Show cover of Halloween Art and Travel

Halloween Art and Travel

This podcast connects artists and collectors of Halloween art. You will experience the stories and inspirations behind some of the best Halloween art being created today. You’ll hear from dedicated collectors who capture their dream pieces. You will add to your Halloween travel bucket list as we explore Halloween-centric destinations.


Austin Phillips: Voice, Motion, Magic
Austin Phillips, a skilled figure maker and expert in ventriloquist dummies, has turned his lifelong passion into a full-time career. His fascination with these mechanical dolls began at the age of five when he received a ventriloquist dummy from Santa. From that moment on, Austin was captivated by the artistry and entertainment value behind these unique creations. As he grew older, he honed his skills in figure making by experimenting with different materials and his dad’s power tools. Austin's dedication to his craft led him to seek out renowned figure makers, learning directly from them and gaining invaluable insights into the art form.   Today, Austin not only creates one-of-a-kind ventriloquist dummies, but also restores historical treasurers including puppets and figures from coin operated games. His attention to detail and commitment to authenticity make him highly sought out by both collectors and performers around the world.    Austin has performed as a ventriloquist since childhood and most recently headlined in a spooky Victorian show filled with tricks and illusions.  In addition to his figure collection, his studio in Maine is filled with his stunning collection of vintage Halloween decorations.  Mentions:  Haunted Overload, Lee, New Hampshire:  Musée Mécanique, San Francisco: Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky: Vent Haven Museum (world’s only ventriloquist museum), Fort Mitchell, Kentucky:  Visit Austin’s web site at: 
54:48 10/30/23
Tracy Mahaffey: Carving Stories in Stone
Meet Tracy Mahaffey, a talented stone carver and memorial artist who creates lasting stories in stone using only her hands and simple tools. Out of her studio comes gravestones, memorials, architectural work, and sculptures. Tracy majored in sculpture in university. At that time, she thought all memorial work was done by computers and sandblasting. When she found people making memorials by hand, she knew she had found her tribe.  The low-tech nature of the job appeals to Tracy. All of her work starts with a sketch on paper. Then the sketches become full scale drawings, which are transferred to the stone with carbon paper. All sculpting is done with a mallet and chisel – that's it. Stone carving has changed little since ancient times; tools are now made of stronger materials but the processes are the same. The beauty of a hand carved inscription is the human hand. You want to see the variations.   Tracy has created memorial art in a variety of styles ranging from Puritan to art deco to the look of today. Her favorite era is our era. She currently works in marble, limestone, granite, zinc, bronze, and clay.   Working with a family to create a memorial for their loved one is a privilege. She loves hearing family stories and condensing them into a story that can be told in stone. The process is truly a collaboration.   Tracy is optimistic about the future of memorial arts and is happy to share her knowledge by teaching. She’s impressed by the talent and passion of others in her field. Her hope is that people in the future look back and say that the 2000s were a wonderful time period for this art field.   The art available in cemeteries around the world rivals that of fine art museums. Tracy recommended the following cemeteries for their beauty and amazing monuments:   Bonaventure Cemetery in Savanah, GA: Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY: Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, Italy: Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Boston, MA: North Carolina Soapstone Tombstones: Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI:  The Atlas Obscura article I found Tracy in is here:  The book Tracy recommended is “Sticks & Stones” by M. Ruth Little  Visit Tracy’s website at: 
53:40 10/13/23
Sarah Band: Spooky Scientific Delights
North Carolina glass artist, Sarah Band, is inspired by science, anatomy, and creepy stuff. As a sculpture major at San Francisco State, her ambition to create a large kaleidoscope led her to her first encounter with glass. Sarah was hooked as soon as she saw someone blow out molten material. In a craft medium like glass, the blower needs a strong understanding of chemistry. Sarah explains the process of using different metal oxides to create various glass colors. She also highlights the intersection of science and art in her work, drawing inspiration from scientific discoveries and her upbringing in a family of physicists. Both science and art begin with observation and the desire to learn about the world. Sarah does two types of glass blowing: furnace and flameworking. The furnace glass is the traditional Venetian style with long metal pipes and a big hot furnace. Flameworking is the process of bending tubes of glass over a flame. The more skill a glassblower has, the thinner they can blow out the glass and the more colors they can use. Colors are challenging because they heat up at different rates. There are no breaks when creating a glass work of art; the artist is constantly reheating and turning the glass so it doesn’t explode. Visit Sarah’s web site at: Mentions: ·        Cat Viera (@catvierapottery), teacher at the North Carolina Pottery Center (Seagrove, NC): ·        Sawtooth School for Visual Arts (Winston-Salem, NC): ·        Starworks Gallery/Studio (Star, NC):
24:18 9/30/23
LeeAnn Kress: Eye Candy Art
LeeAnn Kress, is the color loving artist behind Charmed Confections. Her candy shop of sculpted art invokes Willy Wonka, childhood memories, and Halloween magic. She aspires to evoke happiness and nostalgia in her collectors.  Details unknown to collectors hold special significance to LeeAnn, like the number 13 representing her father's birthday. Art is not just about creating visually appealing pieces; it's about sharing a part of herself with the world. Every piece is infused with inspiration from her life or her family.   A switch from a telecommunications job to artistry wasn't a difficult decision. Her passion had blossomed after work hours, eventually becoming her dream job. In addition to Halloween, LeeAnn has also created fairy art. She’s honored that her work has been reproduced by Bethany Lowe.   LeeAnn is exhibiting at the All Hallows Art Fest in Petaluma, CA this year. In this episode she shares a preview of the wonders collectors will find in her booth.   “I want my art to give collectors back those memories of Halloween and trick-or-treating... I want them to feel the love and care that I put into the details and to really love it.” - LeeAnn Kress Please visit her website at:  Other mentions:  All Hallow’s Art Fest in Petaluma, CA: Autumn Brillance Magazine: Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland, CA: Holiday Pizzazz Shop: 
