Monday, July 30, 2012

At Last, the 260th Follower Giveaway!

I was rolling around the whole giveaway thing in my mind and thought a combination giveaway would be a fun idea. That means there are three prizes, not just one, to have the chance to win!

First prize will be my choice of one my jack-o'-lanterns, second prize will be a $15 gift card for Crazy Dog T-shirts (though you can't have won anything from them in the past 90 days, or own a review/giveaway blog of your own), third prize will be a 25% discount coupon for anything in my ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store for a specific window of time to be decided later. (I NEVER give that kind of discount! EVER!)
UPDATE: I decided to add a candle pack collection from Dark Candles-either the Halloween limited edition or the Halloween pack. I'll figure it out later... But that will be the fourth prize.

So here's how to join in the fun:

1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Become a new follower and let me know you became one. Since a few folks did join specifically to get this giveaway going, I'll include folks who have become followers since July 1 if they'll leave me a comment on this post letting me know they're interested and the approximate date they joined.
3. Follow me on Twitter. (Leave a comment to tell me.)
4. "Like" my ShellHawk's Nest page on Facebook. (Leave a comment to tell me.)
5. Post about this giveaway on your blog and leave me a link so I can check it out.
6. Tweet about this giveaway and let me know you did.
7. Do a status update on Facebook and leave me a link.
8. Two entries for a vlog post! Send me the link...

Please be sure to leave your comments on the original blog post here on Blogspot, not on Facebook or anywhere else.

If you have any other ways of spreading the word about this giveaway that I have not covered (within reason, of course!), you may earn yourself another entry. Even if you've won something from me in the past, please enter! You've supported this blog for a long time and deserve a chance to win something fun!

I'll announce the winners on Friday, August 10th. Good luck!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tombstone Workshop

The tombstone workshop went really well yesterday. I opened it up to the folks from CalHaunts, and The Garage of Doom was filled with people, flying foam, and the sounds of Dremels and palm sanders.

Because the complexity and lengths of the epitaphs varied so much from person to person, some folks left with completed tombstones, and some folks left with partially completed tombstones.

I approached the class assuming that most people didn't have Hot Wire Foam Factory tools (which I want desperately for my Great Pumpkin gift this year!), so I had people use X-Acto knives and Dremels (if they had a Dremel, that is) to carve their epitaphs. Believe me, I think most people wanted those foam cutters to make the job faster!

In the picture below, first-time-tombstone-creator, Kim, of the Kimberly Michelle crafting blog makes her own Haunted Mansion type tombstone. Direct quote: "I just copied it!" She said she'd blog about her tombstone make and take experience. I'm interested to see her pictures!

 Below, my neighbor, also a first-timer, worked her tail off to get her tombstone done. Her epitaph was a bit longer, so she could only complete one of the two, but she was very pleased with her results and appreciative of how much time and effort it takes to make a good tombstone. As you can see, she took her lunch out into the garage to keep plowing through the epitaph-carving phase.
 Robert and Stacy of Necrotic Creations were on hand to supply everyone with tombstone embellishments.
 I hadn't actually planned to make a tombstone, but I realized that it would be better to demo for people to be able to see the technique done. I had this old white foam board insulation tombstone cut out from three years ago that I hadn't had time to finish, complete with epitaph already drawn on it, so I just carved the epitaph and went to town!
Here I'm taking a sander to the edges to make the edges round
and add some cracks and ageing. 

The finished tombstone
Adding some nice detail to an already cool tombstone


 Since I recorded it on BlogTv, I have some segments to watch on my ShellHawk's BlogTV channel.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Just wanted to let you know I'm working on the details of the 260 followers giveaway! I should have it hammered out shortly and will announce it next week at the latest. Sorry for the delay!

Also, please remember that I'll be doing a tombstone workshop on Saturday around 10:15 or so on my BlogTV channel. If you want to tune in, you may be able to pick up a few tips.

