Tag: Spooky Stuff

My Memento Mori Painting Sold at the Oddporium

I paid my first visit to that “Gallery of the Peculiar and the Bizarre,” the Oddporium, on Marsh Road in Arden. Wow! I happened to have my kids with me and we spent quite a while exploring the weird and wonderful finds that owners Ken Schuler and Beth Ann Busch have collected and displayed. Some of the unique oddities include:

vintage embalming fluid bottles • a one-eyed pig in a jar • mourning pins • cabinet cards • medical tools • creepy photographs • old dolls • a real human skeleton • an embalmed cobra • old skulls, bones, and teeth • insects mounted in shadowboxes

The Oddporium not only carries objects suitable for a cabinet of curiosities, but also sells original artwork from local artists. I quickly discovered my new favorite artist, Gus Fink. I took photos of my two favorite pieces, as seen below.

Gus Fink artwork at the Oddporium

Gus Fink artwork at the Oddporium

Gus Fink artwork at the Oddporium

Gus Fink artwork at the Oddporium


While there, I asked Ken if he thought my painting, Memento Mori #1, would be suitable for consignment at his shop. He said yes so we started the paperwork.

Memento Mori #1, detail

Memento Mori #1, detail

Just as we were finishing up, an interesting fellow came in and bought the painting! I was so shocked. But I was also really happy that someone else in the world like this painting since my husband hates it. (When I asked him to hang it up on the wall he said, “You mean right here where someone can see it?!”)

Memento Mori #1, a mixed media painting by Karen Furst of Trilby Works

Memento Mori #1, a mixed media painting by Karen Furst of Trilby Works

Now, off to create more in this series. Sorry, husband, you’ll be seeing more of these soon.

Griselda the Hippo Witch Shelf Sitter Doll

If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you know I like hippos. I’ve created a number of hippo art pieces but this one is one of my favorites as it combines my other favorite subject: Halloween! My hippo witch is a shelf sitter, meaning her fat legs move at the hips and are bent so that they drape over the edge of a shelf. I made her for an art doll challenge but failed to complete her in time for submission (what a shocker).

Hippo Witch by Karen Furst of Trilby Works

Hippo Witch by Karen Furst of Trilby Works

She is made from a plastic peanut butter container and styrofoam, with layers of paper clay painted and sealed. Her clothing is hand made and caused me many difficulties as sewing is not my favorite activity. I used very old purple velvet scraps from a dress handed down in my family along with orange wool felt and black sueded fabric.

Unfortunately, I can’t sell her as my mother (the original hippopotomaniac) spied her in my studio and claimed her. But maybe I’ll make another one some day.

In the fall of 2015, the hippo witch was chosen to appear in Prims magazine, published by Stampington. Here’s how Stampington describes the magazine:

Prims exclusively features art inspired by a bygone era. You will find artwork of primitive, folk, historic, and early Americana style artists that will captivate the imagination and enchant with their simple beauty. The traditional beauty of handcrafted art making includes dolls, paintings and mixed-media artwork, along with teddy bears in Stampington & Company’s unique publication.

Prims Cover Autumn 2015

Prims Cover, Autumn 2015.

The magazine requested that I write up a short essay about my work. Here’s what I came up with:

Griselda the Hippo Witch
by Karen Furst

My mother has a huge collection of hippos, probably close to 5,000 or so. It’s getting to be quite a challenge to find new ones for her so… what’s an artsy person to do? Make one! My hippo witch Griselda came to life after several weeks of gluing, sculpting, drying, painting, sewing, and experimenting.

Griselda’s body is made from a plastic peanut butter container, with a painted paper clay head, arms, and legs. She is a shelf-sitter with legs that move at the hips. Lengths of stiff but bendable wire run through her arms and legs as an armature.

My color scheme (and overall theme) was inspired by Halloween. I pieced together Griselda’s outfit from vintage purple velvet scraps from a dress handed down in my family along with orange wool felt and black suede fabric from my stash. I did not use a pattern but rather fiddled with cutting and folding the fabric to fit. I used a machine to sew the triangular strips of fabric for the skirt and its hem. I hand cut stars and swirls from felt and glued them to her skirt and cape with fabric glue. Lengths of ribbon and trim and a silk flower further embellish her clothing and add a finished look.

Griselda seemed to need a hat; I made one from black craft felt, sewn into a cone shape, stuffed with polyester, and glued to a brim of cardboard covered with felt. A purple cord covers the seams and edges. I played around a bit with the scale of the hat – should I go large and floppy or small and pointed? I decided on the latter; it gives her a pert, almost Victorian look and it’s a pleasing punctuation mark at the top of her triangular outline.

