Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fright-Filled Halloween Bucket List

Tomorrow is October 1st and if you haven't made your Halloween bucket list, I'd like to suggest that perhaps you'd like to use mine. This year, I think I can accomplish everything on my list!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rogue Taxidermy Meet Hazel

A few months ago, some friends talked me into taking a taxidermy class. This workshop seemed much more adventurous than those paint and drink workshops so I gingerly signed up as a birthday present to myself. The class I took was rogue taxidermy where the parts of two animals are joined together. We weren't concerned with authenticity, we were putting wings on a mouse. You can thank those crazy Victorians for this revived art.

Before I go any further, the mice in this workshop were already dead. I didn't not and would not kill a live animal. Taxidermists do not kill animals for the sake of art. The animals have already passed on to another life. I consider this a way to honor their former life.

My instructor was Katie Innamorato. She was wonderful and you can check out her website Afterlife Anatomy. She is currently a taxidermist at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn- one of my favorite places. She gives workshops around the country and I highly recommend her.

I will spare you the more gruesome photos of Hazel being created. That's what I call my sweet winged mouse. Suffice to say, I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could ever flay an animal, but in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I'm glad I now know how to do it correctly. I will say that the class was very fun. Yes, I said fun. I was also fascinated by seeing how a body is put together. It truly is a wonder. Would I do it again? Perhaps.
This is Hazel where she now resides in her new home. My cats are very curious, but she is well protected. I intend to give her a few more accessories. I think I'll change them seasonally. I'm on the look out for a little pumpkin for her to hold.

After having done this little project, I have a great deal of respect for large animal taxidermy like the ones you see in natural history museums. The time and skill required are huge.

If you'd like to learn more, check out The Art of Taxidermy by Jane Eastoe and Polly Morgan.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Secret Spells & Curious Charms

It's time for another one of my go-to Halloween children's books.
"Secret Spells & Curious Charms" by Monika Beisner, is sweetly illustrated and contains a collection of poems and folk-charms that I have used as a reference for whenever I need to add a spell to my Halloween decorations. Some are easier to follow than others.

"To travel from one place to another
by flying as fast as the fastest hawk:
take snow and boil it with oil 
on a fire of two kinds of wood
(one white, the other red).
Then put the mixture in a bag
made from a sheep's bladder.
When this has been in the bladder
for a moon and a half,
pour it over charcoal, 
and when it is all mixed together
pound it to powder on an alabaster table.
Keep the powder in a horn.
When you want to fly, take a pinch of the powder
and place it within the pages of a book.
Put the book in your robe
in a pocket which has been prepared for it.
Then take the book, sit with it in your hand,
and think of the place to which you are to fly.
At first this will take a long time.
When you are ready to fly and feel tired, then you must say
and you will instantly be at your destination.
When you want to return home, you must say
and you will be back."

"Who kills a spider,
Bad luck betides her."
"Beware of that man,
Be he friend or brother,
Whose hair is one color
And mustache another."

"The fig tree is her staff, folks say;
Destroy it not in any way.
Upon it lies a dreadful curse,
Who plucks a leaf will need a hearse."

There is also a spell to "cause love between two people" and one "to be revenged upon one who had done you harm". Attempt at your own risk.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Strange Dolls and an Art Show

I've been wanting to attend a Halloween art show for some time now and finally found one within a days drive in Burlington, VT. Best of all for me, it's hosted by artist Beth Robinson. I'm very fond of Robinson's Strange Dolls. According to Robinson's bio:
"Since 2003 she has been creating macabre and grotesque 
characters in clay for collectors across the globe. Robinson's dolls have
been featured in the magazines: Gothic Beauty, Art Doll Quarterly, and SPIN in the US, Rue Morgue in Canada, RIP in Russia, and Nordic Vision in Norway."

Robinson's Halloween juried art show, The Art of Horror, takes place in Burlington from October 3 through 25. I plan to be there opening night (costumes encouraged) for the live performances and spectacle of it all. Read more about The Art of Horror on Robinson's blog

These are some of the Strange Dolls currently available for sale. 
(Did you know that Paypal now lets you pay in installments?)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Open Casket Bar and Grill

One thing leads to another. That's how I came up with this blog post. Last Friday I heard a short blurb on NPR about Hell, Michigan attempting to break the world record for the number of hearses in a parade. I couldn't let that go by without a little research.
Hellfest Style Camping

I found out that on the second Saturday of every September, Hell, MI is the home of Hellfest. There is a hearse show, food and art vendors, camping, and a bonfire. Don't worry, it's on my list for next year.

I furthered learned that the festival is sponsored by the Nightmare Cruisers Hearse Club located in Hell. Really, I'm not making this up. Finally, wait for it, The Nightmare Cruisers have an open casket bar and grill available for party rental. Yep. 

