Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Pumpkin Topiaries

I'm back to pander to the people who love the pumpkin topiaries from my previous post. Here are a few more inspiring ideas.
 I like the ease of adding store-bought letters to convey a message:
photo: a diamond in the stuff

Carved with a house address, this stack of pumpkins is practical as well as pretty:

Unless your pumpkins are carved or painted, the layering between them is important. This one uses yards of wired ribbon and faux berries for a lush look:
photo source:

Can you have too much layering material? I think not.

Here, spiders are used as layering of sorts:

The definition between layers can be done with just about anything:

photo source:
Fall decorations by toni

This topiary with a face has a lot of personality:
Try topping your topiary with an owl pumpkin like this one:
These topiarys in classic Halloween colors are from, and she shows how she made them using a large paint stick for the center post. See her post here.
 Fall Front Porch by Sand & Sisal

A tutorial from also shows you how you can use 1 spotlamp to light all 3 pumpkins:

Dress up your pumpkins for a very different look:
Grim Reaper Pumpkin Tower
I must say, I love the look of the white pumpkins, and they probably show up very well at night.


White pumpkins or orange-  whatever your favorite flavor, try stacking them for added impact this Halloween!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dracula's Christmas

Image: Gahan Wilson for Playboy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Steampunk Exhibit and Wicked

Yesterday we attended the Steampunk exhibit at Muzeo, a small museum in a re-purposed old (1908 through 1987) library in Anaheim, CA.

You know a place is cool when there is a labyrinth outside it. This one has an monument honoring soldiers at the center. Low waterfalls near the benches were not operating, but it is easy to imagine how serene it must be.

Inside, there was a room that was dedicated to the influences of Steampunk, including Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Nickola Tesla, and Mary Shelly. Each had their likeness displayed in a frame with a bit about their work. Here is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the code he used in his popular Sherlock Holmes story "The Case of the Dancing Men", though mainly it is his Professor Challenger tales that were Steampunk influences.

There were few costumes in the exhibit, and some headgear.


A very large hand-painted canvas poster took up almost one wall.

Disney movies were mentioned several times. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and Time After Time were two that I can recall.
 The re-imagined weaponrs were beautiful with their filigree bits.
There was a collection of canes made by various artists. We chatted with Pete Ramirez, the creator of the Gun Lighter Cane. He said creating art like this with found objects was just an extension of his jewelry designing, which he had been doing for 15 years.

Other canes included the Doc Holliday Nut Cracker cane, the Tesla Plasma cane, Samurai Grip Handle cane, Faucet cane, Cylinder cane, and the (Citizen) Cane Time Extractor.

There was also an exhibit of Victorian art in the adjacent building, all of it on loan from a couple who must be extremely wealthy. I didn't want to aim my camera at any of the many old and delicate oil paintings, but they were beautiful, as were their frames, and several were life-size.

The same couple also collected Victorian personal effects, such as these imaginative match cases in all manner of shapes: heads, moons, animals... They were often humorous, and at the time, were considered a conversation-starter.
 The same couple also loaned their collection of 75 Victorian walking canes, like this double-skull one (they were displayed sideways.)
 The cane in this case with the bulky part on the left is made of a real human femur bone.

We also went to see Wicked, the musical, playing at the gorgeous Pantages Theater in Hollywood.

The Pantages is my favorite theater. If you ever come out to visit Hollywood, I highly recommend including this theater as part of your experience. Look at that ceiling, will you? It takes my breath away every time.
photo: Don Solosan

This is my second time seeing Wicked. I swear they must tell the actresses playing Glinda to channel Kristen Chenowith, who did play this role once. They all sound exactly like her. But then, the actor playing the Wizard of OZ this time seemed to be channeling Jimmy Stewart, and the actress playing Elphelba, the lead character who happens to be green, had the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker- which wouldn't be poor casting, either.

The set for Wicked is rather Steampunk, by the way, with lots of clock gears almost always in view as a major part of the scenery. Here's Glinda and some clockwork.

And guess what else is nearby?

Ignore the cleavage!

We also recently saw Martin Scorsese's movie "Hugo", which also was full of old clockwork.

LOVED that movie. Right now, I am betting (and hoping) it sweeps the Academy Awards. Go, Hugo!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Halloween Hair

Saw this at Knott's Scary Farm a few months ago, and loved it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dog Chasing Skeleton

Well, Halloween 2011 is over and it's time to start thinking about that next major holiday: Halloween 2012. 

My mom's friend sent her the above photo of an amusing display at a house along her commute. Aquick search revealed the pattern for the dog chasing a skeleton at the Winfield Collection (the link is here.)

They have several good choices for easy designs from plywood. Here are two more:


Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Skeletons

photo: Better Homes and Gardens

We were rather entranced by this standing skeleton in the 2011 Better Homes and Gardens special  Halloween Tricks and Treats edition of their magazine, and were further intruiged when we saw how light and poseable it was. We also liked that this is a realistic-looking skeleton, and that it is of a thick, durable plastic.

photo: Better Homes and Gardens

photo: Better Homes and Gardens
The magazine did not have a source for the skeletons but our friend Doktor Calamari was also searching for them and told us it was at a seasonal store, Halloween City, a division of the year-round Party City. we visited thier website to find locations and found a 20% off coupon, which we printed out. This brought the price of each skeleton down to $56 plus tax.

This is the first year we have seen these skeletons, and since they were hard to find and sold out quickly, this post is dedicated to them, in the hope that it helps other people who have seen the skeletons in the magazine and are also trying to track them down.

These 63-inch tall skeletons with eyes also have a small button on the head that activates flashing blue and green colored lights and some sound effects, which we were ambivalent about. I doubt that I'd ever need to push that button again, and really, I'd be fine if the skeleton came without the eyeballs. But because the eyes light up red, removing the eyeballs would reveal a hole where the electronics go (and also leave some giant eye sockets) so I guess my skeletons will have eyes for the time being.

Another good feature is that the entire skeleton glows in the dark.

One tiny negative: there is random brown paint on the glow-in-the-dark bones. One of my skeletons got a big dose of the brown paint on one leg and not so much on the other.

The skeleton's stand is very small and unobtrusive. Just some black metal plates, but they do attach to pipes that go up his legs and across his hips. The plates are not easily removed or adjustable. It is surprising how stable he feels on such a small stand.

The only assemply is to attach each thigh bone to it's respective shin bone. The right and left sides are even labeled 'A' and 'B' so it really is simple.

Here's the box:

We're not sure, but we think they are made by Halloween International, because there is a logo on the box that says that:

We also see on the box that they are distributed by Christmas International

To make it a little more complicated, the side of the box says Halloween USA

Something else I really liked about him was that his joints ratchet into place, so he will hold a pose with having to use glue or other means.

The skeleton from Halloween International

2011 was a bumper year for new skeletons on the market. For comparison, here is the above skeleton standing between two other new skeletal offerings:

The $30 Walgreens skeleton is hanging on the left. It has an aged appearnce and is super lightweight, but the plastic is thin and brittle. I returned it to the store, and saw another in the store had his neck torn.  Hanging from the right is the $40 Target skeleton, which glows in the dark, is of durable plastic and has ratcheting joints. I like his face and am pretty happy with him, but I do wish that he could stand on his own (the stand is a big feature in my book and worth the $17 price difference). I don't have a photo of it here, but I hung the Target skellie next to an expensive Bucky skeleton from Anatomical Chart Supply, and they look quite alike. I won't be buying any more Bucky skeletons, since there are these inexpensive and realistic options now.

So there you have it, a quick round-up of the new skeletons of 2011.
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