Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

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Done and done

I’m sitting here dozing off in my recliner with my laptop on my lap… head keeps bobbing and I jerk awake again.  It is windy and sunny out so we are expecting about normal amounts of trick or treaters.

Last year we had about 160 full-size chocolate bars and only gave out about 70…. I only ate the last of them in September!!  It was a Skor bar.  This year we only bought what we like – Coffee Crisp, Kit Kat, and Hershey Almond.  So if we get stuck with them… they won’t sit around for a year!

My last appointments were this morning.  A 6 a.m. for dead guy SFX job on a roofer on his way to work and 8 a.m. for a little girl on her way to school as an Ice Fairy.

After they had left I ran to the bank to make a deposit… I love Halloween.  I really mean that.  I LOVE HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then I went to Costco, Save-On and Safeway… needed to do some stocking up.  I’ve got tomorrow off too and that is clean up the house day… need to clear up the basement and put all my supplies away, do laundry, and all the housework that was neglected for the last week.

I took some photos of what I created this weekend… but, as usual, I neglected to take photos of all of the work… I tend to forget once I get a full waiting room.  So again, I am having my annual DUH! I didn’t get photos of the Bride of Frankenstein – I did her hair too which turned out really well, I didn’t get photos of all the different zombies – and I specifically wanted to for a price list for next year’s zombie crawl, I didn’t get photos of any of the Frankenstein’s I did… One of these years I WILL remember to take photos of EVERYONE!

It is just so stupid… I put up a backdrop, spend money on making one… then, let them get out of the chair and walk right past it to leave the room…. [head -> wall, head -> wall, repeat…]

At least I get SOME photos each year…

What I need to do is get a photographer down there with me all day… bet they’d be lining up to spend 16 hours hanging out in my basement just for the exposure of course… LOL

So for the photos I did manage to take…. Allow me to present:

MAD SCIENTIST for the local haunted house at the park.

A HE-SHE … he’d made his costume which was really great.

A SKULL/PEELED FACE THING – he was dressing in combats.

A SEXY COP ZOMBIE (that doesn’t sound right … somehow LOL )

A SCARY WITCH.  She brought a bag full of prosthetics that she had bought at Value Village – had several different noses, chins, a brow/nose set, warts… All of which were obviously  made for the Big Giant Head as none of them fit on her face.  I ended up cutting down the chin by about half its original length in order to be able to fit it.  The nose wasn’t the one she really wanted to use (which was long and hooked) and I had to cut it around the nostril flares and attach it in two stages to get it to sit right.  When we were starting I asked her if she wanted to be flesh toned or green… she said she wanted green and SCARY…  When I was done it was getting hard to look at her… LOL… I gave her the mirror and she actually jumped and screeched!  I took that as a “job well done”!

AUNT JEMIMA AND HER PANCAKES.  I don’t make these up, I just do their make-up!

From left to right – whipped cream, burned, AJ, blueberries and bacon, and butter.


And one with the girlfriend (she did her own make-up)

AVATAR… I’ve never seen the movie, based it on the packaging of the make-up kit he brought with him.  He had a wig and costume so just told me to go that far and he’d finish – he was a tag along with a last-minute squeeze-in so my next appointments were waiting.

DEAD ROOFER… he fell off the roof onto his head.  This is the same guy that is the EVIL JESTER.  He came twice – this make-up we did at 6 a.m. this morning.  He was heading to work… and he had blood all over his truck and body parts hanging out of the tailgate… some people really get into Halloween don’t they???

I did some stuff on his arms too… he fell through a tree and bounced off the side of the building before hitting the ground… or something…

And I’ve already got six bookings for next Halloween.

Last night I face painted at a Libyan Freedom Party… most of the kids got their face and an arm painted.  And they wouldn’t let me leave without a plate of food… I took some thin cabbage roll type of vegetarian dish, rice with raisins and almonds, orange coloured chicken pieces, and chicken thighs with spices on top, and several desserts.  OMG… it was all delicious.  I split it with mom and she liked it too… wish I had really piled up the plate with those veggie rolls, they were awesome!  Spicy with lots of flavour.  I’m going hunting recipes now.

