Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shocktail Hour 7

I can't believe Chris Baker and Johnny Thunder have done seven episodes of Shocktail Hour already!
All manner of music and horror reviews, with shenanigans from Chris Baker and our Master of Scare-e-monies, Johnny Thunder! What could be better? (Besides Hauntcast, that is! ;o))

Subscribe to Hauntcast and Shocktail Hour (one price for both) now! The build/panic season is upon us, and you need friends in your garage while you're building. Hauntcast Magazine will be coming out sometime in October (with my first short story offering! Eek!), and each month, some nifty item from one of our sponsors is raffled off to some lucky minion!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Making of Hallowe'en

Everyone who reads this blog likes Hallowe'en, and at least puts up with my posts on ceramics, Christmas Ape, Hauntcast, and whatever off-topic rant of the day happens to run across my mind (Beware, Martha Stewart. I've heard you've been naughty again this year!)

This post will be about making stuff to sell for the Hallowe'en Season. I may wander all over the map on this one. The title of the post is more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast statement!

A couple of years ago, when I had my booth at Jack Russell Farm Brewery, a guy was looking at one of my jacks and said that I cast it (and all of them) from molds. The way he said it sort of took me aback; the tone was accusatory. 

I was polite and said that no, I threw them by hand on my pottery wheel at home, but I could see how he might think that I did. (I didn't, but I was going to let him save face.) He got a bit belligerent, and said, "No you didn't. These came from a mold. Just admit it!"

Needless to say, I didn't make a sale that day with that guy. (I think I may have even had the urge to punch him in the nose.) The exchange also let me know that if one person thinks that and verbalizes it, someone else probably thinks that and says nothing.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with making a mold and slip-casting a form. If you have multiples to do, it saves time, and you can really push limits of the clay in different directions with the technique. I just haven't done that as of yet, for various reasons.

Anywho, I decided to circumnavigate that potential argument my having Mr. ShellHawk take a couple of pictures as I was working on a few projects. (I suppose the truly argumentative customer could claim the picture was Photo Shopped, but whatever!) For the porcelain punch bowl set I completed over the weekend, I thought it would be particularly important.

I was all prepared for that kind of guy. I figured a couple of these pictures in the booth would be proof that I didn't buy the set from China!

Once the bowl is thrown, it has to dry slowly, particularly the rim, which dries more quickly than the rest of the bowl. As I've mentioned before, porcelain is really fussy, and picks up every little piece of contaminant possible, even body oils.

Note broken toe. It was also over 105° that day, and sweat was pouring out of my gloves.
Who says I don't suffer for my art?

Lucky me, I got to wear my latex gloves to handle the bowl and the cups that came after. I got to have a towel over my lap to protect it from the puddles of sweat I was generating, and what can you say about dust masks? So very fashionable, and suffocating in heat!

Handling is really touchy, too. Since the bowl hadn't gone through the first firing, it was at its most vulnerable point. If anyone had grabbed the rim, it would very likely have just broken off, and I would be forced to murder him and bury him in the back yard!
Carve a little, brush away the dust. Repeat. Often.
I didn't include the pic Mr. ShellHawk took down my shirt.
No one really needs to see that.

After it comes out of the bisque firing, (as has the cup, left) it's time for glazing. (No, it's not painting. You paint at Color Me Mine. When you do ceramics from start to finish, you glaze!)

Glazing will make or break the piece. It can take a very ordinary shape and make it exceptional, or take a beautiful shape and utterly destroy it. Once you add fire (or in this case, electricity) and heat, anything can happen. You can control your results to a point, but nothing is ever guaranteed. After spending all the time carving the set, I wanted the glaze to be perfect! I chose a celadon, because celadon and porcelain are truly made for each other. 

Celadon can run from pale blues and greens to grays. The one I chose was one of the pale greens. Eventually, I'll mix my own, but I was short on time and testing glazes was out of the question. What if it turned out runny when fired? It would ruin everything and the whole project would wind up in the garbage! I tested it on another porcelain bowl I had thrown for the purpose, and it seemed stable...

