Collector's Corner: SpookyWil (aka Wil)
If you love Halloween and don't yet follow @SpookyWil, you should. He is all about Halloween and I wanted to find out why. Even though we are continents apart, I reached out and asked to know more and lucky for us...we get to find out! Read along to find out how SpookyWil got his name and how he came to love Halloween!
Before the ‘questions’, can you help me introduce yourself?
My name is Wil aka Spooky Wil. I run an online Halloween store that stocks all kinds of Halloween treats all year. I also create my own Halloween products for my store and in my spare time run a Halloween themed blog that I occasionally share different finds, makes and Halloween goodies throughout the year too.
It goes without saying that you are all things Halloween. So first off, as the master of Halloween, how did you come about the name ‘SpookyWil’?
Oooo that’s a good question! As a small side project many years ago I set up a website and matching social media pages for a popular horror video game. I used to use the name Silent Wil (if you know horror you’ll get the game from that old username) but over the years I found myself sharing more and more of my Halloween finds and general spooky lifestyle, so a change was needed. I spent a few days coming up with new names and played around with AllHallowWil, HalloWil (instead of Halloween) and a few others but they didn’t seem to stick and then out of the blue I just went with Spooky Wil. I thought it sums me up quite well and it’s not a potentially confusing play on words and the rest is history.
I’m assuming that Halloween was your favorite holiday as a child. Can you share a story or two with us about how Halloween became your favorite? Maybe your costumes when you were little?
Oddly enough I was actually thinking about this to myself the other day and I think it started when I was around 6/7, at least that is my earliest memory. I can remember it being Halloween and I wanted to go trick or treating. We didn’t have costumes as we hadn’t planned anything at all, we didn’t even have a pumpkin in our house, as it wasn’t really a thing we celebrated. So with a black trash bag cut out for my arms and head to fit through I went out with my brother and sister. I’m not even sure what I was supposed to be now I think about it.
Another time when I was in my early teens, I came home from school and it was Halloween. Once again we hadn’t decorated but I wanted to celebrate so I quickly decorated with what we had in the house. I had a red light bulb, which I put into the hallway and decorated with webs etc. When my Mom came home she instantly told me to get the red light bulb out. I didn’t see the big deal until a few years later when it clicked that red light bulbs were more suited for establishments catering for the adult cliental. I laugh about it now and my mom freaking out worrying what the neighbors would think.
How did you start your collection and what are some of the favorite items you collect?
I guess I could say I’ve always collected Halloween things. Throughout my teens I used to collect everything to do with The Nightmare Before Christmas and Tim Burton in general but sadly parted with most of it when I moved houses. When I moved into my first place, it was a shared house with a few friends and I decorated the fireplace with giant webs and made milk bottle ghosts. I then added to it each year and started looking for more items throughout the year. I began to stop getting things that were easily available at most stores, and instead searched the internet for more collectible things and delving into the history of particular items and the holiday in general. I would say over the last 5-6 years is when I really started to get serious about it and collect more unique pieces.
My favorite items to collect are definitely vintage items, although these are hard to come by in the UK and sometimes quite pricey to buy from places like Ebay due to the shipping costs and custom fees etc. I also love buying Halloween books, any kind will do, whether it be a Halloween kids book or a book filled with Victorian Halloween costumes, I just love them and love seeing shelves of them where all the spines read ‘Haunted’ this and ‘Halloween’ that.
What is it that draws you to certain collection pieces or artists?
I would have to say the first thing that draws me in is if it has a vintage look, if it looks vintage then I am all for it, if it’s genuine vintage then I need it haha. With that being said I don’t think I could truly put my finger down on what draws me in because sometimes it can just be the fact it’s a Pumpkin or it’s a ghost or it’s just orange. If it jumps out then there’s a reason for it to be doing so and most likely it’s because I will want it.
The same goes for artists. I collect Johanna Parker products because they look fantastic and she uses the best colors and styles to create modern-vintage pieces and then there’s wonderful artists like Charles McClenning who creates incredible seasonal products too. I have a number of his Halloween pieces and the thing that pulled me in when I first discovered his products was a Jack in the Box Pumpkin. It wasn’t the colors or even the style (although they are amazing) it was the fact that he had created something that I thought was such a cool thing to create and so I ended up buying it and would easily say it’s in my top ten favorite Halloween things.
Can you show us some of your favorite pieces?
Absolutely! This actually took me a while to decide on what my favorite pieces are as when I thought of one thing, something else popped into my head and then something and so on. These are some of the items I would definitely say are my favorite.
The first is the above mentioned Jack in the Box from Charles McClemming. I think it’s box with the vintage style cat is great and it’s such a cool piece overall. The Owl and Jack candle holder are also by McClemming too and I am sure I’ve added a few more pieces since then.
The second piece isn’t vintage or even that hard to find but I adore it. It’s one of my oldest pieces, which I purchased from a 99p store many years ago. It’s this fabric ghost; he has a basic wire body inside so he can easily be wrapped around things like a tree or banister etc. I’ve come across the same ghost many times since and I am sure he’s easy to find in the USA but he’s been with me for a while now and every Halloween you’ll find him hanging from something ready to give someone a fright.
