Thursday, October 28, 2010

Inspired Halloween Spreads: Study's Mad Scientist Lab

In the home stretch to Halloween now and I'm trying to plan my attack on the interior and buffet spread. (Nope, I haven't done a thing yet - I have a very busy Saturday ahead of me.)

So what better time to share a few inspiring spreads that others have managed to pull off beautifully? And if you have others inspiring ideas, don't forget to leave them in the comments. I need them!

STUDY Logo

I'm so excited to share what John and Andrew, the dynamic duo behind STUDY shared with me this week. They were kind enough to send over some snaps of their mad scientist party from last year. I'm in love with the whole look. Not only did they pick a fun concept and really commit to it, they created a fabulous backstory (hello? we are kindred halloween spirits!) to go along with it. Rather than me going on about it, I'll let them give you the deets.


STUDY Halloween Party 2009STUDY's Halloween 2009STUDY Halloween Party 2009
STUDY's Halloween 2009

As you probably gathered, we're big proponents of the "themed" party. Last year we decided to go for a mad scientist theme, but we didn't want to just go for generic laboratory with crazy-looking specimens lying around. Our process always starts with, who's the person we're trying to tell a story about?

Last year that person was a brilliant scientist who - after years of not receiving recognition from his peers AND a botched love affair that may or may not have ended in murder - has holed himself up in his crumbling manse where he continues to conduct his increasingly deranged experiments… in between still holding dinner parties for fellow mad scientist cohorts.

The living room acted as our scientist's own living room, but also his de facto lab where he keeps specimen jars, x-rays and anatomical charts.


STUDY's Halloween 2009

For the mantle we purchased a few oversized jars, filled them with cabbages and twigs submerged in water, and backlit them with two florescent blacklight bars. Your average highlighter glows under blacklight, so to achieve the glowing jar effect we cut open a few highlighters and drained them into the water we used to fill the jars.

STUDY Halloween Party 2009


STUDY Halloween Party 2009




STUDY Halloween Party 2009

If you want to try this out it's important to wear gloves and protective clothing as this tends to get everywhere. When draining the highlighter's filament, have a large bowl of some kind under your tap and keep the water going at just a trickle.

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

The x-ray boards were made by taping actual x-rays to the back of our bookcase doors with black electrical tape and then emptying the cases and placing two lamps inside each. Our bookcases allowed for this setup, but you could also use battery-powered lanterns and then you don't have any cords to worry about.

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

X-rays are also fairly easy to come by at medical surplus stores and on ebay, but try not to get too freaked out when you realize that you're holding in your hands another person's real medical drama. Adjacent to the living room, our scientist has his formal sunroom, where he can look out and spy his next victims guests.

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

The chandelier was made from a typical brass chandelier you'd find lying around any Salvation Army. These are easy to find at thrift stores and really, the wonkier the better since you want it to look a little "off".

STUDY Halloween Party 2009


We spray painted the chandelier and a few twigs black, then affixed the twigs to the chandelier with black electrical tape. Everything got another coat of spray paint. Black tapers were secured to where the sockets would have been and further secured with wire. We should caution that if you do use candles, this thing has to be watched at all times. You could also use battery-powered flicker candles and then you've got nothing to worry about.

Our theme continued into the hallway where the incandescent bulbs were replaced with florescent blacklight bulbs.

STUDY's Halloween 2009

Surprisingly these were the absolute hardest items to find. There were some some sort of shady storefronts online that sold florescent blacklight bulbs, but they were usually overpriced. We ended up finding them in, of all places, a Walgreens. They even let you check each store's inventory online!

The bathroom became the aviary, where our mad scientist studies birds that fly in from time to time. The story goes, he didn't intend to have an aviary, but when a tree began to grow up through his tub, well, he just went with it. All the better for us.

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

The "tree" growing in through the tub was from a huge branch that blew down onto our garage the previous summer. Dried leaves filled in the bath, string lights were roped along the branches and fabric birds were wired to the branches. The overall effect ended up being not so much scary, but more magical and made us want to live there forever. We're still sad that the tree had to come out, but bathing sort of necessitates that.

Finally, the dining room is where the mad scientist lays out a spread fit for a deranged academic. We used cheesecloth, lots of inexpensive brass candle holders spray painted black and black tapers to bring the whole look together.

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

STUDY Halloween Party 2009

Halloween 2009

There was a lot of prep time involved in bringing this party to life, but it was also a ton of fun every step of the way. Most of all, we whole-heartedly advocate throwing your own mad scientist-themed shindig in the near future.