How to Make A Real-Life Halloween Witch: 1908

 

Vintage witch postcard courtesy of Missmary.com

Vintage witch postcard courtesy of Missmary.com

HALLOWEEN WITCH MAY ADD MUCH JOY

Must Carry Proverbial Broom and It May Be Covered With Paper

For children nothing adds so much to the thrilling joy of Halloween as to have a “real, live witch” direct the different tests and games

Her costume is so simple to make that even an impromptu sorceress is possible in most families. The high, peaked cap should be cut from stiff cardboard covered with black paper muslin and pasted over with green snakes, little red devils and yellow cats.

The gown can be several rough breadths of black paper muslin, draped on the person who is to wear it, and roughly sewed together so as to have a short-waisted effect and wide, flowing sleeves.

Around the neck should be brought a narrow, pointed kerchief of red muslin. On one sleeve should be sewed a great yellow cat, cut from paper and on the other a curling green snake as big and as curved as the sleeve permits.

The witch must carry the proverbial broom, the handle of which can be covered with orange paper. On her shoulder should be sewed, as if perching there, a stuffed toy cat, such as is to be found in nurseries.

To make the face more gruesome the mouth should be supplied with a set of teeth cut from orange peel. These are simply a strip of the peel about half an inch deep and wide enough to fit around the top jaw. The teeth are cut into regular slits, with enough space left at the top not to have the set break through. When adjusted, the orange teeth not only transform the looks but the voice of the witch. It is well for her, however, to have several sets made for emergencies.

The hair should be allowed to hang and the face have white streaks of paint put on, while phosphorus should be rubbed on forehead, nose and ends of fingers so that it has a gruesome shine in a dark room.

The Washington [DC] Times 29 October 1908: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One imagines the gruesome shine of the phosphorus continued for longer than the duration of the Hallowe’en party.  Phosphorus in cream form was a highly effective rat poison. Persons making phosphorus matches were often killed or mutilated by a bone disease known as “phossy jaw.”  The substance was also used by the military in incendiary bombs. One supposes that this is just another manifestation of Hallowe’en’s  dangerous pranks and poisoned candies, so often reported in the papers of the past as innocent frolics.

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