Tuesday, April 2, 2019

From Vintage Seance to Salem & Binx

Well folks, it's time for a change. After blogging on Vintage Seance for ten whole years now, I feel ready to give what Vintage Seance has been a new home, a new name, and a bit more TLC too - but not to worry it's still the same little ol' me behind the blog...

Meet Salem & Binx.
(Click Below)
For all things festive.

For the last year, I've been absent from Vintage Seance, working on an entirely new website, a brand really, called Salem & Binx. Much like Vintage Seance it'll include lots of blogging about Halloween, but in addition will include blogging about all of our favorite party holidays: New Year's, Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!

Think of Salem & Binx as your go-to guide for all things holiday. Seeing as there’s always a holiday on its way, or at least four beautiful seasons to live by, Salem & Binx is a one of a kind lifestyle blog offering everything from tips on entertaining, festive merch’ favorites, and so much more…

And that's not all - there’s plenty more entertainment where that came from - Salem & Binx Present… is the all-new accompanying podcast to Salem & Binx. Join me, the Salem & Binx blogger, and my co-host and bestie Ashley W., as we discuss our culture's favorite holiday movies and explore seasonal cinema...

Feel free to subscribe to Salem & Binx and you'll be one of my contacts! Now, I promise not to bombard you with tons of annoying emails, only once in a little while will I send one with a number of recent updates in it. And if you'd like to be able to comment on the blog, become a member! All you need to do it sign up in the members tab and you can comment on any posts you like, follow other members, and create your own profile!

After working on the website and blog for a whole year now - and only developing the podcast within the past few months - I've only recently made Salem & Binx live to the public. So far, we've got two episodes, a few blog posts, and a website that's still somewhat under construction, but it's a process and it's coming along. 

Although part of me is sad to not be blogging on Vintage Seance any longer, I am very proud of the new home my work and blogging will now have - it allows me to expand on what Vintage Seance has always been into something that offers much more in the way of entertainment, finding and sharing the incredible work of others, and of course the opportunity to produce a holiday-movie-themed podcast - I must say, I see it as a win-win-win. 

To you, my awesome handful of loyal readers and followers, you guys are what have kept Vintage Seance what is has been, and are what have made it into what it's becoming! Your support has inspired me to keep following my dreams into becoming something in-between a wannabe Martha Stewart and a wannabe Elvira, with a playful edge, and I hope that you will continue to follow me in my next adventure. 

And of course, if that's too involved for you - not to worry we're on all the social stuff to make it even easier to keep up:

PLUS you can subscribe to Salem & Binx Present... which is available on: Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Overall, I want to thank the lot of you awesome folks for making this such a fun and meaningful project to me - a blog that has allowed me and my work to grow - sincerely, thank you. Here's to always keeping in touch, to always having something to celebrate, and most importantly, to all things festive! 🥂

Stranger Things Have Happened Halloween 2018

Wow... What a minute it has been - or rather, a year, since that's how long it's been since I've blogged on Vintage Seance! There is a big reason why I've been away, which I'll explain further in my next post, but for now, this one's a majorly belated update on the fun and crafting I got up to last Halloween...

During last Halloween, I was in the process of moving all over again, this time I was lucky enough to get to move in with Patrick, and our cat Fiona (Cocoa got to stay with my parents, but I get to see her often, thank goodness). With so much to do, I didn't plan on hosting any party whatsoever - that is until our good friends Tyler "Butter," and his wife Molly offered to let me decorate for their Halloween party! With the festivities back on, I thought I'd mix it up and work with a whole new theme. Fans of The Lord of the Rings, Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Jurassic Park - basically any and every fun-filled franchise - Molly and Butter know a thing or two about that fandom life. Me? Not so much, I'm over hear watching AHS and Harry Potter, but that's about it... except for one other show I knew we equally loved... Stranger Things.

The Haunt 

That 80's Feel: 
First off, I have to thank Butter and Molly for their awesome old school contribution to the haunt that really set the scene for me; these these adorable 80's-style paper cutouts:

I honestly adored these so much it made me nostalgic for Halloweens from when I was a kid. Easy, fun, and festive!