This Witch decoration is another piece that isn’t that old at all but it was a surprise to find. I had come across this witch online a few years ago and found her for sale via a few stores but due to the size and weight of her most stores would not ship to the UK or it was too expensive to justify buying her. When I took a trip to Salem I visited a store there (I forget it’s name now) that had her and another variant. I didn’t even think twice about getting her, the fact that I might not have been able to fit her in my bag or that I might have had to throw my own clothes away to bring her back didn’t cross my mind, I had to have her.
In the end she fit perfectly in my backpack and came back home with me. She’s one a few things I found in Salem that I absolutely adore.
Next up is my Oogie Boogie Candy Dish. He’s not all that old, maybe ten years if that but it seems he’s now quite hard to find and if you do find one he’s a little pricy. I ended up buying him on ebay after a bidding war that I had almost given up on until the final second ended and I came out victorious! I had been wanting one of these dishes for so long and to finally own him makes me so incredibly happy. Unlike most of my things, I don’t keep him out all year. He only makes an appearance in my house from the 1st of October to the 1st of November which is when he goes back in his box and back into storage as I am terrified I will accidentally break him. He stays kept away for 11 months a year for his own safety.
Another Salem find… kind of. When I visited Salem we stayed in this amazing little Inn right next to Salem Common and as I visited in October the Inn was decorated for Halloween. In their dining area they had this Pin the Tail on the Cat vintage game in a large frame on one of the doors. I absolutely loved it and even asked one of the owners a little about it. When I returned home I searched a few times for it but I would either come across an incomplete or damaged game or the seller would not ship to the UK. Then for my birthday last year I received the game as a gift! It’s complete with all of the original tails and even has a few of the pins that were included with the game, although they’re a little worse for wear now. It’s definitely in my top ten favorites for the sentimental value and just for the fact I think it’s pretty awesome.
The final thing I’ll share (I wish I could share everything) which is a little bit of an odd piece are these Vans trainers/sneakers. I won a competition around a year or two ago for a pair of custom Vans. I entered and totally forgot about it until I received an email saying I had won. I actually deleted the email to begin with assuming it was one of those “You’ve won” emails where you have to complete a survey or pay to enter. After claiming my prize I spent a week or two designing my own Halloween vans and then around 5 weeks later they arrived. I love them, so much so that I have only ever worn them outside once as I worried they’ll get dirty. I tell myself I need to wear them but so far they’ve only seen the light of day one time.
If you could sit down and talk to the artists, what would you want to see more of?
Does seeing more of their pieces in my house count? Honestly if I could speak to any Halloween artist I don’t think there’s anything I would want to see more of apart from what they already create. The fact there are dedicated artists out there who specialize in these wonderful pieces each and every year is such a wonderful thing and I love seeing what each artist has to release each year. I say this aimed at all Halloween artists and artists in general who spend time creating new Halloween things. The fact that they’ve used their own time to create something for others to enjoy is such a treat all by itself and I guess all I can say is never stop.
How do you envision your current collection growing? I saw you mention it’s hard to get some items in the UK. What is it your search for?
I hope that my collection grows to have many more genuine vintage pieces in it. I add things to my collection all the time from small artists to big companies like Bethany Lowe Designs and hope to add many more new things this year. One of my main aims is to add a few pieces that I have been after for quite a while, these include the Whirl-O vintage cardboard game and other original Beistle pieces, Halloween blow molds and classic metal noise makers. The USA also has such great vintage inspired ranges from stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby each year and there are so many products I would love to own.
With regards to finding vintage products, the UK doesn’t really have a product history when it comes to Halloween. Most ‘vintage’ products that appear on places like Ebay and are from the UK are usually old costumes and masks from the 70’s-90’s. Occasionally American and German vintage decorations do pop up but they either sell for crazy prices or the seller asks for insane prices to begin with and then they just sit on ebay being relisted over and over again. The difficult part really isn’t so much finding pieces, as Ebay has made that so much easier but it’s the cost in general. I could find an item for a great price but then Ebay’s shipping costs and custom charges can almost double the price on some items. I don’t mind so much if it’s something I have been hunting for but when it’s something like a $20 noisemaker that’s costing $70 in total, it’s a little disheartening.
When you look among your large collection…do you have a favorite piece? Why is it your favorite?
I have been asked this question before and I honestly could not say what one item is my all time favorite. Occasionally I will sit and look at everything to try and answer that question myself but there will be one product that stands out for one reason and then another for a totally different reason but they’re both on the same level of being my favorite. So for now I’m going to say they’re all my favorites because each one is completely unique and very much apart of my Halloween home.
What other things do you collect (if any) or do for fun (around your collections)?
I also collect The Nightmare Before Christmas things, I don’t have as a big a collection I had in my teens but I do still add a few things to my collection each year, especially Christmas tree decorations. I kind of see my NBC collection as part of my Halloween collection overall though as it sort of falls into the same category, the same goes for Trick ‘r Treat and Hocus Pocus merchandise (another thing that’s hard to find in the UK due to not having Spirit Halloween) and then completely non-Halloween related is Vans trainers. I have too many pairs and that isn’t going to change any time soon.
I truly enjoyed learned more about SpookyWil and seeing many of his favorite pieces. If you are a Halloween fan, you should go give him a follow as he definitely has some fun things to show! Stay tuned for our next guest in the Holiday Pizzazz Collector's Corner as we continue to learn more about what people love about collecting!