Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Green & The Ugly: Swamp Witches and Their Homes in Miniature

Way up the road from Hattie's Shack
Lies a sleepy little Okeechobee town
Talk of swamp witch Hattie lock you in when the sun go down
Rumours of what she'd done, rumours of what she'd do
Kept folks off the track of hattie's shack
In the back of the Black Bayou

When you do an online search for 'Swamp Witch', you will arrive at 2 very different archetypes. You will find the warty, slimy green skinned hag with a bad temper as exemplified by Meg in the movie 'Legends' (remember the one with the unicorns and Tom Cruise dressed up like Robin Hood). You will also find the elegant and wise depictions of the Cajun Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. This article will focus on the first, greener version!

I've heard of women making secret magic deep in the woods since I was little. I remember giggling at the song 'Marie Laveau' when the guy would shriek and say 'another man done gone!' It was first released by Dr Hook on the 'Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show' album in 1971. Marie Laveau was then released by Bobby Bare on the 'Lullabies, Legends and Lies' album in 1974. Check out this fan video on YouTube! It's a snaggle puss beauty pageant and a warning to any bad man!

I've recently discovered a new miniature hobby in the Garage Kit horror and fantasty sculptures. These are not dollhouse related, being more in line with collector's quality action figures and fine art sculptures of larger scales. However, many of the techniques and themes are similar to what I do for both dollhouse minis and war gaming minis. I found two fantastic versions of the Swamp Witch Meg!

Above is a 1/6 scale resin model sculpted by Miles Teves for Dimensional Designs. Painter unkown. The kit costs $150 and was released in 1994. Below is another version of Meg in resin. This one is by Al DeGregorio and posted on
Some of my favorite 1:12 scale depictions of the genre are...Above: The Dressy Witch by Solet Luna Studios
Above: This bent back witch by Blue Kitty
Above: The Sea Witch by Pat Benedict, ocean or swamp she looks green and watery

Where does the Swamp Witch Live?
Black water Hattie lived back in the swamp
Where the strange green reptiles crawl
Snakes hang thick from the cypress trees
Like sausage on a smokehouse wall
Where the swamp is alive with a thousand eyes
An' all of them watching you

Solet Luna Studios has a fantastic spooky house for any anti-social Swamp Witch! This piece is entitled 'Muddy End' and it won 3rd place at the Westcoast Dollhouse and Miniatures Show, 2008. I love the roots and tree limbs twisting about. Visit at
The very first roombox kit I made was a hovel I called the 'Hag's Cabin'. I scratch built the hearth from styrafoam, rocks, and repurposed Halloween jewelry. I covered the wood walls and floor with a sandy stucco mixture and made tattered leather curtains. It was a very early attempt and also one of my first miniature sales. I've learned a lot since then but I still look fondly at the pictures!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Miniature Haunted Mansion Renovation: Painting the exterior!

I'm a full time college student in Mortuary Science and this last week was my first round of exams. I had Thanatochemistry, Jurisprudence, and Management II. There were times late at night that I just needed to relax and put the books down. I started to work on my Haunted Mansion renovation project again! This is my own personal dollhouse and not for sale. It's a 1:12 scale cedar kit that I purchased for about $40. It was in terrible shape, water damaged, dusty, pieces put on upside down or backwards... I had a lot of fun tearing it apart and rebuilding it! It has 3 floors with no room partitions. It did have 2 horrible flights of stairs right in the center cutting through the space- I took a hammer and pair of plyers to that. While smoothing over some of the joints and dings with filler, I did leave many of the imperfections because it is after all, a spooky home for odd residents.

My color scheme was inspired initially by a Martha Stewart article on incorporating subtle greens into a Halloween scheme. I want a haunted mansion that I can decorate year round rather than something that was strictly a black and orange Halloween theme.

I bought several used books on Victorian and Gothic style and Painted Ladies. Some pictures that were inspirational are below:
Above a delapidated entry way of a once grand Victorian home.

Subtle greens...
Intense purple with odd lemon creme and sage accents...

So the ideas of color are floating around in my head as I glue all the spooky do-dadds and edging onto the exterior of the house. I used plastic bats over the windows, repurposed Christmas ornaments as spires, jewelry findings, felt web cutouts, plastic garden gating, and disarticulated bits of plastic skeletons... and whatever else I could glue to it!

Next, I spray painted the whole exterior with a flat black and then touched it all up with a gloss black. The windows are covered in tape at this point to protect them.

Then the crackle medium was applied over the wood panelling and wood edging. Next I painted the base color coat of pale lilac with the black showing through the crackle, giving it an aged appearence.

Now the detail colors: an olive green for the majority of edgin with areas of lime green and periwinkle. All the green areas are also coated with a glow in the dark paint that is not noticeable in the light. All of the fencing and bone details are painted in a cream color. Everything is inked in black and then drybrushed in pale sage green. Each panel is also shaded with a magenta ink. This might seem labor intensive but it didn't take too long actually. I put wear marks on raised surfaces, made rusted and water damage trails from underneath raised details like the flower beds, and simulated grime accumulation in corners.

I'll be basing the piece on a large circular board so I can build a yard with trees and a cemetary. I'll also be adding greenery and moss to the house itself, as if its overgrown with ivy. There's more on the way!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The very cool and creepy clay works of 'wetpaintco.' ... I need to know more about this artist!

While perusing the web for other spooky miniature artists yesterday, I discovered the incredibly imaginative creepy clay works of 'wetpaintco.' on ebay. There's not much information on the artist's profile so I'll need to do a bit more research and actually make contact... The primary medium seems to be polymer clay sculpting over wire frames, then hand painted.

For current auctions:

The work is all one of a kind and described as being in 1:12 dollhouse scale. The style is certainly spooky but also a bit whimsical with organic shapes, shadowy colors, and little faces peeking out. The artist seems fond of animating various objects with spirits! Everything from trees, candle sticks, to chairs show a grinning little smile and peeping eyes. I think the 'haunted flames' pictured below are my favorite!

Wetpaintco. also likes tentacles. That is always a frightening motif, the idea of a slimy limb snatching at you from dark mirky waters! These are curling about bathtubs and sinks with a hideous grasp.

There is also this fantastic witch on her bike! Named " Rambling Rosie", she stands 6 3/4" from trike wheel to her hat. All Handmade of polymer clay and handpainted.
Well I will try to find out more about wetpaintco. and maybe even snag an interview!


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