22:27 9/13/23
Stephanie Hodges: Proprietor of Pizzazz
Stephanie Hodge’s journey into running an online shopping experience, Holiday Pizzazz, began with the simple desire to help collectors find their dream pieces. She experienced the supply and demand dilemma in collecting and decided to help fill the gap. She is motivated by driving availability of products for collectors and showing artists that their skills and talents are appreciated. Holiday Pizzazz carries artist reproduction pieces for all the popular holidays in the US, including a full selection of Halloween.   In this episode, Stephanie shares the fascinating processes of how artists get their reproductions to market. She highlights key players including Bethany Lowe, ESC, and Magenta.   Stephanie has connected with many artists over her years of collecting. From Johanna Parker to David Everett, she’s found artists that put their hearts into their pieces. She deeply understands the importance of positive feedback and appreciation for the artists we collect and love. Show your support for artists by commenting on their posts and reaching out to manufacturers to express interest for the artists they collaborate with.   This episode includes tips for creating beautiful displays, current trends, and how to protect yourself from copycats in the industry.   Visit Holiday Pizzazz's website to explore their online shopping experience for holiday home décor:  Contact these vendors to encourage them to keep bringing us pieces from our favorite artists:  Bethany Lowe: ESC: Magenta: 
29:55 8/30/23
Joanna Barnum: Hauntingly Beautiful Watercolors
Joanna Barnum’s world is one where her brush creates the macabre, bringing to life Halloween iconography, emotions, and fantasy using hauntingly beautiful watercolors. Joanna was initially skeptical of watercolor, but fell in love with its chaotic and expressive qualities during art school. She was also influenced by Stephen Gammel’s illustrations in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”   Watercolor’s unpredictable nature has taught Joanna how to balance control and chaos. She likens watercolor to dancing – there's a plan, but she needs to leave room for the organic side of it. While some think that watercolors are only soft and pale, Joanna shows us how they can be vivid and bright.   Joanna loves to paint haunted houses. While some collectors see references to books and movies when they look at them, for her, it’s a reflection of her love for old decaying buildings. Her art often represents layers of history, sometimes including past injustices. As she travels, she takes pictures of old houses to serve as inspiration for future works.   Joanna lives in Harford County, MD, with her husband Mike and dog Zephyr. She encourages listeners to go all in on whatever brings them joy, and reminds artists that they don't need permission to create what they want. Make your weirdo heart happy.  Travel Recommendations from Joanna:  Haunted Overload (New Hampshire): Ledew Garden Glow (Maryland): Westminster Church (Edgar Allan Poe’s grave in Baltimore, Maryland):  Visit Joanna’s web site at:  You’ll see a wonderful gallery of her work and visit the Events section to see all her upcoming shows, including Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween and Dragon Con. 
35:00 8/13/23
Michael Robbins: Spooky Mini Magic
Shrink down and enter into the fantasy world of Michael Robbin’s Halloween themed miniatures. From humble beginnings collecting Polly Pockets, hear how a retiring artist’s gift becomes the catalyst for his artistic journey. Michael’s passion will inspire and delight you.   Michael envisions his miniatures living in a friendly, storybook-like world where pumpkins, witches, and other magical creatures reside in harmony. He discusses the importance of facial expressions and storytelling in his work. Michael laughs that he’ll put a face on anything.   In this episode you’ll learn tips for starting your own collection, how being on a design challenge TV show impacts his work, the difference between UK and US collectors, where he loves to spend spooky season, and so much more.   Michael encourages artists to be adventurous and step out of their comfort zones to create something unique and unexpected.  Check out Michael's work at: (clip from The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge, look for the double basin by Michael)  Find him at these shows: Good Sam Showcase of Miniatures (San Jose, CA, October): London Dollshouse Showcase (London, December): Miniatura (Birmingham, UK, Fall): Tom Bishop Show (April, Chicago):  Enjoy these shops while visiting York, UK: 
37:04 7/30/23
David Everett: Spooky Characters for All Seasons
Step into the magical world of David Everett, where spooky meets mischievousness. In a strange twist, a man who was scared of skeletons as a boy, now creates them with his sculpting tools. The unique name for his business, Chicken Lips, came from a family brainstorming session. David proclaims his spirit animal is a chicken and he loved the humorous angle of incorporating the expression, “as useful as lips on a chicken.” In his studio, you’ll find David creating Halloween and spooky twists on other holidays, such as a skeleton Santa.  His recent relocation to Arizona has inspired him to create cowboy skeletons and cactuses with menacing faces. The animated holiday specials by Rankin/Bass, such as Mad Monster Party, inspire him and give him a dose of nostalgia. Another favorite is Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which he used to visit twice a month when he lived in California.   Play-Doh is a deep tie to his childhood. It’s one of his favorite scents and he still keeps a can on his desk. He uses it to make quick sculpts to test out ideas. It helps him feel like a kid again.  Our guest shared his thoughts on the impact of AI on creatives. He is concerned about deep fakes and disinformation.  As a graphic designer, he sees how it is a creativity tool and he’s excited to see how it will help him and others with the design process.  Artists that embrace AI can thrive and create new, interesting works.   David’s advice to creatives is to create what you love – your audience will find you if you are truly passionate about what you are doing. He feels blessed to have such enthusiastic collectors.   David releases new artwork on the 13th of every month. The best way to stay in touch with him is to subscribe to his monthly email newsletter via his website.   Check out David’s work at:   His website:  His Instagram:  The Chicken Lips Group on Facebook (ran by collectors, not David): 
