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Hocus Pocus House

I have always been a huge fan of Halloween. I follow some people on Youtube who make their own props. Silver Raven Studios has designed and built a Haunt at Horn Harbor Restaurant for three years (see earlier blog post). Lately, there has been a trend to up-cycle dollhouses into haunted houses. In July 2023, I went to a wonderful exhibition at the Chrysler Museum called Strange Plants. The artist, Heather Beardsley, has worked for years with the ideas of plants growing over places and things in a post-apocalyptic world. Her work includes all kinds of media, but in one piece she filled her childhood dollhouse with white sculpted plants growing inside and up the stairs. I was even more inspired to try it.

A few days later I came across a beat-up, mostly unpainted wooden doll house at a local thrift store. I couldn’t resist buying it for my own Halloween project.

While I was brainstorming for a theme for my house, I posted a photo of it on Facebook. The exhibition manager of the Bay School Community Arts Center immediately replied and said they wanted it for their Hocus Pocus October exhibition. I instantly decided I would do a magic-themed house. Luckily for me the dollhouse came with plastic bags full of old furniture inside. I ended up altering or creating everything I used in my Hocus Pocus house. I painted the exterior of the house and the shingles and ordered new shingles for the back side. I painted the interior room including a faux stone floor in the living room. I also used stickers to create wallpaper and floor tiles and decided to use googly eyes to decorate the bathroom walls. I designed my own hex symbol to apply to the bedroom wall.

I created multiple objects including a gargoyle, mushrooms, tombstones, a spell book and a magic eight ball with oven-bake clay. I then painted and sealed them all. I also created a crystal ball collection from different marbles and bases.

I altered most of the furniture pieces in some way and enjoyed collecting other fun things to incorporate into the rooms. I took an old greeting card with mushrooms on it and turned it into framed paintings for the walls. I used stick-on rhinestones to create window and door trim. I filled the bathtub with glass marbles and made octopus legs to stick of the tub. I loved making things from Dollar Store and thrift store finds. I got creative and made my interior lighting from battery-operated Christmas lights and candles.

I worked on it for about three months while still painting full-time and doing some traveling. It probably has close to two hundred hours of work in it. This project stimulated my creative juices and was truly a labor of love. For the month of March 2024 you can see my Hocus Pocus House on display at RAL Art Center's Absolutely Anything Exhibition.

Hocus Pocus House

by Brenda M. Sylvia

Silver Raven Studios


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