Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween with the Sun and the Moon

After cold temperatures in Colorado this past week, and 10" of wet snow that broke branches and dampened spirits... the warm temperatures are back on a perfect afternoon. It's beautiful here and just a bit breezy - enough to make the corn shocks and scattered leaves whisper of the night to come. Went out to the scarecrow and found the sun setting just over the rim of his top, to create a bright white blink upon this Halloween afternoon. Happy Halloween from Bindlegrim at Ichabod's Cottage!!!

Afternoon Spark

11-1: And just to follow up with at least one night photo...

The warm weather held out as the night waned and the scythe moon crossed the sky, and all was quiet except for the cool breezes and an occasional trick-or-treater, and even some occasional scurrying from wild animals. And as I was taking the below photo (though not shown here) and as I was looking into the sky, I saw a shooting star streak across the night sky. Magical...!!! Happy Halloween 2011...!!!

Scarecrow at night - Halloween holiday photography for Bindlegrim by Robert Aaron Wiley

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow Glow for Halloween Scarecrows

Bindlegrim is very happy to say that here at Ichabod's Cottage the snow from the 26th has been slowly melting away and that the plans to spookify the garden scarecrow moved forward today...(much to his relief I think because that big cors-shock bow-tie was rather emasculating before that burning flame-lit head was set atop of it).

Will O'Wisp - from spooky Halloween photography of a pumpkin head scarecrow in the snow - by Robert Aaron Wiley for Bindlegrim

Well, it seemed worthwhile shooting a few dramatic photos of the event, (to make up for all those wintery-appearing photos in the previous blog), to get back to the classic look of autumn.

Brrr, okay, some of these shots still show snow in them... but it's supposed to head back into the sixties the next couple of days, and while part of me is relieved at the disappearance of snow - I'm a little bit intrigued by the thought of a snowy Halloween (and have visions of pumpkin-lantern parades traveling through a snowy forest).

Well, again, it has been fun watching the change in seasons here in Colorado (after being in Seattle for the last ten), and I have posted the above photos with more from this past snow-filled week together with photos of the various seasons here at Ichabod's Cottage gallery on flickr.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pre-Halloween Snow at Ichabod's

A good thing I picked all the pumpkins out of the garden last night and brought them to the porch, or I might have had a hard time finding them again.  Just a few days before Halloween - and we have gone from brilliant autumn leaves against blue skies... to a heavy limb-breaking snow pack beneath grey snowfall!

Here our garden scarecrow (above) wears the latest fashions of snowpack hat and cornshock bowtie....  just a few days before Halloween... whereas (below) yesterday was full of blue skies and brilliant autumn colors. Okay, well maybe he's not too upset - I think the big bowtie was a bit humiliating.

Well, I am still in expectation of the Halloween holiday regardless of the weather - and it was actually really wonderful after a bit of strenuous snow shoveling to lie in a blanket of white and watch the quiet whisper of snow fall on my face. I was warned it would snow on or around Halloween here, but hopefully this will melt off and bring back the beautiful autumn colors and the crunch of dry leaves (not the crunch of snowpack under your feet). The Halloween pumpkins haven't even been carved yet...!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Craven Farm and the Folk Art of Cindy Mangutz

If I was still living in the Northwest, (from where I just recently departed after ten years), we most certainly would have visited Craven Farm by now, our favorite pumpkin patch haunt near Historic Downtown Snohomish -- (not too far off from Seattle, Washington).

I have yet to find anything near the new digs that quite makes that perfect match of having a real pumpkin patch farm right next to a rustic olde town brimming with large antique malls and great places to eat like our favorite, for their deserts, the Snohomish Pie Company.

Anyhow, if you are in the area, enjoying what I believe to be the best (and maybe only) time to visit the Northwest, here is a sneak peek of Craven Farm from their website:

I have such fond memories of this place, and since it was part of the Halloween tradition (that was part of my writing of The Pumpkin Dream), I felt it  only fitting to dedicate the book to the farm, it's good-humored staff, and the town, and I'm so happy to have copies of the book available at their store of goodies that include jams, decorations, and folk arts.

