This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Not My Usual Costuming

November 3, 2013

Each year when Halloween arrives I enjoy decorating our front porch with spiders and bats and big spider webs in hopes of scaring the kids. Occasionally I dress up myself. I’ve recycled a black robe and hood I made about 20 years ago for my hubby to wear as the Grim Reaper into a length I can wear since he’s quite a bit bigger than me. Instead of the usual skeleton mask that went with it, I found a half mask with a long beak of the Plague Doctor, or Dottore De La Peste,  from the 1600s. During the Black or Bubonic Plague of that time, it was believed that the germs were transferred by air and odors, so the doctors would wear clothing to completely cover themselves, and a mask with a long beak was filled with herbs that they breathed through. They believed this would protect them from the disease but sadly it was bites from infected rats and fleas that actually spread it.
I found a really cool looking mask at our local Halloween store that sets up during the holiday, and then a soft vinyl hat at Michael’s to finish it off. I even got to wear this to our Costume Guild meeting a couple nights earlier when many of us dressed up for it.

At the Halloween store I also bought a long sheet of vinyl covering that looked like stone walls and covered my front door with some of it.  And I finally found the big ole hairy spider I’d been looking for that was just the right touch to my decorations. My side window had more spiders hanging inside along with static-cling bats on the glass. Since I was gone most of the day on Halloween I decided not to put up my giant spider web.

I recorded the soundtrack from the movie of The Shining that was played on an organ and it sounded really creepy. So I set up on the front porch, put my ipod speakers on the ground behind me, and held my black bucket of candy in wait for my first victims.              
As people began passing by on the sidewalks I heard a few say I’m not going up there. I even heard that from some teenage boys. Some weren’t sure if I was real or a mannequin. Little kids would turn around and go back to their parents so I started waving and smiling at them to show I wasn’t really that scary. One little girl thought I was a hummingbird. Another boy said I was a bird man. I tried to explain what I was but there wasn’t much interest there except with the adults. Many of the kids were very intimidated by the big spider on my door, and said I had a great looking door.  An hour and a half later I was out of the 400 pieces of candy, and had to close up shop. Until next year. 


  1. I love the mask and I could see that it would all look a little intimidating. Isn't that what Halloween is for? :) Sweet that one girl thought you were a humming bird!

    1. Yes, Halloween IS supposed to be scary, Rhissanna. Its the thrills and chills that make it better than candy.

  2. Awesome Sauce!! I love plague doctor masks and yours is fabulous!!! You look totally great!! A hummingbird...that's awesome!!

  3. Val, you are always so creative and full of surprises ...this one is so scary but fun. Halloween fun.


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