specter studios and krampus pittsburgh

we just had a wonderful weekend in pitttsburgh, much of it krampus related!

sometime last krampus season i found that specter studios of pittsburgh was releasing a krampus mask. even with our strong DIY ethic in philadelphia, nothing’s off limits, and i WANTED this krampus mask like i’d never wanted one.

when i looked at the rest of specter’s site, i was impressed with their work and their humor, and contacted them to ask if we could have a family tour on our next visit to pittsburgh. business and operations manager eanna holton was so friendly. we were excited!

when we got to specter, i opened a door onto the main working area, where masks and props lined tables and shelves. both of my kids started sobbing, refusing to enter the building — begging, in fact, not just to get back in the car, but to go back to philadelphia entirely. (this is probably a ringing endorsement for a lot of specter studio’s work, but in the moment it was pretty inconvenient.)

a gal named china came out to see me pleading and wheedling with the children, and suggested that we try a different entrance — a slightly less scary one. so we did that, and that is where we met eanna.


claudia got swooped up in eanna’s arms. she decided that seeing a few masks was worth it, for being carried around by someone who essentially looked just like daphne from “scooby doo”. we got upstairs and claudia yelled down to béla that it was safe up there. eventually, he came too.

CEO/president mark marsen of specter studios is so enthusiastic about their work and was so happy to show us around — even showing us brand new things they were making! and he was approachable and safe-looking.

some of the time.


we saw tables full of kid-sized half-masks that go to a line of costumes made by a boutique children’s studio called chasing fireflies. specter makes three masks for this company’s costume line.


we saw that specter studios stays ready for krampus year-round.


we saw the “positive” for the krampus mask i bought. (do you know i was the FIRST purchaser of specter studio’s krampus mask? literally number one!!)


and we saw racks and racks of bolts of fabrics and furs. mark told us about anthrocon, the world’s largest furries convention that is held annually in pittsburgh — really, one more wonderful thing about pittsburgh, that businesses of all types have embraced and accepted this convention and its attendees, with respect and fun. do i think that kind of thing would be possible in philly? absolutely not.

downstairs, we saw more masks and props and bodypieces, in various states of completion.



then sadly, my elder child was eaten by a lion.


we left with the kids’ having been given actual artists’ proofs of original masks.


do take a look at specter studios’ site. their work is really original. and, as eanna reminded us — we’re halfway to halloween!

our second krampussy stop in pgh was on saturday, at most wanted fine art gallery in lawrenceville. i had been communicating with gallerists nina gibbs (who is also the co-producer of pittsburgh’s 48 hour film festival) and jason sauer throughout the last few months. i knew nina was enthusiastic about bringing krampus to pittsburgh, and, well, we must face facts. pittsburgh will, if all goes as planned, be my family’s home lauf before too long.

i loaded up with books for inspiration, a mask-making tutorial, and hung out with nina, stamatis, fred, and castle. castle actually is a new member of the specter studios team as well, and is writing her THESIS on krampus currently! this mask and costume she made are entirely her own fabrication. that mouth MOVES.


it was fun to talk about all the core virtues and excitements of starting an event like this: let’s sew banners! how about floats! — it was so exciting to see a different space than liberty lands being used as a canvas for a krampuslauf event. and it was lovely to see the superb “let’s put on a show!” vibe that seems so specific to pittsburgh in action.



i wish like crazy i was going to pgh’s first lauf. alas, it is the same day as sinterklaas rhinebeck. a hard choice ahead! we will see what happens.

on saturday night, i found a krampussy piece of jewelry at a store called moon stones in dormont. if there had been more than one, i’d have bought more than one. there was one, and for now it’s mine, but since our relationship has been built in part on sharing our metaphysical castoffs, it will go to arun when it’s ready to.


pittsburgh, you are so ready for krampuslauf. but then again you seem ready for anything.