Halloween is Around the Corner

Halloween Candles

When I think of Halloween I instantly think of John and when I think of John, I think of Halloween.  Greg introduced me to John almost 4 years ago as one of his very good friends. Our first meeting was Ok. I barely understood his English, so to avoid that “Can you repeat again please, I did not get it” moment I would find some excuse not to meet John. Four years later John is one of my best friends. I still don't follow him completely, especially when he talks about movies that I have never seen or have seen but do not remember. We do have one movie that we really love in common “The Big Lebowski”, but I will talk about it another time.

John is in love with the entire Halloween holiday. He makes his costumes himself from scratch. He never liked the idea of buying them and he preferred to spend days and nights making them by hand rather than buying them.

When I go to his place I could immediately sense how much he loves the whole idea of Halloween. Witches, pumpkins, mugs, candles holder with a Halloween theme on it decorates John’s place.

When I asked him what he thinks about Halloween, this is what he answered:

“…Halloween has been my favorite day of the year since I was a small child.  Each year I find more and more reasons why I enjoy it so much.  From its origins in Celtic Britain, where it was known as Samhain, to the present, there are elements, facts, myths, stories, traditions and crafts that fascinate me and keep me as young in spirit today as when I first went trick or treating.  When summer starts to fade away, cool breezes arrive and the nights get longer, I always have a smile on my face because I know that fall has arrived.  There’s magic in the air when the leaves start to turn, pumpkins appear at the farmers market, mulled cider is on the stove accompanied by the sound of popping corn and memories of all Halloweens past run through my head”.

I was not a big fan of Halloween, as we never celebrated in Albania as kids but since being here in NYC I am celebrating it now, how could you not? There are so many Halloween-themed activities throughout the month of October that New Yorkers or visitors can participate in. On Halloween night, you can expect a particularly busy nightlife, especially in the Village. Check below for Halloween Parades that take place in NYC.

Greg and I often go to Park Slope Halloween Parade to meet with our friends Ken and Tracey and their girls, Katie and Gogo, to see the Halloween parade where John would play. Then we would meet with him and his friends to have some drinks and celebrate (I never was able to keep up with their drinking though, nobody can). John also plays the bag pipes and performed at our wedding. I really enjoy listening to him play.

For the past few weeks, Greg and I have been working on new candles for Halloween. We bought some Annie Sloan chalk paint. The color is Barcelona, a strong, vivid orange color that we bought from Suite Pieces in Brooklyn. Greg and I, then hand painted and hand drew the pumpkin face on the mason jars and poured Orange Goji Berry, Apple Cider and Cinnamon fragrance in it. These are special fragrances just for Halloween season. Here are some of the pictures we took.

Halloween Candle
Halloween Candles

Halloween Candles

Halloween candles

We are offering this special candle as well. It is an Iron paint that is sprayed with a special solution to make it actually rust. It is a really amazing effect that is very different from anything else. Each one comes out very differently.

Halloween Candles
Halloween candles

We also painted candles in white and painted the skull and ghost faces on them.

Halloween Candles
halloween candles
Halloween Candles
Halloween Candles
Halloween Candles

The colors of Fall.

Halloween Candles

John also shows his love of autumn through all of his Halloween/scary-themed items. He continues by saying that: “I enjoy making them more than my other bags and feel as though I’m creating my own small tradition of leather crafting by creating bags I've only ever seen in my imagination.  No two are the same.  They are pieces of practical American Folk Art that are as useful as they fun to look at, and they are heirloom pieces that improve with age

These assorted pouches are all made from deerskin or elk hide.  All have been hand dyed and then rubbed down with a bear grease/bees wax compound that makes them velvety soft and water resistant.  John makes all of his own antler buttons and put them through an aging process.  He also uses Tibetan skull prayer beads that he alters for use as buttons.  These very cheery little skulls remind him of our mortality and to make the best of the short time we have here.  These pouches can be custom made for use as business card holders, wallets, tobacco pouches, and small camera cases… The list goes on.

