Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Appointments

This morning, a great couple came over to get painted before going to work. The husband wanted to be a full-headed scary Jack O' Lantern, and the wife just wanted purple streaks in her hair.

They came with their own orange, green, and purple hair spray, all prepared to go.

So I got to work on the husband, and this is what we achieved:

He and his wife absolutely LOVED it! After I finished this, I did the purple streaks in his wife's very dark hair. Subtle, but cool. Well, he was so excited, and she was so impressed, that he convinced her to get painted too. She just wanted a cool eye mask, something with tribal.

Then, this afternoon, I had another husband/wife team come by for paintings for a party tonight. They contacted me after seeing me paint their granddaughter at the Cabbage Night Festival on Saturday. The wife has a gold and black webby and gauzy dress, and a gold crown with various colored stones. She wanted to be a Butterfly Queen. This is she...

Her husband, on the other hand, went the opposite route. A man after my own heart, he got himself a black hooded robe and was looking for a skull face.

His wife sat behind him on a chair as I painted, and then he turned around. She literally jumped, she was so startled by what I'd done. They decided they couldn't go visit his mother today, because it might do her in!

Meanwhile, my pumpkin head emailed me, to tell me that the people at work were very surprised, and that security wouldn't let him in. He told them, " You know me man!! I've been coming here for years!!" A few of his co-workers got scared, and on the NYC bus it was hilarious. A few people spotted him on the bus and didn't want to get on! The bus driver was laughing so hard. He's been getting lots of stares and most people say, "Great job, who did it?" According to my client, "It's been so much fun man I haven't had this much fun in Halloween since 1998."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Season

It's begun!

My husband and I went to a haunt in NYC, Blood Manor. It's a popular event, with a line on which we waited nearly two and a half hours. In the drizzle. And chill.

The event planners, sponsored by Club Planet, tried to keep us entertained, with wandering actors and some fairly sick entertainment. Some of the creatures were very well done,

Some, not so much so.

There were also some rather truly gruesome "attractions" happening in the street. Suffice it to say, the men who were having dollar bills stapled to their skin were not the worst of it. This was.
Yeah, it's called Blood Manor for a reason.  This event is not for kids.

Inside, the walls were covered in UV-reactive paintings on black canvas, with blacklights lighting the way. The paintings were terrific.

All of the elements of the haunt inside were great - the actors, the costumes, the makeup, the props (I want those props for my house!), the various room themes, the use of UV-reactive paint and 3D glasses, the inventiveness of some of the themes. It was all the more odd to me, then, that I wasn't scared. I'm an easy audience, too. I'm very easily startled, and I do scare. I'll be afraid of a dark street or driving alone after watching The Grudge. So the lack of fright with this event was disappointing. My husband thinks it's based on the speed at which we were herded through, though I understand that the tour couldn't be too long or the line outside would be even less bearable.

I'm not sorry we went, though. I did enjoy the various pieces of it all, and appreciated the work and expense that obviously went into it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When is Body Paint Not Body Paint?

When it's craft paint!

When is it dangerous even if it's not craft paint? When it's not FDA-compliant or used improperly!

There's a good article in Monday's USA Today, that you can read here. It explains the allergic reactions - red rashes, etc. - that can result from using craft paint or face paint that's not the good stuff.

Face and body paint, after all, is not all created equal. That stuff you get at most Halloween stores is usually from China. Remember all those issues we had a while back with products from China? The pet food? The paint used on children's toys? Yeah, same country, similar issues.

The products I use are all labeled as makeup, not paint. So that's a start. If you're looking for face and body paints, look for makeup. Something to note: Face paint (as other cosmetics) are not FDA-approved. Under the law, the FDA does not approve cosmetics. What they approve is the pigments used in the cosmetics. This makes the makeup FDA-compliant, if one is being accurate. If someone tells you that the face paint he or she is using is FDA-approved, s/he's wrong.

Now, I'm going to assume that anyone reading this is bright enough to never, never, never use craft paint on his face or body or the face of his child. That means no acrylics, no temperas, no watercolors, no markers, no Sharpies. Non-toxic doesn't cut it. As a good friend of mine in Minnesota likes to say, habanero peppers are non-toxic, but you wouldn't want to rub them all over your face!

So... what about those Halloween kits you see at the stores this time of year?

They're... potentially OK. But pay attention.

If you buy a great-looking kit to do your son up as Darth Maul, and there's an awesome photo of just such a face on the packaging - read the entire package before you buy. If the label or packaging says to avoid the eye area with certain colors (like red or black, which is very common), listen to the packaging, no matter what the photo shows. The packaging and labeling trump the photography every time. Take it seriously.

If the makeup smells funny, ditch it. Do not try to use it, since it could be infected with bacteria or simply old and past its shelf life.

Your best bet? Hire a professional. Even if it's not me (there, now you know I'm not biased). Ask him or her what's being used. If you hear Snazaroo, Grimas, Paradise, Mehron, Fantasy WorldWide, Kryolan, Fardel, Wolfe Brothers, Diamond FX, or several other brands (do your research if you hear something unfamiliar), you're OK. If it's craft or art products, run. Run like the wind. Run like they're trying to give you the Swine Flu.  There are some allegedly "professional" face and body painters who'll tell you that non-toxic craft and art paints are perfectly safe for use on the body.  They're wrong, and they're the scourge of our profession.  Run like the wind.

And the same goes for face and body painters who won't tell you what they use. If they won't tell you, it's because they have something to hide.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ghouls for the Season

As a fan of Halloween, I start thinking about the holiday early, and it reminded me of a former Halloween.

A few years ago, I was requested to create some zombies for an event called "Halloween in December." It was a multi-themed convention, running on the theory that you can never have enough Halloween.

I'm inclined to agree. In fact, that year I attended FIVE Halloween events.
So I obtained some supplies - fake skin and blood - from Bloody Mary and Ben Nye, and I went to work. Here are the three who became the walking dead at my hands...

It's worth noting that at that same event, I won "Best in Show" at the costume contest, not the least because I painted my own face to match my costume!