Glowing Eyes in the Darkness: Jack-O-Lanterns

Spooky Pumpkin
It just wouldn’t be Halloween without a few carved pumpkins, also known as Jack-O-Lanterns. Patterns are readily available online, or you can flex your creative muscles by coming up with your own designs. What does your pumpkin say about you? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Carved Pumpkins
From the goofy to the spooky, there’s something for everyone.

Pumpkin Trio
There are numerous options for lighting your pumpkins: Lit candles flicker in the breeze. LEDs produce high intensity and sometimes color-changing light. Glow sticks give off softer, otherworldly light. Spotlights and flashlights light up the face while also creating some eerie dark shadows inside the pumpkin.

Awestruck Pumpkin
Even pumpkins have moments of surprise and awe. I wonder what he sees?

Monster Pumpkin
Little details make all the difference. This carved pumpkin owes its devilishly good looks to the absence of a nose. That one little detail, plus the intensity of the light within, gives him a more ghoulish appeal.

Jaws Pumpkin
This one brings a whole new meaning to the name “Jaws.” After carving the teeth, the orange skin around the perimeter of the mouth was removed to reveal the white flesh beneath. If that seems like too much work, you could use a white Sharpie marker to define the mouth.

Jack Skelleton Pumpkin
Nightmare Before Christmas is a very popular Halloween movie and decorating theme, and this pumpkin doesn’t disappoint. A little dry ice, or a fog machine takes the spooky vibe to a whole new level.

Cat & Spider Pumpkin
Cat lovers will appreciate this creative design. Black cats and spiders are staples in Halloween décor.

Scary Pumpkin
This frightening character has menacing eyes surrounded by flames above and below.

Scary Ghost Pumpkin
This ghoulish ghost is another Tim Burton inspired design from his nightmare movie.

Pumpkin Happy Hour
It’s Happy Hour for Jack-O-Lanterns only! Honestly, if I saw a gathering like this in my backyard, I would probably run away! It looks like a scene from a Steven King movie.

Pumpkin carving isn’t for everyone. There’s also nothing wrong with displaying your pumpkins “as is” with the added bonus of being able to keep them on display for Thanksgiving too.

Painted Pumpkins
If you like to paint, you could paint designs on real or artificial pumpkins. These decorated pumpkins can be accomplished with a few Sharpie markers, and they will last longer than the carved variety.

Lamppost Pumpkins
Another great option is painting a wooden plaque like the one shown above. It can be used for years and is very inexpensive to make. Over time, the sun, wind and weather can take their toll. Whether you are painting a brand new pumpkin, or giving a makeover to an existing one, the steps are the same.

How to Paint and /or Repaint a Wooden Outdoor Halloween Decoration:

Supplies:
Wooden Pumpkin Decoration (30” high x 22” wide x 1/2” thick)
Orange Outdoor Spray Paint – OR – Orange Outdoor Acrylic Paint (See Step 2)
Outdoor Acrylic Paint – black, green & brown
Paintbrush
Sandpaper
Black Sharpie Marker

Faded Original Pumpkins
Step 1 – First you will need to clean off the dirt and debris, and lightly sand the surface and edges in preparation for paint.

Orange Spray Paint
Step 2 – You have two painting options here: Spray Painting versus Brush on Painting.
For Spray Painting: Apply multiple coats of orange outdoor spray paint. To be honest, I’m not a fan of spray paint due to the toxic fumes.  I also was not satisfied with the paint coverage. I’m not sure why, but the consistency was very thin like water.

Three Coats Acrylic
For Brush on Painting: – Apply 3 coats of orange outdoor acrylic paint with a brush. Be sure to coat all the edges and the back of the plaque as well to protect and seal the wood from water damage.

Green & Brown Details
Step 3 – Add details such as stems, leaves, and the surrounding ground at the edges. You may want to outline the details first with a Sharpie marker.

Black Lines
Step 4 – Draw the faces and add curved lines to give the pumpkins a three-dimensional effect. Outline the leaves and stems in black to make them stand out better.

Black Paint
Step 5 – Fill in the faces with black paint.