We are now, or I mean, I am jumping up every few minutes to give out chocolate bars.  I think the mummy in the window is attracting more kids this year.  But they better stop coming when Castle starts!

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Face Painting on Radio…

This morning I was face painting on Q99!  Something kinda strange about doing visual art on radio, but it is all fun.  Neither Paul nor Pike were willing to be painted so one of the reporters, Teresa Verenca, sat in my chair.

I got there about 7:40 a.m. to set-up…

I decided to paint a Sugar Skull on Teresa… turned out nicely, I think.

Here’s the link to the  station’s blog… just for actual proof!  LOL

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My Gore Factory

So I mentioned yesterday I discovered something cool for making sfx (that is the abbreviation for special effects make-up if you didn’t already know…)

I was starting to get all my stuff together to start making wounds and things and was looking at the box of tissues thinking that there had to be something easier to use… tearing up the tissue is a mess and it always wants to shred in strips…

My studio is my basement, which also contains the laundry room, and I was wandering back and forth and glanced into the trash bin where I toss the dryer lint and dryer sheets… and I had an epiphany!!  USED DRYER SHEETS!!

There were several sitting on top so I scooped them up and starting to pull on them… they shredded easily, but not too easily, they shredded in any direction I pulled them in, I could regulate the size… excellent.

So onto the next step… will they soak up latex?  YES!  and BONUS… they dried in the position I dropped them in, not flat, and did not need powdering as the fibre soaked up all the latex and it didn’t stay tacky.

I used coloured liquid latex – red and blue – as I had it on hand.  It is going to speed up my zombie and corpse work over the weekend big time.  No need to colour, just glue them on and add blood!

I also used oatmeal and rice cereal to make scabs.  I really like using the coloured latex… makes this all so easy!


I still have to finish up all the pieces… removing them from the lids they are drying on, powdering those that need it, maybe a little more flesh coloured PAX on the wound edges…

I’m actually quite thrilled with how they are turning out… and it is just about time to head back down to get it all organized for tomorrow… have to get the table clear so I can work…

You may have noticed that I stockpile lids from plastic containers… they are REALLY handy to use for palettes, etc.  And if I get them covered is crap I just throw them away.  Philly containers are a great size for using too for powder and other things, the lids are airtight so you can keep alcohol or adhesives in them when working.

Here’s a shot of the “studio” with this year’s photo backdrop hanging up… got the bloody sheet of fabric at the dollar store for $1.50… it was long and narrow so I cut it in half and pinned it to a white table-cloth.

I sent out email confirmations to all my appointments for the weekend and they have all responded… my directions gave my address and the additional note of “and there is a large mummy in the bay window.”  Do you think they’ll find me?

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As I’ve been busy with lots of things this month I really haven’t posted much Halloween themed material.  So… since I’m still busy, I’m going to regurgitate some previously posted material here for easy reference.

First – Easy Latex Effects.  In this post I show how to create burns which is also how to create zombie skin, and all sorts of other skin effects.

Bran flake scabs, applied with eyelash adhesive.

Second – Step-By-Step Zombie with face paint, no special effects.

They can drive!!!

Third – Zombies in my Basement… crazy girls. And professional photos of the same session.  These are Zombies WITH special effects.

Fourth … I like this photo… Built the costume and the face is gauze bandages applied with liquid latex… to black out the teeth dump all four colours of food colouring into a glass and gargle and swish, spit.

Are you my mummy?

I have been working in my basement making pieces to use on zombies and corpses this weekend… discovered some great stuff to use by accident… I will post tomorrow with photos of my latest discovery!  And I discovered that coloured latex stains my fingers…

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Just stuff

On Saturday I face painted at the local Cineplex Odeon theatre, the Grande Prairie Grande, for a couple of hours for their Community Days.  It was a national event where Cineplex Entertainment ran free movies and provided, in many locations, free face painting and balloons, and concession items were $2 with all proceeds going to Starlight Canada, their foundation for seriously ill children.

