Thursday, November 4, 2010

Behind the Scenes, or What I Learned THIS Year

1.  I love Hot Blood.  Her red hot glue sticks really DO look like blood, and they were so easy to apply, both on the fake weapons and inside the witch jars. I'm glad I bought lots, because I have tons left for next year, now that I know what to do with them.

2. Do NOT schedule a repairman the week before Halloween.  He may be fast, and he may be good, but inevitably there will be unforeseen circumstances requiring your presence and decision-making abilities (which are shabby by now), and drywall, paint, etc. that need to dry before the next step can be taken.
(Although I do love the new fan in my sewing room, and the additional light made the cat's eyes in the window really shine through.)
Looks cool from the inside, too.
3.  When Hallowe'en falls on a Sunday, be prepared to have just as many ToTs on Saturday as you expect on Sunday.  This means have the props all set up and ready to go by 4:00 pm Sat. afternoon.  Fortunately, that won't happen again until 2021--and as I will be 70 years old that year, it may just be a moot point.

4.  Board Tandi every Hallowe'en. Period.

5.  LoveLee soaps on Etsy makes awesome fake fingers , right down to the ragged cuticles. They're even a bit slick to the touch.  (Red hot glue looks terrific on soap fingers.)

They also make soap poop, for all you pranksters and 8-yr-olds in adult clothing.

6. Duct tape and safety pins can save your butt.

       6a. Duct tape sticks to itself better than anything else. (note bottom left corner of foam insulation board walls)

7. Carve jack-o-lanterns early, even if you have to put the finished products in the fridge or in coolers with ice.  I never got any carved, and my lighting wasn't really enough without them.

8.  Buy lots more extension cords and multi-outlet posts for next year.  Enough said.

9.   Punt.

With all those uncarved pumpkins, I had to come up with some way to use them.  I scattered the pumpkins, skeletons, and the ubiquitous scarecrow around the yard, as if something had come and destroyed the place. 

9a. Don't try to put together a new prop at the last minute.  It will always look last minute--to you, even if your visitors aren't that critical.

Unless you can use the dim lighting to your advantage.

10. Firepits come in very handy for old Gypsy Queens on cold Hallowe'en nights. You can even dance around them, if no one's watching.

(More pictures on flickr, top right column of this blog)

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Bought 'em!  Right now "Bob" and "Alice" are sitting in lawn chairs in the front yard as "Napoleon" (my 3' skeleton) rides the flower pot tricycle hauling pumpkins.  They won't stay there, but for now they're pretty entertaining. 

One more shift after tonight and I'm off work for 10 nights, so pictures are coming, I promise!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quick Question

I have the opportunity to buy 2 skeletons off Craigslist:

The seller says the skeletons are moveable, but not poseable--there must be some support to keep their positions.  He says he has 2 of these skeletons in his graveyard scene and gets a lot of stop-and-lookers, and he thinks it's the skeletons.  He will come down to $165.00 for these two new skeletons and will deliver them to me this weekend.  Actually, he offered (via email) to do it tonight, but I'm a little cautious.

Based on the photos and his description of the dudes, height and weight, do you think this is a good deal?  Hubby's reluctant, as I've spent a lot this year already, but I think this would be worth it.

Advice? Opinions?  Anything more I should ask this guy?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Big Giveaway

Have you been here?

Halloween Queen\

It's a group of Halloween Artists who are giving away 31 prizes in October--one a day.  There are some really intriguing gifts and all you need to do is describe your favorite Halloween tradition.  For more entries you can post on your blog and shout out on Facebook.

Unfortunately neither Bean nor Shellhawk are part of that group, because their work is outstanding and I have purchased items myself.  Maybe next year, ladies?

And look! I won a giveaway over at The Candy Corn ChroniclesThe Pumpkin Girl

I have lots of repurposed items for Halloween, and my share of the commercial stuff, too.  But more and more, I'm collecting handmade items of the holiday, and when I'm too old and decrepit to get out and haunt the yard, I will set up my little display in my nursing home windowsill and admire them from my rocker while I remember the good old days.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Latest Acquisitions

 When I woke up yesterday morning, it felt like a good day for junkin'.  After lunch I headed out to hit various thrift stores, and though I didn't get to all of them, the ones I hit yielded several items for this year's haunting.
First, another oil lamp for my collection.