34:21 7/13/23
Paul Haigh: Fantasy Born of Clay and Fire
Enter the fantasy world of Paul Haigh, a chemist turned potter, who creates weird stuff for weird people. His work is a blend of his fascination with horror, mythology, science fiction, and games like Dungeons and Dragons.  Ultimately, Paul sees his work as an escape from the real world.   Paul is known for his face jugs, which are wheel-turned jugs with faces stuck on them. Traditionally, the faces are abstract or even cartoonish, but Paul enjoys making his look realistic.  Originally face jugs were made by enslaved people in the American South. There are many theories on the original purposes of face jugs, ranging from religious practices to grave markers. It is common for the expressions and features on face jugs to be scary.  The creepy faces may have been designed to scare off evil spirits or to keep children from consuming booze stored inside. This type of pottery fell out of favor in the 1920s but was later revitalized by potters to sell to tourists.   Sculpting realistic human faces is a challenge. Our brains are specialized in recognizing human faces and we can easily spot mistakes. It took years of practice for Paul to be satisfied with his work. There’s a lot of broken pottery from when he was still learning.   Paul enjoys interacting with collectors at art shows. He loves that a significant portion of his collectors are women over 60. With their wisdom and confidence, they no longer care what others think of them and they collect what they want.   Paul lives in central North Carolina, near Seagrove, the pottery capital of the United States. Highway 705, which runs through the region, is nicknamed the Pottery Highway.  Paul was a potter prior to moving to NC from New Hampshire. One of the highlights of creating pottery in NH was his wood firing kiln, made from 30,000 pounds of brick with a 15-foot chimney.   Mentions:  Carolina Pottery Festival (Shelby, NC in November):  Catawba Valley Pottery Festival (Hickory, NC in March): Holly Arts Festival (Pinehurst, NC in October):  League of NH Craftsmen Fair (Concord, NH in August):  Ryan “Humanburger” Jones:  RVA Krampus (Richmond, VA in December):  Star Works NC:  Check out Paul’s work at: 
37:14 6/30/23
Introducing Season 5 of Halloween Art and Travel
This is Kristen Stafford, your host of the Halloween Art and Travel Podcast. This is where you get the stories behind some of the best Halloween art being created today. I’m excited to share my 2023 season with you – the 5th season of this podcast.   This season, I’ll be releasing new episodes on the 13th and 30th of each month, from now through October. I’ll also drop additional episodes in-between those two dates, but always on dates that contain the number 3. Subscribe and follow in your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss a single one.  I’ll continue to bring you artists that create in a variety of styles and new mediums. My first two guests are Paul Haigh who creates weird stuff for weird people and David Everett of Chicken Lips. Later in the season, I’ll treat your ears to a miniature artist and a glass blower. I’ll also share with you tips on finding spooky furniture to add to your collections.   After needing to put it off last season, I’m finally launching my first ever monthly companion newsletter at the end of June. Visit and put your email address in the subscribe box so you don’t miss a single edition.   Now, go forth and start getting ready for Halloween. Now that we’ve passed Halfoween, it’s just around the corner. I’ll see you back on June 30, to introduce you to artist Paul Haigh.  
01:45 6/14/23
Danielle James: Neon – The Brightest Art
Artist Danielle James (DJ for short), is conjuring up neon lights in her Durham, NC shop. Under the name Hex Neon, she creates custom work, restorations, and teaches classes. Her shop name and logo were inspired by the hex signs on Pennsylvania Dutch barns in Lancaster, PA.   DJ studied metalsmithing and jewelry making in art school. As a student, she got the desire to make small wearable neon pieces. This desire took her to a neon company in Atlanta, where she discovered neon is a VIP pass to really cool historic places. She also loves that she can make a big impact in the neon industry since it is so small and it needs more skilled artists. Besides the lack of skilled artists, another contemporary challenge is clients not understanding the difference between LED and neon signs. DJ gives us a good primer so you’ll know the difference.  Neon workers are called benders, because they bend premade glass tubes. DJ likens it to manipulating spaghetti. Benders skillfully curve the glass, avoiding shrinking the diameter of the tube. Sign colors come from the combination of the gasses pumped inside and glass tinting.   Neon work is exciting and dangerous. DJ uses two different types of torches: a crossfire and a ribbon burner. While neon and argon aren’t poisonous, some signs do contain the poison mercury. Benders must be knowledgeable of safely protocols for working with electricity to avoid serious injury and death.  She gave an overview on the glowing history of neon, from the pioneering French inventor, Georges Claude, to the golden age in the 1950s, to its downfall in the 1980s and 1990s, and the niche renaissance of today. Historically neon has been a secretive art, since some benders only trained family so they weren’t risking training future competitors.   DJ lives a Halloween lifestyle. She makes at least one Halloween piece of work a year. She worked for many years at a haunted attraction doing set design, make-up, and acting. Her favorite haunt job was being a crowd walker, entertaining patrons as a creepy clown. She collects retro horror posters and loves watching horror movies.   DJ closed out the interview by sharing a touching sign restoration she worked on for The Echo Project. This non-profit is transforming a building with a deeply racist past into a civil rights museum.   Mentions:  Alleson Buchanan, bender:  Eric Franklin, “The Body Electric” art:  Frightland Delaware:  Hex Signs of Lancaster Country, PA:  Leticia Maldonado (Tiza), bender:  The Echo Project, Rehab Hate:    To learn more about Danielle and her work, visit: 
60:04 10/31/22
Alycia Matthews: Painting it Orange
