My favorite holiday of all is Halloween. (Followed by Christmas and Independence Day) I love the Autumn Season, my birthday is in there, and the leaves are beautiful in the Adirondacks. I like the fact that the daylight gets less and there's more darkness to the world. More time to light my candles and enjoy the flickering light. It's an excuse to read Edgar Allan Poe and watch my favorite movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, VanHelsing, and any Godzilla flick.
More than any other, though, it's that time of year when I break out Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree for a wonderful read. I first read it only two years ago when I found a copy of it in a book sale. It was a hardcover book with wonderful black and white line drawings. I had heard of it, never read it. But it was only a buck and I figured I would alter it...you know, rip out some pages here and there, draw, paint, stamp, and ink over the rest to design a Halloween inspired artwork. But as with many of the books I buy with plans to alter, I sometimes end up reading a bit of them. Most times, they never draw me in and I find it easier to rip out pages. But this time was different. This time, the words dripped off the page and the poem of the Tree made my heart flutter.
"The stars they turn, the candles burn
and the mouse-leaves scurry on the cold wind bourne,
and a mob of smiles shine down on thee
from the gourds hung high on the Halloween Tree."
It was a delightful tale that summoned all the spirit of Halloween, all it's mystery and indefinable something. It smelled of caramel apples and candy corn. It tasted like sugary cupcakes that Mom always baked with the little Halloween picks in them; chocolate with chocolate buttercream. It was everything of youth. Like The Night Before Christmas evokes that vision of Christmas Eve, so this tale made Halloween Night come alive. And the guide through the tale, the teacher of things and keeper of souls was Moundshroud; Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud. A wizard, a reaper, an angel of death. He keeps the history of Halloween wrapped up in his old house and the souls of the dead light his tree.
There was no way I was going to rip up this book!
I'm completely enamoured with the tale. It's visions are vast and unique. I discovered after reading it that the copy I had purchased was a First Edition from 1972. The illustrations within it were done by Joseph Mugnaini in pen and ink. So wonderfully detailed...so amazing to look at. I simply had to have an image to use. Jackbear Stamps came through for me and carved me a portion of one of the illustrations in the book; the one of Moundshroud. I love it.
Stamped in Jet Black Stazon onto glossy white cardstock, I tried various ways of adding color. I finally settled on a combination of Distress Markers (Dusty Concord and Spiced Marmalade), and Derwent Inktense Pencils (Apple Green and Sun Yellow). I then added a touch of glitter pen (Sakura) to his eyes and to highlight the stripes of the swirling star behind him. Moundshroud remains in black and white. It's ATC sized but the actual stamp is a touch larger. This image is a portion of the entire image that appears in the book.
I hand carved this second image. It is the face that appears on Chapter One. Each chapter in the book has a mask and I liked the graphic aspect of this one.
What will I do with it? That image of Moundshroud? I will treasure it.
"A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders."