Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Skeletons and clowns- scary benches come out of the closet

I have a bone to pick with Halloween.

Miggy, my best imaginary friend: Me too. The clowns are after me again.

Yes, there's quite a thing about scary clowns going on at the moment. And clown benches, of course.

Miggy:  These scary clowns are giving me a headache.

I hate clowns. They make me much afraid.

Much Afraid from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, 1683

Well, Migs, I'm glad you got that off your chest.

Now I'd like to get on with my skeleton benches and all their funky bones.

Wow! This is funky! 

There are 22 bone benches in this sculpture. The human body has 206 bones, including 80 bones in the axial skeleton (skull and torso) and 126 bones in the appendicular skeleton of the arms and legs. Did you know that each of your feet has 26 bones and . . .

That's enough anatomy, thanks. I've got a lot to do. This time of year I have to check everything carefully, searching for clowns.

I know what you mean. It's the same with skeleton benches. You don't want them to be unsafe.

Miss Unsafe Brakes 1938

The skeleton benches are coming out of the closet for Halloween.

I even found one in my ensuite.

Oh, that old trick; nipping into the loo for a cigarette.

                              Head of A Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette 1886, Vincent Van Gogh

Can I light that for you?

Vincent Price, 1960s film still

Skeletons aren't scary though. Whatever skeletons get up to, you can see right through them.

That's a bone of contention. 

Skulls aren't so good. They're usually signs of danger.

Our neighbour, Innocent, is ready for the Day of the Dead. 

This is terrifying!

Yeah. At least a clown has a heart.

But clowns are creepy and horrible. Whereas skeletons are cuddly and cute.

And make no bones about it, some of them are a real laugh. 

In the scary stakes, skeletons don't hold a candle to clowns.

Yes, they do.

photo by Joanna Michalak

Skeletons, we salute you.

I don't know what goes on in their heads though.

L'Assiette au Beurre 1904, Gustave-Henri Jossot

Skeletons are very musical apparently. 

What do they play? Trombone?

This one plays a mean banjo.

I wonder why he's playing on his own.

Maybe he had no body to play with.

photo by Joanna Michalak
Not funny. 

By the way, I saw a great trio the other night.

And there was a cracking skeleton duet down at the Fibula's Arms.

They're coming back for the Day of the Dead I think. 

Yes, Las Calacas are very big in Mexico.

That's the artist Drida Kivera and her husband Friego isn't it?

It is. What a love story! 

Well, I know many a woman who has waited a long time for the perfect man.

You've been waiting a long time, Migs. How's the online dating going?

I keep meeting a lot of clowns.

Don't give up hope. Your perfect guy is waiting on a bench near you. You'll be together forever.

I'm not sure that's a good thing.

These old couples can get seriously thin. 

                                                   Man Geht Mil 1916, Hannah Hoch

Love is in the air; I can feel it in my bones.

Even a wish bone isn't going to help me find a man.

Here's your knight in shining armour. He's riding on a bench!

The knight seems to be alive, more or less. But the horse is a skeleton.

Maybe you're being too fussy. There are loads of nice men out there.

Like where?

Well, remember those two guys at the library?

Dead. Both dead.

Fair enough. What about that guy on a stone bench?

Too thin. Positively skeletal. And dripping with blood. 

At least he's got some colour though. The trouble with skeletons is, they're almost always black and white.

I don't think that's a problem.

This skeleton bench is gorgeous! 

I like this one too. 

Er, this isn't a skeleton though.

Oh, I see what you mean. 

But wouldn't a pop of colour make skeleton benches more attractive?


If you want something lovely, look at these beautiful skeleton leaves.

These really warm the chilly autumn of my bones.

I'm glad you're feeling better, Migs. Now I need to get on and finish my Halloween bench blog.

Which blog is that?

It's this one! The story about skeleton benches.

It's not much of a story though, is it?  It's kind of a blah blah blah blog.

True. I guess it's more of an outline. 

You should have done a proper zombie apocalypse story.

I know. Zombie nurses and so on. But I haven't had time to gather more terrifying benches. 

Well, Benchsite readers are pretty sympathetic. 

I'll just have to pray that they're ok with a skeleton story.

Or clowns.

Innocent, is that you? Why are you wearing clown makeup?

Innocent: I'm going out to dinner.  

OK then. Bone appetit!

Innocent: And then I'm going dancing.

                                      A Party on Mobilisation Day 1936, Daniel Sabater

If we're finished with skeletons now I'm going to brave it and go out. 

Me too. I hope I don't meet any more sad clowns. 


If you don't find skeletons or clowns terrifying enough, have a look at our previous Benchsite Halloween story. You'll find plenty of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, zombies, and other horrors at

The first skeleton sitting on a stone bench seems to be picking a thorn from his foot, so no wonder he looks miserable. The lithograph is from Elementi di Anatomia dating back to 1837-39. The source is 
and the authors are Francesco Bertinatti and Mecco Leone at

Miss Unsafe Brakes appeared at the 1938 Chicago Auto Show as a skeleton. I guess it makes some kind of sense.