See ya soon!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Busy Little Bee

While I think up the giveaway contest, I've been slaving in my 104° studio. Here are a few of the things on which I was working over the weekend.

 Today I have a 15" serving platter to trim and a bunch of other stuff to do! 

Now, back to thinking up a contest... I'll let you know this week!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

260 Followers and Shocktail Hour!

Well, kids, it looks like I have to come up with something to give away, since my follower counter has now turned over to two hundred sixty! I'll announce sometime this week. We'll make it a fun one...
Additionally, the latest edition of Shocktail Hour is up and ready for download! Johnny Thunder takes you to Blobfest 2012 with a special appearance by Baby Thunder, plus much, much more! If you haven't subscribed to Hauntcast to get the full episode of Shocktail Hour, you can download thirty minutes for free, you cheapskate freeloader! ;o)

Remember, each month, Hauntcast subscribers get their names put into the pot for a giveaway. Upcoming is a Jotnar the Troll CFX mask! For more details, check out the Hauntcast blog page.

O.k.. Off I go to make more stuff and think up my giveaway!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Jacks Are Coming

Here's one of the guys I got out of the Raku firing a few weeks ago. He will soon have more friends!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Children's Day at the Morgue

Click on the pic to hear a deliciously dark children's song I just uploaded to YouTube! I hadn't heard this song before and would be very interested to find out its full history!

Image of Thurl Ravenscroft via All Things Thurl.

Get a Head

I'm toying with doing my next Charmed Pot segment on parties, and plumbed ol' Martha Stewart's site for ideas. You've very likely seen this before, but it's still such a cool, creepy touch to a party for the "Muggles!"
Head Waiter how-to on Martha Stewart's website.

Oh, and here's to hoping this year's Hallowe'en Handbook from Martha includes a bunch of new projects not recycled from the last ten years of her magazine. I'll have to write another rant like this one, if that's the case! (Martha, don't make me write you another letter! I'm watching you!)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Little Business to Take Care Of

...If you'll pardon the improper use of grammar!

First, on Saturday, the 28th of July at 10:15-ish A.M. Pacific time, I'll be resurrecting my BlogTV channel to do a tombstone workshop. Some of the neighbors and a few CalHaunters will be coming by to do some tombstones and are happy to do it on BlogTV. It may be helpful to you to watch a somewhat step-by-step process. Please expect a certain amount of chaos, as I'll also be individually helping people with their tombstones and I'm so slammed with other things I may not be my usual organized self! Go here to subscribe to my channel so it's easier for you to find it on the day of the tombstone workshop!

Secondly, late last year a switched to a new phone and in the switch, I lost a bunch of important haunters email addresses! I'm trolling for my October guest bloggers right now, so if you've done that for me in the past and haven't heard from me, please drop me a line so I can include you in this year's madcap adventure: shell hawks nest at ya hoo daht calm. You know what I really mean!

Thirdly, I got my chandelier pieces out of the glaze firing this week! Hooray! 

Although I have done some touch-up on the big shade because the clear overglaze fogged on me, I'm happy with the way it turned out. I'll be re-firing that shortly so that I can put it together and get pics taken to sell it. Whew! What a project. If it actually sells, I'll see about doing more. Just as a business thing, it takes up too much space to be lying around here for long, so adding more chandeliers that don't sell, either, would be madness.
 I had debated on the shape of the small shades, but determined that the pumpkin shape, if done the way I wanted, wouldn't allow you to change the light bulbs without adding a bunch of extra weight to the finished piece, making the lamp as a whole heavy and possible causing mayhem later, in someone's house. Not really something I wanted to do! So I made them wide enough to slip your fingers into the shade for the light bulb change and everything seems to fit o.k.
I'm playing around with different oranges, too, and I'm finding I really like this one! I'll still do the others I've used in the past, for variety, but I am very happy with the way this one looks.

