before turning off the lights.

Ocker also has a great blog and Facebook page that are worth following called O.T.I.S. Odd Things I've Seen. I'm a little enamored of him. I think I'll need to send him an invitation to my Halloween party this year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

It's time to start planning Halloween trips and activities. Tickets to the best events sell out fast. One you shouldn't miss if you're in the area of Sleepy Hollow, NY is The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. The Blaze is put on by Historic Hudson Valley as a fundraiser for their historic properties. I've been twice now and each time it has been spectacular. Thousands of pumpkins are beautifully carved and placed in the perfect setting of the Van Cortland Manor- an early 18th century Dutch farmhouse estate. It's attractive in daylight, but spooky in the dark. The pumpkins are lit for 25 evenings in October and early November.

My advice is to choose an early evening ticket time. It will still be dark, but a little less crowded. There are hordes of people viewing the pumpkins on any given night, but well managed, so that you can see everything. The weekends sell out fast so get your tickets early! Oh, and dress warmly. 

Sleepy Hollow is a great place to spend a weekend. In October, there are lots of activities and the cemetery gives tours too.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Halloween Art Shows

I live in New England and you would think we would have the ultimate Halloween artist's show here. Salem, MA would be a good place, but just about every little town in New England has a ghost story or two. There must be hundreds of Halloween artists living here, but alas, no gathering that I've been able to find.

Someday I'm going to do something about that, but until then, I look at the websites for two Halloween shows that look wonderful:
Halloween & Vine, September, 27th in Petaluma, CA
Ghoultide Gathering, October, 4th in Chelsea, MI
Artist: Gabrielle Acevedo at Halloween & Vine
I'm going to need to attend them for research purposes. I just need to be able to take time away from my own Halloween preparations. The Michigan show seems like a good place to start. Roadtrip anyone??

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dorothy Goes Punk

I dabble in sewing projects. Although I don't make many of my clothes, I do alter them fairly often.  Early in the summer I purchased this cute gingham dress from Eshakti. I loved it, but every time I wore it people looked at me and said "Dorothy!" I don't particularly want people yelling out "Dorothy!" when I walk past them. Then one day, I shrunk the length of the dress by putting it in the dryer too long. Enough was enough. It was time for action.

I cross-stitched three skulls along the bottom of the dress and added some black lace. Ta-da! Dorothy has just joined a cowpunk band.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bellman & Black

Speaking of death (aren't we always?) "Bellman & Black" by Diane Setterfield is a beautiful story about one man's relationship with death. This is a quiet tale about a boy who unexpectedly kills a rook and begins a journey with death that eventually leads him to open a spectacular department store that sells only mourning accessories.

Unlike many books that want to paint a picture of the author's version of what life-after-death is like, this story deals more with our relationship with the idea of death. It's the kind of book that after you read the last page, you close the book and sit silently for a few minutes just letting the words float around you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coffin Cat Bed

So, stick with me on this one. About a year ago, I saw a wicker coffin in an antique mall in Vermont. It was in excellent condition and closed with leather straps and buckles. It was only $200. I pictured lining it with tufted velvet and placing it next to the front windows for our six cats. It would be the ultimate cat bed. I didn't purchase it because a) my car was too small to carry it home and b) this was a purchase that needed to be discussed with the husband. I've brought home some weird stuff, but this would be a big one.

Needless to say, since the picture isn't showing this lovely in our front window, I do not own it. I've thought about it for a year now, and recently went back to the same store in hopes that it would still be there. Alas, it was sold. Purchased by someone braver than myself. I look for another wherever I go now. Another obsession to nurse.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Paper Mache Skeleton

I want this paper mache skeleton.

I've been watching it at the MexicanSugarSkull website for over a year now. It would tower over me!! My only difficulty is that it's expensive- over $400 with shipping.  Yes, there is a reasonably priced four-foot skeleton, but really, I need the six-foot one.