There's a real thing about clowns going on at the moment in Europe, North America, and elsewhere. Clowns are jumping out at people and scaring them. There has been violence and fear; it's not just coulrophobia. Apparently the term coulrophobia is a recent one, used mainly on the internet and not derived from any specific psychiatric condition, though it is well-established in research that many people, especially children, have a fear of clowns (Miggy included). A few years ago the Bestival had to change their theme when it became clear that many Bestival-goers are coulrophobic.

The clown zombie is from Soul Stealer, who took the picture at World Zombie Day in London in 2012. There are a huge number of brilliant portraits on Soul Stealer's photostream, including goblins, steampunks, goths, zombies and some really creepy dolls. It's Halloween every day at  

Der_Krampus is a candy coloured clown I found on Flickr Creative Commons.  He's by George F, perhaps he even is George F. I'm not coulrophobic but Der Krampus is very scary indeed. If you don't believe me, have a look at the set of photos of what clowns get up to on their holidays. Elsewhere, George F has some gorgeous, haunting photos of abandoned institutions; these really are the stuff of nightmares.

Travis is an archaeologist who is originally from Long Beach, California, though he has also lived in Seattle, Anchorage and North Carolina. Borracho is his photo of the drunk skeleton on a bench, which was taken at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in 2009.

Much Afraid is a character from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, 1683

The skeleton sitting on a bench with a prominent ribcage is a meme generator from July 2011. What did people come up with for the waiting skeleton? Well, the usual stuff really. 1) Hello, customer service? Yes, I'll hold. 2) She said "I'll be ready in five minutes." And my favourite: Waiting for affordable healthcare.

The public artwork Funky Bones is an outdoor sculpture by Atelier van Lieshout, a Dutch artist collective led by Joep van Lieshout with a studio in Rotterdam.  The sculpture was created in 2010 and is the site of a romantic picnic in the novel The Fault in Our Stars. Currently located in the 100 Acres Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park within the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Museum.  Made from fiberglass, plywood and concrete, the Funky Bones sculpture consists of 22 white and black bone-shaped benches.

The little skeleton looking for something is a performing skeleton which Jot Peh saw at Las Ramblas in Barcelona way back in 2006. Jot is a Dubliner who is much, much travelled. Check out his albums at  And speaking of Ireland, we have some very green St. Patrick's Day benches at

The two headless skeletons are on a CNC cut red bench based on "PlayaTech" collapsible bench designs, used for Burning Man 2009, and Pandora's Fix-It Shoppe and Lounge. They were photographed by Sam Ley at  Sam is a renewable energy engineer from Boulder, Colorado.

The skeleton in my ensuite is from the wonderful Powerhouse Museum Collection on Flickr Commons. It's a plate glass negative, taken about 1900, entitled Portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentwood chair. It's a gift of the estate of Raymond W. Phillips, 2008.

Yes, the Head of a Skeleton With A Burning Cigarette is a work by the great Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). It was created in 1886.

Sign Fail is one of the brilliant discoveries I have made on etsy. Michael Bancroft from Melbourne makes funny sign replicas inspired by real-life hilarity - the best of Chinglish and Engrish on handmade funny signs, cards & magnets. There are loads of Sign Fail signs on Benchsite. They're quirky, cool, inexpensive, great fun.

The little red skeleton child on a bench was in San Diego way back in 2008. The photo is by Mike Liu, a dad who fancies himself a writer. He describes himself as an occasional oversharer, in the classical internet-neat-stuff-curation sense of the word.  

In 2015 two skeletons in Portland, Oregon seem to have tickled the funny bone of a man on a bench   The photo is by an extroverted software engineer, outdoorsman, role-player, and otaku who communicates mostly in movie quotes. Here's looking at you, kid. 

Joanna Michalak sent me the skeletal hands holding up candles, and the skeleton head with a very flimsy body which looks like it might be made out of a hessian bag. I know Thin is Good and all that, but really, it's not much of a body, is it? 

The two saluting skeletons holding candles are in the wonderful Franche Compte museum at the Citadelle in Besancon, France. This quirky museum shows all facets of rural life in Franche Compte.  

The skeleton looking into another skeleton's head is an illustration from a French anarchist magazine published in 1904. The illustrator is Gustave-Henri Jossot (1866-1951. 

The skeleton playing  a banjo is an animated Halloween decoration from Walgreens for Halloween 2013. It's from the collection of Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube. I saw it in Mike's Flickr photostream at 

The skeletons playing the piano are from the National Archives UK, 1893.

What is it with skeletons playing musical instruments?  The Day of the Dead skeleton couple are from I really like them! They have featured on Benchsite before, at 

The Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera second wedding photo is by Bones Nelson in Canada. Sherri Nelson makes all kinds of dazzling folk art, including this brilliant portrait print photo. Her etsy shop is at and her website is at  She sells a wide assortment of Day of the Dead psychedelic art prints, custom portrait paintings, kids' clothes, sugar skull ornaments, gothic art, rockabilly art , necklaces, printable cards, PDFs and home decor.

