Monday, August 31, 2009

Stop the Presses!

Just a quick note...the 2009 issue of Woman's Day Halloween Celebrations has hit the stands and yours truly is in it! Check out several pages of pumpkin carvings and how to's inside this year's edition! And stay tuned for the October issue of both Woman's Day and Woman's World to see a few more tips and hints from me!

Day 31 - Quick Step

The legend of the Jack O'Lantern stems from Ireland, so what better way to honor the holiday than with a little Irish jig? This is one of my most favorite pumpkin carvings. I love the glowing Celtic designs on her clothes! Isn't she beautiful?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 30 - Skullhead

It's no surprise that my son would grow up to love all things skull. Jack had made a necklace out of African beads, but some of the longer claw shaped beads have broken over time. With a little help from a few Halloween heads we had lying around, we revamped the necklace into this cool headcase you see today. Awww, it makes a mom proud!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 29 - A Face Only A Mother Could Love

Talk about a face only a mother could love! I must admit, I love all things glitter (and, yes, shiny things do distract me) and all things Halloween. What could be better than putting them together? I couldn't resist buying this little paper mache´skull mask and doctoring it up. The question is, is the mask itself as creepy on its own or creepier on someone else? You decide!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 28 - Little Green Monsters!

We really are being invaded by little green monsters! While out taking a walk this morning, I came across a dilapidated old mailbox. It had once been black, then painted over white and had begun rusting away. A sweet little graffiti artist decided to add some choice words in green, covering over some of the rusty spots. Lucky for me! Instead of nasty little words, I saw this little green man. Do you see it? The green area of peeling paint has the shape of an eye, nose, and gaping mouth...I think I can see a tail as you?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 27 - Dainty Dios de los Muertos

Today has been like every other day...busy! Started out with a photo shoot, bounced home to answer emails and check on my family and bevy of black cats, then to school for an afternoon photography class. Zipped outta class, and met my husband and son for a Pumpkin Lady meeting over books and coffee (my favorite time!). It's now almost 9pm, and I have a few hours of photo editing and some more emails to answer before I can even think of sleep! But through rain or sleet or snow or lack of coffee I must get today's blog done soooo what to do when I don't even have time to breathe? I search ye ole scrap pile! I always keep assorted odds & ends for future I delve into the pile and find a stack of lacy doilies...perfect for a Day of the Dead skull! It's amazing how a few little holes can actually make a skull look feminine and dainty. lol If only my closet piles could do the same for me!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 26 - I'm Positive

One of the wonderful, though perhaps bizarre, things about drawing classes is that you get to use skeletons and various bones as your subject matter. Love it! Bones create great lines and forms on the page. For today's sketch, I was told to scribble out all of the negative space, leaving the positive area - the rib cage - as the remaining area. I wasn't allowed to draw any particular outline or shape...I just had to scribble. It was like being five again! And overall, I think my few minutes of scribbling turned out pretty well!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 25 - Project Boneway

You never know when inspiration will hit. While sitting in my first day of Fashion Design class, I wondered, "How would fashion be different if we were just skeletons? If muscles and skin didn't exist, how would clothing fall against us differently?" So, I began to sketch what I feel might become a little series of drawings based on this idea. I'm not bad at drawing skeletons, but hopefully my ability to render clothing will get better as the class proceeds! maybe "normal" people don't think about these things...but I've never claimed to be normal! Seriously, aren't you wondering now how different models would look strutting down the runway as their true selves, stripped of everything?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 24 - Nice Ghouls Never Have Fun

So we were watching Warehouse 13 tonight (love you SyFy network!) while I was making yet another attempt at felting. Did I say this was my last attempt at felting for awhile? I like the's kinda hypnotic...but the time it takes! This one inch little pair took over an hour to make...and my OCD artwork needs to be perfect side was saying I needed to keep going for a few more hours. Yeah, I silenced that idea real fast! So, what was going to be this intricate little pair of skulls was simplified into a happy little pair of ghouls in order to save my fingers from any more pinpricks. Excuse me while I go look for the bandaids!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 23 - The Devil Made Me Do It

I've always wanted to try my hand at felting. After all, I can sculpt a pumpkin, shouldn't I be able to shape a little animal from some wool? The answer is yes...four hours and ten pricked fingers later. Those felting needles are crazy dangerous! But I kinda like how my first attempt turned out. One thing I did learn...start earlier in the day! Eleven P.M. on a Sunday night is not the time to find out that the eyes are missing. So, as any good artist did, I improvised. Two little red pins later and I had eyes! Okay, so I missed the mark on sweetness...but for a demon cat he looks pretty great!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 22 - Quesadillaaahhh!!!

Talk about Mexican food with a little bite! Seriously, never let a pumpkin carver anywhere near your food. I can't promise that I won't do something to it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 21 - Two Brothers

Seventeen years ago, my hubby (then my fiance) and I walked into the local animal shelter, hoping to find a pair of kittens to take home. We weren't disappointed. Four little legs reached through the bars. I opened the cage door and the black and white kitten jumped out and landed on Jack's sweater. The black kitten jumped and landed on the front of mine. Draped in kittens, we went to the front desk and said, "We'll take these." Since our hands were empty, the lady asked us, "Take what?" We pointed to our sweaters and what appeared to be two large fuzzy lapel pins. She wrote up the papers, and we walked out with what would soon become my twin heartbeats. The black and white kitten, dubbed Spinner, became Jack's shadow. The black kitten, Bobber, is my constant companion. Although I've always loved black cats, these two were something different and I've been forever changed by their presence in my life. Spinner passed away this Spring, but at times I still feel him in my arms, see him in my dreams. Bobber is my pillowmate, and he's never farther than arm's reach. To all those that say "Black cats bring bad luck!" I say, "Bah Humbug!" The day I opened the cage door was the luckiest day of my life.

Thanks to all that open their homes and hearts to these creatures of superstition. If you'd like a little black cat luck in your life, contact Black Cat Rescue today!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 20 - Say Ahhhhhhh

Sometimes it's nice to combine what I love: pumpkins and black cats! (As I type Sock Monkey is nodding his approval) And yes, I like rats, too (One day soon I'll introduce you to an old whiskered friend of mine named Merlin). Both the black cat and the glowing rat are carved from the same artificial pumpkin. I carved the cat out of the front half of the pumpkin and then painted it black for a nice contrast. Then I carved out the rat as a separate piece from the leftovers. I hot glued the rat inside the cat pumpkin, and placed a small night light between the two figures. The light not only illuminates the rat inside the cat's gaping jaws, but it throws the rat's shadow up onto the wall behind it, making him look about two feet tall! Love it!

And thanks again to Kyle Echols of Echols Photo for taking this photo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 19 - When Good Food Goes Bad

I arrive home from the grocery store hungry. I grab a banana off the counter, pull back the peel, and discover that my fruit had already gone bad! Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Think the manager will give me my money back?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 18 - Mommy

Whew! Got today's subject out just before the stroke of midnight! Okay, so yesterday you saw the colorized abstract painting of an emotion I had chosen at random. Today you get to see the original black and white painting. And no, the title never was called "Fear Factor." In fact, I struggled quite a bit at the I see why certain artists call their works Blue 719 or A123 Red Field. Sometimes it's harder to come up with a name than you would think! Originally, the little ball of energy trying to get away was actually in the upper right corner...but since it seemed to be moving upward, and getting away from the sinister vine-like tentacles, the painting seemed to say "Hope" since the little guy was escaping. When we flipped the painting 180, to it's current view, the vines seemed to be encroaching upon it, cutting off any possible escape, and finally explained the chosen emotion: fear. And yet, I still couldn't think of a name...but my husband, Jack, could. He took one look and called it "Mommy." That takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it? He thought that the little ball was crying out "Mommy" as he needed her help. I took it to mean that the vine monster was Mommy, smothering the little creature. Good heavens a name can leave a lot up to interpretation and the imagination! What do you think?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 17 - Fear Factor

My life has always worked in reverse...I had the career before I went to college. It's only been in recent years that I've attended college...and even on my hardest days I've loved every minute of it! The best part is that after having completed my basic courses, all I have left are art classes!!! I created today's painting for one such class. My classmates and I each had to pick an emotion out of a hat. We were then to paint a black and white abstract that would communicate our chosen feeling. Finished, we were to paint the abstract again, this time using a particular color group. I'm a carver, not a painter, so this assignment just about killed me...but I still loved how this eerie work turned out. Can you guess what my emotion was?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 16 - Wreathed in Bones

Yes, it sounds a little odd, but I love skeletons...they're one of my favorite things about Halloween! And I love to use them to decorate. Today I spray painted a traditional grapevine wreath black, added a sparkly purple and black boa, and attached a few of my little friends for fun. The best part? My cat approved. After hanging the wreath on the wall, CVP did a happy dance on his back paws, craning his neck for a better view. He then danced a bouncy jig under it and skittered off to find some trimmings of his own! They say that having a black cat cross your path brings bad luck...but if he's dancing, do I have good luck instead? I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 15 - Iron Birdcage

Hollywood Cemetery inters a number of historical figures, but perhaps the most visited gravesite is that of President John Tyler. It is lovingly known as The Birdcage and this is one of my favorite photos I took on the day of our visit. His tomb is within this monumental gothic structure...wish I had a house that looked like that! I'm told that somewhere down my genealogical line I'm related to him. Perhaps a love for all things gothic runs in the family?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 14 - A Little Jack Magic

