Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I picked up this book, "Comic Epitaphs From the Very Best Old Graveyards" a few years ago. It was published in 1957 by Peter Pauper Press.

 Have a Happy Hallowe'en! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hallowe'en Mantle Display 2013

Here's this year's mantle display. I haven't done a done a display in the front hall entrance for a few years now, I miss doing them. Thanksgiving in Canada is mid October and I like to put up the Thanksgiving collectables so that gives me a very short time for creating a Hallowe'en display.

This is the entire display. We have a grandchild and sometimes other kids come by so I like to have the display so that I can keep an eye on it but also show them when they are interested.

I didn't put up any of the paper items this year. I decided to put out some items that haven't been out for a while. This is a portion of the collection, most of it was bought about 10 years ago, there was much more vintage around back then.

Here is the mantle; close-ups of the items are below.

Unfortunately, the two black cats beside the Jack-O-Lantern don't show up very well. This large Jack-O-Lantern was a surprise thank-you from Lori Rudolph several years ago.

The mould blown plastic pumpkin is a light shade; the inside has a clip to go over a light bulb. I have another one that is twice as big but this one is my favourite. I looked for a wooden lamp base for several years and finally found one; it goes perfectly with the soft brown orange of the lantern.

I am quite cavalier when it comes to adding items into collections; the three birds are parts of salt and pepper sets but work perfectly in the colour scheme and the overall look. My wife asked me, "Why are toucans considered Hallowe'en?" and I realized that in some of the vintage graphics there are birds that look similar to these birds. I also like them a lot!

The two comic black cats are salt and pepper shakers that I found one year, not at Hallowe'en, with other kitchen items at a thrift store. I love them!

The ceramic tree stump in the background is a vase. The witch candy container and a few other items were on display at a Sally Ann shop many years ago and were not for sale. I traded them for a large pumpkin I had made. I lucked out on that one; they wouldn't do that today. The black cat in front of her is plaster filled celluloid. The owl is an interesting item; it isn't really a Hallowe'en figure but an early tape measure. The head, feet, and wings are metal and the body is an early plastic of some sort, it's a favourite piece. A favourite piece, right, there quite a few "favourite pieces" here!

Tucked in among the vintage items are a set of four soft plastic wind-up walking figures that are about 8 years old. They are quite delightful and are some of the best designed commercial items, in Canada, that I have seen in quite a while.

A very large owl cooky jar has a vase of a black cat standing in front of a wooden barrel; not exactly Hallowe'en but it works for me. The ceramic pumpkin florist vase has a light that flashes on and off. The 3 small black items in front of the vase are a cat standing beside a vase on top of a book, each one is different. Trying to photograph them is a little difficult, sorry about that.

The large pumpkin in the back was from Starbucks several years ago. The large black cat beside the pumpkin chocolate box is an incense burner or smoker. Either incense or a lit cigarette would be placed in the back opening and the smoke would come out of his mouth. Fortunately it wasn't used so the painting is in good condition.

Candles, owls in various guises; salt and pepper shakers, a small sculpture, and ash trays, alongside cats both black and white, create this vignette.

Those two grey top hats were bought at Kresge's when my brother and I were considerably younger. The black cat is a wind-up toy.

I include figural salt and pepper shakers because they are veggie guys, some are more Hallowe'en than others. This pair is not very Hallowe'eny though is it?

In the right side of the display I used two yellow ware bowls that I picked up at Sally Ann about two years ago. I have several vintage wooden Japanese orange crates that I use for risers.

Jorge de Rojas of "HoHoHalloween" made the veggie guy, Amelia Schaefer of "Sweet B Folk Art" made the pumpkin pie and Lori Rudolph of "Retro Rudolph's" made the pumpkin teapot. A celluloid witch lantern is peeking around the corner.

Noise makers and party hats look intriguing resting on the Spanish moss. The ceramic pumpkin rests on top of a vintage fez. For some unknown reason a fez seems to fit in with Hallowe'en, I do not know why.

Here are five other links here, here, here, here, and here to previous Hallowe'en posts.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

firework art

I promised in the blog post "Hallowe'en and Fireworks" that I would show images of vintage firework labels from the book "Firework Art" by Mark Fleming. Firework Art was published in 2005 but he still has a few available if you are interested.

Zandra Rhodes, a British fashion designer, was inspired by fireworks graphics and created a line of textiles for Osborne and Little in the 1980s. This image is not from the book but was an advertisement in a 1980s Architectural Digest magazine.

Enough with the talking; enjoy looking at a few of the images that I have selected from the book.

I wanted to right little bits of description under each picture from the book but resisted the urge. These are a few of my favourite images, I hope that you enjoyed them. The colours and patterns used on the labels are beautiful and inspiring.

What ones were your favourites?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween and fireworks

I thought I would give you a glimpse into the Hallowe'en that I grew up with as a child. I have seen from meeting other artists and seeing their work that they have a different background to refer to than I do. That's an obvious statement because what we grow up with is what we see as the norm; how it is done everywhere else.