Calaca is a colloquial Mexican Spanish name for a skull or skeleton. Calacas are prominent in Mexico and are especially used as decorations for the Mexican Day of the Dead festival on the first of November. Let Drida Kivera Frida Kahlo and Friego Rahlo Diego Rivera show you the magnifico fiesta of Mexican benches we found at 

Gone are the days when wedding toppers were scared grooms and bored brides. At Splendorlocity in Stone Mountain, Georgia they have all kinds of amazing wedding toppers, including themes with lots of people sitting on benches. Day of the Dead Goth themed wedding toppers? No problem. A skeleton bride who has waited for ever for the right man? Yes, definitely. And much more besides.

Peter Kelly is a business analyst from Sound Beach, New York. He went travelling back in 2002 and saw lots of bizarre things, including the  skeletons in love on a bench; they were in a very strange sculpture park in
Nong Khai, Northeast Thailand. 

The very, very thin couple walking together are not skeletons but they are seriously thin. The work is called Man Geht Mil and I have not been able to get a sensible translation of this. It was created in 1916 by German artist Hannah Hoch.

Valerie Everett lives in Tuscumbia, USA and is a frequent Benchsite contributor. She was out and about on Christmas Day in 2008 when she photographed Ronald McDonald on a bench in Indianapolis.

In his album Words, Ozzy Delaney spells out words using, um, the stuff that the word is about. So, the word Orange is made from slices of carrot. Fire, cheese, popcorn, toothpaste, nuts and bolts, guess what? With bones, don't worry, it's not human bones. It's vertebral chicken bones.

Pascal likes benches and he likes skeletons. His skeletal horse on a bench with a knight was a photo for Bench Monday back in November 2009. Pascal says that the advantage of being undead is that you always get the bench you want for Bench Monday. 

The skeletons sitting at a table (in the library?) are from the Bundes archive Bild in Berlin's Arbeitsschitz Museum in 1931.

Gary Denness is a British expat who used to live in México scraping a living as a TEFL teacher. He photographed the skeleton on a bench and has a set called Mexile 365 with a Mexican picture for every day of the year. He and the delightful Paola seem to spend a lot of time travelling.

I was intrigued when I saw Studio Job, the black and white bench of animal skeletons by Mieke Tacken in Amsterdam. Mieke's photostream shows a real commitment to design: she goes to all the design shows and takes photos of amazing things. Like some other people I know, she seems to have an interest in photographing seating of various kinds. Chairs? There are thousands. And quite a few brilliant benches too.

The zebra is from Jolly Roger Ltd. Lifesize Models in the UK. http://www.lifesize-  They have thousands of quality resin and fibre-glass 3D life-size models, figures, signs, statues, props, furnishings, etc. Their showroom has over 2000 themed models, which include animals, people, and everything from counter-top coffee beans to fullsize elephants. Their Facebook page shows some of the models in amazing situations  You will also find them talked about on Twitter at

Karen Green is a librarian in Manhattan. She says that the red, white and black Halloween skeleton bench is her kind of bench. She photographed it in Hopewood, New Jersey in 2012.   We're very literary here on Benchsite so you'll find plenty of book benches to suit any librarians.

Samantha Lyth runs Skeleton Leaf Craft Supplies in North Yorkshire in England.  She makes skeleton leaves, bodhi leaves, and mixed colour packs, such as the lovely autumn leaves shown in the story. The leaves look delicate but they are very durable and great for crafting, printing, card making, gift tags, table decorations, scrapbooks & wedding invitations etc. Just by chance, a friend gave me a lovely pair of earrings this week, stuck into a gorgeous turquoise skeleton leaf. Samantha's skeleton leaves are from the Pará rubber tree, skeletonised, and dyed in a variety of hues including yellows, reds, and various shades of brown to look rather like fallen autumn leaves. If, like me, you've fallen for autumn benches, see

We like doctors here on Benchsite, and nurses too. We're very medical. There's a whole story dedicated to nurse benches  at   The zombie nurse was photographed by James Jardine in 2010.   James has an album of Melbourne people, apart from the many zombies in his photostream. 

Stick People Dancing on a Bench is a work of light graffiti by glenneroo, who is 
currently based in Vienna. glenneroo does a lot of portraits and he gets around; he has sets from all sorts of places, and a whole set of light graffiti photos as well.  For a whole alphabet of dance benches see

The dancing skeletions are a painting by Spanish artist Daniel Sabater (1880-1951). Made in 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War, it's called A Party on Mobilisation Day. No political metaphor there then.

The praying skeleton is entitled Osteographica or The Anatomy of the Bones, published in London around 1733. It is an engraving from Gerard Van der Gucht (1696-1776) and the image is in the public domain.   The author is William Cheselden (1688-1752).

A dogbone bench comes in handy when you have a lot of hungry dog benches to feed, as I did when I wrote the Noah's Ark story on Benchsite . The Tenino Dogbone bench is from Marenakos in Preston, Washington. They make a variety of granite dogbone and other types of benches.  And who'd have thought a dog bone bench would be so useful? If you're into bones and anatomy, there are some very nice medical dogs on Benchsite at ml   And indeed some very nice dog benches too. 

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