costume

Madame Fortuna

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

One Halloween, years ago now, I distinctly remember sitting on a sidewalk outside a bar in my college town, nursing a skinned knee and torn fishnets, and thinking, with disappointment, "so this is the end of Halloween." 
It was my first Halloween after graduation and I didn't really know what to do with myself. That year was one of my first without something to decorate, an event to plan, and I was far too big for trick-or-treating. Finding myself a little lost and without an outlet for my Halloween creativity, I directed my efforts and excitement into constructing an elaborate costume, the bearded lady, which was neither understood or appreciated by the college crowd. 
That night made two things clear to me: I had outgrown the college scene, and Halloween, the most beloved of holidays, was over for me.

This year, seven years after my sidewalk revelation, Halloween is back from the dead and better than ever, thanks to Madame Fortuna.



Of course, Halloween never actually died. In the years between my revelation and this year's resurrection, I have celebrated-- decorating the house and treating trick-or-treaters, but it's never felt quite right; it has always been missing that something special, that bit of excitement and magic the occasion had in my youth.

About a month ago, I found my brain bubbling with all these Halloween ideas: cemeteries, fog machines, ghosts, grim reapers-- real spooky stuff. I'm not sure exactly when Madame Fortuna entered the picture, but once she did, I knew this was just the interactive experience I was looking to create.



After settling on the fortune teller theme, I began buying up every thrift store bed sheet I could find to make my fortune teller's tent. A few dye baths and one frantic sewing session later and I had enough purple striped fabric to stretch all the way around a popup canopy we were given for our wedding. I also found a dust ruffle that was trimmed with gold tassels that were perfect for trimming the edge of the gold canopy.





For the crystal ball, I picked up a very inexpensive milk glass light fixture and added a remote control, color-changing, LED light bulb. My beau wired it all up for me and I hid the remote under the tablecloth so I could change the colors and turn it on and off at will. 
I also took the opportunity to display a bit of my uranium glass collection illuminated under blacklight.




Using magnets, large pieces of black muslin, a construction light, and the moon I made for my wedding, I put together a little photo opportunity on the garage door. Several folks stopped and snapped a few pictures of their kids-- finally, the moon got some use as it was intended!



We had a rather low trick-or-treater turnout this year, but those that did stop by were really great-- some even came through a second time! It was so fun gazing into the crystal ball and "telling" the future. Highlights of the night were a group of young teenage girls that I told would be lucky in love (after my usual Halloween fortune), and a girl who, by the end of her visit with me, was convinced she had magic powers of her own.

In my little life, there have been so many memorable experiences and people, that have helped to create a sense of magic and wonder in this world. I realize now that, even if it is just on Halloween, I have the power to create one of those experiences for someone else. 




I really have to hand it to my beau, he's been so very patient with this whole project. He's not the kind of guy that particularly values creative endeavors or decorative excess (we're totally flipsides of the same coin) but he knew how important this was to me and I think he genuinely appreciated seeing the trick-or-treaters' reactions. 
Hopefully next year he'll want to put on a costume and join in the fun!

Speaking of next year, I'm already scheming. I'd love to put together a cemetery, complete with that fog machine I've always wanted, and have kids walk through it to get to Madame Fortuna's tent.

I'll have to hold off making gravestones for now though as our future is a bit unclear and another job change (and a possible location change) is on the horizon yet again. 
How nice it would be if Madame Fortuna's crystal ball could really reveal the future.





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