Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Angel of Death

photo by
Sometimes I feel like such a schmuck. Such was the case this afternoon, when I was happily surfing the web looking at statues like this one at It was pricey so I moved on, coming to a complete stop when I discovered this moody photo of an Angel of Death statue.
Photo by Xartez 

My pupils enlarged to take in all that beauty. What a perfect specimen, I  thought. What a marvel of engineering, to keep those heavy wings extended so far upright. Wish I had one of these in my yard, I thought.

Well, I am the World's Biggest Ass.

Further research on this statue revealed I had fallen in love with a sculpture that had become an international symbol of  Russian deceit.

I will make this history lesson very short. One paragraph, in fact.

Turns out this statue is part of a monument to the 22,000 Polish police officers, border patrol agents, intellectuals, soldiers, and priests who were murdered execution-style in the woods near the small Russian village of Katyn, Russia by the one of Stalin's secret police forces in 1940. All of these men had been at a concentration camps with other people and had been duped into registering their occupation upon arrival. Because of their occupations, these victims were pulled from camp early, executed, and all thrown into the same pit that had been dug in the privacy of the woods. There they lay, secretly buried there in foreign soil, and forgotten. An elderly villager eventually told a visitor of what he suspected was in the woods, causing the International Red Cross to investigate. No one expected to find more than a few dozen bodies; certainly not 22,000.  The site was excavated, revealing mummified bodies, many clearly in uniforms. For over 50 years, the Russians denied their involvement, and pointed fingers at the Germans. Great tension between Poland and Russia ensued, and Katyn became a metaphor for Russian deceit. In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev finally admitted Russia's guilt and a year later released documents showing Stalin had authorized the killings.

This is what the statue is facing: 
photo by Aga

This haunting set of monuments was created by Tadeusz Tchórzewski, a sculptor from Warsaw, and was  unveiled in October, 2000. The statue is located in Wroclaw, Poland.

On the highest pedestal there is a figure of the Angel of Death. In front of it, between symbolic graves, there is a figure of Katyń Pieta (the Matron of Poland) despairing over a body of a murdered prisoner of war. On the granite walls of the graves, the names of the prisoner-of-war camps are inscribed.

Another Katyn Massacre memorial had been erected in the U.S., at Saint Adalbert Catholic Cemetery in  Illinois, by Polish immigrant and sculptor Wojciech Seweryn, whose father had died in the Massacre.
One year ago, this sculptor was traveling with Polish President Lech Kaczynskihis to a memorial service in Russia for the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre. The plane crashed in heavy fog, and all 96 on board perished.
photo by RaKLeZ
photo by Ferran Cornella

Here's more of the statue's facial details, if you look really hard:

photo: dayslikethis on flickr

I really love angel statues, and this one has the most marvelously detailed spread wings. But I am really sorry about the history behind this one.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Garden of Evil Logo

Here is the logo for my Garden of Evil Halloween haunt. I had it put on a t-shirt already, and lemme tell ya, wearing said shirt happily deluded me into feeling like I was in the Big Leagues of Home Haunters. I imagine those big-league home haunters say things like "Oh yeah, we're cookin' with gas now, Baby!" because that's what I was thinking as I wore my spiffy new shirt.

The delusion worked until I had to put the shirt into the laundry basket. Just something about seeing it mixed with dirty, mascara-tinged face-cloths brought me back to reality very quickly. "You're cookin' with coal, is more like it."

 Actually, my original idea was to create a design that resembled the sign I use in my haunt, and I still may go back to that idea. (The sign uses the spooky Ung Drill picture frame from Ikea. Get yours here.)

Ultimately, I'd like the logo to be on the masculine side. It is still a work in progress.

Monday, May 23, 2011

To The Bat Room!

Isn't it time you took steps to increase the value of your home? Isn't it time to leave that indelible mark on your property that showcases your scintillating personality? Isn't it time to transform your dull, pedestrian bathroom into the Bat Room of your dreams?!

Home Decor Featuring BatsHome Decor Featuring Bats

Powder-coated steel makes these unique bat silhouette light switches nice and durable. If you don't think they'd work in your batroom, how about using them in your mudroom or for the lights in your garage? You need one with three switches? They have that too. At $14 for the single, $18 for the double, and $30 for the triple, you'll have the coolest, Goth-iest light switches of anyone I know. The same people make matching towel racks and a robe hook, too, so now we have those covered as well.


