As you may expect, I love Halloween. Not the way I used to love it in the past, with costumery and a ribald good time, but, now because when it arrives it means Fall is fully here. It’s colder, or at least cooler — and it’s dark, really dark, earlier … and kids will be knocking at the door, looking a fright, and begging for candy. It’s the time when I get to indulge my love for all manner of skullery. Halloween, more than other holidays, has the best symbols attached to it. No gaudily trimmed fir trees, no egg-bearing bunnies, no tri-color bunting … instead witches, monsters, zombies and SKULLS rule! Being Mexican, I developed a love for skulls as a kid: that turquoise-tiled Aztec skull in our set of encyclopedias was pure excitement; the revolutionary skulls of Posada engravings were thrillingly rendered and quite jaunty; Day of the Dead calaveras commemorating the lives of ancestors were literally sweet; even the murder victims in my grandfather’s yellowed and cheap Mexican tabloids failed to frighten. All those grinning bone-heads, they filled me with a weird kind of pride and seemed to say we weren’t afraid to be friends with death … Anyway, skulls are my favorite Halloween symbol and I love to see them used as decoration on everything from kid’s costumes to neighborhood haunted houses. Above is sampling of my own skulls; let’s take ’em from the top …
A small sugar skull from a long-ago Halloween party, my name’s on the back in icing. Beneath it is a small papier maché box made by niece, Tab, when she was a young girl. At left, a large, very ornately decorated skull in the same material, is from Mexico. To the right of it, a skull-headed hip-hop robot in a space helmet smokes a cigarette. Its bottle-cap arms end in an alligator clip and a begging bowl, he, and his gold tooth, flew in from Planet eBay. To his left, a small skeleton from China is actually carved from a bone … I’m hoping animal, not human … but who knows. In the foreground a black ceramic skull from Mexico is amazing in its intricacy; its lattice-like perforations are perfectly achieved. I love all these skulls, but as decorations they’re awfully small, and this year I decided we should have something to welcome trick-or-treaters. Here’s what I came up with:
A paper lantern painted loosely with a skull of my own, dangles from the crooked arm of a standing piece of driftwood: it’s a spooky “how do you do” aside our front door; an array of gourds under some drugstore ‘freaky fabric’ lurk in the company of my cement garden baby, Hay-seuss, on the bench nearby. A clot of orange LED lights illuminate the lantern, while globe lights that approximate shattered black glass, trail along the bench. In the daylight, the whole shebang is colorful without looking plastic-bright, and at night the lights are suitably scary.
I hope the glowing grin of this skull draws kids to our door … Happy Halloween, everyone!