Alycia Matthews creates joyful papier mache Halloween sculptures. Her process starts with a terra cotta base which gives her characters a distinctive warm vintage glow. She proudly declares orange her favorite color. She loves to wear orange clothes and Halloween socks all year.  Alycia turns to old black and white movies for artistic inspiration. She can lose herself in studying all the wonderful props. She’ll watch with a sketch pad in hand to capture interesting facial expressions. One of her favorite things to sculpt is the moon. George Melies’ “Trip to the Moon” movie has inspired several of her pieces.   She is a member of the Eclectic Halloween Artist Guild (EHAG) and uses her graphic design skills as part of the promotions team. This juried group of artists has an art sale on the last day of the month, January – November on their blog. Each month there is a new theme. Her favorite was “Creepy Carnival.”   Alycia is recharged by nature. When she’s not creating in her studio, she loves to watch the birds at her feeders, ride her bike, and walk on the beach with her dog, Tucker. She is infatuated with all four seasons and even enjoys shoveling snow.     As a believer in magic, Alycia believes anything is possible. She ended the interview by encouraging us to share kindness and smiles.   Mentions:  Autumn Brilliance Magazine:  George Melies’ Trip to the Moon:  Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum:  The EHAG Emporium:  Please visit Alycia at:  
26:40 10/28/22
Jeff Osgood: Painting it Black
Jeff Osgood’s bold line of pottery features historic gravestone art that thrills collectors of Halloween, cemetery, and macabre art. His distinctive work is black and white, and filled with gravestones, skulls, crypts, willow trees, and epitaphs. His business name, Clay of the Dead, is a pun of the George A. Romano zombie movies.   How did an Ohioan fall in love with New England gravestones? During middle school, Jeff took a field trip to Boston which included historic cemetery tours. Jeff instantly fell in love the history, craftmanship, and messages of old gravestones. Today you’ll find him taking his students and own kids on cemetery tours.  Jeff worked as a groundskeeper and gravedigger at Wooster Cemetery in Ohio. In college, he majored in film making and created a documentary on a trip he did with his now wife and mother-in-law to collect New England gravestone images. He still uses those images as reference materials and inspiration today.  Collectors flock to his work for a variety of reasons. Some are interested in cemeteries, art, and history. Others cherish his pottery as mementos of deceased love ones. New Englanders have told him it reminds them of home.  His work serves as a memento mori – reminding us to live a rich life. In this way, he finds his work as inspirational, not dark. Creating helps him process the loss of his father. Carving clay is mediative and brings him a feeling of serenity and peace.   Jeff actively seeks out opportunities to collaborate with other artists. He craves how it pushes his craft, and enables things to come into the world that wouldn’t have come out in his solo work. Through collaborations, he’s expanded his work to wheel thrown mugs, urns, figures, jewelry, and linocuts for book covers.  His favorite cemetery symbol is the skull because it commands attention. Jeff ended the interview with his favorite epitaph: “Memento mori. Redeem thy hours. My glass has run and so must yours.” Jeff encourages us to cherish our moments and to be intentional every day.   Mentions:  Author Stephen Graham Jones:  Ceramic Artist Curt Hammerly:  Potter Mark Rossier:  Jeweler Star Strung:   Podcasts: Spooked, Strange and Unusual, and Pleasing Terrors   You can find Jeff at and 
64:50 10/20/22
Alyssa Thorne: Still Life Storyteller
Interweaving her skills in photography, sculpture, writing, design, and history, Alyssa Thorne is creating still life compositions that will transport you to other worlds. Her photographs are heavy with symbolism, rich colors, duality, and flowers.   Historical still lives have a language of symbolism that is easily decoded with a bit of knowledge. Alyssa is passionate about teaching this language and shares a little “Still Life Appreciation 101” in this episode. Still lives can document anything from trade routes to warnings that earthly pleasures will fade away.  Alyssa’s work is heavy in symbolism. She uses butterflies and moths to symbolize transformation. The skull is an obvious symbol of death. She doesn’t see it as creepy; it’s an educational tool. A burning candle stands for life and one that has been snuffed out represents death.   Her writing cannot be separated from her photos. Each has an artist statement that explains the story and symbolism of the piece. However, Alyssa welcomes all viewers to apply their own stories to her work.  Every piece of her work is a portal to another world. Sometimes the work will have an actual window or doorway in it, and other times the photo itself is the portal.   Death is a recurring theme in her work. She uses art as a tool for processing grief. She is honored to be part of the death positive movement. She finds the more she expresses death in art, the less she fears it. While she’s still goth, she doesn’t dress that way anymore. She found the more she put grief into her work, the more she wanted to wear pink and fairytale type clothes.   Alyssa gave us a peek into her process. Once an idea pops into her head, she’ll research and plan the story. Next, she gathers props from her extensive collection. If she needs new props, she contacts one of her antique friends. Once everything is together, she shoots the work, using only natural lighting. Editing takes 3-12 hours and consists of using a digital paint brush to bring out the desired colors.   Alyssa encourages ALL of us to try the art of still life. You don’t need to be skilled or a professional to use it to document an event or tell a story. She suggests starting out by watching some natural lighting tutorials on YouTube. Grab some posterboards and most important of all, HAVE FUN.   Mentions:  Antique Dealer Roses and Rue:  Artist Elisa Vita:  Author Lyndall Clipstone:  Author Sarah Elizabeth:  Dark décor of Star Strung Manor:  Paper butterflies and moths:  Visit her at her web site: 
52:06 9/30/22
Stephanie Sherratt: Producing Halloween Magic
