Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Monster Camp--Day 1

It was hard to sleep the night before Monster Camp! But I somehow managed it. I had no idea who all was going to be my class mates, but I ended up seeing a couple suspicious looking guys in the dining area. And sure enough, they ended up being at the camp as well.

Allen picked us up in his Dark Hour van and a few of us clamored in, introduced ourselves and away we went!

The first day is orientating us with the shop as we pick our spot and Allen goes over a few things, explaining what is on the table before us and different things around the shop. After that, we get right to it! Aprons on and we take out our pics we brought with us for a guide.

We were to bring 10 pictures with us at the very least of an idea of what we wanted to sculpt. Allen came around to talk to each of us as he instructed us how to put the clay on the head form before us.

I've never sculpted before, so this was a first for me but there was no time to dawdle, we had sculpting to do! All day! Friday is sculpt day and our first task was to get clay on the head form and sculpt out the basic shapes. Raking it out and then smoothing it and add more clay, take some off, slice here, slice there, tweak here, tweak there.

Now and then, Allen would come over to see how you are doing and give us a few tips. He noticed my ears I was sculpting were a bit too forward and explained how ears are slightly tilted back. Also my face I had sculpted was a bit off. So he told me he was about to scare me and took the wire tool and made it taut and then sliced the face off! OH NOOOO!! Hahaha! I was thinking oh crap, I am gonna have to do it over but no, he just lifted it up carefully and placed it where it needed to be. :)

I was like wow! What a cool trick! That just kinda blew my mind!

For the nose, I wanted to give her an owl beak so I could bring in aspects of this area of Maine with the owls we have here.

And then, I got the idea to instead of having a scar on her brow, I would have a brand. So instead of it being indented, it would be raised. I had found a magic symbol that means divine justice and I sculpted that right onto her brow. I stood back and looked at it (another tip from Allen) and I realized it was up too high on her head and I really wanted it down. So when Rob came by and I expressed that to him, he was like, well move it then! :) So I did! Ha!

So when it came to the ears, I did the same thing. I lopped them off only to move them. Then I could see the ears were too thin and tried to add more clay to one part and they were off then and not matching and it was starting to become frustrating. So I just took them off completely and started again. This time, I took equal amounts of clay in each hand and applied them to either side of the head (another trick from Allen) and began to sculpt them with my fingers. It worked out much better and I really liked her ears after that.

While we sculpted, Shannon arrived with lunch and said hello to us. It was finger food to go and grab and eat when we were hungry and then right back to sculpting. No time to sit down for a long break, we had to get this knocked out at least for the most part so that Saturday we could do detailing that we might like and then be ready to mold before lunch.

(To be continued!)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Monster Camp--Perchta, The Belly Slitter

What to make for Monster Camp? 

Now you don't have to have one specific monster in mind really when you go to Monster Camp, although you really should have an idea in your head before you go of what you would like to create, so you can go ahead and sculpt and not be stuck.
You don't have time to fool about as the first day is very busy as I will go over in the next blog post. 
Plus, you really don't want to duplicate another's work but instead, make something more original, more so a monster of your own making. At least, that's what I wanted to do.

The moment I had heard that Allen Hopps was going to have a Monster Camp where you could go and learn and make your own half latex mask there in his shop, using his tools and with him right there with you...I knew right away I wanted to go AND what I wanted to make! 

Now I've watched him make a lot of masks over just the past 2 years and one of my favorites of his is this one, more like a 1/4 mask, evil elf! Oh wow, check this creepy guy out!

I love him!

So I am sure you all must have heard of Krampus by now. And yep, Allen makes a wicked Krampus mask! Lots of different styles and types! Full costumes and probably on stilts too!

 There in Dallas, there is even a Krampus walk and I found the New England Society of Krampus! How exciting! I have not seen them do a parade yet but they have had some get-togethers and that's cool! I would so love to be a part of that, the whole Krampus thing. But ya know? I didn't want to be yet another Krampus, I wanted to bring a more female energy to this hoopla parade!

So I began to research and who did I find?

Perchta, the belly slitter! Oohhh yeaaa!! Now she is downright wicked! 


Check her out on Wikipedia:

And here are some more glorious horrifying pics of her!