Bats fly overhead in these 1892-replica light fixtures with the mysterious names of "Drake" and "Sunset".  They are pricey though; the Drake fixture is $1749 and the shade is $399, bringing the price of a single lamp to $2148!  Disneyland has one. So should you. (I know all the haunters out there are thinking "$2148! But if I took a 3/4" PVC pipe and a rubber bat and a rubber snake...!" Yes, well, when you make it, please send me your pics.)

Bats Foil-Stamped Guest Towels

A clean stack of paper guest towels on the countertop makes visitors feel special and sanitary.  Bats are stamped in black foil, along with 2 lines of your personalized wording. Towels are 4.5" x 8.5", and are currently priced at $28.95 for 100. (Also available in dining napkins, or in spider design.)
To hold your batroom tissue, you'll need this toilet paper holder made from thick-guage steel. 13" wide x 6" high, it's $30. Screws to mount it in drywall are provided. (Sorry, I could not find bat-printed toilet paper. And you're welcome for that big-time money-making idea that you have now hastily set off to produce with your buddy that's in the printing business.)


Hang your batrobe on an iron bat hook on the back of the door while you shower. If you didn't care for the style that matches the light-switch plates above, I suggest this alternative.  At $10.99, this double hook measures approximately 9" by 5" and has a brownish mossy color. (But of course, you can spray-paint all of these things black for a matchy-matchy look.)

Batman Begins Shower Curtain Batman Bat Logo Sign

Shower curtains of all kinds can be found (would you believe there's a Justin Beiber shower curtain selling for over $70? WTF??), but we'll have to settle for the Batman Begins logo on our shower curtain until we find something better. It really is an attractive design; just a little too recognizable as the movie logo. Black design on white, 70x70 inches, $49.95

photo: Library Images
Finally, since you've got a captive audience, show them how refined and cultured you are by displaying some fine art on the wall. 27"x39" bat poster is $22.50.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Fit a Tombstone into a Suitcase

Me "helping" Chris Davis (aka the Frog Queen) 
The second annual West Coast Haunters Convention was held last weekend in Salem, Oregon.
It's always fun when you meet up with people who share the same passions.

seen in the convention's parking lot

When I heard there was to be a seminar where I could learn to make a lovely tombstone in the style of those in the Davis Graveyard, I made sure to bring along an extra piece of luggage just to bring my tombstone home in.

There were 15 students in the seminar, and everyone worked at their own pace. As usual, I took too many pictures and fell behind a bit. This became a slight problem when we ran out of black paint. I felt badly, because a new can of black paint was obtained pretty much just for me:(

Here I am using an Exacto knife to cut out the epithat "Barry M. Deep".  
These were much bigger tombstones than I'm used to making. These were chest high, and pretty wide. My final product is on the left in this picture (I regret making the scratch marks. I guess my technique with the rasp needs refining.)

In order to fit this in my suitcase -which was the maximum allowable size for checked luggage without having to pay "oversized luggage" fees-  it would have to be broken into 3 pieces. My epithat and decorative element are placed a little high to allow for the breaks. The Davis Graveyard crew had already routed and glued 2 lengths  of PVC pipes into the backs of the stones in order to fit over rebar to stablize them. The first break would be just past the PVC piping.
And this is how you break a tombstone! Chris Davis does it with ease and you can hear Jeff Davis giving some encouragement in the background. Now it fits in my suitcase just fine.
We had bought teeshirts from three vendors at the  convention's tradeshow, so I used those and other clothes to pad them and make sure they didn't shift and get damaged.
skewers through the back keep the pieces connected
Once home, I reassembled them with a little spritz with water and a few dabs of Gorilla Glue. Chris said to secure the connection by jamming skewers partway in at an angle, and breaking off the excess skewer once the glue has dried.

Afterwards, only minimal touch-up painting need be done.

Another tombstone tip I learned at the convention came from Terry Marsh of the Mize Cemetery and Haunt. He makes great  tombstone embellishments by making a mold from a twin-pack of Hostess cupcakes. The tutorial is here.
tombstone embellishment made from a pack of cupcakes!
Did I mention that the convention was held at the site of the 141-year old Oregon School for the Deaf? 

