Friday, February 20, 2015

Lightning Cosplay

A friend recently shared this amazing photo of "Lightning Cosplay" modeling one of her recently made costumes, and advertising her new book Lightning Cosplay - "Horns and Headdresses".

Photographs property of Lightning Cosplay

I downloaded the digital version for a bit over seven dollars to take a look at how she was making the detailed horns and the antlered headdresses that you can see on the Lightning Cosplay website portfolio.

The digital book is well worth the few dollars and gave me a great introduction to using thermoplastics such as Kobracast and Worbla. While we have dabbled in some other modeling and casting materials,  I've never even heard of these materials which she writes are very common materials used by Cosplayers.

Photographs property of Lightning Cosplay

The book is well written with great step by step photos and of course photos of the beautiful headdresses she has created. After reading it, I definitely want to get some of these materials to experiment. Check out her website or Facebeook page. Even if your not interested in creating your own headdresses, the photos of her creations are certainly Pinterest worthy!

As of this blog date she is currently sold out of horns on the Lightning Cosplay Etsy site but states that she creates and sells them fairly regularly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Appreciation of the Deliveryman

Sometimes I do have to wonder what the ladies and gentlemen from the various delivery services must think goes on at this house.

We've received some unusually labeled boxes from the postal services over the last few years; packages marked from "The Skeleton Store", a rather ominous looking package from "Halloween Haunt Sauce" labeled "poison", with skull and crossbones stickers, and the last few months have included our labeled "Monster of the Month" boxes.

Distortion's Unlimited "Monster of the Month"

I suppose the've seen it all though, they never give us weird looks or ask questions. Besides, they might be more disturbed if they knew what was actually in some of the boxes...

January's "Monster of the Month" the severed head of a vampire.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hogwart's Gargoyles

I really have to appreciate the imagination of J.K. Rowling combined with the creativity of Universal Studios. These are amazing sculptures.

Entrance to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Friday, February 6, 2015

Owl Post

Did a little exploring in Hogsmeade yesterday, the end of a dismal rainy day that turned out rather nice by the time I made the drive. If your not a Harry Potter fan, Hogsmeade is the fictional wizard village of shops. This was really my first time to explore Hogsmeade on the Adventure Island side of Universal Studios Theme Park.

Hogsmeade street of shops
Rather liked the storefront design of the Owl Post Post Office
The Owl Post is the method of mail delivery by the wizards using, you guessed it, owls. You can buy stationary, cards, journals etc. in this store. It's a neat feature that you can mail your letters here and get the official Owl Post postmark. From what I learned though, you better bring a stamp because a sheet of ten of the official Harry Potter stamps are $15.

All the roof tops and businesses are covered with snow and ice  per the book
If you just want the Owl Post postmark though, to the right of the storefront is a cart where you can buy a postcard or whatever paper good you want and they will stamp it with the post mark for you.

I pilfered this photo from the internet, mine wasn't quite this clear
Thought it would have been a nice touch to have the owls animated in the window but they were just stuffed owls
Really have to appreciate how they made everything old looking, note the water stained ceiling. At least I think that is an intentional detail and not an actual water leak...
Owl Perches. Those boxes on the left are wands. There are lots and lots of wands in Hogsmeade. 
Self explanatory

Maybe I will post a few other images of Hogsmeade , Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley in the next few weeks before the weather gets to hot and the Universal Studio's crowds get bigger. I thought the Owl Post and getting the postmark was sort of a hidden gem for the HP fan that you might not otherwise pay attention to.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Place for My Creepy Things

Spent a few hours the last couple days working on my mini coffin built at the Florida Haunter's Make and Take. I don't have any skeletons this small and probably wouldn't use it in our graveyard so decided to make a curio shelf out of it.

Mini coffin curio shelf

The original construction was from cypress planks for a fence which is pretty rough wood so I just opted to paint it flat black. I removed the door and then I wood glued some Poplar wood braces across the back, and screwed in a couple "D" ring hangers so it could be hung from the wall.

Used some wood glue and a pin nailer to put a couple supports across the back.

Shelves and shelf brackets were made from some scrap lumber and painted black as well. The shelves were actually thin 1/4" plywood so I used some black and white Ebony wood across the front of each shelf to hide the edges pf the plywood. I love the look of this exotic wood but it does have pretty limited applications. This seemed like a good use for it.