Handmade pouches

Handmade pouches

Handmade pouches

Handmade pouches

Halloween bag

This Jack bag is made entirely of heavy melton wool that John boiled in a big pot full of coffee, cinnamon and cloves.  The nice smell has faded, but the grungy look has remained.  It also tightens up the weave of the wool making it very dense.  The eyes and mouth are black wool that he felted.  Primitive stitching finishes off the mouth.  The buttons for the flap are hand-made out of black buffalo horn.  They also serve as eyebrows.  The body of the bag is lined with black Irish linen.  He used the same linen as backing and edging for the shoulder strap.  The bag is finished off on the bottom with five rusty bells.  A true piece of American Folk Art.

Halloween Bag

Halloween Bag

The body of this bag is made of thick pig skin that John dyed chocolate brown and then over-dyed with black.  He used the natural edge of the leather for the flap and patched a small hole on the front for an extra gnarly look.  The skull is cut from an elk rawhide primitive drum head.  The strap is made from fine English vegetable-tanned leather that he distressed and used the same dye process as the body.  Unlike the Jack bags, this beauty can be worn year round

Halloween bag

This Jack bag is entirely made of 13-oz vegetable-tanned leather (saddle making leather), including the strap.  The face has been burned into the leather which took about 5-6 hours.  Completely hand dyed after all the sewing was done.  John finished all the edges by burning them as well.  The closure for the flap is a deer antler button from Scotland John picked up over 20 years ago.  The piece is heavily influenced by the opening sequence of Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas”, one of his favorite films. 

Halloween Bag

This Jack bag is entirely made of 13-oz vegetable-tanned leather (saddle making leather), including the strap.  The face has been burned into the leather which took about 5-6 hours.  Completely hand dyed after all the sewing was done.  John finished all the edges by burning them as well.  The closure for the flap is a deer antler button from Scotland John picked up over 20 years ago.  The piece is heavily influenced by the opening sequence of Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas”, one of his favorite films

Halloween bags
Halloween Bag

The body of the bag below is made from elk skin which has been entirely hand dyed to look like a pumpkin. Eyes and teeth are deer antler that John cut, drilled and sanded by hand. Flap is a double thickness of elk hide, and the body is lined with black Irish linen.  The strap is made from motorcycle leather (cowhide) that is custom fitted to the wearer.  The bag has a wonderful texture to it with the applique, the stitching and the antler bits.  To John, this piece embraces American Folk Art to its fullest.

Halloween bags
The Jack Skeleton Bag Pipe bag

The Jack Skeleton Bag Pipe bag

Our Halloween candles and handmade bags are for sale and will be up soon in Oohalapetite.com site.

Where to celebrate Halloween in New York City:

New York's Village Halloween Parade which takes place since 1973. For more information click here. 

Halloween Extravaganza and the Procession of the Ghouls is an annual event held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine  For more information click here.

Halloween Events for Families: This annual Halloween celebration is held on weekends from late September through early November at the Bronx Zoo and is geared toward children and families. For more info click here.

Halloween Events for Adults: Want to really scare yourself this Halloween? Check out Nightmare -- a terrifying haunted house located on the Lower East Side. For more info click here

Where to shop for Halloween Customs in NYC

New York Costumes in the East Village from Halloween Adventure. For more info click here.

Abracadabra Superstore. For more info click here

Ricky's. For more info click here.

Screaming Mimis. For more info click here.

Early Halloween. For more info click here



Brooklyn Bazaar

Our booth at Brooklyn Bazaar

Our booth at Brooklyn Bazaar

Hey There,

Greg and I wanted to share with you our experience from the BK Bazaar, which I must say that it  was wonderful and of course exhausting. We would not have had been able to make it happen without the enormous help of our friend Toon who drove with us to Brooklyn with a car full of trunks, crates candles and other props. I felt I was driving to Morocco and instead of Brooklyn. 

