Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Demon Gargoyle Finial

We needed to do a change up this year on our graveyard fence finials. The old ones haven't held up as well as hoped, and we wanted to give the fences a bit more character. Belinda spent the day sculpting this demon gargoyle type finial that we plan to add to the fence, perhaps along with some sort of spire type finials.

I was quite amazed at how well she did considering she has no background in sculpting. There are no experts in this house at molding and casting either, so we figured we better take a couple photos of the clay sculpt before we create a mold... just in case things don't go so well.

We've been off to a slow start for this season between Belinda's recuperating, unusually hot weather, and other life downers, but with this finial sculpt and what we've done so far on this years graveyard statue, I feel a bit better where we're at. From what I've read, seems like everyone feels they are a bit behind ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Visiting The Holiday Store

We had seen a Facebook post for the grand opening of The Holiday Store recently on the "Florida Haunter's"  Facebook page. It was about a 45 minute drive from our house to the small city of Winter Haven where it is located, so we decided to take a drive and see what was what...

Now I had heard of "The Holiday Store", visited their large website of Halloween props and decorations, and even knew about them sponsoring a prop contest this year. I was thinking on the drive there, this was one of their corporate retail stores that just opens for Halloween in a vacant store front in some commercial retail center, much like so may other Halloween businesses do.

It says "Like" for their Facebook page but that's a severed hand... I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing!

So we continued to follow the GPS instructions to locate "The Holiday Store" in this small city, passed one small commercial business area... and then another...another...  and then the GPS directions took us away from the commercial areas into a more rural area with industrial warehouses??

I have to say I enjoyed the "small shop" appearance at the front of the store..
... an appearance of randomness, but everything seemed to belong where it should be.
Remember the opening scene in the movie "Gremlins" where the Father of the family finds some hidden away Chinese antique shop full of all sorts of mysterious and novel oddities, where he ultimately acquires "Mogwai"? Well, this was kind of like that, without the old Chinese guy selling Gremlins (although I suspect if I'd asked for a Gremlin, the owner probably had one tucked away somewhere or at least knew where he could get his hands on one). Unbeknown to me, this was not one of many Holiday Stores, this was "The"  Holiday Store tucked away in a small warehouse type commercial area that so many businesses resort to these days to keep their "overhead" down

Sometimes I forget the grandeur of an internet presence doesn't necessarily indicate the size of it's "brick and mortar" storefront. This was "The Holiday Store" one and only. The privately owned Halloween shops are a rarity here in Florida, and so we entered the store with some hesitance on what we could expect to find.

This humungous clown dominated his own little area. Not a clown fan but this guy was pretty cool.
A  little scene stowed away in the back office, we're always on the lookout for "inspiration"
 The entry is  like a little storefront complete with a glass cabinet for a counter to display various Halloween novelties and "The Holiday Store" warehouse is packed full of "Halloween" (although there was a small "Christmas" aisle). We saw older Halloween products that are found in most stores at Halloween and we saw some newer stuff that I've seen online but not in any stores. Prices ranged from inexpensive cheaper quality items that so many people buy at Halloween to higher end products with a higher end price us Halloween aficionados would hope to find.

We were met by the owner, Tom Campana and his then assistant, "Megan", very kind and courteous people that pretty much said, "take your time, look around, and we know Halloween if you have any questions", and then went about their business. I personally love that style of customer service. When we arrived we were the only customers in the store. There was a behind the scenes feel of busyness going on that I suspect was the packing and or shipping of products, but other than that it's a very laid back shopping experience. The store really does have a large assortment of products and even more of course on their website. You won't find too much in the way of "glittery" Halloween decor here, or children's costumes and accessories like you might find at Walmart  or Party City. This place has Halloween props and decor the way it was meant to be!

One of the larger selections of "in-store" quality masks I've seen, complete with lighting ambiance!
Although this was really just a scouting trip to see what was in The Holiday Store, I kept going back to look at one of the tombstones on display way up towards the ceiling. I knew I had seen it before and Tom told me it was one of the line of tombstones from Exmortis. They make some really nice products but always thought they were just a bit pricey for my wallet. Tom gave me a deal I couldn't refuse so we got our first "store-bought" tombstone for Shingle Creek Manor.

We're kind of limited on our Halloween purchases this year and pretty much know what we need and can buy, but it was so early in the season to visit, and the owner said they have so much more being delivered in the weeks to come, that I'm pretty sure we'll be paying at least one more visit to "The Holiday Store". For us it's a refreshing change from the larger corporate stores that have been pretty much our only options during Halloween.

The Holiday Store  is located at 301 Commerce Court, Winterhaven, Florida 33880.

Our new tombstone addition by Exmortis

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Yankee Candle Halloween Preview Party 2014

New "Boney Bunch" additions for 2014
Spent the morning with my family at the Yankee Candle Store for the 2014 Halloween Preview. It wasn't nearly as nuts as it was last year, "Thank you Lord"!

We waited with about 15 or 20 others in the Florida heat for the doors to open to get our "Boney Bunch" fix. Mostly I just wanted the limited quantity candy dish but you had to make a $35 purchase to be able to buy it. 

Halloween purchasing has officially begun.... Now I hear the pose-able skeletons are already showing up at  Costco's. So much stuff to buy, so little money...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Halloween Floating Charm Locket

Belinda has been selling quite a few of these in-fashion glass lockets with charms this past year through her Ebay store  "Paper Dove Gifts" , and although you can buy a bunch of different style lockets and charms for about every possible occasion or important event in your life, how could she not have a  locket specifically for Halloween?!

