Like many ghouls, as soon as I sense the light shift in August, I start dreaming of Halloween. I grew up in a suburban house full of skulls and art. When Halloween came around, I knew that meant all of the best things about childhood: going outside, doing crafts, dressing up, play-acting, and of course, eating unrestricted amounts of candy.
Of course, anything people enjoy, especially if it’s seasonal (LIMITED TIME ONLY, BABY!!!), puts dollar signs in the eyes of capitalists. I’m no stranger to the excellent Halloween merch of Michaels, Jo-ann, Spirit, Target, Halloween Adventure, Home Goods, 99 cent store, etc. Like many Americans, I love browsing the bones and blood from August to November. But this year, with a deadly virus still raging in my neighborhood, I’m trying to rigorously limit trips to any indoor public place. Buying online, folks, just doesn’t do it for me. I was sad for a while, thinking Halloween would come and go without much notice.
Then, I thought, You’re an artist. Do it yourself.
Do it yourself. What a concept. There are Martha Stuart blogs and Youtube tutorials galore, which I’d always peruse but never use. Maybe I’d paint a sign from the craft store, but never make one from scratch. I love the charm of vintage Halloween decor, but I never thought of painting my own cut-outs or sewing my own scare-crows.
This year, I’m doing it. I’ve only just begun, but in my spare afternoons, I’ve started painting and cutting out construction paper and cardstock. I’m using images of vintage Halloween cut-outs for inspiration. Next, I hope to use fabric scraps to make spooky dolls. I’ve set aside an oatmeal carton thinking it might make a good base for something. It may be slower, it may be less polished, but I find doing it myself has already deepened my relationship with the time of year and the reasons I love wacky, scary, wild Halloween.
The finished products are so much more special to me than anything that could be purchased more quickly and conveniently. I’ll always remember watching Amityville Horror while gluing a pumpkin’s head to his striped pajamas and sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee while the mod podge dries in the sun. I’ll always remember listening to Andrew Yang talk about UBI while painting a cat’s eyes arsenic green.
As many makers know, the biggest benefit of doing it yourself is you have an excuse to start thinking about this autumn holiday in summer… or maybe even earlier.