Artist builds cemetery display from recycled materials | New


Several Reidland homes got into the Halloween spirit by putting up decorations on their lawns. Walk through a few neighborhoods and you’ll notice skeletons, inflatable black cats, cobwebs, and pumpkins in the yards.

Canterbury Subdivision cheaters can hear the howl of a werewolf and stumble upon a makeshift graveyard filled with 30 handcrafted headstones, marking the supposed final resting places of curious figures like Anita Moore-Tician, Ima Rotten and Bea Gone.

Sonia Travis, a local artist, has set up the makeshift cemetery in her backyard, made each of the headstones with recycled materials, and is getting ready to invite her grandchildren to Halloween to play in the makeshift grave.

Travis has decorated his lawn for Halloween for the past five or six years, she said. It uses recycled materials. She started out by making wire mesh ghosts and wrapping ribbon ghosts. One year, she had a giant spider that laid eggs in the tree in her lawn, and the rest of the lawn was full of spiders. It took him about two months to plan this year’s cemetery exhibit and started setting it up in mid-September.

Travis is a painter by trade, owner of a house painting business and painting animal portraits to order. Halloween, she said, is something she can do for herself.

“Being cunning is a way to get my hands dirty and not be so serious,” Travis said.

Travis makes most of the headstones out of foam board that she gets on construction sites. While the skeletons are store bought, Travis has added red “flesh” to some of the skeletons that greet visitors at the front of the exhibit. She also made skulls on the gravestone by melting jugs of milk and painting on them. Additionally, she made a coffin from which we see a skeleton tipping over, a witch’s cauldron contained within a pentagram of spray foam, a Grim Reaper, and hollow brick columns acting as an opening onto the courtyard.

Some previous decorations have been offered, Travis said, but the display seems to be getting bigger every year. Her husband, David, is sometimes skeptical about the size of the display.

“That’s always his question, every time I do something new: ‘Will this fit in the attic?” Travis said.

She has managed so far by filling other spaces in her house. A closest guest bedroom is dedicated to Halloween costumes and decorations, and the main closet downstairs also quickly accumulates decorations.

“Christmas gets smaller as Halloween gets bigger,” Travis said.

Halloween has special meaning for Travis. She and her husband got married 20 years ago this week and on their wedding night they attended a Halloween party with friends. So, every year, she adds small Halloween decorations on the theme of the bride and groom. This year, the bride and groom stand by her driveway, and between them is a gravestone with the wishes from the movie “Corpse Bride”.

She expects 200 to 300 kids to stop by her neighborhood and home to see all the spooky decorations and get some Raven Witch candy, the costume Travis chose to make and wear this Halloween.

Next year, Travis plans to expand the cemetery. The display will continue to grow until Travis runs out of space in his yard or runs out of storage space in his house.

Follow Hannah Saad on Twitter, @ByHannahSaad or on Facebook at facebook. com / hannahsaad paducahsun.


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