Every witch needs a broom and pumpkin. The broom gave me fits: I had no idea how to make one! I tried to buy one online but just couldn’t find anything. Finally, I clipped some rushes from a fireplace broom and glued them to a stick. I wrapped the rushes with embroidery floss to keep them in place. By contrast, the pumpkin was easy. It’s just a ball of paper clay, shaped into a pumpkin, with a twisted piece of copper wire glued in for the stem.

When Griselda flies home on her broom from her Prims magazine adventure, she’ll head on over to my mother’s house where she’ll join the rest of the hippo collection. But I know it won’t take a magic spell for my hippopotamaniac mother to fall in love with her!

Karen Furst is an assemblage and mixed media artist who is currently working on a book about how to create miniature stone fairy houses. See her work and contact her at TrilbyWorks.com.

Tools & Materials:

plastic food container
fabric glue
paper clay
paint, brushes
fabric, felt
ribbons and embellishments
scissors, thread, needle
polyester stuffing
wood twig
embroidery floss

Thank you Prims magazine for choosing my piece!

Hippo Inspiration

If you like hippos as much as I do, please follow my Pinterest board: Hippos In Art. Here’s a preview.

Freebie Friday: Tombstone Silhouettes

Tombstone Silhouettes

Tombstone Silhouettes

Here are four tombstone silhouettes I made for a shadow box project. You can print them out, trace them onto cardstock, and then distress them. Use them for any Halloween project!

If you need help or ideas, please check out my tutorial called How To Make A Tombstone From Grunge Paper.

The file is a 200 ppi pdf. Download here.

If you use this in something cool, please take a pic and send it to me or let me know in the comments. I’d love to see your work!

Halloween Pumpkin Ghost Shadow Box

I just listed my first shadow box on Etsy. I’ve been wanting to make some shadow boxes for quite some time now but just haven’t been sure what my subject should be. But then Halloween rolled around and I thought, of course, ghosts and spooky things would make a perfect shadow box subject.

Halloween Pumpkin Ghost Shadow Box

Halloween Pumpkin Ghost Shadow Box

I first cut some paper to fit the box and then whipped up a moon graphic in Photoshop (you can download a copy here), glued it on and then cut out a tree from glitter paper.

I made some tombstones from grunge paper (find out how to do this here), printed out “RIP” from my computer (download a copy here) and piled up pumpkins from the craft store around them.

The pumpkin ghost is made from polymer clay and painted with bright purple, lime green, and Halloween orange. His fingers are made from wire wrapped with paper tape and are glued on to the back of his body.

This purple pumpkin head ghost is having a pumpkin fight in the graveyard with friends. He’s got two piles of pumpkins and is launching them across the graves and through the trees.

I had so much fun making this shadow box!

If you like it, you can buy it here.

Freebie Friday: Shining Moon


When I needed a moon graphic recently, I looked through my stock art stash and found absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. So I thought maybe I could draw my own but of course I had no clue how. I found several tutorials online and picked one to follow. It turned out to be very easy! The moon is shiny and lovely and I also learned how to shade it orange.

The file is a 4″ x 4″ 300 ppi pdf. You may use it for personal or commercial work but you may NOT sell the file in digital form NOR may you sell it in a stand alone printed format. Download it here.

If you use this graphic, please leave me a comment with a link: I’d love to see your work!

Freebie Friday: R.I.P. Lettering

R.I.P. Lettering

R.I.P. Lettering

Today I was making a tombstone for a Halloween shadowbox and I needed some spooky lettering that read, “R.I.P.” I created a Photoshop file with a selection of different fonts set against a grungy background. The lettering comes in three sizes. It didn’t take long and I can use it over and over.

For this week’s Friday Freebie I thought I would share it with you. It’s a 200 ppi 8.5″ x 11″ pdf.

You may use it for personal or commercial work but you may NOT sell the file in digital form NOR may you sell it in a printed format.

Download it here.

I’d love to see your work: leave me a link in the comments to show me what you did with this!

Dance Like a Halloweenie

My “Dance Like A Halloweenie” mint tin is in my shop now.

Dance Like A Halloweenie Mint Tin

Dance Like A Halloweenie Mint Tin

You can buy one of my mint tins here.

I also have it in a magnet:

Dance Like A Halloweenie Magnet

Dance Like A Halloweenie Magnet