Saturday, October 19, 2013


Bells? For Halloween? Well, consider this reflection from the hand of Edgar Allen Poe......

Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune

I wasn't there when those words were written, but perhaps ordinary vessels of merriment were cast in an eerie glow because the poet, while penning of them, encountered interruption of a disturbing nature.....

....with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a Raven of the saintly days of yore

Here I will help myself to a generous portion of creative license by suggesting that the aforementioned bells shrieked from the perch of ebony birds.....birds that refused departure despite a hearty implore to not only do so, but...

Leave no black plume as a token.....!

Consider this speculative interpretation of Poe's dilemma. Consider the pecking and cawing congregation - the one taking residence on a cluster of bells, bells, bells, bells. Consider, further, their persistence in the casting of curious eyes upon the craftsman who dares assemble them in heroic homage to the poet! Then pose the question, "Will crafted bells and watchful birds comply to actually peal for us a melancholy tune?"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore!"

Make a set of Halloween bells from plastic or Styrofoam cups. Spray interiors black. Cut a strip of tissue paper a few inches taller than cup height and longer than circumference at its widest point. Wrap tissue around the outside of the cup, pressing along top and bottom edges to make a pattern. Cut on pressed lines. Double check the shape to make sure it curves to cover the cup. Trace pattern on paper, then cut out and glue to cup.

Cut a length of thin cord, string, raffia, ribbon or yarn twice the height of the cup plus ample extra length for hanging. Punch a small hole through center bottom of cup. Pull cord through, then make a knot larger than the hole at the point where cord is twice the height of the cup. Pull backwards until the knot catches and holds on inside bottom. Secure with glue.

Hand draw ravens on black paper, cut them out, then nest them in sticks and excelsior on top of cups. Tie miscellaneous gizmoes to cords for clappers.

Hang completed bells in a group, close your eyes, and imagine......

....the tintinnabulation that so musically wells 
From the bells, bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells

then waken to observe that.....

 the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting......


Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore. (1849). The bells. Retrieved October 5, 2013 from

Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore. (1845). The raven. Retrieved October 5, 2013 from

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Dart Board

Someday I'll host a Halloween carnival for the grandkiddies. Not this year, though. They're still too young to fully enjoy what I've got planned for them! Oooooooo! Are they scared? They better be!

But next week I'll be co-hosting a party with my oldest daughter for her five year old twin sons and a handful of their friends. Most of the guests are boys....a species who loves to throw things! Balls, sticks, pillows....and hopefully the sticky darts that go with the game board I've just completed.

I've used sticky darts before. Love them. They offer the same fun challenge that pointed, sharp projectiles do, but without all of the safety concerns. And I've found that, despite being a low cost item (about 10 cents each), they really do last the 20 or so tosses claimed.

Each child will be given unlimited turns at the board. We're not going to add up the numbers they hit, but that's an option for kids who are older and can keep track of their own math. This year, we'll just hand out those darts and "let boys be boys!"

I made the board on a 32" x 40" sheet of Crescent (matting) board. To make it sturdy, I backed it up with a same-sized foam board (both from Hobby Lobby). Cut friendly paper designs, glue on, and finish with a random flourish of stick-on numbers. We'll just lean the board against a wall to play, but attaching it to a heavy box is an option that will make it freestanding. If you'll play outside, you can tape a pair of wood stakes to the reverse and pound them into the ground like I did for my summer carnival version. Firmly clipping the mat board alone (without foam board backing) to a sturdy clothesline is another option.

You might appreciate the way this game sneaks some mental calculating into a classroom party or school carnival if you're an elementary teacher or a "teacher's-pet-room-mother" (like I was!).

If you can't find sticky darts locally, look online. I found mine at Windy City Novelties and was very pleased with their prompt, friendly service.

This design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Thank you!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Charmed by your necklace!......

....and your bracelet! And your belt! And all of those other Halloweenie thingies a-dingie-dangling from every limb and piece of furniture about you! And whaaaaat? Around your cat's neck too?*

I distinctly remember the moment, years ago, when grandpa (back in that day known as "daddy") ventured to timidly suggest that, "Just because you have a coupon for something doesn't mean you necessarily have to buy the thing!" Um, huh? Yeah okay. Nice try. But what kind of an alien actually lives in a world like that? Today, five hundred weeks later, before the same amount of coupons from Hobby Lobby, Michael's and JoAnn's dared to expire, I have a collection of 40% off paper, ribbon, beads, striped paper straws, and craft punches that would blow away any little weirdo who hopped off any UFO!

But what to do with all this crazy-cute stuff?

Although three year old Bree isn't ready yet to design, punch, and string a necklace of her own, she certainly is ready to admire and wear the ones I made for her this week. We worked together, deciding on colors and placement for each element in the basic plan. She was ready for that, too!

Cut an appropriate length of ribbon or cord. Punch an assortment of paper shapes. Trim a few straws to inch lengths and offer a handful of beads in coordinating colors. You will also need a hole punch and rubber cement for assembling center medallions. Assemble jewelry by stringing components as shown above.

As a "crazy-about-being-a-grandma" person, I have planned "girly-girl" sleepover parties for my four granddaughters since the moment they were born. Food, crafts, entertainment....grandma and grandpa busting into the house at 5 AM to heat up the griddle for morning's pancake sculpture's all in my head, although some might suggest it's time to start writing it all down!

We'll have a Halloween-ing Sleepover, too! I think I'll make this project up into little kits for the girls to work on in between getting their finger and toe nails painted like jack-o-lanterns and ghosts, watching scary movies from beneath a glow-stick-lit blanket tent while shoveling down "monster munch" and recoiling in terror from the creepy hand shadows grandma makes from outside that shakin' and shiverin' spooky shelter!

If my granddaughters lived far away, I'd mail them each a kit in mid-October and include some cute candy to munch on while they assemble their jewelry. In fact, I like this idea so much that I think I'll pack the kits into cute little take-out containers and mail 'em off to the granddaughters of two very dear friends of mine. One's in California and the other's in Pennsylvania. Bet those will be arriving very soon!

* Sorry about the cat jewelry visual - "photo not available!"...and no longer is the necklace - unless a scattered pile of beads and shredded string is something you'd like to see! No. Our feline "modeling session" did not go well....the ultimate in "what-was-I-thinking?!" moments!

These designs, like all blog content, are intended for personal use only. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Thank you!