It's in great shape; it just needed a little work where the burner part was rusted and hard to get open.  Once I got it unscrewed and cleaned and refilled, it burns beautifully.  Whoever priced this didn't know what they had, because, although I haven't looked up this pattern in my book, the assembly indicates it was made before 1920--which makes it at least 90 years old. I got it for the cool price of $15.00.

And the last tea light holder came in from Dark Candles:

This one's a little dark, but here they are all lit up in my kitchen:

Next, a couple of Halloween buckets (probably will give these to friends), and electric stick candles which will be painted black and used in the tent, also.
The small jar has painted-on letters, which I will need to paint over or cover with a label, but is a good size for small  potions.

This old jar cost me $3.00.  It's very large and with the lid painted black, and maybe some tattered muslin or something around it, will also be a good jar for a specimen.

Next are several red dresses I will be dismantling for drapes inside the tent:
Detail of the fabric:

This one has a nice shimmer to it, that doesn't show up well in the pictures, and is lined with red satin:

It also has a long scarf that went with it, and will make a great headband:

This one was my favorite.  Notice the rhinestones across the bodice?
They'll be removed and used somewhere else, probably on the little wooden casket from Michael's that a friend gave me.  I figure part of the fabric will be used to line the inside of the casket.

The underskirt is black netting, always handy, and more red satin.

Tonight will probably be spent watching a spooky movie off my Netflix list and ripping seams.

Good times.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Christmas in August

Look at what has arrived at my humble abode this week:

A couple of items from Victorian Trading Company.
These aren't very tall, but I think they'll look good across the windowsill, or maybe even around a tombstone. There are 5 sets of three on the string.

The tall witch's shoe pincushion came in, too
I'm not sure how I'm going to use it this year, but it was too unique to pass up.

Next, the tealight holder, which really looks to be a votive holder.
Not red, as listed on the Dark Candles site, but purple.

I'm crazy about purple and I've decided to keep it, but it's not what I ordered. 

This is what I ordered:
 I can see this on the table with the black lacy tablecloth and the crystal ball.  So I've sent an email to Helena at Dark Candles to work out how to keep the purple one and order the red one, too, since they were different prices.

The first set of tea lights I ordered from her came in. These are Bonfire (the dark orange ones), Graveyard, and Clove.  With my next order, I want to try a single votive of several more scents to decide what I want to use in the tent, and some pillars for the house.  So far, they are smelling delicious, but they may not last til the jack-o-lanterns are carved.

Next were a couple of items from a blogging friend:

A papier mache skull from Michael's, I think.

This little casket emits a Fun-House type of laughter that continues as long as the top is opened.  A little black paint (to match my other casket), something to cover the inside top, some batting and silky-like fabric to line the bottom and it would be ready for....what? 
A tiny skeleton?  A tiny vampire? 

 Or a severed finger?

I had a storyline started for my gypsy, but the "elegance" of the candleholders has given me pause.  Maybe it would be creepier to have her surroundings not be likened to an old shack in the woods, where everything is all dusty and cobwebby inside, but more colorful and "bejewelled" and elegant.  Then have the pathway to the tent lined with spiders and cobwebs, crooked tombstones, swamps and cursed victims.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Revving Up

I woke up at 3:30 this morning with the remnants of a scary dream in my mind. With a little work, it would make a good short story, so I'm not going to divulge it just yet.  Maybe later...

Anyway, my mind leapfrogged over to Halloween and the storyline for the old gypsy woman for this year's haunt, and that was it for sleep.  At 4:30, a bewildered but loyal Tandi and I got up for good. I've spent some time mulling over the details of the story, but decided I needed to play some Nox Arcana to facilitate the mood, and plugged the iPod into the docking station in my sewing room before remembering I had removed the Halloween playlists at Christmas.  (No problem, they're still on iTunes on the computer, but it occurs to me I need to back these up on a disc or I will be soooo sorry!)

