I’ve spent the last two days in my craft room making spiders. Seriously. My Black Widow Spiders are, item for item, my top seller in my Etsy shop Old Raven.
They sell sporadically all year round, and I’ve mailed these little beauties off all over the world, too, wondering (with a little chuckle) if some customs inspector may have gotten a bit of a surprise upon checking the contents of one of my shipments. But this is the time of year spider sales start to rocket so in anticipation of that I try to make a couple of batches a week, more or less, starting in July.
I usually make 30 of the regular (or life-size) spiders and 10 of the large in one session which leaves me plenty of time to ponder life as I hand-make 40 spiders by rote. And, as usual, my thoughts turn to my Mom. My mother was a self-taught artist and crafter. She also made sure that at Halloween we (me and my four siblings) had really fun costumes, and though we didn’t have two dimes to rub together when I was growing up, Mom always managed a treat for us on Halloween. My favorite was when she made us all into one long caterpillar. Each one of us was a “section” of the bug. My oldest sister was the “head” so her round yellow ball that covered her entire body except for the legs, had the eyes and the antenna. My older brother was next, then another sister, brother and then me. I clearly remember neighbors laughing as the caterpillar broke into sections to collect our candy and then reformed to waddle down to the next house.
Halloween was always my mom’s favorite holiday. And over the years our costumes became outdoor decor for my parents house, along with more and more items that mom made to add to the fun. It all just kept growing. Most things were made of paper mache including a life-size witch stirring a cauldron that was lit from within. There was a ten foot knight in shining armor who was attempting to retrieve a sword from a double-headed dragon that was twelve feet long. A coffin (my father made) was also life size and on Halloween, the older brother waited for the kids to knock on the lid and then he would creak it open and hand out PixiSticks.
There was a fence made of three foot tall gingerbread men. Giant spider webs with, you guessed it, giant black widows creeping down. Over a hundred pumpkins, all hand carved by mom and lit with strings and strings of holiday lights in orange, white and purple. I have to mention here, my hubby volunteered every year to clean out the pumpkins for mom (I SO love this man). I could go on for pages about this stuff.
It became a huge collaborative setup for the family (including our mates) each year, but we all looked forward to it, as did the town I was raised in. The local paper covered the event about every other year, so we came to expect thousands (and my parents poor neighbors happily joined in the fun, thank goodness). So I guess it’s no surprise that I continue to love Halloween, and remember it and my folks, especially my mom, as I make Halloween treasures for my shop and my own home.
So this is how I start my Halloween season. This is the box for the large spiders, still room but there’s more on the way even as some are going off in the mail.
These are the regular size – don’t they look creepy? There’s 119 of them here, but again, not even close to how many I’ll need.
This is the Albino Black Widows. They’re a specialty spider, but fun to add one or two to the mix on your Halloween buffet or bar.
And speaking of specialties, I even had a request for some little itty-bitty spiders. These guys were about 10 mm – tiny!
And finally, my Christmas Spiders. In Europe, there is the Legend Of The Christmas Spider that is well known. It is somewhat known here, in the US, and is growing in popularity – as are these Christmas Spiders that are over two inches, snow white and covered in iridescent glitter. They also have a built in eye hook so you can hang them from your Christmas Tree.
But this is the fruit of my labor – stacks of spiders, waiting to be off on their journey to make someone’s Halloween a little scarier, a little funnier or a Christmas tradition remembered. And each time I see them, I know my mother would be so proud. Thanks Mom, I love and miss you.