Before & After Pumpkins
After spending a day at the spa, these pumpkins have been renewed, rejuvenated, and are ready to greet your guests at the door. The choice of pumpkins is up to you. Whether you decide to use real, artificial, or any other material, the enjoyment and celebration of the holiday will always come through in festive style.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Halloween Decorating Tips – Part 2

Jack-O-Lanterns
Spooky story telling around the campfire, frightful decorations haunting the yard, and fanciful costumes excite and delight, as bags are filled with candy and laughter drifts upon the air. Halloween will soon be here. Celebrate this popular holiday and dance like nobody’s watching! First you’ll need a few decorative ideas to set the stage for your celebration. Let’s get started…

Lantern
Many people enjoy the warm summer nights by candlelight. With Halloween approaching, transform your lanterns into Halloween décor by adding a few decals to the glass.

Moody Lighting
Lighting is so important to setting the mood. Carved pumpkins can be lit with standard candles or opt for the battery operated flameless variety. Luminaries can be made from glass jars and decals or simply draw a design with Sharpie markers.

Skeleton
Tombstones and skeletons are a Halloween classic. This one has a more menacing appearance with its glowing red eyes and the bright light from below, giving the impression he’s climbing out of his grave.

Alien Pumpkins
If elaborate carving seems a bit too daunting, these mini pumpkins will make you smile.   Cut out a rectangle in the front, large enough to fit plastic teeth as shown above. Draw eyeballs or use olives as an alternative. Attach the eyes with toothpicks and you have silly extraterrestrial pumpkins to delight your guests. Green pumpkins would be even better!

Caged Pumpkin
Do you have an old cage in your garage? People can’t resist looking, wondering what’s hidden inside. A glowing pumpkin in a dark cage will certainly keep them guessing. To kick the fear factor up, you could carve a big bite mark in the side or add some jagged claw marks.

String Lights
Strings of orange lights are perfect accents on decks and patios for railings, pergolas, and arbors. There is a wide variety of bulb shapes and sizes, and the LED strands will last a long time.

Bat Silhouette
Silhouettes of bats, crows, spiders and more are readily available online. Print out several, cut them out and tape them inside your front windows. The lights in your home will provide the eerie glow they need to be seen every evening.

Castle
Having a party? Create a castle using a roll of pre-printed blocks. This one was “built” along walls and around a china closet. Crenulations were cut in the top for the true castle experience. Owls and other figures were perched on top.

Castle Gate
It wouldn’t be a castle without a menacing gate. To make one, cardboard toilet paper tubes and a long box lid were shaped, assembled, and painted black.

Mirrored Snakes
Seeing double? A rubber snake dangles from atop this mirror. At times it’s a little difficult to tell which one is the reflection.

Spider & Gourds
Strange gourds make their debut in the fall. Combine a few with rubber spiders, snakes, rats or any other creepy crawlers you care to include. Be sure to include a few critters on your food table as well. It will keep your guests on their toes.

Pumpkin Cookies
There are plenty of opportunities for Halloween themed food at your party.

Pumpkin Glasses
Beverages can be served in cups and glasses decorated with festive faces, created with Sharpie markers or Halloween decals.

Spider Web Cupcakes
Spiders appear to have spun webs across this tabletop and over the cupcakes on this dessert table.

Witch Pumpkin
A simple pumpkin becomes a bewitching character with the perfect hat. A glow in the dark tablecloth can be used as a wall hanging.

Funny Skeletons
Not all skeletons are scary. This clever homeowner has a wonderful sense of humor with this updated version of “Hear no evil – Speak no evil – See no evil.”

From kid-friendly Casper the Ghost to a nightmare on Elm Street, there’s Halloween décor for every party, home, or office. Over time you will collect an interesting collection of favorites. Decorating for Halloween is fun for the whole family, and you will enjoy your handiwork all month long.

Be sure to check out part 1 of this article for more Halloween Decorating tips.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Halloween Decorating Tips

Pumpkins by CandlelightOne of my favorite holidays is Halloween. It brings back such happy memories of dressing up as a child, and the excitement has continued as an adult. Apparently many people agree, because Halloween has become the second biggest holiday of the year. Decorating your home is a fun activity for the whole family. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

Halloween Wreath
Halloween WreathGreet your guests at the front door with a boldly decorated Halloween wreath. The humorous witch’s legs were the inspiration for the purple and black color scheme with accents of orange and white. The wire wreath frame was wrapped first with tissue paper to add bulk, and then fabric for color and texture. The witch’s legs came mounted on a dowel, which was secured to the frame. A metallic garland conceals the dowel and an owl was tied in the center using matching ribbon. The witch’s hat, ghosts, pumpkins, and spiders complete the design.

