Deck the boughs with scary ornies! Yep! Festive trees and ornaments aren’t just for that other holiday anymore. There is a full genre of sparkling, twisted decorations suitable for the big haunt. We’re talking black fir trees, specialty lights and grizzly ornaments.
Beginning with the basics, let’s consider the fundamental tree. Were you aware that your essential trees now come in a variety of colors from the original green to white, gold and now even Halloween black? Black trees can come in various heights, and good quality ones are hard to find. We had to special order our personal trees five months in advance because the factories get fired up for Christmas tree orders by summer and don’t like to change their pace for black trees. They are somewhat more expensive than a green tree, because they are specially made. All orders need to be processed prior to June in order to ensure delivery by September. The only tree designer we are currently aware of is Barcana.
Now if you’re thinking… I’ll just take a green tree and spray paint in black? Think again. Tried it! And one case of black spray paint may not be enough. We took a four-foot green pine tree and began spraying it. When you consider all the imitation needles from the center of the tree outwards, top and underneath, it takes a lot of paint. A pre-made black tree is worth saving you all the hassle (paint fumes and black fingertips).
Next, the lights. You’ll find all kinds of string lights of bats, spiders, ghost and pumpkins. But for our tastes, those kinds of lights distract from the ornaments. A few sporadic ones in the appropriate places might add some fun, but for the most part, those kind of light strings belong in windows.
We use two kinds of lighting effects. In the center we use larger purple-glowing bulbs to give the inner tree an eerie glow. On the outer branches where the ornaments are hung, we prefer a new kind of light called “Rice Lights.” These UL listed tiny lights are as small as an LED pin top, yet give off plenty of light and sparkle. Rice Lights use 25% less electricity than conventional miniature light sets resulting in significant reductions of emitted heat. That protects our ornaments. These are pre-made in virtually undetectable black cording with dazzling orange lights.
Now comes the fun – the ornaments. You have a wide variety of designers who in recent years have been applying a lot more creativity into their Halloween blown glass. The assortment ranges from child-friendly fun ornaments to some pretty realistic and gruesome detailed ornaments. When people think of Christmas ornaments, the market place has generally led most collectors to think of Christopher Radko, one of the leading designers of blown glass ornaments. Radko has some very fun Halloween decorations with cheerful subjects. They are certainly entertaining.
Slavic Treasures is one of the most prolific designers of really scary and horrorific ornaments. They are reasonably priced and can range from ghosts to scary skulls and beyond. Glenn Lewis of Slavic Treasures is continually updating his line, retiring some ornaments after only a couple of seasons. You have to be fast on the search in order to be successful in the ornament hunt. Halloween ornaments have begun to climb in value as more collectors come online in search of the rare glass pieces of previous seasons.
The Slavic Treasure line has some incredibly detail painted pieces&emdash;the eyes, mouths and teeth are a “dead-giveaway” to the quality of workmanship that goes into these Halloween treasures.
Larry Fraga Designs is another hidden secret to the general population. Those who collect other holiday ornaments are quite familiar with his intricate designs. But there’s even more with his ghoulish gore. Glitter is one of Fraga’s trademarks. These heavily glittered treasures twinkle with every movement of the ornament. Fraga combines creative designs with some free blown unique and oddly shaped spooks.
Old World Christmas has a whole new line of low-end priced ornaments that are sure to delight the child in all of us. They are smaller, and somewhat whimsical. From a ghost atop a sugar cone, called “Ice Scream” to jolly pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, these ornaments are excellent quality at lower prices. You can buy a full set of a dozen for a little over $100.00.
Last but certainly not least is a designer called Patricia Breen. Each of her ornaments is a work of art with detailed painting. Made in Poland and available at a very limited number of stores across the United States, these ornaments are truly amazing in their detail. You pay for that detail with a single ornament ranging as high as $100 or more. They are beauties to behold.
Beyond these truly unique artisans you have a large contingent of more prolific designers such as Department 56, Midwest of Cannon Falls and others. They are all fun and collectible.
When Halloween is done, we store our precious ornaments in acid-free tissue paper to ensure that they are protected from the elements of humidity and temperature changes. NEVER store your ornaments in an attic or an area where the temperature extremes can create mold problems in blown glass. The best location is an inside closet where no wall faces an outside environment.
Creating a Halloween tree can be fun and exciting. It’s a recent phenomenon that appears to be catching on fast. Getting in on the ground level in its early years ensures that you’ll have some items that are destined to be collectibles. Who would ever have thought that silver aluminum trees from the 60’s would have increased in value by at least ten-times. Who would have ever thought that my old paper-mache Trick or Treat Pumpkin bucket would be worth nearly 50 times its original purchase price. In the collectibles market, everything has its original 15 minutes of fame, only to be repeated with 15 years of fame later in it’s second time around. Good luck in your collecting.
A lifetime eclectic collector, Tom Geil began enjoying the spirit of Halloween at a very early age and has been collecting ever since. What began as a hobby has now turned into a full time online business marketing Halloween collectibles from nearly every major designer, including black trees, ornaments, tableware, clothing, ceramics, glass and even original signed art work. Check out his collection at www.ghoulgallery.com.