I read the feature article about my work in Artizen Magazine and this sentence jumped out at me, "His interest in fashion, costume, and set design would come as little surprise to anyone viewing his creations, but he lists,as well, stage magicians and magic props as favourites, and even includes candy, French pastries, fireworks, and shoes among his inspirations." Growing up in Victoria as a boy, fireworks were Hallowe'en!

When my wife and I were in Switzerland this last summer, I had a book shipped to me from England called "Firework Art". It is an amazing book filled with page after page of vintage firework graphics; posters, box lids, and fireworks casing designs. My next post I'll show you some examples of the vintage labels used on the old British fireworks.

This poster from the book "Firework Art" shows what Hallowe'en was like in Victoria, B. C. when I was a boy. The British poster is advertising fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day, November 5. Victoria was advertised to tourists around the world as "a little bit of Olde England." I considered myself British first and then Canadian up till my early twenties; my grandparents were English, my mum was born in London. I suppose there was cross pollination between Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Day.

Hallowe'en was trick or treating and fireworks; fireworks were before pumpkins and anything else.

My sculpture, "The Man-in-the-Moon Will be Having a Party", shows some of the items for the forthcoming party with the fireworks taking centre stage. Check it out in my Etsy shop.

The week before Hallowe'en was full of anticipation. We bought our fireworks and Chinese firecrackers, carefully taking them out and enjoying them and then safely putting them back in the paper bag that came from the shop that they were from. 

The sculpture, “Fireworks for the Party… and Some Apples” totally embodies the Hallowe'en of my childhood. 

I love the old designs of the fireworks; the shapes were interesting and the designed papers covering them were beautiful.

The fireworks that I build for the figures are based on the old designs but are more elaborate. "Fireworks for the Bonfire" has Larry holding his party horn and a large firework.

These two small rattles, one with Black Cat, also known as BC, and the other with Jack, have each character holding a firework. Check out these rattles and others in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The October issue of Artizen Magazine has a feature article about my work.

"The Man-in-the-Moon will be having a party."

Click on this link to go to Artizen Magazine. I am so happy, thank-you Cindy for the great article.

Monday, October 14, 2013

This Year's Front Door Urn and Thanksgiving Mantle

Here we are again almost at the end of another year. I know it seems early to say this but just watch how fast the year will go ripping by! It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was at last year's Hallowe'en and Vine show and that has come and gone already.

Here is what I have done to decorate the house for this year's Thanksgiving. Yep, Thanksgiving comes early in Canada, two weeks or so before Hallowe'en. I will be putting up some Hallowe'en decorations this next week.

I love decorating the urn by our front door. I do an autumn arrangement that does double duty for Thanksgiving and Hallowe'en. I leave it up until the middle of November and then do a winter/Christmas arrangement.

As the days go by we add any squash and pumpkins that we buy. We also take out squash to eat as well so it is always looking slightly different. I have already added two more squash since photographing this the other day.

Here is a full picture of the mantle. We don't have a lot of space to display things so it is cheek to jowl tight for everything on the mantle.

Click on the images for a closer look at the items on display.

I decided to drape an old embroidered rayon bedspread on the mantle, swag it back with some 8 inch green bullion fringe and some 2 inch bullion fringe. The corn husk garland swoops down and in behind the folds of fabric. The rest of the fabric hangs down at the back in behind the hen on the ledge.

I added an old wooden stool on the side to create more display space but also to visually add another level to link the hearth to the ledge above.

The scarecrow was made for our oldest boy's 10th? birthday, it was part of the table decoration. By his left arm just above the ceramic turkey wearing a Pilgrim hat you can see two small scarecrows that are tipped over, these were some of the place card holders that I made. The scarecrow was inspired by a scarecrow in the Rupert Children's Annuals, his name was Oddmedod.

I love Autumn, it is possibly my favourite time of the year. I love Thanksgiving as well, I suppose it sums up the season in one holiday.

My computer is telling me "Autumn", unless the context is poetic consider 'autumn' instead of 'Autumn'. I cannot help it I like Autumn with a capitol "A" I do feel very poetic about this time of year. It influences the colour and style of the Hallowe'en items that I create as well but that is another post for another day.

I picked up that large ceramic turkey 10 or more years ago for $25.00, he is a beauty.

I added the lights because it is so dark at night along the mantle. I also tuck small tea lights in behind the display to add a bit more light.

I love that large wood carving of a farmer, my parents bought it many years ago in Quebec I believe. The little pig going to market with a basket in each arm and the farmer Peter Pumpkin I felt were appropriate as well even though they are not exactly Thanksgiving.

The green pickle on the white ledge is a working party horn. The silver item beside it is an ice cream mould in the shape of a pumpkin.

I couldn't find my Thanksgiving postcards this year, they are tucked away somewhere to be discovered next year.

Check out these links to see a few of the postcards I have here, here, here, here, and here.

We don't get a lot of composition holiday items on the West Coast of BC so I collected salt and pepper shakers with a veggie theme, squirrels of any sort (I like squirrels), acorns and oak items (I like oak trees), and poultry of various sorts. It all comes together and looks very seasonal and Thanksgiving-ish.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!