When Jo Osmond Morris moved from the United Kingdom to Toluca Lake in 2013, she fell in love — not only with the small-town vibe and the friendliness of her neighbors, but with the community’s favorite holiday. “Halloween really isn’t a big holiday in the U.K., so experiencing how it’s celebrated here really reminds me of watching American movies as a child and seeing the houses with the big decorations in the front gardens,” she says. “I think it’s so much fun!”
With more time at home during the pandemic giving her the opportunity for special projects, Morris channeled Victor Frankenstein and created some monsters: papier-mâché versions of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, Slimer from Ghostbusters and Jabba the Hutt from Return of the Jedi. And in a community as Halloween-obsessed as Toluca Lake, it’s no surprise these highly detailed pieces of ’80s monster art took social media by storm when she shared pictures on Facebook and Nextdoor.
“So many neighbors messaged me directly and commented on the post expressing how much they enjoyed reading and looking at the photos,” she says. “I never planned for this to become any kind of business, but since my post, I have sold the monsters I made originally to local neighbors. I also made another Audrey II, which is now being displayed at the restaurant Michael’s on Riverside.”
As intimidating as these papier-mâché creatures look on the outside, making them by hand — and finding room in your home — may seem just as daunting. However, Morris explains, it may not be as frightening as you think.
“It’s actually a very easy process. First, I mix white school glue with water and rip lots of strips of paper,” she says. “Then, I inflate a beach ball (well, a giant one in these cases) and cover the entire thing in the glue and paper. I leave it overnight to dry, and the paper becomes rock-hard, then I remove the ball. With some characters, I add paper towels on top to give texture and create the face. Finally, you paint them! The great thing about these decorations is that because they are made from paper, they are inexpensive and lightweight; therefore, they’re easy to move and store.”
With her crafts being such a hit, Morris says it would be a treat to continue creating papier-mâché for the community to enjoy. “I am currently working on a giant spooky spider, and I have also been requested to make Audrey II in a shippable size to sell on Etsy,” she says. “Who knows if I will have the time next year to make these, but for now, I have loved bringing the joy I had from creating them to the local community — especially in a time where we all need something to smile about.”