Folk Art Halloween
Paper Treat Bucket
This cat candy container, made by Johanna Parker from painted papier-mache, is just one of many pieces that she makes year-round for Johanna Parker Design. Since 2003, Johanna has molded, sculpted, and painted legions of witches, pumpkins, cats, ghouls, and other Halloween icons. See the next slides for instructions on how to craft your own papier-mache candy container.
Beginning a Project
Johanna, who specializes in creating black cats, witches, owls, and jack-o'-lanterns, begins each character with a piece of wadded up newspaper. Then she applies a layer of papier-mache and uses a palette knife and miniature spatula for sculpting the eyes, nose, and other facial features.
The Painting Process
The basic form is baked at a low temperature in the oven for four hours and allowed to cool thoroughly. Then it's lightly sanded and painted. The average piece takes about six hours to complete, so Johanna works on several pieces at a time over a period of days. See the next slides for more of Johanna's decorating projects and ideas.
Friendly & Cheery
Johanna's creatures are decidedly noncreepy -- in fact, almost every piece sports an infectious broad grin. The creatures also are adorned with other whimsical-looking facial features, fanciful cuffs and collars, wire accessories in the form of stars, and whiskers or spiderweb pals.
Signature Painted Hats
To play up the celebratory air of Halloween, Joanna tops many of her sculptures with painted hats. The pointed party hats, adorned with pictorial Halloween scenes, have become a part of the artist's signature style.
According to Johanna, it's the same party hats that separate her work from other crafters' because they allow her to combine illustration and sculpture. "I'll do an illustrated hat and add it to a pumpkin, cat, owl, or something else," she says.
Complementary Vintage Decorations
Johanna incorporates period pieces, such as the antique game board on the wall, to complement the vintage look of her artwork. The witch and flying spider shown here are also Johanna's work.
Home Sweet Halloween Home
Johanna displays her wares in her home, where art deco style plays a role in the artist's designs. Johanna's sculptures mirror the same timelessness as the curved velvet furnishings in the living room and the brightly colored dishes stacked in her kitchen.
Johanna and her husband, JP d' Andrimont, a woodworker, collaborated on the fireplace screen fashioned from papier-mache applied over a wooden frame.
Cat in the Niche
Niches throughout her house make perfect display spaces for charming designs. Hanging below the cat is a pumpkin cone that doubles as a Halloween noisemaker.
An antique pressed-paper owl keeps watch over some of Johanna's cat and pumpkin designs.
Using an old shelf unit for display space, Johanna mixes her original creations with white pottery and an array of vintage Halloween collectibles.
About the Artist
For most people Halloween comes just once a year, but for Johanna, the holiday is a year-round commitment. (Her October 31 birthday may have something to do with her infatuation with all things black and orange.) Long after October 31 has passed, Johanna is busy fashioning a new cast of characters for the ever growing line of Halloween-inspired creations for her business.
The daughter of an artist (her mother specializes in primitive folk art designs), Johanna began winning contests for her drawings at age 5. By the end of high school, she had received a full scholarship to the Art Institute of Colorado. In 2003, after working as a graphic designer and art director for a Denver television news station program, she left to start her own home-based business, Johanna Parker Design.
Johanna and her husband, JP, live for dressing up for Halloween, too. Once he dressed as a broomstick to go with her witch costume.
Design from Johanna
Download this free black cat label designed by Johanna. Use the image to decorate Halloween cards, trick-or-treat bags, and more!