Mandrake root scuplture – DIY Halloween decoration

So last week I was so busy actually making Halloween props that I didn’t have time to blog about them! lol.
But as promised I shall do so now.

One of the props for this year’s witchcraft and wizardry theme party I love the most is my mandrake.

DIY Halloween prop. Sculpted mandrake root. Harry Potter style.

Mandrakes are a real plant…no they were not made up for the Harry Potter books.
They are a member of the nightshade family and are poisonous. Containing alkaliods including atropine.
The plant’s root is similar in appearance to a parsnip but often resembles a human body.
They have long been used in rituals and have many superstitions attached to them. Including the one in the Harry Potter books, that when they are pulled up they scream and the scream will kill anyone who hears it. The Harry Potter books actually have loads of real-world occult references in them, but that is a post for another day.

It is mentioned in the bible more than once and seems to be seen as some kind of aphrodisiac or a conception aid for women (for women obviously because it never occurred to ancients that it could be the man who was “barren”) Though some scholars have suggested that the plant they meant to refer to was ginseng which can look like mandrake but does have sexy qualities …rather than poison like the mandrake, makes sense.

A more interesting literary reference is Mandragoria by Machiavelli. In which a mandrake potion is used to seduce a woman. Hmm perhaps he should have tried ginseng too.

Anyway back to the point – I used the Harry Potter film prop Mandrakes as my inspiration and made an armature from kitchen foil.

usetin foil as an armature to make any animal or sculpture for paper mache

Foil eggs for armature base

Body form for mandrake

body form with arms and legs

body form with legs

Then wrapped it in drywall tape (or masking tape) and coated with paper mache clay.

Armature covered with tape

Mandrake with clay layer and leafs

I sculpted a rough indication of a face and attached leaves and roots. And carved a lot of texture into the body. I used pumpkin leafs and tendrils from a pumpkin garland because that is what I had. Mandrakes have longer darker leafs, but accuracy was not the big point.

I painted on a base coat of white mixed with a little green then using pastels I rubbed browns over the surface. The deep texture making it easy to get a tonal effect.
Then I added some shading with charcoal.

Mandrake with colour

I set it up on the dining table on a chopping board, with a letter opener, a bit of my jade plant, some Spanish moss, a plastic cauldron, a pewter goblet and an old book of Shakespeare with a rubber snake and plastic scull sitting on top to hide everywhere it said “Richard III” lol.

Harry Potter DIY amandrake magic potion Halloween party display

Mandrake magic potion Halloween display

potions master display

What do you think Kittens?

Have a magical day.

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Why is vintage style so popular?

Hi Kittens!,

The other day a fabulous magazine called “vintage life” (which you should check out if you have not already) posted a question on Facebook that got me thinking.
They asked “why is vintage so popular these days?”….

Most of the comments were what you would expect –

  *Vintage clothing is more flattering to a woman’s figure…

arguable that one as it depends on what decade you mean and what you class as ‘womanly’. I mean the Art Deco era was all about the athletic and waif body types like today.
Most modern women’s waists are nowhere near as narrow as they were in the 40s and 50s. So for those of us with a waist measurement of 10 inches or more less than our hips and chest it is harder to get clothes that fit well today, so 40s and 50s fashion does the trick, yep.

* They don’t make em like they used to...

No argument there! Modern fashions are not made to last…and for a reason. Everyone wants to have more and pay less for it, while companies want us to keep consuming. So sad. This is one of the most stated reasons for nostalgia I hear.

* Its FABULOUS!!…

I can’t argue with that either, obviously not objective though. And there are fabulous clothes being made today too…they are just out of the reach of most mere mortals.
So if the point is that style and glamour were important to every woman no matter what she did for a living, compared to the low level of ‘acceptable’ dress today, then you can certainly make an argument for that.
I can understand why a girl could despair at the state people leave their homes in. I get the argument that making a little effort in your look every day can help you make a little more effort in other areas too. However I am glad that it is no longer required!
Which leads sweetly to the next popular reason-

* Its more ladylike...

This is partly a continuation of the FABULOUS! argument. But it does inspire some interesting thoughts. Why would there be a movement among women to be more ‘ladylike’ today? Because of the sloppy/dowdy/trashy way most women seem to dress these days obviously. But when did they start dressing like that?
When the feminist movement really got going, being ‘ladylike’ was part of the problem. As I said before I wouldn’t want to live in a culture where a specific standard of dress and behavior was required. Especially if different standards were applied to women just because they are women. For most women after WWII the way they dress, no matter how beautiful, was a symbol of their second class status.
I am glad we can now go out looking like slobs if we want. But just because I can does not mean I want to. And there are plenty of women who agree with me. I think we can all agree that the things we do have more value when they are own choice.

A few years ago I said this ” THE VINTAGE STYLE IS WHAT IT IS BECAUSE OF THE SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND SCIENTIFIC LIMITATIONS AND STRUCTURES OF THE TIME THEY WERE CREATED. WHERE THESE FACTORS NO LONGER APPLY, THE ACT OF CHOOSING WHICH RULES TO ADOPT AND WHICH TO DISCARD BECOMES AN ACT OF EXPRESSIVE PERVERSION. THIS, MY BELOVEDS, IS SO MUCH MORE DELICIOUS THAN A SLAVISH IMITATION OF THE PAST ” I made it the ‘mission statement’ of my former website.
All that is why I am not a purist.

* Its unique…

If you turn up at a party in something from the high street, there is always a chance some other bitch will be wearing the same thing. If you are wearing vintage then the chances are that it is, at least by now, the only one of it’s kind.
It does say something about you too. It says you have rejected the norms of your own culture in favor of something else. It has been used as a vehicle for rebellion before.

Back in 1950s UK there was the ‘Teds’. They listened to Jazz music, got in fights and wore fashions from the Edwardian era (hence the name). For then that was the same as what we call vintage today. I would probably have been one of them if I had lived then. They got a bad rep which was not entirely deserved, then to add insult to injury they got their style ripped off in the mainstream….which leads to the Goth scene. Starting in the late 1970s and through the 80s, they chose to go farther back in time to the era of the romantic poets and authors they admired. Now I was, and am, one of them, and our look got mainstreamed for a while too. Though my own look was always more Art Deco with corsets and spike heels rather than victoriana.
Vintage going mainsteam is inevitable but it always goes away again, though it does drive the prices up for the ‘real’ fans.

 

Possibly, when you don’t connect with those around you, then the things that they have ‘discarded’ seem more appealing to you.
And things from the past can mean anything you want them to, now that their context is irrelevant.
For me the future as imagined by the artists of the 1930s is more beautiful by far than what we got or where we seem to be headed. We got dicked out of a beautiful future in favor of deep ugly.
But happily it is a future where I have the right and opportunity to correct that…at least tiny wee bit.

Lilly xxx