And of special note for us is the artist Cindy Mangutz who has created two different scenes of Craven Farm at Halloween. (Here's a link to the fantasy-atmosphere of original while the second is perhaps more realistic to the farm grounds). We felt really fortunate, our last year there, to meet the artist and get a large signed print from her (to replace the small greeting card we had bought many years previous).

Here's to Craven Farm and Cindy Mangutz --- and Happy Halloween 2011 to all my friends in the Northwest and across the world!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Free Printable Halloween Party Set

Continuing the last post of fun holiday content I was fortunate to create during  my contract job at I also wanted to share this seasonal design set of stationery items for Halloween that you can download for free and customize in both color and content.  (Note - these were items created while working with the Microsoft Office extensive library of free clip-art... to create content for the free download template library).

The Halloween Stationery Set (with a sinister witch host, questionable apples, sneaky black cats, and innocent children turning into toads for a costume party) contains for Word 2007 (or later) the following - 1) Gift Certificate, 2) Party Flyer, 3) Stationery, 4) Party Menu, 5) Party Invitation, 6) Thank-you Cards, 7) Name Tags / Placeholders, 8) Address Labels, and 9) Envelope.


For this project the goal was to highlight Word 2007's ability to create themes that allows you change color palettes at the touch of a button. And was constructed from items available in their free MS Clip Art Library particularly: MS Clip Art - Style 1450

If you are interest in using using clip art in this manner, you might study the previous post that offers an instructional blog entry. And for more holiday-themed downloads (for both Halloween and Christmas) that are free from Microsoft, by designer Robert Aaron Wiley, please check out the Bindlegrim website for Free Stuff! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free Printable Halloween Coloring Book

One of the awesome perks of my contract job at was getting to work with their extensive clip-art library... and getting to create content for any gaps that might have been occurring in their free download template library... and of course it was a real thrill to create some fun holiday fare for Halloween, Christmas, etc...

One really fun project was to create five download sheets that children could color. Well, to their pleasant surprise, well within the time frame given, I went a little overboard, and actually created five coloring books each with a theme and about five-eight pages in each download. There are three with animals: (forest, farm, aquatic) (P.S. looks like the older Word 2007 versions were dropped for upgraded versions in Word 2013) and then, of course, a Halloween (in an updated Word 2007, or newer Word 2013) and a Christmas coloring book (also in an updated Word 2007, or newer Word 2013).   (Links updated 9-16-2013: I am guessing these new versions offer improvements though sadly for me they don't reflect the large number of downloads these received the past few years...)

Since it's that time of year here are thumbnail versions of the Halloween coloring book for your perusal - and be sure to visit the website for the full large size Halloween coloring book (in an updated Word 2007, or newer Word 2013) download:

As a side note - part of the beauty of templates and of Word 2007 is the ability to customize to suit your own tastes. If you didn't catch my original blog entry (on the Microsoft Office blog) that explained the above procedure (creating Word art from the Clip Art library) -- I have recreated the content here:

Customize your Clip Art with Word 2007

Background and ideas:

A previous blog entry discusses Word 2007’s ability to turn downloaded clip art into editable content. Building on this idea exponentially extends Office Online Clip Art library content. Grouped and stylized to your own devices, clip art customizes to fit business document color-schemes, or arranges and overlaps within animation storyboards, and on and on.

Again, some good styles (with uncomplicated line and shape) are #1450, #1434, or #1255. Much of Style #1450 appears in the following templates (see above): Aquatic animals, Farm animals, Forest animals, Christmas, and Halloween. And has founds its way into Word stationery themes for the Summer Santa and the Halloween correspondence set.

For this example, here is one page from the Farm animals coloring book:

The scene:       
FlowersA treeAnd various shapes drawn in  Word

The cast:           
One frog Two frog! A boisterous fowl And 1 awed snail

The video below reviews Word 2007 methods for separating vector clip art. It then shows regrouping, copying, and arranging shapes one in front of another:

Review of these steps:
  1. Import clip art into a new Word 2007 document.
  2. Right click on your selected clip. Choose to Edit Picture, and this will show the image highlighted inside a dotted-line bounding box.
  3. Click and drag the mouse inside this box from one corner to the other to capture the most pieces of the art initially possible.
  4. On the Ribbon Format tab, change the Shape fill to White, and the Line color to Black.
  5. This will reveal shapes in the art you might have missed. Keeping all your original shapes selected, Control-click to gather any of the remaining shapes.
  6. Repeat step 4-5 until you’ve gathered all the visible shapes.
  7. With all shapes still selected, right click Grouping - Group.
  8. Copy or Cut your grouped image outside of the bounding box. Delete the bounding box and unwanted images inside of it. (Note: a stray bounding box can cause headaches by pushing around other objects).
  9. Optional: Right click to Ungroup your art, and re-group it into smaller sets. (Note: Overlapping objects may take practice. Lost objects may have gone behind a larger one. Be prepared to backtrack).
  10. You can now arrange your art within the overall document Use the Format tab in the Ribbon to Arrange shapes/groups with Bring to Front, Send Backward, etc.
Final suggestions:

Have fun! Play with Word 2007 styles to create text, color variation, stage placement, or texture and photographic elements.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Herbivorous Witch & Other Spooky Verse

A small selection of short Halloween poems for October, and the difficulties of dealing with haints and witches in the modern world...

The Herbivorous Witch

The herbivorous witch lived in the woods
Behind our house

When snow fell she appeared with her long green nose
Perched on our gate

Usually we just hid under blankets pretending the police
Would do something if we called

While the witch stared for hours motionless and silent
Toward our windows...

One day though Molly became so mad she threw old vegetables
In her direction

We giggled watching garbage bounce off the droopy hat
As she stood unblinking

But at sunset she finally drifted backward into the woods
As crows fought over the spoils

And that night Molly disappeared as we all slept warmly
In our own beds

Leaky Ghost

There is a leaky ghost on my ceiling
Whose tears drip into a growing collection of buckets
Scattered about my house

Some nights it’s like a choir of misery
As waves churn from room to room while the unhappy spirit
Restlessly paces the dark

Last spring I made the best of it
And created cascading waterfalls of rock and stone
With water lilies and coy

But during the autumn a gang of thirsty monsters
Moved downstairs and drained the pools
To wash down their deserts

A Vampire to Dinner

Its good manners to occasionally invite a vampire to dinner
So say the magazines at the grocery counters.

Our market has a complimentary bulletin of names and numbers
For those who have no contacts of their own.

Throwing a couple of blood-pigs into my cart
I secretly snatched a card off the board when no one was looking.

I had never had a vampire over for dinner
And had to convince my nervous family that everyone did this.

But as x-marks whistled from the blood-pigs eye sockets
I began to grow nervous and called my friend Blanche

She laughed and said she entertained the undead quite often
Though her fingers were crossed as she lied.

About these Halloween poems:

Around the time I was just starting to explore writing again for Halloween themes, from around 2004 to 2007, I created a small collection of poetry (of which one became The Pumpkin Dream) and at least one short story, all of which might just might find their way into a small future volume of collected spooky works. In the meantime, above are three of a handful of poems from that time period.

Happy Halloween 2011...!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Grim Poetry of the Pumpkin

With October 31st just around the corner, I've re-styled (in a bright pumpkin-colored orange glow) a few snippets of spooky lines from the illustrated Halloween poem The Pumpkin Dream offering a sampling of the poetic content and tone.