Finally have a nice place for our skull we bought during our trip to  Sedlec Ossuary outside of Prague
Overall it was an easy conversion. Most of my time was spent painting. Thinking I might like to build one from scratch so I can give the wood a nicer finish and maybe make a  glass front from the coffin door. Most likely I'll never get around to it....

This one will go up in the shop where it won't alarm the non-Halloween visitors.

If you want to make a mini coffin you can get the dimensions from John Nilsen's "Spyderwood" Facebook page. The dimensions are located in a photo folder called "Rustic Coffin".

Monday, January 19, 2015

Florida Haunters First Make and Take 2015

Got to meet up with some of Florida's home haunters this weekend at the home of host haunter Bethany  Smith-Globing. The event was building some 38" toe pincher coffins from pre cut wood kits put together for us by haunter John "Spyder" Nilsen.

John's "prototype" toe pinchers
Couple of us used my own patented method of assembly which I use on almost all simple assembly projects:

Step One: Assemble color coded wood pieces,
Step Two: Using power driver, screw each piece together,
Step Three Unscrew and disassemble all the pieces,
Step Four: Assemble them correctly 
Step Five: Re-screw all the pieces again...
Repeat as necessary

 Though it has taken me many years to develop this process, feel free to use it on your own projects.

Evelyn Coleman of "Team Coleman"and yours truly battle it out with power drills.. Cue  the "Face-Off" music!
Photo courtesy Tammy Kane
These toe pincher coffin kits were inspired by the "Mini Coffin for Willie" created by Sharon and Hamilton Timmer a year or two ago.  They aren't so big they could also be used as part of an interior decoration. Just a couple ideas, you could build it with a couple shelves for your Halloween knick knacks, or a vertical rack inside for your Halloween DVD's.

John designed the size of the coffins to fit the 36" skeletons usually available at Halloween.
Photo courtesy of John Nilsen
Once the coffins were assembled our hosts provided us with an excellent lunch and we spent the remainder of the afternoon talking Halloween crafts, prop building, and the upcoming conventions. Bethany showed a rather extensive collection of Halloween crafts she has made. I'm always at a quandary as to how people find time to create and decorate inside their house as well as outside at Halloween. Maybe I'm not that motivated... or just lazy.

Haunter Bill Ramsey tacking on the bottom of his coffin. John in the background telling me I'm doing it wrong.
In my defense there was an engineering flaw with my kit!
Photo courtesy of Tammy Kane.
I still have to put a paint or finish on the one I created so I'll probably do another post at that time. Was a good day of meeting up with folks of a like mind to create something fun. Special thanks to Bethany Smith-Globig and John Nilsen for putting  all this together!

There are some instructional photos at Jon Nilsen's "Spyderwood" Facebook page if anyone would  like to create their own Rustic Coffin. Spyderwood Disclaimer ; "measurements may not be exact"!

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Shingle Creek Manor Pre- Planning

Christmas is over, decorations are down... and mostly packed away,  a New Year has started. I can't help myself but to begin planning for improvements to Shingle Creek Manor 2015. It really is a half year of figuring out what to do and the other half year of trying to make it happen.

Even though there is much to do in the "real" world and it is highly unlikely I would pick up a tool or paintbrush to do anything except household repairs, now is the time to start looking for materials and coming up with reasonable ideas of things we can complete.

2014 -Young Captain Jack Sparrow with Neithra "the Summoner" - old enough to know it's all make believe but young enough to still be cautious, just in case  it isn't. A great age for building Halloween memories...
If the planets are in correct alignment, no unforeseen bills find their way into our mailbox and a few other variables don't work against us, attending Transworld's 'Halloween and Attractions Show' may finally be a reality this March.

This is the largest haunt industry show in the world and mostly for entertainment industry people, but they open it up to home haunters if you meet certain criteria.  The show is full of props, costumes and special effects that no one is going to find at their local Walmart. I'm really hopeful we'll walk away with some new ideas and maybe a prop or two for 2015. At the very least, I'm pretty certain I can find some trouble to get into there.

