Handmade Howl-oween
By Karen Parr-Moody

Jason Parker Counce's booth always celebrates the holidays, and for Halloween there is a boo-tiful bunch of creations from this folk artist, interior decorator and antique collector.

Counce's love of Halloween over any other holiday began when he was a mere toddler and his grandmother, a seamstress who always dressed to the nines, fashioned him a costume. His transformation into a cat was by way of her repurposed mink coat.

Counce now has two booths through which to show off his inspired Halloween wares. One is in the original GasLamp Antiques and Decorating Mall and another in the new GasLamp Too. In his booth in the original mall his handmade creations come in a tonal range of colors — grey, cream and white. The palette results in a calm and Zen-like version of Halloween.

 "Those colors give Halloween a spookier feel," Counce says. "But they still keep the look in the everyday range. This way the decorations will blend in with your surroundings rather than stick out like a bright orange pumpkin. The look is a little more subdued and sophisticated than in-your-face Halloween."

He also upped the amount of vintage materials he used this season for a "more nostalgic" look and he increased the number of special details on each piece.

"This year I opted to do quality, not quantity," Counce says. "So I limited myself to the amount of pieces I decided to do and that gave me extra time to do the details that I wanted to do."

The glamourous grey pumpkins in the photo, above right, simply beg to be lined along the center of a dining room table (mini pumpkins, $16; medium pumpkins, $22; Booth B-309). Each velvet pumpkin is cleverly topped with a real stem.

Counce explains the inspiration behind these pumpkins.

"Last year I found these vintage drape panels that were grey velvet," he says. "I bought them to keep for this year to make the pumpkins out of. I was really into it because I had just gotten through selling all of those pumpkins last season that were in tones of bittersweet, orange and white. They did so well and I thought, 'What do I want to do next?' I thought, 'Well, I really want to do some grey ones!'"

(Counce also made colored pumpkins, which are featured in his GasLamp Too booth, Dirt; there they are found in a range of yellow, light green and terra cotta).

These little cats sachets in the basket, above left, are among the other darling items that would complete one's table decor (small cats, $10; larger cats, $15).

"The cats are created from an old design that I did many years ago," Counce says. "But this time I brought them back as lavender sachets."

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Scardy Cat, a duo that bursts at the seams with personality (photo right; $75 for one; $125 for the pair). Counce is known for creating an family tree of such handmade figures, including Strawberry People and Tomato Gnomes. Mr. and Mrs. Scardy cat are made of vintage fabrics and buttons and include many careful details, such as the witch hat Mrs. Scardy carries for toting Halloween candy.

"I used anything from old cotton to silk to net," Counce says of the vintage fabrics he used on these cats. "Then I used lots of ribbon trims that were vintage."

Mrs. Scardy's witch hat — originally meant for her head — fell into her hands by accident, Counce says.

"One night I was working and I was putting the hat on and it fell off and it landed. I thought, 'How cool would that be to trick or treat with a witch's hat?' You never know how these things happen."

Counce always keeps silkscreened photo sachets in his booth, and for Halloween he offers a virtual family dynasty of creepy portraits from which to choose (photo, left; $3.50 to $6.50).

Counce says, "I always say with those portrait sachets that they are an instant family, because you may or may not know them, but everyone has the ones that they like. With them, you can be discriminating about your ancestors. You get to pick and choose who you want to be in your family."

Another bit of Halloween magic arrives via the fanciful wands Counce has created from black linen trimmed with old buttons, ribbons and silk fabric (photo, right; $26).

"A wand felt like it could be sort of Halloween-ish," he says. "You know, it's a magic wand. I just thought it would be something fun and different."

Fun and different sums it up. Counce's Halloween world is where goth meets glitz and where the witches are always well-heeled. So whether one is trick-or-treating, throwing a ghoulish party or just dressing up a festive room, one will find frightfully fun ideas from Jason Parker Counce.

Print this page