Turned on the computer and synced up and added the last few Hauntcasts to the list, too.
 While this was going on, I decided to take this lovely dark time and catch up on my Halloween blogs, watching some of the videos posted on their sites and chasing links.  It occurs to me that since going on my "track" at work, I've avoided the one-night-shift-off scenario that usually leaves me grumpy and hard to live with, but has also deprived me of those all-nighters where I have the whole house to myself and no television news or history programs to escape.  I might just need to schedule one of those nights, because once early bird Jack gets up (as he just did) the mood is gone. It's hard to maintain a spooky atmosphere when daylight comes and news analysts argue the latest events--and Jack feels the need to chime in.

Here's a site I need to check out more closely, thanks to Wendy of The Halloween Tree: Victorian Trading Company's Fall Sneak Peek i-catalogue. I could SO spend my paycheck here!

 I've already been over to Dark Candles and put in an order--can't wait for it to come in!

Yes, I'm a little late joining the leagues of those who live and breathe Halloween year-round, and have been hard at work for months, but there's still time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Over the weekend, I finally got a couple more storage bins for the newest Halloween stuff.  Some of it was "cutesie", and that's not usually my style, but I have friends who will like it. So some of it will be gifted to them--a Halloween wreath, a Halloween flag, a paper garland of skulls--but most of it will stay with me.
Candleholders that feel like wax themselves

As I was sorting the similar items into bins, it occurred to me I should probably be cataloguing what I have.  After all, I'm up to 9 bins now, not counting the stuff that won't fit into plastic storage bins.  I began listing the newest things in categories: Bones and Skeletons; Masks and Wigs; Tombstones; Candleholders; etc.  Some things fit more than one category, of course, and right now it's all in a spiral notebook, but I can see where it could easily be cross-referenced and put into the computer. I could detail myself to death here, so that will just wait until a post-holiday winter's day when I can't find anything else to do.


There are two ground-busters from the Casket Donor, a mummy and a skeleton:

Some netting "ghosts" that will probably be disassembled and  washed in Rit Color Remover to make them glow:

I haven't checked to see if the green bats will glow in the dark, but I'll bet they will.

I'm not sure if this guy had insides, but he doesn't now, so I may have to re-purpose him after I get a chance to check him over more closely.  There is also something that seems to be a Frankenstein tree-hugger, but I haven't tested that theory yet.
I really like these small candleholders!  The witches had a blue cauldron-shaped votive holder in between them, but I dropped it carrying armloads from the truck to the house, and it broke. I'm hoping to find something I can use in its place, maybe from Michael's.  It's about time for the Halloween items to start showing up there.
Here are 3 "semi-cute" signs that I think I might can doctor up a little.  Reminds me of those old highway signs--you know, the ones that advertised the shaving creme back in the 50s?  That rhymed.  Can't remember the name of the product, though. Bryl-Creme? No. But I think it did start with a B.

Guess my early dementia is kicking in here. It'll come to me, though.
Another couple of semi-cute signs.  They have potential.

And my favorite, next to the casket itself:

He's not toally poseable, but all his joints bend.  They just don't rotate and bend.  

While I was indulging in a little Halloween fantasizing and wondering how to use all the things I have, my subconscious dredged up an idea I've read somewhere, probably on one of your blogs. Since I plan to have the candy outside this year, away from the front door where Tandi would bark herself into a severe case of laryngitis, and will need to make a pathway to the Gypsy Tent, I'm thinking I should work out a storyline for the old gypsy woman.  I might not put out explanatory signs or anything, but something to help me organize my yard, and utilize some of the groupings I have.  For example, the path could pass through a cemetery.  Then I can use the tombstones and ground busters.  Maybe it should go past a "swamp", where bats and reptilian body parts give off a green glow.

I have reconciled myself to the fact I will never have the production that most of my favorite bloggers have, just because I am a one-woman show.  And I don't have the time, space, know-how, or inclination (at least in this heat and humidity!) to build those wonderful moving props I see in Halloween-Land. So I need to make the most of what I have or can buy.

Any advice or suggestions for storylines?

BURMA SHAVE--that's it!
I knew it would come to me.