Not sure how much of a fair fight this is, our zombie has no legs...
Overall we're pretty happy in the direction we've been going but just want to take it up a notch!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ghosts and "A Christmas Carol"

We went to see " A Christmas Carol" play at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater this year. From a Halloween "haunter's" perspective, Dicken's "A Christmas Carol is as good as it gets at Christmas time, and while we're not regular theater goers, this production was a fun time.

Kudos to Artistic Director Jim Helsinger ands crew for their "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come" and the awesome and large "Ebenezer Scrooge" tombstone that rose from the fog. The bigger than life ghost towering over Scrooge was a "stalk around" type costume similar to what "Gore Galore" and several other companies manufacture, but the angle of the stage lighting and dark pants worn by the actor gave it a cool floating effect. You can see a couple glimpses of the ghost in this quick sneak peek video ( :17 and again at 1:02) from Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

I'd also be remiss not to mention the Ghost of Christmas Past, Jacob Marley, (glimpse at :36) with all his chains and the reverb effect on the actor's microphone. He was a pretty convincing ghost as well.

If you've never attended your  local theater give it a try. It's not the wine tasting tuxedo and gown crowd that you might see in a Broadway production. Business casual clothing, prices usually around $40 or less per person for good seats. It's a good time.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

"Merry Christmas to all!" We hope you were each able to find the magic of family and friends on this special day and you didn't get too caught up in the commercialism of the season. Best wishes to each of you for the New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Minute Christmas Gift Idea

 " Clark, that's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year..."
"That it does Edward" ("Christmas Vacation", my all time favorite Christmas movie!)

Okay, it's not the " Jelly of the Month" club but it's the next best thing!

I subscribed to three months of  Distortions Unlimited's  "Monster of the Month" back before October when they started the program and I had a little "mad money" in my pocket. Basically it's a surprise monster creation shipped to you each month from the sculptor-artists at "Distortions Unlimted".

Owners Ed and Marsha Edmunds, sculptor Jordu Schell, and and the rest of the folks that were the stars of the since cancelled " Making Monsters" Halloween TV mini-series, are some of the Halloween celebrities we've come to enjoy in the Halloween world. Even though I'm not a collector of Halloween memorabilia, curiosity got the better of me. So far I'm really pleased with the two latex masks I've received, "Blink" by Mikey Rotella and "BT-15" by Jordu Schell. Each one came with a printed card with a bio on the sculptor and a back story on the creature.

They have a gift coupon you can print if you should want to give a last minute Christmas gift membership to the club for your favorite Halloween person. I tried a subtle hint to Mrs. Claus for another 3 month membership but have to wait and see... You can check it all out at Distortion's Monster of the Month .

Photo of "Blink" and "BT-15" from "Distortions Unlimited" on Facebook

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Book Keeper

My son had taken a few day time photos so put a few together of  this year's "Book Keeper" prop. Nox Arcana music of course!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shingle Creek Manor 2014 Video

I was too busy Halloween night, and I was tired, and it was too cold on Saturday night to get very many photos this year. With such few photos and no video I hadn't intended to try a video this year. Then I found a piece of music that I liked, and it was short, so this is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Halloween Haunt Calendar

11" x 17'" Halloween Haunt Calendar for 2015
Got our 2015 Halloween Haunt Calendar from Hector Turner at the Halloween Haunt Calendar website a few days back. How can you be a Halloween enthusiast and not have a calendar to countdown until Halloween?
We got our photo centered up in the month of July this coming year.
Hector Turner is a Canadian haunter and a regular poster at "Haunter's Hangout" on Facebook as well as most other forums. This is our third year purchasing his calendar and it really has been pretty handy in the workshop. Besides counting down the days until Halloween,  it also has the dates of all the major Halloween conventions in the U.S. and Canada, and the moon cycles, if your into that kind of thing. The color print and paper is high quality, plus most importantly, if you submit your haunt photo earlier in the year it gets published on one of the months.

...Okay, maybe it's not most important but it is pretty cool!

It was appropriate he used our "ARose" statue photo this year. This was her last year.
 Check out the Halloween Haunt Calendar website if your interested in purchasing one for 2015. Hector Turner will post on "Haunter's Hangout" and other Halloween sites when he starts accepting photos for the next year's calendar, I believe it's in the Spring.

