All Hollows, Always

I love Halloween. I'm sure there are dozens of people who say this every year, but I really, really love Halloween.
When I was little, my parents would decorate the front of our house with bales of hay, scarecrows, pumpkins, and a flapping wind-catcher skeleton hanging near the door. We had Indian corn over the front knocker and diaphanous cobwebbing covered every available surface. Inside my house there was a motion sensor pumpkin (or skull) that would cackle when you walked past it, and candy on every available table top.
The week of Halloween, my brothers, sister and I would sit down in our t.v. room with piles of candy and small trick-or-treat bags my parents bought from the store, and then for at least two hours we would stuff the bags with candy, twisting them closed and placing them in wicker baskets that sar by our front door, awaiting trick-or-treaters. My Dad always popped in a VHS of Disney's Halloween Treats, a video collection of all the old, spooky Disney cartoons, of which I have visceral and exact memories. There was always a fire burning in our living room and a pot of apple cider warming on the stove. We had chicken soup and pizza for dinner, but only after trick-or-treating up and down the streets for a few hours. I remember watching the premier of Michael Jackson's Thriller on Halloween; I can still smell pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven; I can still feel the warm, autumn gold of our house lit up by the first fire of the season on Halloween night.

It was, and still is, my favorite time of year. Sadly, as we were growing up so were all the kids in our neighborhood, so the candy-stuffing has been abandoned, as well as the decorating. No one comes to the house anymore, and we've had our pumpkins smashed a few times, so I think my parents have given up on the Halloween festivities. Except for the wind-catcher skeleton, who still flaps every year on our front porch.
Last year I did pumpkin carving with my best friend, and it was a crazy, 4-hour mess. I think I love the idea of pumpkin carving, but it really requires a lot of time, dedication and commitment to actually carve a pumpkin. There's nothing I love more than shoving my hand inside a freshly cut pumpkin just to squeeze the slippery, wet gore within, but beyond that, it's just a mess.
So I wanted to come up with a craft that celebrates the idea of carving pumpkins, but without all the pump and circumstance. I mean pulp. Err, pomp. Sorry, I couldn't help myself with that one.
Hence, jack-o-candles. Or felt-o-lanterns. Whichever you prefer.
These are super-easy to make and require very little skill or materials, and they should literally only take you a half hour (if that) to finish. Plus, they don't go rotten like a pumpkin and you can just pull them out for next year! Feel free to come up with your own designs as they are only limited by your imagination!

Felt (orange, black, white)
X-acto knife
Measuring tape (or ruler)
votive candle
votive candle holder
glue or needle and thread
cutting board

1. Take your measuring tape and measure around the votive candle holder. Add an extra inch so that you can overlap the ends to glue them down. If you don't have measuring tape, you can also just wrap the felt around the candle holder and mark with your pen where it overlaps. Measure the height of the holder as well.
2. Mark the height and width of the candle holder on your felt with the pen. Fold the felt so that you can you can make a precise cut with your scissors. Carefully cut across the fold lines with your scissors. It doesn't need to be so exact as much of it gets folded later anyway.
3. With your pen, draw the picture you would like to cut out. I actually wrapped my felt around the holder  as I drew the picture so that I could see how it would look.
4. Place your piece of felt over your cutting board.  Carve out the shapes you have made with your X-acto knife. I found that with fabric, it is easiest to first carve out the shapes, then cut further with the scissors. The X-acto alone won't make a clean cut. If you're a master with scissors, you may not even need the X-acto at all!
5. Wrap your felt around the candle and glue or sew it shut. Place your candle inside, light it, and you're done!
Instant Halloween!

If you like crafting and love Halloween like I do, please check out Witch Craft: Wicked Accessories, Creepy-Cute Toys, Magical Treats, and More!
It was such an honor to be featured among these Halloween designers - there is so much creativity and ingenuity in this book and I am very proud to be in it. Or, rather, Dracula Bowl is very proud to be in it!


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