I'm so envious. I though my casket beer cooler was awesome. It just seems amateur now. Their open casket is mounted on a trailer, has a propane gas tank, 27 gallon capacity cooler, and an entertainment center with cd/dvd, am/fm, cell phone port and speakers. For an extra $1 per mile they say they'll travel to your location. Michigan to New England could get expensive. I'll bet that's round trip.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Zindel Insect Tableware

The ceramics by Laura Zindel have been a favorite of mine for quite some time. I've purchased a few pieces over the years and plan to add to my collection. I hadn't looked at the website in awhile and was pleased to see that textiles are now offered. Pillows are available and table runners will be added this fall. While there are designs besides spiders, snakes and other crawling creatures, these of course, are my favorites. If you want to set an elegant Halloween table, check out Zindel.

It's never to late or early to start investing in some quality items for your Halloween collection.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Haunted Doll House

When I was growing up I had a wonderful doll house that my uncle had made for me. I spent hours pouring over the Enchanted Doll House catalog planning on how I would furnish it. I haven't quite given up this hobby. Now, however, I want to create a haunted doll house. More specifically, after watching American Horror Story's Asylum, I want to create a haunted asylum doll house.
I been watching this metal doll house from the online shop At West End. It has just the cold, sterile atmosphere I desire. I love the windows. I imagine people swinging from the ceiling.

I've also discovered there is an entire category of miniatures relating to doctor offices.
These are from Mainly.Minis and include a creepy nurse, syringe and jar of leeches.

S.P. Miniatures has great furniture including this bed and wheelchair. 
And really, what is creepier than latex gloves?

I'm watching for a sale At West End before I purchase the doll house of my nightmares. Hopefully I can start on this after Halloween.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Gravestone Girls

Have you ever wished you could just pick up a beautiful gravestone and take it home with you? The Gravestone Girls may be able to help you out. They take castings of old New England gravestones and create replicas that you can hang in your home. The art is really quite beautiful. Besides castings, they also sell pendants, magnets and other oddities. I'm partial to anything with skulls on it, but they also have castings of angels and cherubs.

The Gravestone Girls do not harm the original stones in their casting process. This is very important and why you shouldn't try this at home, kids. Gravestones are very fragile. The group works closely with preservation groups to preserve these monuments and offers lectures on gravestone symbolism.

Each casting tells you the name of the person the gravestone belonged to and where it was found. You can make a picnic pilgrimage to visit the original wearing a black Lolita dress picked specially for the occasion. Sorry,I lost myself.  The castings also come in a variety of colors.

Here are some of my favorites:

Mrs. Peanut
Coffin Bones
Death No Terror!
Issac Fuller Winged Skull
Check out their Partners page on the website. There are lots of good links here. They also have a Calendar page that lets you know where they'll be lecturing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hearse for Sale

1906 Hearse for $50,000
I've always thought I should be driving a hearse. I like the idea except that I don't think they're very environmentally friendly. Do they make a hybrid hearse yet?

During  my daily web surfing, I came upon  FuneralCarTrader.com.  Wow! There is entire website set up to buy and sell used hearses. Who knew? There is even a section for antique hearses. Check out these beauties being listed.

1885 Horse Drawn Hearse for $20,000
1906 Horse Drawn Hearse for $50,000
1985 Buick Hearse with Flames! $8,900

I would love a horse drawn hearse in my front yard for Halloween, but I could see myself driving a hearse painted with flames on special occasions. I think these hearses are a bit out of my Halloween budget range this year. I'm going to keep an eye on this website, though. You never know what might show up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bell Book and Candle

I'm starting to get in the mood to watch my list of Halloween movies. One of my favorite lite-Halloween movies is the 1958  Bell Book and Candle starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. If you haven't seen it this is the story of a young attractive witch living and working in NYC who casts a spell on her new handsome neighbor because she doesn't like the woman with whom he is engaged to be married.  Some of my favorite scenes are at the witch gathering spot called the Zodiac Club. Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs are wonderful. Good stuff.

A bit of trivia I learned recently is Pyewacket, the witch's cat in the movie, is actually named from a list of familiars from an accused witch in Manningtree, Essex, UK. In 1644, a local woman was arrested for witchcraft and deprived of sleep for four nights. She gave a list of her familiar names: Holt, Jamara, Vinegar Tom, Sacke and Sugar, Newes, Ilemauzer, Pyewacket, Pecke in the Crown, and Griezzel Greedigut. That is quite a list. I named one of my cats after the movie cat Pyewacket, but now I'm glad to know she has a much greater name history.  If only I had known of this list before I named the rest of my cats. My next cat will definitely be named Griezzel Greedigut.

Movie Pyewacket and my Pyewacket

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

All Hallows' Read

You have most likely already heard of All Hallows' Read, being the educated spooky people I know you to be. Let this serve as a reminder. Author Neil Gaiman began a campaign a few years ago to create a new tradition of giving scary books to kids and adults during the week of Halloween. There is even a website, All Hallows' Read, describing the event and giving some book suggestions.

I've been doing this for my niece every year and yes, myself too. I must buy a new spooky book every Halloween. I usually choose beautifully illustrated children's books for my collection.

