Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Large, plastic Jack-o-lantern decoration, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

My images have been chosen and I’m writing quickly to create this Halloween-themed post before the big day arrives in our country.  Meaning I have until tomorrow to post this if I want this story to be relevant to the day at all!  2015 was a very good year for finding Halloween related junk at the Falls of the Ohio.  Some of this stuff I’ve saved into a small collection and the rest of my discoveries are preserved digitally.  I have long since moved from the position that I need to save every physical object that I come across.  Most of the time, having the picture is good enough.

Upside down, plastic jack-o-lantern, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

The two bouts of flooding that we had during the Spring washed all manner of goodies into the park.  It was an especially good year for plastic jack-o-lanterns.  These common objects are essentially a plastic bowl for receiving and holding trick or treat candy.  Naturally, real jack-o-lanterns are carved and hollowed out pumpkins that are illuminated from within often using candle power.  I’m always surprised by the variety of plastic jack-o-lanterns that I have come across.  This example was photographed as I encountered it…upside down and laying on top of the sand.

Destroyed plastic jack-o-lantern at the Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Here’s one that was crushed by the flood and some passerby hooked it onto a branched log.  Here’s another plastic jack-o-lantern deposited by the river, but this one is much smaller.

Small, plastic jack-o-lantern bottle laying in the driftwood, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Over the years, I have found many Halloween novelties including other containers for holding the precious bounty of candy.  The jack-o-lantern form, however, is overwhelmingly the most popular.  This year, I did find two different forms.  Here is one that is the head from an unlucky black cat!

Plastic black cat head candy carrier, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Now for a black plastic witch’s cooking pot that I nearly overlooked resting in the driftwood.  The witch is dancing in silhouette next to her fire.

Black plastic witch's cauldron candy carrier, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

I even came across the remains of a mask.  Costumes are a big part of Halloween and I don’t find many of them at the Falls.  This one was pretty muddy, but after cleaning it up a bit…I saw that it was a devil’s mask made from a soft foam.

Foam devil mask, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Okay, let’s look at a couple of shots of assembled river finds.  This one has a variety of different character references.

Various plastic toy novelties, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

This shot has a little bit of everything including vampire teeth, Shrek, Frankenstein’s head, a skull, a witch’s head, and a couple of scarecrows that also have a Halloween connotation.

Three different plastic owl bottles, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Owls also are iconic to Halloween.  Here I offer three found plastic bottles in the shape of owls.  The big red one was found in 2015 and the other two are earlier.

Falls of the Ohio Jack-o-lantern Collection, 2015

Most of these are associated with candy novelties, but not all.  I put this collection together at home when I noticed I had so many jack-o-lanterns in my various collecting bags.

Halloween-themed chap stick?, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

Can’t say until now that there is actually a Halloween-themed chap stick that you can purchase.  I am not likely to run across many of these along the riverbank.

Expressive face, plastic jack-o-lantern, Falls of the Ohio, 2015

I threw this guy into here because I like how expressive his face is.  Some of that is due to the dark river patina it has acquired being in the water for a while.  No doubt, I will keep running into this stuff at the Falls of the Ohio and I will try to document and or collect as I go along.  One last image from this year…earlier I was doing site specific assemblages using found colorful plastic elements.  Here is a detail of one piece I made and look who is taking pride of place?  Happy Halloween everybody…be safe and have fun.  See you in November!

Orange plastic jack-o-lantern with other river found objects, Falls of the Ohio, 2015


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crushed plastic jack-o-lantern, Oct. 2013

For a few hours more it’s Halloween in Kentuckiana.  With a tornado watch in the air and rain for certain, it’s not boding very well for the actual observance. Sorry about that kids.  It does seem to me that the actual going door to door and collecting candy is not the same prized occasion it used to be.  It seems these days (and here’s where I start sounding old) every holiday has candy and it’s not as special as it used to be.  Halloween is becoming more of an indoor activity with parties replacing the ceremonial wearing out of the shoe leather.  Still there are decorations and costumes to carry on the tradition.  While making my rounds at the Falls of the Ohio State Park…I keep my camera and collecting bag ready for any Halloween related or other spooky items.  Among the more common Halloween finds are these plastic jack-o-lanterns.  The bigger ones are used for actual candy collecting and the smaller pieces are novelties for the table.  Here are a couple more the river has washed up.