Spider Web Placemat
Spider Web Placemat

Pumpkin Placemat
Pumpkin PlacematSetting a Spooky Table – Whether you are having a Halloween party, or want to spice up your breakfast table, an inexpensive solution is layering placemats. Laser cutting technology has produced beautifully detailed, lace-like products with both style and durability. A Spider Web placemat (from Wegmans) was layered with a Metallic Finish Pumpkin placemat (from AC Moore) to create this lively place setting. The blue tablecloth peeks out from underneath like a midnight sky and creates great contrast to the orange and black. As alternatives, you could use a yellow tablecloth (think full moon) or green tablecloth (think forest).

Arachnophobia? No Problem with this tablecloth.
Spider Table CoverHalloween themed tablecloths can be difficult to find and pricey, especially for large dining room tables. There’s an easy alternative. Measure your table, and go to a fabric store, such as Jo Ann Crafts. It’s amazing to see some of the scary patterns that have been developed over the last several years. The semi-sheer fabric in the photo above is layered over a gold tablecloth I already had. If you prefer an opaque table cover, there are ghosts, skeletons and witches. Oh My! Some fabrics have entire haunted scenes emblazoned across the surface suitable for covering tables, or as wall hangings. There’s no need to hem the edges. It’s Halloween – a few ragged edges only adds to the haunted house vibe.

Inside Out Pumpkin
JackolanternGlowing Illusion Pumpkin – We are all accustomed to seeing the typical orange pumpkin with an interior that is either candlelit or dark & shadowy. That color scheme has been turned inside out by painting the outside black and the inside fluorescent orange. When placed near any light source (lamp, ceiling light, or sunlight), the result is a scary glowing pumpkin without the need for electricity or batteries. I can’t tell you how many times well-meaning co-workers have warned me about the company’s strict no candle burning policy, until they see for themselves that it’s completely empty. It’s easy to fool the eye with this illusion.

Pumpkins for All Seasons
Craft PumpkinCraft Pumpkins – If you have ever decorated your yard with live pumpkins, you probably lost a few, if not all, to squirrels, slugs or other hungry critters. Craft pumpkins look like the real thing, but are made of foam or resin, which is not on the menu for wildlife. These pumpkins are ready to display as is, or they can be carved or painted with exterior paint. Craft pumpkins are for indoor and outdoor use, inexpensive, will last years, and are nice for Thanksgiving too.

To the Bat Cave! (which in this case is a Chandelier)
Bats & OwlBats – A cluster of bats hanging over your table will surprise and delight party guests. The faux fur bodies are a simple tube shape with a slightly larger, rounded end and ears for the head. The owl in the center is from Pier 1, and the pumpkin garland is from AC Moore.

Bat Making Instructions:
Supplies:
Brown or black faux fur (from Jo Ann Crafts)
Shiny black fabric (for wings)
Fishing tackle
Sewing needle and black thread
Foam filler or batting
Cardboard (for pattern making)

Bat Wing & Body Patterns
Bat PatternsMake patterns for the body and wings as follows:
Draw a thick capital letter “T” on cardboard – vertically 6” x 2”; top of “T” is 4”x 1” thick.
Carefully cut it out. This will be the pattern for the bat’s body.
Draw a bat wing on cardboard, approximately 9”x4. Cut out wing. Now flip it over, trace onto cardboard, and cut it out for the other wing.

Finished Bat
Finished BatUsing the body pattern, cut out two pieces of faux fur for the front and back of each bat.
Sew the fur by hand, leaving the bottom open for filling later.
Trace each bat wing pattern onto shiny black fabric and cut out both wings.
Hand-sew the wings on either side of the body; fill it with foam or batting and stitch closed.
Remember bats hang upside down, so add fishing tackle on the bottom of each bat for hanging from a chandelier or wall sconce.

Please click here to see part 2 of this Halloween decorating article.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

What’s New in the Studio?


It’s that time again. You’re in a creative mood but aren’t sure where to start. The endless possibilities can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easier to look at a wide assortment of completed projects, to see if anything piques your interest. Below are photos of several projects for your review. When you find one you like, click on the link above the photo for a complete list of easy to follow instructions. Enjoy!

Harry Potter Monster Book
Harry Potter Monster Book

Bejeweled Box
Jeweled Box

Suncatchers
Mirror with Applied Suncatchers

For additional photos and instructional links, please click here to visit a new page on our website called “How to Projects.” From time to time, new projects will be added, so please stop by to see what’s new in the studio.

Happy Crafting!

Who’s Behind The Mask?

