Good Bones

Photos by Tim Robison

Photos by Tim Robison

Lisa Swain’s interest in skulls, skeletons, and spiders dates back to her high-school days in the ’80s, when she made a personal statement with her clothes and hair in a manner then called “alternative” — the first shades of Goth style. Today, inside the Hendersonville home she shares with her husband Chris and sons Brendan, 11, and Gavin, 8, all the spooky accessories are part of an enviable collection. Many of the items celebrate Día de los Muertos aka Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican ancestor-acknowledgment ceremony that’s become popular in the States for its festively macabre imagery.

Pieces inhabit Swain’s living-room mantel, her kitchen shelves, her car. “My family is tolerant of my goofiness,” she says fondly.

Rarer keepsakes include antique brooches, Central American pottery — Swain has family roots in Panama — and a Raku vase etched with a spider and web. In an interview with Tom Kerr in this fall’s issue of Carolina Home + Garden (Bold Life’s sister publication), Swain revealed, “I even had spiders on my wedding invitations.”

We contacted her again to ask about any seasonal acquisitions. “I have a new sugar skull lamp,” she reports. “You put a candle in it and it makes the skull glow.” She’s also added an original watercolor of a spider on a person’s hand to her big collection. She says she’s in full costume-making mode and also plans to cook up some “dead bread” (pan de muerto) for the holiday.

And while it was still only mid September when Bold Life caught up with Swain, the friendly collector admitted: “I started decorating for Halloween last week.”

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