For those that are not aware of the BK Bazaar, it is located in Greenpoint at 165 Banker St, and it is open Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm-1am. This is what the place looks like on the outside...

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BkBazaar
BK Bazaar

The first day I was so anxious as I did not know what to expect. I hoped that people would like my booth the way it was designed, as well as my candles. With full confidence I must say that our booth was one of the best decorated booths there, people would approach it and say out loud that they never ever had seen such a thing before. The coordinator of the BK bazaar came to us and congratulated us, confirming once again, how cool our booth was.

Here are some of the photos

Me at the booth

Me at the booth

Many of our friends came to support us and I really thank them and appreciate the time they took to come and see us. A big thanks to all of them.

Toon printed our Ooh La La sign from his Uptown Fine Art printing studio. He did a stunning job.

People were impressed with our vintage teacup and trinkets. We used our vintage suitcases to display them and I also used some of the vintage gloves and hats of Aunt Agnes. We used lot of vintage props, old perfumes of Aunt Agnes, her gloves, a vintage makeup bag that Greg bought for me. This part of the booth truly represented the old and the vintage.

Vintage teacup candle
vintage teacup candle

On the other part of the table we had vintage mason jars or balls. They were placed at the crates our cousin Marie gave us, during our trip to Pennsylvania. Here we also used as a props some of Greg old cameras, a vintage lantern that we bought in Albania and some old spoons. Some of the mason jars I painted and some I left them as they were, with their original color. People loved them, loved the display and also the smell of the candles too.

Unique vintage mason jars and crocks candles

Unique vintage mason jars and crocks candles

Vintage mason jar candles
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We also brought some painted mason jars. People were surprised when I was telling them that I paint them and distress them by hand, one by one so no two come out to be the same. I remember one young guy came to me and said: I am so gay for candles. His girlfriend was laughing next to him. He bought one of the mason jars. The mason jars were placed on the top of the vintage toolbox and old army suitcase we bought from Greg’s friend Adam who owned a vintage store in Rhode Island. On top of the toolbox we also placed our water pitcher and bowl that was filled with lavender we bought it in Pennsylvania.

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Hand Painted mason jars candles
Hand painted mason jar candles

The Polaroid Transfers from Expired Film Studios added to the whole theme. The Polaroids are hand transferred to all different types of cool paper. Everything from watercolor paper to rice paper. Most of the images were from Paris. Here are some of his photos.

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expired film studios

As you can see we used lots of props to decorate our booth, and the outcome was just great. People were coming in our booth taking lots of pictures and buying our candles.

Some of the vintage candles and trinkets are marked as sold out on my site. I sold them at the bazaar. Soon I will upload new ones, so stay in touch. Here is a sneak peak at two of them.

A touch of spring with Jelly Jars

Candles in Hand painted Jelly Jars

Candles in Hand painted Jelly Jars

Here we come, with a brand new finished and ready to ship product,  just in time for Spring!

I have been working on these guys for a while now, choosing the right color, mixing them together and adding the right fragrance that will represent Spring. Greg made the popsicle stick wick holders, that really helped me with keeping the wicks straight while pouring the wax. Here are a few creative and beautiful snapshots of our work in progress.

Hand-painted Jelly Jars candles perfect for your wedding favors

Hand-painted Jelly Jars candles perfect for your wedding favors

Hand-painted Jelly Jars candles perfect for your wedding decorations

Hand-painted Jelly Jars candles perfect for your wedding decorations

I love the pattern of the jars when painted with chalk paint and waxed in either the dark or clear wax. It brings a wonderful depth and texture to the jar.  The tops are the same size as a regular mason jar, but these are more compact and just so cute.

Candles in Jelly Jar

After spending time making my own wedding favors, I thought they would be perfect for decorations at a bridal shower, a wedding or as wedding favors. The advantage of these Jelly Jars is that they do not take up too much space on a wedding table and can compliment the other wedding decorations without overwhelming it. 

