How to Appease Your House Spirit for Halloween

You’ve heard it haven’t you? The sigh under your bed just as you lie down. The scratching on the window that stirs you from sleep?

Come closer to the computer. Lower your voice and look over your shoulder.

You know those bumps in the night? Those creaks on the stairs when you’re in bed with the dog and no one else is home? Those misplaced keys and glasses, or randomly spilled milk on the counter? The flash in the shadows that looks like cat eyes, but you don’t have a cat? Something brushes against your foot when you step down onto the rug to get a drink of water in the middle of the night. Something tugs at your sweater when you sit down to watch the television.

You wonder for a moment, then shake it off to dreams that linger, or spicy food before bed, or dust in your eyes, or maybe the wind.

But that’s not it, and you secretly know that there’s more to life and to your home than what you see.

You have a house spirit, and he or she wants your attention.

You can choose to ignore the signs, but they seldom stop. In fact, they get louder, stronger, and more persistent.

So, what can you do?

The house spirit, like a neglected friend, wants a little communication, a little whimsy, a little sacrifice.

Of course, there are traditional ways: leaving out a small offering of milk, meade, or vodka (depending on your ancestry), singing folksongs, keeping a clean kitchen, leaving a special broom beside the hearth, sharing books for All Hallow’s Read. But be forewarned, modern house spirits can be more demanding.

Lucky for you, the kind folks at the Night Garden have provided you with a way to do all three!

They have created the October Challenge to encourage you to create Art inspired by a house spirit. This can be a drawing, a doll, a story, a poem, a recipe, a blanket, any creative response that you can imagine! (Need more ideas, see this blog entry.)

And the sacrifice? Well, you can definitely submit Art without making any donation, but perhaps you can spare a little money to help the Bengals? This special breed is often adopted by overzealous owners, then given up when they realize that you get a lot of cat and quite a bit of tiger-attitude in these darlings. Have I mentioned that house spirits LOVE Bengals? They do.

Complete details about the challenge are here:

To recap, participate in the Night Garden challenge and you:


2.) Become a part of an online community of awesome artists

3.) Get published online, on site,  alongside professional writers and artists like Christopher Lincoln and Nathalie Boisard-Beudin! That’s some mighty fine company.

4.) Help Bengals: a breed of cat formed by the cross of a domestic feline and an Asian Leopard Cat. These cats are often adopted by overzealous owners, then given up when they realize that you get a lot of cat and quite a bit of tiger-attitude in these darlings.

5.) Maybe get published in a limited edition hardcover version of a new comic about a house spirit! That’s right, some lucky submissions will be included in a special section at the end of Sticks and Bones: Home Is Where the Hearth Is (due out Summer 2012)

6.) Have a chance to win a cameo inside the comic!

6.) Have a chance to win a signed, limited edition poster of the Night Garden Challenge created by Madeline and me!

No one really needs a reason to make Art, but those are some pretty great reasons. Only a few days left!

On October 31st, when the veil between the worlds thins and entities seeking to make contact have more power than before, do you want your house spirits to be happy or discontent?

"The Spirit of the Secrets Closet" by Christopher Lincoln for the October Night Garden Challenge


Cats and House Spirits – The September Night Garden Challenge

Last spring, the lovely people at The Night Garden approached me to be the guest artist for their Inspiration Challenge. I write a bit more about the website and their guest artist at the time (musician Jason Webley) here.

The Night Garden’s Inspiration Series is an opportunity for creative folks to get inspired by a particular artist’s work and raise money for the Great Lakes Bengal Rescue (GLBR) in the process.

March-April Guest Artist  – Jason Webley

May-June Guest Artist – Writer/Artist Christopher Lincoln

September-October Guests Artists – Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Madline Carol Matz

That’s right! Madeline and I have collaborated to inspire you over at The Night Garden. In fact, it’s such an inspirational challenge that working on it inspired us to create an entire comic around the characters featured in Madeline’s artwork!  (More on that in the next post.)

I’d ask that you take a look at the challenge and create an artistic response to it. You have until Halloween (October 31) to submit your response or make a donation. From the site:

Persons donating to Great Lakes Bengal Rescue between September 1st and October 31st will be entered into a random prize draw for a signed print of Madeline’s artwork above. Valya and Madeline will (consult with their respective house spirits and) also select one art contributor to have a cameo in the comic, drawn into at least one panel of the story.