While the overall poem expresses a variety of points of view (from fun-loving to dark), the poem selection here is more from the view of a wary narrator and the warning lines from grandpa... (and one reader told me they appreciated the lesson that grandpa is trying to teach). So, well, whatever interpreation you take from this tale of trick-or-treat, and to whichever point of view you prefer as the lesson, I hope you enjoy this excerpt, and perhaps as I do imagine these lines best read in the deeply rich voice of Vincent Price or Boris Karloff:

Haints, Witches, and Ghouls Halloween Poem with a Mouse and Jack O'Lantern surrounded by Skulls, Goblins, and Scary MonstersHalloween Poem of The Pumpkin Dream by Bindlegrim with a Pumpkin Jack O'Lantern eaten by a Mouse hunted be an OwlHalloween Poem by Bumble Bindlegrim of The Pumpkin Dream when a Trick-or-Treat Mouse and Jack O'Lantern see a Spooky Scarecrow and signs to Craven Farm

For further blog entries on the written content of the book also see blog entry: The Coincidence of Pumpkin Dream Symbolism or visit Halloween Alliance for an interview In the Pumpkin Patch with Mr. Bindlegrim.

Happy Halloween 2011...!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pome and Trunk Shows Past

Okay, here it is October and I don't think I've had such a long absence from the blog... and there is news...! News of local shops carrying The Pumpkin Dream, and images from last Saturday's 6th Annual Halloween Trunk Show to share!

First news first, I wanted to thank a great local store here in Denver, near Washington Park, for carrying The Pumpkin Dream among its selection of books for Halloween and young readers. Pome is a great shop that frequently focuses on items for sell from local artists, so that the jewelry, clothes, scents, bags, knick knacks, and of course Halloween goodies, are not always common items found in any other store.

Pome Halloween Display with The Pumpkin Dream in Denver

Did you spot it? Yes, The Pumpkin Dream has found its way to a spooky display of books, treats, candles, masks, clothing, and more, together with a group of vintage Halloween decorations and party items. (Also, as a side note, check out the awesome vintage cabinet of candy near the back of the store for more goodies for your Halloween sugar fix).

Pome Halloween Display with The Pumpkin Dream in Denver

For more images, check out the larger Pome gallery of the shop now posted to the photostream on flickr:

And finally, going back in time a bit, catching up from last week, it's been almost a week now since the 6th Annual Halloween Trunk Show in Denver, yet still enjoying the vibe from a wonderful experience, and I wish to express a belated thank-you to all who braved the rare soggy weather here to come out and see the show and to those who purchased the The Pumpkin Dream and items from the Bindlegrim booth!

Author illustrator selling the book The Pumpkin Dream at the 6th Annual Halloween Trunk Show in Denver

So many awesome vendors, and I regretted that my own time management (getting the booth together at the start of the show) was not faster so that I could take in the view before the show - however, Halloween artist Johanna Parker has an absolutely great Halloween Trunk Show gallery of the show on her flickr photostream:

That's it for now. Very busy here in the world of Halloween, and hope everyone is having a great October. I'll see if I can't write here again soon...!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bindlegrim Bobbles for Halloween

Only a little less than a week now until the 6th Annual Halloween Trunk Show in Denver.... and for Bindlegrim a display booth has been constructed for spooky items old and new... (including copies of the Halloween story The Pumpkin Dream, a series of 9 Hallowe'en cards, vintage decorations of Halloween's past, and even some last minute additions being finished this week such as these eerie silhouette lanterns)...

The newest addition are three two pumpkin-head witch bobble heads, (a third has already been claimed and is finding its way to an enchanting friend in the Redwood forests of California). These are the very same bobbles that are mentioned earlier in the blog that at that time tried my patience and sent me fleeing back to the 2D world --- but we've since made peace, and 3 of the 6 limited castings (of this original sculpture) had a great time dressing up as Halloween witches (while the others stubbornly remain Christmas elves).  A seventh, mysterious sibling, (a test casting), is still undecided as to whether Halloween or Christmas is the better holiday...

Well, before the third sets off on it's long journey west, I wanted to get a few photos of the three together. They had a great time gabbing and wishing each other well on their various journeys:

Original limited edition Halloween bobble head sculptures in a vintage style for Bindlegrim by Robert Aaron Wiley

Original limited edition Halloween bobble head sculptures in a vintage style for Bindlegrim by Robert Aaron Wiley

Original limited edition Halloween bobble head sculptures in a vintage style for Bindlegrim by Robert Aaron Wiley

Original limited edition Halloween bobble head sculptures in a vintage style for Bindlegrim by Robert Aaron Wiley

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