I'm trying to come up with a way to incorporate this into my trick-or-treat candy for the kids who show up at my door. I don't think I can write my own story, but I did find this great book of kid-appropriate short stories that is called "Half-Minute Horrors." Each story is only a few paragraphs long and all are written by various well-known authors including Neil Gaiman. Perhaps I can slip one of these stories in with the treats and a link to the All Hallows' Read website. I love the idea of All Hallows Read. Nothing is scarier than our imagination.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Barbed Wire Fantasy

This gorgeous barbed wire chandelier shouldn't still be available at the DustyRaven on Etsy. It should be hanging in my entrance hall. The only problem is my ceiling is too low. I could cry. Did you notice the glass and wire red spiders hanging from it? Perfection.

In case you're wondering, the chandelier is 24" across and 34" tall. I know because I asked (insert heavy sigh here.)

If you have low ceilings too, the DustyRaven also has many other spooky items in a large range of prices.
This fantastic creature is named Friar Corvus. He is made of metal, cow horn and leather. I'm in love.

The metal spider webs are available with spiders too.

Don't forget to purchase a few spiders to display in unexpected places.

Did I mention that the DustyRaven accepts Etsy gift cards (hint, hint)?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Victorian Trading Company

I always love  the Victorian Trading Company for their great selection of vintage looking Halloween items. This year there are a few things I think I need.
First, these clawfoot candle holders. I've seen some on Pinterest and have been on the lookout for some of my own. At $19.95, I think I can check this mission complete. I want to have a table of candles this year for Halloween with mismatched candle holders. I picked up some beautiful black glass candle holders at the Brimfield Antique Market a few weeks ago, and these will fit in perfectly.

Next on my list is this web under glass plate. There are a limited number available because this is an actual spider web preserved under glass. I remember a trip to Vermont several years ago where I heard about an artist that collected spider webs from his barn and preserved them by framing them. I didn't get a chance to stop in and have regretted it ever since. This will make me feel a little better.

Finally, I always like to buy a piece of jewelry every Halloween. This little Good Witch brooch makes me smile. I can definitely wear this on a sweater at work. The price is awesome at $16.95. Browse through Victorian Trading Company's selections at work today. It's ok because it's  Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ghostly Church

This art installation by Jakub Hadrava has been floating (ha!) around the internet for a few months now. Apparently, this is a thesis project for Hadrava, a student at the University of West Bohemia (Google translation was a bit sketchy.) Hadrava hopes to raise awareness of the abandoned church and raise funds to repair it. Volunteers sat under layers of plaster fabric for 20 minutes to help create the silent figures. The ghostly figures are meant to "represent the spirits of the Sudeten Germans who went to the church to pray every Sunday." The church has been abandoned since the late 1960s.

The Church of St. George is located in the Czech village of Lukova and dates from the 14th century. Read an article here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Cook Children

I keep the tongue-in-cheek "How to Cook Children: A Grisly Recipe Book" by Martin Howard and Colin Stimpson on my kitchen counter year-round. It prevents guests from asking if they can stay for dinner and makes their children a little more cautious around me.

Written like an actual cookbook, it can be a bit gruesome. In a recipe for Enfant aux Escargots et Grenouilles, the instructions read "Take your enfant and carefully peel it, making sure to scrape off any bruises or spots it may have." Just typing that was a bit hard for me to stomach. I felt like I should wear a hat pulled low on my head and hide in a dark corner while reading this book. At times it is a bit uncomfortable, but I found myself giggling throughout. The illustrations are great.

Some of the recipes included:
Cajun Cherub Gumbo
Deepfried Small Fry with Fries
Baked Alaskan
Flat Jacks

Read at your own risk.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Halloween Porch

my house.
Hopefully, you're well on your way to planning this year's Halloween decorations. I'm already waking up in a panic at night because I feel I'm way behind schedule.

If you're stuck on what to do this year, may I suggest fabric fans in orange and black? These are simple to put up and pack a punch. I purchased mine in 2009 and they still look great. They have become a beacon for trick-or-treaters. I also like them because they look good in daylight. So many Halloween decorations only look good at night. I prefer my decor to be photo ready at any time. I purchased my fabric fans at Independence Bunting. Order now before it's too late.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bat Crazy

Boris the Bat
Oh, no. I never pay attention to ads on my Facebook feed. I have a rule about not clicking on any ad.

But today, Ephraim Faience Pottery placed an ad- I know it was specifically directed at me- of this gorgeous bat vase. I clicked. It's called "Boris the Bat" and it is a limited run piece. The worst part is that I have until today at 5pm CDT to make my purchase. And the worst, worst part is that it is $298. I was going to buy a couch.

After doing a tiny bit of internet research, I learned that bat imagery in Art Nouveau pottery and jewelry was not that rare, but it's not cheap either. I also realized that my life may not be complete without it.

The Gloaming
If I miss the deadline, I can console myself with this adorable piece. It's called "The Gloaming." I was so blissfully unaware. Damn you, Facebook.