So the set was glazed, cleaned up, and put in the kiln for the firing. It probably made it up to about 2269°. I was stressed for the twenty-four hours or so it was in the kiln, until it cooled off enough so I could open it without ruining the piece! When I did finally open it, I did the happy dance!
The time-sucking monster project came out just in time for my open house yesterday. Although the photos really don't do it justice, it turned out really, really well. The places where the glaze was a little thinner ended up looking like fog creeping along the graveyard ground.

I have to admit, I was truly amazed. Not in a "I am all that and a bag of chips!" way, but in a "Wow! I didn't know I could do that!" way.

I had priced it well, perhaps a little too fairly (I deliberately did not keep track of the hours I spent on it, but it probably totaled around sixty), but I felt that if I priced it higher, I wouldn't sell it.

It sold yesterday.

It went to a really nice couple I know, and I can go visit it every so often. I even got an email last night, saying how great it was to have it. It felt strange, but really good at the same time. I'm very happy it went to someone who will really treasure it!

I'll post about another large project, maybe later this week. My niece is coming for a visit, I may have jury duty, I have four more classes to teach at Parks and Rec, and school starts tonight. NOw, it's out to the studio to throw some jacks. Yo people are cleaning me out! :oD

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Year of the Jack

I checked my email this morning and discovered that these two jack-o'-lanterns have been adopted!
One of them was adopted by WickED, using the coupon he won, and the other was adopted by the winner of the Dark Candles Halloween pack, Joseph! I'm so glad they'll be going to good homes!

Looks like this is going to be the year of the Jack for me! I'll be posting more after my Open House on Sunday.

ShellHawk's Creations Etsy Store.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"I Shall Return"

Is the winner of the 25% coupon! WickED, please contact me for your special code!

My Jack in His New Home/New Mast Head!

I never thought of putting a green light in one of my white jacks! It looks
pretty cool, doesn't it?
Michael over at the Skull and Pumpkin blog was gracious enough to purchase one of my Raku jack-o'-lanterns!

This is great for reasons aside from actually having money in my account. First, I heart Michael and his blog. He's just such a great person (I had a chance to spend a few minutes with him at Monsterpalooza a couple of years ago); witty and funny, and a really decent human being.

Second, since my works are kind of like my kids-only, of course, I'm hoping most people don't actually sell their children-I want them to go to good homes, where people can appreciate them and make them part of their daily or holiday memories. I feel very much like Mr. Glass about my artwork, at least most of the time, and I love when it goes to a place where it will be admired, rather than a place where it will be carelessly used one or two years, then stuck haphazardly in a junk sale. *shudder* 

No, I love the idea that what I make will be a part of someone's growing-up memories, like that special Christmas decoration that gets passed from generation to generation.

Michael wrote a nice blog post about the jack he purchased, plus included a shot with the Mini-Boo he won last year in one of my giveaways! Thanks, Michael! And I'm very glad you like your evil jack!

In other news, you may have noticed that the fireplace picture on my blog's mast head has been switched out to reflect this year's crop of jack-o'-lanterns. Thank you to Guy of House Bloodthorn for doing that, and for making my blog look so spooky and cool!

Well, back to work! My Open House is Sunday, and I have more to do than I have hours in the day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Discount Re-Award Redux-A Quick Giveaway!

O.k., kids, now is your chance! I've awarded the 25% discount coupon to my Etsy store twice, and unfortunately, both "award-ees" are enduring some financial difficulties right now. So in order to keep my word, I am going to re-award it again instead of deactivating the coupon.

The thing I don't want to do is go through trying to award this coupon again, so I came up with a mini-giveaway idea: will those who are financially able to use the coupon please comment on this post. To make it fun, please write the epitaph you would like on your tombstone.

But do it quickly, as this will end tomorrow at 12:00PM Pacific time. I'll pick the best/funniest/most entertaining epitaph then.

Why so quick? Because the coupon will no longer be valid after September first. Please keep that in mind when entering!

