It is no secret, to anyone who knows me, that I have an unwavering love for all things Halloween.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I was a prop master in a previous life, because my holiday decorating usually morphs into “setting the stage”, creating a mood and view meant to transport me to another place, time, and story. But I digress......
A few years ago, I felt the need to create a Halloween candy bowl. I hand-painted a black bowl with a variety of eyes from the creature kingdom, and added glow-in-the-dark paint on them. It was quite pain-staking, and even though I sold it, will probably never create another one.
The following year, I painted a totally differently themed bowl, this time with an Old World gypsy witch in mind.
The year after that, I kept it more simplistic and understated, and let the number do the talking.
Last year, I created my glue-gun witchy potion bottles, which have certainly made the rounds on the internet. Since it is my belief that these were lightning in a bottle, I don't feel the need to out-do them. But as usual, my Halloween mood can't be silenced, and yesterday my imagination woke me up with an idea. Not to sell, but to inspire.
I thought it would be fun to have useful props that continued the theme of my potion bottles. So what else would this woodland witch have in her home?
How about a bowl for tossing her runes or greens in? But in your case, for handing out Halloween candy! How about party snacks! Or maybe just as props for setting that mood!
Part of the allure of the potion bottles was the upcycle virtue, but also the low cost of the project.
Although this isn't an upcycle, I did focus on keeping it on the cheap.
Here's what you need: a cheapo basket in the size you require. If you want it food-safe, line the basket with clear plastic bowls from the dollar store. (You won't need the liners for handing out candy, but you would for pretzels, hors d'oeuvres, etc.)
Plastic skeleton hands from Michael's. $1.99 per bag of 12.
Glue gun and thin wire
I hot-glued a thin layer of Spanish moss around the outside of the basket.
If you're like me, you like to keep your holiday décor as temporary as possible, so you can dismantle the components to use for other projects throughout the year.
In this case, I chose to wire the hands to the basket. Using very thin gray wire, thread the ends through the basketweave from inside to outside. Position the hand so you can twist the wire ends around a finger. Twist the wire so the hand doesn't move, snip the excess, then tuck the wire ends between the fingers out of sight. (This is the reason I used a basket rather than a bowl, so I'd have something to thread the wire through.)
After securing the hands, you can now add more moss, tucking it in around the hands to make them look more embedded. Add more moss to completely hide the basket, including the rim. Totally up to you whether you cover the underside or not.
As is typical of my M.O., I couldn't stop there. The bowl turned out so well, that it deserved to be elevated to centerpiece status. I collect shapely wooden candle holders, and I had the perfect one for this bowl. I painted it with black and brown chalk paint, then attached the basket to it.
Since the basket is thin and flimsy, it's very important to secure it properly. A screw alone would tear right through the weave, so you need to add a piece of wood or metal over the basket to secure it and give it stability. The wood doesn't need to be thick, just not flexible, and the closer it is to the full diameter of the basket, the better. A piece of a paint stir stick or wooden ruler would both work great. I had a tongue depressor, so I drilled a pilot hole through it and the center of the basket. (If you don't drill a pilot hole, you will most certainly split the basket material and the tongue depressor, since they are both thin.)
After drilling a hole into the center of the candle holder, 1 screw through the depressor, basket, and candleholder, and all was stable. I painted the tongue depressor black brown to match the basket, and now it's ready for use or display!
Along with the basket, I made a point of buying the contents at the Dollar Tree also, just to show how inexpensive this creation can be, and how readily available the components are. If you choose to line the basket with a clear food-safe bowl for a buffet, you don't need to attach the bowl to the basket. When the snacks need refilling, just take the plastic bowl out for refilling, then insert it back into the display bowl. If you'd rather attach it to the basket, you have some options -- hot glue, strong double-stick mounting tape, or even velcro.
At this point, all that's left is what to put inside. I bought these “Bloody Bites” for the glow-in-the-dark fangs, but they also include red “oozing” candy blood bags.
Red hard candy, so they could be a blood red filler.
And plastic eyeballs. These were kind of boring, but they were good and cheap for a starting point. And since the glue gun was still on......
Using a permanent red marker, I drew lots of red veins all over the eyeballs, then hot-glued the main vein lines. (Another option would be to paint all the eyeballs with glow-in-the-dark paint.)
Using a red marker again, I colored each hot-glue vein, so they'd look like they were bulging red veins. After doing that, it occurred to me that there were probably red glue sticks, so I've ordered some off Ebay. Can't wait to try them.