For over a quarter century, Halloween art fans have flocked to Petaluma, CA to collect exquisite pieces from their favorite artists. The original show, Halloween and Vine, has evolved into All Hallow’s Art Fest. In this episode, you’ll meet the show producer, Stephanie Sherratt.   Stephanie is driven by nostalgia.  She loves helping adults relive the excitement of their trick-or-treating days. Stephanie has witnessed the importance of marketing on social media go from being a novelty to a necessity. Even with the rise of social media, in-person shows will always have a place. She said, “when you become a true lover of Halloween art, it is important to see the pieces in person.”   The Petaluma community has embraced Halloween. Not only is it the host city for the show, it is briming with pumpkin patches, apple picking, wine, and residents who go all out with their decorations. The town is seemingly frozen in time with antiques galore.   Stephanie’s whole family is involved with the show. Her husband puts up with the house being swamped with swag bags and glitter. Her sisters and friends help with logistics. Her teen daughters know all the artists and enjoy selling tickets and drinks.  In addition to producing the show, Stephanie also does marketing, staging, antique dealing, and she owns a vintage holiday favor and décor business called Paper Fabric Glitter. She loves having a mixture of creative jobs, especially after having spent 25 years in corporate.   Stephanie encourages us all to continue the magic of Halloween art by supporting artists.   Visit Stephanie’s web site at:  Mentioned in the show:  Artist Nily Nicef:  Artist Sharon Bloom:  Round Top (TX) Antiques Show: ( 
23:11 9/22/22
Sheila Bentley: Hags and All Things Halloween
Sheila Bentley is creating one-of-a-kind hags, witches, zombies...everything creepy and Halloween. While Sheila will create young hags, her heart really is for more experienced ones.  Her motto is the more wrinkles the better.  She doesn’t plan or sketch; she works intuitively and never knows who is going to emerge from the clay.   The weirdest character she ever made was a rat witch with a human face. One of her favorite things is creating the small companions for her larger pieces. Sheila is known for the detail and styling of the clothes on her dolls. She makes her own patterns and sometimes paints on the clothes because it is tricky finding fabric with patterns in the right scale.   She started her career in the early 1990s doing craft shows. She created whatever was trendy, then moved on to Santas, and finally found her place in Halloween. Sheila loves that there are no rules with Halloween; you can be as sweet or as dark as you want.   Her home studio is a “hoarder’s delight” with “hag parts everywhere.” Sheila lives on a farm with her husband, who grows pumpkins for wholesale. Farming and art are a family affair and Sheila’s sisters have assisted her with booth duties at Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween.  Sheila is passionate for dog rescue. She has four dogs of her own and always has a foster dog or litter unless it is high Halloween creation season.   She recommended the collage work of Janice Lowry and wickedly whimsical works of Lurena Williamson.   You can find her work at: 
37:03 9/13/22
Jeanette Leary: Art Treats for Grownups
Jeannette Leary thinks of her art dolls as “little art treats for grownups who don’t ever want to grow up.” When she started Sugar Bright Studio she pictured a colorful candy store, but instead of candy, one filled with bowls of pocket-sized art dolls.   After growing up in Ohio, Jeannette and her twin sister moved to Florida and commenced working at Disney. Her role as a backstage tour guide helped her grow her confidence and swept her into the Disney magic. Another favorite job was painting eyes and lips at a mannequin refurbishing shop.  She has always been interested in art and has tried just about every medium out there. The book “Dollmaking” by E.J. Taylor introduced her to the world of art dolls. Now she is “held hostage by my dollmaking because I love it so much.” She enjoys working in spun cotton and paper clay. Interior design works its way into her work – a color scheme from a beautiful room can become the color palette for a doll.  Travel obsessed Jeanette is always planning her next trip. One of her favorite adventures was in Vietnam, where they had a firsthand encounter with leeches. She once stayed at a haunted hotel in Virginia City, Neveda, only to come up against arguing humans – no ghosts. She used to make fairy dolls out of vintage travel postcards.   Jeannette encourages all of us to make our homes “magical places to be” during Halloween season.   Mentions   Arbutus Hunter-Spun Cotton Ornament Co   Maria Paula – Spun Cotton Girl    Sarah of Curious Pip  Stephanie of Leather and Jade   Book: Dollmaking by E.J. Taylor  Travel: Markoff’s Haunted House in Maryland and Silver Queen Hotel in Nevada  Visit Jeannett’s Instagram at: 
47:46 8/31/22
Dorann Nelson: Always Gravitating to Halloween
Dorann Nelson is a lifelong creative who found her artistic groove fashioning Halloween figures in the Appalachian Mountains. Her art took a backburner while she raised her family and worked as an interior designer/architect for the Department of Defense. Dorann worked on everything from designing a general’s office to expanding an aircraft hangar. She only had time to do art in the wee hours of the night, hence the name of her business, Moonlight Artistry.  After years of career relocations, Dorann and her husband settled in the Asheville area of North Carolina. Dorann designed and built her dream studio and got to work creating mixed media. She started out in Christmas, but found Halloween is her true calling. She describes her version of Halloween as quirky, mysterious, and whimsical.   She cofounded a figurative artist group, GoFigure Guild, which has become her creative tribe. GoFigure pushes each member to continuously grow their skills. Their desire to educate and delight is evident in their exhibits at the library and show-and-tell sessions with kids.   Dorann is enamored with using unique materials such as: old wigs from Goodwill, rotten picket fences, and paper towels. She sees faces in trees and scepters in roots. Her daughters tease her that’s she’s a Druid.   Dorann was one of the producers of the Spirits of Autumn art show. The show was paused because of the pandemic, but Dorann hopes it can return someday. While it’s difficult to produce a show and make work for it, Dorann admits she works best under stress. Dorann ended the interview by encouraging ALL of us to not be afraid to succeed.   Please visit Dorann’s web site:  Some of the things Dorann mentioned during the interview:   Art Doll Special Edition Magazine Fall 2021  Arthur Rackham artist  Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick Plant  Mood Fabrics  Sabrina Gruss art  Southern Highland Craft Guild 
54:10 8/13/22
Joey Marsocci: Curioporium Creative Director