Castle Byers:
Wanting to transport guests into the Stranger Things world, we decided to add a little Will Byers flare to the entry by adding branches along the doorway and windows, and, of course, Will's Castle Byers' signs... 

Although I wanted to make more authentic looking signs made from real wood, I found these useful stick-ons from one of my go-to Halloween hot spots, Costume Castle.

Did my best to copy Will's handwriting...

Lit Up Walls:
I wish I could take credit for this greatness, but alas Butter and Molly had already had this up all year - no joke! Just a testament to how awesome they are. Obviously worked out perfectly...

The Lab:
At first I wasn't sure about putting anything in the fluorescent lit kitchen area, but then it dawned on me how perfect a space it would be to pay homage to Hawkins Lab itself... Adding my (not so great) depiction of the famous Hawkins Laboratory sign (seriously why didn't I just use sticker letters?!), a shredded shower curtain for entry, caution tape, and an emergency red flashing light were a great start toward capturing the atmosphere. For our bar we added a variety of beakers and test tubes. Place food coloring and water (or booze and cocktails) and shots in test tubes - and you've got a party lab! No Hawkins Lab would be complete however without a good old fashion Demogorgon...

(Oh yeah, I dressed up as Nancy Wheeler, too!)

I have to say, although I think this guy came out looking alright, I wish I had created him differently, using some easier to work with materials - would have saved me from a lot of trouble. (SEE BELOW)

The Upside Down:
With a garage filled head to toe in faux spiderwebs, it made for there perfect place to put my Barb - yes, I made a dead Barb. And yes, we attached her to the ceiling, but things are upside down in the Upside Down, right? (SEE BELOW)


For his head (which I do think came out great), I used a basic styrofoam head as the base, foam paper for the flaps, and masking tape for the edges (I covered some raffia with masking tape to create some texture, you could use butcher paper, or foil as well) on the flaps.

I attached the flaps, after cutting them into their shapes, by using posable garden wire:

With this I was able to poke through the foam and then hot glue the wire to the back of each flap, this way the wire kept the flap in place, and was now posable so I could move the flaps as needed.

I also cut off the nose of the face and covered the whole face with Delight and air modeling clay compound - this stuff is magic. I created the entire texture of the Demogorgon face with it as well as all of his spiky teeth!

I placed the head onto the leg of an upside down small easel (this way it appeared the head was coming forward, out of the wall) and attached it all to a foam board with glue, and tape for extra support. I then attached a fake arm as well with glue and tape (not very sturdy, so I don't reccommend). The other hand I did not give an arm, instead I turned it the other way and curved the fingers inward to make it seem like this was the hand the Demogorgon was using to grip the portal. I painted the inside of the flaps/face a deep red, mixing darker colors like purple and black the closer I got to the center of the face. After it dried to attached all of the many modeling clay teeth I made with my hot glue gun (I let the stringy/gooey bits of glue . I later went back to paint the edge of the flaps, the back of the head, the neck, and the hands were all a pale pink/kahki color with streaks of red to look more life-like.

Surrounding the main features, I added foil, covered in masking tape (to make painting easier) that would all serve as an entrance between our world and the Upside Down. Leaving extra foil to play with for texture, I painted the "portal" material black with hints of purple, red, and brown. Overall, I love how the head and hands came out, but I really wish my engineering skills were better and that I could have attached them more efficiently to the board, and had had more time to make a more impressive portal surrounding him.


I had to honor Barb somehow so I figured I'd recreate her for the haunt - and had way too much fun with it! Firstly, I used a styrofoam head from the craft store, and used some Delight Air Modeling Clay again to create those dead eyelids, and open mouth, and painted her skin tone and eyes...

I then scored at the thrift store and found on-point look-alike glasses. I then painted what looked like a broken glass image with a fine point paint brush and some white paint to make them look broken...

 Once her face, and attached wig all came together, I hot glued the head of an old snake prop to her mouth (a snake once used for my medusa costume from a past Halloween). After that I added all those nasty colors to her face with purples, blues, and greens...