Finally, we are one follower away from a giveaway. Just a public service message!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Works in Progress

 It's been a busy week in the studio and out of it, too! I've been working on several projects at one time, because sometimes I'm able to complete more things that way; when one piece is drying, I can be glazing something else. When the glaze firing is going (making the studio unbearably hot in already overly-hot weather) I can be inside, working on a sculpture. It's a bit crazy-making, but it seems to work for me.

I decided to throw in a couple of bigger-ticket Hallowe'en items this year, the first being the above-pictured porcelain punch bowl and ten cups. Porcelain is an interesting clay. Aside from being exceedingly fussy and hard to throw because it has no grog in it, everything contaminates it and shows, even after firing. That includes oils from handling and all other residue from other clays. 

Which brings me to how I nearly murdered my older, idiot dog.

Because porcelain has no grog, it can actually be carved when it's bone-dry if you throw it thickly enough. (If you try to carve other, grogged clays, the grog actually shows up and can scratch the surface of the piece.) I threw the bowl above with the idea of carving a haunted house on it, and carving various appropriate themes on the coordinating cups.

So, a couple of days ago, I'm out in my garage, wearing my respirator (hot) and wearing my latex surgical gloves (really freaking hot) so I don't contaminate the clay with the oils from my hands, and I have the bowl lying on a towel on my lap. I am sweating buckets, but I Am An Artist, and I am willing to Suffer For My Art. It is 108° in the studio. I am carving over a bucket of water to keep the dust to a minimum. I carve a little, then take a soft brush and brush away the powdered clay so I can see to carve more.

Idiot dog walks in. He normally doesn't want to be in the studio much, but that day, he made an exception. He lays down for a little bit, then notices the neighbors across the street messing with their car in their driveway.

Ooo! Something interesting is happening! The ears perk.

He gets up, somehow dipping his tail in the bucket I use for reclaiming my red clay.

He walks forward to the baby gate I keep across the door to keep the dogs from dashing outside, recognizes the people across the street, and begins to wag. His. Tail!

I have been completely, utterly focused on carving my bowl. I have not noticed that idiot dog has dipped his tail in the Red Death of Porcelain Clay (a bucket of water and red clay that I will reclaim later). 

I hear splattering noises as his tail wags oh-so-slightly faster. Small red splatters appear inside my porcelain bowl. Screaming and ranting ensues, and idiot dog is banished from the studio, looking baffled.

I set the bowl down and take a deep breath, muttering threats about dogs becoming rugs so they would actually be useful, for once. I take another breath and examine the bowl. I realize that there are, by some miracle, no huge chunks of Red Death of Porcelain clay in the bowl. The splatters are little more than red colored water. If I let it dry, I can gently sand it off. I won't actually have to throw the entire bowl away.

The idiot dog has no idea how lucky he is. He has, however, rubbed his tail in numerous places all over the house, to the dismay of our housekeeper, who had just cleaned all of those places. I dragged him outside and hosed off the offending tail while seriously considering bobbing it myself and saving myself a vet bill...
Meanwhile, work continues. I am glazing the chandelier and the matching globes, and if I get it finished this weekend, I may be able to open the kiln on Sunday morning. The pumpkins in the above shot (with the exception of the top middle one, which has already been fired) are drying and awaiting final touch-ups before their first firing. I have a small witch sculpture I'm working on, and work on Raven continues. (We can rebuild him! We have the technology!)

So, happy Friday the 13th, boils and ghouls. I'm off to glaze some jacks! I leave you with this track from Sinister 6, which will be on the upcoming Halloween at High Noon album coming out in October. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Almost Still

Image via Miriadna.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dead Letters

Looks like it would make a great haunt.
Lochailort Post Office image by Ronan C on Flickr.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hauntcast 40 Thank God It's Friday (the 13th)

The title of the newest episode of Hauntcast only proves that our fearless cruise director-oops, that's program director - has no clue what the date is, probably due to alcohol abuse.

Be that as it may, please join us for Johnny Thunder's new segment: Inside the Scare Actor's Studio! Chris Baker heads into the woods-Thornhill Woods, that is-for an interview with Chris Ainsworth of Thornhill Woods Haunted House.

