Living on a farm as I do, something is always banging or squeaking or thumping in my house after my head hits the pillow at night. The field mice are rampant this year—maybe a result of the long, hot summer?—and my cat would rather sleep off her supper than hunt. Little things chew in the walls—chipmunks frolic nocturnally on the front porch—sometimes a bear comes to raid the birdfeeder. So I lay there—is it the wind? or something more sinister?
I’m pretty sure my sewing room is haunted. My sis came to visit last summer and claims she encountered a ghostly visitor who, though benign, was a shock to see upon waking in the middle of the night. But this is an old house—1830s—and there is much history here, of families who were born and lived and died here, had arguments and happinesses and conflicts and relationships and I’m just an interloper. I think the house tolerates me—cabinet doors don’t bang closed or things disappear, never to be found. But I love this old house and have always tried to take care of her and honor her construction and the ancient materials that form her bones. As the Celts hold the tradition of appeasing the Little Folk with a saucer of milk, so my Old House gets the best Ben Moore Paint and quality sheetrock from Home Depot. But sometimes I wonder.
For several years now I’ve made a piece especially for Halloween, which is actually the Celtic New Year, Samhain (saw-win) as a kind of jumpstart to the autumn season of indoor projects and freedom from garden and outdoor chores. Last year I made a small protector, a talisman against the Things That Go Bump in the Night. I call him the Little Man and he sits on the windowsill above my workbench where he can scare away bad things (or at least banish horrible artistic decisions).
When my ongoing owl obsession kicked in a few months ago, prompted by a visit to see some of the real creatures up close and personal at the Vermont Raptor Center I started a pair of owl earrings. As a base I used a Victorian metal stamping of an owl with wings outspread, added some metal leaf to white polymer clay and then finished off with acrylic paint and gilders wax. Keeping with the orange and black color scheme, I used some gorgeous agate drops and copper spacers, finished with a dangle of tektite. So they feel mystical and otherworldly at the same time, tektite being the by-product of a meteorite impact.
“On Silent Wings” – polymer clay, metal leaf, agate, tektite, copper
While my sister was entertaining nighttime spirits in my sewing room last summer, by day she and I were playing with resin for the first time. She had brought along some mask molds that she made during a workshop by the amazing performance artist Sha Sha Higby and I made a couple up in polymer, since their faces were so compelling. I dug these out this week, added some Whimsy Wire connectors and strung them together with a shibuichi metal piece, some bone beads and a polymer pendant that I made a while ago. Sometimes things just have to sit around on my bench until they have the right purpose.
“Things That Go Bump in the Night”
For this year’s Halloween-themed piece, I began my process with a wonderful strand of vintage mother of pearl buttons I unearthed at a local antiques mall. They were very tribal in feel and I knew they would anchor the entire piece. I wanted to diversify the traditional orange-and-black color scheme so I crafted a pendant made with a mold of a found object metal piece I purchased on Etsy. I purposely mixed the base ivory color with a smidge of brown and black for a gray that would mimic the patina on the original piece. I added some dzi beads in orange and black designs, some andalusite rounds and a few lustrous vintage faux amber lucite beads. It will be very wearable for any season and is a little Goth (at least for me) in feel. I call it “Tribal Victorian”.
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”
Please excuse the dark post. I’m feeling very affected by the destruction that the hurricane caused on our coast. Some close friends have still not been heard from. I hold good thoughts of them in my heart and mind and urge you to as well.