Now you need one too, right? It's fabulous. I think I spied the four-foot version sitting in the lobby of the Morbid Anatomy museum in Brooklyn. It was nice. I suppose I could be happy with four feet of skeleton, but those two extra feet would be lovely to own.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Memento Mori

Once I learned about the Day of the Dead tradition of setting up an altar to honor deceased relatives I was hooked. Every October, as part of my Halloween preparations, I would set up my own version that included lots and lots of photos of relatives that have passed away. It seems to grow every year, unfortunately. I began to hate having to take it down at the end of the Day of the Dead celebration and decided to come up with something I could leave up year round.

The glass case is something I picked up from a HomeGoods store well before I thought about using it in this way. It's perfect because the roof is perforated so that I can string the copper wire through the top to hang the pictures. The photos are pasted onto bottle caps with small holes on opposite sides. I purchased them that way, but you could make them. I decorated the wires with beads to give the caps a little more weight so that they hang better.

I love my finished memento mori case. And, though I was a bit concerned that visitors to the house would think it odd, I've had many great discussions about it. I love walking by it everyday and talking to my relatives. I have also found it very comforting to add a recently deceased family member to the group. It's like I feel they are in a good place- loved and surrounded by family.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Early Halloween?

I saw rows and rows of candy corn yesterday at the grocery store. It's not even the middle of August yet. Now, I know that candy corn would probably survive a nuclear attack, but it sort of takes the excitement out of Halloween for me. I really don't want to see Halloween products in the stores until mid-September. To me there is a difference between your day-to-day lovely macabre objects and Halloween products which tend to be a bit more kitschy. Don't get me wrong, I love them both at the proper time and place. Is that too snobbish? What do you think?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poe Temporary Tattoos

These Edgar Allen Poe temporary tattoos are awesome! And, only $7 at Archie McFee for 33 different tattoos. How can you go wrong? The tin they come in is almost worth the price alone.


This set of temporary Edgar Allan Poe Tattoos reveals the darkness you have inside to the rest of the world. Thirty-three temporary tattoos come in an illustrated 5" x 5-1/2" x 1/2" tin. They are inspired by such stories and poems as "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Raven." From a lower back "Nevermore" tattoo to a terrifying visage of the murderous jester, Hop-Frog, you'll bring these morbid tales to life with your own flesh. Not to mention, you'll get various ravens and a Poe tombstone. Which reminds us, these are the perfect thing to entertain yourself if you're ever BURIED ALIVE!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Crows: An Old Rhyme

One is for bad news
Two is for mirth
Three is a wedding
Four is a birth
Five is for riches
Six is a thief
Seven is a journey
Eight is for grief
Nine is a secret
Ten is for sorrow
Eleven is for love
Twelve is for joy tomorrow

Heidi Holder

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mrs. Poe

I read "Mrs. Poe" a few months ago when I picked it up from the library. Published, appropriately enough, around Halloween 2013, it tells the fictionalized story of the actual widely rumored affair between Edgar Allen Poe and American poet, Frances Osgood. The story is interesting and contains a combination of romance and mystery. But as I was reading it, I felt like the author was name dropping almost every well known figure of that time period and some of the events that happened seemed too made-up to be true. When I finished I immediately went to the internet to do some quick research and found that some of the most unbelievable events really did happen! Score one for author Lynn Cullen and shame on me.

Don't get me wrong, I liked this novel. The fact that after reading it I wanted to do more research only increases my need to recommend it to you. If you have a fascination with Poe, you owe it to yourself to see this side of an extremely complicated man. Just don't expect Cullen to hint at any explanation for Poe's death.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Raven On My Wall

I'm starting to feel the chill of Halloween in the air. I'm not the only one. I've been noticing lots of Halloween pins on Pinterest lately. Well, nothing says Halloween like Edgar Allen Poe and ravens. One year, I was looking for something to put on the shelves of our living room to tone down the cheery factor. I had decorated with ravens everywhere and came up with putting a stanza from "The Raven" in picture frames. In other years, I have also used the goriest parts from Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales. The possibilities are endless- maybe movie dialogue from "The Birds" this year?

Check out my Halloween Pinterest board if you can't get enough of the creepy.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Poisonous Obsessions

These are a few things at Etsy I'm obsessing over~
Warning: By the time you see this, I may have purchased all of them.....
George Briard Name Your Poison set 
Delightful Sugar Bowl 
Both by Occulence