Halloween lovers, it’s that time of the year to go on the prowl for those Halloween collectibles, new and old, that bring back those childhood memories.
My favorites are Halloween folk art. This is probably the best time of the year, along with Christmas, to find folk art from the past and present on display.
I have always loved whimsical-looking folk art items, and a few years ago my friend Cindy Habermann, of Rochester, displayed her items at Dwell Local, Rochester, and, of course, I fell in love with her designs.
“I became inspired to start making whimsy items around 1973 by surrounding myself with creative cards, books, vintage memorabilia,” Habermann said. “Decorating has always been my passion and the need to ‘create’ is joyful to me! Both of my grandmothers were creative and talented with sewing, knitting and hand work. My paternal grandpa made beautiful inlaid wood furniture. I can’t help but think the ‘creative’ genes were there from the start.”
“My work is created with papier-mache, a paper pulp,” she said. “It is messy and has many steps to the process. Over the years I have perfected all that goes into creating; there really are no short cuts. It is very time consuming and makes pricing my finished pieces difficult!
“Each piece is done by me from start to finish, not only painting, but gluing, antiquing, sealing, vintage glass glitter, etc. I also use paper clay, which air dries and is very lightweight. I work just by trial and error. I can zero in on the things that appeal to me, sometimes what I first envision turns out to be something totally different.
“Even though I have made similar pieces, since they are handmade, each one is individual,” Habermann said. “I have a nice collection of vintage Halloween, it has inspired me to create the whimsical faces on some of the paper-pulp jack-o-lanterns I have.
“My folk art isn’t limited to Halloween! I also make Easter, Christmas and some Thanksgiving pieces. Some of my work is done with vintage metal chocolate molds. I am self-taught and have no art degree.”
What makes Cindy continues is, “The customer reveals what they like and I’m always trying to improve in certain ways whether it be color, variations in size, or basically whatever I decide to come up with! I have experimented with different mediums, working with papier-mache and paper clay have been rewarding.”
Habermann’s husband, Jon, “helps with some of the computer and paperwork,” she said. “We share the love of the grandchildren at present, so right now I am not displaying in stores and I am not doing shows. I have done many shows in Wisconsin and Colorado. All have been juried shows. I have also sold my items on Etsy.
“What makes my collections different from others is each piece is a reflection of ideas swirling around in my head, they are all hand-done. You won’t see what I make in very many places. They are full of personality. Some of my customers have said they have an ‘antique’ look to them, which is a real compliment!”
Since Cindy and Jon have lived in quite a few states during the past 30 years, folks love her whimsy pieces and have told her so.
“Most of my customers were local, depending where we were living at the time,” she said. “I have quite a few customers from all over the country that I ship pieces to and can always be reached at my email, [email protected]. And can always send photos.”
“Even if people don’t purchase from me, it is always satisfying that they appreciate my work and if it brings a smile to their face,” she said. “The satisfaction is of having customers that still enjoy their pieces over the years. Of course one gets better at their craft the longer they do it. There is always room for improvement. Being creative doesn’t end … the ideas just keep floating around, which is a good thing!”
Sandy Erdman, a Winona freelance writer, dealer, speaker and certified appraiser. If you have a shop, collect anything or restore antiques or collectibles and want to share with others within this column. Contact Sandy at [email protected].