On Halloween and Painted Pumpkins

Arts & Crafts

Being new in the U.S., I’m still wrapping my head around some of the holidays. Halloween, for instance. Oh, I know the whats and the whens, I have participated, and I’ve read on the whys. Being a geek, I’m big on reading and research. There’s only so much reading can tell you, though.

For getting to know a culture, there’s nothing quite like everyday life. Although holidays are by definition not part of everyday, they offer an interesting counterpoint to it and may, therefore, shed more light on the mundane.

(Incidentally, I found that this Ask MetaFilter post is really helpful – it’s listing all possible angles, from love to hate, from silly to serious, from puritan settlers to a dentist conspiracy – and told not by researchers but by a range of ordinary folks, which is what interests me.)

Jack-o-lanterns are maybe THE stereotypical Halloween decor. They are quite well known outside the U.S., as is trick-or-treating. When I still lived in Europe, we were largely on the mercy of mainstream media and what bled through their filters. (Blogging wasn’t yet a big thing back then. Blogs existed, but weren’t as common or varied as now.) Both national and international culture segments were chosen and edited by journalists and other professionals, and published at their pace. Whether their interests met yours was completely up to chance. Finding information on topics not covered by the mainstream media outlets took effort.

After moving to the States, 10+ years ago now, I’ve naturally enough discovered a much wider range of facets than the Halloween scene in E.T. (for example) can convey. Nowadays we’re lucky to have blogs. Blogging has made it much easier to discover other cultures, the everyday as well as holidays, in the writers’ own words, with the range of experiences that is human life.

One new and different thing for me was not carving your pumpkin into a lantern, but painting it. The novelty of funny faces and spiders wore off quite quickly, but fortunately those are not the only things people paint on their pumpkins. Below are a few that I especially like.

Alicia Kachmar painted maple leaves on a pumpkin and glittered the edges:

Leaf-Decoupaged Pumpkin

Alicia Kachmar at Create!

A little twist on traditional Halloween decor. It’s a few years old now, but still a great idea. I’m not a great friend of glitter in general, but this application is nice. Plus, maple leaves are so pretty.

Alisa Burke at Redefine Creativity painted her lacy pumpkins with layers of acrylic and dimensional paint:

Lacy Pumpkins

Alisa Burke at Redefine Creativity.

I’m seriously impressed at the detail! The laciness reminds me of batik fabrics – or gingerbread house decorations, if you can believe me. I guess I have Christmas in my head already. 🙂

Scandinavian-style stars were decoupaged on this pumpkin:

Country Living Magazine Oct 2011, via Babble. Photo by Dana Gallagher.

Country Living Magazine Oct 2011, via Babble. Photo by Dana Gallagher.

Country Living Magazine Oct 2011; found via Babble.

Niki and Ali at Papery & Cakery made ombre pumpkins in two color schemes:

Ombre Pumpkins

Niki and Ali at Papery & Cakery.

Niki and Ali’s pumpkins show that Halloween can be any color, not only black and orange!

And, finally, Sherry Petersik’s pumpkins sport a pantyhose:

Sherry Petersik at Young House Love.

Sherry Petersik at Young House Love.

Not painted, but very clever, very quick and minimally messy. Non-messy is always a good thing! 🙂

(Please follow the links for more photos and descriptions by the makers themselves.)

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Close Quarters: Jewel Tones in an Apartment

Colors, House Tours

Colors. There’s nothing quite like colors to trigger a home decoration dilemma, especially if more than one person is involved. I stumbled upon this past post from Desire to Inspire that features a riotously colorful apartment. Below are a few of the least(!) vibrant ones.

Living room:

Red and pink living room

Study(?):

Blue study

Computer room:

Manhattan wallpaper

Bathroom:

Blue and brown bath

Wow, right? It’s clear that the owners love red, and can deal with a lot of color. They’re also clearly bold and unapologetic, if these were the photos they chose for their apartment-for-sale ad. I couldn’t live with that intensity of color myself. I do, however, admire the owners for investing in colors they so obviously love. Plus, the parrot wall is kinda awesome.