Beautifully painted Jelly Jars candles come in different fragrances

Beautifully painted Jelly Jars candles come in different fragrances

Hand-painted Jelly Jars Candles

Hand-painted Jelly Jars Candles

During this past weekend, we also worked on the tags we would use for our candles. I would love to share them with you on how we made them, but this will be for another day. Here is a little preview of some of the tags.

Our Candles

Our Candles

Tags for the candles
Handmade tags

Handmade tags

The tags come in different colors and design

The tags come in different colors and design

Sometimes people think that taking product photos is just pointing the camera and shooting pictures of the candles. The process is actually much more difficult then that. It takes lots effort and planning. We wait for the right light to come through our windows, we like to use natural light versus an artificial light, and we spend many hours trying different set ups. Once the pictures taken I spend some time with organizing them to make sure I got the right ones for my site. I use a Panasonic GX7 camera with a 25mm 1.4 Leica lens. Recently, Greg bought a close up lens adapter that allows me to capture detail that would only be possible with a more expensive macro lens. It works wonderfully, especially to capture the details of my teacups.

We are offering a contest for the month of April ....we want to get more colors of Annie Sloan chalk paint....Pick out one of the colors below and tell us why that color reminds you of Spring. The best comment will get a free Jelly Jar candle in the new color.  Contest ends April 30th.

All of the Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan available colors

All of the Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan available colors

Next stop, fame!

We have been reading lot of articles about marketing and most of them point out one fact: Having professional photos are very important for branding your product and making it to stand out from the rest. Greg and I have been working very hard to take quality photos and we are very proud that Vera Wang liked the photo in Instagram.

 

Here is the photo below. Yeahhh!!!!

 

Living Easter with bright colors..

Celebrating Easter is relatively new concept in Albania. During the period of communism, we were prohibited to attend or even celebrate Easter or Christmas. All churches and mosques were destroyed during that period. So, with the fall of the communism we rebuilt them and people nowadays are free to celebrate whatever they feel.

Although my mother and father grew up in an atheist society, I do remember my grandmother  (Greek orthodox) would go to her room and I could catch her praying. At that time I never understood what that meant because we were totally prohibited to talk about God, Church or Mosques. All we could talk was about Communist Party as our first mother and our real mother was our second mother. So basically I had two mothers (I will need to talk about it another time because it deserves a blog itself). So the bottom line, talking about God and praying were foreign concepts for us and were not allowed to talk about.

I also remember that my mother and my grandmother during Easter would paint the eggs (also hidden). I do not know where they got the paint from but those eggs would come perfectly painted and the red color was so vivid. As a kid we had a tradition I loved. My brother and I would play a game, each of us would hold a red egg and we would tap the end of each other’s egg. The goal is to crack the opponent's egg without cracking yours. When one end is cracked, the winner uses the same end of her/his egg to try to crack the other end of the opponent's egg.

Part of our Friday project is to make these two beautiful eggs, to welcome Spring and Easter with lovely and sweet smelling floral fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine and also to remember my Family. But at the same time, I want to hear from you, how you celebrate Easter? Do you know any other person that celebrates different than you?

 

 
Eco-Friendly Candle in a Red Vintage Trinket

Eco-Friendly Candle in a Red Vintage Trinket

 
 
Eco-Friendly candles in a Red Vintage Trinket

Eco-Friendly candles in a Red Vintage Trinket

 
 
Handmade Candle in a Vintage Red Trinket

Handmade Candle in a Vintage Red Trinket

 
 
Handmade Candle in a Vintage Trinket Egg Shape

Handmade Candle in a Vintage Trinket Egg Shape

 
 
Handmade Candles in a Vintage Trinket Egg Shape

Handmade Candles in a Vintage Trinket Egg Shape

 
 
Handmade Candle in a Vintage Trinket

Handmade Candle in a Vintage Trinket

 

These vintage trinket eggs are from Japan. When I think of Japan I think of Geishas and Cherry blossom and then spring and then love….I can't believe that Spring is coming. I am so looking forward.