H.P. Lovecraft "From Beyond" Tombstone by Hector Turner
If you don't know Hector, I would suggest you check out the Halloween portion of his website. In my opinion, the mastery of scarecrows belongs to Pumpkin Rot. Hector Turner ( and Terra Lair ) are the masters of the tombstone. You will see Hector's work often imitated by other Halloween  people and he gives you a breakdown and in some cases .pdf  files to try to duplicate his tombstones. He has some fantastic photos there to explore.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween 2014 Recap

First an apology for not keeping up with my blog... October came and went fast!  The setting up of Shingle Creek Manor on the 30th and the daytime of the 31st was more physically demanding than I remember it being, although admittedly I am getting older. I also think there was some  laziness during the month. Actually, I'm sure there was. Although I was somewhat active on Facebook, the blog just plain suffered from neglect.

Shingle Creek Manor 2014
 As for Halloween, we exceeded our expectations a little for the number of trick or treaters, roughly 120 children and 50 or 60 adults. The antique double decker tour bus visited us again. It didn't park in front of our house this year though so I didn't get any photos. I think every year 25 or 30 visitors have come into our development on that tourist bus. Next year I have to find out who owns it and who the people are.

To be honest I had drawn a line in the sand of 100 visitors this year or we would be scaling back to a few Jack-O-Lanterns for 2015. With the exception of an hour or two from my son on setup day, it is literally Belinda and I building, setting up and tearing down. It is a tremendous amount of work for two people. As much as I still enjoy it, I have to evaluate whether it has value to our visitors and whether the number of them is worth the effort and money. We received so many compliments from the children and adults this year though, that if we hadn't achieved the 100 , 2015 would still see Shingle Creek Manor resume.

Belinda dressed as "Niethra", the Voodoo summoner of evil. The kids loved her! I had more than few tell me how scary the old woman in the graveyard was. Of course I had to respond with feigned ignorance of any idea who they could be talking about. "Pennies shaken in a can" such a simple but effective startle scare! Who would have thought? Idea borrowed from the Halloween Horror Night people from previous year's street characters. It sure beats "boo!"

This was also the first year for full sized candy bars instead of bags of candy. Not sure if it's better but it's less work! Like I said, there was a lot of "lazy" for the month. They seemed to go over real well with the children and even a couple of adults with a chocolate habit.

We kept everything up for a second night but it got very cold. After spending time talking with some visitors I took very few photos. I hope to compile what few we took and post them to our Shingle Creek Manor Flickr account in the next couple days. I doubt I have enough for a video this year. A little bummed about that.

"The Book Keeper"
Even though our largest and most time consuming prop was a new statue called "The Book Keeper", by far the most popular prop was a video of a moving portrait set up in a fake frame in front of the mausoleum. Enough so that more video and projection are high on our list of priorities next year for sure! We actually lost some potential trick or treaters at the entry to our sidewalk because of that thing!

We hope everyone had a great Halloween! We had a great time but always find things to improve on for next year.Will be posting a bit until about Thanksgiving when the craziness of Christmas really gets cranked up and very little between then and the New Year. Time to catch up on my blog reading!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pirate Ship Sighting

Celebration, Florida is a small Disney Corp. developed community a few minutes drive from home.

One of their unique claims to Halloween fame is a pirate ship facade that covers the front of a very large home there. Unfortunately we have never made it out there to see the ship since learning of it, but luckily Belinda was able to drive out there during a shopping expedition yesterday and snapped a few day time photos.

After seeing the photos, this is now on our "must-see" list for this Halloween! The ship is huge! Hopefully I'll be able to get some evening photos of it and a little more info for a future post.

As a coincidence, this morning I also learned that this pirate ship is one of six contestants in "The Great Halloween Fright Fight", a one hour ABC special, premiering Tuesday, October 28 at 8 PM EST

You have to love people that go to this extreme to make a great Halloween for their neighbors and community.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Batman Gets "Wounded"

We spent some time at Reynolds Advanced Materials participating in their "Let's Talk About It" classroom series this week.  The class was "Making On-Skin Wounds with Silicone Rubber" and besides learning about their "Skin Tite" product and how to apply various silicone skin wounds and deformities, we had a bunch of laughs.