I did a lot of research on Perchta, Frau Berchta, Frau Holle so that I could get a feel for this fierce goddess, including talking to a few friends of mine. I did learn that those Krampus masks that have more than one set of horns, are actually followers of Perchta, called Perchten! Only one set of horns, makes them a Krampus. 
Perchta follows Krampus, as his day is December 5th. From what is cited from the Brothers Grimm, her traditional feast day falls on the calendar day of December 31st. On that day, your meal should consist of gruel and fish stew. Some say if you didn't eat enough on Epiphany, January 6th, that was the day she would slit your belly, remove your intestines and fill the empty cavity with straw, stones, and trash. Perchta the Punisher was more active during the 12 days of Christmas. 

You can read even more about her and others here:

Now she wasn't all nasty like that all the time, if you did your allotted spinning for the year and ate fish soup or stew and gruel on her feast day, she may reward you with a silver coin left in a shoe or such for you.
Perchta also had a beautiful side to her when you were good and did what you were suppose to, that was the side of her you saw.

So when it came time for Monster Camp, I knew I wanted to create a Perchta mask so I could join in on the Krampus parades or gatherings.

Now as my friend from Germany asked me, why would Perchta be here in the U.S.? She saw a lot of these beings like Krampus and Perchta as part of the land and culture there in Europe. Why would they appear here in the U.S. and how would they appear as they differed in name or guise from region to region over there. Of course we know many people did come from Europe here and they brought their customs and folklore as well. But she has a good point. The United States is very different than Europe, so how would Perchta look here?

I spoke to a few friends, one from Austria, one from Germany and another friend who is into her as well about their take on Perchta and how they saw her. It led to some really great conversations and discussions!

It also got me to looking into the local Native American stories of the Wabanaki, especially those who have lived here in Maine for many, many years. 

Did they have a Perchta type of goddess or story? I am still reading of the stories that I found that have been published about the Wabanaki and have found it very fascinating as now I am learning more of the history of the land here and her native peoples. I did read some mention of fairies, elves, and gnome like creatures tho' not an actual story in particular aside from the story of the Chenoo. I am still reading however and enjoying it immensely!

In fact, I already know that that will be my next monster or creature to make, that is after the skull mask that Allen recommended I make so I could become more familiar with the human anatomy.

So after reading and researching on the internet for months, I had to choose my pictures to which I would draw some inspiration from. 

Many of the masks in Europe are carved out of wood so I wanted to keep elements of that. Perchta is known for a bird nose-beak so I decided in honor of the owls on the land here in Maine, I would give her an owl nose as well as in honor of the Native American folktales, her ears were pointed like an elves' and I gave her a lot of lines and sharp angles to her cheeks that could very well appear more wooden as a nod to those in Europe who carve masks from wood. The final touch of course was the brand like mark on her brow, a magic symbol that is for divine justice, as a nod to her Pagan roots as a Goddess. 

And so, Perchta was born out of clay and latex, paint and hair and infused with the breath and tears of  joy from a Druid.

And how did I make her? From start to finish...that is coming up in the next few blog posts---SOON! :)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monster Camp 2019--Intro

Monster Camp! 

Brought to you by: 

And specificially: 

You can also find them on FaceBook:

Did you ever sit and watch live Facebook videos or those on YouTube of people making really cool props and wish you could do that? It's one thing to follow along on someone's DIY video and try to figure out how  they did something or what they used or the measurements and you can't ask questions on the spot or as you go along unless you email them and then hard at times to hear back?

Don't have talent? Doesn't matter. Never sculpted or painted before? Doesn't matter. Nope, it doesn't. Can't draw or sketch? Nope, don't have to! As your weird and crazy imagination can run wild, or even pull from your own nightmares, you can get an idea as to what you'd like to make. And then yes, you too, can do it! You can make monsters!

It's so different to sit and watch compared to being there and doing it! So when the opportunity is there to go and jump in and learn from one of the masters, TAKE IT! :)

I've watched Allen Hopps on Haunter's Hangout for a couple years now doing live videos and I've seen just a few of his YouTube videos as well. Now he's awesome with telling you where to get things, about how much they are and all that. But still, he makes it look so easy sometimes you wonder where in the world do you even start?

"Go make stuff!" He will say. Oh man, a haunter's dream to be able to just go make stuff and to have a cool shop where everything is where it is handy and you have everything you need! It can be intimidating and overwhelming at times. 