smashed plastic jack-o-lantern container, Oct. 2013

destroyed plastic jack-o-lantern, Oct. 2013

Of course, all these novelties are made from discarded plastic which may turn out to be the scariest thing of all.   Walking near the river’s edge, I will often be startled by sights of a spectral nature.  The ghosts of objects and functions past hang mournfully from the branches of the willow trees.  Observe these two ghostly images…if you dare.

plastic "ghost" on a willow branch, Oct. 2013

plastic "apparition" at the Falls, Oct. 2013

During one recent high water moment along the river’s edge…I spotted what appeared to be “something” hanging upside down from a tree branch.  It was animated, black, and hairy and after snapping a quick photo…I got out of there.  In the back of my mind the words “cat demon” formed.  I didn’t want to hang around and find out more.  The hairs on arms were standing straight up!  Judge for yourself.

upside down "black cat demon", Oct. 2013

Today we had a Halloween party at the art program that I manage.  Needing a costume I had to do some quick overnight thinking and making…which often produces interesting results.  How many times has having a deadline served you well?  Looking at the river junk I have saved at my house…I created this head-gear? or weird sculptural hat to fill the bill.  Here’s my “costume” photographed against a black cloth that makes it look like an art object.  Imagine wearing this on top of your head!

Al's Halloween Styro-hat, Oct. 2013

The foundation is the Styrofoam shell of an old bicycle helmet.  The effigy head is actually recycled from an old, now destroyed sculpture I made and left on site at the river.  After the rest of the body fell apart…I wandered bye and salvaged the head since it was still in good shape.  I had no idea what I would do with this head…until this opportunity  presented itself.  The eyes are plastic bottle caps from old dish washing detergent bottles.  The red mouth is more waste plastic as is the yellow hand on top.  The arms, nose, and ears are wood bits.  The neck (which you can’t see very well in this image) is a polystyrene mushroom.  The bungy cord which forms a chin strap, is the only element that did not come from the river.  I have a beaver-chewed willow stick running through the head and into the base.  A little glue holds it all together.  If one can “prize” finding discarded Styrofoam…then I confess to liking the shells from old bicycle helmets.  I have used several over the years to make various turtle and tortoises.  Here’s an example that became the basis for my Cottonwood Turtle story from a few years back.

Albertus Gorman's "Cottonwood Turtle", found Styrofoam and wood, Falls of the Ohio

Well, it’s time to call it a day.  Just a few intrepid souls in costumes made it to the door on this dismal night.  They were well rewarded with chocolate and bubble gum.  To close, here’s one final image from the river…what would Halloween be without witches and here’s one of the best.  Trick or Treat from the Falls of the Ohio.

plastic witch cup, Falls of the Ohio, Oct. 2013

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BLAHHHHH!!!!…did I scare you?  Welcome to another Halloween adventure from the Falls of the Ohio.  Today, I have a special treat in mind for you.  My name is Jack Blue and I will be your guide for the next five minutes.

If I didn’t scare you perhaps I fooled you?  No need to be alarmed, my Belly Face has eaten recently.  You should be safe while I show you around the local Halloween sights.  Foremost in mind is the special Shrouded Forest that magically appears at exactly this time every year.  It is weirdly beautiful especially if there is a slight breeze present to animate the spirits that occupy the branches.  Most of them are plastic ghosts that have either floated here via a swollen Ohio River or drifted in with the wind.  Here’s what I mean.

The degrading plastic lends such a festive touch to this area.  As the polymer bonds separate and the plastic starts to disintegrate it hangs in decorative shrouds from the willow branches it graces.  You can walk from tree to tree and admire these spectral creations of man and nature.