Starlight Community Day

A lot of professional face painters across the country were hired for these events which is fantastic.

When we (mom came with me to wash brushes) arrived at 8 a.m. to get set-up there was already quite a line of people waiting.  They opened the doors at 8:30 and I was immediately slammed.  The line did not end… even after all the movies had started.  I was shutting down just as the first movies were ending so there was a lot of “sorry, I’m done” happening as I packed up.

This was one of the few times I didn’t paint my face to work.  We were up so early, and I had to get mom up and ready too, that I just didn’t bother.  I thought I might do something once we got set-up, but there wasn’t any time.

Last night I spent sending out confirmations to all my weekend bookings.  Everyone responded – no cancellations.  Got some more information from some of the customers about what they want.  I will be spending part of Friday pre-making “skin” for the zombies and corpses to speed up the application process.

This year Zombies and Frankenstein are the most popular.  I’ve already done one Monster so far this season…

I also was booked for a party on Sunday night.  As it was October 30 I assumed it was for a Halloween party. But when the customer came by to drop off the contract and down-payment I realized she was Muslim, so I asked her if it was a Halloween party (didn’t want to make any assumptions).  It isn’t.  It is a celebration party for the freedom of her country –  a party to celebrate the freedom of Libya.  So I asked if there were any restrictions as to what she wanted me to paint – said no, some kids will want flags others tigers.

So… I got on google to make sure I know which flag is the right one to use!! Red, black, green horizontal stripes with a white crescent and star in the centre black.  Simple graphics and colours.

I’ve also got bookings for early Monday (actual Halloween Day)… and I mean early.  I have one for 6 a.m. yes, that is 6 A.M. in the morning!  He wants to go to work as a bloody corpse.

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National Pizza Month

One of the local morning radio shows, Paul & Pike on Q99, was making a big deal out of October being National Pizza Month.  They challenged people to submit their weirdest pizza toppings, ones that they would be willing to eat, on air.

Well, not one to pass up a challenge… I put a lot of thought into it and posted on their face book page.  I thought they weren’t considering entries until Wednesday and I posted my list of toppings on Tuesday morning:

Hmm… how about, deep-fried onion rings, pork rinds, maraschino cherries (drained and patted dry first!), garlic sausage (sliced), black olives, English Toffee (chopped up Almond Roca would work), and red bell peppers (NOT hot ones.)

Then, yesterday, I get a call at work… from Paul… and I knew I had been chosen.  He asked that I be at the station for 7 a.m. THIS morning to eat MY pizza, made by Charles from the Crown & Anchor Pub, on air, in front of witnesses.  The reward for doing this was pizza, wings and beer on Charles at the Crown for my crew.

So… all night I was visualizing eating this pizza… since I had thought it out first I knew I could handle it.  Meat goes fine with fruit/sweet sauces so I wasn’t worried about the garlic sausage, the cherries, the peppers, olives, even the pork rinds (those were just for effect)… but … the English Toffee… that was the wild card.

So I arranged for Amy to arrive early, got up extra early, got mom up early… did NOT eat or drink anything (I needed to be hungry) and toddled over there, after making sure my cell phone was operational as I had to call up to the booth so one of the guys could let me in.

Randy (the Pike in Paul & Pike) let me in and then they asked that I watch for Charles with the Pizza… so I went down and let him in when he arrived.

I was expecting a personal sized pizza or a small… no, he brought a LARGE…

And… amazingly it was a VERY yummy looking, attractive pizza.  It even smelled good!

So once the guys were done with the news, weather etc. we got to go into the control room.  I took photos of the guys, to prove I was there…

This is Paul

This is Pike (Randy)

And this is Charles who made the pizza

So, live, on radio I ate a piece.  Paul filmed it.

You can read their blog here with all the details.

So I ate the one piece required, Charles and I exchanged cards (I need to call him to set-up my “prize”) and they made me take the pizza home.

I ate two more pieces for breakfast with a couple of cups of coffee… it really was a pretty good pizza… but the toffee was a mistake.  As it cooled it got really stiff and sticky and made biting through difficult.

