Oh My Goth…. it’s Halloween at the Office!

[Note: If you read this post last year, check out Oh My Goth (Part 2) where I show you how I carved a tombstone]

I LOVE Halloween; it always gets my creative juices flowing! Hubs isn’t crazy about doing big Halloween productions at home, so I get my fill from my home-away-from home: at the office!

For those of you lucky enough to be able to decorate your office spaces at this ghoulish time of year, I have a few ideas! Today, I’m showing you two office spaces I vamped up many a full moon ago.

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The first time I got creative around the office was at the turn of the 21st century when I was in the advertising biz (doesn’t that make me sound impossibly old?). My boss was a notorious chain smoker and I was always ribbing him about quitting. So what’s a devilish girl to do? Immortalize his likeness in a pumpkin with a lit cigarette in his mouth, of course.

Back then I didn’t have a digital camera; this pic was taken with a Polaroid:HALL003_bof.jpg

Here’s a pic of the boss holding his pumpkin (which I blanked out because I didn’t want to post his picture without permission). The pumpkin just doesn’t have the same effect in daylight when it – and the cigarette – isn’t lit, but you can see how the carved detail was accomplished!

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Here’s how I did it. I first cleaned out the pumpkin in the traditional manner. I took a real picture of the boss and digitized it into shades of grey, black and white using Photoshop. I attached the template to the pumpkin using tape and then used a pick to prick the outline through the paper into the pumpkin. I removed the paper pattern and saved it for reference, then I cut into the pumpkin skin using wood chisels and various other cutting tools. The white areas were mostly cut out, while I took the orange skin off the grey areas to a shallow depth and then left the black areas untouched. Carving at various depths gives just the right amount of contrast and really makes it come to life when lit.

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Ideally when you light the pumpkin from within, it’s best to use a flashlight. I used a tea light because it was the only thing I had on-hand, but that was a mistake. The heat will start to cook the pumpkin and make all your hard work and effort droop from the heat!

If you’re interested in getting more creative with your pumpkin carving, the site Serious Eats, has two great tutorials. The first one will get you started on carving and shading a pumpkin and the second one shows you how to carve a photograph into a pumpkin, like I did.

To further my Halloween fun, I dressed up as the pumpkin I carved using orange coloured sweats and an ironed-on a picture of my boss on the face of the sweatshirt. To complete the effect, I attached a cigarette in his mouth by wrapping an elastic around the ciggie and fabric from the back. Luckily the boss had a sense of humour!HALL005_bof2.jpg

By 2003, my boss was headhunted away from us and the agency sadly closed its doors a year later after filing for bankruptcy in the U.S. I moved on to a brand new career in another company. However, a few years later, that company too was feeling the pressure of hard economic times. To save money, the CEO decided to close down our cafeteria where all employees had enjoyed  complimentary breakfast and lunch every day.  We were all pretty bummed out about it, but I was happy enough to even have a job after loosing my last one! However, that didn’t prevent me from spoofing the whole situation at Halloween!

Given the ‘graveness’ of the situation, I was able to commander an empty cubicle so I could create my scene. At the entrance was a ‘tombstone’ that read Cafeteria Rest In Peace. I kept the tombstone itself pretty simple.

If you’re interested in making your own one-of-a-kind piece, check out my tutorial here. If I was making another tombstone today to decorate my home at Halloween, it would read “Died… from not forwarding that e-mail to 10 other people.”

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At the base of the tombstone I placed some dead roses on top of some dead grass. In the office chair sat a dummy office employee – that I made from wire mesh, pool noodles (with articulated arms and legs) and a hair dressers’ head. I nicknamed her ‘Fembot’ after the Austin Powers character. She was stylishly dressed for the last decade, sporting a company hat and hoodie. I placed a ‘ball and chain’ around her ankle (who doesn’t feel like that at work?) and a ghoulish baby in her lap, because sometimes it just feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day – eh?

Although it doesn’t show well in the picture above, the baby’s head was a skull that lit up,  with a spider residing inside the cavity to up the creepiness factor!

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On the desk itself, sat a lunch tray I managed to ‘borrow’ from the cafeteria before it closed down. The plate was empty – save for an albino mouse scavenging for food where there was none to be found! Spiders were crawling around a rancid mug of coffee and a pile of diapers with a few upside down ‘dead’ ones thrown in for good measure.

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Oh how I love to decorate for Halloween at the office – and poke fun at Corporate America in the process (my company was US-based)! If you decorate your office at Halloween, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments.

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share on Facebook. And don’t forget to say boo and scary on this Halloween!

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6 thoughts on “Oh My Goth…. it’s Halloween at the Office!

  1. Ha-Ha! I’m so glad you posted, Sara. These are great ideas and beautifully executed. What fun. I honestly thought that was a real person in the chair, though her face seemed a bit “off”. Now I know why. It’s really sad when companies have to give up something so wonderful as subsidized lunches. Your cafeteria tray is both inspired…and gross. 🙂

    You make an adorable pumpkin. Your boss must have been blown away.

    I’ve never had the chance to decorate at work, but my sister has. They created a “graveyard” once with the names of employees that had been laid off.

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