Artist Joey Marsocci is a story teller who uses the mediums of theme park and haunt design, creature fabrication, illustration, writing, acting, cosplay, and more to tell his stories. He’s passionate about building immersive experiences for those who enjoy his strange worlds. He is the Creative Director and Co-Creator at the Curioporium, New England’s Premier Haunted Shopping Experience in Hartford, CT.   The Curioporium is an immersive, 5 senses experience (some say 6) brought to fruition by Joey and owner/co-creator Nathan Nunez. Guests leave the normal world behind and become part of the story. The experience blends the stories of Nathan’s Havisham Society (a family of collectors of the strange and unusual) and Joey’s Dr. Grymm steampunk character. Guests can shop oddities and spooky goods and participate in everchanging theatrical experiences. In this episode, Joey gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into running this experience and how light and sound drives the tone and timing of the shows.   As history buffs, it’s Joey and Nathan’s mission to entertain as well as educate. When you pull in from history and other cultures, it’s important to be respectful and accurate. Throughout the Curioporium are QR codes guests can use to look up stories behind the objects – or ask any staff member.  To make darkness more palatable, the Curio team mixes in humor. Their Grim Reaper is from New Jersey and part of a union. He’s merely a hard worker with a job to do, and at the Curioporium he adds in a little song and dance. In all his years of haunting, Joey hasn’t lost a guest.   Joey was originally on the October 31, 2020 release of this podcast. Check out that episode to learn more about his steampunk, theme park, and other haunt work.    You can find the Curioporium at  Check out Joey and his work at  
72:55 6/14/22
Mushroom Muse
The Amanita Muscaria is the most famous mushroom in the world. Even if you don’t pay much attention to fungus, you’ve seen them in fairy paintings, Alice in Wonderland, Super Mario Brothers, and as the mushroom emoji. Also known as “fly agaric”, they are found all over the Northern Hemisphere, August through November.   The most recognizable part of the mushroom is its stunning bright red cap with white spots. They also have little cute white skirts on their stems and a bulb at their base. While Amanita Muscaria is commonly thought to be poisonous, they are not fatal. They cause intoxication when consumed. Other members of the Amanita family can cause liver failure and death.   Amanita Muscaria appears all over in folklore. Many believe they are the source of the legends behind Santa Claus and flying reindeer. They are also associated to magic and fairytales, especially when they grow in fairy rings.  The North American Mycological Association maintains a mushrooms in art registry. The registry is full of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms. With the influences of the Cottagecore aesthetic and Harry Potter running strong, it’s not surprising that many contemporary Halloween artists are incorporating them into their work. I’m enjoying collecting pieces by @CalamityKim (Kimberly Sherrod), Folk Art by Penny Grotz, Dustin Yoder (bydustin on Etsy), just to name a few.  
21:53 5/30/22
Introducing Season 4 of Halloween Art and Travel
This is Kristen Stafford, your host of the Halloween Art and Travel Podcast. This is where you get the stories behind the best Halloween art being created today. I couldn’t think of a better day than Friday the 13th to drop this preview of Season 4 into your ears.   Did you notice my new logo? It’s evolved from its original US passport inspired design to one that harkens back to luggage stickers from travel’s golden age. Speaking of travel, with events coming back, I’m excited to add more travel into the show.  This season, I’ll be releasing new episodes on the 13th and 30th of each month, from now to October. I’ll also drop bonus episodes in-between those two dates. Subscribe and follow in your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss a single one.  This season I’m bringing you new artists, that are creating work that ranges from bright and cute to dark and creepy. I’ll have a former guest return to catch us up on his immersive experience project. There’ll be new mediums, like neon! We’ll also examine some of the folklore behind popular visuals in Halloween art, like poisonous mushrooms.   At the end of June, I’ll launch my first ever monthly companion newsletter. Visit and put your email address in the subscribe box so you don’t miss a single edition.   Now, go forth and start getting ready for Halloween. Now that we’ve passed Halfoween, it’s just around the corner.  
01:50 5/13/22
Isaias Hiram Urrabazo: Celebrating Life
Isaias Urrabazo uses his diverse skill set to create stunning visual art that celebrates life. Isaias is an accomplished artist, singer, actor, speaker, and costume designer.   Isaias is well-known for his elaborate ofrendas that he exhibits in Las Vegas for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead (DotD)). DotD is a bright celebration, in which we wait for our deceased loved ones to return to earth. His ofrendas are jam-packed with marigold flowers, a symbol of the Aztec sun god. The smell of the flowers helps guide our deceased loved ones back to us. Butterflies represent rebirth and transition. He also incorporates items that belonged to the people he is honoring.   His family helps him build the ofrendas, with a great level of trust as there are no written or drawn plans. Isaias plans it all out in his mind. DotD is two days. November 1 is for children who have passed and November 2 is for adults.   He is also known for his altar dolls, which he’s made available at shows like Hallowbaloo and All Hallow’s Art Fest. When he first started making the dolls, his sweet mother said, “that is so ugly, but what do I know?” She came around to loving the dolls, and even took on the task of lovingly making their necklaces. It was a joy for her to join in the creative process.   Looking at all the bright colors in his work, it’s no surprise that Isaias loves the whimsical side of Halloween. He enjoys decorating and creating Halloween art based on vintage German Halloween. As a child, Isaias was afraid of stories about La Llorona (the Weeping Woman). She is a ghost who murdered her children and is now woefully looking to replace them. This spooky story has worked its way into his art.   Isaias is an expert in costumes. He collects theater costume renderings and has worked on several Las Vegas shows doing costuming and wardrobe. Currently he is working with “Magic Mike Live.” Visual art is a key factor in audience engagement.   His web site is:  You can find the online Halloween art magazine at They are on Facebook as:  
46:30 10/31/21
Jorene Lomenzo: Whim-spook-ical
You can be sure Jorene Lomenzo’s heart is racing in excitement whenever she’s clicking refresh in anticipation of a shop update or standing in line to get into an art show. Jorene is a Halloween art collector and blogger. “There’s so little in life that brings me this much joy,” sums up how she feels about collecting.   Jorene’s superstitious grandmother sparked her obsession for all things spooky. Her grandmother believed her colicky uncle was cursed by a witch. If you’ve ever known a colicky baby, that’s a great description of how it feels to care for an infant suffering with it.   Jorene is energized by the community of Halloween artists, collectors, and bloggers. She is a member of the Samhain Society – a group of Halloween content creators. Her blog features artists creating original Halloween art and is filled with pictures of art that Jorene loves.   She calls her style “whimspookical” - a combination of whimsical and spooky. Jorene only buys works that she absolutely loves. Her collection stays up all year in a “museum room.” She loves to watch the reaction of people when they see her art collection for the first time.   Jorene’s town of Windsor, CT has a few interesting facts for spooky lovers. It was the site of the first person executed for witchcraft in the colonies (Alse Young in 1647) and is home to the Archer-Gilligan House, the real “Arsenic and Old Lace” house.  Visit her blog at: 
48:50 10/29/21
Paskalini Savopoulos: Broomsquire
Picture a broom in your mind. Did it have glitter and dried flowers on it? Have you ever even dreamed those were possibilities? Creative Paskalini Savopoulos (Lena for short), is obsessed with crafting decorative and functional brooms by hand.   She recalls falling in love with a broom at a Renaissance Festival. She didn’t buy it at first – but she found as she was walking around she couldn’t get it out of her mind. When she returned to purchase it, she was disappointed to discover it had been sold. This inspired her to enroll in a broom making course.   Lena covered the basic types of brooms she creates:  Hand whisk: small brooms without sticks; they come in a variety of shapes inspired by bird wings and tails  Cobwebber: long slender brooms with lightweight sticks used to get into high corners   Hearth broom: small brooms used to sweep out fireplaces  Sweeper: long handled flat brooms for sweeping  Besom: a gathering of broomcorn wrapped around a stick (associated with witches)  Lena loves to transform forged sticks into her broom handles. Her supply pile looks like a beaver dam. Traditional brooms are made out of wood and broomcorn. She loves to incorporate unexpected materials like glitter, crystals, dried flowers, and ribbon. Lena is inspired by the cycles of nature, colors, and animals.  Broom care is simple. Either hang your broom or store it upside down to prevent the bristles from warping. Store brooms in a cool, dry space.  She also shared a sample of fun broom folklore:  Sweeping over someone’s feet will keep them from getting married  Flipping a broom upside down lets guests know it’s time to leave  Sweeping on a Monday is bad luck   ...and more   Her web site is: 
42:20 9/22/21
Jennie Hepler-Takens: Sculptor of Stories
Have you ever realized that an art collection can have the same function as a library? All of the creations by doll artist Jennie Hepler-Takens are stories and her body of work is her book. Every doll Jennie creates tells a story.  Sometimes she even continues to work on a character’s story long after he or she is settled into their new home.    In this episode, we learn the stories behind some of Jennie’s past and current works. There’s a bearded lady, who gives us a glimpse into the life of a side-show performer. A blue little boy expands upon the story of Jack Frost. A witch peddles tears in vials for all who desire them. A wolf doll inspires us to think of Little Red Riding Hood in new ways – was the wolf really the bad one?    When Jennie appeared on this podcast 3 years ago, she was creating as Prim Pumpkin. She has since transformed into My Dearest Witch. Her new name is a nod to her husband’s term of endearment for her and doesn’t lock her into any particular style.   Jennie pours her heart into her work and her hope is it fills up the hearts of her collectors. My Dearest Witch connects with everyone differently. Every piece is deeper than face value.   She is inspired by David Bowie, Victorian mourning, antiques, textiles, oddities, baskets, fairytales, and hairy creatures. She is sentimental and loves to preserve old things – for example, she lovingly cares for a collection of fire-damaged antique dolls.  Jennie is a community builder. In addition to producing Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween, she loves to lift other artists up and inspire people to get into Halloween art collecting. Her husband Joe taught her to never be embarrassed by where she began – you cannot have progression if you forget where you started.   Jennie recommended Slater Basketry - and the book “The Graves Family” by Patricia Polacco. The castle they visited on Halloween was:   Her web site is:  
62:34 8/31/21
Lurena Williamson: Passion for Textiles and Textures
Lurena Williamson of Tattered Moon, is obsessed with resurrecting antiques by transforming them into one-of-a-kind Halloween dolls. She’s an outsider artist with an edge of creepy. All of her designs are one-of-a-kind and created without patterns. Even her sewing machine, which “drives like a Porsche,” is vintage.   Lurena commenced her career by working at a fabric store. She’s had a variety of jobs, even working for a technology company. Through it all, her soul has always driven her to create dolls. While working in corporate jobs, she would stay up late into the night fabricating her dolls. This was the inspiration for the word “moon” in her business name.   Lurena’s interest in odd dolls goes back to childhood. She wasn’t interested in the dolls typically marketed to girls; she enjoyed playing with GI Joes. She made dolls out of pantyhose and fiber from the bottom of the family couch. One of her earliest exhibits was a witch she made at craft store – she displayed it in the family dining room window complete a cauldron.   She works intuitively – Lurena lets the fabrics and objects tell her who they need to become. Her studio is filled with antiques and floor-to-ceiling stacks of fabrics. Lurena feels the energy of antiques. She is not tied to any particular era – a doll can have lace from the Victorian era, tattered Edwardian trim, buttons from the 1920s, and upholstery fabric from the 1950s, and more.   Attending Ghoultide Gathering helped Lurena discover her tribe. She discovered Halloween art collectors are more excited about dolls than galleries were. The Halloween art community is constant inspiration and keeps her growing.  To discover more about Lurena, visit her at  
54:02 8/13/21
Dennis Haynes: Halloween Renaissance Creative
