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Mutterings of a Mad Woman

Edmond's Abandoned Carousel

on October 1, 2008 - 8:21am

Happy October first! Today signifies two things: one, the official start of Autumn and the holiday season (for me); and two, a reality check on how swamped I am with projects.

I'm a little behind schedule. It has given me a touch of anxiety. Luckily, I've finished the most challenging (or perhaps it's more accurate to say detail-intensive) props I've ever built.

I've been fixated on this little beauty that has taken me a month to build, and it's called "Edmond's Abandoned Carousel". I don't have time to go too much into detail this morning, but luckily everything you want to know about it should be on the other end of the above link (it's also listed in the project updates box to the right).

That link leads you to the backstory behind the prop, an image gallery, a how-to, a video and a slideshow.

Enjoy! And remember, if you want one for Halloween, I suggest you start today.

Strike Two, Oriental Trading Company

on September 29, 2008 - 12:00pm

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I should be blogging about a terrific comic book I was recently sent, but instead I'm forced to vent about the ridiculous adventures of cross border shopping.

Readers of my blog will remember that I had an unfortunate shopping experience with Oriental Trading Company. They extended an olive branch and sent me a certificate toward my next purchase for my trouble. At the start of last month, I decided to give them a second try.

Everything showed up in good condition this time. The only groan I had was that at the time of ordering, I was told they couldn't confirm whether or not an item was in stock (normally not a big deal, but I wanted bang for my shipping buck. If I had been told I couldn't get the item, I would have picked something else).

Party Stores: My Saturday Shopping Adventure

on September 27, 2008 - 11:13pm

Devil mask and coins
Ever since I read about the arrival of the Spirit Halloween Store chain making its way north into Ontario, I was determined to visit. As a Canadian, I'd read post after post on forums from American haunters who make Spirit sound like a holy ground. A trek out to Mississauga was in order.

The Amazing Party Store is another haunter haven that I've been meaning to hit. Every year, CityTV News does a series of spots from their place at Halloween. Since it's on the way to Mississauga, I decided to add it to my list of destinations for the day. Yetch was kind enough to accompany me.

My first impression of the Amazing Party Store was promising. Countless spectres and ghouls hung from the ceiling. The shelves were fully stocked with items, and there were a number that I hadn't seen at other party stores. I was excited.

Creating Faux Wooden Boards with Cardboard

on September 25, 2008 - 1:09pm

Greetings Ghoulies. Just letting you know that there is a new tutorial on painting faux wooden boards on cardboard on the site. It's cheap and simple - anyone, and I mean anyone, can do it.

It's a great alternative to using real wood or, in some cases, styrofoam. Mind you, the same painting technique can be used on pieces of styrofoam (as you'll see in the tutorial).

With this technique, you can create boards for windows, full crates, or simple backgrounds. Cardboard isn't great for any area that is open to the elements (water + cardboard = bad), but inside it's fantastic (and did I mention free?).

Speaking of fantastic, I came across a sign made from foam board that was wonderfully crafted by a haunter in Maryland. Since we're on the topics of tutorials, I'll give you his as well. He was kind enough to share it with me when I asked for details.

Cake Ideas from the Wicked Little Cake Company

on September 24, 2008 - 8:35am

Bleeding Heart Cake
In my fair city there is a talented baker who runs the Wicked Little Cake Company, which started up in January of this year. Jaime, the Chief Wicked, uses fondant and cake batter like a sculptor uses clay. She can create almost anything you can dream up, including this bleeding heart cake.

Most customers have been family and friends, but with some more exposure, I imagine business should pick up for this independently run one woman baking machine.

I asked Jaime what she digs most about her craft:

I really like the jaw-dropping 'that's a cake?!' aspect of making sculpted cakes and trying to figure out how to make cake do things I never thought possible. Plus I've always liked playing with food - bonus if I get to play with other people's food!

Monster Korner Vintage Hobby Shop

on September 23, 2008 - 11:48pm

gumball machine prizes
I was playing around on flickr when I came across toyranch's account. It's a fun collection of vintage (1940ish-1980ish) toys and ads of monsters and Halloween. For example, there is an entire album dedicated to monster gumball toys (pictured right).

There are two other pictures that caught my eye (more, actually, but these were my favourites). Scanned from the Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine (issue #38, to be precise), here's a photograph that makes me wish I could step back in time. The caption beneath it reads:

Rich Palmer ran the nation's largest volume hobby shop in Parsippany, New Jersey. Aurora hired him to organize its Monster Customizing Contest in 1964. Aurora received national television attention when the CBS Evening News visited his shop. Walter Cronkite and Palmer held a conversation in the "Monster Korner" of the store. Big Frankie occupies the top shelf in the Monster Korner.

My Board Game "Soul Snatcher"

on September 22, 2008 - 1:23pm

A few years ago, I created a board game to play at one of my parties. It's acrylic paint on canvas (3 feet x 2 feet).

I made the playing cards to be shaped like toe tags, and even made little simple figurines to use as player pieces (these are currently in a box in the basement, so no pictures right now, sorry). I'll probably pull it out this year for my party.

In case anyone wanted a closer look of any of the pictures posted, I've uploaded larger images as well. Just click on the image you want to see and a bigger picture will load in a new window.

Zombies in Condoland

on September 21, 2008 - 9:45pm

At sundown on October 4th, a Toronto condominium construction site is being taken over by zombies. And you can be a part of it.

Modern zombies are mindless monsters who are undead: neither dead nor alive. They travel in groups, hungry for humans. People who are bitten are infected and transformed into zombies themselves. Because they are dead, zombies look terrible, and usually move slowly and awkwardly. They are incapable of communication, and have no individual personalities. Zombies are metaphorically associated with the working class and consumers.

Condos are apartments, some luxurious, which are rising in popularity in major North American cities. Some can be found in convenient clusters, often in areas which artists and other less wealthy groups have helped to establish as safe and/or hip. People who can afford the expensive housing units are flocking to condos in droves, like zombies.

The Creative Genius of Dave the Dead

on September 19, 2008 - 1:46pm

When it comes to haunters, I have a small group of personal favourites. Of those few, there are only a handful whom I would say I admire. Dave the Dead would make that short list.

I pause when I call him a haunter, because really Dave is an artist. His approach to monster making is unique and his attention to detail should be envied. He starts with the most basic materials and lovingly turns them into creatures to be coveted by ghoulies like me. Lawrence, to the left, is a perfect example of this.

Dave can be found on Haunt Forum where he inspires everyone who stumbles across his work. You can do a search for all his posts to find his 'How-To's and attempt to recreate his masterpieces.

If you already hate him for his talent, let me give you more fodder for the fire. Dave is very supportive of other haunters, giving advice to anyone on the forum who asks. He also donates some of his projects to groups in his local community. And he's humble about his talent. Jerk.

Russian Politicians Seek to Ban Halloween

on September 19, 2008 - 11:02am

Russian Flag
When Canadian politicians spend time and money on issues that seem irrelevant, I always think they have too much time on their hands and have lost their sense of purpose. Not sure if banning Halloween and Valentine's Day would be considered high priority in Russia, but I'm going to assume there are more pressing issues that should be dealt with.

An article from USA Today reports that:

The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, will consider a measure this month to guard students from what the government considers destructive Western influences, such as the two festive celebrations that are growing more popular in Russia.