Okay, I'll admit it. I cheated today! I did not create today's Halloween feature. But I am putting it up for the world to see because I'm darn proud of my hubby's first drawing! Jack is an IT guy and self-proclaimed pumpkin carrier. Basically, he handles all of my computer concerns, and there are many, and he leaves the drawing to me. I guess I finally wore off on him! (Wish his computer skills would wear off on me!) This is Jack's first attempt at drawing and it turned out great. He's a natural don't you think?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 13 - Calico Glow

It's no secret that I'm an animal lover...especially cats! Though I've mostly ever owned black cats, there have been a few calicos that have come my way (cats know a sucker when they see one!). I think every pet deserves a loving tribute. As a teen, Cali was my heart. She was a pretty little calico that never really grew up. I don't think she weighed five pounds wet! It was like she reached six months of age and never grew again...but her purr did! Soft as a cloud, she spent a lot of nights beside my pillow. Twenty years later, I still miss her, so I thought I'd pay her a glowing tribute by framing her photo on a pumpkin where she'll always be my shining light.

(Thanks Kyle Echols from Echols Photo for taking such a beautiful photo!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 12 - Nevermore!

Edgar Allan Poe was always one of my favorite writers, The Raven being a particularly favorite poem of mine. So, today's Halloween creation is a tribute to this poem, the words a shadow of the namesake. I love the inky black of raven wings and the way they hulk in the tree limbs! I think this would be a cool tshirt, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 11 - Three Heads Are Better Than One

After slurping down a bowl of icy fresh watermelon at last weekend's Carytown Watermelon Festival, we happened upon a little tub of ducks. "Every duck wins a prize!" they said. Fifty cents later my son walked away with a princess sparkly star headband...which he wore the rest of the day! Today the novelty has worn off and the sparkly stars have been unceremoniously ripped off and have been replaced by bobbing mummy heads. It just goes to show that guys really do love their mummies!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 10 - Don't Look!

Since Celtic times, the sighting of a large black dog with fiery red eyes foretold death to the one who saw it. However, the black dog in my photo takes a softer stance as the watchful guardian of a little girl who loved him. Made of iron, Black Dog stood before a store entrance on Broad street, and entranced the children who came to hug him or hop up on his back. Legend has it that one particular little girl, whom Black Dog was a favorite, died from scarlet fever. The shop owner gave the statue to the family. They placed the iron statue beside her grave in Hollywood Cemetery. It is rumored that the dog will come alive if someone tries to defile her grave! Tradition says that when you visit her final resting place, you leave a trinket or two behind: a hair bow or bracelet for the little girl, or a treat for Black Dog, her ever watchful friend.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 9 - Wherewolf?

Encouraged by my son to make a small stuffed friend to match the owl he created, I attempted my version of a stuffed cat skull. At least that was my intention. Honestly it was. Cross my heart and hope to die. But as the felt was cut, and pulled, and stitches tweaked, it became more like a catdog. It was looking much more cat-like until I pulled the stitching through the eyes and then hid the knots behind the ears, perking them up into a most dog-like stance. And I know the nose is more cattish, but really, in the end, is that enough to make it look like a cat? You be the judge! Either way, he'll happily sit by my keyboard contemplating tomorrow's next big idea.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 8 - All Aglow

So we had lots of fun today attending a kid's event at Richmond's Quirk Gallery hosted by Noah Scalin of the blog, Skull-A-Day. Out of various odds and ends children and adults created one of a kind skull sculptures which could have made an exhibit all their own! Inspired, we came home and I made a skull tribute to Noah's daily work. Quickly arranging a tiny rainbow of seed beads I created a colorful little skull. But as we know, I never know when to stop! Importing the photo to Photoshop, I added a neon filter to create a cool glow, giving me a whole new creation! I love it! Which do you like better, the before or after?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 7 - Hard Headed

I loved making today's hardheaded little creations! Of course I have some favorite Halloween icons: black cats, bats, pumpkins, but skeletons are at the top of the list as well! I found a great little skull necklace at a local shop selling Halloween decor. I cut it apart to make these awesome earrings. Think I should make a necklace to go with it? Bring out the goth! Wanna pair of your own? Check out my etsy site and you'll find them there before the weekend's over. Looovvveee these!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 6 - Well Owl Be!

