Some of the new do-it-yourself ideas for decorating, dressing and snacking this Halloween are downright spellbinding.
“The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook,” available in many grocery store checkout lines, is billed as a “bookazine” – half book, half magazine.
The cover shows an enigmatically smiling Stewart dressed as a sorceress. Inside are ideas for elaborate costumes: a creepy mummy, a classic vampire, a ghost.
Decorating highlights include silhouettes that can be made and hung in windows, an idea that could be expanded to include creatures beyond the scary birds of prey that Stewart shows.
For inside the home, projects include carving peeled apples into shrunken heads. Now that’s creepy.
There’s a chapter on pumpkin carving, with about a dozen projects. Entertaining ideas include “pina ghouladas” for adults and “Boo-nilla shakes” for the kids.
Another book dedicated to Halloween crafts is “Witch Craft” (Quirk Books, 2010), with ideas for handmade accessories, decorations and treats.
The kid snacks are perhaps its best feature, especially the chocolate marshmallow skulls and Peanut Butter & Jelly Skull Sandwiches.
My 11-year-old daughter can’t stop pulling tangerines out of the fridge to carve the citrus jack-o-lanterns she discovered in these crafty pages. (Anything goes when encouraging kids to eat fresh fruit, right?)
Crafts include spider earrings created with glass beads, and a clever idea that morphs a pair of inexpensive, slip-on Mary Janes into black cats, vampires or Frankenstein.
“Vampire Knits” (Potter Craft, 2010) tempts knitters with projects inspired by author Genevieve Miller’s fixation with the “Twilight” book and movie series.
The patterns – for hooded sweaters, blood-red socks and a scarf that “drips” blood – may speak of the undead, but they’re beautifully envisioned. Most of these projects can be worn beyond Halloween, either as is or tweaked to remove their ghastly focus.
The standout projects are those that incorporate beautiful lace, cable or other intricate patterns, such as the “shapeshifter shrug,” with its grapevine pattern.
In her introduction, Miller says she enlisted the help of her online knitting community at Ravelry.com to provide otherworldly patterns, from demure to sexy.
“Some of us are knitwear designers, but many of us are students, professionals, or stay-at-home moms who love to knit and design,” she writes.
Happy Pumpkin Family
Adapted from “The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook”
Pumpkins, in various sizes
Natural objects, for decorating (berries, nuts, leaves, twigs, pumpkin seeds, flowers, pine cones, gourds, carrots, Swiss chard, etc.)
Stapler and staples
Wood gouge (optional)
1. Gather a variety of natural objects to make clothing, accessories and facial features.
2. For bodies, use pumpkins in a range of sizes. Remove stems (except on the top-most pumpkin, if you want to incorporate the stem into the design), stack and secure them with wooden skewers.
3. For faces, trace object you will use for each feature onto pumpkin with wax pencil; use miniature saw and then a spoon to scoop out an opening slightly smaller than traced lines. Lay object on opening and press to wedge it in.
4. Poke holes for small objects such as twigs and leaf stems using a skewer. Push in staples to hold “hair,” such as a cedar branch. For glasses, twist a 2-foot-long twig into the shape of spectacles; tie in places through lenses with waxed twine. For an apron, tie several leaves of Swiss chard onto twine.
To make a child’s hat, cut a small pumpkin in half horizontally; scallop edge of top with a round wood gouge.
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