After my grandfather died, my grandmother took a ceramics class.  She got out of it exactly what she needed — distraction, friendship, and a sense that she could be happy and engaged once again.  Grandma made more than a dozen pieces, and not too long ago, I did something I thought I’d never do:  I gave them a creepy Halloween makeover.

My inspiration came from Blair Stocker’s handsome how-to guide, Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love. In Forget Me Not #74, from my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, I reveal Stocker’s Sinister Ceramics concept: coating figurines such as cats, birds, and owls in black spray paint and sticking red jewels on the eyes. (I think Hummels work well, too, as they can be made to look especially creepy.)

I adore this project because it gives new life to old objects while simultaneously provoking conversation about the objects’ origins. Giving my grandmother’s ceramics a goth makeover provided a chance to talk about her with my children. Every figurine is proof of her resilience and grit, and every October I tell my children why their great grandmother made them, hoping to engrain in them the very attributes I admired so much in her.

For a while, I wondered what my grandmother would think of her ceramics’ new, decidedly dark look. Would she be offended?  I truly don’t think so. I like to imagine she’d be gratified I found a way to share a part of her life she was proud of, too.