Halloween is largely a secular celebration that stems from the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian All Saints’ Day holiday. Often associated with trick-or-treating, costumes and horror movies, Halloween has undergone tremendous changes over recent year, including being glamorized and commercialized towards all demographics.
Of Vaillancourt Folk Arts collection of antique confectionery moulds, there is a limited supply of Halloween themed pieces. While there are various reasons for the rarity of Halloween moulds, the largest reason is simply the holiday itself is relatively new in it’s popularity among the masses. To meet the demands of the consumers, Judi Vaillancourt had to be creative in how she could celebrate the holiday with chalkware, often adapting non-Halloween moulds to work for the holiday.
Most of the original Halloween moulds created by European manufacturers were actually create specifically for the American consumer. In fact, traditional European moulds (most commonly La Befana, the Italian Gift Giver) were commonly mistaken as witches, as the physical appearance was easily confused with a modern day witch. With a limited amount of Halloween moulds Judi would experiment by taking these existing vintage moulds and adapt them to be holding recognized shapes, like candy bags, pumpkins, or even costume accessories.
In the turn of the 20th century the FDA stepped in outlawing metal moulds for food, instead making confectioners to use plastic moulds. With the cost to develop and create decreased, modern mould designers were able to create contemporary moulds which, as Vaillancourt Folk Art was happy to find, included recognized Halloween figures. Quickly buying these moulds, Judi was able to design pieces based upon recognized shapes—ghosts, witches, and pumpkins alike.
After developing a glimmer line for Neiman Marcus, Judi decided to take contemporary designs—although still using authentic vintage glass glitter—and develop dozens of one-of-a-kind pieces. These pieces as simple as a witch and mould in a shadowbox and pumpkins with glitter and decorative, to complex large pumpkins with marble eyes and papier-mâché masks.
Lectures and Education
The popularity in Halloween collections is not new. In fact, at Collector’s Weekend 2010, notable Halloween collector presented his award winning collection of vintage Halloween items. Bruce Elsass, pictured to the right, spent 2 hours talking about the historical aspects of collecting Halloween figures.
While Halloween has undergone some tremendous commercialization, it still remains a popular, fun, Holiday that both children and their parents can enjoy. We hope that our Fall and Halloween Chalkware pieces help make Halloween even more fun.