There are DYI books, you tube videos and workshops for home makeovers, backyard beautification, auto repair and nearly everything in between, so of course we found one such event for Halloween. I was recently invited to attend an event hosted by Jerry Jodloski and Steve Sneed of Robot Pumpkin LLC, where the focus was to show patrons “how to” make their own decorations, props and other cool Halloween items. Held at the Lansing Center, this event was a great family friendly event chocked full of activities for kids and adults featuring; a zombie walk, costume contests, haunted walk through, great vendor booths and some cool music to keep your feet groovin’ to the beat.
Mad Scientists and co creators of Robot Pumpkin LLC Jerry and Steve were kind enough to share the story of how this endeavor began.
In The Beginning:
Steve: For me, the genesis of this event started when I was a kid. My mother and I made a robot costume for me involving a box, some aluminum foil, and a colander. I think at the time the popular get-up was a Mork costume with a cheap mask and flammable plastic suit. My costume was far cooler and created a great memory for me. Flash-forward 25 years or so. After not having a trick-or-treater at our county house for 11 years, we moved into a neighborhood teeming with kids. I told my 5-year-old son, Zack that we should build something fun for the kids that would come to our door. We made a simple Frankenstein monster out of a sheet of plywood, some chicken wire, strobes, and a motor. The kids could try and shock Frank to life; a switch would be flipped, strobes would kick in, and it would like his skeleton was being electrocuted. Each year since, we’ve designed something new and exciting. Plus, we continue that tradition of bonding over a fun maker project.
Jerry saw that initial build and was hooked as well. That led to the competitions we used to have and the formation of How-To Halloween (with our legal company, Robot Pumpkin, LLC). It is our hope that our event will lead others to be inspired to create some cool from the mundane for the season with their families.
Jerry: It all started a few years ago when my co-mad scientist Steve Sneed and I used to live across the street from each other. Every Halloween, we’d have a friendly competition trying to “one up” each other with our displays. Of course, the true winners were the hundreds of kids who came trick-or-treating in our neighborhood once they discovered that our block had magically transformed into a mini theme park for just one night. It became extremely popular and we had a blast doing it, so we decided that the next logical step was to turn it into an official event. We pitched the idea to LEPFA (The Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority), and we couldn’t be more thankful that they gave us the green light and became our partners in the endeavor. It took about three years for How-To Halloween to get off the drawing board, and our inaugural event was held in 2014. They have been amazing people to work with, and we couldn’t have done it without their support.
Whether you’re a haunt fan, comic con nerd, sci-fi geek, pop culture enthusiast or music lover, we’ve got an exhibit hall full of inspiration for the cosplayers, prop builders…all of the talented and creative spirits that like to GEEK out on creating Halloween stuff. Inside the fest, you’ll see tons of displays with epic projects created by local builders and organizations such as the Lansing Makers Network and Impression 5 Science Center. This event is equally a blast to organize as well as show off our own stuff. Our vendors are an important part of the show. We give our exhibitors, vendors and entertainers a generous slice of the room to show their work and a discount for booth space if the vendors provide some sort of “how-to” session, make-n-take or demonstration that adds to the festivities. So the attendees are exposed to some really cool, unique things to buy and also get a chance to learn how they were made in the hopes of inspiring creativity. The lights are turned down low in the exhibit hall, and we encourage the vendors to decorate their booths and dress up in costume, so there is something amazing to see wherever you look. We take pride in having a very diverse and unique line-up of products, crafts, services and art all under one roof.
Doreen and Piper of the CreepynCuteShop were two of the many vendors at the HOW TO event and gave us some insight on how being crafty turned into forming a their own business.
“Doreen’s inspiration comes from her love of fabric, yarn, buttons and beads – knowing that each doll will make someone happy! Piper’s inspiration comes from her love of the zombie genre and the happiness she feels not only while creating dolls, but especially when giving them as gifts for charitable causes or to celebrities.”
Our shop started in August 2013 when Piper and her husband, Chris, decided to turn their home into a zombie apocalypse and Piper could not find what she was looking for. Doreen loves crafting, so Piper called upon her to help her come up with something ‘zombie-ish.’ We took a field trip to a fabric & crafting store and wound up deciding to design a ‘zombie doll.’ So off to Doreen’s home we both went with a bag of crafting goodies where the first zombie doll was created. During this same time, Piper was involved in a fund raising effort for Gleaners Food bank of Southeast Michigan, a local charity, and we decided to create a variety of different “CreepynCute” zombie dolls to raffle for the fundraiser. That is when the first nine “CreepynCute” zombie dolls were introduced to the public.
A friend told them of a local event that would be perfect for their dolls, so they got busy making more dolls told the ladies. They were met with a tremendous response; “as our newest “CreepynCute” zombie dolls were being taken from out of a box to set up on our display table, folks were snatching them up like crazy.” It was during this event, we both realized we had created something really special that people just loved and knew we just had to make more!
These ladies have gone on to win local business awards, sponsored and donated to several charitable causes, traveled extensively in the states as vendors, have gained press coverage and will be launching their zombie dolls internationally in London, England (February 20-21). I think it is wonderful how two creative minds got together and have not only flourished in the business world but still give back to people in need. Please visit these wonderful ladies on Facebook and their Etsy store.
What lies ahead:
How-To Halloween has been, and will always be hosted only at the Lansing Center. It’s the ideal venue for our show, and we can’t imagine having it anywhere else. We hope to become a destination event, which helps attract people from all over the state and beyond to come to Downtown Lansing and experience our beautiful Capital City. We are continuing to grow each year, and because of the enthusiastic response and stellar feedback, we are looking forward to expanding the show to a two-day event in 2016. Steve and I are thrilled to be a part of this one-of-a-kind festival, and are happy that How-To Halloween has made such a positive impact on our community.
Thank you to Jerry and Steve for sharing with us and allowing me to be a guest at this amazing event. I extend my appreciation to Doreen and Piper for taking time to share their story with us. We hope our readers are inspired to get creating whether with costumes, props or makeup designs.
Happy Halloween from Halloweenmakeup.com
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