I scored once again at the thrift store and found a blue puffer vest that looked very similar to the blue puffer jacket Barb wears when she gets sucked into the Upside Down. I placed a pillow inside the puffer and also below it, attached those to two connected poster boards and taped it all up from every angle to secure it all - this way she had a little matter to her, and wouldn't fall off the surface that secured her. The fact that her puffer was a vest and not a jacket worked perfectly fine too, as I planned to cover her (and the tape around her) almost completely in fake spider webs.

 Once she was covered, we drilled her to the ceiling of the garage and added more cheesecloth, fake spider webs, and large Upside Down tentacles made of foil, spray-painted black...

 Although I usually like to take my haunts from 0 to 100, this Halloween was oddly, and pleasantly different. I usually go above and beyond, but given our circumstances, I had no choice but to go with the flow and see what worked - and I still managed to create both a demogorgon and a dead Barb, not bad! Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out, and happy the party I got to decorate turned out to be a blast!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Halloween 2017: Salem Witchery

The Crucible (1996)

“The sky over New England was crow black, pitch-black, Bible black, so black it could be difficult at night to keep to the path, so black that a line of trees might freely migrate to another location or that you might find yourself pursued after nightfall by a rabid black hog, leaving you to crawl home, bloody and disoriented, on all fours.” 
-Stacey Schiff, The Witches: Salem 1692

Last year was the first Halloween I decided to dedicate my entire haunt to one theme; Sleepy Hollow and The Headless Horseman. It embodied not only the famous legend, but inspiration from the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow, as well as the overall look and feel of Sleepy Hollow, New York. I really enjoyed creating, or recreating, this world, so to speak, and decided I ought to achieve another theme this year, so I went for the 'theme' I'm most passionate about...

The Crucible (1996)

The Salem Witch trials, for many reasons (some of which I can't quite explain), has always held my interest stronger than any other event in history. It has captivated me, inspired me, and bewildered me all at once. I think, in the beginning, I was fascinated by it all the same way most people are; mass hysteria, power struggles, and any speak of witchcraft. But, over the years, I only ever wanted to know more.

The Witch (2016)

What was life really like as a puritan? And what then suddenly made you a witch? And, because witchcraft was possible, if you were accused, did you then question your own innocence? Had you really singed the devil's book, and just not remembered? He was real after all, wasn't he? If he was, then YOU being a witch was possible too then, wasn't it?

The Witch (2016)

And, of course, what really caused it all? Witchcraft? And if not, what exactly?

Political agendas. Neighborly disdain. Desperation for attention. Mental illness. Physical illness. Hearsay.
The Crucible (1996)

Or were the people of Salem village seeing, hearing, feeling something and calling it the only things they knew to call it? Pointing to the only citizens they knew could be responsible?

Witchcraft, it seemed was oddly the greatest threat to puritan life, despite all other variables. It was a time when the Old World met the New. When a culture that had an answer for everything, suddenly hadn't any. When puritans already feared unknown land, its natives, that coming winter, yet still felt it vital to keep weary of their neighbors... indeed, it was witchcraft that was seen as the worst thing imaginable.

The Witch (2016)

This Halloween, I wanted to explore Salem, its witch trails, and its overall fear of witchcraft. I wanted to embody New England in its puritan reign, and what 17th century witchcraft, or a puritan's nightmare for that matter, was evolving into during this era, and in this New World. I drew inspiration from Salem itself, it's historical records on the life and times during the trials, puritan superstition from Europe and the New World, and of course from the films The Crucible, The Witch, and the TV series Salem.


To keep with the theme, I went as a puritan gone witch. Without looking like your customary Thanksgiving pilgrim (although that is more like what women of Salem would have worn, especially in Salem Village), I wanted to add just a hint of something more to her look, a bit of power if you will.

*Now, this also had to be due to my influence from the tv series Salem and it's over the top costuming (like really? Lucy Lawless in neon purple?! You know what I'm talking about... If you don't, google it.) As much as that can sometimes take me out of the history of it all (what with its accuracy being tossed out the damn window) I still get their reasoning in wanting to spice things up, so I was inspired to do something just a bit more interesting too than the simple triangular collar and plain dress.

My initial sketch...

