Handpainted Wood Sign By Carolee Clark
In our home, children are involved in nearly every aspect of living. We believe that kids should be taught life skills from a young age, and what better way than encouraging them to cook meals at least once a week, plant in the garden, or fold the family laundry?
Vintage blow mold owls, 1930s glass candlesticks, and an original Carolee Clark bowl
Our kids have been shown that our family is a team and that each member depends on the next. So in the midst of all this helping, we like to stop once in a while and have some fun. Decorating the house for Halloween is just the ticket.
My collection of 1950s tin, celluloid & glass pumpkins. Their heads light up.
They start asking me when we can start decorating right around the first of September. I make them wait until at least Oct 3. Anticipation is part of the fun! I’m in love with the way October feels. Cooler breezes, crisper air, and crinkling leaves all bring a hint of mystery.
Bringing a little of that feeling indoors is an excellent way to introduce the change of seasons. We mix up our decor with vintage and modern pieces, keeping the old valuable ones well out of reach.
I’m not a fan of overtly scary decor. To me, a little spook, a hint of scare, and a sweet treat are a perfect way to make Halloween magical for children. I combine vintage items stretching back to the 1920s with modern pieces made by professional artists.
Below is an Edwardian era teacup with delicate, hand painted spider webs. A set of old Halloween china is especially bewitching to drink tea out of. Each year we have a tea party in October.
Several years ago, I discovered a whole genre of artists who are inspired by vintage and antique Halloween. Their art is handmade, very high quality, and keeps climbing in value.
The first artist I happened upon was Carolee Clark. Based in Pennsylvania, her work is richly detailed, reminiscent of an earlier time. While she does other seasonal work, I’m fond of her October art the most. Since I started following her on Facebook I’ve learned the incredible amounts of time that go into each piece. She sells in her Etsy store: KingofMiceStudios and the monthly EHAG Emporium.
These newer vintage inspired pieces blend seamlessly with the authentic old pieces I’ve collected. I don’t need my original 1930s pieces to be in pristine condition. I’d rather have them show the wear and tear they’ve acquired from the hands of children who loved them.
The large vintage Beistle skeleton has survived surprisingly well. He was too scary for my 6 year old last year, but now she laughs at him. We hung him behind our sheer straw yellow curtains so that he would survive the focused interest of our 2 year old.
Some pieces have been created by current Etsy.com Halloween artists. One shop that makes me laugh is LennyMud. Our family of ceramic ghosts came from him. I ordered one for each family member, and then found out a few months later I was expecting our son. Soon I’ll have to get one for him.
The cabinet we display many of these items in dates from 1740. It’s a primitive piece, with handmade nails. The wood has developed a rich patina which helps my varied collections stand out. I found the piece at a backwoods auction a few years ago and have been so pleased with it. I like to imagine the original house it stood in and what the inhabitants’ lives were like.
The majority of our decor is in the dining room. Since my husband and I are self employed and we home-school our kids, we’re able to eat three meals a day in there. In the afternoons I’ll often find a child working on a science project, taking over the whole table with pieces of this and that.
It’s our family meeting space, so making this room the focus of the decorations made sense. Plus, my two year old is now able to climb on the couches in the living room to gain access to shelves. This way, I can display things and keep them protected. (Don’t tell him he can also climb up the display cabinet. He hasn’t figured that out yet.)
Another Halloween artist I follow is Johanna Parker. If you love this time of year, it’s likely you’ve seen her art. She’s licensed with Primitives by Kathy,Bethany Lowe Designs and Aunt Sadies Candles. But I’m bewitched by her originals. When her one of a kind art goes up for sale, it goes fast. My husband gave me this sweet owl box a few years ago, which stays out year-round in my office. Now I follow Johanna on Facebook and love to see behind the scenes. I suggest joining her mailing list for the latest info.
My two older girls decided to drape our inexpensive giant modern spider over the entrance to the kitchen. My two year old saw it and was thrilled. Nothing like huge, creepy insects to bring in the season!
Enabling the kids to take charge and decorate on their own gives them such pride. All the children played a role in unpacking, sorting, and displaying our collection. Our 6 year old was especially proud of the pumpkins she made.
The kids woke up early the morning after we did all this. “Mama, it’s so beautiful!!” were the first words out of my 6 year old’s mouth. “Mama, it’s boowiful” copied my 2 year old.
I always add a bit of Mid Century to my seasonal displays. Being that I’m of Swedish descent, I have a variety of Dala horses in differing sizes. This tiny one fit right in with the Mexican pottery jack o lanterns that were given to me by a traveling friend. The display sits on a 1950s pie display case that holds my great grandmother’s set of cereal bowls.
It’s worth going to all this effort to see the look on my children’s faces. But I’ll admit, I’d probably deck the house out even if I was alone.
Orange and black, smiling and frowning, spooky and scary, vintage and modern, childlike and adult. It’s Halloween time!