The doldrums of summer vacation have set in. My 14 year old son, Tyler, has succumbed to the boredom August often brings before the excitement of school begins. So of course he loved the idea of 365 Days of Halloween if for nothing more than the creative spark is seems to bring. While browsing the art stores just down the road, he happened along a book for creating stuffed animals from scratch. Ten dollars of felt and a few pricked fingers later, he has been happily idling away his time creating little monsters that are beginning to fill my office shelf. Thus he gets credit for the creation of the day because I just loved today's little creation...a bewitching little stuffed owl. There was a lessoned learned from this little guy has a tendency to take on a shape of its own. You begin with one thing but end up with something entirely different. There's no one right or wrong way of doing it! The owl began it's life as a cat. But as the last stitches were sewn, the character of the creation changed. Two wings and a hat turned the feline into a charming little owl just waiting to brew up a little trouble. Art has a little magic all its own, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 5 - These are the Pits!

So, last night, in an effort to improve my diet, I decided to munch on a bowl of cherries (admittedly, after a small bowl of Edy's Fully Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream!). Of course, there are always a few that have seen better days. But their lives were not in vain! Their lumps, bumps and scars became today's Halloween creation - Monsters! Using an Xacto knife, I carved little faces into them. The best part of these monsters? If they bite, I can bite back!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 4 CVP

This is a perfect digital rendering of CVP since that cat has nosed into everything since we got him! Abandoned by his owner, he arrived with 400 fleas and a screech like a pterodactyl! And he was no bigger than my hand! CVP, Sock Monkey's little brother, may have been the runt of the litter, but he swears that he's a Great Dane. I call him little Napoleon. CVP is yet another of my black cats. I'm sure that you, like everyone else that hears his name, wonders what CVP stands for. Well, the day we got him, my husband received membership to a local ghost hunting group (yes, we truly have Halloween all year long here!). In honor of that special occasion, CVP was named after an EVP. An EVP is an electronic voice phenomena. Ever watch a ghost hunting show and they capture a mysterious voice on the recording that no one audibly heard at the time? That's an EVP. However, CVP is a Cat Voice Phenomena. Only about seven weeks old when we adopted him, he had the voice of a banshee. The little monster could be heard screeching through the whole house! Sounded like a poltergeist running amuck! I'm grateful to say that after a year his voice has left the screech behind and has adopted the melodic trill of Paintball, another of our cats who has mothered him along the way. Thank you Paintball!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 3 - Sound familiar?

In folklore, witches have always had familiars buy their side - an animal, in most cases a black cat, that possesses a supernatural spirit that helps the witch to do magic. Well, I couldn't do my carving magic without my familiars by my side! I have a herd of cats, one of witch, er which, is today's subject. His name is Sock Monkey, just one of my black cats, and I've created a digitalized photo of him. A daubed paint filter really brings out the natural glow of his eyes! We rescued he and his brother CVP (whose name I will explain another day!) just a few days after Halloween. Though tiny, his runt of a brother would smack him around, howling at the top of his lungs, to show who was boss. Hearing the commotion, we'd rush to his aid. Sock Monkey would be found sitting like a Buddha, eyes closed, then reach his long arms up and beg to be rescued, never returning the swat to his brother. Being three quarters siamese (and one quarter black persian - hence his black fur), he has legs as long as that of a Sock Monkey! His gentleness has certainly bewitched our family!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 2...Hollywood Here I Come!

Hollywood Cemetery that is! Now I'll admit, I'm not your average mother. How many moms spend a sunny summer afternoon schlepping their family around a cemetery? Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery dates back to the mid 1800's wherein everyone, from Confederate soldiers to U.S. Presidents, has found a place to rest. But I sure didn't! I find that cemeteries are like art museums. Beauty and grace are found in the most amazing sculptures. With camera in hand, we strolled the quiet grounds, the rushing sounds of the James River rumbling beyond the hills. And there she was. A shrouded stone figure, arms spread like wings, beckoning. Instantly I fell in love with this hauntingly beautiful sculpture. One of those carvings in which the eyes follow you wherever you go and you feel like she's looking into your soul. I snapped away on my camera and only last night noticed the fine silvery cobwebs brushing her face. The soft green of the moss growing along the folds of her clothes. The leaves gathered around her neck.

Beautiful! Simply, utterly, incredibly beautiful!

365 Days of Halloween Begins Today!

As promised, 365 Days of Halloween begins today! I've decided to start of our "New Year" with what I do best, a carved pumpkin! Der? is one of my favorite patterns and I carved him into a foam pumpkins so he will last for years to come! Every day for the next year you'll see a whimsically wicked Halloween creation. Some days you'll see simple sketches, others may find a sculpture, like Der? I know you'll find something to love in my work this year! Now, as you may have guessed, I don't have room to house all these creations, so, a few, like Der?, will be sold on my Etsy site to make room on my shelves for more creations. And please share your ideas with me...I'm open to new ideas to celebrate our favorite Holiday every day this year!

Happy Carving,

Lisa Berberette
The Pumpkin Lady®