That being said however, I still felt it important to keep in mind, ya know, history. With that, I decided to make my costume/character appear somewhat like how Mary Sibley is portrayed in Salem; a woman of repute, and wealth, but with a dark side. I imagine she'd serve her community well in Salem Town, but by night did her bidding in a hidden cottage in Salem Village some place - after all, who could really say what the cause was of all things witchy...

For the base of the costume, I searched for a modest, long black dress with long sleeves - for the first time in I don't know how many years (maybe ever) I couldn't find the right kind of simple dress at the thrift store, but was very happy to discover this Margaret Hamilton classic at Costume Castle, my local all-year round costume/Halloween prop shop (if you're ever in Orange County, you must visit this place, it's so fun!)
When it came to the ruff collar, I couldn't have been luckier that my lovely aunt was in town and she kindly helped me out. I asked her to make something simple, with a homemade feel, but still a statement piece and boy did she impress the hell out of me! I can't thank her enough. She was also sweet enough to add white cuffs to the sleeves. With a touch of lace on the edges, this thing was looking more and more real.

Later I purchased some black trim at the fabric store and I (get ready for it) hot glued (!) it right onto the bodice of the dress! It's not Halloween if I'm not burning the tips of my fingers in creating my costume, guys...

I then put my hair up in a white bonnet I have from my older puritan costume (talk about customary pilgrim! Fun fact; it's not even an adult size costume, it's a child's XL - but hey, it was half the price, y'all!) That costume I now tend to wear at Friendsgiving; Patrick has been sweet enough to dress up as my puritan man for the past two years (See Below)! Over the bonnet, I added my go-to black witch hat - I swear you can't get good witch hats like it these days...

I was inspired by the looks in these historical depictions featuring hats (almost witch-like), bonnets, and white collars:

I also found this gorgeous photo shoot:

For more, view Maxine Helfman's photography.

Not to mention the tv series Salem. These modest, all-black looks inspired the overall feel and texture.

For the most part I think it came together very well! Plus it was really fun to put together something simpler, but still historical and interesting. 

Me and my spooky face... 


If you've seen my previous haunts, you usually know what to expect; general Halloween staples (pumpkins, skulls, candles), antique relics, and some kind of witch display incorporated. (I'm obsessed, what can I say?!) But since the theme was all about witchery this year, I had to take it to a whole new level! So here were the new additions:

The Mood:
To capture the look and feel of Salem, I tried keeping things more natural looking that in previous years; corn, husks, stones, crystals, twigs, branches, and of course, many witchy bottles. For the overall color scheme I chose to stick with black and white (but mostly black to keep things eerie), nodding to Puritan garb obviously.

'Black Philip' on the Wall:
When I was first thinking of new additions, I was extremely influenced by The Witch (2016) and wanted to incorporate a similar concept for my haunt. The concept I'm talking about is the overall intention Director Robert Eggers claimed to have behind the film; to envelop the audience in what a puritan's nightmare would be; after all, what happens to a family separated from community? They are in danger of being effected by witchcraft, of course! I could go on and on about all of the intricacies and brilliance beyond this film, but I think the guys behind YouTube channel Rant & Bollox do a way better job at describing it all in this incredibly in-depth analysis:

Going with this idea, I thought about what things might frighten people about witchcraft and, it always comes back to people believing witchcraft has to do with the devil (which it doesn't, though it might have in niche groups throughout history), so I figured, why not recreate the most infamous familiar of them all and incorporate Black Philip himself?!

I found this perfectly imperfect wooden plaque to stick his head on (thank you Home Goods and all your kitschy glory)...

... quickly painted over that. Then looked everywhere for a goat head or mask of some kind, and found this guy:

You guys see Suicide Squad? Me neither, but it was the best (and only) goat head I could find. In a strange and bizarre fashion I mounted the mask to the plaque; a lot of bubble wrap and cardboard was involved. To cover the hot mess that was a mask on a piece of wood, I saved it all by safety pinning some faux fur from the craft store around his neck. Then I used HOT GLUE (my favorite thing ever) to cover up the open eye holes by putting parchment paper behind them and gluing within the hole to seal it. After that, I painted him black, though I was sure to leave the crevices in his rubber "fur" off-white, providing a textured look. Finally, the eyes. You ever look at goat's eyes? Yeah, look em up. You'll understand why people associated goats with devils...