Red Feathered MaskIt’s hard to believe the month of October is half over. Thoughts of my favorite time of year, Halloween, come to mind. I suppose I’m just a big kid at heart. Dressing up was so much fun. Deciding what to be for Halloween was a major accomplishment. Sometimes the costume was store bought (e.g. Snow White, Peter Pan), while other times we made our own (e.g. Gypsy, Witch).

Purple & Gold Mardi Gras Mask
Purple Gold MaskAll you really need is a great mask. Craft stores sell a variety of white masks to decorate any way you please. In terms of comfort, the quarter masks are an easy solution, as opposed to latex masks, sold in Halloween stores, which can be very hot to wear.

Red Sequined Mask and White Floral Mask
 Red & White MasksMasks can be decorated with a particular theme in mind or for holiday celebrations, such as Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese New Year. Each finished mask is a beautiful work of wearable art.

Turquoise & Gold Feathered Mask
Turquoise & Gold Feathered MaskI look at this mask and think of Aqua Man, the Marvel Comic’s super hero. It is also reminiscent of the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade. The rich details and vibrant colors are real showstoppers.

Red, Black & Gold Long Nose Joker Mask
Red, Black & Gold Long Nose Joker MaskThis mask has a devilish quality about it. Practical jokes are sure to follow.

Black & Gold Opera/Theater Masks
Black & Gold Opera/Theater MasksMusical notes and gold braided trim adorn these fanciful masks.

Antiqued Cat Mask
Antiqued Cat MaskPerky ears and delicate patterns make this mask a favorite among cat lovers.

Blue & Gold Asian Mask
Blue & Gold Asian MaskA lovely combination of two arts – mask making and fan decorating.

Assorted Feathered & Bejeweled Masks
Assorted Feathered & Bejeweled MasksThis assortment of masks is ready to be worn in celebration or displayed as artwork and party decor.

Black & Gold and All White Feathered Masks
Black & Gold and All White Feathered MasksFeathered masks tend to be the most flamboyant.

Red & Black Harlequin Mask
Red & Black Harlequin MaskThe visual impact of this red, black and gold mask is enhanced with light catching glitter and thick gold trim. A few faux gemstones are the perfect finishing touch.

Ornate Venetian Masks
Ornate Venetian MasksMasks made to celebrate the Carnival of Venice are among the most elaborately decorated with lavish brocade fabrics, ribbons, crystals, intricately hand painted designs, and touches of gold or silver leaf. This centuries old technique has influenced artists world wide, and is highly valued among collectors.

For a more practical, down-to-earth approach, below are the instructions to complete your own decorated mask.

How To Make Your Own Mask
Your project starts with a visit to the craft store. The mask you choose will be the most important decision because it determines the range of decorating possibilities.

Plain White Quarter Mask – Ready for Decorating
Plain White Quarter Mask – Ready for DecoratingMost craft stores have several style options. Because this was a first attempt at decorating a mask, this simple white quarter mask was chosen.

Mask – Painted Blue and Outlined with Rhinestones
Mask - Painted Blue and Outlined with RhinestonesThe mask was spray-painted royal blue. Fabric stores have beaded and rhinestone trims perfect for mask decorating. The rhinestones twinkle in the light, calling attention to the wearer’s face with an emphasis on the eyes. As shown, the mask is ready to wear, but let’s take it to the next level.

Black Feathers on a Foam Backer
Black Feathers on a Foam BackerThis mask was made as a wall decoration, so the back will not be seen. (If you plan to wear your mask, simply glue the feathers directly onto the back of the mask, and line it with felt for comfort.) To make the wall art, trace the mask onto a sheet of black foam, which is used as mask liner to hold and support the feathers. The eyes and lower shape of the mask are cut out using an Exacto knife.

The Opposite Side of the Foam Backer
The Opposite Side of the Foam BackerThis photo shows the wrong side of the foam sheet used as a liner or backer board for the feathers. The bottom of the foam and eye openings line up perfectly with the blue mask, but the upper portion of the foam extends upward like a crown to support the feathers.

The Finished Black Feather Mask
The Finished Black Feather MaskLuxurious black feathers and sparkling rhinestones stand in sharp contrast to the rich royal blue on this completed mask.

Take a walk on the wild side. Dress up, stay in character, and most importantly have fun. Mask making isn’t just for kids. It’s for the child within all of us!

Happy Crafting!