The subject of our challenge is house spirits, those little guardians who traditionally protect our homes (sometimes with a little mischief thrown in). We hope that you create your art with house spirits in mind. Some things to think about:

What might your house spirit look like? What does he or she like to eat/drink? Where do they reside in a home?What’s their favorite music? What would might they like you to knit for them? Can you photograph their favorite dark corner? Do they get along with your pets?

You can also think about the house spirits of other homes, fictional or historical:

Does the TARDIS have a house spirit (perhaps a cheeky brownie)?

What does the house spirit of the White House look like? What’s their spin on past and present administrations?

What about retelling the events of Wuthering Heights from the perspective of the house spirit living there? Or Gone with the Wind? Or Frankenstein? (Halloween is coming after all.)

How about your favorite authors’ or artists’ homes? Is there a kobold in Neil Gaiman’s attic? Does the Cloud Club (where Amanda Palmer and other artists live) have a house spirit (or a hippy-esque house spirit commune)? Does Felicia Day’s perky little brownie follow her around from trailer to trailer? How does Kyle & Trillian’s Roswell feel about their house spirit? Who is the guardian on Jason Webley’s houseboat? Do the Evelyn Evelyn sisters have conjoined house spirits?

The responses can be as diverse as the inspiration: photos, sketches, flash fiction pieces, recipes, poppets, knitting, a song, a sonnet, a special perfume oil, a candle, a woodcarving or clay sculpture, jewelry, or a hat. So many options!

We have some of our own ideas to share! You can follow the story of our house spirit (a domovyk named Yaroslav) on our kickstarter page. Sticks and Bones, Issue 1: Home is Where the Hearth is.

We cannot wait to see/read/hear/smell/wear/taste your house spirit-inspired art and help Great Lakes Bengal Rescue !

Poppet plays Miss Lupescu & other collaborations

The lovely and talented Lisa Snellings makes Poppets. Well, it’s probably more accurate to say that Lisa is astute and intuitive enough to have tapped into the magical world of Poppets, and she shares them with the rest of the world. 😉

I love Poppets. Many people do. There are photos of Poppets all around the world in unexpected places. Here’s one of mine at the door to the fairy tree in our backyard.

If you would like a glimpse into the mind and process of this remarkable artist, Lisa’s blog is here. You can also purchase her poppets here, and that brings me to the point of this quick little entry.

Poppets love books. Lisa has created Poppets playing various fictional characters and reading their favorites. Most recently, Lisa created a Miss Lupescu Poppet (from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book).

I love her. (How could I not?)

As if you needed another reason to invite this Poppet into your home, Lisa is donating 20% of the sales of the Miss Lupescu Poppet (and only 4 remain) to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (or CBDLF). If Miss Lupescu is not your favorite, there are many other fanciful creatures on her etsy site:

Poppet Plays Miss Lupescu - The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

I love it when artists inspire one another and collaborate to find new ways to introduce wonder into the world.

Speaking of collaboration, the Night Garden has its newest Inspiration Challenge with Christopher Lincoln (author of Billy Bones). Visit the Night Garden site, see his sketch, and participate to support Great Lakes Bengal Rescue.

Mr. Lincoln will give away the original doodle to the person whose donation puts them over the $250 mark by midnight, June 30th. Entries will be accepted May 1, 2011 through June 30, 2011.

My oldest already loved Billy Bones, but Mr. Lincoln became one of the kids’ favorite writers when he met us for a coffee in Minneapolis. They had a lovely chat and he signed her book. She was SO excited!  (Buy a copy of his marvelous books, and share them with kids of all ages!)

One last collaboration tidbit, if you haven’t head of the Nighty Night album by 8 in 8 (a collaboration by Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds, and Damian Kulash of OK Go), read more about their creative process of working together at Mad Oak Studios to create 6 songs in 12 hours at the website. You can also listen and buy a digital copy of the album at

My kids love several of the songs and have been sing The Problem with Saints (the Joan of Arc song) for the last two weeks. This has also resulted into the acquisition of new interesting vocabulary words for my 3, 5, and 7-year-olds: bisected, vivisect, and bifurcated. (Have I mentioned how much the kids’ teacher love me?)

Inspired by the album and encouraged by Amanda and Neil, their fans created videos of the songs that can also be viewed on the site.

I leave you with one of my favorites: