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Mutterings of a Mad Woman

Neon Halloween and Disney Souveniers

on October 14, 2013 - 11:59pm

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. I'm thankful for Halloween. 

To show just how thankful I am, I spent a bit of time decorating my office. 

The best part of decorating my office is that unlike the rest of the house, I feel like I can decorate any way I like. I don't care if it matches a theme or looks artistic or spooky. It's about what makes me smile. And this year, that's Disney. And neon.

A friend picked up some neon signs on clearance last year and was kind enough to send a box of them my way. I was excited to break them out and light them up. 

You can see in the picture on the right the first glimpse of Disney. While waiting for some vegetables to roast, I passed the time cutting out some Mickey Bats which are ridiculously cute. 

The last thing I need or can justify buying is a stuffed animal, but on my vacation I could not resist the Frankenweenie plush. 

You can't leave Disney without a set of Mickey Ears. I am pretty sure security tackles you to the ground near the exit if you are earless. I decided to pick up the Jack O'lantern Mickey ears made more adorable by the fact that you can lift the stem of the pumpkin top to reveal Chip and Dale inside.

But the coolest thing is easily the Haunted Mansion Hourglass.

Making Halloween Decorating History

on October 11, 2013 - 3:13pm

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours painting some paper mache skull masks. In doing so, I've broken a personal record for Halloween prop making. 

Which record I've broken is yet to be decided. 

It's either: a) The latest I've ever started working on a Halloween party theme, or b) the earliest I've ever started on a Halloween party theme, if these don't get used until next year. 

Where on earth did the last two months go? 

I think I may have also set a new record for amount of colds caught in a single year. 

And I find myself on October 11th with only this to show for my party decorations. This afternoon, in between prepping Thanksgiving dinner for my mother and her household, I sat down to brainstorm a list of prop/decoration ideas that I might be able to complete in two weeks.


I usually start prep in late July/early August. "Behind schedule" for me means "I didn't get started until September and man am I panicking!".

This is two weeks before I would normally host my annual gathering. It's epic. 

I still have tomorrow's Bazaar of the Bizarre to vend, and Sunday will be my first completely free day.

I think by midweek I will know whether these skulls will make their debut this year or next. 

So start placing your bets. 

Will Ghoul Friday create a brand new theme in time for a party, or will she have to pull out decorations and know...decorate. Like normal folk. Like it were Christmas. 


Side bets for breakdowns optional. 

Ok. I need to tend to some roasted potatoes. 

Happy Gobble Gobble Weekend, my Canadian compadres. 




Severed Town Serpent Witches: Custom Figure

on October 10, 2013 - 9:20am

My most recent custom piece was an absolute joy to create and both myself and the new owner thought she turned out pretty cool.

He gave me a fantastic back story to pull inspiration from, which always makes the task of bringing someone's vision to life much easier.

The story serves as the theme for his home haunt. Here is his tale (posted with permission):

"In the late 1800s, the town of Severed was in financial peril. The once booming mining town was suffering because of one man, Jonathan Miltz, the owner of the mine.

Miltz was a gambler and had lost most of his fortune, forcing him to put his floundering mine up for sale. A day after it was put on the market, twin sisters rode into town, bringing their traveling snake show with them. Apparently the show was very lucrative as they immediately bought the troubled mine, as well as the town theatre so they could set up their show in a permanent  location.

The Manjula Sisters reopened the mine and began hiring all the men back who had lost their jobs. Everyone in the town was happy again.

But it was short lived.

Workers at the mine began disappearing and the sisters claimed they knew nothing of their whereabouts. The town's newspaper reporter, Jacob Wheeler, started to dig into the twin's past and what he found was shocking. It turned out the sisters had fled Salem during the witch trials and had come to Canada after being wanted for practicing witchcraft. This was all the townspeople of Severed needed to hear to start their own witch hunt.

The sisters were dragged from the mine where they were hiding and taken to the town square to be burned alive. As the flames rose around them, one of the sisters stood on the other's shoulders, and with her dying breath placed a curse on the town, turning all the women into Serpent Witches. These newly born witches of Severed hunted down the town's men. Once they had disposed of every last man, the curse was lifted.

Or was it?"

My job was to create a figure of one of the women from Severed after she had been afflicted with the curse and transformed into a Serpent Witch. With such a rich back story, I wanted to make sure I gave a nod to elements in the original tale and imagine the history of the woman I was to create. Here is my tale and some additional pictures.

Autumn Harvest Witch Lantern

on October 7, 2013 - 4:33pm

Taking a break from posts about the happiest place on earth, today's focus is an Autumn Harvest Witch Lantern I just finished. 

I've had some lanterns kicking around the house for a while now. In fact, I've been slowly accumulating them for a couple of years with plans to create various sculptures and scenes that would go inside. 

Recently I finished a witch custom figure for a fellow haunter, and decided to present her inside a lantern (mainly to keep her safe during display because she's fairly fragile). I will post those pictures soon.

Once I sent that piece off to its new owner, I said to myself "Ok. You need to start your lantern series".

Here is the first creation of what I hope will be multiple lantern incarnations. 

She holds an LED candle in a glass candleholder nestled in her lap. 

It's a varied mixed media piece, ranging from clay and fabric to twigs and moss, standing 10 inches tall.

Luckily she's ready for the Bazaar of the Bizarre this Saturday, Oct 12th. I won't have time to complete another this fall, but perhaps over the winter I'll get started on a second lantern. 

Happy Halloweeining, folks! Hope you enjoy the set of pictures below.

