chōchin-obake at space 12-10-11

We spent much of the summer of 2017 reallocating rooms in our home for new uses. Tuck and Béla switched bedrooms, and we moved the TV room/living room back to the cozy back of the house where we had preferred it. The front room of our house is now a sort of home-schoolroom, but also a space where we can make things — with enough room to invite others over. (And even more room, once we get the piles of displaced things and craft supplies actually put away.)

Even though I knew the space would not be “ready” (not clean, not neat, possibly more overwhelming than inviting), we did a “soft opening”, on the first anniversary of my father’s death.


We ended up with six kids, three moms, Tucker, a lotta pizzas, three boxes of monster cereals, and five completed chōchin-obake — discarded, misused, “haunted” paper lanterns. I had fallen in love with the idea of these when the kids had learned about yokai (haunted home objects that have fallen into misuse) at Shofuso summer camp in July.

Seemed a little much to try to make a haunted futon… but paper lanterns are something we DO have. They may only be used once a year, but we do love them. Our chōchin-obake are pretty fragile and probably single-use characters, but will be available at Parade for the taking.


Traditionally, Japanese paper lanterns would be lit with single tapers, which we started making with LED tea-lights and toilet paper rolls and lots of hot glue. Pretty great effect! We still have to spray paint the, and the fact is they won’t provide much light in the lanterns… so there’s a few more things to figure out here. We’ll get there.

Ferdinand’s idea to make compound eyes on a lantern was a good one. Addie also played with the paper-backed wood veneer I had gotten, and boy, do we hope we can make use of that in a mask this year. It’s fascinating! And Addie is clever as they come. I wish she had more time to do stuff with us!

Tucker managed to decorate most of his lantern with… sriracha. (See if you can pick it out in the featured image.) He’s done this before. With other stuff. Whatever, Tuck.

Since most of the kids avoided the actual lantern-making until they sensed the supplies were being put away (clever), Béla and Claudia finished theirs up on another day.


Our next drop-in at Space 12-10-11 (can anyone figure out what that name memorializes?) will be on Monday the 30th, hopefully working on skull lanterns for outside of Baba Yaga’s hut. And then — the legs!! Oh boy, the legs!! So much going on this season — the machinery is gearing up, here we go!