Elsewhere in this podcast:


Revenant on tapping into the fears of the subconscious mind.


Grimlock with haunting news and some fresh links.


The Mistress of Mayhem bids a fond farewell to Ray Bradbury.


Johnny Thunder also does haunt acting. Method be damned.


Dick Terhune regales us with a ghost story about the Evil Book of Faces.


Stolloween aka Scott Stoll keeps us glued to the making of paper mache armatures.


Eric Vysther says Dead Acres is the place to be in Columbus, OH.


Wick-Ed Gannon with haunt advertising strategies.


Propers where propers are due for Mr. Chicken’s Haunted Tombstone prop.

If you haven't subscribed to Hauntcast, you're probably not listening to anything fantastic while you're building your props. And you deserve to listen to the best, right? Subscribe today!

Hauntcast: at least we don't suck!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New in the Shop

New copper jack-o'-lantern in my ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store. More will be added in weeks to come, so keep an eye out!

And remember, if you're a Hauntcast subscriber, you get a special 15% discount!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th and Other Things!

Happy 4th of July, everyone! I hope it's wonderful, safe and full of great friends and great food!

In other news this here pumpkin came out of Monday's Raku firing:
I put him in my Etsy story this morning, and he was gone in less than five minutes. He's going to go live with Chris and Jeff Davis and their brood of kitties!

I got a few disappointed posts on that one, so I'll be making more of the Raku variety with evil faces similar to this guy. Later today or tomorrow, I'll be putting another jack from Monday's firing in the shop, so keep an eye out.

Lastly, I guess no one is interested in a giveaway, because I'm still not hitting that 260 follower mark. Sad panda. I was in a giving mood. *dramatic sigh*

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pumpkins Progress V1.5

 Well, the first firing went well, which is what I always say when nothing blows up!

Since it's gotten warm out here, the clay dries faster-which can be a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that if it dries quickly, I can do more firings, closer together. I can't do that in winter when it seems to rain all the time, because there's so much moisture in the air it seems to take forever for anything to dry! For larger sculptural pieces, that's actually a good thing. 

Remember, if clay isn't dry enough, when the kiln temperature hits 212° (the temperature at which water boils at sea level), give or take a few degrees, the water left in the too-wet clay creates steam and causes the piece to "blow up," as we call it in the ol' ceramics biz. In these instances, when you open the kiln, there is a combination of chunks of now-fired bisque, powder, and shards, which can't be repaired. You have to chuck the whole damn thing in the trash after you've dried your tears.

If it dries too fast, it can cause cracks. Repairing the cracks can be a major pain in the butt; so much so, that I'll often just pitch the whole piece into the reclamation bucket (a bucket of clay and water that I have to re-wedge) and re-work the clay into usable clay later. It's a pain, but it's good that I can re-use clay that hasn't been fired. I keep costs down that way.

So some of the pumpkins slated for Raku do have some minor cracks in their lids. I'm not overly concerned about it at this point, because the one thing I've learned about working with ceramics is that it ain't over 'till it's over, and you just can't control all the variables. And that you have to let go of attachment to results. 

O.k., that's three things, but you get the point.
So my lamp shades came out fine and still fit the sconces perfectly!
The bottom shelf consists of pieces that are still drying. The cups on the lower
right are all porcelain, and will be individually carved to match a punch bowl
 I'm making. Can't wait to show you how that turns out!
So two things could potentially happen with those lids:

  1. Nothing. They'll just continue to show those very minor cracks and they won't effect the integrity of the piece at all
  2. During the Raku process, which heats them up to 1850° very rapidly and cools them very rapidly, the thermal shock could cause the cracks to open more, or even split the lids.
Generally speaking, Raku breaks are clean and you can just epoxy the pieces together. Since Raku pottery is always purely decorative, and these pieces in particular will never be used to hold water (obviously), that may be the option I have to take with these. It may drop the prices slightly, but whatever. They'll still look great, I hope!

Well, back out into the studio today!