Obviously, if you just won something in the 260th Follower Giveaway, please do not enter this secondary giveaway.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grandin Theft-Again!

I only have a couple of minutes to pass this on, but I think it's worth doing.

Last year, Grandin Road released a cloaked ghost design based on Grim's cloaked ghost:
Grim's Ghost
Grandin Road's offering
 This year, they've stolen William Bezek's Dead Dolls:
Bezek's Dolls, which were used for the faces
These Bezek dolls were used for the clothing
Grandin Road's dolls

At even the most casual of glances, one can see they are copies of Bezek's work.

Bezek wrote a blog post about the theft, which he was later ordered to remove by Grandin Road-most probably by their legal department. You can read more details over at Pumpkinrot's blog, where Bezek, himself, made a brief comment.

I went to Grandin Road's Facebook page and privately messaged them a polite but firmly worded message of disappointment, accompanied by the usual futile "I'll not be purchasing from YOU PEOPLE this year, or any year, until you make restitution!"

I'm certain they'll giggle as they hit the "delete" key and wander down the hall to roll in all the money they're pulling in from ripping off artists' work. 

We all know they won't, and that they'll continue to rip off our work (by "our," I mean the Hallowe'en community at large) because they can afford to pay their lawyers to stall long enough for the opposition to run out of money. (My divorce lawyer cost me $300 an hour, and I didn't even fight for anything. I can't imagine how much it would cost to actively fight a copyright suit!)

If I were sure that Bezek would not suffer serious repercussions, I would encourage everyone to bomb their Facebook page with politely worded expressions of disappointment. After all, a corporation's image is important in this economy, is it not?

But there is a possibility they could sue him for that, and I'd be very upset if I caused that kind of grief for him. 


As an aside, Spirit Halloween, we suspect, has done the same thing to Hauntcast. They were a sponsor of the show for a season, and right after they sponsored us, this product came out:
Yes, that's our tag line.

And now, they have a "Hanging Faceless Specter", which they undoubtedly got from the same manufacturer as Grandin Road's ripoff.


Two Faves in One Place

Hauntcast has expanded my list of Hallowe'en acquaintances. Derek Young is one of them.

Derek has a blog that I follow, called "Better Haunts and Gardens." It covers home haunts and their haunters, and has some nifty interviews with people in the haunt community you may or may not be aware of from your obsessive trawling on the internet.

Oh, wait. Maybe that's just me...
He recently had an interview with one of my idols, Dave Lowe, of Para Abnormal fame. Dave's comics have kept me giggling for several years, now, and his blog has some great prop tutorials that are simple enough that I can actually make them!

If you're needing a little Hallowe'en inspiration, check out the interview. You'll be ready to build again in no time!

Friday, August 17, 2012


Snake-eyes is small, but fierce!

And who doesn't love the Pumpkin King?

Available in ShellHawk's Creations Etsy Store.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Annual Mug Shot

There's nothing like explaining to your spouse that you have to light a fire in the
fireplace when it's 100 degrees outside, and try to convince him you're not crazy!
It was time to get my annual fireplace shot, before all these guys went to their new homes.

For the first time, I had so many, I couldn't fit them all in the shot without having to move most of my den area around, so I swapped out a couple to get them in the shot.
I was also lucky enough to see that I sold two of them this morning! 
I think it's going to be a good year!

ShellHawk's Creations Etsy Store. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strange Apothecary

This jar is Oskar approved. Now in the ShellHawk's Creations Shop.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Witch Hat Jack

My first high fire stoneware jack-o'-lantern. Now, in the ShellHawk's Creations Shop.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Few New Jacks

 I did a Raku firing with the help of a friend yesterday, and got these two out of the firing. I just posted them to my Etsy store!
 This guy, below, I fired in my electric kiln. I'm having fun with the skull-ish faces!
ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Raku Crop

I did several Raku kiln loads today, with the help of a very good clay buddy. I am officially tired! 
Official pics tonight. They'll go in the Etsy shop later this week.