You may recall they were featured on Extreme Home Makeover- Halloween Edition in 2010. The EHM team and many volunteers worked to create a new dorm for the boys, as shown here. You may not be aware that this new dorm only has 2 bedrooms, and they need 40 (2 boys per room). Soooo,  no one lives here yet! Their current slogan for fundraising is called Continue the Dream- Help Finish the Build. You can donate by clicking here.

The EHM team also remade the schools haunt, The Nightmare Factory. Having seen it at last years' convention, I agree: the haunt did get a very extreme makeover. Which is not only fun, but helpful- the school uses the annual haunt as a fundraiser. So many people wanted to see the EMH changes, they ran the haunt an extra 2 weeks past Halloween.

One of the additions was in the queue for the haunt. It was this photo op where you put your head through the hole for the bride or groom:

One amusing incident happened on the way home. My love Dennis had bought 3 skulls at the tradeshow from The Skull Shoppe (shown here.)

On the way back home, the security agents at the Portland Airport pulled him aside after his belongings went through the x-ray machine. They wanted to hand search his carry-on. But before they even zipped it open, they asked, "are the skulls inside of here real?"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bat's Day and the Black Market

Just got back from Bat's Day, and had a blast as usual. What is Bat's Day? It's basically Goth Day at Disneyland, and is officially called "Bat's Day in the Fun Park." The event was started 13 years ago and has grown to become Disneyland's second largest non-official event (Gay Day, in June, is the largest. They wear red t-shirts.) While Bat's Day is an unofficial event, Disneyland does cooperate to make it a success by securing venues and providing photographers for large group photos- we're talking 1,500 Goths at once in the annual photo in front of the castle at noon, among other photo ops.

All types of Goths attend, including classic, cyber, lolita, neo-victorian, and steampunk.

Hearse owners and pirate-loving people are also attracted to the event. Phantom Coaches is a local hearse club that had some members attend in their hearses, old ambulances, and flower cars.

I see some people there regularly, like sisters Green Orchid and Mistress Xian. The event is sort of a reunion for them, as they live in different states. Mistress designs and sews dresses with a new theme each year. This year the dresses were fitted with electroluminescent wires, so the skirts actually lit up and became fields of green or purple stars. You could spot the girls from quite a distance at night.

2009 with Haunted Mansion wallpaper design in the skirt (not well seen here, sorry.)

2010 had a Little Miss Muffet theme with embroidered spiders on the skirts

2011 electroluminescent starfield
Lyn is another regular that I seek out to photograph due to her magnificent wardrobe. I didn't happen to see her this year, which was disappointing.

Lyn 2010
Lyn 2009 with Hilary and ?

Mary Poppins and me, Scary Mary Poppins
This year, I dressed as a gothic Mary Poppins. By mid-day, my hair and makeup were a hot mess, but people enjoyed my dead parrot umbrella and my hat of black daisies and rotted cherries. 

Queenie and Tightrope Girl Roxie Rot
But the best outfit I saw was "Tightrope Girl" from one of the stretching portraits in the Haunted Mansion. I neglected to get her name, but here she is with artist Queenie and her rendition of the scene. (EDIT: Thanks to a comment here, I found out her name is Roxie Rot.) There was also another Tightrope Girl, but I found the first girl had the perfect face for this character.

 I met John Fair, the creator of Killhouettes there. He came in from Arizona and he kindly gifted me with these postcards he is holding. I'm a big fan of Killhouettes, as you may recall from this post.
John of Killhouettes gives a sly wink

The photo above was taken at The Black Market, an event held at a nearby hotel the day before Bat's Day, where vendors sell Gothic wares such as clothing, jewelery, books, art, dolls, hair accessories and hats. Bat's Day is actually a 3-day event, and encompasses a meet-and-greet dinner,  a concert and dance, the Black Market, a costume ball, and the big day at Disneyland.
This devilish guy is ready for the Swinging Wake masquerade ball held after the Black Market.
Here's the event creator and founder, Noah K. dressed as the graveyard caretaker in the Haunted Mansion. I first met Noah several years ago when I visited his home haunt, Grimmstone Cemetery, which ran for 20 years, and have also run into him while visiting other people's haunts.

Founder Noah K, flanked by his girlfriend Melissa and his mother

Since Bat's Day happened to fall on Mother's Day this year, Noah brought his mom along. You can barely see it, but Noah is wearing the Bat's Day hat, which is formed from a Mickey Mouse hat that has special plastic bat wings snapped onto it, and a patch that changes each year. Clever idea, yes?

For more information on Bat's Day, click here.  
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