No one at home would have any, and none of my friends wanted me to save them any… so, sad to say, since it was garbage day… the rest hit the bin.

Thanks Paul & Pike, Charles and Q99… that was fun!

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High Fashion Borg

Here are a couple of shots I took of the model for another of Don Zwicker’s shoots in the 5 Alarm Photo Project.  The theme for this one was High Fashion.  Don wanted to use cell phones to create a statement and set the shoot somewhere that fit.  He did the shoot at a cell tower (after getting permission from the company).

I coined the name “High Fashion Borg” as she is partially assimilated… seeing as the electronics are plugged into her.

Don scrounged up boxes of cell phones, wires and bits of computer guts.  I used mostly cell phones that we tore apart… which was NOT easy.  Motorolas are HARD to break!

With this theme I designed and created the whole costume, hat, accessories, put them on her, did her hair, make-up and all the fiddly bits.  I discovered the joys of contact cement (which ended up not being as great as I thought as the phones on her boots fell off during the shoot!)

I used a set of bunny ears to make the “fascinator” attaching a CD, cassette tape, video tape, wire from phone cords, little bits of cell phone guts and a bit of gold ribbon.  The corset was painted with liquid latex, cellphone keypads attached to the bra cups, cell boards down the front of the corset, cassette tape as fringe along the top, video tape along the bottom for a skirt, wire glued to ribbon squares, wire casings “plugged in” to parts of her, parts of cell phones were directly attached to her, made jewellry out of cell components and electrical wire. I glued cell phones to the heals of the boots, added fringe to the tops and glued keypads over the toes.

A screen from a cell phone was glued in the middle of her forehead (Don’s idea) it cracked in handling and created a third eye!

This next one is a photo taken by William Vavrek of Don’s photo at the show… I still haven’t got my copies from Don.  This will at least show you the final, finished shot.

I worked on that costume for several weeks… had to wait for latex to dry overnight for each coat and then making the hat, etc.  Was fun to do.  And the model ended up with a costume for Halloween!

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Groovy Grannies

Saturday night was, again, crazy time in my basement.  Naomi and her crew came over to be aged into little old ladies to celebrate a birthday or two pub crawling.  These girls are the same group that did the zombies with a couple of new gals added to the crew.

They go all out… costumes, padding, accessories, even one of them wearing a real Depends… and the props… they bought canes at Dollarama for $2, one of them was a cat lady and was carrying one of those fat mini photo albums FULL of photos of her kitties that she stuck in everyone’s face, they had birthday banners and badges… and one of their mom’s bet they wouldn’t be able to get anyone to kiss them.  They took the bet … I have no idea of the outcome.

Naomi used washable markers to give everyone varicose veins and spider veins.  it was very effective.

So here are some shots I took… they are going to pubs so the lighting won’t be great so I did the make-up theatre style…

Group shot.

All ready to hit the bar, with purses and coats.

The wigs were from my collection (with the exception of the Cat Lady’s, she had bought one for herself that worked great).

They each had their own persona for their granny:

Trailer Trash Granny

Trailer Trash Granny over does her make-up, still… and is always looking for an ashtray, but misses as she won’t put down her can of beer.

Society Granny

Society Granny is well dressed and well-preserved.  She is well made-up… but she’s a little off.  She gets her skirt stuck in the waistband of her Depends and doesn’t realize it.

Fitness Freak Granny

Fitness Freak Granny had exercise equipment with her, wearing yoga pants and workout shoes.  She’s a fit old bird.  Wears her wig like a toque.

House-Granny (fresh cookies always available)

House Granny is always home and always has fresh cookies to offer you.  She’s “comfortable” to hug and squishy if you squeeze her.

Crazy Cat Lady

Crazy Cat Lady granny never married and has lots… LOTS of cats.  She dresses nicely to go out and likes to show off her babies’ photos.

Crazy Granny recently widowed and lovin' it!

Crazy Granny is having a ball.  Her husband recently died and she’s finally enjoying herself without worrying about getting crap.  She’s loud and not afraid to go after she’s decides she wants… she’s really nuts and a little crude.