Artist-Sculptor Scott Fensterer and friend Lee Barret
 Artist/Sculptor Scott Fensterer was the lead instructor whose model for the day failed to show so he selected a friend and Cosplayer, Lee Barret, to be his model for the day. Lee was just there for the class and we were told he normally plays superhero, "Batman" during Cosplay. Today he just got a couple of skin wounds... oh and one authentic looking silicone booger hanging from his nose...

Scott and 'Batman" Lee Barrett showing his wounds and a booger

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ghosting and Pancakes

We had us a "breakfast" dinner last night at the IHOP. I've been looking for the IHOP window poster ads for my favorite "Pumpkin Pancakes" since September but hadn't seen any. Neither had I seen the little plastic table stands that advertise the "Fall lineup" of pancakes, or the insert they put in the menu indicating pumpkin pancake arrival.

The only sign October had arrived at the IHOP last night was a "Create a Scary Face Pancake", sort of a "make a Jack-O-Lantern pancake" for kids.

So while I unhappily weighed my "no-pumpkin pancake" options, and wondered if I could eat a candy coated Jack-O-Lantern pancake, our waitress came to take our order. I asked the waitress why they didn't have them this year,  just knowing it was probably one of those corporate decisions to no longer carry them, thereby degrading my Halloween happiness.

To my surprise the waitress pointed out they were listed in the main menu!

So after feeling kind of stupid for not seeing them in the menu before, (Why would they be casually placed in the menu along with "other" pancakes?),  I ordered a full stack!

They arrived perfectly cooked and stacked with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. I ordered some extra whipped cream and all was right with the universe.

Following the pumpkin pancake nirvana, our annual " Ghosting" tradition was executed on my son and his family. You can Google the particulars of " Ghosting",  also called " You've been Boo'ed". Basically it involves placing a basket, cauldron, or bowl of Halloween gifts and or treats on an unsuspecting person's doorstep at night, ringing the doorbell and running like hell. There's an accompanying poem that tells them they've been "Ghosted" and instructs them on how to pay it forward to their friends or neighbors. Then you put a little paper ghost in your front window so you don't get ghosted twice.

Singing and dancing candy corn from Cracker Barrel topped this year's treat basket

Someone usually starts this in our neighborhood development although we haven't been ghosted yet this year. I think when we ghost my son it is the starting of the "ghosting" of their neighborhood. We always enjoy ghosting others and it really is a good way to help get your neighborhood or friends in the spirit.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumpkin Rot Influence Spotted at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 24 - Orlando...

 Countdown to Halloween - Day 8

Few years back I read a blog post by Pumpkin Rot on how he put together his lighted Witch Jars. It was amazingly simple for those of us artistically challenged, yet a very effective and creepy prop. I've seen it mimicked by numerous Halloween enthusiasts since then, myself included.  All the variations and tutorials I've seen always gave credit back to Pumpkin Rot though.

This year I found them at Halloween Horror Nights 24 - Orlando, in the " Blood Bayou" Scare Zone.

Photo courtesy of Jim McCrary
Of course Rot knew they were in the works and called it public domain but I had mixed feelings when I spotted them. On one hand it was an ode to Pumpkin Rot's creativity that it became an element to one of HHN's better scare zones. On the other hand, it seems like such a rip-off to use it in a commercial setting such as this without any kind of acknowledgement.

Universal Studios HHN24
Personally I think the concept designer should have made contact with Pumpkin Rot, or at least the written proposal that was awarded to some anonymous artist  should have given credit to him.

I guess if the man himself wasn't concerned though, I shouldn't be either. Those of us that haunt know where the Witch Jar concept came from, or at least who made it haunt-desirable!

Photo from

Maybe Universal Studios should amend their wrong doing by hiring Pumpkin Rot to design a scare house or a scare zone next year! ...Oh yeah!

Universal Studios HHN24

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Twins

Countdown to Halloween Day 7

Saw these guys in a cool Halloween vintage-type display at The Holiday Store. Don't know anything about who makes them but thought they were pretty unique decorations. They were about 24"-28" tall... I don't know maybe their suppose to be creepy but really just look like two kids in masks to me.  Their overall shelf display and lighting is what caught my eye.