Sunday, June 10, 2018

American Horror Story: Barbie Coven

Yeah, okay, so maybe that doesn't really strike horror into most hearts, but have you ever stared into the vacant, vapid, blank stare of a Barbie doll for very long? Terrifying...

"A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her,
because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her."
-- Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith
A n y w a y... yesterday, I was working on something else which led to me deciding to finally fix the spooky tree that was sitting on the witch doll shelf in the guest room (before it fell over, taking half the dolls with it). I had to dismantle the base, remove the guts, re"stuff" it with a thick dowel leftover from something else and reglue it all. Then I had to repair the paint that got messed up because it's made of pipe cleaners, masking tape and paper, and some of the paint flaked (surprisingly little!). While I was at it, I added some lichen-y and mossy greens to the roots and knothole. It gave it quite a bit more dimension, I think.
Round about the cauldron go; / In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone / Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,  / Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1
I mentioned on Twitter that I was trying to tie this collection to some of the other things in the room, to make the room cohesive. The guest bedroom is currently an odd mix of children's library (it's adjacent to our daughter's room, so the logical place for kid's books after we ran out of room in the library downstairs), some memorabilia and art from New Orleans/Mardi Gras, and witches.

After I put up the shelf holds all the dolls, I had decided it would be cool to tie them to New Orleans by printing out a background of family crypts*, as if they were all meeting in a New Orleans cemetery. So that's what I did yesterday, printing out some altered photos on cardstock, then gluing them to foamcore. The idea is that they look like they're a bit in the distance, so the detail isn't sharp on purpose. I wanted the concept of the crypts without the images themselves fighting for prominence on the shelf. Unfortunately, the shelf is so crowded that now you can't hardly see the crypts at all. ::sigh:: (The one to the left of the tree is alleged to be Marie Laveau's true resting place. Of course, I had to include the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans!)

Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna
I do have a solution to the crowded shelf problem, however. There is room above the headboard on the opposite wall for another shelf, and I do have another identical shelf waiting to be put up. I'm mostly waiting for more dolls to justify the trouble. I might need to find a new home for my old promo print of Bugs and Witch Hazel, though.
Witch Hazel: I warn you, dearie, I'm going to worm all your ugly secrets out of you. Tell me. Who undoes your hair?
Bugs Bunny: Do you like it?
Hazel: Like it? It's absolutely hideous!
Bugs: I did myself up tonight.
Hazel: There's nothing like a home permanent.
Broom-Stick Bunny, 1956
Flanking the bed are the taller bookcases, and more random doll assortments.
L-R: 2003 Halloween Fortune (Target excl.), 2000 85th Birthday Halloween ed. Raggedy Ann,
2004 Boo-tiful Halloween
Top: 1997 FAO Schwarz excl. Samantha Stephens Bewitched (Exclusive Premiere)
Middle: (mostly hidden behind the plush dragon) 1972 Emerald the Enchanting Witch (Milton Bradley)
Bottom L-R: Disney Store Evil Queen, 2010 Bewitched Barbie, Disney Store Maleficent
Right: three Mardi Gras prints from NOLA artist Mousie
(clockwise from top, 2001 "Mardi Gras Moon Goddess", 1998 "Perfume", 2000 "Mardi Gras Eyes")
The shelf with the little plush dragon (Leviathan, to be specific, he was a parade throw) and Emerald (who is sadly nekkid) holds my modest collection of modern and vintage witchy kids books. I've written one of my own that I'm still in process of working out the illustrations for, and writing a second.

Then there's one of my recent acquisitions, and the source of much frustration for Jill Thompson, who worked for years to bring her to life: the Scary Godmother doll. She was a Kickstarter project (my husband backed it for me, and I even got to meet Ms. Thompson, who is lovely) and I was thrilled when she finally arrived. I don't plan on taking her out of the box until I have a dome to put her under.

"Here's a treat that's fun to make and helps you get a word in edgewise. Take two of your favorite crackers, spread one with jam, one with peanut butter, smoosh them together, and jam them into the mouth of a chattering werewolf."
Next to her on the shelf is a little experimental doll I made. Above the shelf on the wall is a collection of doubloons from my collection, and a drape of beads attached to the frame below it. I had a brief, mad obsession with doubloons and their history, and have a big 3-ring binder full of them, carefully sorted by year and put in little cardboard/mylar coin folders.