The aftermath in my basement included feathers everywhere, cotton padding fluff, bits of streamer off of noise makers and a full bag of empties… the party started when they arrived here.  Naomi left her car here overnight and they called a cab (that’s what they said they were doing… and her car was here.)

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I can finally show you photos from the project I was working on for Don Zwicker.  These are photos I took, Don will be giving me images soon, but I can’t wait!  When I get copies of his “final” shots that were entered in the show I will post them.

Don was participating in the 5 Alarm Photo Project.  Five photographers were chosen to participate, each of them drew five models each from a hat, then had to shoot five different themes using a different one of their models in each one.  The themes were Horror, High Fashion, Scenic, Romance, and Movie.

These are the photos I took at the Horror shoot.  Don took a campy view of the theme and it was great fun.  My backyard is the setting and Don spent most of two days pulling the set together.  He borrowed a coffin and all sorts of Halloween decorations from a lady in town who goes crazy at Halloween.  He had “food” for the guests – eyeballs and fingers… and normal food for the normal person.

I supplied the decapitated head (I had made if for the play Dracula several years ago) and did the monster make-up.

The featured model in this shoot is Ashley Berteotti – she is playing the straight character in this scene, which if you can’t tell, is the blonde girl.  Cyril Cook is Frank, Stewart Loewen is the Wolfman, Amy Retzlaff is Vampira and the crew were Mark Shpur and William Vavrek.

Frank… the patriarch of our little group.

Uncle Wolf… Frank’s brother-in-law (was married to his sister).

Couldn’t narrow down a name – Vampira/Elvira/Morticia/Lily… pick one.  Amy rocked it.

The odd one out – sweet innocent Ashley.

The set – my backyard.  To the left my rhubarb plant, and to the right my apple tree.  I got 31 apples off it this year!

Mark, Cyril and Stewart chatting between set-ups.

Amy and Ashley chilling on my deck… the bugs were HORRIBLE on this evening and their hair/wigs are crawling with them… well, not really crawling as the hair spray was acting like flypaper.

The picnic… two shots with slight different arrangement of the cast.

Don used a smoke machine for some of his shots.  The shoot lasted a few hours… right through sunset into twilight… appropriate for the characters.


Photos from Mad Moose Mayhem

Got photos from the show… these were all taken at dress rehearsal by the director.

This first one is the Mad Moose Maniacs, the improv troupe.  We did three rounds of theatre sports in the second act.  I did “Translation” with Natasha (she’s on the left, I’m second from right) – she spoke gibberish and I “translated”… love that game.  And on Friday I also participated in “Arms” where you stand behind another player and your arms provide all the action… not that fond of that one.

We had a lot of people asking if we were scripted or if the suggestions from the audience were planted – NO.  Yes, the games were pre-determined (due to time constraints – we only had ten minutes) and who was going to do them (who was best at which game for maximum audience pleasure) but, we had no idea what the audience would be suggesting – everything I said as the Translator was completely off the cuff, made up on the spot… I’m just a natural (she says modestly) and had years of practise doing Table Topics at Toastmasters!  And the fact that MY MOM was the heckler (how embarrassing is that???) was also completely unexpected… but I dealt with her!  People were asking if that was planned too… NO, mom just blurts out what she’s thinking since the stroke….

This next one is from “Hitting on Women 101”.  I played “Angie” who may or may not be being hit on… I think… lol.  I think I was saying something like “That makes absolutely no sense” in response to “Tim’s” explanation of how I would know if I was being hit on.

And this is the whole cast of “Hitting on Women 101” – me, Adrian Tanasichuk and Natasha Hunt.

The play was ten minutes long.  They had two of these short plays in the show – the one in the first act was called “In The Beginning” which was Adam and Eve meeting in a bar with the Serpent as the bartender.  The other members of the Improv troupe were the cast in that play.

It was a true variety show with music, dance, comedy, improv… it was really great fun and I am seriously intending to do it again next year… I hope they let me!!