So for all our Halloween friends, a pre-made black locket with seven cool Halloween charms, including a pumpkin, a Jack-O-Lantern, a ghost, a candy corn, a black cat, a skull and bones and a bat.

These make a cool Halloween gift for a friend, or you can flaunt your own Halloween passion.  Of course after Halloween you can change your charms out for charms related to "other" holidays, or charms specific to your own uniqueness. If you already have a locket and collect the charms, she has a brand new inventory of Halloween charms at the "Paper Dove Gifts" store.

This Halloween collection sells for $26.99 at the Paper Dove Gifts Store, but for our Shingle Creek Manor friends you can get an exclusive price of $21.99 by following this link!

Here are a few other Halloween charms that are available.
She ships quick and I think you'll be really surprised that the quality of the lockets match those being sold for three and even four times the price. For the special discounted price you have to use this exclusive offer page though!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Florida Haunter's Social

We had a good time at the 2014 Florida Haunter's Social in Ocala, FL this last Saturday. I don't know what the final estimate was, but somewhere between 30 and 40 people attended. Everyone seemed to enjoy our "Lifecasting with Alginate" workshop and we've received numerous very nice compliments.

Organized chaos at our "Lifecasting with Alginate" workshop
 There was a complete schedule of workshops for the day. Between each workshop we managed plenty of eating, prop admiration and a "Skyped" session with Creature and Makeup Designer, Nathan Motich ( ). He gave us a behind the scenes look at his studio and how he creates his authentic looking creature eyes. As luck would have it, we won one of his very cool eyes during the door prize drawing held at the end of the day.

At no time did I say working with Alginate wouldn't harm your skin...Ok, maybe I did. Maybe this is just the Alginate and not blistering pustules of peeling skin..

There was plenty of "prop lusting" going on at the event. Bobby Atkinson gets my A-plus for the most awesome pneumatic corpse prop, jumping out some six feet from it's upright wooden coffin! Don't you just hate those guys that talk about how simple it is to build their amazing animated prop by calibrating a stutso hydraulic framus damus and attaching it to a high pressure warbler valve with a two way differential bearing?! Whaaaaat??!!! I might not understand how to build one but that doesn't stop me from wanting one. You can get a look at the prop in action on the short video I put together for the Florida Haunters. It's actually slowed down a bit in the video.

"Steampunk Diver" by Jason and Dawn Fields
 Jason and Dawn Fields from "Terror on 20th" may have made the most original costume I have seen in a long time, Jason's "Steampunk Diver". Although they did seem to be a very distrusting couple when it came to leaving me alone with their costume. Ocala could be one of those crime ridden cities though, and someone could have stolen it I guess, so maybe their protectiveness was warranted...

"Man-eating plant" attack
 From our observation, everyone looked to have a good time with lots of inspiration and learning going on. I hope to see this event continue to grow and improve even more. It's only a couple hours from us and the building is the perfect size.

We won a door prize! A Nathan Motich Eye ...
The day concluded with door prizes that host Bill Ramsey was able to get donated by local businesses and Halloween vendors. We won two very cool items including a signed piece of artwork, "Macabre" by artist Mark Hadley .

...actually we won two including this print, "Macabre" from Hadley Studios.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Halloween Weekend Coming!

This Saturday we will be attending our second Florida Haunter's Social in Ocala, Florida, hosted by Bill "Dr. Terror Eyes" Ramsey. We didn't make last year's social but attended the year before. It's a great place to meet other Halloween enthusiasts, see people showcasing their work and learn new methods and techniques for prop building. As an added benefit, "Dr. Terror Eyes" always comes up with cool giveaways and free food!
Dr. Terror Eyes, photo by Lost or Forgotten Photography
We're trying to help out this year by teaching how to "lifecast" using alginate and  liquid plastic resin. So this week, while Belinda is recovering from her second foot surgery this year, I've been running around trying to get together the materials for our class. Even though she's pretty restricted on walking without crutches , her arms and hands are working fine. Her part of the preparation process therefore was to let me mold and cast her hand, so we could estimate material quantities and the molding container size. I think it turned out pretty good.

Belinda's "Zombie Ground Breaker" hand pose waiting for some color
Hopefully I'll get some good photos and or video at the "2014 Florida Haunter's Social and Make-n-Take" and post a story on the day's events.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Halloween Sighting!

Garden Ridge Skeletons
 My fellow Halloween blogging enthusiast, Lisa,  at Maple Grove Cemetery  recently posted a reminder that "Garden Ridge" is usually one of the first retail stores to get it's Halloween decor out. Although I've seen some Fall decor at various stores, I hadn't seen any Halloween decor. Usually The Dollar Store is one of the first. I paid a visit to "Garden Ridge" today and sure enough, this year's first sighting is at "Garden Ridge" ( soon to be known as "At Home"). Check out Maple Grove Cemetery for a really good review of most of what they have this year.

Thought this guy was pretty gruesome!
Partial Skeletons
Most of the partial skeleton variations which included the skull, some low quality hands on bendable arms and then some tattered clothes were $39.99 . The complete skeletons without tattered clothing were $49.99. Joints for the arms legs and hands on the complete skeletons were the metal bracket type.

Basic Jack-O-Lanterns in need of "customizing"
First Halloween sighting would not be complete without gratuitous body parts!