Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Old Friends

Time to say good-bye to some old friends we met in 2009. He was kind of a funny guy but not the handsomest friend we've ever had. She was definitely not pretty and had no sense of humor about her. She scared a lot of our youngest trick or treaters away at Halloween.

Looking all classy with his "Indiana Jones" fedora on
She hung 9 feet above our porch and kids still wouldn't come all the way to the porch

Yesterday we said, " Good Bye" and they went on Craigslist. Hopefully they will find new haunters that will appreciate them. They were our first more expensive props but we only used them in 2009 and I think we may have used her in 2010 and then they went into storage. Clean up time in our Halloween storage room and they're just taking up needed room.
Halloween 2009
Doesn't he look like he could be related to "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" (Jeff Dunham)?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blackjack Creature Company

We've been blessed to meet some legitimately nice people in the haunt industry since beginning Shingle Creek Manor . Such is the case with meeting co-owner and artist-sculptor Jason Thomas of Blackjack Creature Company this past week.

We had ordered an "Undead Hugger" from Blackjack Creature Company earlier in the year at the Spooky Mayhem Convention in Orlando. Being dabblers at making molds and more recently sculpting projects for Shingle Creek Manor, we were sort of hoping we'd get an impromptu tour of the Blackjack Creature Company studio to see how it's "suppose" to be done. Of course studios aren't generally setup for visitors so I wasn't too optimistic about our chances after placing our order.

Our first look at the "Undead Hugger" at the 2013 Halloween Extreme Convention
As luck would have it, we got the call this past week that our "hugger" was done and if we would like to drive over to their studio in Lakeland, Florida, Jason would give us  the grand tour! Score!

Blackjack Creature Company is owned by Jason Thomas and friend Andrew Logan.  Its located in a modest sized building of an industrial warehouse area. The studio was packed with plaster molds and latex masks at different levels of completion. There were several work areas specific to each stage of production at floor level, with a second floor loft where most of the business end of the things take place. As you would expect of a place where horror artists work, latex curiosities and masks decorate most of the walls and shelves in the business.

Artist-Sculptor Jason Thomas and Belinda with our new "Undead Hugger"
 Jason was an excellent host showing us each work area and explaining the work currently being done for a company to finish a very large quantity of zombie paintball masks that pretty well dominated most spaces in the studio. He even gave us a peek at a new mask being made from a "fantasy story - gone wrong" type concept that hasn't been announced yet. As this was a "peek behind the curtain", so to speak, I won't divulge what the new mask was, but it goes very well with their Jack'd Rabbit mask that they currently sell.

Freelance Artist Francesca Urgo doing some detail work
 I could have spent hours talking to this guy that's been in the business of sculpting and horror for a whole bunch of years. Jason has been sculpting since he was a youngster, after being awestruck by the character in the movie "E.T.". He also does work for Universal Studios and Halloween Horror Nights and we got to talk about some of the "Face Off" celebrities, his friends, that are doing work there this year. From the perspective of the average home haunter he's living the fantasy... but after seeing the studio I can tell you there is a whole bunch of work involved in that fantasy!

Zombie paintball masks in production
They have a great attitude about the importance of home haunters to their business. If  I had a drawn concept that I wanted to turn into a mask or prop, these would be the guys I would call. Blackjack Creature Company have a deal you would be insane to refuse. If you get the chance to see them at one of the conventions, make sure you stop by and say, "hi". You can contact Blackjack Creature Company on their Facebook page or their website.

Special thanks to Jason Thomas for the impromptu tour and spending time talking with us, and of course for the new addition to Shingle Creek Manor for Halloween! He's going to make an excellent prop for our photo op this year!

"I'm not driving that fast... close your mouth"

Friday, September 5, 2014

Spook-tacular Boo-tique

We took a trip today to a "Spirit Halloween Store" which was located in a mall about a half hour drive from home. I wish I could say I was excited by all the new Halloween decorations and props I saw, and that I took lots of photos to share. The truth is it was pretty anti-climactic. Seemed like the same old boring stuff to me. Nothing exciting to report, at least from my perspective.

So while trudging through the mall back to the parking lot, Belinda wanted to stop into the Bath & Body Works store, Not exactly a manly kind of place and certainly not on my list of seasonal Halloween stores but I went in to keep our Grandson out of mischief while she looked around.

Turns out Bath & Body Works had a whole line of Fall and Halloween products they call their "Spook-tacular Boo-tique."

Of course they had the expected body soaps and washes (yes we bought some Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin hand soap, I feel less manly just saying that), but they had a whole line of Fall and various pumpkin scented candles too. I liked most of the scents, all of which were different than what we get from Yankee Candle. The "Spiced Pumpkin Cider" and "Leaves" was probably my favorite.

Belinda bought one of those plug in fragrance dispensers in the shape of a pumpkin that lights up and several of the candle scents, "Leaves", "Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin" and "Pumpkin Cupcake". Our Grandson got a little pocket bottle of "Vampire Blood" hand sanitizer. They had a whole line of these little bottles of Halloween hand sanitizer for about a dollar each. Each one with a different scent and a character like an owl or a black cat.

Still not sure the Bath & Body Works is on my "A" list for stores to visit at Halloween but I can tell you that for me it rivals the "Spirit Halloween Store" this year.

We're working on our new fence finials, a new graveyard statue, and a couple other projects we hope to share in the next few weeks, but we're also still looking for new Halloween related products wherever we can find them!

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 many 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!