All this “magic” is the result of benign neglect.  Whoever discarded this waste plastic sheeting probably wasn’t thinking it would wind up here draped in the trees like artificial Spanish moss.  In case you were wondering…it also comes in different colors.  Here are two other popular hues for your viewing pleasure and a special “snaky” surprise that might have you needing a doctor!

Okay, maybe this isn’t much of a snake, but if you were walking among the trees and looked up at some point…you probably wouldn’t anticipate seeing this?  And now for the “Doctor”…hmm, I don’t think he will be doing anyone any good any time soon!  Kind of looks like he could use a doctor himself.

Somehow I missed this bear when I did my earlier post on plush toys.  He’s been laying under this willow tree for months now and I just happened upon him! Just in time for Halloween!

The truth is one doesn’t need to travel far these days to find a patch of ground not “haunted” by something that doesn’t belong in the environment.  I hope all of you out there have a fun and safe Halloween and please discard all your trash in a responsible way.  Otherwise, my Face Belly may develop an appetite for you…trick or treat?

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I met my friend the “Professor” by the old cottonwood tree that has been turned into a hang-out of sorts for the local teenagers.  I don’t get to see him as often as I would like to…so the time we spend together is meaningful for me.  Usually, we pick a topic to converse about and see where it goes from there.  This time, since it was the end of October we decided that a Halloween-theme was in order.  By now it shouldn’t surprise the regular readers of this blog that all kinds of holiday related stuff also washes into the park along with all the regular junk that unfortunately is in the Ohio River.

The Professor and I have been friends for a few years now.  I first met him here by the river.  We are both beachcombers and it has been fun to recount our various discoveries.  It is interesting how people like to collect different things and the Professor keeps his own cabinet of curiosities which is composed of his river finds.  When I caught up with him this morning, he had already been prowling the river’s beaches and he was anxious to show me his treasures.  This is what he decided to keep to add to his growing river collection.

It’s not everyday that you encounter a lobster at the Falls of the Ohio.  On occasion, you do come across the small crayfish or “crawdads” that the herons and raccoons like to eat.  The Professor seemed especially happy to have found it.  His next exhibit was a bit peculiar and a tad distasteful.

Yes, it’s an old intact jar of pickles that reminded the Professor of the preserved specimens you might find in a medical museum.  While these “albino” pickles are indeed scary…they are not overtly Halloween decorations.  There was something inside the tree house that the Professor said did fit the bill and here is a snapshot of it.

Now here indeed was a true Halloween decoration that has been augmented with an improvised eye-patch and the worm dangling from its bony mouth is a plastic worm used for fishing.  This find was hanging up inside the tree house and my guess is that it is being used now to impart some pirate atmosphere.

With his beady little eyes shining, the Professor was anxious to see what I had brought.  Reaching into my collecting bag I pulled out an envelope of photographs.  One difference between the Professor and me is that I no longer feel compelled to pick up and carry home every little thing I find.  Sometimes a photographic image of it is enough for me and this set off a conversation about how nothing replaces being able to handle the real thing and how computers and on-line shopping are weirdly vicarious experiences.  I let the Professor rant a bit and of course…he’s right.  Regardless, I did show him my images and I’m glad to also share them with you.  Most of them are Jack-o-lantern candy containers for holding the actual trick or treat loot.  So, here are the pictures which span about a year and a half worth of finds.

Here’s a few smaller novelties that probably were part of the candy’s packaging.

I once found a skeletal reference of my own and I think it was used as a stopper for some kind of candy container?

And now for a couple of found disguises.

This full-face mask looks like a hockey goalie’s mask, but I think it recalls one of those scary Halloween movies which I’m not fond of.  The next one is more my style!

I thought it was humorous to encounter this plastic nose mask!  Okay, one last image before total boredom sets in.  Here’s another jack-o-lantern pumpkin I came across after last spring’s flooding.  It’s meant as a house decoration and was as large as a good-sized pumpkin.  It was so muddy where it rested that I just took this picture and went on my way.  Here’s hoping you all had more treats than tricks during the last Halloween.

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