Halloween on Main Street in Magic Kingdom

on October 5, 2013 - 9:48am

When you walk into the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in the fall, it's like walking into Halloweentown.

Autumn colours are splashed down Main Street in banners, leaves and wreaths. Pumpkins are perched on rooftops, windowsills and peeking out from store window displays.

Halloween is everywhere.

It's in the shape of the themed baked goods, from Jack Skellington cookies to pumpkin confetti on muffins. Bags of candy have Disney characters trick or treating on the label.

If the entire park was decorated this way, I'm not sure I would have left willingly.

And if you think the collection of pictures posted below are cool, wait until you see my night shots during the Halloween party.

Last of the Haunted Mansion Pictures

on October 4, 2013 - 12:15am

Here is a collection of photographs that take you along the entrance, through the outside line, inside the mansion and finally out the exit. 

These pictures are a mix of daytime and nighttime shots, some with flash and some without, some better than others.

I think you get the idea that I enjoyed this attraction tremendously. 

It may take a moment to load the page as there are a lot of photos. If they don't all load, refreshing the page should work.

In the coming days I'll be sharing images of the Magic Kingdom all decked out for Halloween, and the Boo to You Parade.


Haunted Mansion: Madame Leota

on October 3, 2013 - 8:36am
"Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat; call in the spirits, wherever they're at.
Rap on a table; it's time to respond. Send us a message from somewhere beyond.
Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween: awaken the spirits with your tambourine.
Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond; let there be music, from regions beyond!
Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell, give us a hint, by ringing a bell!"
- Madame Leota's incantation

Madame Leota may be the most popular Haunted Mansion character (next to the beloved Hitchhiking Ghosts). In fact, the crystal ball/projection effect is one of the most imitated props recreated by home haunters.

When the ride brought me into the dark space with the floating crystal ball, and Madame Leota's booming voice inviting the spirits to come forth, I instantly understood what all the fuss was about.

I was able to snap this quick photo with my iPad, believe it or not (photography is allowed, but no flash as it ruins the ambience). I didn't think anything was going to turn out, since I was a) moving in b) a pitch black room and c) not actually looking at what was on screen because I didn't want to miss a moment.

The cool thing (one of many) about visiting the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween is that Madame Leota herself is sitting out in front of the mansion in the evening, greeting guests and interacting with them as they wait in line (see the various pictures below). 

I was lucky enough to attend two party nights, and the ladies portraying Madame Leota were hilarious. Quick witted improvisers who never broke character, they constantly engaged the crowd and playfully jested with those in line. Hands down, it's the best character interaction in the park, and she never loses steam.

Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion: The Building

on October 2, 2013 - 2:51pm

Welcome October! I'm a day late posting my greeting to the greatest month of the year. Currently posting in my pajamas, home sick from work. But before you feel too sorry for me, know I am grateful to catch the cold that's infecting most of Toronto now, as opposed to the last couple of weeks. Why? Because I went to Walt Disney World in Orlando for the first time ever. 

The timing was perfect (and deliberate) because the Magic Kingdom is decorated for Halloween in early September, and they host Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on certain nights.

More on that later.

Right now the focus is on the Haunted Mansion. I spent my entire life avoiding any video or photographs of the Haunted Mansion. After viewing a special as a child that showed the dancing ghosts, I swore I'd see it in person. As such, I didn't want to spoil anything about it until I could take in all the surprises with my own eyes, live and on location. 

Decades passed. Who knew a trip to Disney World would elude me so long?

As part of the haunter community, it was inevitable that I would be exposed to the Madame Leota prop (though I never saw the original, only the haunter's version).

It was getting to be an impossible task. Enough was enough.

Finally, last month, I visited.  

Hallowe'en Artists' Studio Trick or Treat

on September 28, 2013 - 7:43pm

This year I am participating in the Halloween Artists' Studio Trick or Treat Tour, where artists sell their work and donate 20% of the sale to an animal charity of their choice.

I chose the non-profit organization of Loyal Rescue Inc, a foster-based rescue in Ontario, Canada. It's made up of volunteers who open their homes to animals and organize mass rescues from puppy mills across North America. It's dear to my heart because that is how I found my beloved Monkey Boo (temporarily named "Honey" by the foster parents). She was malnourished, undersized, riddled with worms and parasites. It breaks my heart to picture her in those conditions, and if I can help save another dog from such misery, I'm happy.

The first picture is the image they used for her adoption page, and the two on the right is my healthy pup enjoying her first Halloween with her new forever family.

Let's get to the items for sale. I'm a bit behind schedule on this as I've been away for a week, but hope to add more items below as time allows. 

Misgivings Day Weekend 2013 is Almost Here

on September 17, 2013 - 4:25pm

It's that time again!

This Sunday is Misgivings Day, and that means it's time to start some serious Halloween fun.

This year I have big plans to kick off the season starting Friday, and if you want to follow along, be sure to take a peek at my Instagram feed that evening. Otherwise, I'll be posting pictures later this month.

There will be jack O'lanterns, candy, pumpkin flavoured treats, monsters and even trick or treating. I am very, very excited (sore eyes or no sore eyes).

So what will YOU be doing this Misgivings Day Weekend? Might I suggest horror movie marathons and pumpkin beer? Or perhaps some prop building is in order. I know many of you are already doing some Halloween activities.

I've fallen behind on everything since the accident, and am trying desperately to get figures ready for the Bazaar of the Bizarre on Oct 12th in Toronto. Once that is done, I can focus on my own Halloween theme for this year's gathering.