Last year, Allen announced on Haunter's Hangout that he was going to have a Monster Camp! His first one was in June, inviting people to come to his workshop and learn how to make a half latex mask from start to finish, that's sculpt to paint! I didn't make it to that first one as it came up too fast but I wanted to do the next one that I could make it to.

His second one was in January and I quickly signed up for it and got in! A great time to escape Maine's winter for a few days and head to Texas. Luckily, I could use points for the flight and points for the hotel that is not too far from his place. Shannon, his wife made sure we got a nice itinerary so we knew what to expect and about a month out from the workshop, we were given instructions to find a set of pictures that we could draw our inspiration from. A nose from here, an ear there, color, assortment of pictures to get an idea as to what kind of monster we wanted to make.

I knew right off what I wanted to make! More on that later! ;)

I watched the weather so I knew what to bring clothes wise and made sure I brought an extra suitcase in which to bring back the mold as well as bubble wrap. For yes, not just the mask you are bringing home, but the mold and I later found out that it was the head form too!

Ok, so what do you get with Monster Camp?!
Mask you make
Mold for the mask
Head form you sculpted on
Rest of your clay
30 piece tool kit
AND! A cool green Stiltbeast Studios apron you wore during class!


I flew into DFW the day before camp was to start and took an Uber up to the hotel in Royce City, the Holiday Inn Express. This hotel is a nice one, felt new and the rooms were really comfortable and they have free breakfast each morning.

From there, the next morning, we were picked up in the Dark Hour van and brought to Allen's workshop at his and Shannon's home and Rob Cory was there to help us as well!

Shannon took meticulous care in planning out the menu according to not only the season for the time of year we were there in Texas, but also what we were doing for the day. Water and sweet tea was provided as well throughout the day.

After each day of complete focus on what we were to do for that day, we were taken back to the hotel. 

This ran from Friday to Sunday, just 3 days to make a half latex mask! Can it be done? YES! You bet! So it's a quick time out of your regular schedule to spend a fantastic weekend with some crazy new friends making monsters! Gotta love it!


When the camp was over, on Monday if you could stay, we were then given a lights on tour of Dark Hour Haunted House located in Plano as well as a tour of Bity Mold Supply store! Bonus!

This was just an enormous amount of fun! To be able to spend a few days with a group of people with like minds and make monsters was so great!  We laughed, I cried tears of joy and happiness to be there in my element and to see my creation come alive! 

If you are ever on the fence or want to have a really great time making monsters, don't miss out on Monster Camp! This is a chance of a lifetime to be able to spend this time with someone who is talented and yet humble and gracious and generous with his knowledge and opening up his home and workshop so that he can share his passion for making monsters with YOU! I came all the way from Maine for it, it was well worth the trip and I would love to come down off my mountain and do it again sometime! It sells out quick tho', so be sure you register when next he has a Monster Camp date set.

So just what did I make?  Heh heh....well, on the following blog posts to come, I'll be going over each day of Monster Camp as well as talking about what I chose to make and how I came about to make it with the elements I put into it. 

So stay tuned! More to come!

*Bugs n Hisses*


Friday, December 7, 2018

Van Helsing

Van Helsing

This movie starts out in black and white, taking you back to Transylvania, Romania, 1887 with the classic iconic Victor Frankenstein just bringing his monster to life.
Dracula is there to oversee and wait for his chance to take over and control the monster.
As Dracula attacks Frankenstein and kills him, the monster retaliates, throwing Dracula into the fire.
Monster takes his creator to the classic windmill as the villagers shown at the start who were storming the castle, give chase.

Dracula's brides give chase from there, upset as the windmill catches fire and burns down with Frankenstein and his creation within the fiery tomb.

1 year later in Paris
So enters Van Helsing....Hugh Jackman

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde is shown amidst cool weapons and snappy one liners.

The Vatican, Rome
Bennie & the curator from the Mummy movies and he is also in Braveheart, actors: Kevin J. O'Connor and Erick Avari .
A funny friar guy similar to Q from James Bond movies with funny and unique inventions.
Nice crossbow! Great side kick for comic relief.

This movie has great effects but you have to turn up to hear the conversations and then down again during loud action sequences.
Dracula is a bit of a beatnick.

This is a fast paced movie with a not so typical ending.
There are no special scene after credits but the DVD has funny bloopers and extras, some great ones of the background stories.

Not recommended for the kids as there are sexual innuendos and gore.