The Puritan Woman:
Last year I dressed up my mannequin as the Headless Horseman, so this year I did something similar; a puritan woman gone witch. Surrounded by black birds from every angle, and holding a poppet in her hand, our good woman is right on the edge (literally) between being pure and turning evil...

I was very inspired by these promotions for Salem, and wanted to recreate the same effects:

My child XL pilgrim costume came handy once again! Luckily I already had black twigs too, so I punctured them into the eyes of a styrofoam head (which I painted to look more like flesh), and placed a black bird in her midst. For the mouth I used a thin black pen to draw lines on her lips and stuck in some black thread to hang down so it looked like her mouth had been sewn shut.

The Sisters:
Not sure why I ended up calling them 'The Sisters', or why I inevitably broke out into song each time I mentioned them during the set up, but 'The Sisters' is what these two beauties came to be known as. In our living room, we have these two wooden pieces with doors that open, the perfect place for these two to keep and eye on guests...

The Cauldron:

I'm usually more of an indoor haunter, but I have always wanted a nice big cauldron set up out front for the trick 'r treaters to enjoy. With the Salem theme in action, this was the perfect year for it. I tried to recreate something similar to Grim Hollow's witch cauldron, Pumpkin Rot shared it years back and it always stuck with me - it's a one of a kind. Also, special thanks to my mom who distressed the jars hanging from the top! She and I were inspired by Rot's famous "Witch Jars," and followed his basic tips for creating the look.


It wouldn't be Salem without poppets! I bought a large bag of raffia from the craft store and used basic Pinterest tutorials on how to make Thanksgiving pilgrim women out of husks, like this one.

Chalk Circle / Slate:
Ok so I didn't have a giant slate, but I used a styrofoam poster board, chopped at the edges, spray painted it with chalk paint and had me a board! I drew a pretty protection circle with rune symbols and placed crystals within it.

Saw this adorable idea in Martha Stewart years ago and always wanted to try it. With wire, craft string and two cheap broomsticks from Spirit, I think it came out alright, especially with my mom's idea to place some birdies in the middle...

Black Ruff Collars:
I scattered puritan collars throughout the haunt (under skulls and pumpkins mostly), but felt I needed something a little darker for the two deer skulls I bought at Spirit. I formed wide wired ribbon into a ruff collar with hot glue (!) to make a basic and decorative collar. Afterwards I spray painted them black and placed them behind the deer so they would pop on our light-colored walls.

Black Candles:
   Inspired by Harry Potter (another theme that would be fun to attempt) I decided to add the iconic floating candles as seen in the films. I used this tutorial, but to fit with my dark theme, I painted mine black instead of white. I also used the same technique I used on Black Philip's eye holes on the bottoms of the toilet paper rolls (parchment and !hot glue!) so that you won't have to look up and see hollow "candles." Then I painted over the bottoms too. I keep asking myself, why aren't these being sold in stores? Are they, and I just haven't noticed? The bummer about having to make them with little tea lights is that you have to glue them in day-of because you can't switch them on and off once they are placed in your "candle." If they ever do make these for retail, they should consider making them remote-controlled, how cool would that be?! 

In case I didn't go into detail enough, view more photos of my Salem Witchery haunt on Flickr. And for more inspiration check out the board I made on my Pinterest, Halloween 2017: Salem Witchery, to see all the things that influenced me this Halloween!

Overall it was a season to remember, a lovely Autumn, and a festive Halloween with my family and friends, boyfriend, and kitty cats all filled with joy, spirit, and merriment.

My girls Bri (lion tamer) and Megan (Rebecca from This is Us) and me:

All of us with Patrick (druid) and Chris (Jack from This is Us): 

Also here's Patrick and me (rockin' that child's XL) at Friendsgiving... we take all holidays very seriously...

Well, thanks for reading all about my over the top Salem-themed Halloween (and apparently Friendsgiving). Here's Cocoa and Fiona to wish you all a lovely holiday season and a Happy New Year!