New Winner of the 260th Giveaway!

I got word from Adastra that she'd be unable to take advantage of her 25% discount in the ShellHawk's Creations Etsy Store.

So I asked my random number generator to pick another number, and he picked-dum, dum DUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMM!

Pensive Pumpkin! Huzzah!

Pensive, I'll be sending out your coupon code shortly.

Carry on!

Friday, August 10, 2012

And the Winners Are...

I called my "random number generator" (a.k.a. my next door neighbor when my husband didn't pick up the phone) while he was out on the golf course, and he picked:

1) First Prize of one of my hand-thrown jack-o'-lanterns goes to: Morphine!

2) Second Prize of a $15 gift card to Crazy Dog t-shirts goes to: Knock Knock Street!

3) Third Prize of the 25% discount in my ShellHawk's Creations Etsy Store goes to: adastra!

4) Fourth Prize of a Halloween Pack of candles from Dark Candles goes to: Joseph Giles!

Congratulations to all the winners! Please contact me by email by Monday night or your prize will be re-awarded. shellhawksnest (a t) ya hoo dawt calm


So around noon-ish, Pacific time, I'll be announcing the winner of the 260th Follower Giveaway. Please go to the original post for the rules.

Remember, if you have joined this site and "followed" me, you need to leave a comment at the original post letting me know so you can be entered into the giveaway!

Tick-tock, Clarice!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I dare you to watch this video and not smile!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Giveaway Reminder!

I just wanted to remind you that I do the drawing for my giveaway on Friday! Check here for all the details.

One of the prizes is a $15.00 gift card for Crazy Dog T-Shirts, a nice place to shop for those little "in-joke" t's. For instance, I just got these:
For those who don't know, Weyland-Yutani is "The Company" in Alien,
and Haddonfield High is from John Carpenter's Halloween.
They are so soft! I know that when I head up to Abel's Apple Acres for the Fall/Christmas season, I'll be wearing these. I can't wait for another horror dork to walk up and compliment me on these clever t-shirts! I still have my Sleepy Hollow Polo Association t-shirt, and it has weathered numerous washings very well!

As you know, I'm also giving away a jack-o'-lantern of my own making, and there have been quite a number of them coming out of my kiln!
Sorry, this one is a custom piece for a friend, so I
can't sell it...
So, if you want to get into the pot, please go back to the original post and post your comment there. I'm also giving away a 25% off coupon for my shop which will be valid until September 1. I promise I'll be putting some of my Hallowe'en things in the shop by then...

Good luck!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Very Presidential Hallowe'en

Image via About.com
Hey, it's an election year. Whether you like the current president or want him replaced with Frank Zappa, the fact is, the man celebrated Hallowe'en in The White House. 
Image via the White House Blog
That's just pretty cool, no matter which party you like!

Image via America.gov
It occurs to me that the White House is probably the only house in America that you can go trick-or-treating and your mom won't check your bag for razor blades and needles. It's also one of the few places that will make cookies and cool, Hallowe'en-themed treats by hand and no one throws them out before they get eaten due to paranoia or fear.

Who knew the White House was the last bastion of old school Hallowe'en, just like we had in the 1970s?
Image via the Washinton Post
Loving the giant spider in the background.
Image via *WHAT?!* Republicans for Obama
As an aside, I was just chatting with Mr. ShellHawk about this idea (wrong as it may be!) that the White House is the last place that celebrates Hallowe'en as it was meant to be celebrated, and he commented, "Yeah. For this administration."

Politically charged, vicious comments to start in 4, 3, 2, 1... (Children, please play nice.)

(I hate election years.)
I need to call Tim B. up when Stewie finally gives up the ghost...
Maybe he can make something like this for me!
Image via Follow the Money Blog
When I pop by to trick or treat at the White House, I'll have to talk to them
about how their spider webbing technique needs some work. Honestly! You
think these webs are good enough for the President of the United States???
Final two images via Politico 44.
Video via the White House Blog.