Finally, the last part of the collection in this room sort of serves as a warning, and is a souvenir from Salem, Massachusetts, so I suppose it's not all New Orleans...

By the way, in Colonies, they hanged "convicted" witches. Burning is what they did in Europe.
If you're a witchy sort of collector, too, here's a fantastic resource for the Barbie Halloween dolls:

For more witchy children's books, visit A Mighty Girl's blog: "With Broomstick in Hand, 40 Books Starring Mighty Witches"
...and Red Tricycle's "Which Witch is Your Favorite? 14 Witch Books We Love":
*If you are unfamiliar, many burials in New Orleans are aboveground, because NOLA is below the water table. Any coffins that are buried have ledger stones to keep them down, or have stone walls around the coffin to keep out rising water. More info about those:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer Project: Shelf Risers

After a bit of a recent mad unboxing spree, it became increasingly apparent that I really need shelf risers for the main wall. Three deep when most of them are the same height, you just can't see them all, and with the interior height of the shelf at 14 inches, I have the space to do that. However, with the size of some of the figures (and the bases/stands they came with), it may not be practical to do 2 tiers/3 rows like I was originally thinking.

This brings me to another question: how important is overall symmetry? If I have one shelf with 2 tiers next to a shelf with just one, is that going to look weird? Do I go ahead and make all 60 risers (6 cases, 5 shelves each, 2 risers per shelf = 60 risers), with the thought that even if I don't need them now, I might need them later if I rearrange the shelves again? Rather leaning in that direction...

I figured the max height of the taller tier should be 6 inches high, leaving enough room for even an 8-inch figure to stand on, and the shorter one should be 3 inches, elevating each row 3 inches above the other. It also seems logical to display the larger figures in the back, smaller ones in the front, maximizing the difference in height to my advantage.

While I was rearranging the shelves, trying to figure out how to best use the 6th bookcase that I emptied to use for figures*, I really had some trouble with groups. Having a continuous row of Marvel and DC is no sweat. Having a continuous row of McFarlane is not happening. So I grouped them it a way that made the most sense to me. It's my collection, I can curate it how I please.

I don't display many male figures (because I don't seek them out) and I don't vignette figures, generally, but when I got the Valkyrie/Odinson 2-pack (more accurately, my husband found it for me), I had to sacrifice a pair of tights to do this:

Yes, drag him back to your lair...

Not sure how I'll set that up with risers, but that little scene stays on the shelf! The other dude-commentary I have made is with good ole Steve Trevor, the only non-Wonder Woman figure on the WW shelf. But... he's seated, passive, with his long gun across his lap, while all the Wondies are in various poses of alertness.

"What I do is not up to you."

Sadly, risers on the WW shelf will mean moving that Wonder-ful print by the Satrun twins, but that means it will be more visible somewhere else. There's already a dais there with pegs in it for feet that came in a Wonder Woman/Wonder Girl box set, but I think that will have to go in favor of the risers, unless it will fit on one of them.

Really, now it's just a matter of tracking down the wood, and I think I have found a source for free scrap wood and "free" is definitely one of my favorite words, although it's a bit of a haul to get to. Once I have the wood, it's a matter of cutting, gluing and nailing. The natural wood will be fine, and disappear into the "birch" color of the shelving units. Then I just need museum putty to stick them to the shelves and risers, and I can do away with the dowels.

Since there's still nonsense happening in June with summer school and other commitments, I'm hoping I can knock this out in July over a couple of weekends. (LOL -- yeah... because it's entirely predictable that something else will come up to prevent this from happening until next year. ::sigh::)

UPDATE: This is the most recent set of photos of the collection, and why I need the risers in the first place.

Some of these shelves are so jammed with figures, it's hard to see anything.
Others have room for growth, and others are too bulky to allow
for much of anything, and risers may be problematic.
A-Force assembled! Definitely needs risers...
Unfortunately, these shelves are not deep enough, or have enough space between them to allow for risers.
...and neither do these.
Fortunately, Nancy Pearl doesn't have to compete with anyone else in the library upstairs.
*It had originally not held figures, in part because it was separated from the others by a beam in the ceiling, breaking the line. We used it to hold graphic novels, and a few misc., but it became clear I needed the space so I got more bookcases to hold the GNs, and gained 5 more shelves for the collection. It still may not be enough down the road.