Halloween Magic – How to Make a Bewitching Centerpiece

Witch Flying Across Full Moon
The movie Hocus Pocus is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, inspiring witch themed costumes and decorations. Whether you’re having a Halloween party or simply decorating for the fun of it, a centerpiece is a must for the coffee or dining tables. Below are step-by-step instructions and photos for building your own, one piece at a time.

Close Up: Witch Boots
The Inspiration – As with all creative projects, the first requirement is a source of inspiration. This pair of witch’s boots is sold at Michaels. Although smaller than expected, it still has a spooky vibe. The style varies slightly, but all are black with a silver spider painted on each side. Having a pair of boots is nice, however it’s one piece and can’t be separated. If you prefer a more humorous impression, many stores sell individual witch boots painted in bright, fanciful colors and patterns.

Witch Boots
Step 1. Witch’s Boots – Centered upon this coffee table, these boots look quite sparse, but we’ve only just begun.

Boots with Floral Stems & Owl
Step 2. Floral Stems & Owl – For color and texture, the key to this design is choosing strange looking plants in autumn, Halloween colors. Here we have added leafy vines with plush mini pumpkins, and orange lanterns. Bend the stems as needed to adjust the height. Crafter Tips: Do not cut the stems because you may need to adjust the height at the end when the arrangement is complete. (You may not need to cut them at all, simply conceal the bent stems inside the boots). The owl, made from twigs, was already mounted on a long stick for easy placement.

Boots & Pumpkin
Step 3. Jack-O-Lantern – Orange and black – the perfect color combo for Halloween. This resin pumpkin includes optional lighting. High contrast and a brilliant punch of color lend visual interest to this asymmetrical composition. Instead of a pumpkin, you could use a round platter or globe, resembling the full moon, or a light color witch’s broom to contrast with the dark boots.

Boots, Pumpkin & Owl
Step 4. Ceramic Owl – Contemporary details with an eerie presence make this owl a perfect addition by contributing color, light, and texture. Moss green and tan coordinate with the autumn vines and leaves. Feather-like half moon slits in the body of the owl allow light to pass through and the opportunity to insert mini lights inside with the battery pack underneath, wrapped in black fabric. Crafter Tip: Ensure the battery pack’s on/off switch remains accessible.

Witch's Potions Decanter
Step 5. Decanter – No witch-themed display would be complete without a few unknown potions brewed with magical spells. The clear glass decanter, with four separate chambers and claw-like stoppers, provides much needed height and color on the left end of the display. A little food coloring and water becomes a scary cocktail of witch’s potions. The green color was chosen to coordinate with the other green elements. Alternatives: You could create a grouping of different size bottles or apothecary jars with strange contents inside; or add a book of “spells” and candles to capture the spooky aura. Crafter Tip: Experiment with various objects and colors, being sure to balance the composition.

Rat & Snake
Step 6. Rat & Snake – Now we need a few creepy crawlers to stir up our primal fears. A rat on top of the pumpkin seems like a natural choice, and the snake has the added bonus of implying movement, as it appears to slither along the tabletop among the objects in the centerpiece. A trip to a Halloween or craft store is sure to have plenty of options, including spiders, worms, skeleton bones, and the like. A few spider webs might kick up the spooky factor another notch.

Orange Candle
Step 7 Orange Candle & Metal Candleholder – To add height and a pop of color on the left end of the centerpiece, add an orange candlestick in a dark metal candleholder. Although the base of the holder is plain, it provides an opportunity which we will take advantage of in the next step. The candle had been stuck in a box for years, which caused the wax to curve. This works great in a Halloween project, where crooked lines are more desirable than straight ones.

Orange & Black Spider
Step 8. Orange & Black Spider – I never thought I would say these words, but this spider is actually quite beautiful. The camera flash tends to wash out the brilliant colored stripes upon the spider’s body, which is covered in tiny orange and black glass beads. The large size and imposing ready-to-strike posture are just what this display needed.

Witch's Hat
Step 9. Witch’s Hat – The pumpkin’s toothy grin becomes the witch’s face by the simple addition of a classic black hat, which frames the pumpkin’s face, adds character, and ties all pieces together into a unified Halloween theme.

Illuminated Pumpkin & Owl
Step 10. Illumination – This is the finished centerpiece with optional lights turned on inside the owl and pumpkin. It’s spooky fun just like the movie, Hocus Pocus.

Designing a Halloween centerpiece is an enjoyable process for stretching your creative muscles. Start with one piece as an inspiration and decorative items you may already own. Find different ways to use existing items by looking at things in a whole new way with your theme in mind.

Happy Halloween and Happy Crafting!