A “Renaissance person” has many skills and areas of knowledge. This is an accurate description of Dennis Hayes – he collects vintage Halloween, creates whimsical art, and produces art shows.   His business name, Runamuck Studio, is a nod to his love of variety. Today you can find him sculpting with paper clay, building feather trees, and carving scrimshaw. His creative style is bright with strong influences of vintage Halloween.  His vintage collection includes over 250 paper party hats, some over 100 years old. He is drawn to pre-1960s Halloween, the more dedicate the better. It amazes him that these precious items have survived and he’s honored to be their caretaker. He also collects Day of the Dead – his first piece was a lady with a questionable occupation.   While living in California, he was a producer of All Hallows Art Fest and Halloween and Vine. When he moved to the Seattle area, there wasn’t a local Halloween art show so he created Hallowbaloo. In this interview, he gives us a sneak peek of the format of this year’s show and his predictions for the future of Halloween shows.   A Halloween evangelist, he builds support for more Halloween shows, collectors, and artists. Dennis is passionate about discovering new talent, watching collectors enjoy themselves, and the magical moment of artists and collectors connecting. He said with humor, “unless you are dead inside, you’ll want to collect Halloween.” Halloween has no rules – do what you like!   Web Links:  Dennis’ artwork:  Hallowbaloo (The Art of Halloween):  Crypticon Seattle: 
41:36 7/30/21
JR Pepper: Professional Eccentric
Professional eccentric, JR Pepper, combines her love of art and bizarre history into her entertaining lectures and spooky photography. She majored in art history with a focus on female surrealists.  Today she is a Fellow and Curator, for the New York City Odd Salon, a non-profit that hosts curated talks on topics dealing with history, art, and science from 1950 or earlier.  Pepper helps us understand that monsters are visual representations of our fears. Film serves as a medium to express those fears. Film appreciation has been part of Pepper’s life since childhood. She grew up watching 1980s horror films and obsessed over Disney’s Sleepy Hollow and Beetlejuice.   Pepper shares the story of William H. Mumler, a Victorian photographer who claimed to be able to photograph ghosts. She highly recommends the book “The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult” (catalog from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) to anyone interested in spirit photography. Pepper enjoys doing her own spirit and cemetery photography and has used both historical and modern technologies. Those interested in weird historical photography should check out the Burns Archive.  Pepper recommends the following places and musical group for Halloween lovers traveling to the New York City area:  Jekyll and Hyde Club Restaurant and Bar (  Beetle House NYC Restaurant (  Brooklyn’s Green-wood Cemetery (  The World/Inferno Friendship Society (Music group,  The Merchant House Museum (Ghost tours and Victorian funerals,   The Odd Salon (   To learn more, visit her web site: 
67:55 7/14/21
Gravestone Girls: Cemetery Art and History Devotees
“Keeping our dead alive” is the passion of the devoted Gravestone Girls (GG). In this episode, we meet Brenda Sullivan, the founder of this New England-based crew.  Brenda, Maggie, and Melissa make history relevant through cemetery lectures and tours, genealogy work, and castings of beautiful gravestones.   It’s no surprise that Brenda grew up in a family skilled in antiques, restoration, art, and history. Young Brenda learned how to do gravestone rubbings and to respect cemeteries as repositories of history. An interest in 3D work sparkled her to move from rubbings to castings. Her business of creating castings grew over time as more and more people requested them. Brenda loves to joke that “nothing says Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas like a gravestone.” All of their castings come with an informative history card.  The best thing about being a GG is finding new images to cast.  The GG get permission from the cemetery before making non-invasive castings. The Girls can be found jumping around like “ninnies” when they make a new rare find.   This team specializes in Colonial gravestones. Gravestones from this era are made from sandstone or slate in a shape that resembles a headboard. They are decorated with images of death and morality, with symbols such as winged hourglasses, imps, coffins, and skulls. These symbols remind us to take care of our immortal souls. As long as these stones stand, they continue to communicate about the persons that rest under them.   Brenda’s cemetery love is seen in all aspects of her life. She once owned a hearse and rented out rides. She collects cemetery and funeral antiques. Her tattoos are gravestone symbols.    Brenda has never regretted visiting a cemetery. There’s something to enjoy at all of them. There are as many cemeteries to be explored as there are grains of sand.   You can find Brenda and team at  
50:13 7/1/21
Becky Kilimnik: Spooky by Design
Becky Kilimnik fell in love with spooky storytelling during her childhood in the mountains of Tennesse. Today, she expresses this passion in her art, design, and podcasting. Listen today to hear her behind-the-scenes experiences of owning an art gallery, upbeat and humorous afterlife art collecting tips, and what it takes to scare someone who tells scary stories for a living.  Becky owns a graphic design studio in Atlanta, GA. A few years back, Becky, along with family members, owned and operated 2 Rules Fine Art in Marietta, GA. Becky designed the gallery to be welcoming for everyone. In this interview, Becky shares how they selected the artists for their gallery, why some galleries don’t display prices, and how they dealt with the gallery’s ghost. Becky’s advice is to purchase art because it grabs you, not because it matches your décor. She also recommends that fans of Halloween check out surrealist art for inspiration.   Becky grew up in Eastern Tennesse, where storytelling is part of the culture. Tennesse is full of spooky stories of hell hounds, Big Foot, and tales of jilted lovers. Becky believes the blend of cultures, isolation, and being in tune with nature have melted together to create an environment for the best stories.   Becky recommended these artists, galleries, and festivals: (Gallery in Northport, NY)  (Gallery in London and Rome) (Artist Jesus Aguado) (Artist Nicolas Bruno) (Artist Iza October) (Halloween storytelling event in Kingsport, TN) (International Storytelling Festival in TN)  Becky and Diana Doty cohost the personal ghost stories podcast, Homespun Haints. Listen to episode 20 to hear tales of her haunted art gallery. Becky creates original art for each podcast episode. You can find her podcast at 
51:59 6/13/21

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